Thursday, December 18, 2014

Enjoying What We Do

I write this in the days before Christmas, and my heart still rejoices over the good news of the birth of Jesus, God's Son, sent to live, die, and be raised from death for our sakes.

Entering another Christmas season, to be followed by a new year, my thoughts turn to the daily work of writing for 2015.

You know how much we writers must read of others' work; I am now reading a weighty biography about a prolific writer of the new nation formed from 13 original colonies of the United States, who became the fourth president of the United States--Virginia's James Madison. Michael Beschloss called Lynne Cheney's biography of Madison a "compelling, elegant, original biography" (back cover). That and other reviews piqued my interest in the historical figure I had otherwise thought only of as the honoree of a Virginia university.

In the book's Prologue, these words stood out to me: "Madison's time of extraordinary accomplishment came after years of intense focus, deep concentration, and nearly obsessive effort...." (Page 5, emphasis added here)
This reinforced for me the importance of years of writing, which are times also to hone thoughts.

James Madison's disregard for getting credit for his formative ideas for a new nation could inspire any writer of these different yet difficult times when gaining "name-recognition" can easily become too large a concern of the writer.

Whatever comes in the Christmas and New Year season, if drafting-writing-honing thoughts continues to be as enjoyably satisfying as ever, I expect, God willing, to stick with it for the joy of words, ideas, info, and--very important to this writer--connecting with readers like you!

Life offers much to claim our attention now, in this remarkable season and beyond; I encourage all of us to remember a former president's commitment and enter a new year with our own kind of "intense focus, deep concentration, and nearly obsessive effort..." --which undoubtedly influenced one of our presidents' role among his peers. I read that he set himself to the task of guarding conversation with people of different minds about the issues and life of his day.

I hope that we will use this privilege of freely thinking and speaking in this work we do and enjoy--writing.I hope that we, too, will calmly listen to different views and not flee from conversation about them.

Cheney, Lynne. James Madison: A Life  Reconsidered. Viking, 2014. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Get Away from Discouragement

A peaceful balcony, Aruba 2012

At this moment I would guess that there are writers experiencing emotions from high to somewhere in the neighborhood of blah. or worse.

The best emotions are like those I overheard at London's Gatwick Airport, as a woman whispered breathlessly, "My first book has just been accepted by a publisher!"

I wish all of us writers could have that kind of excitement every day. But we do not, and neither does that thrilled author at Gatwick. We go through ups and downs in life and work. We need rest and a change of scene, if we can get it. The scene above is one place I was privileged to relax and rest. Maybe the aqua water and palm tree view can please your eye and focus for a moment.

I can only share what Jesus Christ has done for me. He has also taught me about battling discouragement of any kind. Some of His unmatchable riches that I cherish appear below. Most are inspired by or directly from scriptures. If you are a discouraged Christian or writer today, I hope you will reflect and take comfort and also affirm the truth of these words for yourself.  

I have learned to dig deeply into who Jesus is and the good company of believers I am in, as a believer, for they have borne witness through generations of tumult, fire, and sword. 

You are beloved of God at this moment whether or not you are aware of it.

By faith in Jesus Christ, you have been saved, made whole, with the assurance of eternal life with God. 

You have Peace of Mind, and Christ is your Joy. 

Christ in you is the hope of glory.

He is the One against the discouragement that tries to Overtake  you.

Put on the whole Armor of Christ.

Wear it from Head to Feet, and Never give up putting it on daily.

Pray without ceasing.  

Be in Quietness with God, Trusting Him. In quietness and confidence (trust) is your strength.

God Helps and Upholds you by His Righteous right arm.

He Loves you with the Everlasting Love through Jesus the Savior of the World.

Christ has died -- on the cross for the sins of the world.
Christ is risen -- raised by God bodily, on the third day.  
Christ will come again -- as He has promised. 

A Cross stands over the world. Cling to the Crucified Lord by faith. Think on these things.

Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meditation for the coming night

Into this earthly place of life 
Intense and stressful times rush in.
They heap upon you their surprise and 
Crash with disarming urgency.

Believer, dig deeply into
who you are
in Christ Jesus.

Here is your
Peace of Mind and your Joy.

Do not despair.
Christ in you is the
hope of glory, and the Spirit of God 
works within you.

You have ways to resist the
Discouragement that 
threatens to Overtake the world.
Remember the night will turn into
another day of sun or shadow.  
Put on your Armor
from Head to Feet.
Do not fear
the dark or any pestilence.  

Breathe in the holy life in the day, and 
Pray unceasingly in light and
in the night's long hours.

Listen for the Quietness within you, and rest there. 
In spite of aberrations, noise, and clamor, affirm your trust in God.

Rely upon God who
strengthens and who Loves you. 
His Everlasting Love
expressed in the Beloved Son
invites souls now in this wearying world,
Guarding them for a Brighter day.

This is cause for the release of "Halleluia!" praise 
that honors 
this Wonderful Savior and God.


Photo by JPP. Butte, Montana open mine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let yourself change for new writing paths

In times past I wrote bureaucratic reports, funding proposals, and research papers. I felt comfortable doing that kind of writing because I wrote at a distance, objectively reporting, analyzing, or info-gathering.

Then I began to write a book, a highly personal story. Events of change in my life had been so dramatic and had brought such joy and peace that I wanted to describe going from relationship pain to healing, and to tell some of what I learned along the way. My story walked a path of biographical, emotional, and spiritual discoveries.

Writing a personal narrative book required letting go of certain habits, including perspective. Writing from a distance had to change to writing close at hand. I needed reporting and analyzing skills in a different way, and I had to let my guard down and use "I" and "we." The transition was and still is one of the most difficult of my life as a developing writer.

I came to writing late, being 40 years old before I realized that I had been writing all of my life. It was a bit like breathing, a feeling many writers have. A few of my articles had been published, but I was not serious about reaching publication. I kept that part of my life private, for whatever reasons.

Only in recent years have I realized that I do have writing ambitions, for myself. I have mentored other writers, and increasingly I know that I want to pay more attention to my writing. I want to get it right, better, and yes, more popular: more than ever I want to connect well with readers, and I have to work hard to move out from my distanced mode. I long to show the meanings I find and to connect with others' desires for change. There are ways to write about relationships while guarding others' privacy. 

One of my blog posts that gets recent reading was posted in 2011. I reread it today and saw the same sort of reporting I enjoy doing, yet I had let my guard down a bit to share from biblical resources. I have dreaded being labeled a "religious writer." There is nothing wrong or odd, I tell myself, about having read from Genesis to Malachi as much as from Matthew to Revelation. I thought of Habakuk and Jeremiah for the nuclear story about a storm that damaged a Japanese reactor, threatened a population, and inspired strangers to rush to their aid.  

I have always admired the essays of C.S. Lewis. Yet, as much as I admire and reread his works, I need to keep developing my form of probing expression. That has become very important to me, although I do not entirely understand this longing.

I also want to write a novel, a coming of age story about a girl in the South, where I grew up. Traditional wisdom says every first novel is largely personal. Lyly's (pronounced Lily's) story involves a Ku Klux Klan incident, being in the middle, grandparents, old ways, mistaken assumptions close to home, target practice, and discoveries to push a young girl forward in her less-certain life. I had none of Lyly's exact experiences, yet the themes of her story affected me while I was growing up in North Carolina.

How do you or I transition our writing to fit what change will require? The same old answer, I guess, which is to read really good writers, to know our chosen genres, to keep working hard at it, alone and with help. I still struggle with the idea of making writing more personal, yet I want to do that. And I want to find ways that will somehow be distinctively my own.

