Author Profile – Janet Sketchley

Today I’m happy to welcome Janet Sketchley, a fellow Canadian author, to my blog:

Janet Sketchley lives in Atlantic Canada, where she writes Christian suspense novels and blogs about faith and books. She loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca, and fans of Christian suspense are invited to join her writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

Tell us about your upbringing and early memories.

I grew up in a Christian home, sheltered by loving parents. We lived in the city but spent weekends in the country, where my brother and I were free to roam and explore. I loved to read, and started writing some truly awful fiction in my school years. None of those projects made it very far.

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

Sunday School was part of my life from a young age. I always believed in God, but as a child it was a pretty superstitious faith in some ways. You know, giving God all the details in a prayer request, because otherwise He might not “get it right.” Still, I knew He was my source of help. For me the growth has been learning what it means to follow Jesus as Lord of my life as well as Saviour, and discovering more about His character.

When did you first become interested in writing?

Playing at writing as a child, and enjoying teacher-assigned short stories in school, showed me I was interested, but university papers and then marriage and a job put it out of my mind. As an at-home mom with a toddler, I joined a local writers’ group and dabbled in some life-experience type essays. Then a fiction idea sprouted and I started writing just to get it out of my head. Novels have been my passion ever since.

How would you define a successful writer?

There are different aspects to that, including, one would hope, some level of earning more than one spends. No matter how many people read our work, or what our bank accounts look like, I think what marks genuine success is this: are we true to our calling as Christians and as individuals? Are we speaking with integrity and love from the heart, with thoughts informed by our faith, with a desire to serve other people rather than to push anything on them? Whether we’re writing news articles, technical pieces, poetry, fiction, songs, notes to shut-ins… the list is endless. Are we using the gifts God has given us in the way He’s leading? In the end, will we hear His “Well done”?

What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Make this one more facet of your life with Christ. Write prayerfully, and cultivate an enjoyment of the process. Don’t be in a hurry to “arrive,” whatever that means for you at this moment. You have talent and interest, but we all need to learn the craft as well. Be diligent, persevere, and grow toward excellence because what you’re writing is for the Lord. Give Him your best. 

Tell us about your current work in progress.

I’ve just completed book 3 in my Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series, Without Proof, which releases November 10. (NOTE: the Kindle edition is on SALE now until the release on November 10th. Pre-purchase your copy from Amazon and it will be sent to your Kindle on the 10th!) It’s the story of an artist’s assistant who lost her fiancé two years ago in a plane crash – and who now suspects that crash was sabotage. Her questions find no proof – only warnings and threats.  

How has being a Christian impacted your life path?

It’s shaped the friendships I’ve made, and it definitely shapes what I write. I don’t know if it’s affected career choices or anything like that, but it must have, behind the scenes, because I know God has been shepherding me. What being a Christian has done is keep me from wrecking my life. Faith, prayer, and surrender to the Lord’s care and authority have kept me stable (mostly!) through big and small times of stress. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without that, and I thank God I haven’t had to find out.

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

“She loved Jesus.”

7 Essential Habits Cover

Janet has two pieces published in 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers:

Writer. Ready. Pen. and The Writer’s Newsletter: Do you Need One?

Purchase your copy of 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers at  myBook.to/ChristianWriters1Please remember to leave a review after you’ve read the book 🙂


Harvest Haiku

This morning I received this invitation from my friend, Lisa Evola, who moderates the blog, A Beautiful Life:

I’d like to invite each of you to write a harvest haiku.
In case you don’t know what a Haiku is, it is a japanese poem that follows  this structure: 1st line – 5 syllables, 2nd line – 7 syllables, 3rd line – 5 syllables : and creates a word picture.  I wrote two in response to a post on the Steve Laube Agency blog. Create one too. I’ve posted them on my personal page, and would love it if you could leave them in the comment section of my personal blog.  You can see mine here: http://lisaevola.com/2015/10/23/harvest-haiku-too/
I decided to participate, so I wrote a Haiku and then added it to a picture I recently took during harvest here in Alberta.
 
I encourage you to join in the fun and let me know where you shared your Harvest Haiku

 


Tips for Supporting Aging Parents

Note: This is a companion post to Spending Time with My Dad, which is on the Beautiful Life blog today. 

The river of life presents all of us with a variety of challenges and celebrations. Maneuvering through the rapids of aging is demanding for most families. This is a time fraught with changes in health, living arrangements, and control over decision-making. Today I’d like to share some tips I’m learning and still trying to put into practice as I try to support my aging parents.

