Tag: Christian faith (page 1 of 2)

Great Expectations

2018 is the year of EXPECTATION.

I often choose a word or a phrase each year as a motivational tool to help keep me on track and this one came to me way back in October and has been reaffirmed several times through various means.

Psalm 62:5 says, My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my EXPECTATION is from Him. (KJV)

The word expectation means the act of anticipation – looking forward to something. It also has to do with probability and the likelihood that something will occur. God has birthed in me many expectations for my family, my personal wellbeing, and my desires. I am expecting God to deliver on His promises this year! At first glance this might sound selfish.

Godly expectation is not about getting stuff, however. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Expectation is about FAITH – believing God’s promises even when I don’t yet see the evidence of their fulfillment. Expectation is about TRUST as I allow God to work out the details and timing in ways that don’t always make sense to me.  Expectation is about SURRENDER – the act of intentionally laying each area of my life at Jesus feet, be it physical, mental or emotional. It’s giving up my ‘rights’ to each person, idea, or desire and putting faith and trust into action.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” This is what the word expectation means to me for 2018. The past year, 2017, was a year of tremendous growth for me, although there were many trials physically and within my family. My word for 2017 was ‘Accountability’ and I feel God really took me to task in making me accountable to Him for my faith. It was a year of great change, much of which was painful, but which has brought about much fruit. The groundwork has been laid. Like Joshua and the children of Israel, I sense God’s call to move forward in 2018. To ADVANCE, as it were, into the promised land, with the EXPECTATION that He has great things in store.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; at the end it shall speak and not lie. though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV)

Nano Time Again!

November is my favourite time of year for one simple reason: Nanowrimo. In case you’ve been living in a cave (or aren’t a writer), Nanowrimo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Writers of every genre and experience are encouraged to write 50,000 words during the month of November, cheering one another on via forums and other incentives. I missed last year’s Nano, but I have completed my required 50,000 words six consecutive times before that. Two published book came out of it (NEIGHBOURS 1 and KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS) as well as other works that I hope to publish some day.

This year I am breaking with tradition and trying my hand at non-fiction. Technically, I’m not writing a novel, but I figure 50,000 words is still 50,000 words, right? I’m excited about several memoir projects that are in my head, so that is the direction I plan to go this year. As a former homeschooler, I have lots to say on that topic. As a heart attack survivor I’ve got some revelations to share. As a drama teacher, I’ve got some advice on teaching theatre in the ‘boondocks’, and I recently was inspired by something a house guest said about ‘agism’ in our society. Where I actually end up will be anyone’s guess, but I have lots of inspiration. Stay tuned for more.

And now back to those 50,000 words…

Life of Fictitious Ink

In the summer of 2013, I started down the path of setting up my own publishing company, looking to the day when the rights to  some of my own novels would revert back to me. With baby steps, I went through the process of setting up my business, getting a licence, and registering my publishing company – FICTITIOUS INK.

In 2014 I published a little ‘test’ book called LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: ADVICE AND REFLECTIONS ON NAVIGATING THE ROAD OF LIFE.  The book was based on a speaking engagement I did at a women’s retreat, and I thought it would serve nicely as a giveaway.

I also decided to test myself further, and publish a children’s book – THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS.  This was a very personal project, as I wanted to publish it as a tribute to my late mother, who often sang Haven Gillespie’s beloved song to us as children. I started painting the illustrations shortly after she passed away in 2007, but it took several years and much time getting copyright permission etc, before the book would be a reality.

In 2016, three years after getting my business licence, I decided it was time to publish something more substantial. I had learned a few things about formatting, various software options, and other best practices, and had the next perfect ‘test’ book in mind. I’d received the rights back to my NEIGHBOURS Series, so republished these as a  set of serialized ebooks along with a complete volume in both ebook format and paperback.  It was my biggest publishing effort to date. It basically took up most of that summer, but it was well worth the time and steep learning curve it took to get this book the way I wanted it.

Somehow, in the busyness of that summer, I also got the idea for a little prayer journal which I put together called THIRTY DAYS OF TARGETED PRAYER: A JOURNALING TOOL TO BOOST YOUR PRAYER COMMITMENT.  Again, my motivation was rather personal. I am a voracious ‘journaler’ and often ‘pray’ while doing so. I wanted a systematic way to pray for other people and this is what I came up with. (By the way, I’ve been using it myself ever since.)

