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One spring day some years ago, while I was having a morning devotional and prayer time, a certain friend came to mind, and I felt I should drop in on her. To be honest, dropping in on people is not something I do often. But “they say” that if you hear the voice of God’s Spirit in your heart and ignore it, it will start to diminish. If you hear and obey, your recognition of the heart voice will gain strength. I decided to go.

When I entered the house of my friend and told her of the prompting I’d felt, she started to cry. She was going through a trial with one of her children that we had gone through with one of ours, and I was able to share my heart with her, pray with her, and assure her that in time, all would work out. Which it did.

Yesterday, I met a woman at church whom I had not met before. I introduced myself and we had a nice conversation, after which she invited me to come to her home for tea sometime. I called and arranged a time for later that week. Being an introvert who loves to stay home, I knew I had to do it immediately or I never would. I was already second-guessing my decision, trying to justify a way out. I mentioned it to my dear husband, and he said, “You should go.” A book I was reading included a similar instance that paralleled mine, and another book I was reviewing also suggested the same. Go.

I went. We had a nice chat over tea and found we were spiritual sisters. We may never be close friends, but I had obeyed the voice in my spirit.

The point is not so much the outcome, which isn’t in my hands anyway, but our willingness to obey the voice of God and follow through, to be involved in God’s ministry in this world, even in a small way.

I’m not always in tune with God’s promptings, nor do I always obey. But when I do, I feel joy that only comes from a growing relationship with my Savior. I pray the same for you.

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Whether we write fiction or non-fiction, a variety of genres can refresh our writing. I’ve always considered myself to be a fiction writer. I live and breathe story. If I’m not reading a novel, then I’m snatching minutes here and there to follow an e-book on my iPhone Kindle app. And if I need to be in hands-free mode, I plug in my earbuds and listen to an audiobook or watch a story on TV. That is, if I’m not writing a story of my own.

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Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve committed to writing a weekly blogpost on my website, as well as a few guest posts for others, so I’ve been challenged to pen some non-fiction. What surprised me is that I enjoy writing inspirational and how-to articles. Whoda thought?

In the midst of creating and editing my novels, both historical and contemporary, I’ve had to consider how I might connect with readers non-fictionally, outside of story.

 

 

Here’s how I’ve done it.

* Devotional / Inspirational Articles

The first week of each month I write a devotional thought or comment. I love finding a spiritual parallel to ordinary everyday events.

Example: I notice people’s shoes and their corresponding personalities and how we are all uniquely made.

* How-to Articles

Mostly, these are directed toward fiction writing. The second week of each month I offer a continuing mini-course on fiction: Fiction Writing 101. This past year I have considered such topics as theme, research, editing, submission, social media, etc. I pick my own brain to uncover all I already know of the topic, then search for more information, cite it, and add live links to helpful articles.

The third week of the month I post another writing column titled Tools of the Trade, where I analyze various concepts like time management, resource books, ideas and where they come from, public speaking for promotion, etc.

* Book Reviews

This has been a favorite writing form for years. In the past, I reviewed a book a month for the newsletter of a Canadian Christian bookseller, Living Books Inc. Lately, I’ve incorporated a review a month into my blog. Last year I also interviewed authors and posted these interviews once a month.

* Thankfulness

I have a theme a week, four in total, for each month, but when a month has a fifth Tuesday, I write an off-the-cuff list of things I am thankful for. It’s encouraging for me and I hope also for my readers.

I encourage you to try some of these types of writing to broaden your scope. If you normally write long fiction, try a short story, or vice versa. Try non-fiction to capture ideas that float through your head from time to time. Use these ideas and writings to help and motivate others. The end result will always be beneficial to you, just like the fact that a teacher always learns more in preparation than the student learns in class.

And besides all this, you can probably use bits and pieces from all of the above for your fiction!

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blog-hop-for-writers imageThe writing tools I use can be divided into several categories:  those that are essential, those that are convenient or beneficial to efficiency, and the extra things that are nice to have.

