The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Friday, December 5, 2008

We Can Lead The Way !

It's impossible to get through the day without talking with someone about the recession - depression - hard times. It seems that every level of our society is suffering right now. One young woman even scrunched her nose and said, "Maybe we should just eat worms and die."

YIKES! While I do feel for young people whose dreams are being challenged before they even get started, I hope our country has more courage than that!

Writers are the true hope of this country

Throughout dark times of history it was always the writer or the speaker that proclaimed some hopeful statement at the top of his lungs. Statements that touch hearts and reach into dark cells of depression. Statements like, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

My grandfather sat by an old radio and listened carefully to the fireside chats of President Roosevelt. With tears in his eyes he hung on every word. He had lived through the depression and desperately needed hope. President Roosevelt was able to lift an entire nation with his speeches.

Writers have the ability to shine light on possible answers and strengthen the resolve to make progress.

If you are struggling with financial issues, you may may wonder where you will get the strength to be encouraging to others.

When I was in third grade, I was very shy in school. We had moved from the south to the north and I was in unfamiliar territory. I had a nasty teacher that loved to yell. I tried to keep quiet and out of sight. I was sure that if I could become invisible she would never call on me. But....the day came when she did. I swallowed hard and ignored the butterflies in my stomach. I gave the right answer but would have preferred to go to the nurses station. Instead she asked me to write it on the board. I remember standing on wobbly knees, terrified of her evaluation of my writing skills and cringing with every scratch of the chalk on the board.

To my surprise, she not only complimented me, she patted me on the back. I stood there in front of the class with her hands on each shoulder as she continued to talk about the lesson. To this day, I don't remember what the lesson was about or the correct answer I gave. All I remember is that from that moment on, I determined to live my life - not hide from it.

I practiced involvement to such a degree that I proudly accepted a nickname given by friends at college. "Motor mouth" may seem silly to others but for me it was a declaration that I would never shrink from life. (My best friend "Jet Jaw" seemed to support my efforts...ha ha)

I urge you to join with me and let the world know that there is hope!

This world needs our thoughts and our viewpoints. As Christians we have a deeper understanding of this world and it's purpose. So shake off those wobbly legs, dust off the keyboard and let's get busy shinning the light of hope.

"And the Lord said to me, 'Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.'" Habakkuk 2:2

Merry Christmas - you are called to write,


Monday, October 27, 2008

Now is the time for all good authors.....

I'm not sure how typing is taught to the current generation, but I'm sure it's different from my high school experience.

My first typing class dates me. I remember sitting in a class with 25 desks perfectly aligned. Each desk had a standard (non-electric) typewriter. You know the style. At the end of each sentence you had to return the carriage. All the keys had masking tape on them so there was no advantage to looking at your fingers. The teacher would call out letters as if we were marching to a tune....the tune of 25 plunks as each key hit the carriage drum and bounced back. Every so often you would hear someone say, "Oh no, shoot" or "phooey" as they discovered several keys lodged in a pile on the carriage.

After a month or so of finding our way around the keyboard we smiled as we proudly typed, Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. Over and over we typed similar sentences trying to memorize every key as our fingers danced to the rhythm.

I have forgotten most of the sentences we typed, except for, "Now is the time..." It was easy to remember this one. It seemed patriotic. It called to a deeper sense of purpose. I was a teen when John Kennedy announced, "Ask not what your country can do for you....ask what you can do for your country." I was energized and felt that I was important. I felt privileged to be in a country where I could take up the cause to help others.

Authors....we must continue that cause. Even with media and television, it is still the written word that slices through the hardest heart. We have a job to do. No matter how this election turns out, our writings will continue. We have the ability to change lives by what we write.

I hope you will take the time to type this line several times and let it take root in your heart. "Now is the time for all good men/women to come to the aid of their country." Your voice needs to be heard. When you feel alone and your writing seems to be an endless debate of grammatical rules - don't give up. "NOW is the time for all good men/women to come to aid of their country."

More than ever, non-Christians need our words. If you knew that plowing through that unedited manuscript and getting it to a publisher would mean 150 souls would be saved - would you do it? Would you do it for a hundred? How about 75? How about 32 or 22 or even 11? Would you work hard for a month if you knew that 2 people would meet you in heaven and thank you for your service?
"Now is the time for all good AUTHORS to come to the aid of their country."

Will you join me?

God loves you and has called you to write,


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grammar Monster

Authors have to face a lot of writing monsters. There are times every writer feels like this picture as we wait for the next creative idea. What is your writing monster?

Maybe it's the monster of procrastination. We often feel like we could find those "illuminating" words if we only had our house clean or our e-mails sorted through. We are sure we will be more productive if we finish the bills, take a walk or wash the car - first.

The monster of preparation doesn't feel like a monster - after all the research must be done. But if piles of documents clutter our desk and loaded pod casts cause our computer to crash, the monster is winning.

The monster of friendly phone calls can delay writing for most of the day. If only our friends could understand that writing is a job and takes as much time as any other profession.

The monster of duty can take a huge bite out of our day. "You're not really busy today are you? Can't you pick of the kids?" or "Since you are at home all day can you take widow Sims to the doctor - the church would really appreciate it."

The monster of needs is a legitimate monster that must be fed, but can turn quickly and demolish creativity and stomp on our deadlines. The need to be with my husband can morph into a four day vacation from work. I need to spend time with my children can become an entire week that leads us further from our goals. I need a break from writing can become years of unfulfilled goals. We must take care of our needs while finding a balance that returns us to our committed goals.