If you have made a big writing transition, if you are making one, or if you want to make such a transition, I hope you will not give up on it, and I hope you will share with other writers what you learn.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Affordable Ideas and Actions for Writers

"I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
—Harper Lee - "72 of the best quotes for writers"
The writer cried, "Help!" for writing. He used Google for writing help. A list of possible resources appeared, many with unaffordable, for the writer, price tags, "unaffordable" meaning "no disposable cash on hand to cover the entire package."

The writer felt downcast, lacking the necessary disposable funds. He (or she) did not realize then that there was no requirement, at least not yet, to pay for as much help as assumed.

Here are a few key no-cost steps the writer could take now:
  1. Find the best local writers' group for your needs; if you do not find a helpful group, then form one, based on shared writing needs and interests;
  2. Read often about the writing, proposal, query, and relationship skills you need to improve, and take time to study and practice them;
  3. Find good, free resources on-line;
  4. Write, write, write!
  5. Be aware of a published writer or teacher who might agree to mentor you or your writing, for whatever agreed time; it does no harm to ask.
Note: If a good professional relationship develops with a mentor, be sure to treasure the other person's willingness to advise or encourage you; guard against taking for granted the help or insights received. As a mentor to many writers for over 12 years, I appreciate every sincere "Thank you" every time.

Cut through any shyness you might have about asking other, more skilled writers to read and react to your new articles, short stories, poems, or chapters. Most writers are generous to give at least some feedback. Note: consider the feedback while not starting a debate if you feel wounded by it. Aim, instead, to consider and possibly advance because of it.

I hope that you will use any of these ideas that fit your needs now. I encourage you to grow as a persevering writer without any regrets about spending finances you did not have, could not afford, or did not need to spend, regardless of the availability of financial resources.

Things to think about, link.

If you found this article helpful, I hope you will share it on, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking groups .

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Commentary - The Stomach Needed for Writing

In the news: "Persecution of Christians and Jews spreading; Israel battles Hamas terror organization; Detroit without drinking water; US border discord; migrant children dispersed without family; laws shown weak for lack of attention to consequences; citizens risk law violations to feed neglected poor, rush to judgment endangers or costs lives..."

Do you have the stomach (guts) to become a published writer of articles, news columns, editorials, or information-laden books about people in need, both sides of a critical news story, or societies' "failures"? The only way that I know for any of us to find out is to enter the professional arena, which must include much reading, research, editorial feedback, and analysis.

As much as any time in history, I believe, Christian writers can continue to convey ideas and stories to show understanding and to uplift, to put a check on bitter or knee-jerk reactions to news and social events, to shine new light on human life. You and I can aim lift some of the heaviness of others, I believe, through reminders of Jesus by way of genuine actions, time, and prayers portrayed in ideas.  

Tonight, I watched The Book Thief movie, a moving and provocative story that I hope to see again. It reminds me that the telescopes of history do enrich our perspectives. The story reinforces the message of the power of words.

I have re-posted on LinkedIn today the Opine Publishing cover of the book by Mogama. Refugee Was My Name, which is his story of terror years in Liberia. As I worked with the photo links and files, I reminded myself why I hope that others will to take a look at this beautiful book. Mogama had courage and encouragement from others to help him write his story and see it come to life.

     We need good true stories to remind us that people continue, around the world, to overcome disasters, including wars and terrorist inroads. Neither is a good situation, yet even recently we learned of a woman giving birth in prison because she would not reject Christ or her Christian faith. The more we can hear the good news,the words, directly from such new heroes the better our understanding and our moral adjustments will be. We can readjust ourselves to move, continually, out of the ubiquitous comfort zones that tempt us.

I believe that writers like you have the desire to develop the tougher inner strength needed to be evaluated by editors, to be engaged by readers, to endure rejection or critique. There is spiritual, as well as intellectual and emotional, armor to help each of us try again, again, and again.

The privilege is mine to know, firsthand, writers willing to put themselves and their work forward. Many writers, I believe, even now are re-dedicating themselves to be more engaged than ever, no matter how many rejections, to build their skills and awareness. Maybe you are one of them. Thereby, the writers' voices of faith are more likely to be heard through their written words.

