What does it mean to be a Christian writer?

Yellow Question mark and red exclamation mark

During a recent interview I was asked: “Comment on what it means to be a ‘Christian writer’”

How would you answer this question?

Here’s my response:
A Christian writer is a person who communicates from a worldview centred on God as He is presented in the Bible. The key components of being a Christian writer, from my perspective, are excellence, integrity, and compassion.

  • No matter what topic or genre I write about, my writing should be of the highest quality. I should do my best to ensure my writing is accurate, well-researched, and free of errors (grammar and spelling).
  • As a Christian writer, my personal life should reflect what I communicate in print. I should consistently spend time reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to highlight areas in my life that are not pleasing to God. Yes, I’m human and I will fail. However, I need to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness and continue to grow in my walk with God.
  • Christian writers should also “speak the truth in love.” Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples by our love.

Here are the principles I currently use as I write:

  1. Christians are the body of Christ. We each have unique gifts, functions, and callings (I Corinthians 12).  I need to know what God has called me to and be faithful to that calling.
  2. My goal should always be to write with excellence (using correct grammar, captivating descriptions, etc.) for God’s glory (Colossians 3:23). I am called to be God’s representative in how I live and write (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
  3. I must give an answer to God for all that I do and say, including what I write (Matthew 12:35-37; Colossians 3:23). I need to be obedient to God. It is not my responsibility to judge others (Matthew 7:1).

Christian writers are called to write for varied audiences in diverse genres. We live in a broken world and are involved in a spiritual battle which is mostly unseen, but very real. Some stories may simply be for enjoyment, but we may also be asked to write about difficult, messy subjects like child abuse, demon possession, corrupt leaders, and the sex trade. No matter what we write, our aim should always be to bring honour and glory to God.

It has come to my attention that some writers who are Christians do not associate themselves with the term “Christian writer”. There are several reasons for this.

  • Some writers (who are Christians) write stories or articles that are only printed in the mainstream. Some say that these written works would not be accepted in the mainstream if people knew the authors were Christians.
  • The question has been raised: Do you call yourself a Christian mechanic or Christian plumber or Christian librarian? If we don’t tag the word Christian onto other vocational choices, why do we tag it onto our writing?
  • Some writers (who are Christians) have faced severe criticism from other Christians because of the topics or genre they choose. These writers find it less divisive to just call themselves writers.

Did I miss anything? I look forward to your comments!


7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Writers

SpringCleaning_tnsIt’s officially springtime on the calendar. Our thoughts often turn to spring-cleaning our houses – getting rid of the extra layers of dust and grime that have accumulated over the long winter. Perhaps it’s time to think about doing some spring-cleaning in our writing lives too. Here are seven areas I’m thinking about:

  1. Walk with God – If you’re a writer who’s a Christian, this should always be your first priority. Are you spending time with God every day? Are you bringing your goals and plans to Him for approval OR are you coming to Him and asking Him to show you the plans He has for your writing? Do you talk to God throughout each day? It’s easy for our lives to get so clogged with the grime of busyness that we don’t cultivate a close walk with God.
  2. windowclean_tnsMission Statement – Do you have a mission statement for your writing? If not, think about what you want to accomplish with your writing. If you do have a mission statement, when was the last time you revised it? Does it still fit? Perhaps it only needs a few tweaks, or maybe you need to totally rewrite it. Mission Statements help us see more clearly where we’re headed. Work at getting the dust and streaks off your writing window so that your vision is clear.
  3. Writing Goals – I usually review my writing goals around New Year’s. A yearly review is great, but perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your goals and update them as well. Do your goals and mission statement fit each other? Perhaps you overloaded yourself. Now’s the time to get rid of excess weight and refine your goals before you burn out.
  4. Professional Development – Toning and honing those writing muscles is always a good idea. Evaluate your skills and figure out what you want to improve. Assess your time and finances as well. Then figure out what professional development you will take part in this year: writing conferences, online courses, workshops, webinars, etc. If you need help figuring out which ones to tackle, ask your writing friends for their recommendations.
  5. Work Area – Clutter robs us of energy. Does your work area need a makeover? If so, schedule a desk clean up into your calendar. Think about what frustrates you and how you can make improvements. Which resource books do you need close at hand while you write? What pictures or posters will help motivate you when you’re struggling with a deadline? Do you need a place to file paper copies of articles, research notes, character sketches, etc.? Or will a digital version work for you? What distracts you while you’re writing? Clear away as many of those distractions as possible.
  6. Computer – Are you happy with the filing system you’re using on your computer? Are your documents easy to locate? Maybe you need to reorganize and categorize. What about your inbox? Is it full to overflowing? If you’re like me, you receive hundreds of e-mails every day. Schedule time into your calendar to sort through your e-mails. Save important information into a Word Document, delete all the junk mail, empty the trash, and respond to e-mails that have been sitting for a while.
  7. Personal Relationships – Unresolved issues in our personal relationships will clog our writing and destroy our health. In your quiet time, ask God to show you the relationships that need a tune-up. Ephesians 4:28-32 tells us to throw out the garbage in our lives:

