Author Profile: Marcia Laycock

Marcia LaycockToday Marcia Laycock is my guest:

I’ve lived a short distance from the Arctic Circle, in Dawson City Yukon, and two degrees off the equator in Papua New Guinea. But I now make my home in central Alberta Canada where I live with my husband and two rambunctious Golden Retrievers, Jorja and Jaxon.

Tell us about your upbringing and early memories.

I was raised in northern Ontario, mostly on a island in Lake Huron so my early memories are all about water, being in it, on it, beside it. How I ended up in landlocked Alberta I’ll never know! 🙂

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

I was 31 years old when God showed me how much He loved me by giving me the one desire of my heart – a baby girl. The “experts” said it couldn’t happen so she was my first miracle baby. Two more followed. 🙂

When did you first become interested in writing? 

My mom used to say I was born with a pencil in my hand because I was “always scribbling something or other.” When I was 11 years old an aunt gave me a copy of Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maude Montgomery. It was then I discovered I could call myself a writer and was determined that someday that’s what I would be.

How would you define a successful writer? 

One whose work has had a positive affect on someone in some way. If your words have moved a heart you have done your job.

What advice would you give a beginning writer? 

Persevere; don’t get sidetracked with all the marketing hype. Just write, pray, write, pray, write, pray.

Tell us about your current work in progress.

I have a few things on the go, as usual. I just started the Advanced Playwriting Course through Rosebud School of the Arts. I’m also working on the play I wrote last year for the intro. course (at my instructor’s nudging) and hope to have that one ready to send to a production company early in the new year. Book 3 of The Ambassadors, my fantasy series, is in the final edit stage. I also have launched into the realm of publishing with my own company, Small Pond Press. My first release will be a devotional journal for writers, Abundant Rain Journal. I hope to have copies available at InScribe’s conference at the end of this month. Small Pond will be the publishing arm of a mentorship program I hope to start up in the new year to help devotional writers publish their work.

How has being a Christian impacted your life path? 

Becoming a believer in Christ flipped my life around 360 degrees. I truly believe if it hadn’t happened I would have ended up dead. It was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me and continues to be a stimulating challenge that keeps my heart, mind and soul alive.

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

Love Lifted Me.

Marcia is one of the contributors to 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers. Check out Marcia’s post today on her blog!

 

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: 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


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

Social Media Blog Hop Week 3: Scheduling Posts

Social Media 300x300

The two ways I schedule posts to social media are with a WordPress plugin called Social Time Master (to share blog posts) and with Hootsuite (to share basically everything except personal blog posts). You’ll want to check out Hootsuite’s resource area to learn how to use it most effectively.

Scheduling posts is something I resisted for a long time. I don’t like to see my Facebook or Twitter feed full of repetitive messages and neither does anyone else. However, life is busy and scheduling posts does save time. So how do we take advantage of the time saving tools, but also keep our posts interesting and helpful?

Hootsuite Scheduling
Scheduling posts on Hootsuite

Here are some ideas I keep in mind when scheduling posts:

  1. The 80/20 Rule – We all know what it’s like to be around people who always talk about themselves … boring at best, annoying at worst. I use eighty percent of my posts to share helpful links (from others), quotes, retweet, and comment on other people’s posts. The other twenty percent of posts I use to share my own links, advertise my products, and share my work.
  2. Social Media is about building relationships, not making sales –  Social media should be about building relationships, about the other people we interact with, not about ourselves. When we build relationships, sales will follow because people will trust us.
  3. Repeating the same message over and over chases people away – How many of us enjoy being around a whiny child? Repeating the same message over and over is just as annoying – a great way to lose followers. It’s okay to share the same link repetitively, but the angle and information shared in the post should vary.
  4. Post when your audience is most likely to see the message – When we pay attention to our audience, we don’t waste time doing things that are ineffective. For general guidelines, check out the information shared by Social Media Today. One or two posts during high traffic times may be more effective than ten posts when our audience is offline or preoccupied. Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out when our personal audience is listening, but it will save time and effort in the long run.