My personal monster is grammar. As a well-known writer suggested at a writer's conference, I try to "throw up in the computer in the morning and clean it up in the afternoon." Unfortunately, just when I'm hitting that afternoon slump, the grammar monster attacks. "Is this passive? Does that verb need a dangling modifier with a participle injunction for the creative facility of noun usage." Yeah, I know. Doesn't make sense, but sometimes neither does grammar.

I think it's important for authors to play games. We need to relieve the tension of a paragraph that just won't sit on the page. I have decided that I'm a dragon (monster) slayer and that it's my job to chop at all the monsters until I have a piece of writing that speaks to the public.

Grammar monster - chop chop - "Take that you evil misspelled word."

Procrastination monster - chop chop - "Get away you demon, I will create!" get the idea. I am convinced that a writer is like a laser of light cutting through the darkness to bring hope.

We must always remember our goals, our God given talents and how much this world needs to hear the truth.

If we slay our monsters, we will bring light to the world and that will always make us smile.

God loves you and has called you to write,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing is like Smashed Apples

If you've read my other two blogs you know that IKE made a visit to Ohio. When I found out I had no cable, Internet or phones; my first thought was this is good. I'll have time to write, write , write.

Unfortunately, clean-up after a storm like IKE takes more than a few minutes. It took almost an hour to corral the apples that littered our driveway.

While I was thinking and praying about the faith and parenting lessons in those fallen apples, I also thought about my writing. How many times did I think a day would be filled with productive writing only to be disappointed? I'd sit at my computer ready to flow with great nuggets of wisdom and instead have the phone ring with an emergency. "Can you come quick?" The caller begged.

Finally, I had my notes in front of me and again the wonderful idea hit. It was perfect! The right words in the right order were filling my brain and pushing at my fingers. I clicked on the appropriate box and prepared to fly through my thoughts. I looked up to find that my computer had crashed and would not budge.

I grabbed a piece of paper just as the phone rang. It was mom. For over an hour she cried and told me about the death of a friend. Later that night, I switched to my laptop. I typed away. Finally the words were coming together. Finally the notes were in place. Ron called with bad news about the car but it didn't matter....the words were there on the screen.

Laptops are wonderful when there's nothing else, but there are times mine carries out the vengeance of all my past sins. If I move my thumb slightly over the pad as I type, it will highlight several paragraphs and wipe them out before I realize what has happened. A computer geek told me what to do to get it back...but on this particular day it didn't work.

I stared at the screen with only one sentence remaining. Tears rolled down my cheek. It had been perfect. Just the right words....just the right message....just the right article....and now it was gone.

Like hurricane IKE ripping apples from my tree, my day had ripped a beautiful idea from me. I tried to recreate those words, but they just wouldn't come. Finally, I walked away...sad.

Have you ever had that happen? So excited about a project only to lose it?

When I was little I remember a book that used to sit on our coffee table. It was called Apples of Gold. It was full of positive uplifting sayings and thoughts. Mom had another devotional book that sat beside her bed called, "God's apples of gold".

A word spoken in season, how good is it" ! "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" . Proverbs 15:23, 25:11 (NKJV)

As I raked up the apples from IKE many were smashed and some were bruised beyond the point of usable. But there were a few apples that could not only be saved but would produce beautiful pies. Thinking about the idea that I thought was lost, I returned to my now happy computer and began to write. I didn't reconstruct the exact words or even the exact thoughts. What I did do was make an apple pie. I took my enthusiasm and the general idea and mixed it with some patience and relaxation and found that I like the new one much better.

We are called to write. We are called to write when it's sunny and everything is as it should be. We are called to write when it's raining and our hearts are sad.

I am sure though, that we are at our best when we are called to write after the destruction of a storm.

I pray that you will find "Apples of Gold" in all your writing.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Inspiration is very hard to come by. It's based on our physical, mental and social health. We writers are a strange brew. We sit alone for hours working with words and yet we crave a hug or a touch or a simple - "Wow that's great!". We agonize over verbs and tenses while we secretly hate our jobs. We push on to find that phrase that will inspire others knowing that at the moment we are not inspired. I've often wondered how I could possibly describe the dichotomy of emotions we face.

I'm not sure this poem fully describes our pain but it does describe the one thing we long for. We crave for someone to "get it". We want more than anything for others to read what we write and understand the deeper recesses of our thoughts. We want them to see the world as we do and to love it as much as we do.

We "fight" to make a difference in our world. We fight with ourselves, with the busyness of life, with the verb that just doesn't ring true, and with the tired eyes that just won't give up. We fight to touch another human being with our thoughts.

I hope Lois A. Cheney touches you. This is poem #59 from her book, God is no fool.


Thank God.

Thank God for those who see into us, through us, and to the self that is beyond ourselves.
There have been those few who refused our superficial roles, who have seen beyond our clever chatter; who have waited beyond our preoccupation.
Reaching through our facades, which we have very carefully built, they have seen a beauty which we all have, but which, for most of us lies buried deep inside.
The beauty was planted there by God.
He then touches those few, who through love, touch us.
Much of the positive which we do and think is in response to those who have smiled past the shell into the white light.
Thank God and thank them, and pray we never stop trying to measure up to what he and they believe we can be.

Wow! Don't you just love that? Isn't it so true?

God loves you and has called you to write,


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finally !!!

My new book has been completed, edited and is now with the typeset proof reader. I've redesigned my website and eliminated all but three blogs. Once again I'm ready to hit the floor running. (check it out

I think one of the hardest requirements for a writer is that it must be a way of life. It's difficult to schedule your time and determine what will be a part of your life and what won't.

I'm not suggesting that it's too big of a job - absolutely not, but it does take planning. And I think for many new writers that planning stage is the hardest. For example, a new writer must....

  • Teach family and friends to understand that time in the office or quiet time looking at the clouds is actually work time and should not be interrupted.

