Category: Writing (page 1 of 10)

Heart of the Matter

2017 was a milestone year for me in many ways. I went through some truly amazing experiences – some of them very tough, to say the least – but I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a profound sense of the presence of God, either. Not the least of these was having a heart attack and subsequent open heart surgery. Through that time, God met with me in miraculous ways. This month, I plan to share some of my story – things  that I have not shared with very many people yet, for they are too intimate.  Almost unbelievable…

But February, the ‘heart month’, seems like the right time to ‘open up’ about my open heart surgery. I pray that readers will find encouragement and renewed faith through the things I want to share.

  *     *     * 

During my time in hospital, God began to give me many dreams and visions. Fortunately, I wrote them all down. While waiting in the Dawson Creek emergency ward for a bed in Vancouver, I had a dream where God told me that I had four ‘blockages’ in my spiritual life that needed to be dealt with – fear, doubt, anxiety and pride. I later wrote in my journal that I felt God was using the metaphor of my heart troubles to help me grow spiritually. I didn’t think it would go much beyond the metaphor, but I was grateful for the word and took it to heart.

Several days later, in the hospital in Vancouver, God gave me a very clear vision. This time it was a ‘picture’ of my own heart, but emblazoned on it, following the line of clearly delineated arteries, were four words: Fear, Doubt, Anxiety, and Pride.  Fear was a major artery that ran laterally across the top of the heart with Anxiety and Doubt coming off of Fear in a perpendicular fashion. Pride was off to the right by itself, not connected to the other three. Each word was bright – glowing with an inner light that pulsed with the beat of my heart.

The picture was so clear that I had to draw it. It was definitely a confirmation of the previous dream. However, I honestly do not know whether I was asleep, awake, in a trance, or drugged. All I know is, I saw this picture unmistakably and clearly and almost immediately drew a picture of it in my journal.

But here comes the kicker. The medical team performed an angiogram to determine if there were any blockages in my heart and to help them determine a course of treatment. It turns out I had four major blockages and would need by-pass surgery. Patients are given a printed ‘map’ of their own heart showing the blockages. When I saw the picture, I was shocked.

Angiogram side-by-side with the drawing from my ‘vision’

The blockages were in exactly the same places as in my vision! I had a large artery running laterally near the top that was 90% blocked which coincided exactly with ‘Fear’. Branching off perpendicularly downward were two more blocked arteries – exactly where Anxiety and Doubt had been. ( ‘Anxiety’ was 100% blocked and ‘Doubt’ was 70% blocked.) Then off to the right hand side, all by itself, was another 70% blockage – right where ‘Pride’ had been positioned.

God was surely speaking to me, confirming in me that this physical condition also had spiritual significance. I was amazed by the clarity and the power of this revelation, yet His peace was also so strong that I immediately felt a submission in my spirit to His will.

I look at this picture often. It reminds me that God is real when doubt tries to arise. It reminds me that He knows everything and has a plan. It reminds me that there is a connection between the spirit world and the physical world. It reminds me that He is interested in every minute detail of my life.

And finally – and perhaps most importantly – it reminds me that all FEAR, DOUBT, ANXIETY, and PRIDE have been by-passed in my life. I went through tremendous physical pain to get rid of these negative characteristics and I’m not going to let them take over again.

I’ll be telling more of my story in future posts. If you think someone would benefit from this story, please share!

Never Perfect

No matter how hard one tries, it seems there is always room for improvement. Take a book, for instance. You’ll be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t contain at least one small error.

When i republished CONSPIRACY OF BONES (formerly AND THE BEAT GOES ON) i thought it was pretty clean. Not so! Thanks to a kind reader who emailed me and pointed out a few mistakes, I decided to go back and edit one more time. I was expecting a couple of errors, some of which were the difference between American and British spelling. However, what I found was shocking! There were a lot of mistakes that had somehow been missed.

I’m glad to say it has been re-edited and should be closer to ‘perfection’ than it was, but I have no illusions that it is perfect… There may still be some mistakes that slipped by.

Editors are only human, after all.

Check it out – it’s FREE on most platforms (Amazon kindle, Kobo, etc.)

Five E’s for Expectation

This year, the year of EXPECTATION, I’m trying to be more intentional about my writing career. As part of that, I have been doing some analysis in order to become more focused. Unfortunately, (or fortunately – depending on how one looks at it), I am a bit of a chameleon when it comes to genre. Am I primarily a playwright or a novelist? What about my non-fiction? This can be somewhat of a quandary, especially when it comes to branding. However, I’ve decided not to stress over it too much.

Instead, I came up with five ways I want my writing to serve readers. (Okay, once i started I intentionally stuck to words beginning with ‘E’…)

  1. Entertain
  2. Encourage
  3. Enlighten
  4. Expand
  5. Evangelize

  1. Entertain – My primary purpose is to entertain and provide an escape for the reader.
  2. Encourage – I hope to encourage them in their Christian walk.
  3. Enlighten – I often bring a potentially difficult or controversial topic/issue to each book such as racism and prejudice; native spirituality and cults; pornography; addictions, abuse, intelligent design, evolutionary conspiracy theory – all topics that are relevant in the church and that Christians may struggle with, but which are not necessarily being talked about openly.
  4. Expand the reader’s viewpoint. This is tied to number three, since my purpose is not to offer a definitive answer (other than Jesus – period.) I try to stay away from a ‘hardline’ fundamentalist or legalist viewpoint and focus instead on grace. I intentionally try to leave some loose ends and unanswered questions for the reader to ponder, hopefully coming to their own conclusions or delving further into a topic.
  5. Evangelism is not my primary focus since my assumption is that my target audience is already Christian. However, the gospel message is usually included, so someone could come to Christ or rededicate their life.