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

So how about it? Are you ready to get started with the spring cleaning?

 


My Current Works in Progress

Blog Hop for Writers

This is the sixth and final week in the blog hop I’m hosting for writers. Our topic this week is current work(s) in progress. If you’d like to share your current WIP with us, write a post and then come back and link in by clicking on the graphic above. If you’re a reader, click on the graphic and check out what authors are working on. We hope you’ll follow our blogs so that when our books are published, you’ll be among the first to know 🙂

My last post was about the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series I’m working on along with five other authors. You can find more information here: San Francisco Wedding Planner.

In this blog hop, I’ve written about Anna, (Olga’s mother) one of my favorite characters from Olga’s Discovery, which is a full-length historical fiction novel I’m in the middle of writing.  Here’s the synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old Olga Tymchuk, a newly graduated teacher, eagerly anticipates marrying her fiancee, Viktor, in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Glendale, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

Olga is enjoying a challenging first year of teaching when Viktor is injured in a chemical accident. He seems to be recovering well, but then Olga receives a telegram that will change her life forever. Olga is drawn into a search for the truth, which forces her to deal with uncooperative hospital officials, death threats, and a sudden disappearance.

I’m also putting together a Twitter manual for writers. There are many different ways to share information now and I’m researching several options to share this information and make it practical.

Cover for Cecile's Christmas MiracleMy other project will be a fiction series about Cecile and Colin, characters from my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle. Cecile has decided spending Christmas in the desert doesn’t have to be depressing and Colin is on his way to join Cecile. However, they haven’t seen each other for over a year. Will the attraction between them endure? There is also the threat of the clinic being closed, and the village being resettled. What part should expatriates play in solving political issues?

If you have questions about any of my works in progress, please ask me in the comments below. Thanks 🙂


Update on the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series

Cover for Wedding Planner Series

The San Francisco Wedding Planner series, a light romance published by Helping Hands Press, is one of my current works in progress. There are six of us participating in this project. Volume one introduced the series with each of the participating authors writing one of the chapters in the volume. Can you guess which chapter I wrote?

The San Francisco Wedding Planner cover for volume two: A Change in TimeJen Cudmore wrote volume two: A Change in Time. When Heather goes out on her first date with orthopedic surgeon Bryan Tate, her hopes of a nice evening are quickly dashed. Raul’s makeover is a little over-the-top, her flashy mother’s jealousy makes Bryan uncomfortable, Mario’s flirtatious interference only adds pressure, and Skye’s family problems require extra help. With Bryan recovering from a broken engagement and Heather’s busy work schedule, she’s certain there just isn’t a chance for romance between them. But life is always changing. Do they have enough in common to at least be friends?

Wedding Planner 3This week Patti J. Smith released volume three: An Affair to Remember. Donovan’s Wedding Service takes on the impossible. Failure to meet the outlandish demands could result in dire consequences. Drama is the name of the game as Heather faces her biggest challenge while her relationship with Bryan reaches new heights and a close friendship verges on collapse.

I am working on a prequel to the series which will tell the back story of Heather Donovan. (Other authors will be writing about other characters.) I will also be writing volume 7 of the series.

