Author Profile: Jack Popjes

Today my guest is Jack Popjes:

Jack started writing stories for missionary newsletters during the decades he and his wife were Bible translators in Brazil. For the past twenty years, he has blogged weekly on missions, church, and Christian spirituality. His current blog is INsights & OUTbursts. He has print published three books and e-published two books of story based articles—all selected from his blogs. His story telling ability makes him a popular church and conference speaker. He served as President of Wycliffe Canada for six years, and as director of Wycliffe Caribbean for three years.

Tell us about your upbringing and early memories

I grew up on Nazi occupied Netherlands. Some of my most vivid memories are of scavenging firewood, even from German army trucks, helping my Mom hide Dad under the floor when soldiers came to abduct men to work in slave labour camps in Germany, and, of course, the day Canadian soldiers rumbled into our city in their tanks and trucks to liberate us. When I was twelve years old, our whole family moved to western Canada to start a new life.

Describe what led you to accept God’s gift of salvation. How old were you?

I grew up in a Bible reading, church going home, but personal salvation was never spoken of. When I was fourteen years old, my family was invited to attend a free concert which turned out to be an evangelistic crusade with the Janz Quartet. I heard them singing the old time spiritual On the Jericho Road and recognized this as poetry speaking about the road of life. When they sang the line “…there’s room for just …” my mind filled in “just one” since that had been my experience in my life and upbringing, having to slug it out by myself. But when I heard “…there’s room for just two…” I had no idea who that other person would be. Then when they sang, “Just Jesus and you,” I shouted on the inside, “Yes, that’s what I need!” When the invitation was given I nearly ran towards the front and a counselor led me to Jesus. My family had no idea what had just happened since they didn’t know as much English as I did.

When did you first become interested in writing?

I was a terrible writer, that is, I have terrible hand/eye coordination and when I write something only God and I know what it says. Sometimes a week later on God knows what it says. I spent hundreds of endless hours of forced labour writing lines, in a completely useless effort to learn how to write cursive, or even print, legibly and consistently. My head was full of stories, descriptions, dialogues and interesting characters, but I could not get much of that down on paper until I bought an Olivetti portable typewriter in my first year in college at age 19. Then, finally, I was able to share with others what had been in my head all those years.

How would you define a successful writer?

Someone who writes a paragraph or even a sentence, then reads and says, “Wow! This is good! Who wrote that? Was that me? Thank you, God, for helping me to write this piece!” My motto is the line from Thoreau, “Fame cannot tempt the bard, who’s famous with his God, nor laurel him reward, who has his Maker’s nod.”

What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Keep a daily diary of your actions, describe your relationships, and explore your thoughts, dreams and longings. Write everything you can, your plans, your prayers, your concerns. And write letters, via email, at least, but occasionally also on paper.

Tell us about your current work in progress.

Besides my weekly blog, I am writing my autobiography. Thus far, I’m collecting stories I have already written about myself, and putting them into chronological order, then adding to them. This started when my grandchildren asked me to tell them “Hansje stories,” that is, stories about my childhood in the Netherlands when my name was Hansje.

How has being a Christian impacted your life path?

A huge difference. From living hesitantly in the fear of dying to the confidence that I am immortal until my work on earth is done. From worrying about what people thought of me to living in the sure knowledge that I am a child of God, loved by the Creator of the Universe. From being overwhelmed with problems, to recognizing that my greatest problem, that of my restored relationship to God, has been solved. All the rest of the problems are mere details.

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

I’m not sure what I want, maybe, “He had his Maker’s nod.”

but what I do not want is, “Here lies Jack. He meant well.”

7 Essential Habits Cover

If you’d like your own copy of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers, you can purchase it at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1. Many of the contributing authors are currently participating in a blog hop. I invite you to follow along:

Ruth L. Snyder http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/ Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/ Friday, September 24th
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th


Author Profile: Loretta Bouillon

In the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing you to some of my author friends who also contributed to 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers, published by InScribe Press. Today’s guest is Loretta Bouillon (https://lorettabouillon.wordpress.com/) who says:

I am a homeschooling mother of 3 amazing kids and also a writer, hoping to publish a book in the near future. I am married to an awesome man who has supported my vision to homeschool and raise our kids against the grain of the world. I am an advocate of excellent coffee (freshly ground beans daily!) and a sweet homemade treat daily. I am a city girl living a country life that just sort of happened. We live in a small town in Northern, British Columbia, Canada. Some day I hope to retire in a condo in downtown, Vancouver! For now, I am truly blessed to live on 4 acres, with a horse, 2 dogs, a bunny, a cat and a huge garden. My kids have space to create, roam around on dirtbikes, ATV’s, and horses. They have the freedom to explore, build, and grow. They know they are how good they have it! I am truly thankful to God as without Him, my life would not be this life.