  • Let go of treasured activities in order to make time for the writing process. No one can do it all and if your life was full before you decided to write - something has to go.

  • We want that book done NOW. We have to learn that it's a process and we simply can't lock ourselves in a room until it's done.

  • We must read, research, read, research....with all that reading and research when do we stop to actually write?

  • We see stories in our heads 24/7. We must carry paper with us all the time just in case those words begin to flow. How discreet can we be when the words are flowing in the middle of a theme park?

  • We are CEO's as well as writers. We must be involved in promoting, scheduling, taxes, finances, selling, speaking, web design, blogging - in other words we are a one man/woman band. That's hard!

So, what are you saying Debbie? I'm not good at multi-tasking, should I quit?

Heavens NO! I'm an old person and I'm not good at multi-tasking either. Quitting will not solve that issue - planning and practicing will.

I've gone through a lot of plans. Still searching to find the most perfect one. Along the way, I've discovered some answers that have made my writing time more productive. I'm still working on other issues.

This week I'm working on "accepting". I'm taking a lot of deep breaths and telling myself that it's okay to let some writing wait one more day. I'm not on a deadline and until I am, I'll just keep working a little each day until it's done. (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.)

In his book Writing for the Soul Jerry Jenkins states, "Get serious about your career by declaring yourself a writer. Do it now, and don't look back......Your results will mirror your commitment. Put in the necessary time and do the rewrites to make your own success inevitable. Make your own breaks. That's what separates hobbyists from real authors. Study, do the research, develop a thick skin, work hard, learn to take editing, and learn to edit yourself. Have you arrived yet? Neither have I."

Cool huh? Jerry is still practicing just like we are.

God loves you and has called you to write


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rushing to meet a deadline

When a deadline looms, life stops. As authors we are constantly unemployed and often find ourselves working long hours to make deadlines we wish could have been changed but we accepted because we needed the work.

It's not easy telling a friend that you can't talk and lunch simply isn't in the cards until another 10,000 words are written. "But that's not really the case," she fusses. "You just don't want to go."

She may have a demanding job herself, but because we work at home authors suffer the same attacks anyone endures when they don't have a boss who requires a time clock. Our time clock is internal.

That drive to be disciplined in our work also causes too much alone time. Being alone with no one to talk to but the dog can sometimes breed fear. It may not last. It may be gone within moments, but it seems to erupt at the most inconvenient times and it always takes away from creative thinking.

I stopped for a moment today and realized that those fears need to be handled. I need to refuse the negative thoughts and re-claim God's call on my life. I know I'm just tired, but I still need to be strong. Perhaps, you have felt those moments of insecurity. Perhaps you might like to use my remedy.

I took a moment and thought about all the friends and loved ones that care about my writing. Not secondary friends...but the really close friends who check on me from time to time and actually want to know about my success. I prayed for them and was comforted in knowing they are praying for me. I sent the following e-mail:

Writing is one of the hardest things I do. I sit in my office alone facing a sea of papers and research. I click around on the Internet finding bits and pieces. I push back in my chair - stare at the ceiling and wonder if anyone will like what I've written. I walk to the mailbox alone and wonder what God is doing in my life. I check my e-mails several times a day wondering if that article or chapter resonated with the editor.

All that alone time is fodder for Satan's attacks. I KNOW God has called me to this, but there are those moments of weakness when I stare out the window as prickles run through my stomach. I KNOW GOD HAS CALLED ME...."but what if" weak little mind whispers.

It's in those moments that I think of special friends. I'm sure they are praying for me and that I have a bond with their spirits. It's then that I thank God for their prayers and their encouraging words. I AM CALLED TO THIS WRITING THING....I WILL CONTINUE TO WORK....I WILL CARRY ON....

This is one of those moments and I want to stop and say, thank you. Thank you for all you mean to me. Thank you for lifting me higher. Thank you for your love.

Let me know if you have ever felt this way. I would love to be part of your circle of praying friends. Perhaps your friends would appreciate an e-mail too.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jerry B. Jenkins

I had a wonderful time at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference this year. I know I've said it before, but if you want to save for the most important tool in writing - save for a large conference. There are several around the country.

Meeting other writers, being totally immersed in the study of writing, and meeting editors and speakers - all make for a fantastic experience. While having your manuscript critiqued by an editor will bring out all sorts of emotions, the best ego booster ever is meeting an icon and peeking into his/her career.

What I've found is that successful writers are warm and caring people. They have walked the path of an unpublished author and they know how you feel. They want to help. They want to share their experiences and they want to give you a lift as you make your way along.

Jerry Jenkins is just that type of author. He is best known for the Left Behind series written with Tim LaHaye, has been awarded four honorary doctorates and authored over 170 books.

Former editor of Moody Magazine, Dr. Jenkin's writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts and dozens of Christian periodicals. His non-fiction books include as-told-to-biographies with Hank Aaron, Brett Butler, Bill Gaither, Orel Hershiser, Luis Palau, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, and Sammy Tippit, among many others.

He also assisted Dr. Billy Graham with his memoirs, Just As I Am, a New York Times bestseller. He considered the 13 months he spent assisting Dr. Graham the privilege of a lifetime. Jerry owns the Christian Writers Guild, speaks widely, primarily on writing, and is a sought-after humorist. He and his wife Dianna have three grown sons and four grandchildren and live in Colorado.

In talking with him, I found him to be kind and concerned. I purchased his new book and had him sign it for me.

You can order his book Writing for the Soul through the link at the end of this blog.