I’m still working on my scheduling strategy. In my ideal world I would schedule posts once a week. In my real world my schedule is not predictable and I end up scheduling when I have something important to share.

Do you use an app or software to schedule posts? Share your strategy and tips with us!

Want to learn more about Twitter? My new book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps is available for pre-order on Amazon. (April 27th – Read a Story Day – is my official launch date.)

Beginnging Steps 1


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Social Media Blog Hop Week 2: Favourite Graphic Program/App

Social Media Blog Hop

No matter which social media platform you use, you need great graphics. Images draw more attention to your content and improve your chances of being seen and heard. Make sure when you use pictures, that you use royalty free images and are NOT infringing on copyright. There are sites which offer free graphics, but I prefer to either use my own pictures or pay a small fee to use pictures taken by others.

I recommend the following sources for graphics:

  • Dollarphotoclub.com (High resolution royalty free images AND vectors are available for $1.00 each and may be used for commercial purposes.)
  • Clickartonline.com (Clipart, photos, photo objects, fonts, sounds, web graphics, and animations are all available to use. The yearly fee is $39.99 for unlimited downloads and you are able to select the size of the image you want to download.)
  • Take your own pictures using your phone, iPad, or camera. (Take the time to edit your images and present the best visual appeal you can. You may want to use an online editor like PicMonkey)

Once you have a graphic to work with, you can add text and personality to them by using design apps or software.

Created on Canva
Created on Canva
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend:

Canva

(This program is available online at www.canva.com or as an app from iTunes. You can either sign up for a free account or sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account.)

Canva has predesigned “canvas” sizes for: Food & Drink Menu, Social Media, Presentation, Poster, Facebook Cover, Facebook Post, Instagram, Blog Graphic, A4 Document, Card, Email Header, Twitter Post, Invitation, Business Card, Album/Podcast Cover, Twitter Header, Pinterest, Real Estate Flyer, Google+ Cover, Kindle Cover, Photo Collage, Facebook Ad, and Facebook App. You are also able to select “Use custom dimensions” in the top right hand corner and create a canvas using either pixels or inches.

Canva provides many options for design with text in various fonts, background colours, layout options, and uploading your own pictures. Canva also provides access to 1,000,000 images, some of which are free, and others available for $1.00. Basically, if you can dream it, you can design it on Canva.

I like the many options Canva provides, but making an image can be time intensive. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the downloads (either png or pdf) are not as clear as I would like them to be. But for a free program, it’s a great tool.

Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay

WordSwag

Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app
Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app

As far as I know, WordSwag is only available as an app. (I use it on my iPad.) WordSwag is intuitive, easy to use and great when you want a quick blog graphic or want to share a quote on social media. It has several options available, including access to images on Pixabay (over 330,000 free photos, illustrations, and vector graphics in the public domain).

The graphics created on Wordswag are either rectangular or square. Wordswag is not very flexible, but still provides great graphics in very little time. (All of my graphics for this year’s blog hops were created on WordSwag.)

Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay

 

 

What is your favourite source for graphics to use on your social media sites? Enter a comment or link in to our blog hop below.

 

 

 

 

 


Feel free to share the blog hop button on your site. Here’s the code:

<a href=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/2015-social-media-blog-hop-week-1-favourite-social-media-site/#.VPcPGHZks1Y” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Social-Media-300×300-150×150.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

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2015 Social Media Blog Hop Week 1 – Favourite Social Media Site

Social Media Blog Hop

This week we are kicking off the 2015 social media blog hop with the question: What is your favourite social media site and why?

Facebook is where I spend most of my time on social media. I have a personal profile and author page, belong to many groups, and also administer pages for Glendon Playground and Park Society as well as InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. I appreciate the following benefits of Facebook:

1. My personal profile allows connection with an audience as large or small as I choose. Facebook allows me to decide whether I share information with specific people, only my friends, or everyone who chooses to access the information. I’m able to post plain text, pictures, and videos and so are my friends. Facebook is a great way to build connections with people I’ve just met as well as keep in touch with friends I’ve had for years. Some of my friends on Facebook are people I went to school with in grade 6 over 30 years ago.

