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writing • Relate Magazine

Chit Chatting with Play Writer Elizabeth G Honaker

 

By Jill Sheets

I have never gotten the chance to interview anyone who wrote plays before until now. I am absolutely thrilled I got to interview Elizabeth G. Honaker. She started writing plays when she was very young and is still going. Read on and learn more about her, her plays, and her advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a playwright themselves.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start writing plays.

E: I have always been “dramatic.” I bugged my first-grade teacher (a nun) to let me participate in Saint Gabriel’s annual Christmas show – and I was allowed! In 8th grade, I wrote science fiction scripts and tried to persuade my friends to rehearse them during recess (it didn’t work!). As a young adult living in England with my husband Allen and children James and Christine, I started becoming interested in Christian drama – especially writing three-minute skits; so I wrote them for our church’s family service. When our family moved back to the United States, I was asked to take over our church’s Easter presentation of The Living Last Supper. It was interesting, but it was a static presentation, so I asked if I could add Mary’s testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Lord. The next year, I added more of the Holy Week events, and in 1994, I wrote my first play that focused on one character. I have written somewhere around twenty different full-length Easter scripts, half of which are in print. I intend to publish them all eventually.

 

R: Tell us about some of your plays and how you got the idea for them.

E: I have long recognized that the ultimate ideas for all of my scripts come from divine inspiration – the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that in the sense that He gets all the glory for touching lives, and I get all the blame if there are defects in the script. In any case, I most often get ideas that inspire me and get me wanting to write during communion or during a sermon. The Pascal Lamb came from a communion service, as did The Bread of the Servant. I’ll admit, though, that I got the idea for Journey to Life while vacuuming the living room! Behind every single script, though, is my own struggle with a particular issue; I think that’s why strangers walk up to me after performances and say, “You wrote that play just for me.” I share my life problems, and the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ, provides answers.

 

R: I found this book and I couldn’t help but buy it! Tell us about Mizz Liz’s Five Steps to Good Writing.

E: I have been teaching students how to write good papers for decades now. It started when I taught high school English, and continued when I began to tutor students at my home. I boiled down everything I knew about writing into five steps that are not difficult to understand, but they take explaining (for instance, I used to integrate these steps into my high school curriculum over the period of five months). At one point, I wrote them down with bullets for my college classes, and then I started to develop handouts for students who had been absent from one or another lecture. Finally, I decided that a book written at the 8th-grade level would help me to teach my at-home tutees more efficiently. I now use that book with everyone – even my college students.

 

R: What is your writing process for your plays? How do you come up with the ideas?

E: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I attribute all the good ideas to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is funny, though – it’s as if the Spirit and I have an annual “appointment” during the Christmas break (which is something all teachers look forward to for relaxation, not for producing a script!). It all starts with a story from a Gospel. I will contemplate a person or group of people and how they might have encountered Jesus – what He would have done for them, how He would have drawn them from the suffering, etc. The concept will “simmer on the back burner” for months, until the day after Christmas. (That is pretty much the “last minute” for producing a workable script for the Disciples to perform for the following Easter.)

When I was teaching high school, I would close the door to the study where the family computer resided and type away all day every day until the play was done. Sometimes, it would reveal itself in three days; sometimes it took a week or ten days. Once I had worked out a story, it seemed that I would see the action of the play, hear the dialog, etc. I would just type it as I saw it. Occasionally, I would write an entire scene and then realize it didn’t fit the story. I would just set it aside and move on. I never obsess over “now where did THAT come from?” because the ways of the Spirit are much bigger and more complex than I am. Who knows? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great classic The Scarlet Letter came to him from a short story he had written years before – which didn’t even focus on a woman pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Nowadays, my main computer is in my study upstairs. Instead of locking myself away – which doesn’t really work because my study is our balcony, not an enclosed room – I now ensconce myself in the family room, and Number One Husband (Allen) pretty much leaves me to do my thing however long it takes. Of course, he stills feeds and waters me, and nags me about going to bed when it gets to be one a.m. But without little ones running around, it is easier to “rule the roost” this way. I still get the script ready for the Wesley Grove Disciples (in Maryland – they still present my plays each year at Easter) by their first scheduled read-through in January.

 

R: Do you have a favorite play or book?