I love the section titled, Am I a Writer? He discusses what we should call ourselves (I've stumbled over that one many times) when we have yet to be published. After listing different titles he states, "It doesn't matter. You are what you say you are. If you have decided to be a writer, you're a writer, published or not." Later in that section he makes the bold statement..."Your results will mirror your commitment. Put in the necessary time and do the rewrites to make your own success inevitable."

Wow! How true....Now don't you feel good?? Let's get busy!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Good News! You can do it!

If you feel a little discouraged today...don't be. You can do it! If God has given you the desire and the inspiration to write - you can do it. It may take a while and you may have to work hard - very hard. The good news is that you can do it.

How do I know? How can I sit here at my computer and know what's going through your mind hundreds or thousands of miles away? Because my darling friend - everyone has those thoughts of fear. Everyone wonders if they are good enough, smart enough, inspired enough or just plain do I have enough time?

All through high school and college I loved to write. I loved to construct challenging situations with a surprise ending. I loved watching someone read my story with a ho hum and then laugh or cry at the ending as their eyes danced with surprise. Gotcha.

Unfortunately every paper was returned with A++ for content and D- for grammar. No matter how hard I tried it seemed impossible to receive higher than a C- on grammar. For years I went on with my life sure that I was not meant to be a writer.

The fire still burned. It was only a smouldering ember...but it was there. When my children were all in school I once again picked up the pen convinced that my writing would only be for my family.

You probably know this story well. There's something in your heart or mind that keeps you from writing. Some little thing that you are sure you can't overcome.

I am positive whatever it is that steals your commitment to writing - it can be overcome.

I found out that I'm not an idiot. I can learn grammar. My writing was wrote rotten, but I are learning. (ha ha) The real dragon isn't what we can't do....the dragon that must die is our lack of determination. have no idea how hard it is for me. I'm struggling financially and I have medical issues. It's just too hard. You have no idea.

Would you like to hear about a lady who had to take money from her meager household budget to buy the supplies to write? She knew everytime she used a piece of paper that it was coming at the expense of her family. Add to that a medical problem. She was dyslexic. Writing is hard enough when you don't have problems. Writing and creating understandable text is extremely difficult when every letter is twisted.

I attended two writer's conferences within one week of each other - I survived! Wonderful opportunities opened for me. I haven't written on this blog simply because I have deadlines that must be met. That's a wonderful problem.
The Good News for you is that I talked with a lot of writers and editors. No one said their career just took off. Everyone had a story about how long or hard the struggle was.

The Keynote speaker for Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference was Debbie Macomber. She is a romance fiction author and humorist, has become one of the best-loved authors in America, having written over 100 novels with more than 60 million books in print. She's won the Rita and the first-ever Quill Award (reader's choice) for romance fictions, as well as the "triple crown of publishing" - having a book hit the NY Times, Publisher's weekly and USA Today bestseller lists nine times. In September 2007, Debbie's new book, 74 Seaside Avenue, bumped Harry Potter's newest book out of the #1 NY bestsellers spot! Debbie is a much-loved speaker. Her presentations are filled with humor, and listeners come away with inspiration, encouragement and deep spiritual insight.

She was all that! She was warm, funny and even more gracious in person. Her first talk was entitled, "How to become famous in 20 years or less." She told us how difficult it was to take money slotted for her children and spend it to learn her craft. Imagine our surprise after listening to all her accomplishments to find out that she is dyslexic.

The point of her talk can be summed up in one piece of her story. When she went to her first writer's conference and approached an editor to discuss her submission she was told that her novel was awful. When she fought through the tears and disappointment to ask, "How can I fix it?" She was told that the best thing for her to do was to throw it in the trash. As she relayed her story with love and compassion - I heard sniffing throughout the audience.

We all know what it feels like to be told that your work has failed. Be encouraged....her story didn't stop there. She was wounded but she continued to work at her craft. She continued to study and to write. She continued.....

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall the first time that editor heard that Debbie Macomber was on the NY Times bestseller list? I would.

Guess what? We all have that chance. We all have the right to share our voice, our thoughts, our beliefs. We all have the right to continue to work at our craft and to be heard!

At lunch Debbie and I talked about the voices in our heads that continually tell us that we aren't good enough or inspired enough to write. She smiled and dipped her head slightly to make sure I heard what she said,
"We can't afford to listen to those thoughts. We have to fight through them and realize that God has given us a gift. A gift we must share. Tell your readers to work hard but never, never give up!"

There you have it....straight from Debbie Macomber. Don't give up. Keep trying and someday you'll make it.

Check out Debbie's website at I encourage you to read her books. She's wonderful.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Giving up -- what difference does it make?

CK wrote and asked...

"I have spent a lot of my free time learning all I can about the publishing world. I've polished my grammar and worked on personal marketing. I have a ministry with abused women and I feel like I've learned important tips that should be passed to a greater audience.

I feel like a failure even asking this question publicly, so please don't use my full name. How can I know if I will ever make a real difference? My world is so small. I feel God in every conversation I have with a battered woman. What if that's all God wants me to be? What if my voice isn't developed for publication? I keep wondering if maybe I should just quit."

CK - you are not alone!

I don't know anyone that hasn't felt that way. I've felt that way and I know others that deal with those same issues.

I won't dare presume that I could know God's will for your life. I do know with 100% certainty that no one will ever get the Good News to this hurting world without pushing through the "tar" barrier.

The "TAR" barrier stands for "Things are rough". Rough can stand for anything we are facing that wants to stop our progress - even our own discouragement.

When I was a kid in the South we used to love those super hot days. The tar roads of our subdivision seemed to be covered with a steamy heat wave. My friends and I would find sticks to poke at the bubbles or big rocks to ease down into the goo. Even worse though, was to be playing tag and chase someone across an especially gummy part of the road. The goo didn't stop me, but it sure made running fast difficult.

