Showing posts from July, 2019

It has changed my life!

  Last month someone said, “It has changed my life!” She was speaking to me about joining the Association of Christian Writers (ACW). It has changed my life too, but for me the process of change began a little earlier, when I began blogging. By the time I had been blogging for about 18 months I realised that joining ACW would be a good idea. (A friend had persuaded me.) I also realised that pursuing blogging fame was less important than improving my writing skills and seeking inspiration for what to write. Pursuing blogging fame! That was over five years ago. Perhaps I need to take stock of what I have written and set myself (or better, seek guidance in setting) some goals for the future. My writing life may need to change! I have been wondering about life-changing events. Some of them are listed in articles about stress. I have compiled a list, but you may be able to add to it:- Cards for life-changing events Becoming a Christian Passing a driving tes

And & That......

......are difficult. They are two words often used in sentences though we barely notice them until we have to mentally repeat them several times in a long sentence or a paragraph. But what are the options? Let's start with 'That'. The easiest thing to do is remove the word completely. You may find yourself surprised at the number of times you can remove it and it'll make no difference to the meaning of a sentence. When you can't remove it, leave it. There aren't many realistic alternatives to use. Next up is 'And'. This is altogether easier to replace. Options include 'then', while', 'though' and several more. You may still find that 'and' is the only viable option, so keep it in those instances. Read that last sentence again. Then remove 'that' from it. It still works. Now read the first sentence of this paragraph again, this time replacing 'that' with 'the'. Still makes makes sense. Two exampl

Summertime and the Writing Is Easy...

Or not maybe… Apologies to George Gershwin for misquoting his classic (though I still prefer Rhapsody in Blue) . Do you find writing in summer easier than during the winter? The jury’s out for me here. I try to keep a consistent writing level up for most of the year because, regardless of season, there are always distractions. But there are times when I write less and I’ve learned to come to terms with that. Only things missing here are a fridge and a shelf full of books!  Pixabay It’s important to love your writing but equally important to recognise there will be times when you can’t write as much as normal and that’s fine. What matters is keeping going for the long term even if sometimes you’re “ticking over”. Writing parents of school age children with the holidays upon you, I salute you! Enjoying what you write is crucial.  Pixabay It pays sometimes to take a little time out anyway to ask yourself what you want to do with your writing. Is publication the goal? Would

An Independent Eye by Trevor Thorn

I am frequently amazed by the insight into something I had regarded as satisfactory, that can be offered by someone who is independent and with a different skills set to my own. This is what happened to me just recently to heighten that view. As some of you will know, I have been blogging for eight years and had regarded the format of my site as ‘established’ and ‘working well’. Then on a recent summer school I encountered a young man, Brian, from the USA who is a website designer. I asked him if he would have the time to look over my blog site and feedback to me any design or technical issues that might improve my site. He was kind enough to do that and the first he identified was one of those situations where the obvious was 'hiding in plain sight’ to me. Some time ago, I had written on this blog about how useful it is to highlight particular ‘collections’ of similar material. In that entry

A Certain Place by Tracy Williamson

Yesterday I had a long journey home from Norfolk as there were problems on the railways because of the high temperatures.  At one point the line was struck by lightning from a storm directly overhead.  quite dramatic with all the thunder, lightning and torrential rain crashing down on the train.  We were stuck for about 50 mins which meant we missed our main connection, the train into London.  That train had problems too and was very much stop/start throughout its journey.  There were no announcements as to why it kept stopping, we guessed it was because of the weather but that was just our guess. Sometimes life can be like that too. I may start something feeling full of enthusiasm, a new project, tackling the garden, a spring clean, a new book or a new chapter in my relationship with the Lord.....But then for some reason I stop.  It may be a sudden stop because of a dramatic cause like the lighting hitting the line, or for some unknown reason where whatever I have begun just peter

Write what you love by Nicki Copeland

I’ve recently had the wonderful pleasure of watching my son graduate. To watch someone you’ve loved and nurtured for twenty-one years reach such a milestone is one of life’s biggest joys. A time perhaps to look back and reminisce, but also a time to look forward to what the future holds. And my prayer, as always, is that all my children will hold the hand of God as they walk life’s journey. I have also graduated recently (last year), with a theology degree, which I studied part-time for six years. It was very hard work, but I loved it, and I learnt so much. It was a real gift from God to be able to study something I love so much. My son studied Economics. A subject I couldn’t even begin to get my head around! His degree was mostly exam-based, but I proofread the essays he wrote, and it was as much as I could do to understand the subject matter! I admire my son for being able to get his head around such a complex subject. When I told him that, he told me he w

My favourite biblical writer - by Eileen Padmore

I was once asked to identify my favourite Bible hero.  It didn't take long.  David, of course: that ferocious lion slaying, giant killing warrior King who also performed sensitive, soul calming music and wrote timeless poetry and prose. We have a new prime minister, about whom opinions will be legion and strongly held.  No doubt the selection process has prompted us to give serious thought to the kind of abilities we require in a national leader – although musicianship and writing ability are unlikely to have made the list! When Samuel was instructed by God to select a new King for Israel, he was probably looking for someone experienced, upright, with good pedigree, stable family life, superb physique, clear vision, intelligence and charisma.  Many of those characteristics had been present in Saul. But David was no Saul look alike.  Not even present in the first line up of his older brothers because not yet a man, God demonstrated his knack of turning our preconceptions on th