E:  Gosh, that one’s tough! I love Dorothy Sayer’s The Man Born to be King, which started as radio plays about the life of Christ over the BBC during WWII. I love all of C.S. Lewis’ works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety at least three separate times in my life. I love teaching T.S. Eliot, especially the works he produced after he became a Christian. I am a fan of Calvin Miller and Ravi Zacharias. I love well-written biographies of the founding fathers (and I have David Barton to thank for getting me hooked on those). I…now how long do you want me to go on?

 

R: What is your favorite Bible verse?

E: My favorite verse is whatever connects me to the mind of the Lord each time I read the Bible. When I read with a willing mind and an open heart, the Holy Spirit makes the Word live to me. I have to say, though, that the very first verse I memorized when I became a real Christian at the age of twenty-one was Romans 8:28. And I remind all my students that Philippians 4:8 does not mention God or Jesus, and yet it is the best advice for anyone seeking reality.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to write plays?

E: Study how to tell a story with actions, and as few words as possible (a la Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and – if necessary – use words”). Study Shakespeare and how he packaged his messages, including comedy in the middle of his tragedies, to focus the groundlings’ attention on what was to come next. Reflect on modern plays or episodes that move you and ask yourself, why do they move you? How have the characters impacted you? Then write your action and dialog down and have someone else read them aloud. Make your characters speak like normal human beings; don’t give them sermons to preach. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. And – of course – you can always email me for advice: efghonaker@gmail.com . I promise I’ll respond.

 

R: Where can people get your plays and other books?

E: Right now, all of my plays and books (beside my book on how to write, I also have an historical novel on the martyrdom of Saint Paul and a thesis on the medieval mystery plays) are all available through Amazon.com.

 

R: Do you have an official website? What about social media?

E: My husband recently took down our website because of software issues – the software was no longer supported and we found that we couldn’t update our site. We are working with a third person to design a better site. The domain will be bolb.org and it will have an online store for our new ebooks on how to start drama groups in your church, make affordable costumes and props, and use inexpensive sound and lighting.

I have a page on Facebook – Bread of Life Books – where I’ve posted pictures and video excerpts from my last three plays. The plays are all presented by amateur actors (by that, I mean they are not professionals) but they really put their hearts into the production each year. I am humbled just to watch how they bring each script to life!

I also have a Linkedin page under Elizabeth Golibart Honaker.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

E: Once upon a time, a gentleman whose opinion I valued very much told me that drama was sinful – no matter whether it had a Christian motive or not, the actors were sinning in pretending to be their characters. I respectfully disagreed with him, but then felt I had to study the Bible more closely in order to affirm the truth of what I already believed. I discovered that God had commanded several of the Old Testament prophets to depict His messages in dramatic form – and the drama was not at all “warm and fuzzy;” it depicted real judgment and real consequences for Israel. In the New Testament, Christ told parables, which reproduced vivid pictures of heavenly truths in the minds of His listeners. When a pastor preaches from the pulpit, does he not present illustrations from real life? People watch Christian plays and dramas knowing full well that the people who play the parts of characters are not trying to pass themselves off as people they are not. The actors help the audience members “lose” themselves in the story so that the power of the Spirit can have an opening into their hearts. And knowing the impact that Christ-centered drama has had on both audience members, stagecrew, and actors, I cannot help but believe that this is a God-sanctioned phenomenon.

Christian drama is not just for the talented; it is for the taught. We learn the message of the Gospel, and we present it via drama to others. People like me write the words, so that the story flows and engages the audience, but Christian actors can come from every walk of life, and from any age level. I have had police officers and homemakers and school children and babies and retired teachers and Boy Scout members and pastors and – well, you get the picture.

Lastly, I just want to leave people with a reflection: What could be more dramatic than the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? He didn’t merely talk about the Plan of Salvation; He enacted it in the flesh! He didn’t come to save well-polished “actors” – He came to save those people who find themselves lost, with no Director in their lives. Voila!

 

Chit Chatting with Author B. Kristin McMichael

 

Written by Jill Sheets

In my opinion, author B. Kristin McMichael is one of the greatest young adult authors out there. Her books are so hard to put down! When I got the chance to interview her, I was so excited. Read on and learn more about her books, including a new one which will be coming out this fall. Also, find out where her ideas come from and hear what advice she has about writing.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start writing and what was your first book about?

