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Showing posts from June, 2017

Sodium Chloride

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Take one atom of Sodium, mix it with one atom of Chloride and you get salt, whose entry in Wikipedia states the following:

"Salt is essential for life in general, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. The tissues of animals contain larger quantities of salt than do plant tissues. Salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous food seasonings, and salting is an important method of food preservation."
It's analogous to fiction. Whereas salt is essential for our physical bodies, storytelling is essential for our minds. And that's where we come in.

The bible is full of stories. Some, like the parables and the Psalms are short, while others, such as the Exodus from Egypt are longer. Even the proverbs can be read as (very) short stories. We are attracted to them from an early age and fiction is still the largest market in publishing. But the analogy also goes deeper.

Despite the rumours, neither Chloride or Sodium are lethal to humans, in fact we have trace amounts…

Who Do I Worship? by Allison Symes

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Who Do I Worship?

Due to personal circumstances recently, I have had the thought running through my head that I worship Jesus, who knew what it was to cry at the tomb of a friend.  This has been a very comforting thought.  I am no poetry expert (as below will prove!) but felt this was the best format for what I felt I should say for this month. 


Who do I worship?
I worship Someone who knew what it was like
To cry at the tomb of a friend despite
Knowing He was about to raise Lazarus
From the dead.

Who do I worship?
I worship Someone who knew the concerns
Of ordinary people and cared for
Bodies and souls and fed the people with
Fish and Bread.

Who do I worship?
I worship Someone who didn’t have to
Come to Earth at all
And cope with being born in a stall
Where animals fed.

Who do I worship?
I worship Someone who made the world
And then went on to save it
For all who believe in His Name
For us, he bled.

Who do I worship?
I worship Someone who knew the trials
And frustrations of daily li…

God’s Long Reach In Our Journeys by Trevor Thorn

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Recently, as I stepped into a ‘new world’, for me, of creating a YouTube Channel called ‘Sing of God and Science’, I reflected on the long path that led me to this point. Once again I marvel and give thanks for the many steps on the way which, at the time did not seem to be particularly directed toward any specific destination.
Let me unfold the story for you.
Singing in a church choir was clearly an early influence on the way this project would ultimately come about. The rhythms, the tunes and the metrical forms settled in my mind with their accompanying messages of the faith of the family that surrounded me with its love.
As a young man I then became a zealous (maybe over-zealous) young banker, a job effectively chosen for me by my father who wanted the security for me that such a career offered at that time. My combination of A levels gave no hints as to what to choose - Divinity and Chemistry! But maybe they were a pointer (as Pam, my wife reminded me when she came to read this story…

Re-emergence is a Tender Thing, by Lucy Mills

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MY FIRST POST HERE IN A WHILE - I surrendered my last two slots as they were just that bit too much. I was grappling with finishing my book.  I had no 'extras' left - my creative juices, such as was left of them, had to flow all in the same direction.

My manuscript was submitted at the end of May and just under a week ago, while travelling back from Scargill House, I received word from my publisher.  It was a positive and affirming email, with the outcome that I have very little further to do pre-copy editing, just a little tweaking at the very start.

So I'm not done with it yet, in terms of writing, but 'very nearly almost'.  I feel now I can tackle the small problem area with fresh eyes.

And so has begun my re-emergence.

On the day I submitted my manuscript I stepped out into the garden and blinked into the brightness. It was a good picture of what I felt like on the inside. Re-emergence is a relief but also overwhelming - it takes an adjustment to the colour of…

Three Act Structure for Novelists

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by Fiona Veitch Smith
Part of my day job used to be teaching scriptwriting for stage and screen at NorthumbriaUniversity. One of the foundational modules was all about three act structure. For film writers, it is essential that they have an understanding of this influential model as the vast majority of produced screenplays follow it. For playwrights it is important too, although the theatre sees more experimentation in form than commercial film. But what about novelists? Yes, they can also use it.
In fact, I do. My books are written using the three act structure model I learned through scriptwriting. I find it very helpful to plan my novel in this way and it helps me as I’m writing to keep on track and not lose sight of the big picture. Knowing the approximate word count for each section of the book is enormously helpful for me. It helps, for instance, for me to know that my inciting incident will kick off at around 18 – 20,000 words, and that I need to have a ‘point of no return’ in …

A Cat of Many Colours, by Fiona Lloyd

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Recently, I (along with several other ACW members) attended a writing retreat at Scargill. I love these weekends: the opportunity to connect (and reconnect) with other writers – surrounded by stunning scenery – is invaluable; but there’s also the freedom to discover new ways of writing.

One of our suggested tasks was to choose something from a selected group of objects to use as a writing prompt. The challenge was to “make us see things in a different way”, using our chosen object. The only other constraint was that we had to use a maximum of 300 words. I was immediately drawn to a multi-coloured cat, with beads at the end of its whiskers. Why did it look so sad, I wondered, and whatever had happened to its whiskers?

