Showing posts from May, 2019

From the archives

  A few months ago I was looking for a piece of red paper with a list of Bible verses setting out “who you are in Christ”. I didn’t find it. What I did find was a copy of Writing Magazine from August-September 1998. I was going to consign it for recycling, but (terrible mistake) I looked through it. There were all sorts of articles about writing, but it was a profile, which caught my eye – The Association of Christian Writers . The article was compiled from information provided by the then chairman. In those days the magazine was Candle and Keyboard (now Christian Writer ). In the latest issue of Christian Writer , our chair, Angela Hobday, suggested we dust off our own archives. For some reason that I do not understand, my failures loom larger in my psyche than my successes. One writing success I had way back in 1995 was that a bedtime story for under 5’s, which I wrote for a Women’s Institute competition, won me a prize at county level. I haven’t found a home for it (or

Sexism for Teenagers

I recently wrote a review for a book aimed at teenage girls: and I slated it for its sexism and portrayal of teenage girls, and women in general, as desperately needing a boyfriend at all times. The first chapter was about the girl, Tella, with her mother. The second one opened with Tella lying in a forest after having sex with some random bad boy in tight leather trousers. It's not the first time I've reviewed a book aimed at teenage girls that starts off with a sex scene. But it's not the sex scene that bothers me. It's when you compare it to the books aimed at boys you see a massive difference. I can't remember one aimed at boys that pays much attention to their love lives. Yes they have a sort of love interest somewhere, usually late on in the book, but it's nowhere near as intense as the 'love' that's written about in girls' books. Why?What is it about books aimed at teenage girls that leads most of them (in my experience at least) t

Steps and Contrasts

Have you created a character all at once? Thought so - me neither! Does your writing always proceed smoothly? Thought so - me neither! Is there any writer who doesn't know how this feels? Pixabay You build up a character a piece at a time. I hear characters before I can visualize them and that explains, I think, why I relish writing dialogue or internal thoughts. The latter is useful for flash fiction as these convey attitude as well as information to propel the story. Double whammy as far as I'm concerned and no additional word count either. So putting a story or article together must be in a series of steps then, given non-fiction has its characters too even if these are”just” the voices of the narrator/writer. It will take time to work out where your writing journey will take you.  Pixabay What can be frustrating is when those steps don't come together as smoothly as you would like. This is when it can be tough to have faith in the writing process. Wr

Rigorous Editing by Trevor Thorn

Some readers of the ACW blog may have picked up that my principal area of writing is producing poems, songs and hymns about the complementarity of faith and science in revealing the glory of God in the Universe. One of the projects under this umbrella is the production of a children’s songbook of 30+ songs on this theme for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils - aimed especially at the 5000+ Christian Primary Schools and leaders of church-based work with similarly aged children. For this purpose, I was delighted to receive a substantial grant just over two years ago from ‘Scientists in Congregations’ (SiC) to gather and write material . Then, in the latter part of last year, I was further thrilled to hear that Kevin Mayhew are prepared to publish this book in June 2020. When we (a small project team working with me) were advised of the grant from SiC, I was surprised that we had been granted more than we had asked for. As a professional fundraiser for a quarter of a century I had

The right choice by Tracy Williamson

Today I choose. . . “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”        ( Brodi Ashton, Everneath ) I am not great at making choices.  I don't mean that my choices are bad  although they can be, but I am bad at making them.  I dither and put off the responsibility; I seek out other's opinions and if those opinions are different to mine then I take it as a sign that mine are wrong. But choosing is central to living.  We wake up and from that moment of consciousness choices are before us...Will I get up now or later? Read the Bible or take the dog out? What shall I eat for breakfast?  What shall I wear? And so on throughout the day with choices ranging from simple to complex. Most of us make these choices automatically, they are part of our daily routine and habit determines the answers, but what about the bigger choices which determine how we actually live our lives and arrange our time?  What do we choose to give priority to?

