Ten Ways to Bless Others Through Your Writing Skills

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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Like everyone else writers revolve around family, friends, and those commitments we make to our community. So, it’s no surprise that we want to give back to those we care about most. Sometimes, it can be hard to know what we can do.

So, I compiled a short list.

Here are ten ways a writer can give back to their family and community by using their God given talent to enhance other people’s lives.

Five Ways to Give Back to Family:

  • Interview a veteran in your family about his history or war experience and share it with the whole family through Wattpad or Amazon Kindle.
  • Map out the family tree and write snippets from each era or generation, making sure to include the family favorites that everyone knows and several that are unique.
  • Compile a family cookbook of favorite recipes and traditions. Ask each member for a favorite memory that revolves around food.
  • Create a book of family weddings and baby showers. Include lots of pictures and maybe some poems.
  • Write a family newsletter to send out at Christmas or New Year’s or Easter to keep friends and extended family in the loop with what’s going on in life.

Bonus:

  • Create a book of memories of someone who has passed to keep their wonderful stories alive.

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Five Ways to Give Back to Your Community:

  • Volunteer to teach a workshop on writing at the local Senior Citizen Center or after school program.
  • Help promote a local cause like a charity, non-profit, or animal shelter through your blog or start a blog for them.
  • Write an article or pamphlet to draw attention to medical issues that may not have a lot of media coverage in your area.
  • Write a newsletter for your subdivision, neighborhood, or church to help the group feel connected and informed.
  • Contribute to the local newspaper to highlight the humor in your own backyard.

As you can see, there are so many ways God can use our writing skills to benefit not only ourselves but our friends, families, and neighbors. [Click-to-Tweet]

Writing Prompt:

Jill heard about the problems her neighbors were having with drivers speeding through the subdivision, but as a writer, she wasn’t sure how she could help.

 

 

 

 

Writing for Children—A Noble Calling

By Michelle Medlock Adams

When I was in first grade, Mrs. True made an announcement that would forever change my life.

“We’re having a poetry contest this week,” she said, “so use today and tomorrow to come up with your best poem.”

We had just studied the various types of poems, and I decided I really liked the ones that rhymed. In fact, I had checked out every book of rhyming poetry I could find from our school library, and I’d read them all—twice.

As my classmates wrote about their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, I carefully crafted the words to my poem: “I Love Penny.”

Penny was my 7-year-old wiener dog and my best friend in the whole world.

My poem went a little something like this: “Penny is my very best friend. I’ll love her to the very end. She’s a very special wiener dog. I love her though she smells like a hog…”

OK, so I wasn’t exactly a first grade Dr. Seuss, but my poem was good enough to earn first prize. (I guess the other first grade poets must’ve been really bad.) At any rate, I won a few sparkly pencils and the honor of going first in the lunch line that afternoon.  Mrs. True also displayed my poem in the front of the room for all to see. I stared at my winning poem all afternoon, and in my mind, I was already coming up with a follow-up rhyme.

That’s the day I became a writer.

I wanted to write all the time, and so I did. I wrote during recess while other kids played tag and climbed on the monkey bars. I completely fell in love with words.

I wrote a play in fifth grade that we performed for all of the fifth grade classes; I wrote short stories in junior high for a literary magazine; and I wrote many articles for my high school newspaper before majoring in journalism at Indiana University.

Though I began my career writing news stories for a daily paper, my career path took an unexpected turn when we moved to Texas so I could write features and personality profiles for an international ministry magazine. After a little while, the editor came to me said, “You have kids, right?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Great, you can write some kids stories for our children’s outreach.”

I remember thinking, “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I know how to write for them.”

But I was a journalist so I began researching the world of writing for children, and I once again fell in love. Head over heels. That was more than 20 years ago, and I’ve been lovesick ever since. Creating stories for children—stories that teach, entertain, encourage and inspire—it’s a noble calling. It’s a calling I don’t take for granted, and neither should you.

No matter how you fell in love with writing for children, I’m just happy you did. Let me encourage you to stay the course. Never think your work or your words are less important or less powerful simply because they are for kids. Actually, they are more important and more powerful because they are for kids.

You’re a part of a very special club—a society of writers who woo children to fall in love with words and continue that love affair their whole lives through. You’re the writer who transports children to far-off lands and make-believe worlds. You’re the writer who causes children to dream a little bigger, laugh a little harder, feel a little deeper, and care a little more. You’re a children’s writer, crafting copy on the very hearts of your readers, so do it well, and do it with enthusiasm.

Click to tweet: “You’re the writer who causes children to dream a little bigger, laugh a little harder, feel a little deeper, and care a little more.” Michelle Medlock Adams. #amwriting #childrensbooks

Writing prompt: Do you write for children? Tell us why in the comments. We want to know!


Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, earning top honors from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association.

Author of over 80 books with close to 4 million books sold, Michelle’s latest children’s book, My First Da of School (Worthy Kids) won the Selah Award for Best Children’s Book in 2018, her fourth Selah for Best Children’s Book since 2012. In fact, in 2014 Michelle’s board book God Knows You not only won the Selah for Best Children’s Book but also won the esteemed Book of the Year honor over all other Selah winners.

In addition, her children’s book, I Will Not Be Afraid (Concordia Publishing House) earned “The Gold” Enduring Light medal for best children’s book in the 2018 Illumination Awards.

 Since graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University, Michelle has written more than 1,500 articles for newspapers, magazines and websites; acted as a stringer for the Associated Press; written for a worldwide ministry; helped pen a New York Times Bestseller; hosted “Joy In Our Town” for the Trinity Broadcasting Network; and served as a blogger for Guideposts. Today, she is President of Platinum Literary Services—a premier full-service literary firm—and she serves as Chairman of the Serious Writer Board of Directors.

 When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities, politicians, and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers. Michelle is also a much sought-after teacher at writers’ conferences and universities around the nation. In fact, she has served as an adjunct professor three different years at Taylor University, teaching “Writing for Children.”

 Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff, and they have two daughters, Abby and Allyson, two sons-in-law, one grandson and another grandbaby on the way. She and Jeff share their home in Southern Indiana with a miniature dachshund, a rescue Shepherd/Collie mix, and two cats. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys bass fishing and cheering on the Indiana University Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies, and the LA King

3 Questions Wednesday with Daphne Self

67177558_10217230486728501_1529675924142817280_oWelcome to another edition of 3 Questions Wednesday, and welcome Daphne Self. Lets get started!

First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Daphne:  This is like asking what’s my favorite show, or dessert, or kid. I have many favorites so I will list a few: for suspense: Terri Blackstock, for westerns: Louis L’Amour, for thrillers: Eric Landfried and Mike Dellosso, for speculative: Daniel Peyton, Allen Steadham, Joanna White, Paul Regnier, and John Olson/Randy Ingermanson…and that is just a start. Oh, I love Henry van Dyke.

It is too hard to pick one with so many favorites! 🙂 Now here’s a fun question—

 If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about? 

Daphne:   I’m working on writing a middle grade book about Martin Luther. This requires a lot of researching, but I like it. When it comes to fiction, I write about a variety of things. So I really can’t pinpoint anything. Guess you can say when it comes to fiction, I write about life. With nonfiction, I would write a book that goes into more detail about living with chronic pain and tell the stories of everyday people who live with this condition.

It seems like so many people are struggling with chronic pain and how to manage it in a healthy way.  That book could have the potential to help many people.  Last question—

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

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Daphne:  This is kind of hard to say. I don’t really live in books. I enjoy reading them, but once I close the book, the story lives in my memory only. If I had to say, it would be … I have no idea. Maybe Jordan and Bopol from Allen Steadham’s Jordan’s World. I would learn the way of the tribes on Algoran. Of Beroan from Shifter by Joanna White. To be able to see him in dragon form would be cool and he could tell me all about the dragon clan. Maybe even Doyle from Eric Landfried’s Solitary Man. We would fight to undercover the truth of what why the cannibals existed. Then there is Penny and Jonah from Susan Tuttle’s At First Glance. To spend a day with a sweet couple would be ideal. Being able to talk to Tassie from Judy DuCharme’s Blood Moon Redemption would be nice. I would have coffee with her and discuss the significance of her heritage and history. If I was able to spend time with Travis and Jane in Lucy Thompson’s A Cowboy’s Dare, it would be like living in a John Wayne movie. Laughter, adventure, and mayhem.

You may need a year instead of a day…LOL!   Thanks, Daphne, for visiting us on 3 Questions Wednesday, and allowing our readers to know you better.

Click to Tweet: Author Daphne Self answers our 3 Questions and you could win a copy of of three books. @InspiredPrompt   #Interview #giveaway #DaphneSelf

Readers, Daphne will give away 3 print copies of Mississippi Nights, in celebration of Alabama Days‘ release in spring/summer 2020, 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir, in celebration of next year’s release of Journey On: Through This Shadowed Valley, and The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog, her newest children’s book release.  Don’t forget to comment below to be entered.


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The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog

Majesty, the firehouse dog, is missing. Willie and Jax are on the case to discover who is the dognapping culprit. Could it be their neighbor, Mr. Applebee? Or maybe it is Ms. Thornton?
Join the Pintail Duo, Wilhelmina van der Coup and Jackson Barnaby, as they follow the clues to rescue Majesty in The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog.