Welcome, Loretta! Tell us about your upbringing and early memories.

I was raised in Kitchener, Ontario by two loving parents. I was brought up Roman Catholic and went to an all-girl Catholic high school. Being the oldest of 4 children, I have one sister and two brothers, all who still reside in Ontario. My siblings and I remain close despite the distance (as I now live in British Columbia).
Some of my earliest memories include happy times of going to my Grandparent’s home on Sundays and sitting at their kitchen table, drawing and writing stories while the adults played cards. We would entertain ourselves for hours with only a pencil and scrap paper!

Describe what led you to accept God’s gift of salvation. How old were you?

Growing up Roman Catholic, I had a basic understanding of God and Jesus. I went to mass weekly and had to take religion class in school from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Even though I would pray to God, I never understood that the necessary step to knowing God was having a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. I realized my need for a savior when I was 32 years old. After trying most things the world had to offer and struggling with addiction for many years, I met a young man in my Alcoholics Anonymous meeting who was a Christian. He was blonde and looked angelic, but he was actually an ex-santanist (and also a pastor’s son!). I was drawn to the light of Jesus in him and asked him all sorts of questions about Christianity. He told me to just read the book of John, and he gave me his bible.I accepted the Lord on my own reading the bible. I met another friend in AA, a young woman who was also a Christian. She had many tattoos and was an ex-prostitute, not practicing however still living on Hastings street in Vancouver. These two people were influential in the beginning of my journey with Jesus. Although I have completely lost touch with them, I will always be grateful to how willing they were to share their faith with me.

When did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing stories as a child and would enter all sorts of writing contests. Creative writing and English were always my favourite subjects in school. I have kept a diary for as long as I can remember. My adult version of my diary is now a prayer journal.

How would you define a successful writer?

My definition of a successful writer is not by the world’s standards. I would define a successful writer as one who communes with God through their pen and writes to become closer to God. I believe that all of our talents are from God and ultimately we are to use them for Him. For example, I also dance, however, I have never danced for the world. God has given me the gift of dance and when I dance for the Lord I feel closer to him and have been told my dance draws others deeper into worship. This would be the same for me as a writer. If my words impact others to ultimately glorify God then I am a successful writer.

What advice would you give a beginning writer?

I like to start my day by asking God for direction and writing in my prayer journal. It is a way I talk to God, and it unloads my heart so I can focus on other things; writing included. Set yourself a doable amount of time to write every day. That varies for me with the season of the year as well as the season of my life. I find it best to do this before I check my emails or social media as that way I avoid time-sucking rabbit trails.

Tell us about your current work in progress.

At the moment I am looking to publish my children’s picture book called, “Mommy, Why Don’t You Drink Beer?” It is a light-hearted conversation between a six year old boy and his mother about addiction and sobriety. I am also writing a novel about a woman’s journey with addiction and relationships, searching to fill that hole in her heart that only Jesus can fill. I also have a parenting book peculating in my mind but at the moment that is a testimony in the making.

How has being a Christian impacted your life path?

Being a Christian gives purpose to everything I do. Being a wife and mother, a daughter, a sister, a writer, an employee…..I can’t imagine doing any of these things without God at the center. It is hard for me to believe that I lived 32 years without the strength of Jesus by my side!

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

You know, I honestly never think about that. I guess I think about what would be said at my celebration of life and I would like the words spoken to say that I was a loving mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.