Listen

It’s all to easy for me to jump to conclusions, share unwanted opinions, and try to take over. Instead, I’m trying to learn to listen – not only to the words that are spoken, but to the reasons and feelings behind those words. If I want to support my parents, I need to know where they are coming from and what their wishes are. They have enough to deal with, without added stress from me.

Trust God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God is still the same, no matter what else may change. I can find my security in Him, no matter what I’m dealing with. God loves my parents more than I ever could. I can trust God to take care of them.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Making decisions can be difficult, but God will guide and give wisdom if we ask.

Start discussing transitions early

The first time we as children discussed moving our parents out of their home, both parents were both adamant they were staying in their home until they died. Nobody argued with them. Instead we just presented information, stated we wanted to support them, and listened. A few years later, our parents told us they were moving – a decision they made on their own.

Start family meetings

If you don’t have family meetings already, start having them. These meetings may look different for families. Some may feel more comfortable playing a game or doing some type of activity while they talk. Others will work better if everyone is seated around the living room ready to talk. We decided not to have extraneous activity, but rather to sit and talk, with one person taking minutes. Any member of the family is able to add items to the agenda. At our family meetings we have discussed everything from a major move to just getting a health update.

Have an open mind

It’s easy to act out of emotions like fear. It’s also easy to see things only from our own perspective. As caregivers, we need to learn to approach things from different perspectives, or at least be open to hearing other perspectives BEFORE we make decisions. We should always try to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, including our parent’s. As children, we may have unresolved conflicts with our parents which affect our decision making. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Do you have other tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Author Profile – Tracy Krauss

Today I welcome my friend and fellow author, Tracy Krauss, to my blog.

Tracy Krauss writes contemporary Christian romance with a twist of suspense and a touch of humor. Her books strike a chord with those looking for a hard hitting yet thought provoking read – no sugar added. Her work has won multiple awards and has been on Amazon’s bestsellers’ lists. She also writes stage plays tailored to a high school audience, and has contributed to several anthologies, devotional books, and one illustrated children’s book. Tracy has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and teaches secondary school Art, Drama and English – all things she is passionate about. She and her husband have lived in five provinces and territories including many remote and unique places in Canada’s far north. They have four grown children and now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. For more information visit her website at http://www.tracykrauss.com“Fiction on the edge – without crossing the line”

Q: Tell us about your upbringing and early memories.

A: I am the youngest of five and was raised in small town Saskatchewan. My mom was a teacher and my dad was an ‘entrepreneur’ – in other words, he had lots of different jobs and we moved from house to house about 15 times before I left home. I think it made me adaptable. I loved drawing from an early age and could usually be found with a pencil and paper.

 

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

A: I made a decision for Christ the year I turned twenty, but previous to that, my mom had become a Christian and relentlessly prayed for all of us. I had some knowledge about the Bible because she had read to us as children and I also went to youth group in my Grade 12 year because there was a boy that I liked that went. J It wasn’t until I was in University and involved in the party scene that I accepted Christ. It was an unlikely looking biker who witnessed to me. He had just accepted Christ and even though he still smoked and probably did other things, as a baby believer he took witnessing seriously. His testimony, combined with my mother’s witness, finally got through to me.

 

Q: When did you first become interested in writing?

A: I wrote my first play in Grade Four and I always did well in composition at school. My English 12 teacher encouraged me to go to a writing camp one summer but I didn’t go. I was more interested in the visual arts as an outlet. It was after I had my first child that I started clacking away at the typewriter when she was down for her nap. I was hooked. Thirty years later, I’m still at it.

 

Q: How would you define a successful writer?

A: I try to measure success in the impact I have on people’s lives. Obviously, money would be nice, as would sales numbers, but the best feeling for me is when I find out one of my books resonated with another person.  

 

Q: What advice would you give a beginning writer?

A: Never give up. Keep on writing, keep on learning, keep on growing.

 

Q: Tell us about your current work in progress.

A: It’s a sequel to Wind Over Marshdale set in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It follows the life of Thomas Lone Wolf’s niece Tanzi, whom we meet in a previous novella, Lone Wolf. She is determined to rise above the rough circumstances of her childhood, but is dealing with an alcoholic mother, a rebellious teenaged sister, the injustice of her brother’s wrongful incarceration, and an unexpected romantic interest in a man she isn’t sure she can trust.

 

Q: How has being a Christian impacted your life path?

A: It’s been everything. I honestly can’t imagine my life without Christ. I sometimes wonder how people manage otherwise.

 

Q: What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

A: Dancing with Jesus.

7 Essential Habits Cover

Tracy is one of 28 contributing authors to 7 Essential Habits of Christian Authors. You can purchase your own copy at http://mybook.to/ChristianWriters1.

What question would you like to ask Tracy?