Church life in Fiction

There are Christian novels without any character who is a Christian, or at least without any overtly Christian character. There are Christian novels with essentially a single Christian character. But is there much contemporary Christian fiction with numerous Christian characters? A whole group of Christians? A church as one of the settings? Isn’t this an altogether more challenging scenario, and one which Christian writers these days tend to avoid? The thing is, your single character can be quietly Christian, expressing or hinting at Christian attitudes and ethics, perhaps even occasionally uttering a quiet prayer, but not unduly disturbing the neutral, secular setting, or ruffling the agnostic reader’s sensitive feathers. Or the character may be more overtly Christian, but craftily portrayed so as to be sympathetic: perhaps with a not very creditable past, perhaps rather fallible, self-deprecating, or mildly comical, and certainly not aggressively Christian or (heaven forbid) pre

Dreams and Desires

Dreams and Desires  Tree Cathedral, Whipsnade: great place for dreaming 'Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.' (Psalm 37:4)     It's a great verse, isn't it? One we've all heard many times. And encouraging...I think. The problem is, this is a verse which all too often becomes simplified to, 'I'll follow God, and He'll give me what I want.' There are a couple of problems with this.     The first is that it's easy to read this as 'I have desires, which He will grant me', whereas it should be read more as, 'He will give me the desires which are His.' It's also often only the second part of this verse which is quoted. However, if we start with the first bit and delight ourselves in God as a priority, it is the desires which follow this relationship. The closer we get to God, the more He reveals what our hearts really desire.     Which brings me to the second

Remember the Pickled Onions by Emily Owen

Last weekend, I was at the ACW Day about Writing Memoir, in Leeds. The afternoon contained two workshops, one on ‘Focus in Writing’ and one on ‘Perspective in Writing’. I was facilitating the latter, and I enlisted none other than Peppa Pig herself to help me out. More on that later. I began by talking about the importance in memoir – as in other genres – of remembering that the same situation can be viewed differently, depending on where one is within it. As an example, I told of a time in hospital following an operation, when I was struggling to drink through a straw, due to damage the surgery had caused to my facial nerve. My sister, who was visiting me at the time, stood beside my bed, and stared at me. I thought the whole tortuous situation I was experiencing must have looked so horrific that she couldn’t look away. I later found out that she'd thought nothing of the sort: she’d been interested to know whether it was actually possible for me to use a straw, hence her

Back to the future...2 - Abraham

“ By faith Abraham when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went even though He did not know where he was going.”   Heb.11:8. NIV Abram wished to be obedient and found himself in Canaan, a stranger in a foreign land. When Lot and he parted God told Abram to lift up his eyes look in every direction and all the land he could see (above picture) God was giving to him and his offspring throughout the generations. God has plans and a future for all of us, but I sense He is saying, ‘before I can take you into your future you must consider your past’.   I see that as appreciating the privilege of being adopted into God’s family and understanding the benefits that affords us. (Eph.1) After that promise Abram settled, prospered and expected to have a family.   With the passing years when the promised son wasn’t conceived, his faith wavered as he grew old, and like us he questioned if he’d really heard God?   Until Sarah had an idea to

Catching up with Book Reviews (and alleviating my guilt for not writing them sooner) by Georgie Tennant

Book Reviews. As you read these two, innocent-sounding words, I am sure they evoke different responses, depending on who you are.  As a reader, guilt is the first thing that leaps up and takes hold of me.  I have read so many excellent books, recently, but has reviewing them yet made it to the top of my unwieldy to-do list? Sadly, no.  And yet I know how important they are to those from whom the brilliant literature I have enjoyed, has sprung.  As a writer, they may fill you with excited anticipation or fear and dread – or sheer annoyance and frustration at the number of people who have read your book, told you they’ve enjoyed it – but not left a review (sorry everyone)! So, with long summer days approaching (we can but dream), I thought I would execute the pair of proverbial winged creatures with one smooth pebble and type up, for this blog, some reviews I have been meaning to write for some time.   I hope they will both encourage the wonderful writers we have in our midst, as w

Spiritual writing prompts by Claire Musters

The joy of meeting author Sharon Brown (left). Last week I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Sharon Brown for the first time. She is the author of a series of fictional books that have had a huge spiritual impact on me – as well as thousands of others. The Sensible Shoes series is about four women from very different backgrounds who meet at a retreat. Readers learn spiritual disciplines as they do and also read how their lives intertwine and they work out how to use the disciplines in the ups and downs of their own lives.  During the evening, Sharon focused on us knowing that we are God’s beloved, and how that needs to be foundational in our lives. As we rest and receive that love we are able to respond – but only then. There were different spiritual exercises that Sharon got us to engage with and, as I reflected on them afterwards, I realised how much they involved our imaginations – and writing.  So much of our writing is done for the benefit of others: be it