Enthusiastically Dawn sent me a characteristically enthusiastic invitation a couple of weeks ago. I was honored that she thought of ME. She thought I’d be game for an intriguing blog hop for writers: to encourage, inspire and introduce us, one to another, with answers to four questions on our writing life, and our introduction of three blog writers into the blog hop fray.
Normally, I’d be super excited about the prospect. But, at the time I was super focused on preparing for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference – that was shortly upon me – see my review of the adventure HERE. I didn’t think I could commit – especially after a blog friend gracefully bowed out as one of my three writers to introduce. She had been mastering the anointed use of the word “no,” so as not to overload herself.
Seriously considering that I, too, would have to defer in the negative, I hated to disappoint Dawn. She’s such a joyful soul and I truly did feel blessed that she had asked me. Then – a brilliant idea occurred to me! In just a week I would be heading to a writer’s conference taking a six hour blogging clinic over a three day period and meeting scads of writers and bloggers up close and personal. Why not find and introduce three NEW blogging friends I would meet there, with the opportunity to build our relationship online – IN PERSON – first? Bloggers don’t often get such luxuries. We tend to grow tight with our blogging kindreds in our virtual Blogland, knowing we may never meet them in person this side of Heaven.
So, I told Dawn I was in, and she introduced me on her post, THUS.
NOW – it’s my turn!
I’m posting just a couple days later than I ought. Forgive me – so much to follow-up on from the conference! To begin, here are my responses to the four writing questions which I had the opportunity to really fine-tune and get firm direction for at the conference:
1. What am I writing or working on?
Two things with the same theme. It’s been a cathartic exercise that I only really became aware of recently. The theme is “broken shells” – or breaking out of a shell that has bound you, into an authentic, intentional, creative life of purpose and influence in the Lord.
The first project is a picture book series, Fable Springs Parables, where I explore themes inspired by the devotional writings of classic Christian authors. In the first book of the series, C.S. Lewis inspired me with a little quote about hatching out of our egg or going bad. What happens when the chick inside refuses to hatch out? What would keep him in there? This is explored in a multi-layered metaphor that speaks to “children of all ages.”
I Contend: If you’re too sophisticated to be touched by a children’s picture book presenting profound truth, you might just be too sophisticated for a God who requires that all who desire to enter the Kingdom of God come as “little children.”
But, the picture book part is only half the story. Using my background in Principle Approach Education and literature/history curriculum writing, I have seven study guides for multi-generational discipleship use for family devotions, homeschool, children’s church, small group women’s studies, parent workshops and more. My illustrator brings my words on the page to life!
My second book is just for the ladies: The Cameo Christian: Becoming a Work of Art Raised Up and Set Apart to Shine!
I can’t be more excited about the message and purposes of this book! I’ve been living it for a number of years, and now I’m pouring it all out on the page! God is so good to redeem every cut and scrape and broken moment for His glory! In essence, I’m exploring the work of God in our lives to make us more like Him for greater purposes, as metaphorically compared to the fine art of cameo carving. This is a heart-tugger, my girls. Oh! How I pray it blesses and transforms lives stuck in the layers of a hard shell!
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am a professional storyteller, used to taking large concepts and breaking them down into manageable terms. I do that using poetic language with the richness of figures of speech and metaphor/allegory. It is the ancient form of storytelling – like Jesus used in the culture of His day. Parable – word pictures – speaking directly to engage the heart. Much of Western Civilization teaching grew to engage the intellect first, prior to knocking at the door of the heart. Communication in older civilizations used story to the heart first – then understanding that came together in the mind had a greater power for transforming the life. This is how I have always learned best – this is how I write best. This is the clarion call from editors to writers: SHOW, don’t tell.
3. Why do I write what I write?
I clearly remember the day I “got” the bit about “sounding out” a word to be able to read. With that amazing skill under my belt, it never occurred to me that the purpose of reading was disconnected to writing. I read so I can write! My youthful manuscripts were plentiful – and I still own many of them. I write because I was created to do so. God put a passion for the written word in my mind and heart and I have always loved toying with words and phrases, exploring their meaning and impact. Before I knew the Lord – I was a writer. When I came to know the Lord some thirty years ago – I became a writer with purpose, walking in my calling!
