Summer Writing Fun: Compose Your Summer

Summer arts camp in St. Paul, Alberta

Are you looking for interesting, inspiring programs for your children to participate in this summer? Check out the Compose Your Summer opportunity from the St. Paul (Alberta) and District Arts Foundation.

I’m looking forward to being one of the facilitators for this program. My part will be working with the three different age groups (5-8, 9-12, and 13-18 year-olds) and helping them learn about writing in a fun, active way. Each participant will have the opportunity to create a unique story setting using paint, crayons, pictures, or any other method he chooses. We will also explore characterization by dressing up in different clothing, trying different dialogue, learning about descriptive words, and discussing good/bad traits. Plot will come alive as we video, play with words, and give helpful suggestions to each other. Participants will also receive general writing tips, editing tips, and a sneak peek into publishing and marketing.

Any suggestions or questions? I hope you’ll join in the fun!

Register today.


5 Things I Appreciated About Write Canada 2015

Write Canada 2015 Art
Picture taken at Write Canada 2015 by Stephanie Nickel

I just returned home on Sunday from Toronto, where I attended Write Canada 2015. Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of the teaching and tips I picked up while I was there, but today I’ll share an overview.

1. Focus

Although Write Canada is a writing conference and the focus is on writing, the overarching focus is on God, because attendees are Christian writers. During the event, we were all challenged to consider questions such as:

  • How has God gifted you, and what are you doing with that gift?
  • Are you in God’s Word?
  • Are you interpreting God’s Word accurately?
  • How are you using your writing to shine God’s light on issues?
  • Are you giving glory to God for successes?

 

2. Workshops

I always find it a challenge to pick workshops when I attend writing conferences, because there are so many helpful sessions available. (That’s why I ordered ALL the sessions that were recorded!) This year I decided to focus on self-publishing and writing shorter pieces. The sessions I attended were:

  • Book Launches that Sizzle Panel
  • Magazine Editor Panel
  • Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall
  • Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre
  • Going Global – Write Locally & Sell Globally with Mark Lefebvre
  • Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message with Susan King
  • The Game of Publishing with Warren Benson

 

3. Networking

Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

Writing conferences provide a unique opportunity for authors to meet and interact with other authors, agents, editors, and publishers. I enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with:

Faculty members at Write Canada graciously make themselves available to have conversations, answer questions, listen to queries, and share their knowledge and expertise.

Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

A special opportunity to network took place Saturday during lunch in a discussion regarding Aboriginal Christian writing in Canada. Dorene Meyer invited James Peters and Deborah Ironstand to join her on a panel. Dorene started the discussion by apologizing for the way Canadians have treated First Nations people. James and Deborah acknowledged the apology and offered forgiveness. Then Deborah read “The Sweet Presence,” a story published in Northern Writers Volume 5. She wept as she read. This is the first opportunity she’s ever had to read her story publicly. James shared his testimony of how God saved him. He said he wants to share his story in schools and churches so that young people don’t have to live through what he did. Doreen invited anyone who would be interested in publishing and promoting Aboriginal Christian writers to contact her. I’m excited to see where this will lead.

4. Friendships

Everything is better when you have friends! I enjoyed hugging and chatting with many of my Christian writing friends over the weekend. Write Canada provided many opportunities to hear about challenges and victories we’ve experienced and to celebrate excellence in writing. (The Word Awards Gala took place Saturday evening, immediately following the Write Canada conference.) Meeting face-to-face with friends I’ve met only through social media made it even better. I also enjoyed meeting people I’d never met before and adding them to my circle of friends.

5. Photography

Organizers of Write Canada arranged to have Stephen G. Woo, a professional photographer, available to take pictures on an appointment basis. He made the shoot fun, and when he found out I’ve written a book about Twitter, he customized the photos around that. I expected to have one or maybe two pictures to choose from, but he sent me twenty-one! Here are some of my favourites.

Pictures he took at The Word Awards Gala are available to view on Facebook.

As you can tell, Write Canada is a great event. I’m thankful God made a way for me to attend. Tell us about your favourite conference to attend!