George Herbert’s 'Prayer', by Eve Lockett

George Herbert window St Andrew's Church, Bemerton You may have gathered the weekly Radio 4 programme S omething Understood , presented by Mark Tully, has come to the end of production. Each episode explored a different aspect of faith and experience. The title was taken from George Herbert’s poem  Prayer : Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,  God's breath in man returning to his birth,  The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,  The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth  Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,  Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,  The six-days world transposing in an hour,  A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;  Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,  Exalted manna, gladness of the best,  Heaven in ordinary, man well drest, The milky way, the bird of Paradise,  Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,  The land of spices; somethi

Dissolution of Paradise

  How can I put into words the unfathomable loss many of us feel on the imminent closure of St Oswald’s Pastoral Centre near Whitby?  Longstanding branch of the Anglican Order of the Holy Paraclete – it has offered a unique ‘place for all reasons and all seasons’. Now, lack of postulants is prompting closure, with the two remaining sisters, Janet Elizabeth and Helen, due to rejoin the mother house in the new St Hilda’s Priory on site at Sneaton Castle, Whitby.  So I am here on a final retreat, looking out over the beautiful Esk Valley through teardrops of rain.  A flowering cherry tree laden with deep pink promise frames the left foreground, whilst sentinel oaks to the right butt into a skyline of blue green hills.  The toot of a steam train drifts up from below as it chuffs cheerily along the North York Moors railway line towards Pickering, marked by a long plume of white smoke.  Years ago I arrived for my first visit to be greeted on the doorstep by sister Janet Elizabet

Thou Shalt Not Be Preachy

There’s a consensus among Christian writers that the things we write for the world outside the Christian fold should not be ‘preachy’. On the whole, the need is not so urgently felt if the writing is intended for believers, which is, in the American expression, ‘preaching to the choir’. But if what we write is aimed at a mixed audience, the message is: don’t be preachy. So what is ‘preachy’, is it a particular danger for Christians, and is it harmful to your chances of being a successful writer? Consider the following: There was a greedy look on Charlie’s face as he told Emily ‘I’m going to pull down my old factory and build a bigger one. I want to make twice the amount of profit that I’m getting at the moment.’ Emily was shocked. ‘You know the gospel tells us to beware of covetousness—in fact covetousness is idolatry,’ she exclaimed, pointing him to Ephesians 5:5. This is dreadful writing by me. It’s definitely preachy. ‘Preachy’ is defined as ‘showing a tendency to give

Practising Forgiveness

                                                                        Practising Forgiveness Forgiveness. Most of us would find it hard to discuss our faith without mentioning it. One of my childhood memories is my dad reading me Matthew 18:21-22: ‘Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”’ It didn’t make me any more willing to forgive my brother, but it did teach me early in life that forgiveness is important to God. Ultimately, as Christians, we know we need to forgive others because it’s a command from God. If we believe He has a perfect plan for us, then forgiveness will do us good, as well as those we forgive. It’s also hard to deny this when Jesus himself is the greatest example of forgiveness there is. His forgiveness of all our sins sets us free from condemnation, able to experience life in abundance.

Knowing Me, Knowing You by Emily Owen

Some dates stick in the mind. For me, this week contains such dates. It was this week, many years ago, that I had surgery. In fact, today marks the one-in-four days when I did not have an operation on my brain. During that time, people prayed for me. As they did, more people got to know about me, and so the prayer links grew. But people were not galvanised to pray by knowing a nebulous name (mine). They were praying because they had learned about some of my story. They wanted to know about the person behind the name. Earlier this month, I was invited to the Isle of Man, where I had the pleasure of meeting with Georgia and Andrew. They manage Churches Bookshop, a Christian bookshop on the Island. I had a question for them: What is the main thing authors can do to help you in your work? I confess, I didn’t anticipate their answer at all: ‘Meet us.’ Apparently, while it is possible to sell books without having met the author, knowing the person behind the boo

The Promises of God

For no matter how many promises  God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.  And so through him the "Amen"  is spoken by us  to the glory of God.                                         2 Cor.1:20   Songs often herald a movement of the Lord, and there are many in these days.  Two of them we sing regularly in church struck me as being particularly relevant in these days to build our confidence in the Lord and to believe His promises. “Faithful are You” and “God can do it again.”   The Bible is one big promise, the first and foundational one in my life is Ps.37, “Trust…Delight…Commit your way to the Lord…”   From that my   ‘Hearts Desire’ series was born to testify the Father’s love through fiction and using some my journey and the adventures He has taken me on. When young, before knowing the Lord, I and a friend would pretend to be radio presenters.   A buried desire which fifty years later opened up through m