You can purchase your copy of volume 1 from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Volumes 2 and 3 are currently available on Amazon.


Embracing the Equation for Weight Loss

Equation for weight loss. Exercise plus reducing calories equals weight loss

This week in our Made to Crave Action Plan journey, the theme was: “Embrace the equation: Exercise AND Reduce Calories”. Since the beginning of January I have been very intentional about getting exercise. However, I haven’t been as intentional about reducing calories, other than making sure I drink water, eat 25 grams of fiber, and am intentional about my eating. This is because my main goal has been to get in shape.

I decided to focus a bit on the reducing calories side this week. Ironically, at the beginning of the week I ended up with the flu. This made it extremely easy for me to reduce caloric intake since I didn’t feel like eating anything. (It also made it almost impossible to exercise!) While I was not well I decided to check out apps that would be helpful in keeping the weight loss equation balanced. I typed “fitness” into the search, and found several apps, mostly free. The one I chose to download is called My Fitness Pal.

My Fitness Pal is free. When you open the app you’re able to enter your current weight, your target weight, and the amount of weight you’d like to lose per week. Once those are entered, My Fitness Pal calculates the number of calories you should consume each day to reach your target. Here’s a quick overview from the app menu:

  • Home: a summary overview of the day including how many calories are remaining on your daily “allowance” as well as a pie chart of the nutrients in the food you’ve consumed.
  • Food Diary: where you enter the food you eat. A search feature makes it easy to look for the specific foods you’ve consumed. Once you enter foods, they come up on the menu every time you need to make a new entry.
  • Exercise Diary: a place to enter cardio exercise, strength exercise, and notes
  • Nutrition: gives you a visual breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein in the foods you’ve consumed, as well as target percentages for each day.
  • Progress: a visual of where you started, where you’re at currently, the number of lbs or kgs you’ve lost, and the percentage of weight you’ve lost.
  • Friends: an opportunity for you to invite friends along to keep you accountable.
  • Messages: I haven’t used this feature
  • Apps & Devices: a link to the app store
  • Reminders: a place to set reminders for yourself
  • Settings: a place to make changes/updates to your profile, diary settings, fitness goals, sharing & privacy, foods & exercise, weekly nutrition settings, or logout.
  • Help

From Miserable to Amazing: The importance of Attitude

Quote on the importance of attitude by Charles R. Swindoll

The above quote is from Charles R. Swindoll. He also says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

In Chapter 8 of Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom, Tricia Goyer has two lists. The first one is titled: How to Make Today Truly Miserable.

  1. “Open your eyes in the morning and think of all you didn’t get done yesterday.
  2. Assume your husband has a huge list of things for you to do when he asks, “So, do you have any plans today?” (as if you didn’t have a huge to-do list every day).
  3. Push aside your Bible reading and jump into sorting that stinky pile of laundry
  4. Remember what it used to feel like to wear your skinny, skinny jeans.
  5. Compare your kids to your neighbors’ star athletes and whiz kids.
  6. Compare your house/office/yard to the awesome pictures continually reposted on Pinterest.
  7. Walk the mall and point out all the things you wish you had money to buy.”

The second list by Tricia Goyer is titled: How to Make Today Truly Amazing

  1. “Thank God for everything your new day holds.
  2. Give your husband a hug and ask if he has something special in mind for the day. If he doesn’t, tell him you do and do something spontaneous.
  3. Take time to read your Bible and ask the Creator of the universe to guide your day.
  4. Appreciate your health and pray asking God to help you in all areas where you are weak. Or if you have a chronic illness thank Him for walking you through it.
  5. Relax in your favorite part of your house for ten minutes and thank God for what He’s provided.
  6. Go through your closet and pull out clothes you haven’t worn in a while—then take them to Goodwill.”

Today’s balanced challenge is to take one of Tricia’s tips to make today amazing, implement it, and blog about what difference it made in attitude.

As I write this post, my five-year-old daughter and I are just recovering from the stomach flu. This round of flu started a week ago when one of my twins threw up all over the bathroom floor. The flu is no fun, BUT I’m very thankful that our family is very healthy most of the time. I’m also thankful that I had a couple of days to relax away from my “normal” schedule—yesterday I was only awake for about five hours other than trips to the bathroom. Obviously my body needed the rest.