2. Facebook Pages allow me to spend as little or as much as I want for marketing. There is no charge to have a Facebook Page. Although Facebook does regulate how many people see the information I post on my page, it does provide a free venue for sharing information. If I want to increase the exposure of a particular post, I’m able to pay to boost it. Facebook allows me to pick the demographics of the people I’m targeting with my content so that I’m not paying to send it to those who probably are not interested.

3. Facebook Groups provide an avenue for me to build closer relationship with a group of people who are all interested and passionate about the things that I’m learning about or doing. Through groups I’ve participated in Bible studies, received help and support in healthy living and marriage, and had the opportunity to learn and share about writing, blogging, marketing, my book launches and many more things. Groups can be public, private, or closed – allowing administrators to choose who belongs to the group and how far and wide the information is shared.

4. Facebook Events allow people to share information about upcoming events including anything from a baby shower to a drama presentation to a book launch. Event pages can help market the event, provide the possibility to participate either in person or virtually, and also provide a venue to share pictures, etc. during and after the event.

Some facts I try to keep in mind when I use Facebook:

  • Facebook is hosting my information and can choose to close my accounts at any time.
  • Although Facebook has security measures in place, I still choose not to post certain content because once it’s on Facebook I may not be able to control what happens with it.
  • I never post on social media when I’m angry or post anything that I would be ashamed to see on the front page of my local paper.

My second choice for social media is Twitter. But that will have to wait for another day!

What’s your favourite social media site? Why?


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Feel free to share the blog hop button on your site. Here’s the code:

<a href=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/2015-social-media-blog-hop-week-1-favourite-social-media-site/#.VPcPGHZks1Y” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Social-Media-300×300-150×150.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>


2015 Writers’ Blog Hop Week 4 – Lifelong Learning

 

Today I’d like to share a couple of graphics programs that have made a huge difference for me.

WordSwag

Wordswag is a free app I downloaded onto my iPad. It’s very easy to use and is great if you want to create square graphics to use on your website or other social media. (All my blog hop graphics were made using Wordswag

Like:

  • Free app
  • Easy to use
  • Quick
  • Option to use your own photos or backgrounds included in the app
  • Includes free searchable pictures from Pixabay
  • Able to choose from many free font options; you can purchase other font options in the app
  • Built in share options to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Text, or E-mail.
  • Option to add a logo or watermark
  • Ability to use a graphic as a template

Don’t Like:

  • Not very flexible – can’t change the shape of the graphic (only options are rectangle or square) or select portions of font to change
  • Only available via iTunes

Canva

Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.” Canva is much more flexible than Wordswag, but it will take longer to get a graphic designed.

Like:

  • Available as an app from iTunes, or directly on the web at http://www.canva.com
  • Choose from presized canvases for social media, poster, presentation, Facebook cover, Facebook post, etc.
  • Make your own custom canvas size (in pixels, mm, or inches)
  • Free backgrounds, fonts, and layouts are available, as well as text holders, borders and other items
  • If you have your own picture, you can upload it to Canva and use it in your design
  • Other pictures, fonts, etc. are available at the cost of $1.00 each/design
  • Basically if you can imagine it, you can make it on Canva
  • When you’re done you can download the graphic as an image or as a PDF file
  • You can share the graphic right from Canva

Don’t Like:

  • It takes a lot of time to make a great design
  • Sometimes when you change something in your design, you can’t go back if you change your mind

What have you learned in the past year that has helped you in your writing?


 

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Although this is the last week of the general writers’ blog hop, there will still be a blog hop in two weeks:

Social Media Blog Hop
#1 Favourite Social Media Site – Tell us where (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) you spend most of your time/energy and why (Week of Mar 2)
#2 Graphics for social media – Share your favourite source/app (Week of Mar 16)
#3 Scheduling posts – How often? Do you use a program like Hootsuite? Other tips? (Week of Mar 30)
#4 Content of posts – What do you share? Where do you find content? Ratio of promotional/other? (Week of April 13)

Note: If you’re interested in participating in the social media blog hop and want an e-mail reminder, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.