 


Mississippi Nights

MN_Cover_FINALTwo brothers, one death–the bond of brotherhood faces its greatest challenge against resentment and guilt.
Can the love between two brothers eventually win against pain and guilt? When firefighter David Boyette’s fiance perishes in a car fire, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death.
Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman’s love, and a small child’s devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him?
Together the brothers must decide if the bond of brotherhood is stronger than resentment and hate.

 


30 Days: A Devotional Memoir 

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Do you desire to no longer be alone? Do you yearn for understanding and hope? Do you wish for a closer walk with Jesus?
When a relationship ends, whether through divorce or death, it leaves us with heartache and sadness. Fear of loneliness overwhelms our soul. Anger at God consumes us. We are suddenly thrust into unknown territory, lost and bewildered.
Psalm 147:3 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their their wounds”. 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir brings you deeply moving stories to strengthen your walk and bring you closer to Christ. Author D.M. Webb share her three year spiritual journey with a collection of thirty devotions designed to reach out and uplift those who have endured the turbulent emotions that come with divorce, widowhood, and single parenting. Reach out, place your hand in His, and begin your journey today.

 



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Daphne Self, formerly published under the name D.M. Webb, resides in Iowa. A transplant from Mississippi who fell in love with the Midwest state, she spends her days writing, editing, and planning adventures with her husband and sons. Having always dreamed of being a writer she pursues this dream with only one goal in mind: To Glorify His Name. Daphne is also an avid reader who devours books in many genres. Daphne is a long time member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and also helps upcoming authors polish their manuscripts.

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Writing for Magazines

By Harriet Michael

When I was a little girl, I loved fishing with my dad. We lived in Nigeria then, so we didn’t have access to many of the fun things people in America had. We didn’t even have swimming pools without traveling at least an hour’s drive from my home. But we had a man-made water reservoir where I could fish. I learned to cast my line out into murky waters, wait in anticipation to feel that tug on my line and then try and reel it in without letting the fish get away.

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Maybe that’s why I like freelance writing. I cast pieces—articles, devotions, short stories—out into the murky waters of cyberspace and wait hopefully. Sometimes I feel that tug and sometimes I even reel in a great catch in the form of a contract for a submitted piece.

Of all the publications for which I write, magazines are among my favorite. I get to write on topics of interest to me because I choose the type of magazine I wish to submit to, they pay (some better than others) so I have a flow of cash coming in all year long, and they help build my platform because they are viewed by people I otherwise would not be able to reach.

Here are some tips for anyone hoping to break into the magazine-writing market:

  • Search engines are your best friends. You can find any magazine you think you might like to write for by searching that magazine’s name and the words, “writers’ guidelines.” Ex: “The War Cry writers’ guidelines” You can search types of magazines this way too. Ex: “parenting magazines writers’ guidelines” or “cooking magazines writers’ guidelines” Any magazine that takes freelance submissions will show up if you search by topic.
  • Read the writers’ guidelines, taking note of a few things:

a] What rights do they buy? I avoid magazines that buy all rights or exclusive rights. See the article on this blog about a writer’s rights if you do not understand this.

b] How much and when do they pay? Do they pay on acceptance of your submitted piece or when the article is published? This is merely a guide to me so I will know when to expect a payment, but both are fine.

c] What word count do they want? Stick to their requested word count to the best of your ability. Usually, it’s okay to be over or under by less than 10 words but some online submission sites will cut you off at their maximum count, so I prefer to err on the “under” side of things.

d] Do they have a theme list? Do they want a particular type of article?

  • Write and submit according to the guidelines. Follow the guidelines as closely as you can … and then wait to feel that tug on your line.

A question I often get when teaching workshops on freelancing or magazine writing, is should a person write from inspiration or according to a theme requested by the magazine.

My answer: “Both.”

Writing according to the magazines’ wishes, whether that is a theme or a type of article (like a “how-to”, essay, or story) brings greater success. If they are looking for something specific and you give them what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy it. However, there have been times when something has happened in my life that I simply wanted to write down. This happens often but sometimes these pieces sit on my computer for a long time until a theme or magazine where the piece might fit pops up.

One example of this is an article I had published in a gardening magazine last spring about a humorous experience that occurred many years ago. When it happened, my youngest son was in elementary school. I laughed about what happened all day at the time, so knew I wanted to write it before I forgot, but I had nowhere to send it. When I finally found a magazine where this piece fit, my son was in college. Still, they did take it, people enjoyed reading it, and I received a check for it, even though it was more than a dozen years from the time I wrote it to the time it was published.