B: I think I’ve been writing since I figured out how to write words on paper. I’ve loved reading from a very young age and it just continued as I grew older. The first novel I wrote is the second one I published. It was a vampire novel that came from a dream I had. A few months later, Twilight hit the bookstores and the vampire craze began. I figured no one would want to read my book and just left it on my computer for years. In 2013, my hubby asked if he could take it and publish it. I wasn’t sure about it, but I let him anyway. Seventeen novels later and he is still publishing them! Right now we have twelve books in the same vampire world, which I call the Night Human World.

I spent ten years as a molecular biologist, so it is hard to believe that I have five completed series and one stand-alone book right now. One common thing in my books is that they are clean teen books. There is no sex and very little violence, and the violence in the books isn’t super graphic. I write books that I won’t be worried about my children reading when they are teens.


R: Tell us about the Blue Eyes Trilogy?

B: The Legend of the Blue Eyes is a coming-of-age novel where instead of facing normal teen issues, Arianna has to face the fact that she turns into a monster on her sixteenth birthday. She has to learn how not only to grow up, but to grow up in a world filled with monsters that drink blood. In the trilogy, we meet many of the people who will show up in later books, and when I finished Arianna’s story, I couldn’t help but continue their stories.

A cool side note on this book was that it was recently translated into Italian, so I have my first foreign edition published now.

 

R: You also wrote the Day Human Trilogy. Please tell us about those books.

B: The Day Human Trilogy is a spin-off from the Blue Eyes Trilogy. Sometimes when you finish a novel, you wonder what happens to other people. This series focuses on one of the main characters from the Blue Eyes Trilogy as he goes into the Appalachian Mountains to return a sidhe, a fairy-like blood-drinking night human, home to be rid of her. Instead, he finds that maybe his place isn’t where he thought it should be and there is a whole different life waiting for him. I love the idea of fate and people meeting that should be together, even if they don’t agree because they don’t see it like they should. It is so fun to see characters grow and change.

 

R: Tell our readers about the Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy.

B: The Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy is a whole new trilogy set in the same night human world as the Blue Eyes and Day Human trilogies. The main character, Cassie, is introduced in the third book of the Day Human Trilogy, but there isn’t much told of her. This trilogy focuses on her adventure and place in the night human world. She is a witch but never knew about the night humans that live beside the witches, and she certainly doesn’t know about the war going on with the night humans in her town. She is quickly caught in the middle of it.

 

R: Tell us about the Chalcedony Chronicles. How many books will be in this series?

B: The Chalcedony Chronicles is a four part series. I’ve had fans asking me to write more, but right now I’ve been focusing on the night human world series. This is a college time travel romance series that reads like a contemporary for the first half the novel before things take a turn to the bizarre for the main character. Mari is set to have freedom and be a normal college freshman, until she meets a guy that is from the past. He, along with his friends, take her on an adventure to ancient times where she finds there is much more to her story and life than she ever knew was possible.

 

R: Tell us about the Merworld Trilogy.

B: The Merworld Trilogy is the latest series in the night human world. Whitney was a night human, but had that part of her taken from her. As a normal person that knows about the blood sucking monsters in the world, she was not prepared to meet Sam, since merpeople were supposed to be eradicated over a hundred years earlier. The Merworld Trilogy follows Whitney as she finds a new place in the night human world and a life that she didn’t even know she could have.

 

R: If they were going to make movies out of your books, who would your dream cast be?

B: I think my Night Human World series could make a great TV show. As to casting, I’d have no idea. The main character of Arianna is only fifteen going on sixteen. I would almost think with such a young cast, you’d have to have unknowns because by the time the show was made, they would be too old! The only book I could see as a movie is my stand alone novel, To Stand Beside Her, but even that I wouldn’t know who to cast.

 

R: What is your writing process? How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

B: I know where the book starts and where it is going, but in between I tend to just write. I have discovered more than one character I grew to love as the story progressed and even a few more that I didn’t even know would be involved. I can remember talking to my husband after writing one of the Chalcedony Chronicle books and telling him, “Crap, I think I just made a really important person. He’s going to have to fit into the whole story now!”