Being an effective writer is some of the hardest work anyone can do. The only job that comes close is being a mother. A mother will work 18-hour days for years without pay, acknowledgement or even the hope of success. She gives willingly of all her talents and all her energy. Her only hope is that when her child reaches adulthood that he/she will turn around and say, "Thanks, Mom." Years of work for a simple "Thanks, Mom" before he/she heads out into the world. I dare say though - no one will deny the great importance of that her contribution. Her child will be different because of her dedication.

You sound tired and overworked. Maybe you are putting so much time into preparing to write that you don't "feel" like writing. Inspiration is a funny thing. It usually only strikes when we are rested.

So here's a few tips:

Take a vacation from your writing. Not a long one, but give yourself permission to rest. Hug your child, kiss your husband and go for a walk.

Try writing something small for a while. Start a blog or send encouraging notes to a friend. Write small items and build day by day to larger pieces.

Read, read, read. Reading helps us to get in the flow of writing.

Ask God to center His perfect will in your heart.

Let the scriptures inspire you. Here's a few to consider just for writers:

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, (writes) he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:13-16 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life - in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing,"

Philippians 2:13-16 is my favorite verse. It tells me that God is in charge of results. I am only in charge of doing my best and continuing on the path he has laid before me. My energy, perseverance and success are all in God's hands. I am just his vessel.

I love the way Marlene Bagnull puts it in her "Writer's Statement of Faith".

"[Not in my own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in {me} - energizing and creating in {me} the power and desire - both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (Phil 2:13, AMP)

CK - you will never be able to effectively tell the world what you know without God's help. Don't go it alone. Ask Him daily to stand beside you and give you the inspiration you need to be all He has called you to be.

Let's pray, "Dear God, please help CK and all your writing soldiers to be encouraged today. Help us to remember that you are in control. Help us to lean on you for our strength, our encouragement and our talent. We offer our writing to you first. We ask that you bless it and help it to multiply to those that need it. We trust you for the direction of our lives and our talents."

I will be praying for you. You can do it!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Saturday, February 9, 2008

When your writing is tested.....

My life has been a journey. Sometimes I can clearly see where God is leading. Sometimes I can't. There is a knowledge buried deep within my heart that my journey here is not routine. God has called me and I must follow his purpose.

His calling has led me down many wonderful roads. The best road yet is the knowledge that I am called to write. I am impatient at the time it seems to take for me to learn this business. However, there are times when I look back and I'm grateful for the small tender ways God is tweaking my thoughts. I am grateful for the years he has taken to gently change and redirect my writing.

This last year has been my hardest and deepest lesson. Perhaps it was my final. (I hope so?!?) If God has more trials in mind for me, I am sure that I will survive based solely on the lessons I learned this summer.

Last March I attended the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Even though I was scared, totally inexperienced with conference requirements, felt in awe of the talent pool and sure that my abilities were inadequate....I pushed on through. There were rewards. I made friends, contacts and had a favorable return on a critique. I was so excited to win the MP3's of the conference. I left with a hopeful heart determined to make 2007 a successful year.

I could make this a long post by giving you all the details, but let me just list the issues I faced when I returned home.
  • My son (a music minister) was having trouble at his church. "Please come out Mom and see what you think." I spent a week with him.
  • When I returned home, my mother had arrived and stayed for six weeks. It was obvious she has beginning dementia.
  • Three days after she left I went to the hospital with chest pains. Stayed overnight - I'm okay.
  • MRI for chest pains revealed a spot on my lung and two on my thyroid.
  • We experienced three deaths in the family.
  • My son decided to leave the church and move home...we helped him.
  • My daughter decided to leave her job and move to Florida. We helped her.
  • I am the Administrator for our church library and we were in the process of changing 8,500 items from the card system to a scanner system.
  • My husband Ron was told his retina might be pulling away from the eye.
  • Ron's job was causing enough stress that we worried about his heart.
  • I have TMJ and the bite split was causing problems that resulted in more migraines.
  • One doctor was adamant about more testing of the spots on my thyroid.
  • My husband and sons were leaving on their annual motorcycle trip when I received a letter urging that I see the doctor at once about possible cancer. We prayed and promised to trust God together.
  • That evening Ken called and said, "Stay calm Mom, everything is fine. Jamie is fine." I panicked as he continued, "There's been an accident."
  • Jamie had extensive surgery 4 days later. He had two pins in his hand and 9 screws and a plate in his leg.
  • I was sitting beside him the night after his surgery when the BP monitor went crazy. His BP went to 260. Nurses flew in from every direction. 45 minutes later it happened again. Tests revealed he had two blood clots pass through his heart. Everyone kept saying... "Most of the time people die with this."
  • Jamie has a huge photography business. For the next three months (because he couldn't walk) we all had to pitch in so he could save his business. Since everyone else had rigid schedules - I kept my house clean, his house clean, helped with his business and went to weddings with him - pushing his wheelchair and carrying equipment.
  • I finally had a biopsy done (had to postpone because of accident). It was more painful waiting but I finally found out, Thank God I'm cancer free.
  • Ken found a wonderful job in Illinois. We helped him move to Illinois, finished moving from his previous employment and kept his dog for a while.

That's not all, there's more....but it's enough for you to get the idea that this year will be used as a benchmark. From now on when something bad happens we will instantly feel better by saying, "Well, at least it's not as bad as the summer of '07 !"

Why am I telling you all this???? What could this possibly have to do with your writing soul???

YOU CAN DO IT ! I found out that if you "know" in your heart that God has called you to write, you can do it! Maybe it won't be in your time frame. Maybe you won't accomplish everything on your list. Maybe you will only complete chapter one instead of a three book series...but YOU CAN DO IT!