4. How does my writing process work?
Back in the day, I kept a steady supply of canary yellow pads in the house. I filled them with all manner of notes and partial manuscripts. They, in turn, would be filed into folders according to project or theme. The electric typewriter would then be employed to bring all those random notes – and all the highlighted markings in my myriad of book resources – together into a finished manuscript.
Oh! What a paper and time saver the computer has been these past twenty years!
I am a very visual person. THINGS inspire me. God’s Creation. Thrift store finds. People watching. Antique shops. My strong suite is play writing – I’ve written, produced, directed and performed countless plays and drama productions since I was a kid. When I’m working on a play, I find my era and do my research. I collect THINGS – props, costume bits, etc – that may be used. Surrounding myself with them as part of my home decor for the time I’m writing, they inspire me as the tangible world I am creating. I’m currently doing this with the works I’ve outlined above – worked into the decor of my office/studio are vignettes featuring THINGS represented in my books.
And, speaking of books – there is no end to them in my house. Oddly enough – I use them all! Most have been collected over years of personal interest, teaching and homeschooling. I am largely formed by the works of 19th century writers – and classic, ancient authors. Yeah – not so much into the modernist stuff. So, I read . . . then, I write.
And, take a break to go thrifting/antiquing for inspiration at least once a month!!
Well – that’s enough about me! How about my new blogging buddies
I met at the conference last week!!!
Toni Campbell – Can I just say “kindred spirit” – yep! She has a theatrical background, too! If she lived closer – I’d cast her in one of my plays. She’s got great delivery, sings and has ‘character actress’ written all over her. Leading ladies are easy – it’s filling the character roles that are usually tough. I loved her warm heart and thoughtful way. Here’s what Toni has to say about herself by the lakeside . . .
Toni Campbell loves God, her kids, baking, chocolate!, and walking along the shores of her beloved lake – the setting for her blog. She shares the lessons God teaches her through the stories of everyday life and also writes devotions and (very) occasional poetry. Toni’s passion is equipping others to show God’s love through practical acts of service (Gal. 6:9) via Community Connections the outreach ministry of her church. Her life and ministry are living proof of the truth found in Ephesians 3:20 as God continues to do abundantly more than she could ever imagine. Find Toni at Lakeside Lessons, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Susan Panzica – The first words that popped into my mind when I saw Susan were “grace and elegance.” Her inviting personality made me want to sip a cuppa and hear her story. Alas – there was scant time for a proper tea to be found at the conference, but what moments I did spend with Susan showed me a gentle woman with depth and a heart for ministry. Her passion for encouraging women is readily seen through her warmth – and in her words . . .
Susan is a wife and mom who manages her chiropractor husband’s office by day and writes by night. She writes a personal blog called Eternity Cafe that brings an eternal perspective to earthly matters by sharing stories of everyday life that reflect the eternal truths of God. Susan is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Justice Network which raises awareness of human trafficking and support for organizations locally and globally that are already on the front lines fighting this heinous evil.
Jewell Utt – Sitting across from Jewell for lunch one day, we realized the hour break for eating was not nearly enough to explore all the interesting commonplaces we shared – not the least of which was blogging and a heart for enriching women’s lives. Jewell’s expression welcomed me at the first – her face is set with a smile and a joyful glint in her eye as though she knows something wonderful and can’t wait to share it with you. Which she does through her speaking and writing . . . and blogging . . .
Break my heart for what breaks your. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause. (Hosanna by Hillsong) Jewell Utt is the Director of a community food pantry. Her passion is to share words of encouragement through writing, music and teaching. She is the Women’s Ministry Leader at her church as well as Community Events Coordinator. Serving God is a family affair. Her husband of 35 years and three grown sons are partners in ministry. Find her blogging at Jewell Utt: Passion-Purpose-Promise!
So, there you are! Do hop around and meet my gals and lets expand our blogging buddy borders!
Blessings to one and all who visit here . . . and there!