Click-to-Tweet:  You’ll never catch a fish if you don’t throw a line in the water and you’ll never have an article published in a magazine if you don’t try your hand at writing and submitting one.

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Writing Prompt / Exercise: Look up the writers’ guidelines for a magazine that you enjoy reading and begin writing an article for submission to that magazine. *Hint: Christian magazines get fewer submissions than secular ones, so the chances of getting published in them are higher.

Writing a Bible Study

by Shirley Crowder

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I love studying the Bible as well as helping others study the Bible. I hope the following will not only help those who want to write Bible studies, but that it will give a grid through which those who desire to delve into personal Bible studies can study the Bible.

I usually have an idea of what type Bible study I want to write/do: topical or book/passage. Sometimes as I study passages, it becomes clear that the other type study is what would best cover the things I want to include. Both types of studies are valuable in helping Christ-followers grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible and how to apply its commands and principles in our daily lives.

There are three basic steps:

  1. Study the Scripture passage.
  2.  Make notes as you study.
  3.  Organize your notes and write the Bible study.

I recently had the opportunity while traveling home from a conference to ask my dear brother in Christ, Dr. Howard Eyrich, “What makes a good Bible study?” I love his three points because they provided the structure for the things I consider as I develop a Bible study.

The most important thing to do when you want to start writing a Bible study is to pray! Ask the Lord to lead you as you study and determine the shape of your Bible study.

As you are reading, studying, contemplating, and meditating on the Scripture passage, make notes of important truths, themes, and words. I usually make bullet point notes of things that I can ask questions about.

Dr. Eyrich’s three points:

  1. Don’t start with a premise and determination to prove your premise.
  2. Inductively study the passage.
  3. Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Don’t start with a premise and then set out with determination to prove your premise.

I have been in and read so many Bible studies where it is obvious that the leader/writer began with a premise and set out with determination to prove that premise. They have everything in the Bible study “prove” their premise—often by using poor Bible study techniques. These studies often do not teach the verse or passage in the context of the chapter, book, and testament in which it appears.

Inductively study the passage.

Inductively studying the passage means the Bible is your source or textbook so that every session focuses on reading and understanding the Word of God. Asking questions leads you and others to discover the answers from the Bible.

I suggest staying away from “What do you think this means?” or “What does this mean to you?” questions. Always point people to study the passage for what it says in its context and the biblical principles you can extrapolate. I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?”

Inductively studying the passage leads you to study carefully as you: Observe, Interpret, and Apply the Word to your life.

  • Observation is asking, “What does the passage say?”
  • Interpretation is asking, “What does the passage mean?”
  • Application is asking, “Based on what the passage says and means, how do I apply it to my life?

Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Once you have the results of your inductive study, you need to look at each result and evaluate it theologically or biblically through the lens of Scripture, making sure your results are biblically/theologically accurate.

Dr. Eyrich encourages us to not be satisfied with just the application—how to apply the Scripture or biblical principle in my life. He encourages us to consider the implication—if I apply these principles in my life, what things would follow or what affect would that have on me and my life.

Check other Scripture passages that pertain to your topic and make note of the cross-references you can use throughout your Bible study.

Decide how many chapters the Bible study will contain. How many days or weeks will the study last? At this point, you decide whether to have one lesson for the week or divide each lesson into daily portions to be studied.

For topical studies, your topic will help you determine what to cover each week. For instance, if you do a study on “The Fruit of the Spirit” you may decide to have eleven chapters:

Chapter 1: Overview/Introduction to “The Fruit of the Spirit”
Chapters 2 – 10: Each chapter covers one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Chapter 11: Wrap-up

Read through the book or passage numerous times to find the important topics for each chapter. If you choose Psalm 1 for your Bible study, you could compare or contrast the way of the righteous man and the way of the unrighteous man.

Start writing and organizing.

As you write, you will also need to take the role of teacher/leader, making certain you supply background, definitions of words and phrases, and the context of the passage.

Many folks will have thirty questions for the week—six questions per day. However, instead of staying to a formulaic approach, I prefer to have a mix of quick short-answer questions and some that take more research, study, and contemplation to answer, so my Bible studies have varying numbers of questions per day/week.

Review, Rewrite, Refine

In this step you want to make sure the questions make sense and actually ask what you thought you were asking.

This is a good time to ask a friend or two to work through the study and help you identify anything that needs clarifying or that needs to be rewritten.

Writing Prompt: For a topical Bible study on “Trusting God,” what Scripture passages would you use and what questions would you ask?

Click to Tweet: I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder, “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?” https://ctt.ec/yb94L+ #WritingBibleStudies