While all of that was going on I cried a lot. I also looked at the sky. I wondered how I could take the peaceful clouds and the beautiful colors and bring them down to my crazy life. How could I possibly "feel" the peace of heaven during the tremendous storms of life?

One moment at a time. One tiny second at a time. I learned to accept a little peace here and a little peace there. I learned to savor the smiles and the moments of quiet. I learned to do as Paul instructed...

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil: 4:12

I found great strength in the writing contacts and friends I made at Mount Hermon. Holly Miller has always been a great source of strength and comfort as my dearest friend. As I said in my first blog, I would close my eyes and see the face of Vicki Crumpton as she insisted, "Just do it Debbie, Just do it." I remembered the encouraging words of Nick Harrison, Barbara Curtis and Jim Denney. I felt their encouragement and it made me want to go the extra mile and push - just a little longer. What a comfort it was to sit and read Marlene Bagnull's devotional book for writers, Write His Answer.

You can also find that strength. If you are called, you must continue to "fight" for your writing talents. As Holly Miller has told us..."You must MAKE time for your writing."

I am living proof that you can do that. During all the stress, worry and turmoil I found tid bits of time to accomplish the following.

  • Finished my website.
  • Wrote over 150 blogs.
  • Sent out articles.
  • Reworked my book.
  • Read 12 books.
  • Redesigned my business.
  • Started 10 new blogs including this one so I could help more people.

And how did that help my writing? Just like everyone at the conference insisted, if you spend at least 15 minutes a day writing, you will improve.

God is so good. Jamie is alive, Ron's eyes are perfect, my children are doing well in their new jobs and I am cancer free. What an added plus that I now have this wonderful blog to encourage others.

Not only will I continue to keep God #1 in my writing, I will pray for you that God will keep you centered in His perfect will.

I am not special. God isn't just working on me. I know that no matter what you are going through, God will bring forth your talents. YOU CAN DO IT!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, February 4, 2008

Exciting News !

Your ideas are needed !

In designing this weblog page, it is important to us that YOU are the focus. Over the next six weeks I will have the opportunity to interview over 25 authors and editors. I have a list of questions that I would like answered. I am sure they are not the same as yours.

You can be a part of these interviews by sending your questions to

I will be attending The Florida Christian Writers Conference as well as Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference.

Your participation will insure that my interviews with people like Sally Stuart, Barbara Curtis, Judi Perry and Ces Murphey will include the questions you want to ask.

Also, as described on the What's New page, you can win an autographed copy of When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall. To win her book simply send in a short story about your favorite act of love. It can be a story about spousal, parental or agape love - true or fiction.

If you are a frequent reader of Just Write, be sure and let me know. Your name will be included in a drawing for the book Writing Clinic by The Writer's Digest.

February/March are exciting months!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, January 21, 2008

Holly Miller, author and editor

I was not sincere about a writing career until I met Holly Miller. She is genuine in her love for writing and authentic in her encouragement for other writers. She has given me the best gift of all..."the desire to be my best as a writer and the call to get busy, now!"

It is my great pleasure to have Holly Miller as our first interview. I know you will appreciate her thoughts as much as I do.

Holly G. Miller is senior editor of The Saturday Evening Post, author of 14 books and professional in residence at Anderson University. She has won writing awards from the Associated Press, Evangelical Press Association, Society of American Travel Writers, Midwest Travel Writers Association, Women in Communication and Society of Professional Journalists.

As a freelancer magazine writer she has had more than 3,000 articles published. Last year her published interviews included conversations with Sally Field, Suzanne Somers, Judge Judy, Tony Bennett, Dr. Oz and Bob Newhart.

Holly is currently under contract to write a second edition of her magazine-writing book “Feature and Magazine Writing: Action, Angle and Anecdote” with co-author David Sumner.

I've read her book and it's a must if you want to write for magazines.

Just Write: How did you get started in your career?

Holly: I was a journalism major in college, and after graduation I took a job as a police/political reporter for my hometown daily newspaper. Whenever I got an assignment that I thought might be of interest to a larger audience I rewrote it and tried to market it. My first major break came when I interviewed humorist Erma Bombeck. We ran it in our newspaper, the Associated Press picked it up (it later won an AP writing award) and then I rewrote the interview for Writer’s Digest magazine.

Just Write: Were you published immediately?

Holly: The first thing I wrote was a silly first-person experience piece. Amazingly, it sold (I’ll never forget receiving the check for $100!). I decided that freelancing was a piece of cake.

Just Write: Do you have any rejection letters?

Holly: Yes! After I sold my first piece, I changed my mind about freelancing being a piece of cake. It was TWO YEARS before my next sale!

Just Write: What went through your mind the moment you received the good news that you had sold your first piece of writing?

Holly: I must have spent that $100 check a million times in my head. Should I invest it? Buy something sensible? Frame it? Splurge on something to wear that would be so wild that everyone would remark about it?( That would give me an opening to say, “Oh, I bought this with my latest freelance check.”) In the end the $100 went toward a new set of tires. So much for daydreaming!

Just Write: In the beginning of your career did you ever think the publishing industry was bigger than your talents or abilities?

Holly: Sure, every writer is plagued with feelings of inadequacy. Every rejection letter brings a new wave of insecurity.

Just Write: How do you deal with those feelings?

Holly: I go through a series of emotions when my work is turned down: First, I want to quit writing, toss my computer in the trash, and take up ceramics. Second, I get angry—how could an editor reject something that I worked soooooo hard to produce? Finally, I move into my “I’ll show ‘em” phase. That’s when I get fired up and go back to work.