Below is the piece of writing I produced. I’m not suggesting it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but I hope it will encourage you to have a go at a similar writing exercise, maybe using one of the objects in the picture – let me know how you get on!
Go on: stare, if you …

My Favourite Book of the Bible

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The book I like most in the Bible is the New Testament Letter of James. I really can’t think why Martin Luther called it ‘a right strawy epistle’. I take strength from Isaiah’s prediction that in the new world ‘the lion shall eat straw like the ox’. I’m happy to be a spiritual ox, building moral muscle by chewing over James’s wisdom, and I look forward to being joined at this dinner in the world to come by all the fastidious lions who go chasing up and down the scriptures to find something juicy!
By Celina Berghaus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Eight reasons why I like this book so muchIt comes in handy bite-size chunks
In my Bible it’s divided by headings into twelve parts, each round about a dozen verses. Every section is about something of real importance and relevance—trials and temptations, not showing favouritism, controlling the way one speaks, judging others, and so on. It is so loving in the way it addresses us
James speaks to his readers (or hearers, as they w…

Unappetising sandwiches and thin places - by Helen Murray

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Forrest Gump's life was famously like a box of chocolates. Mine's more like a sandwich.

All the bits of my life are like layers: family, friends, health, work, church, and so on. It's a good sandwich. A well-filled, appetising one, most of the time. It's when something is off that it all goes wrong. 
My problem is my inability to compartmentalise. When something is wrong - a sandwich component is bad or absent - whether it's a touch of blue mould on the bread or a tang of rancid butter - the whole thing is inedible. No matter that the cheese is my favourite, and there's just the right amount of pickle, or the perfect crispy bit of lettuce, I can't enjoy the sandwich because part of it is not right. 
In times of stress or confusion, it's as if I've dropped the sandwich and it's landed on the floor in a heap of component parts. In accordance with the five-second-rule I scramble to pick it up, hastily reassembling it on my plate, but it doesn't…

Handing Over The Ticket by Emily Owen

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I recently travelled by train from the East Midlands up to a little village in Scotland.When the ticket inspector came, I scrabbled around for my ticket (why am I never organised enough to have it immediately to hand?) and showed it to him. He took it, checked it and handed it back to me but, before I could take the ticket, he started inspecting it again.Of course, despite knowing I’d bought the correct ticket, I felt irrationally guilty and visions of me being turfed off the train at the next stop ran through my mind…
“Where’s that you’re going?” he asked. I could see him wracking his brains.Then: “No, I’ve never heard of it.”
I told him it was in Scotland and, realising that I did know where I was going, he checked off and handed the ticket back before moving on down the train.
He didn’t know where I was going but the fact that I knew was enough for him.
As I sped northward, watching the beautiful scenery flash by, I thought about my ticket which had my destination written on. I thought…

An ordinary man who lived an ordinary life! Ruth Johnson

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A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn  and a time to dance
Eccl.3:4








Last month when I reported on a friend who walked into hospital on a Friday afternoon with pneumonia.  On Saturday tests were carried out, the results on Sunday revealing Steve's body was riddle with cancer, and he died on the following evening.A shock to all who knew him.  Three weeks earlier he’d been fit enough to cycle the five miles to and from church, and besides the odd glass of wine, he didn’t drink and had never smoked.
The ‘thanksgiving’ celebration of his life was attended by at least five hundred people.  Relatives, friends from church, his naval career (when he’d married and had three children) along with colleagues and connections from many years of running his IT business.People had been drawn to him, a man who lived, talked and walked in the love of the Lord.And his son, following in his footsteps, spoke of the importance of faith in his father’s life, preached a Gospel based sermon to …

Scargill by Sue Russell

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It is all too often the case that when my turn to contribute to the blog looms I can find nothing to say. What do I know about Christianity or writing that hasn't been said before, that might amuse, inform, move, challenge, provoke?  Such questions to myself normally result in pitiful blankness. So this month I am going to cheat.
 I and a host of others have just come home from the ACW writers' weekend at Scargill House in the Yorkshire Dales, so the credentials of Christianity and writing can hardly be faulted, and our return coincides very happily (for me) with my date on the calendar.

It was my first time at Scargill, but I hope not the last. The weather was kind, the landscape inspiring, the hosts a delight, and the company unparalleled. It is a rare joy to be with so many people at one time with whom one has at least two major things in common - as above, Christianity and writing! I met people whom I had previously known only on social media; new connections were generated…

Is confession good for the soul? by Veronica Zundel

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Since starting my poetry writing MA (which has now had to be put on hold for a year because of my cancer treatment), I have become increasingly aware that 'confessional poetry' is largely a term of abuse in today's poetry scene. It calls to mind poems about personal pain (usually of a love-related
nature) in which the word 'I' occurs a lot and there is not much attention to technical quality or striking language and imagery, rather what appears to be prose chopped up into little lines, and a hearty helping of clichés.

Now I've probably written a lot of this sort of poetry myself in the past, though sometimes disguising its personal nature by using 'She' or even 'You' instead of 'I' - unrequited love is an endlessly fruitful source of poetry, and I've had more than my share of it. There is of course a Christian equivalent, pious poems with a liberal sprinkling of religious platitudes, generally the literary equivalent of those slush…