7 Essential Habits Cover

If you’d like your own copy of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers, you can purchase it at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1. Many of the contributing authors are currently participating in a blog hop. I invite you to follow along:

Ruth L. Snyder  http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com   Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/  Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/ Friday, September 24th
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th

 


Announcing: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers Blog Hop

In July I told you about the launch of a new e-book called 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers. I appreciated the opportunity to not only have my article, “Fit Writing Into a Busy Schedule” included, but to also help put the book together and see it through to publication. On Friday evening, September 25, 2015, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship will be launching the paperback edition of the book. You can still join in the celebration by purchasing a ticket for the banquet (http://inscribe.org/product/fall-conference-banquet/). Better yet, come join us for the whole conference! (http://inscribe.org/events/fall-conference/) You can also purchase your own copy of the book in either e-book or paperback format at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1.

I love the variety this book contains:

-Written by 28 Canadian authors

-Poetry, articles, devotionals, and short stories

-7 themes: time with God, healthy living, time management, honing writing skills, crafting a masterpiece, submitting your work, and marketing

Here’s a sample poem for your enjoyment:

Why Do I Love Shakespeare?

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

By Alvin Ens

 

Why do I love Shakespeare?

Let me count the ways.

I love his characters

To the fidelity of kindred souls.

I love his vocabulary

To the deepest well of coining.

I love his humour

To the soul of comic relief.

I love his poetics

To the great expanse of the iambic.

I love his wisdom

To the heart of a philosopher’s wit.

I love his plots

To the height of the double cross.

I love him to the far reaches

Of heroes like Hamlet, Olivia, and Romeo,

To the villainies of Shylock, Cassius, and Lady Macbeth,

To the purities of Cordelia and Brutus,

To the entertainment of Falstaff and Sir Toby.

And if God choose, I shall but love him better

When I meet him after death.

You are invited to follow along as many of the contributing authors of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers  participate in a blog hop. I encourage you to click on the links below to see what each author shares. Comments would be appreciated, and if you like what you read remember to share the post on your favourite social media sites 🙂

Ruth L. Snyder  http://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/ Monday, September 14th
Brenda Wood http://heartfeltdevotionals.com   Wednesday, September 16th
Janet Sketchley http://janetsketchley.ca/tenacity-blog/  Friday, September 18th
Jack Popjes http://www.jackpopjes.com/category/blog/ Monday, September 21st
Kimberley Payne http://kimpayne.wordpress.com Wednesday, September 23rd
Marcia Laycock http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca/ Friday, September 24th
Steph Nickel https://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com Monday, September 28th
Sally Meadows http://sallymeadows.com/blog Wednesday, September 30th
Tracy Krauss http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com Friday, October 2nd
Glynis Belec http://www.glynisbelec.com/blog.html Monday, October 5th

Writing as Community Workshop at When Words Collide

Richard Harrison, a professor who teaches writing at Mount Royal, shared the concept of writing as community during the 2015 When Words Collide conference. (This is a process he’s participated in for over 20 years.)

Instead of the usual chairs in a row, participants form a circle. “This is a great first step in building community.”

“We are always writing for the community. Only some writing makes it to the proper audience – the work someone deems to be good enough. If we want someone to buy our book, we have to convince him it is good enough – that’s why we call it ‘goods.’ There is a large creative area where ‘good’ is premature.” Richard Harrison

Richard shared that Margaret Lawrence took him “under her wing.” She shared how many people encouraged her to write for Harlequin, but for her that would be writing ‘down.’ She encouraged him to always write the best he could.

Although everyone writes the best they can, they know their writing can be better. That’s where writing as community is helpful. It allows you to ask other people, “What’s this like?”

“Writing is getting someone to remember what you said.” Richard Harrison

Writing as Community Process

-Gather a group of people who want to learn to write better.

-Sit in a circle.

-Have each person open a blank piece of paper and write. Do not go back, do not cross out. This breaks down the barriers.

-Write for five minutes.

-At the end of five minutes, allow participants to read what they wrote. The only comment/feedback is, “Thank you!” This helps everyone feel accepted and starts building community.

-The next step is to allow participants to read and ask people to give feedback based on the six questions listed below. The questions are optional. Each reader gets to pick which questions he or she wants answered. The listeners only tell the writer what he or she wants to know. Remember that people grow in steps. In Writing as Community we want to help people move to the next step.

-Leave each member of the community to make his or her own choices about the piece(s) he or she writes. The workshop is NOT about editing; it is allowing the work to progress.