The learning continues and in 2017  I reformatted and republished THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS as a hardcover book, which is so much nicer than the paperback. I also published two children’s books as class projects, writing and illustrating the story books with my Art 7 and 8 students.  HOCKEY IN THE WILD and FIRE BEAR are the results.

The second in the NEIGHBOURS Series also came into being with another set of serialized novellas and a complete version called KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS.  And I finally got around to the impetus for this whole experiment, which was to republish my own work when I got the rights back. My first published novel got revised and republished under a new name: CONSPIRACY OF BONES (And the Beat Goes On)

 

When I actually take the time to write it all down, I feel pretty satisfied. Sometimes it is easy to feel like you aren’t getting anything accomplished, but I can see steady growth and forward movement. I have plenty of plans for Fictitious Ink for the coming years.

Check out the FI website here for more cool photos.

 

The Little Known ‘Secret’ to Finding More Time

*Note: Since I’m taking a ‘rest’ this week myself, I re-posted this. It originally appeared on the ‘Inscribe Writers’ Online‘ blog on August 15. Enjoy – and leave a comment!

“If I only had more time!” How many of us have said that? I know I have. Lack of time seems to be the number one barrier to reaching one’s writing goals – or so most people say. What if I said you could actually increase the amount of time you have for writing – or at least make it much more effective? Read on…

We’re talking about ‘balance’ – specifically, finding balance between our writing life and the ‘rest’ of life in today’s time driven world. A few months ago, I would have said things like, “Set SMART goals.” “Make a schedule.” “Just get your butt in the chair and do it!” I’ve always been ‘big’ on all of the above, and I’ve managed to be quite productive despite a busy life of ministry, working, and raising a family. I’ve always maintained that if something is important enough, you’ll find a way to fit it in, no matter how hectic your life.

While all of those bits of advice are still valid, I’ve discovered that none of them is actually the real secret to ‘finding more time’.

God has launched me on a different trajectory these past few months. For those that don’t know, I had an unexpected heart attack in May and subsequent open heart surgery. For the first while I couldn’t do much but pray and listen to scripture and worship music on my phone. I had been longing for more time to work on my writing projects, but now that I HAD the time, I simply didn’t have the energy.

As I began to recover, God gave me a new thirst for His Word. As I got stronger I could have jumped all over that list of writing goals I had on my bulletin board, but instead, God prompted me to keep on soaking in His Word with the promise that He would help me finish them in His time.

IN HIS TIME. 

I believe God has shown me the ‘secret’ to living a balanced life. Actually, it’s no secret at all. It boils down to one thing: Honour God with the BEST of your time and He will honour you by multiplying what’s left. 

It is the same principle we see in regard to tithing. It doesn’t make sense to give one tenth of your income away, especially if things are tight. I’ve heard people say, “I can’t afford to tithe right now.” The truth is, people can’t afford NOT to tithe! When we follow God’s principles, He supernaturally gives us increase. It’s just one of the ways that the laws of the spiritual realm operate.

The same is true of our time. This is where my post might turn into a sermon, so hang on to your seats and and keep reading if you dare!

How much quality time do we really spend with God? REALLY? Five minutes each morning? Ten minutes? Half an hour? If we applied the tithing principle to our time, we should conceivably spend two hours and forty minutes per day studying, praying and worshipping. I suppose one could factor in the times praying in the shower, listening to worship music while doing other chores, or going to mid-week Bible studies, but I suspect we’d still come up short.

Unfortunately, many Christians feed themselves with, “A chapter a day keeps the devil away.” Some are on an even leaner diet of, “A verse a day,” or substitute the solid food of God’s Word with one of those little devotional books. (I’m not knocking the devotional books, but if that’s all you’re getting, it amounts to a starvation diet.)

Our rebuttal might be, “But I go to church every Sunday.” This brings me to another point, even more serious, I believe, than how much time we spend in daily time with God: Very few Christians keep the Sabbath.