As for ideas, I have a ten page document that keeps growing with ideas. My ideas come mostly from my dreams. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had very long and vivid dreams that I remember the next day or week or longer. This works great for story ideas, but not so great when you have one of those really terrifying dreams.

 

R: You book covers are beautiful. Do you get to pick them out or have any say on them?

B: I’ve worked with a few different designers that I’ve liked the art work of before I even hire them to make the covers. I give them a basic idea of what the story is about and who I want on the cover, but I let them do the rest. I found them because they do great art, so I don’t want to put too many restrictions on them. I’ve been lucky to get some really great ones from them and feel so fortunate to work with the artists I have.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

B: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, and Audible.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

B: I have a new book that will be out on September 4th called The Night Human Hunter. It is set in my Night Human world and follows a hunter that leaves a matriarchal hunter society to find his dad and discover the secrets that come with him. I’m also writing a prequel to the Merworld Trilogy that will be in a box set called Sirens and Scales in January. Twenty authors are coming together to write an anthology all about mermaids and dragons.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer, but who always second guesses themselves?

B: Just forget everything and write. Half the battle of being an author is getting the book done. There are always doubts when you write. Is this the right direction for the book? Will people like this? Will anyone want to read this? Will it be good enough? You will never get the answers if you don’t try. And surprisingly you will find that there are people out there always looking for a new book. You just have to have the confidence (and thick enough skin) to put yourself out there. Don’t worry about reviews or people who don’t like your work. You will get people that love your books and make up for every person that doesn’t.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

B: I once did a blog post about the characters from The Legend of the Blue Eyes favorite foods. That was a hard one. I know many of my characters well, but to decide if they were a cherry or apple pie type of person was hard.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

B: Website: www.bkristinmcmichael.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bkristinmcmichael

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bkmcmichael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bkristinmcmichael/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BKristinMcMichael

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

B: Thanks so much for having me! For the book lovers and fans of my books, it’s been fun writing all these different stories and even more fun to share it with everyone. Thank you for giving a new author a chance. For the aspiring writers, keep at it. Don’t get discouraged and be brave enough to put yourself out there.

 

 

Picture sources: Her husband (first picture), Jessica Allain (book covers)

 

The Notetaker’s Handbook

As a student, you have a lot of work to do. Learning a new skill or several complex subjects can be very difficult. You have to attend lectures, classes, study sessions, and loads of other educational activities. With all of this work, you have a lot to store in your head. After weeks of learning and studying, this becomes a struggle. And, so, you need a way to give you mind a break. In most cases, the best way to do this is in the form of notes. To help you out with this, this post will be going through the different tools you can use to get this job done. Now, you just need to get writing.

For speed, a lot of people find that their digital devices are best for their notetaking. In the modern world, typing is much more common than writing with your hands. And, this means that most people are more proficient with a keyboard. The best device for typing at school or college is a laptop. You don’t need something very powerful, so a Chromebook or other low-powered laptop could be the best option. Or, for those on a lower budget, you could also get a cheap tablet with a BlueTooth keyboard. Typing gives you the chance to save your files all in the same place, limiting the chance that you will lose them. With modern tools like Google Docs, it’s possible to handle nearly all of your work from your computer. But, of course, traditional notetaking still has its place.

To start, you should have a paper notebook along with any digital devices you own. Being able to write on paper is better for your memory than typing. And, a lot of people like to make sketches to help their work. Along with this, it can be very helpful to have paper versions of your textbooks. Digital copies are usually cheaper or even free. But, the real thing will give you the chance to add your own notes and make easy additions. This sort of reference material can be perfect when you’re revising. And, most good establishments will even recommend it. When making paper notes, you can learn a clever filing system to make it easier to find the parts you need.

Finally, you won’t be able to get very far with your notes without some stationary to go along with it. The items you buy will depend on the way that you like to take notes. Some people will want to have highlighter pens, to make parts of their work extra-visible. And, other people will want to have byros to make their work look professional. You should always buy stationery online, to avoid the steep prices a lot of physical shops will present you with. This will give you the greatest selection of goods. And, it will enable you to look up reviews of the good you like. These resources are essential if you want to get the best products for your money.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of what can be done to optimize your note taking abilities. As a student, you need to do everything you can to remember what you’re learning. Having a good set of notes can be the very best way to achieve this.