Six Questions for Writing as Community

1)What did you notice? (What you noticed is what you remember and can recite – what’s memorable. Your memory is your best editor. A story is shaped by the memory the way the water smoothes a river.)

2)What connections do you have with the elements you noticed in the story? (Some connections draw you away; other connections draw you further into the story.)

3)Do you have any questions?

4)Did you notice anything in terms of tone? What do you learn from that?

5)Do you agree or disagree? Why?

6)Where did you stop reading? (For this question you may want to hand copies out to each person and have them draw a solid blue line where they stop reading. If they have to stop and go back to re-read, have them draw a dotted blue line. This gives you clues on which areas of the writing need to be reworked.)

For more information:


Lessons Learned at When Words Collide – Overview

 

Last week I enjoyed the opportunity to attend When Words Collide with other members of the executive from InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. The conference took place in Calgary with over 600 people attending. My purpose for attending was two-fold:

  1. To see how a conference is run by a different organization and see if I could pick up ideas to apply to the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference.
  2. To learn skills to apply to my own writing.

When Words Collide is run very differently from the InScribe Conference in some ways:

  • Registration is only $50. No meals or coffee breaks are included, accommodation is more costly, people who want to attend the banquet pay $50 more.
  • Grants and sponsorship are very important to running this conference.
  • Sessions start at 10 am and run until 9 or 10 at night, with no breaks for meals. Sessions start on the hour and run for 50 minutes. Attendees are free to come and go as they please.
  • Speakers and workshop leaders introduce themselves. There is no audio-visual equipment and no microphones.

What I learned about conference organization:

  • Some costs are absolutely necessary. It’s very frustrating to attend a session and not be able to hear much. I will choose to pay for audio-visual equipment and microphones.
  • Marketing makes a difference. Although up front I only paid $50 to attend the conference, I paid just as much, if not more, than I will pay to attend the InScribe conference where the registration fee is $225.
  • Networking is important to me. The variety of workshops offered at When Words Collide is amazing. However, people are so busy rushing from one workshop to another that little networking took place. Now that I’m aware, I would probably plan my own schedule differently if I attend again. As it was, I skipped many sessions to make time to spend with people.

Sessions I attended:

  • Audio, Audibles, and Voice Over
  • Back Cover Blurbs
  • Building Your Readership
  • Does Editing Make You a Better Writer?
  • Fiction Writing with Nina Munteanu
  • Publisher’s Panel for Novels
  • Write for Hire
  • Writing as Community

In future posts I will share some of the lessons I learned from the sessions. For now I’m off to put a few more details together for the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference, which is taking place in Edmonton from September 24-26, 2015. Register before September 21st and I’ll see you there!

 


Sneak Peek into what I’m teaching at a Writing Camp for Kids

This week I’m combining my love of writing and teaching through play to facilitate a writing camp for kids in St. Paul, Alberta. The St. Paul & District Arts Foundation is offering Compose Your Summer, four days of literature and dance. Miss Heather is facilitating the dance and I’ll facilitate the writing portion.

Here are some of the ideas we’ll be trying:

DAY 1 – FOCUS ON SETTING

Ice-breaker idea from She’s Crafty

 

Challenge: Draw a giant map or picture of your story world using crayons, markers, paint, or whatever else you choose. Think about what your world is like, who lives there, and how your characters work together or against each other.

DAY 2 – FOCUS ON CHARACTER

Challenge: Explore costumes and figure out what your main character looks like. Draw a picture of your character and/or fill out a character questionnaire. Then interview a fellow camper and find out about his or her character. If you’d like, you can act out your character and we’ll capture him or her on video.

DAY 3 – FOCUS ON STORY STRUCTURE

Challenge: Brainstorm a beginning (including hook), middle, and end to a story with the group. As a group, act out the group story, which will be videoed. Decide on the main points of your own story and either write out or act out your story. (Discussions of genre and dialogue as time permits)

DAY 4 – FOCUS ON PULLING THE PIECES TOGETHER

Challenge: Explore the senses and create a sensory dictionary as a group. Go through your story and highlight each sense with a different colour. Discuss self-editing tips as a group. Exchange stories and give feedback. Work on revisions.

RESOURCES:

20 Three Minute Brain Breaks

I’ve found an amazing array of resources on writing and teaching writing to children to include as handouts for each participant.

