Let God be God
By Toni Babcock
“By faith Abraham, when he was called…obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went,” (Hebrews 11:8 KJV).
Envy, and its suspecting cousin suspicion, can present themselves in a reluctance to acknowledge the gifts and calling of another Christian. Take the astounding story of Bruce Olson, who embarked on a harrowing journey to reach a fierce tribal group called the Motilone. His adventure began when at nineteen years of age, he boarded a plane to Venezuela with seventy dollars in his pocket and no official backing.
Before his trip, Bruce applied for missionary backing, but he was not considered qualified. Still, he felt it impossible to resist the call of God to “GO” in spite of his rejection. His initial reception from certain missionaries on the field was negative. He was shunned and frowned upon by those critical he was moving ahead without official backing. Yet his faith held firm as he continued to do what he was convinced God had called him to do. The rest is history.
If we truly have faith in our sovereign God and King, we can trust Him when he calls and equips the most unsuspecting people. We can refrain from jumping to judgmental conclusions, and graciously surrender our strict methodologies for ministry. In other words, we can let God be God.
(Bruce’s incredible story of faith and survival appears in: Bruchko And The Motilone Miracle: How Bruce Olson Brought a Stone Age South American Tribe into the 21st Century, by Bruce Olson and James L. Lund).
Dear God, thank you for remaining higher than the highest authority, existing above and beyond our too often biased human parameters, and never ceasing to amaze through your divine working of faith and love.
Toni M. Babcock is author of The Stone Writer, Christian Fiction for Young Readers and Teens.
Are You Really A Writer?
People always ask me, “How do I tell if I’m really a writer?”
I tell them that’s an easy question to answer.
If you’re really a writer, you write.
But that’s not all real writers do.
Real writers also take joy in the writing process itself instead of simply wanting to have written something.
Someone who is really a writer loves the process of writing, even when the process is torturous, as it can be at times with any writing project.
Yet, real writers MUST write. They can’t NOT write.
They may spend time making excuses for not writing. But when it gets right down to it, they can’t stay away from the work itself for long. The writing keeps calling them back.
And when they go back to it, they eventually find bliss when they realize their writing has improved. That they’ve finally learned how to smooth out a certain difficult passage they’ve been wrestling with for weeks. They finally understand what an editor means by some suggested rewrites.
If you’re trying to decide if you’re really a writer, see how long you can stay away from writing.
Find out if the writing itself – and not just the promise of publication – is what brings you joy.
Then you’ll know for sure if you’re really a writer.
Used with permission. From the December 22, 2015 edition of The Morning Nudge, a daily encouraging email produced by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach. Receive a free subscription at www.morningnudge.com. The Morning Nudge is also in video format on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEG10GCPBPBrAqhqRhcNy1A.
After few weeks’ break (did anyone go through withdrawals??), the FaithWriters Writing Challenge is back in action – with the first topic of 2016,RESOLUTION, announced yesterday. And with the new topic, and new year, come a few changes, as announced by FW lady and Writing Challenge Coordinator Deb Porter.
The first change is that each challenge quarter will no longer have a theme. Topics will be chosen with care to provide loads of variety, as well as plenty of creative stretching (some weeks more than others). You will never know what topic to expect from one week to the next.
This has been made possible by a change to the publishing aspect of the Writing Challenge. With a lot of books still to be published, the only sane thing to do was to make a change to the future publication options:
1. All the Mixed Blessings books based on the quarterly Challenges to date (finishing December 2015) will be rolled out as promised. Hopefully at least four this year. Editing has begun on Book 3, and it’s going to be a fun book.
2. Commencing with the first Writing Challenge of 2016, only the three highest ranked entries each week will be considered for publication in a planned annual Mixed Blessings book (to be released within 12 months of the final topic of each year). The book will not have a theme, but will be promoted as the very best of the Challenge.
Apart from the publication aspect, don’t forget the incredible blessing open to Platinum members. There were 68 ratings feedback reports prepared in the last quarter, and the response to those reports was overwhelmingly positive. So many of you thought this was the most important aspect of the Challenge. More important, Deb was able to see people grow during that quarter. We had more than a few finish up the year placing in their Level for the first time, and some even making it to the Editors’ Choice. So if you are a Platinum member, make sure you take advantage of at least one of your three feedback credits each quarter.
RISE TO THE CHALLENGE!
FaithWriters and Breath of Fresh Air Press are pleased to announce the Tenth Annual Page Turner Contest is officially open for entries – and this year we are celebrating in a very big way. For the first time, the door is open for both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts – with a winner and runner-up in BOTH categories!
If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500, you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you. If you are not yet a Platinum member, this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.
Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your wardrobe. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your manuscript, this contest is just the spur you need to get writing and polishing-and we will give you until the end of September (note this change) to get your entry ready.
Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do:
1. Write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. You may seek professional editing input to polish your chapter.
2. Prepare a book proposal.
3. Combine the chapter and book proposal as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2016 Page Turner Contest.
A HUGE congratulations to EVERYONE who entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge this past quarter. Just by submitting an entry, you are a winner. But some pieces rise even higher than that to place – while others go even higher than that.