Have a Way With Words? Here’s How You Can Put Your Writing Talent To Good Use

Are you naturally gifted when it comes to the written word? Perhaps you’ve been told from a young age that you excel in this area, and teachers and parents have commented on how you’d make a fantastic author. While writing is something that you can continue to improve on all the time, some people are naturally eloquent with words and find it easy to put thoughts to paper. If this sounds like you, chances are you want to nurture and expand on your gift, and are on the lookout for ways you can become more well-versed as a writer. Here are a few ways you can go about it.

Blog

Blogging has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and that’s because it’s so flexible. A blog can be anything you want it to be: it can be used to document your life, it can be used to share your knowledge on a topic with others, many businesses even use them to promote their site and products. It’s free to sign up, and once you do you have this incredible platform where you can express yourself any way you like. As well as improve your writing skills, blogging will also encourage you to improve your photography (even if it’s just with your smartphone- you need beautiful pictures for your posts after all!) You’ll learn the basics of coding and HTML and can even use free online editors to design and create your own banner and graphics. When you’re writing regular content for your blog, you will quickly find your ‘voice.’ This is something that you never get to do in formal, academic writing, with blogging you can just be yourself. You’ll expand your vocabulary, improve your writing and have fun in the process. Blogging also has a fantastic social side to it, you can speak to other likeminded individuals on platforms like Twitter. Join in with group chats, and even attend meetup events.

Write a Journal

Unlike blogs which are generally public, journals are for you rather than for an audience. The benefits of journalling have been well documented, they can help improve stress, evoke mindfulness and even improve your IQ. Because they allow you to explore your feelings they can help you to improve your emotional intelligence too, this is your ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others. Which is of course a fantastic skill to have in life! We’ve all experienced troubling times, and when your mind is racing, it’s difficult to make head or tail of the situation. Writing things down can really help you to work through and understand any issues that you have, and it can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. The practice of writing every day will certainly improve your writing skills, even if you plan on no one ever reading the journal you

Write a Book

Have you always dreamed of writing a book, but put it off as something to do when you’re a little older? Don’t delay, writing a book now while you’re young could be the best time to do it. Sure you don’t have as much life experience as someone older, but your thought processes, creativity, and imagination right now are bound to be incredible. When you finish education and get into the workplace things can get a little monotonous, and you might find that creative spark you once had dwindling unless you really invest in nurturing it. You could always start your book now and continue to work on it over the years if you don’t feel like it’s quite there. Either way, there’s nothing stopping you as a younger person.

Do Some Freelance Writing

Many students choose to get a part-time job while they’re still in education, so they have their own money to spend, and aren’t living entirely off their parents. But instead of going out and working in a shop or fast food joint, why not do some freelance writing? Many websites will require you to take a short test before you can sign up, but if you get through and are good enough, this is an excellent way to earn some money in your spare time. You get to make some cash, improve your writing and do something you know you’re good at.

 

Chit Chatting with Shana Schutte

 

Written by Jill Sheets


I was excited when I got Shana Schutte’s new book Two Minutes in the Bible for Women. Even with a busy schedule, I knew even I could take two minutes out of my day to go over a Bible lesson. Whenever I read it, it seems liked Shana is talking to me–not like someone who has a degree in civil engineering, but in a language that is not over my head. Read on and learn more about Shana’s new book, why it is important to give God thanks, and what her favorite verse is.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your new book Two Minutes in the Bible for Women.

S: If anyone reading this feels like they are unqualified for a particular task, I hope my life is an encouragement. I come from a little town in Southern Idaho. I have no formal education in journalism. I just learned how to write by practicing. I had a little dream in my heart to write books and when I started to move in that direction, God met my desires with circumstances that validated that was what He had for me to do.

The book is designed to encourage readers to get into God’s Word. One thing about it is that you can just read the devotional. Or, you can also look up extra scriptures at the end that are listed for reading and you can also think about the devotional by reflecting on how it applies to you.

All the topics are those for the feminine heart: faith, relationships, and purpose. I have written about waiting on God, trusting Him when life falls apart, and everything in between. It’s really just a book about dealing with life.

 

R: How did you come up with the idea for the book? How long did it take you to write this book?