Please don’t be offended! (And I’m not talking about keeping a certain day of the week – I will leave that up to individual interpretation.) Instead, we each need to examine our own habits. (I’m examining mine as I write!) God commanded us to keep the Sabbath. Not only is it one of the ten commandments, but it is His first ordinance right at creation. He ‘rested’ on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but as an example to us. It’s that important! Taking an entire day for rest and reflection is a gift for our benefit, not an imposition. It says in Genesis that He ‘blessed and sanctified’ the Sabbath day.

This is hard for us to hear in our modern ‘pressed for time’ world. I don’t have time to take an entire day off – every week, no less! It seems there’s always some chores to be done on a Sunday afternoon; things to prepare for the next week… on and on and on… even down to the ‘work’ of writing. And so I continue to scramble about trying to ‘fit’ everything in and hopefully squeeze some time in for writing along the way.

Except… God has promised to BLESS us if we are obedient. I’m beginning to see that God truly can redeem the time if we honour Him FIRST. If I spend quality time with Him each day as well as an entire day once a week, I actually get more accomplished – and with less stress!  Go figure! It doesn’t make sense logically, but God’s spiritual laws work. Just like tithing doesn’t make sense to our natural mind, neither does keeping the Sabbath or spending more personal devotional time make sense in our super-charged-gerbil-on-a-wheel world.

Sermon over. Now for the challenge. 

1. For the rest of this month, spend double the time you normally spend in prayer and Bible study each day. If you spend five minutes, make it ten. If you spend half an hour, make it one hour.

2. Purpose to set aside one entire day as a Sabbath each week for the rest of this month. If Sunday works for you, great. If you want to try the Jewish custom of Friday at 6pm until Saturday at 6pm, that’s cool too. You don’t have to read your Bible and pray the whole time, although doing that is good, but God made the Sabbath for our enjoyment. Prepare a special meal and eat together as a family or invite friends over. Play games, go for a hike, do something fun with people you love. Fellowship. Socialize. Just don’t do any WORK.

3. Keep track of how much more productive you are with the rest of your time. Write it in a journal or just in your head, but I can almost guarantee that you will get more done with the time you have left. Of course, Satan will try to thwart your success, but ignore him and you will be fine!

4. (Optional) Report on your success! I would love to hear about your experiences if you choose to take up this challenge. Comment here, or email me privately: tracy.krauss@gmail.com

In today’s fast paced world I think one of our biggest struggles is lack of time. The enemy has tried to rob us of time with God by making us ‘too busy’. Take back your right to time with God and you will be surprised at how ‘balanced’ the rest of your life will become.

Making the Genre Switch

Linda Hall is a fine example of an author who has successfully switched genres. It’s a risky business, especially if you already have a following, as she did. However, it’s more important to be happy with what you’re writing than to chase success. In her case, it paid off.

Here are some key points I took away from one of her sessions at a recent writers’ conference.

lindaThe average person switches careers seven times in a lifetime. So why is it surprising when writers switch genres? We all grow and develop as writers so switching genres may be a natural outcome of that growth.  Even when you switch genres, you are still you – you still maintain your unique ‘writerly’ voice. There are many examples of famous writers who have written in more than one genre. Often the biggest hurdle is the marketing.

There is a difference between a reasonable shift and a radical shift. Sometimes it’s more about changing ‘brand’. Newspaper and sports teams change their mastheads and logos over time to reflect changing times or be more current. If you are changing brand, do it gently and make sure you inform your audience so that they don’t feel alienated. Very radical shifts may require a pen name, even if your audience knows who the other ‘person’ is, they will not be confused about what you are trying to promote.

Pros:

  1. You will grow as a writer
  2. The monotony will be broken
  3. You may find many new opportunities and a whole new group of friends.

Cons:

  1. You may lose part of your audience
  2. Your brand might be changed
  3. Readers might be confused
  4. There might be a monetary loss

How to build your audience after a genre switch:

  1. Explain carefully your motives: on a blog, in a newsletter, on social media. In other words, don’t be afraid to tell people and explain your reasons why.
  2. Work to increase your email list.
  3. Work various kinds of advertising and figure out what works for you.
  4. Get reviews.
  5. Stay with it and focus on the joy, not the money.

Every kind of writing is good training for other kinds of writing. ‘Someone’ said, “Write a poem a day.” This is good advice.  Do what your heart tells you to do.

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