What is your decision? Have you already settled it, come what may? I encourage you at whatever your writing life may be now to continue to grow your fiction and nonfiction skills and to keep submitting your works for publication.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nadine Gordimer Has Died

I was once jealous of the writer Nadine Gordimer. I was a young, struggling wife and mother ignoring my own writing. I also admired Nadine Gordimer for being a champion of ending apartheid ("apart hate") in her homeland, South Africa.

Nadine Gordimer, a white woman in a white-ruled society, fifteen years older than I, not only wrote. She, with her husband, lived the talk, sheltering ANC members and others being sought by police. 

Years ago, as I grew up into my 40s, I knew enough to avoid jealousies. I did keep my childhood-founded anger toward racism, segregation, and systems like apartheid, the latter so intense in South Africa that blacks had to carry passbooks, into the 1980 or '90s.

Three coincidences (if you believe in those), prompt this post. 

First, I watched "Mandela," the movie, on video on Saturday night. My husband and I visited Robben Island in the past and recognized the movie's scenes of above-ground mining the island's prisoners did. I wondered if a Nadine Gordimer role would be there, but the film kept a closer focus.

Then, late Monday night I caught an outstanding BBC "Hardtalk" interview with Nadine Gordimer.

Finally, this morning's Washington Post informed us of her death. 

Today, I remember how Ms Gordimer spoke on BBC about writing and how I recognized what she said about the writer being in the scene  yet being an observer. Whatever causes us as children to be on the fringes of action can build this skill of observation and analysis of situations. 

As an opera singer has different vocal chords, Ms Gordimer said, the writer about injustice has a different something "in here," she said, indicating her sternum. 

These coincidences give me pause and a positive warning. Any writer with a particular difference of perspective that relates to others' being treated humanely has an obligation to write about it, and this has come home to me again. .

I grew up in a small Southern town in the U.S., a town similar to the one in To Kill A Mockingbird, although maybe a bit larger and greener. I could read at a young age and by the time I was seven and noticed "Whites Only" signs I knew inherently that something was wrong. I did not think "wrong." I knew it. And, I knew it when I saw people of darker skin enter a different door at the movie theater. 

I remember when a housekeeper told my mother that "No," she could not enter our front door, as my mother had asked her to do. "It will be bad for both of us if I do that," was the tense answer, which my mother accepted, with regret. The meat of the answer, fear of reprisals, stuck with me. Whether reprisals would have come, I sometimes wonder. Yet, I knew that there was a well-founded fear of them.  

What used to happen sometimes when I would say "I love the South"--meaning the pace of life that used to be, freedom I had to walk anywhere as a child, and the food and music--is that hearers from other places would think immediately of segregation. I realized that because I heard the huffing noises they made. 

In such cases, I immediately felt their sense of superiority and their judgment. Yet, I know, having lived in New York state and NYC, that racial prejudices exist everywhere; I heard hateful racist terms said by whites "up north" that I had never heard in the South. 

Maybe you are called as a writer to write about difficult subjects that relate to you in strong, definite, clear, and longstanding ways. I hope you will find a way to write about those with your best skills and judgment. We cannot say everything every time. We will overload readers. However, we can say something using the pen, keyboard, and our blogs or other platforms.

For decades I have admired the work and life of Nadine Gordimer. I recommend much more about the life and work of Nadine Gordimer, available here. You can scroll down to watch the BBC "Hardtalk" interview.A link to a BBC radio commentary on the post-Mandela government.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Promoting Your Writing

What is behind "promoting"? "Pro" can refer to "for" or "forward" (as in "propel"). "Moting" is connected with "motion" and "movement." "Motivate" comes to mind.

We usually get ourselves going because we believe it is important, there's reason and purpose in it. 

If you want to move your writing (i.e., your perspectives, life lessons, gripping stories) forward, into the lives of readers, you have to promote it. If you are "for" your writing, then you have to, yea, you must propel it.