Essential Tools:

  • My MacBook Pro – my first introduction to computers was to Apple, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
  • Paper and Pen/Pencil – of course a writer needs a scratch pad nearby.
  • The World Wide Webhttp – my connection to the internet is always on (thanks to changing technology that took me from one phone-line and dial-up to designated line and wi-fi).
  • Resource books – my Webster’s Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus.
  • Words – my love of words is why I write; without them I could not communicate what’s on my mind and heart. I discovered a cool website while researching for this blog which reinforces the importance of our basic word-tools: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/writing-tools/76067/fifty-writing-tools-quick-list/
  • My Day Planner – I found a lovely, thin, coil bound planner this year with each month day plannerdisplayed on a two-page layout. It’s not for the detailed hour-by-hour details (which I don’t do) but for the daily and weekly and monthly reminders and commitments in my writing world. I’m a visual person, so it helps to see my calendar in larger format than on my iPhone.
  • Quiet – I’ve tried the coffee shop thing but it doesn’t work for me. Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I end up staring and get no work done. My small balcony office at home is best for this introvert.
  • Social Media – Not that long ago I would have consigned these to the extras list, but with forced introductions to some of these I have begun to see the important and even essential nature of social media. If we want our writing to be read, we must make it accessible. In this area, I include:

My Website / Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

Convenient Tools:

– series of writing books from Writer’s Digest Books:  Plot & Structure by James Scott     Bell, Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham, Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott   Card, and many more.

  • Scrivener Scrivener Logo– my favourite writing software (there are inexpensive courses online—see Gwen Hernandez—as well as Gwen’s book, Scrivener for Dummies). Scrivener is a reasonably simple and effective way of keeping all elements of a project in one virtual unit that includes scenes, summaries, organizational tools, research files, picture/internet files, conversion tools, etc.
  • Online photo sites like iStockphoto and Shutterstock where I can look for character images.
  • I came upon a site that includes a lot more software for writing and publishing at http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Writing+Tools
  • Index cards – Once my first (or second) draft is completed, I like to write a very brief summary of the scenes, one scene per card, arrange them on my dining room table (with the extra leaves in) and work with them. Again, it’s a visual thing. Can’t trust my brain anymore so I have to resort to more physical methods.

Extras:  (or maybe these are convenient…or even essential?)

  • Tea – I’d love to drink coffee but it plays havoc with my body, so I opt for tea. I have a handy cup-warmer at the far side of my desk (never keep beverages close to your computer, she said from experience).
  • A comfortable, ergonomic chair and footrest –  it’s hard to stay in the chair if it’s uncomfortable and bad for your back.
  • A moderately sized blanket for times when you get chilly. Mine’s one of those velvety soft things that never moves from my writing chair.
  • Charts and tables – As a visual person, I need to organize my writing so I can see the whole project. Scrivener is good for this, and the index cards are another step, but I still branch out to charts, especially when I’m stymied and need a diversion.

I’m sure these lists will adapt to changes in my world, but these are currently my most cherished writing tools.

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Participating in this blog hop—thanks to Ruth L. Snyder—is a great way to head into this new year. (Please click on Ruth’s name to access her site and all the other blog hoppers involved.) A new year always starts me re-thinking my purpose in this life and how I will manage the days and hours God has allotted to me.blog-hop-for-writers image

I asked my brother what his main goal is for this year. He said, “To stay out of jail.” We laughed. Then we talked seriously about the absolute necessity of integrity throughout his accounting business, from the mailroom to his office, and how every decision reflects on him. Besides being a legal matter, it’s also a matter of ethical business practice.

Any discussion of goals will reflect back to mission statement. My brother asked me, “Why do you do what you do?” From my own perspective, I feel called to write. I have stories I want to communicate to readers in order to inspire, to motivate, to heal, to encourage, to entertain. I love to work with words and I want to be faithful to the call God has given me.

What are my goals for 2014? Integrity—absolutely. Passion for writing—yes. There are many elements to fit into what I want this year to look like. How do I blend these components? The word balance comes to mind.

Some of the elements I want to address this year are:

Production: I want to create a body of work that impacts prospective readers and this takes time and focus.  I would like to learn to write faster without sacrificing quality.

Organization: I need to produce results efficiently. There are plenty of options that help in this area, both on paper and on screen. I would like to check my lists and goals regularly, while still remaining flexible to new ideas and opportunities not on the list.

Promotion:  This is a game to some writers, an annoyance or even a perceived curse for many more. This past year my publisher has encouraged his group of authors to leap into the realm of social media to promote one another. In my case, I’ve seen this strategy work wonders with my readership and following. The idea of promoting you while also promoting me is a win-win situation, the Golden Rule of promotion. I would like to learn more about social media and use it more effectively for myself but also for the good of other authors.