Stay tuned for a report back on how the writing camp went and lessons I learned 🙂


A New Arrival: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

 

I’m very excited to share one of my latest projects with you. As many of you know, I serve as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Just over a year ago, during one of our executive meetings, we discussed the possibility of putting together an anthology with contributions from members of InScribe. We organized a volunteer committee and set our sights on having the book published and ready to launch at our InScribe Fall Conference September 24-26, 2015.

The end result is a book with contributions from 28 Canadian authors, dealing with seven key areas for Christian writers: Time with God, Healthy Living, Time Management, Honing Writing Skills, Crafting a Masterpiece, Submitting, and Marketing. The contributing writers, who come from all walks of life and write in various genres for a range of audiences, are all members of ICWF. Through fiction, poetry, and non-fiction such as devotionals, essays, and articles, they generously share their own discoveries, success stories, and hard-won lessons to encourage and support other Christian writers.

The e-book is now available on Kindle:

7-Essential-Habits-Cover

The paperback version is in process and will be released during conference.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in making this book possible!

Endorsements

“I love seven things about this book: It is practical. It is affordable. It is encouraging. It is worth highlighting, underlining and dog-earing. Plus it made me forget about my toothache. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran writer, you’ll discover 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers to be jammed with instantly actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Dig in.”
Phil Callaway (www.philcallaway.com) is the best-selling author of more than 25 books, a popular speaker, the host of Laugh Again Radio, and a grandpa.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is an absolute gem! I love that it covers all the basics a writer needs to know, making them simple and practical. I also love that the book has many authors, giving us ideas and suggestions from their own writing journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously considering writing as a vocation or even an avocation, particularly those writers who see their work as a ministry—which it certainly is!”
Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning author of more than 50 books. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is loaded with actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Whether you are a multi-published author or a beginning writer, this book will benefit you.”
Shelley Hitz, author coach and best-selling author
www.ShelleyHitz.com 

“This book is a beautiful blend of faithfulness and craft. It will help you answer the practical questions of what it means to be a writer while honoring what you believe. I wish I’d read this when I got started.”
Jeff Goins, Best-selling author, The Art of Work

“There are hundreds of how-to-write books on the market, but none that I know of touches BOTH of the vital aspects of writing as a Christian better than this anthology from InScribe. The practical AND the spiritual are woven into a whole by a remarkably creative group of writers who are in the trenches as we speak. I intend to snack on this fare again and again.”
Nancy Rue, best-selling Christian author and creator of Shadow to Shelf, a mentoring program for writers.


Launch Day for Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps

It’s launch day! My second book on how to use Twitter is now available. Today and tomorrow I’m offering a special introductory price. Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps is now only $0.99 and Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps is available for $1.99 for these two days. (NOTE: The $1.99 price is NOT available in Canada. BUT, if you purchase the book and send me your invoice, I’ll send you an Amazon credit for $2.00.)

Use Twitter to easily and effectively reach your readers!

Twitter Hashtags

Successful writers take responsibility for marketing their own work. Social media, including Twitter, can be amazing tools. But how do you get started and use Twitter productively without wasting valuable writing time?

In Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps, Ruth L. Snyder explains how to go beyond the basics and use Twitter effectively. Using this manual, you’ll learn how to write great tweets, use hashtags, link shorteners, and Twitter tools, schedule your tweets, use tweet templates, and continue building relationships with your worldwide audience. You’ll also discover many tips and tricks to engage your audience and build a solid marketing platform in minutes a day.

This is the second book in the Authors’ Social Media Mastery Series on Twitter. The first book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps, helps you master the essentials. This book builds on the basics and helps you learn to make the best use of your Twitter account.

Become more proficient at using Twitter today!

Bonus Content: Video – 10 Steps to Creating Beautiful Graphics with PicMonkey and E-book – Quotes to Use on Twitter (Inspiring Quotes in 140 characters or less)

Purchase your Twitter books:

Book 1 – Canada – http://amzn.to/1O6S2w4

Book 1 – U.S.A. – http://amzn.to/1do3UxF

Book 2 – Canada – http://amzn.to/1CwfD9a

Book 2 – U.S.A. – http://amzn.to/1FkYd9w