Let's get out of the way what this does not (necessarily) mean about you:
-you think you're the greatest at what you do,
-therefore, you are egotistical to the nth degree,
-you will roll over anyone to get where you want to go,
-...more of the same regarding you and your inflated selfie.

What this (very likely) does mean about you:
-you are committed to developing your skills as a writer,
-you have a story or an idea that you believe could interest, inspire, or help others,
-you know you must promote in spite of feeling shy about it,
-you love to write!,
-you work hard to write better and better,
-you know that writing is a skill as well as a creative venture,
-...more of the same positive facts about you and your writing.

You knew all of this already. Are you studying how to do it and are you doing it...the promotion work for your writing?

Not angry. Intense. A favorite scarf was a "comfort" piece. Ooh, that bulging jacket. Lesson learned. Smile.   

I wrote my personal narrative story Not All Roads Lead Home twice, under the pen name, Jane Bullard.The second edition (2004) is on, where I sell it now for $1.90 (see Dickens123 seller), because I'd rather make less per copy and sell more. I wrote it to be read. The original UK edition (1996) is also on 

Buy a signed copy of this book from the author, $4.20 includes packaging and mailing, U.S. only. Email for where to send payment and to give your mailing address (U.S.).

"I think I've fallen out of love with my husband," says an anonymous advice-column letter in The Washington Post today. Is this inquirer selfish, lonely, deluded, honest? Maybe she does not yet know that if she once loved him she can again. Maybe she is unaware that love can not only rekindle but come back stronger than ever. I hope she will find this to be true for herself, her husband, her child.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Author Goal: Affordable Publishing

Here's the context for my urgent writing while on vacation as Hurricane Arthur keeps winds and rain hurling against the coast. I started a Yellow Pages Directory search this morning for a vacation nail salon. Leafing pages backward to "N" for nails, I stopped at "P" for "Publishers." I think that you, dear author, will understand this kind of distraction. 

An ad for Dorrance Publishing caught my eye. Dorrance claims to stand for any writer's ability ("freedom") to  publish. The pricing can be high yet seems to be reasonable if Dorrance does editing, formatting, and design, as well as print setup and printing. I would, however, advise a different route. Many services like Dorrance exist today, and I have a few general comments to get new authors thinking about options and avoiding rash decisions. 

You can learn to do basic professional formatting for your manuscript. Also, you can hire a professional editor to do an analysis of your book, all or part of it, and train yourself to do adequate proofing. You can hire an interior book designer, a professional cover designer, and buy your own ISBN number or series of numbers for later use, and/or a reasonably-priced book printing POD service that can allow you to choose distribution access to and other online booksellers. You can also research affordable ebook formatting to publish your book initially or later as an electronic book.

If you are an author already keen on these facts, then you have an opportunity to help other writers learn about ways to avoid leaping into high- cost services. I hope you will pass this kind of information to others. 

I have given a taste of options to prepare you and others for publishing basics. If you want more detailed information, you can let me know via Twitter @OpinariPeople ( caps not needed). I think it is urgent  for publishers and established authors to help book writers avoid leaping into publishing costs beyond their means.

This is written on the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quick Tip about Handling Writing Critiques and Reviews

This Quick Tip: Do not allow comments about your writing automatically discourage you or knock you down. Here's why: not every writer's style is every reader's favorite, and not all who critique know their stuff.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to evaluate, yes, even critique, offending comments according to their helpfulness...or not. This is the "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" phase, starting with "Is there even any baby, i.e., goodness, in the comment?"

Next, if there is some goodness, by which I mean constructive advice, put it to work to help hone your skills. If there is no goodness there, move on and keep to you style and muse.

For practical application of my Quick Tip on this topic, I recommend you visit, find a 2013 book titled Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda, and scroll down to Reviews.  There are numerous reviewer ratings from one to five stars, which is an unusual range. Pochoda is praised by successful authors of her genre, urban mystery, while some readers hammer her skills almost brutally.

Let me know how goes your dealing with criticism, at .