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Lessons in Trust and Technology

Lessons in trust and technology

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh. (I’d rather laugh than cry, wouldn’t you?!) After I posted last time, I ran into major technology issues. It all started quite innocently, with the addition of a new e-mail address. After the creation of the e-mail address, I wanted to add it to my e-mail program so that I don’t have to check e-mail on the web. Although I thought I had the address configured properly into my Apple Mail program, I soon discovered I made some errors, which not only resulted in me not being able to access my new e-mail address, but also resulted in me not being able to access my website, or the website of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, or the admin panel for either of these websites. Why? Because my IP address was singled out as the source of a possible virus . . .  and blocked. This happened on May 21st and today is the first day I’ve had access to all my services again!

At first I felt stressed, frantic. I’m in the middle of taking an excellent course from Shelley Hitz, called Author Audience Academy. I started the section of the course on building an e-mail list, only to find myself locked out of my website. I couldn’t change anything, I couldn’t apply what I was learning, I couldn’t even look at my website.

Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do. I’m also in the middle of writing my second how-to book for Twitter (Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps). My original goal was to have the rough draft finished at the end of last week. That didn’t happen. I still have three chapters to write and edit. I’ve already told people I’m going to publish it the end of June and next week I’m going to Write Canada, which means no time for writing. More cause for panic . . .  Or not. As I thought about it, I remembered that I could upload a draft copy and put the book up for pre-sale. As long as that happens in June, people will be happy because they know the book is on its way. That gives me some breathing space and allows me to finish the book well. It also gives me time to get the book to beta readers for feedback. (If you’d like to be one of my beta readers, e-mail me!)

Although I wasn’t able to post on my own blog, I was still able to write two posts which were shared on other blogs:

 


Shadow (German Shepherd/Collie/Mongrel) joined our family when our oldest daughter was eighteen months old. He died peacefully in his sleep when she was fifteen, under the trampoline where he spent many hours “supervising” as our children played and jumped above him. He lived a full, long life, but it was hard to say “Goodbye” or think of replacing him. Nine months ago a beautiful white bundle of energy (Husky/Malamut) joined our family. Our children named him Olaf, after the snowman from the movie, Frozen. Olaf has reminded me of several important truths regarding parenting (Click here to read the rest of this post on A Beautiful Life.)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth

It started at the breakfast table. After we read about what qualities God looks for in a person and how we should look beyond people’s actions and appearances.

“You’re dumb. I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like you either.”

“Mom, Levi’s bugging me.”

I sighed. My husband was already at work. “Are you guys being kind to one another?”

They gave me crooked grins and shook their heads. It was quiet for a few milliseconds before they were at each other,  again.

(Click here to read the rest of this post on InScribe Writers Online)

I believe God’s timing is perfect. I know that He is trustworthy. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of HIM.

What have you been learning about technology and/or trust lately?


Update and future direction for ruthlsnyder.com

Tragedy and goalsIn January I shared my writing goals for 2015. I haven’t finished anything on that list! But I am still focusing on non-fiction, specifically the Author Social Media Mastery Series. After I finished Kindle in 30 with Kristen Eckstein, I decided to take the Author Audience Academy course with Shelley Hitz. I can’t say enough about this excellent course. The first month we focused on Publishing:

  • Week 1 – Strategy
  • Week 2 – Writing
  • Week 3 – Publishing
  • Week 4 – The Launch

I followed Shelley’s hints and helpful tips and my book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps, is now available on Kindle!

This month we are focusing on Platform:

  • Week 1 – The Foundation
  • Week 2 – Author Website
  • Week 3 – E-mail Marketing
  • Week 4 – Social Media Marketing

Month Three will focus on products to accelerate our business.

While I’ve been taking this course I’ve also been:

In my non-writing life:

  • Parenting our five children ages 7-17
  • Teaching four Music for Young Children classes (and substitute teaching four classes for two weeks)
  • Teaching private piano lessons to four students
  • Hosting a piano recital for all my music students
  • Playing piano for the Glendon Community Church
  • Helping select a digital piano for the church (This was FUN! I had the opportunity to play pianos most of the day, including a $200,000 Steinway and a $240,000 Bosendorfer – concert grand pianos. Of course those instruments were WAY out of our budget.)
  • Writing a grant application and doing other paperwork related to a playground project for the Glendon Playground and Park Society

Hmmm. No wonder I’ve been busy…and haven’t written too many blog posts for my own website!