And that is what the quarterly cash awards are meant to recognize. The highest scoring entry in EACH LEVEL over each entire ten-week quarter receives a $50 cash prize. This past quarter had a cooking theme – from fold to stew to steam to clarify – and these four entries (one from each level) came out on top. Be sure to check them out!
LEVEL 1: Redemption by M. C. Syben (for the FOLD challenge topic)
LEVEL 2: Ragout de la Vie by Beckie Evans (for the STEW challenge topic)
LEVEL 3: Stewing Chickens Do Not a Proper Paprikash Make by Judith Gayle Smith (for the STEW challenge topic)
LEVEL 4: Mortimer’s Plight by Donna Powers(for the STIR challenge topic)
The Writing Challenge is on a break for the next week or so – we start up again on January 7. Hope you will join us – YOUR name (and entry) could be listed here at the end of next quarter.
(And while you wait – have you filled out the workshop survey for the planned FaithWriters Gathering this summer in the Atlanta area? Give us your thoughts here!)
Congratulations, M.C., Beckie, Judith, and Donna!
Rachel Malcolm has been at FaithWriters for three years now – and now her novel has been named as a runner-up in the Page Turner contest! Read on to learn more about her writing, her family, and her other passions – plus some tips for those of us who want to get serious about writing.
JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on placing in the Page Turner! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?
RACHEL MALCOLM: The night before I was expecting to see the results for the Page Turner, I was watching a movie with my family, and I noticed that I’d received a friend request from Deb Porter on Facebook. “This is a good sign!” I told my husband. I accepted the friend request and checked out the Faithwriters forum. I felt a rush of excitement jolt through me when I saw my name listed as one of the winners!
RACHEL: When I was six, only months after learning to read. I remember the thrill of seeing words everywhere around me. I’d try to sound out the words on every sign we drove past. Soon books were taking me to new worlds, and I wanted to transport people through my own writing.
JOANNE: So cool. Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?
RACHEL: A career. Three years ago I made the commitment to pour myself into writing. I know it’s a tough industry to succeed in, but I intend to stick it out for the whole journey. It doesn’t matter if it takes a year or a decade. I want to write books that make people laugh, cry, and think deeply. I want to create characters that will stay with readers long after the last page is finished.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:4-14, NKJV
Have you heard about our plans for the FaithWriters Gathering this summer down in Georgia (the state – not the country )? We are holding it July 15 and 16 in McDonough, Georgia – fellowship, fun, inspiration, and, of course, some writing stuff.
But this isn’t going to be just another writing conference. Instead, we want you to have hands-on experience with the things you most want to learn or develop. But what are those things? THAT is what we are trying to find out. We have loads of ideas, but we want to offer a program that the majority of you will enjoy.
This is the first of a series of survey we will be posting to find out what works best for you. We don’t want to put on an event that doesn’t actually interest anyone, or one that is telling all the same old things. We want you to love it.
So if you are thinking about attending the FaithWriters Gathering (15-16 July, 2016) or even if you are just hoping to attend at this time, please take a moment now to complete this very simple survey. Just tick the boxes. The survey will be available for a few weeks. We would LOVE your input in that time!
Query Letter Mistakes to Avoid
by Suzanne Hartmann
Sending out letters scattershot
There are so many literary agencies out there that it can be tempting to send a generic letter out to bunches of agencies at the same time to see who shows interest in your book. The problem is that not every agency represents each subject and genre, so sending out a generic query letter to every agency under the sun is the best way to guarantee a load of rejection letters.
Agents receive so many queries each week that they can afford to be selective. As they scan over your letter, they will stop reading any time they hit a reason to reject a query: your manuscript has too many words, they don’t represent your genre, you’re not published and they only represent published authors.
You can save yourself a great deal of heartache from rejections if you simply check the website of each agency before your query them, then only send to those agencies for which your book is a good fit.
Sending the query to an agency that doesn’t accept your genre
One of the most common reasons for a rejection is that the agency doesn’t represent the subject or genre of the book. If the agency doesn’t represent what you’ve got to sell, then it’s a guaranteed rejection.
Agencies state on their website what they represent, so make sure you check the their submissions guidelines. Sometimes they also specify what they don’t represent as well. Some agencies give a broad statement that applies to the entire agency. Often, however, the individual agents will represent different subjects and genres. You may need to check each agent’s individual page on the agency’s website.
See eight more tips on query letters, and several other “top ten series,” at Suzanne’s blog
Suzanne Hartmann is the author of the novels Peril and Conspiracy, Christian suspense she calls fiction with a twist of the unexpected. For the last several years, she has also stepped into the editorial side of writing, with her work at Port Yonder Press and now Castle Gate Press. She offers a plethora of easy-to-understand writing advice on her blog, Write This Way, which she has compiled into a book of the same name (available at her blog). When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales for good deals. She loves to encourage fellow authors, so stop by her Facebook Page and drop her a note.
LINK for Write This Way: Write This Way Blog: http://suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com/2007/01/write-this-way-take-your-writing-to-new.html
LINKS for Suzanne:
Facebook – Suzanne Hartmann – Author
Twitter – @SuzInIL