A couple of years ago I read 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Since then I have made it my aim to focus on God and the many gifts He gives me each and every day. Life often does not give us what we want. (We tell our kids, “Get used to it—Life isn’t fair!”) However, as Charles Swindoll points out, attitude is 90% of the equation, and we have FULL control over our attitude.

So, every day, I can change my day from miserable to amazing. So can you. What choice(s) are you going to make today to change your day around? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section :).


Sorting through the time crunch

Weekly CalendarToday’s assignment in the Balanced Challenge is one that I know I’ll have to keep coming back to. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s often a challenge to figure out how I’m going to make the best use of each 24 hour segment God gives me. There just isn’t enough time to do everything.

Tricia Goyer shares one way to sort through the time crunch: Sit down and make a list with four categories.

  1. Things I have to do (non-negotiable items like work or feeding and clothing your family)
  2. Things I should do (no one will die if these things aren’t done, but they are very important. e.g. reading the Bible)
  3. Things I want to do (those things that bring me joy and make me feel more alive e.g. my work with InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship)
  4. Things I’m doing to “look good” or doing out of guilt (usually volunteer activities that are good, but may be zapping our energy)

Tricia then challenges us to cut ALL the items listed under #4 and schedule the rest of the items into some sort of calender. I’ve shared the beginning of my calendar at the top of this post. It still needs some work – my husband and I plan to compare notes and calendars.

This exercise has been an important reminder to me that I can’t be everything to everybody. Some things have to give. Tricia reminds us that there are different seasons in life and sometimes we have to wait to do things until a different season.

How do you plan your schedule? What do you struggle with the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

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God’s Calling on my life

“The Spirit of the Lord and King is on me.
The Lord has anointed me
to tell the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to comfort
those whose hearts have been broken.
He has sent me to announce freedom
for those who have been captured.
He wants me to set prisoners free
from their dark prisons.”

Isaiah 61:1 (New International Reader’s Version)

God’s calling on my life became evident to me while I was still very young. I was privileged to spend the first ten years of my life in southern Africa, where my parents were missionaries. I remember thinking it was a good thing my parents were telling these “sinful” people about God. One day I had a rude awakening. I was attending a daily vacation Bible school when I grasped my sinfulness and God’s grace. At the tender age of five I confessed my selfishness, lies, and disobedience, requesting forgiveness and empowering from my Heavenly Father.

More light was shed on God’s calling when I discovered what my names mean:

Ruth – Compassionate and Lucile – Bringer of Light

Hiker looking at map

I continued growing in my faith through my school years. My parents moved to Three Hills when I was eleven. Many godly men and women nurtured my faith. After high school, I decided to attend Prairie Bible College where I majored in Bible and minored in Christian Education. When I graduated, I was invited to stay on staff, working in the Prairie Bookroom (book store). During this time I also took my first writing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Life took some twists and turns. I thought God was calling me to be a missionary in Africa, like my parents. However, that door slammed shut. Instead God lead me to marriage and presented parenting children with special needs as my mission field. Several years ago the advocacy for my children widened into advocacy for all children in the Northern Lights School Division when I was elected as a school board trustee. A few months after that I entered my first writing contest and won first place in my age category. The prize was a free conference registration for Write!Canada. At the conference, it dawned on me that God has specifically gifted me and called me to be a writer.

This week I was challenged to come up with a 5-7 word tagline which describes my writing. This is what I came up with:

“Exploring life’s adventures through writing”

God has led me to write about many different topics which fit in very diverse genres: devotionals, special needs, parenting, contemporary fiction, light romance, memoir, adoption, education, Bible study, social media.

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In the Balanced Challenge, Tricia Goyer’s question for Day 4 (today) is:

“What have you been called by God to do? Take a few minutes away from work and family to sit with your Bible and talk to God. Believe that God placed your dreams and passions in your heart. Find a verse that speaks to you about this, and post it today on your blog.”

You saw my verse at the top of this post. I look forward to hearing about God’s calling on your life in the comments below.