When our schedules are full and we are pushed from one thing to another, we can still choose peace. Philippains 4:6,7 explains how.

Peace in a troubled world – Philippians 4:6,7

Yesterday I talked about learning to be still and listen. But what happens when our schedules are full and we are pushed from one thing to another? (Sometimes this is an indication our schedules are over full and we need to plan some “white space” on our calendars. Other times life just happens, and we are not able to change our schedules.) We can still choose peace!

Here are some thoughts that encouraged me this morning:

  • Nothing is ever a surprise to God
  • When I’m weak, it gives God a chance to really shine. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
  • Others are going through much tougher times than I am. Especially my brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith. Instead of complaining or getting discouraged, I can choose to pray for them. This does two things: it gets my focus off myself and it gets me praying.

Philippians 4:6,7 is a passage I’m choosing to put into action today. I’m talking to God about the things that are heavy on my mind and thanking Him for taking care of them. That frees me up to use my energy for the day ahead.

Will you join me in praying with thanksgiving and allowing God’s peace to rule?


Psalm 46:10 – Be still

Every night we have a story time and prayer with our children before bed. For the past few years, we’ve been reading missionary biographies together, mostly from the Christian Heroes Then & Now series. Currently we are reading Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent by Janet & Geoff Benge. A description of a particular prayer meeting Brother Andrew attended caught my attention. Instead of sharing prayer requests and praying out loud together, this group was silent. Each person spent time “listening” instead. No one prayed out loud until they felt God impressing them to pray specifically about something or for someone.

Too often I find myself rushing through a list of requests. Instead, I want to learn to listen. This takes discipline in our noisy, fast-paced world. I need to be still. I think it’s going to take time for me to learn to be still and listen, but I’m excited about what God is going to show me.

What has God been teaching you lately?


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 🙂


Bankhead: a hidden treasure near Banff

Our family enjoyed hiking through the ruins of Bankhead this summer on our vacation in Banff National Park. We camped at Two Jack Main, so we were just kilometres away from the ghost town. However, we didn’t realize there was more than a hiking trail at Lower Bankhead until we went on the Boat Cruise at Lake Minnewanka. While we were on the cruise, our guide told us that we should definitely set aside some time to explore the mining ghost town at Lower Bankhead.

We discovered signage for Lower Bankhead is only visible when you’re travelling from Lake Minnewanka back past Upper Bankhead. The hiking trail is 1.1 km, and designated “easy” (the most difficult part is the stairs to get down to the trail). We found the trail easy to follow, mostly marked with coal. Signs with historical information helped us decipher what used to exist in Bankhead.

The mining town of Bankhead only existed from 1903 – 1922. At it’s height, the town was a prosperous, booming mining town of 1,000 people. An amazing amount of coal was mined in those years, a half million tons of coal during peak production. However, I found it disconcerting to read that most of the miners were Chinese and that they lived “on the other side of the slag heap.” The many rhubarb and raspberry plants which still grow are evidence that the Chinese families worked hard, both in the mines and in their gardens. Although the signs pointed to a happy life for many residents of Bankhead, I wonder if the prosperity was shared equally.

Below are some of the pictures I took during our hike.

For more information:

http://www.bigdoer.com/5538/exploring-history/bankhead-alberta-ghost-town/

http://www.ghosttowns.com/canada/alberta/bankhead.html

http://www.ghosttownpix.com/alberta/bankhead.html

https://magazine.cim.org/en/September-October-2007/mining-lore/Bankhead-mining-for-coal.aspx

http://www.trailpeak.com/trail-Bankhead-Historical-Loop-near-Banff-AB-1834

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bankhead,_Alberta

 

 


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.


Town of Banff

Our 2015 family holiday in Banff National Park

This past week our family had the opportunity to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Banff National Park. In this post I’m sharing some of my favourite pictures. In the next few posts I’ll provide details about some of the places we visited and activities we enjoyed.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

We were able to see many different kinds of animals. When I commented that the sheep were molting, one of our sons commented, “Well, you know, Mom, it is summer!”