Intentionality:  I want to keep my purpose in mind as I write, whether that’s blogging or fiction writing. In the past I have set my own deadlines, and have often been very forgiving of myself in the process. I would like to take my writing career more seriously and work more professionally, while still taking time for a meaningful personal life.

Specifically, my writing goals are to complete publication of my historical novel, which is coming out in installments; to finish writing the sequel; to write a new series with other authors; to grow my social media sites.

This year I aim to improve the quality of my work and to maintain balance in my life. I am a whole person and what I do in my writing career directly affects my personal life as well. I’m not too worried about going to jail, but I don’t want to miss the opportunities offered in these next twelve months.

Happy writing to you all.

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The new year is here, and with memories of wonderful Christmas celebrations with friends and family, I’m ready to move forward.

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas as much as I did. Our house was bursting with family including ten grandchildren ranging in age from four months to eleven years. And they all needed to be fed several times a day.

At the suggestion of our kids, we packed up and traveled to a small city about forty-five minutes away and booked into a hotel with a swimming pool and waterslide. I could summarize our two-day stay with the words “a fine time was had by all,” but that wouldn’t fully express the fun of watching the kids and grandkids throwing themselves repeatedly down the slide and into the water. Nor would it convey the noise level.

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The four and five-year olds wore water wings or life vests, so they quickly gained confidence in their abilities and jumped in with wild abandon. Then Jordy decided to take off his life vest. He danced down the steps into the shallow end until he was completely submerged. It didn’t faze him and there were adults within arm’s reach, but the experience reminded him that he would sink without his flotation device.

I thought of how often the Lord has rescued/comforted/guided/corrected me in the past year and how I sometimes thought I’d done it myself. As I step into the year ahead, I want to remember to rely on Him to keep me afloat.

Wishing you all “God-confidence” in 2014.

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Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight,  LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.

Linda Rondeau

Linda’s best-selling Adirondack Romance, It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas and is available wherever books are sold.  Her next releases were her devotional book, I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children and Days of Vines and Roses.

Joy Comes to Dinsmore Street and A Christmas Prayer have been released in time for the Christmas  as well as her mini novel, Jolly Angel.  Songs in the Valley/ Helping Hands Press. Will be released in late 2013 or early 2014.

Here’s a blog from Linda:  

Should vs.Want  

by Linda Wood Rondeau

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16: 13).

I know the drill. I hear it from my doctor with every visit. Lose weight, eat more nutritiously, and get more exercise. After my physician has kindly reminded me of the benefits derived from healthier life-style choices, I make well-intentioned promises of changed behaviors. I pride myself on my good intentions.

Sadly, however, my behaviors slowly drift back to my comfortable unhealthy choices within a few weeks. “I just don’t have enough will power,” I tell myself while pouring my fourth cup of coffee.

Is my inability to change due to lack of motivation? Am I too weak of spirit? “Why,” I reprimand myself, “can’t I do better?”

Perhaps it is because I suffer from the shoulds. I should drink less coffee; I should exercise more; and I should lose weight. The problem in compliance is a lack of the wants. Oh, it’s true it would be nice to be as beautiful as Miss America, as athletic as an Olympic champion, and as enthusiastic as a political candidate, but do I have the want for these things? Am I willing to make the sacrifices and commit to the long haul?

Attitudes regarding change are shaped according to whether we desire the change out of a feeling of guilt or whether the change is motivated due to a conviction. The shoulds are a result of guilt; the wants are born from conviction.

Guilt is laden with self-incrimination and self-loathing. It is a heavy burden to carry. It tends to slow progress and cause depression. Guilt may propel us into action initially, but the momentum is difficult to sustain. When we fail, we convince ourselves there is some intrinsic flaw within us that dooms us to a cycle of attempts and failures. With each failure, the desire to try again is diminished.

When we truly want to change, we are convicted toward change. Conviction alters our perspective, renews our energies, and drives us toward a positive outcome.

What of our spiritual lifestyles? We believe we should read the Bible more, attend church regularly, and give a tithe unto the Lord. Every devotional article we read reminds us of the benefits when we do these things. Yet, our striving toward these goals wean as mundane the mundane erodes our best intentions.