Just Write: Most conferences stress that we all have a voice. What do you believe are the characteristics of the influential voice destined to produce change?

Holly: Each year I judge a national writing contest sponsored by the Evangelical Press Association. All entries have been published, so the writers aren’t newcomers. What sets a winner apart from the rest of the field is often the voice. Some writers have the confidence to tackle provocative topics head-on; they develop a style that isn’t like everyone else’s; they go beyond just clear writing and move all the way to inspired writing. They are willing to take risks.

Just Write: Juggling personal priorities and writing goals can be difficult for most new writers. It’s even worse when day jobs and small children are involved. How do you set your priorities?

Holly: When I was starting out I didn’t get a lot of sleep! I would work very late at night when the house was finally quiet. Then I would be up early to get everyone off to work/school. Sometimes I worked in snatches—20 minutes here or there. A writer doesn’t FIND time to write, she MAKES time to write.

Just Write: Denny Boltinghouse of Simon & Schuster-Howard Books told a class at a conference that he was not there to sign contracts; he was there to make friends. New writers have a hard time seeing editors as neighbors and friends. Do you like to hear from people you meet?

Holly: I like a writer who hands me her/his card, tells me his areas of specialization and says, “If you ever have an assignment in my neck of the woods, please call.”

Just Write: What is the #1 personal mental trait you would like to see all new writers develop?

Holly: Writers have to be inquisitive. They have to be interested in EVERYTHING and know how to ask good questions to learn more. The term “life-long learner” may be a cliché, but the concept is solid. I get very frustrated with Christian writers who say they don’t read newspapers, watch TV news, go to films or read current books. I believe you have to know the world you want to change.

Just Write: What is your favorite book and/or magazine?

Holly: I’m a news junkie, so I probably like Newsweek and The New Yorker best. As for books, I loved “Bel Canto” and “Mr. Timothy.” Currently I’m reading “No Ordinary Time,” a biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during the war years.

Just Write: What is your favorite Bible verse?

Holly: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1)

Just Write: Have you ever been discouraged with your career?

Holly: Rarely have I felt discouraged. Like all writers, I have good days and not-so-good ones. But I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I feel sorry for people who say, “If I had it to do over, I would….” I’d be a writer.

Just Write: New writers may look confident on the outside but inside they wonder if they have what it takes. Our inner turmoil is the most discouraging thing we face. What overall piece of advice would you like to share with them?

Holly: Writing is hard work. Writing is a business. If you truly want to write for a living, set aside your doubts and jump in. At the end of every day ask yourself, “What did I learn today that I didn’t know yesterday?” Make sure you always have an answer to that question.

Thank you Holly. Thank you for your dedication to your own skill and for sharing your advice with us. May God bless you today.

It is always inspiring to hear that successful writers like Holly Miller walked the same sleepless road we are on now. I urge you to purchase her book and get excited about your career. After all...I'm just waiting for the day when I can interview you.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, January 14, 2008

Christian Writers' Market Guide

It's that time of year again! Christmas is over and the last few decorations are finally in their box. The article that's been rolling around in your head is ready to splash onto the page.

After a hard day of dancing with words you push back in your chair, wiggle your toes, stretch your arms to the sky and let out a satisfying sigh..."At last, it's done. And it's good."

Your eyes fall on the tattered Christian Writers' Market Guide for 2007. "I'll be glad to get the new one. This one is barely hanging on."

If you are a new writer and you are looking for that first sale, Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide is a must. For seasoned writers, it is our writing Bible. I won't go into all the reasons why it is a must can find that out on any of those other "let me tell you how to sell your stuff" sites.

For me, the book represents HOPE. Anytime I get discouraged I go for a swim in a new section of the book. I immerse myself in the fact that there are hundreds of places I can contact.

"See there Debbie, it's not over! There are still plenty of places to send your article. Get busy Gal! Get with it. Until everyone in this book has said no, you can still make it!"

To get Sally's book, you can use the following link. If you like, you can visit her website at

Thanks Sally for all your hard work and for the "HOPE" you give.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, January 7, 2008

Joining God's Army

What is your morning routine? Once I pry my eyes open, I stumble down the steps to make coffee. I'm not really awake until the 5th sip. I make a bowl of cereal and then sit down to catch up on the news. Later in the day I check back every so often to see what's going on in the world.

Yesterday I caught a quick sound bite about an atheist movement. Today I googled "American Atheist". There were 2,150,000 results. I couldn't believe the stories of their determination. They have shopping sites where you can buy things like Anti-religious t-shirts and heathen (their words not mine) mugs. No wonder there have been so many lawsuits and personal attacks. They want to rid America of any and all religious ties. Their Christmas motto is "Atheist are the reason there's reason." Their bumber sticker boasts, "Atheism - there's no substitute for being right."

Lately I've felt under attack. Not just on a global level, but on a personal level as well. The big bad wolf seems to be knocking close to home and it's more than intimidating. Perhaps now I know why. There is a movement to strip this country of our freedom of religion.

I went to my knees. I am convinced that the Christian Faith is facing it's biggest fight yet. I have enjoyed the religious freedom in this country and losing it isn't something I want to live through. I asked God to show me His will for me during this time.

I thought about all the things I could do to fight for my religious freedom. Everything I thought about had consequences. If I joined a march - we could be stopped or jeered or even physically attacked. In some places if I stood in a pulpit and spoke strongly against evil, I could be sued. Many churches are facing lawsuits because they took a stand on sin. If I expressed my feelings to a co-worker I could be sued or even arrested. We all know the consequences of sharing the gospel in public. The week-end headlines boasted about a woman who was kicked off a bus for reading the Bible to her daughter. I read another account where a person going door to door witnessing was beaten. We aren't even allowed to discipline our children in public.