Glacier Sky Walk
Glacier Sky Walk

The Glacier Skywalk topped my list of activities. What an amazing view!

Ghost mining town at Lower Bankhead
Lower Bankhead

Looking for a free, educational activity? Check out Lower Bankhead, which used to be a mining town in the early 1900’s.

Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka
Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka

Although we had been on the boat ride before, we learned many more interesting facts, thanks to our informative guide, Dan.

Hiking in Banff National Park
Hiking in Banff National Park

There is a wonderful variety of hiking trails in Banff National Park – all lengths and levels of difficulty.

Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure
Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure

The Brewster bus ride onto the Columbia Icefield Glacier takes you down the second steepest incline (32 degrees) in the world.

Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack
Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack

We were delighted to find this pair of elk just outside the entrance to the Two Jack Main campground.

Elk at dusk in Banff National Park
Elk at dusk

The above shot of an elk at dusk is my favourite photo from our trip.

Bird on sign at Jasper glacier
Lots of natural beauty

A whiskey jack entertained us while we were at the Columbia Icefields visitor centre.

SONY DSC
Too close to the bear!

Despite warnings, tourists insist on feeding animals and getting close to the wild animals. One guide asked us if we knew which animal sends the most tourists to the hospital from the national parks. Any guesses?

SONY DSC
View from Sulpher Mountain Gondola

We enjoyed a ride on the Sulpher Mountain Gondola. What a view!

Where did you go on your family vacation this year? Any hints to share?


What I Learned at Write Canada 2015 Part 3 – Marketing Tips from Mark Leslie Lefebvre

I decided to take advantage of two last-minute additions to the workshops offered at Write Canada. Mark Leslie Lefebvre describes himself as a Writer, Bookseller, Book Nerd, POD & eBook Keener. He is the Director of Kobo Writing Life & Author Relations. Here are some of the tips he shared:

  • Author involvement in marketing is required no matter which way you get your work published
  • The goal of traditionally published authors is to earn an advance whereas the goal of self-published authors is to cover their costs

Tip #1 – Know Your audience

  • What are your readers like?
  • What problem will your book solve for your readers?
  • Where are your readers hanging out?

Your goal should be to connect with your audience; to engage, not broadcast. Your focus should be on giving, providing value, sharing things that entertain, inform, and inspire.

Tip #2 – Think Long-term: Practice, Patience, Persistence

Rankings go up and down

  • Comparison-itis gets in the way; Follow your own path
  • “Define yourself as the big fish in a small pool.” (Quote from Robert J. Sawyer)
  • In the self-publishing “Gold Rush” most people don’t make #1, but many make a moderate living
  • Don’t forget you’re always “on stage”
  • Focus on the next title

Tip #3 – Build a Basic Website

  • Get your own URL
  • Have a professional photo
  • Share your bio
  • Add links to your books and booksellers
  • Blog on a regular basis
  • Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter

Make it easy for people to follow and connect with you

Tip #4 – Blog to Connect with your audience

  • Have fresh content available
  • Provide value
  • Embed your URL
  • Auto-feed your blog into Facebook and Twitter
  • Add a Twitter feed to your website
  • Share what interests and intrigues you
  • Use free tools like Youtube, Google, and podcasting

Check out the Kobo Writing Life Blog

Tip #5 – Send out an Author Newsletter

-Embed a signup form into your website

-Include your newsletter form link into the e-mail signature

-Share links to blog posts, podcasts, Youtube videos (any content you’ve created)

-Promise you’ll never spam anyone

-Be consistent (at least monthly)

Tip #6 – Social Media (e.g. Twitter)

-Make sure you have a current, professional headshot

-Check your bio and make sure it is interesting, informative, and up-to-date

-Less than 20% of your posts should be about your book

For more information:

Self Published Covers

Maximizing Your Sales at Kobo (Written by Mark)

Ebook Publishing on Kobo (Written by Joanna Penn)

WattPad is a great place to cultivate a team – it’s like Facebook for readers and writers.

Pricing Tips: Optimize your pricing for each country. (Round it up or down to the nearest dollar ninety-nine.) In the UK round the price down. In Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, round the price up.