Pursuing good deeds merely because one should do them will produce meaningless exercise availing little.

The Spirit’s working within us will bring the believer to conviction. He shows us what our future could be if we walk in obedience. As we grow in our desire to walk more closely with God, we no longer pray simply because that’s what a Christian should do. We pray because our day is incomplete without spending time alone with Him.

You may visit Linda’s Linda Rondeau BOOK web site at www.lindarondeau.com or email her at lindarondeau@gmail.com  or find her on FacebookTwitter, PInterestLinkedInGoogle Plus and Goodreads.  

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Rondeau Joy Book

 

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Today I’d like to introduce you to fellow writer, Melanie M. Jeschke.

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History. She also holds a Master of Arts in English Literature from George Mason University and took courses on Jane Austen and Shakespeare at Oxford University. Melanie currently teaches at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. 

Melanie M. Jeschke

Melanie lived a semester in Paris and has traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East. She has made numerous trips to Great Britain and organized a group tour to Scotland and England that included a stay at J.R.R. Tolkien’s Merton College in Oxford. She has attended five conferences on C. S. Lewis at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and served as the Oxford information hostess and walking- tour guide for the C. S. Lewis Foundation

Melanie’s various trips to the UK inspired her novels The Oxford ChroniclesInklings containing the sequel  Intentions, July 2004;Expectations, March 2005; and Evasions, a “prequel” set in WWII, August  2006. An earlier edition of Inklings (without Intentions) was  published by Xulon Press in 2002.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

Melanie committed her life to Jesus Christ as a teenager and has been married for thirty-six years to Bill Jeschke, the founding pastor of The King’s Chapel in Fairfax, Virginia. Together they are the proud parents of nine wonderful children (three daughters and six sons) and twelve adorable grandchildren.

“God-sightings”

A Blog by Melanie M. Jeschke  

This summer at Vacation Bible School, we taught the children to look for “God-sightings,” evidence that God is at work in our circumstances or through other people. Recognizing God’s love and leading in our lives encourages and enriches us. Recently, I experienced the special blessing of one of these “God-sightings.”

My husband is a pastor and we rarely have an opportunity to visit other churches; however, this past weekend one of our youth ministers stepped in to preach. My sister had also come up from Florida to visit and be on hand to stay with my elderly parents, and so my husband and I decided to “play hooky.”

Consequently, I was looking forward to the opportunity for a little “getaway” at a B &B in the country. My husband declared he had prayed about my plan, but thought we should stay locally and attend one of the churches not far from our new home, so that we could “get to know our community better.” (My parents moved in with us the end of May, following a laborious move of our own last year from our home of 23 years in Vienna (Fairfax County), Virginia, further west to the town of Manassas). A tad disappointed but happy to have any time “away,” I promptly booked a room in a lovely Civil War-era B & B in “Old Town” Manassas.

The next morning, we visited a large, well-known church in the area. After the inspiring worship service, we explored the church building and listened in on a business meeting, so that by the time we emerged to the lobby, most of the congregation had cleared out. However, I noticed a woman, with curly strawberry-blond hair, talking in a small group of people. Her hair looked like that of an old friend we hadn’t seen in many years. This friend, also a “Melanie,” and her family had been founding members of our church, The King’s Chapel. Later, they had moved to Manassas and attended the church we were now visiting. A number of years ago, they had moved again to Lynchburg, VA, and although we keep in touch through email and Facebook, we had not seen them in person since then. Spotting this distinctive curly hair, I moved around for a closer look, and sure enough, there stood our friend Melanie with her family and some other mutual friends, whom we also hadn’t seen in many years! This “coincidence” of running into old friends at a church we had never been to before, amazing in itself, proved to be only part of the blessing.

Joyfully, Melanie explained that they had almost visited our church The King’s Chapel that morning because they so wanted to see us while they were in the area for Melanie’s birthday. They had prayed and felt the Holy Spirit’s leading to attend this church instead, and although torn, they obeyed. And voilà! There we were! If they had gone to The King’s Chapel, they wouldn’t have seen us; and likewise, if we had not stayed in Manassas, we wouldn’t have seen them. Experiencing the clear leading of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives multiplied the blessing of our unexpected reunion.

What a fun and serendipitous “God-sighting!”

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