As I’ve been working through the Author Audience Academy, I’ve been thinking about what I should be focusing on here on my website. What do I need to keep doing? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing?

That’s where you come in. I need some feedback from you, my readers. Which topics are you most interested in (Devotionals, Family life, Parenting, Writing, Twitter, Marketing, Publishing, Other)? How often would you like me to post? (I want to post consistently!) Any and all feedback is welcome! Please leave a comment below. Thanks 🙂


Parenting: Getting through the tough days (Parenting Blog Hop Week 1)

Parenting Blog Hop

 

Question: What do you find most challenging about parenting? 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

For me, the most challenging part of parenting is adjusting my expectations, training, and discipline to the uniqueness of each of my children.

I have five children ages seven to seventeen; Each child is different. One child craves hugs and responds better to life if the hug quotient is full. Another child doesn’t want hugs, but responds well when I take the time to sit and listen. One child has a sensitive spirit and rarely needs discipline. Another child constantly challenges authority.

It takes time to get to know my children. The way my children enjoy spending time with me is also different. My youngest just wants to be with me and often offers to help with whatever I’m doing. My next child loves to play games. Another son enjoys riding in a vehicle with me – the destination is unimportant. His brother still comes and sits beside me, or even on my lap, gives me hugs, and compliments me often. My eldest child prefers to communicate with text messages.

Some of my children also have special needs. This means that I can’t expect my fourteen year-old to act like most fourteen year-olds. Sometimes a younger sibling things I’m being unfair because I expect more from the younger one than the older one.

Parents have the challenging job of knowing our children and then teaching and training them accordingly. I’m thankful I don’t have to tackle parenting alone. My children have a hard-working Dad. We all have a Heavenly Father who stands ready to give us His wisdom if we will only ask:

“If any of you lackswisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV)

Question: What helps you get through the tough days?

Several things help me when I face challenging days as a parent:

  • Prayer – God is never too busy to hear my desperate pleas for help.
  • Reading God’s Word, the Bible – There are many encouraging passages I return to again and again. Some of my favourites are Psalm 37, Psalm 1, Isaiah 41, and Ephesians 6
  • Perspective – Talking to parents who’ve gone through similar situations and have survived is a great encouragement to me.
  • Sufficient Sleep – It’s always easier for me to handle challenges when I get my sleep!
  • Healthy Food – I try to choose more fruits and vegetables rather than products with refined sugar. However, chocolate is still part of my diet – in moderation. 🙂
  • Respite – Sometimes I need a break from my children to clear my thinking and renew my perspective. I find an occasional break is good for both me and my children.
  • Confession – When I make a mistake as a parent, I’ve found things turn around quickly when I’m willing to “‘fess up.”

What about you? What do you find most challenging as a parent? What helps you get through the tough days?


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New Bestseller from Canadian Author, Ruth L. Snyder

Beginnging Steps 1

(Glendon, Alberta – April 27, 2015) Ruth L. Snyder, an author from Glendon, Alberta, hit Amazon’s Bestseller List with her book, Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps the first day the book was available for pre-sale and it remains there. In Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps, Snyder explains the benefits of Twitter for writers and leads readers step by step through the process of setting up an effective account. Using this manual, readers learn the lingo, find their way around the Twitter dashboard, and start building relationships with their worldwide audience. She shares many tips and tricks to engage an audience and build a solid marketing platform in minutes a day.

Author Michaelann Smith says, “When I started reading this book, I had a Twitter account, however I had no idea what to do with it or how. Since I read this book and followed its very easy steps, I have a lovely Twitter homepage and have figured out whom to follow. Thanks for making the overwhelming world of Twitter understandable and very doable. I can’t wait to read more books in your series and learn how to tweet with the best of them.”