Do any of these resonate with you, either as a reader or a writer? I would love to hear your comments. 

My Two Favourite Online Courses For Authors

I love learning. I’ve read tons of books on writing craft and marketing books, as well as taken several online courses. There are many good options out there, but to save on space (lest I overwhelm with too many good options) I’ve narrowed it down to my two absolute favourites.

  1. Learn Scrivener Fast by Joseph Michael

I’d been using Scrivener for about five years, give or take a few months. I loved it from the moment I started just for the way it organized my writing, but I never used it much beyond a word processing tool. Last summer I watched a free online video by Scrivener coach Joseph Michael. I realized there were so many more things Scrivener could do – including formatting everything from epubs to mobi files to paperbacks to plays and more!

But, as a long time Scrivener user, I thought I should be able to figure things out for myself. The software comes with tutorials and there are tons of videos online, so I took those free tidbits from Joseph Michael and continued on my merry Scrivener way.

Things changed drastically when I tried to format a book. About forty hours later, bleary eyed from watching confusing youtube tutorials and upmteen ‘trial and error’ compilations, I gave up. Compiling my files for publication just wasn’t as intuitive as I had thought. In desperation, I signed up for Joseph Michael’s course.

AND IT HAS BEEN THE BEST INVESTMENT I HAVE EVER MADE FOR MY WRITING CAREER!

I’ve managed to format and publish multiple ebooks, paperbacks, and pdfs. I organize my blog posts using Scrivener, and I even do a lot of my outlining using the corkboard function. I can’t imagine writing without it and whenever I run into a snag, all I need to do is go to Joseph Michael’s easy to follow videos and – voila! Problem solved!

If you’re planning to delve into indie publishing, this is the course for you. It is worth every penny hundreds of times over!

  1. Your First 10k Readers by Nick Stephenson

I’m sad to list this course second, because it has also been such a good investment for me. Nick Stephenson has appeared on multiple podcasts with the likes of Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Joel Freidlander and others. He talks about ‘lead magnets’, permafree books, automations etc. all with step-by-step videos and very useful cheat sheets and other helpful resources. You can find many similar courses out there on creating ‘systems’ for writing and marketing, (like Shelley Hitz’s ‘Author Audience Academy”) but I happened to come across Nick’s back in the summer of 2015. I took the risk and signed up – my first time actually spending hard earned cash on an online course.

It has been worth the cost ten times over. It’s not that I’m now rolling in cash. Nick cautions students right up front that his system takes work. It is not a get rich quick scheme or a fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants way to fool people into buying your books. What it is, is a really smart and well laid out system for growing your audience while offering value to your readers – all in a step-by-step format that keeps that ‘overwhelmed’ feeling from taking over.

I voraciously listened to the entire course in the first week or two upon receiving it, but there is so much content and so much detail that there is no way I could implement everything at once. Heck, I’m still taking baby steps two years later, but I’ve managed to make some significant inroads. Another wonderful thing about Nick’s course is that he continues to add new content and update old information without adding to the cost. Plus, he’s a very funny guy, so it’s quite entertaining to listen to him teach. You’ll see what I mean if you watch his free training videos. (Excellent, but the entire course is so much more in depth.)

Of course, there are many more valuable resources out there but these are my two all time favourites.

Football, Flurries, and Fifty-Thousand Words

Wow. November is drawing to a close and with it three milestones starting with the letter ‘F’:

  1. FOOTBALL! The CFL’s Grey Cup was played on Sunday, and although my team didn’t make it to the big game, I thoroughly enjoyed what will probably go down in history as one of the craziest upsets ever. The Toronto Argonauts came back in the final minutes to beat the highly favoured Calgary Stampeders in a wintery snow bowl. I felt bad for the Stamps, since the game was freakishly reminiscent of their loss last year, but on the other hand, kudos to Ricky Ray for becoming the first starting quarterback in CFL history to win four Grey Cups.

2. Fifty Thousand: Yes, I love football, but I also love writing and this year I finished ‘Nanowrimo’ for the seventh time. I clocked in my 50,000 words earlier today on a project I have loosely named ”Teaching Memoirs’ since it includes a large segment on my time teaching Drama as well as quite a bit on my time homeschooling. I’m not sure exactly where it will go from here, but I’m looking forward to editing it and seeing what happens. (Nanowrimo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month – where people from around the world sign up to write 50,000 words in the month of November.)

3. The final ‘F’ for this post – Flurries – lots of them! We have been locked into a snowy world for about three weeks now, and as you can see from the pictures of the Grey Cup game on Sunday, it looks like we’re not the only part of the country to be experiencing these above average snowfalls so early in the season. My husband has shovelled our driveway at least ten times (not exaggerating) and it isn’t letting up. A ‘White Christmas’ is a no-brainer around these parts!

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