Fear gripped my heart. I prayed for people who are athetist but are my friend. I prayed for the division that may be looming ahead. I prayed for my own timid heart. What can I do to stop this horrible trend? What is the best thing to do? Should I just keep quiet, attend church and pray for our country? Once again I asked God to show me His will.

What is the one priceless freedom that so far has not been stopped? Writing - The printed word - freedom of expression - freedom of the press. This country does not burn or ban books.

Individuals or groups might ban books - but the government does not. Thank God we still have a governmental policy that freedom of the press must be preserved. We may not be able to preach it from a pulpit, but writing it in a book can't be stopped. We may not sell a lot of books and we may be attacked verbally on a talk show, but printing will continue. Lawsuits may try to stop the printing presses, but most of the time printing continues - and controversy even increases sales. Even better - Atheist can't open the door to book banning because we would also be allowed to ban their material.

"The Pen is mightier than the sword." Not only is it unstoppable, it is powerful. Reading changes hearts. Reading gets inside you and haunts you. Reading changes lives.
It seems to me that if a person wants to change the world, he should write.

Write with conviction.

Write with purpose.

Write as if the future depends on your words.

As I closed my eyes to pray again all I could see was this great army of men and women. An army carrying only one tool....the printed word. As we write fiction and non-fiction we change this world one reader at a time. We open his heart just a crack so God's light can shine in. The next writer widens the crack and the next and the next.

Once this great army forms we can change the world. Don't you agree? Send me an e-mail and let me know how you feel.

Will you join God's army and help spread the gospel through your written words?

He's waiting....

God loves you and has called you to write,


Marlene Bagnull

Marlene Bagnull is a wonderful writer and speaker. I attended a conference with her several years ago. I could list her accomplishments but take my word for it...she's great.

She has written a wonderful book for the soul of a writer. Write His Answer addresses all the mental hoops writers insist on jumping through. It's a treasured Bible study for Christian Writers.

I love the first quote in the book. It's from Habakkuk 2:2. "And the Lord said to me, Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others."

I love the holidays and I love doing things for my family. But during such a busy time it's easy to lose sight of what we do. Somewhere in the casseroles and wrapping paper I forget that I've been called. I forget that God has given me a voice and a message.

We must NEVER forget. We must strive to keep that billboard foremost in our minds. We are called!

I can't write what God has laid on your heart. He needs your voice and your experiences to touch people that are "like" you. And guess what, you can't write for me. My slant is totally different from you. We are all part of an army that God needs to carry out his will.
Please pray with me....

"Dear God, help me today to remember why you called me to write. Help me not to stress over the marketing and the technical side of writing.

Help me instead to open my mind and see individual faces of people that you want me to help. Let me see the struggling mother, the discouraged father, the hurting teen, the burnt out pastor. Give me a word for them. Let my head and my hands be yours as you bring encouragement and peace to those people.

While I need to do my very best, remind me that I have been called. Remind me that it will not be easy, but you will be there with me. Remind me that I serve you first. Let my words be your words destined to help a hurting world.

I love you Lord....Amen"

God loves you and has called you to write,


Hot Flash Fear

I'm 57 years old. I'm very secure in my life. I have a great family who loves me and is proud of my writing. I'm confident of the advice I give during lectures and classes. I'm confident of the counseling advice I give to clients.

If you are younger you may not identify with hot flashes. Eventually it's a life process all women experience. We should look at hot flashes as a badge of honor stating that we've made it through the wonderful life cycle of child bearing. Maybe we should even be celebrating our success.

It's hard to celebrate the sneaky surprise of an attack. Annoying hot flashes can come at the most inappropriate times. Just the other day I had a very important appointment. I was presenting my ideas, looking great and commanding the attention of everyone around me. As if hit by a sneaky sniper, my face turned red, my forehead began it's sprinkler routine and I thought I would suffocate on the spot. Embarrassment is a mild word for how I felt. I was rescued by another woman in the group who began her own hot flash routine.

In order to sound "cool" I've started calling my hot flash session "power surges". Somehow it seems like I'm in control if I call it a power surge.

I wish I could experience "power surges" with my writing. There are times when I have a great idea and it seems to be rolling through my fingers and onto the screen with lighting speed. Out of the corner of my mind comes a hot flash of fear. In no way could I ever express it as a beneficial power surge. It attacks without cause and continues to attack until I have to stop and return fire.

"What makes you think you are a good writer?"

"This topic is too big for you."

"No one will want to read this."

"You are neglecting your family to write something that won't sell."

"You are wasting your time."

"You remember the submissions editors show in conference classes as what not to do? This submission will be shown next year. You will be laughed at as not knowing what you are doing."

If you've received even one rejection letter or had one person verbally say, "It's good...but..." Then you have probably experienced Hot Flash Fear.

So how can we return fire?

1. Move away from the computer or where ever you are writing. You won't be wasting time. Just take a few minutes to pray and ask God for strength. Getting away from the computer will reset your thinking.

2. Force your mind to think on the good returns you've had. Think about the people who love your writing. Think about the people who have given you great reviews or who have published your work.

3. If you are just starting out and the good returns are few, list the ways you have improved and see your work as a time-line toward success. No one would fuss at a freshman at college because he couldn't do senior work. Don't let yourself be attacked because you are a freshman with plenty to learn.

4. Take a moment and re-read your favorite passage. Just a few lines that have made you proud will let your sub-conscious know that you have potential.

5. Re-commit your writing to God. Ask Him to lead and guide you as you work. Ask Him to open your mind and help you to be a better editor.

Now get back to work. This world needs your voice and needs to hear what you have to say.

God loves you and has called you to write,