Snyder ventured into the virtual world of Twitter in 2009. She says, “Authors are busy people. Not only do we have to write, but we are also expected to connect with our readers. At first it can be overwhelming, but I’ve learned to do it by spending an average of ten minutes or less a day on Twitter.”

Ruth L. Snyder has had numerous articles, three novelettes, and one devotional book published. She has hit the Amazon bestseller list with all her published books. This is her first book in the Authors’ Social Media Mastery Series. She is working on Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps, which is scheduled to release later this year. Ruth is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. She currently serves as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship

Twitter-Book-Free

Download the news release    Download the Kindle book from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Twitter-Beginning-NR


Launch Day for Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps

Twitter-Book-Free

It’s here! My official launch day for Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps. (Due to the number of links included in the book, I decided to launch it only on Kindle. My plan is to publish two more books in this series – Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps and Learn Twitter: 10 Advanced Steps. Once all three books are available on Kindle, I may combine all of them and publish a paperback version.)

I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to download the book for free from April 27 – May 1, 2015. Please leave a review on Amazon if you like the book. Thanks 🙂

I’ve had very positive feedback from people who’ve already read the book:

-A great, quick read with TONS of resources. Marie Cole

-Well done! I can see how these techie help books may open doors to our ‘heart’ writing later on down the path. Melanie Fischer, Authorpreneur

-Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps is an excellent how-to guide for Twitter newbies, or those who use Twitter but don’t quite “get” it. The book is to the point (like Twitter!), very practical and helpful. Beth Jones, International Speaker/Author of The Cinderella Story: The Power of Shoes http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VN77IXQ/

-Great stuff! Many people will benefit from this resource. Kimberley Payne

-Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps is written in clear, concise language. Although it’s very basic, I discovered new concepts throughout the book. I recommend this helpful book. Elma Schemenauer, Author of many books including Consider the Sunflowers.

Download your copy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com


Introducing Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake by Tandy Balson

I met Tandy Balson last year through Facebook; we were both planning to attend Write Canada and looking for roommates. Although we had never met face-to-face  before June 2014, we experienced an immediate rapport because of our common beliefs and interests. (Tandy is my sister in the family of God and we are both writers.) This week I’m celebrating Tandy’s release of her newest book, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things. She has given me permission to share the following reading with you (from page 41 in the book).

Tandy cover

Spice Cake

When asked what kind of cake she’d like for her birthday, my daughter didn’t hesitate. “Spice cake with caramel frosting” was the quick reply. I happily obliged and made the cake, along with a favourite meal to take to her house the following day. She and her two oldest children have celiac disease, so I modified the recipes to make them safe and enjoyable for all.

I left the remainder of the cake with her. Being a very generous person, she shared it that night with other gluten-free friends. The next day one of them asked for the recipe. My daughter and I didn’t think twice about the recipe, but her friend was confused. You see, the recipe was a regular one from my old Betty Crocker cookbook and not a specific gluten-free recipe.

Over the years I have become quite comfortable at taking favourite recipes and adapting them to suit our changing needs. With practice this has become so successful that others don’t know of the changes. The end results are the same texture and flavour as regular recipes.

So it is with my life. I may end up with a similar result as you but don’t achieve it in the same way. There are adaptations along the way. I can maintain the integrity of my goal while learning to be flexible and adapt along the way. God guides each of us in the way we should go. Our end goal is the same, but there are many interesting ways to get there.

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9 NIV)


 

Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things by Tandy Balson is now available for purchase from:

www.timewithtandy.com ( Tandy is offering a giveway for those who purchase through her website the week of April 20-26), Friesen Press and Amazon.

 

Tandy Balson

Tandy is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer and observer of life.  Her greatest joys in life are spending time with family and friends, baking (but then I have to give it away so I don’t eat it all!), spending time in nature, reading and writing.

She has been doing inspirational speaking in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan since 2001.  You can read her twice weekly blogs at www.timewithtandy.com

Her work has been accepted for publication in FellowScript Magazine, Testimony Magazine and The Upper Room.