A Voice for the Voiceless

I’m angry. It brings out the “Mama Bear” in me when I hear stories like the one I heard yesterday (names changed).

Belinda has a son who has special needs. She did what she was told and enrolled him in a local school when he was five. He didn’t learn to read that year, or the year after, or the next . . . at eleven years of age he still could not read. Her son received some help at school. She trusted the school to do what was best…until she received a phone call from the school telling her that her son was no longer welcome in the school because “he is a sexual pervert.”

Belinda asked some questions and discovered her eleven-year-old son was given a spy game to play on an iPad belonging to the school. Her son accepted the game and played it without supervision – not for half an hour, but for a whole day. One of the first levels of the game instructed him to take pictures of people he was spying on. He did what he was told and took pictures. Lots of pictures. Of both boys and girls. Parents of the girls found out he was taking pictures of their daughters and complained. That’s when Belinda received the phone call.

Belinda was unable to resolve the situation with her local school, so she contacted a different school and asked to enrol her son. The “new” school contacted the previous school and was informed, “the child is a sexual pervert.” The “new” school refused to enrol Belinda’s son based on the information provided by the previous school. Belinda decided her only option was to homeschool her son. He had been in school for six years and could not read, so she figured she couldn’t do any worse. Then, she discovered the local school had reported her to Child & Family Services. Now she is not only juggling the challenges of parenting and homeschooling a child who has special needs, but she is also spending countless hours defending her ability to care for her son.

Why didn’t the local school provide adequate support for Belinda’s son? Why does a school choose to turn a student away because of a label, without researching the background? Why is it that a parent with a child who has special needs is often taken advantage of because he or she doesn’t understand how “the system” works?

We can do better, Alberta!


Author Profile: Sally Meadows

Today I’d like to introduce you to another InScribe friend, Sally Meadows, who is an author and recording artist:
Sally Meadows is a two-time national award nominated singer/songwriter and author. In 2015, she released two children’s books, Beneath That Star and The Two Trees. In addition to 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers (2015), she is a contributing author to Hot Apple Cider With Cinnamon (2015), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada (2014), and Organized Obstacles: An Underdog Anthology. Her two CDs, Turn the Page (2012) and Red & White (2013) each include a song shortlisted for the Canadian national The Word Awards. Sally is a recent empty nester and lives in beautiful Saskatchewan, Canada. You can connect with Sally at sallymeadows.com and https://www.facebook.com/SallyMeadowsMusic.”

Tell us about your upbringing and early memories.

I was born in England to Canadian parents; my father was an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. I was about 15 months old when we came to Canada. I was the youngest of four for 6 1/2 years until my little brother came along. I have few memories of when I was young, but my strongest impressions are of being much loved by my mother, to whom I was especially close. In turn, I was close to, and took care of, my little brother. I am incredibly proud that my father was in the military, but it was not an easy life for my family; we moved frequently and my father was gone for long stretches of time. My life growing up was definitely tough at times. But it did make me resilient.

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

My mother taught me to pray every night before I went to bed, and I intuitively had a personal relationship with Jesus from an early age. But in my teens and early 20s I stopped going to church. Yet God still had a hold of me. During our engagement, my fiancee (now husband) and I started attending a Spirit-filled church which brought me back into the body of Christ. I would say my most defining moment was finally fully giving myself to Christ while pregnant with my first son.

When did you first become interested in writing?

Writing was a passion and strength from when I was a little girl. I won the English award in high school and decided that I wanted to become a science writer, opting to get a science degree rather than going into journalism. My first job after graduating with an MSc was as a scientific editor. After successively running a home-based science education business and then teaching, I decided in 2006 that it was time to do something with my writing. I started with occasional freelance writing while holding down a professional job, then finally left the corporate world in 2013 to focus full time on my writing and music ministry.

How would you define a successful writer?

It doesn’t really matter if you are a bestselling author or write in your own personal journal: As long as you are writing to, about, or giving the glory to God, He is pleased.

What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Start small. Set goals. Don’t look at anyone else’s journey but keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. I have full confidence you will find your own pathway.

Tell us about your current work in progress.

On October 1, 2015, I released my second children’s book, Beneath That Star, about a young Jewish girl who longs to be a shepherdess. When God speaks to her in a dream to look out for and follow that star, what she finds underneath it is of far greater value than anything she could ever have imagined.
I am also working on several short stories as well as two more children’s books. In the midst of all that, I am trying to find time to write songs for my next CD!

How has being a Christian impacted your life path?

Accepting Christ fully, and then moving to Saskatoon, dramatically changed our lives. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be doing the things I am today if those two life-altering events hadn’t happened.

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

That I lived and loved well. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
Book Contributors who attended the ICWF Fall Conference

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: 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