S: That’s a common question. I wish I had an incredible story about how I was lying in bed one night and got the revelation to write a Two Minutes in the Bible book, but I didn’t come up with this wonderful idea. The Two Minute brand was actually developed by Boyd Bailey, who is the president of Wisdom Hunters. Boyd had already written several books under the Two Minute brand for Harvest House publishers, and he asked if I would be willing to write another for women. I immediately said, “Yes!” I love Wisdom Hunters and I highly respect Boyd, so it was an easy decision.

I didn’t sit down and focus on writing the book in a short period. I feel that devotionals are best written as one experiences life. That way, the words I share come from real-time lessons I am learning with Christ. So, all together, it took about a couple years to write the book.

 

R: Why is it important to give God thanks?

S: Many people see gratitude as being kind of a fluffy thing, sort of like cotton candy. They think it’s a feel-good practice that is nice to do if you want to be a nice Christian. But gratitude is a whole lot more than that. It’s actually protection for the human heart. When you’re feeling down about life and the enemy of your soul starts to beat you up with negative thoughts, gratitude raises you above the trouble to His perspective. It guards your heart against despair.

 

R: This is hard for me to do, but how can one let go of fear and worry by trusting God?

S:  This is a moment-by-moment thing, but I believe one powerful thing to do is to look forward to what God is going to do with anticipation. When you look forward with anticipation and faith, then the worry of the moment vanishes. If we are focused on what bad could happen, worry overtakes us. But when we choose belief, even though our emotions might be saying otherwise, it makes life a whole lot easier.

 

R: How can one practice gratitude?

S: You can practice gratitude by telling God out loud what you are grateful for. You can practice gratitude by telling others that you thankful for them. You can make it a daily habit to notice the beauty around you. And, when things don’t go the way you’d like them to, you can “reframe” what happened to you by asking yourself, “What good has come out of this situation? How have I learned? How have I grown? How can God change me for good because of what happened to me?”

 

R: What can one do to achieve their calling? How does one know what their calling is?

S: Sometimes people think of a calling as one thing they do in their life. And they think that a calling is something that only happens at one particular point in time. However, a calling is like a journey. If you aren’t doing what you believe is your calling right now, a good thing to remember is that there is preparation time before you will complete a particular task. And the preparation is as important as the actual calling. God is always at work in our lives. I think remembering this is good because it will prevent you from experiencing sadness or despair if you feel like you haven’t “arrived.”

We can have multiple callings in our lives: to be a good friend, to serve at church in the choir, to be a teacher. We may do those all at once, or at different seasons.

All of God’s kids can use their gifts to glorify God. One way to know what God has called you to do is to look at the intersection of your passions and your talents or God-given abilities. If you like to do something and you are pretty good at it (or at least you have the seeds of the gift that you can grow), then you might have a calling in a particular area.

 

R: What do you want people to take away from this book?

S: My hope is that women and young women who read the book will become more encouraged to spend time in the Bible. Sometimes, we feel like we have to spend lots of time in the Bible, and then when we can’t we feel guilty. But no one has to spend an hour in the Bible every day. If you can, great. But God isn’t grading us. It’s nice to take the pressure off and spend just two minutes a day with Jesus. God can speak to our hearts in a second.

 

R: What is Beyond Imagination?

S: Beyond Imagination is an organization I founded in 2008 that is dedicated to helping people with everyday life through biblical truths. Through Beyond Imagination, I do speaking, I write blogs and devotionals, and I have had a nationwide radio platform.

 

R: Tell us about Blueprint for Life and Wisdom Hunters.

S: Blueprint for Life is an organization based in Atlanta that helps people discover and live out their calling. It was founded by Mike Kendrick, and I wrote devotionals for them for a couple years. Wisdom Hunters is dedicated to improving biblical literacy. I have been writing for them for a couple years as well. Both organizations publish daily devotionals and can be found online at blueprintforlife.com and wisdomhunters.com.

 

R: What is your favorite verse and why?

S: I don’t really have a favorite verse, as so many of them have been so impactful to me over the years, but I particularly love Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

When I was in my early twenties on the way back from a young adult retreat, the Lord gave this passage to me while on a bus. I sensed that He was revealing to me that I would spend my life working with Him to bind up the brokenhearted. For a long time that didn’t make sense to me, but a few years ago, I looked back and realized that’s exactly what I have spent my adult life doing—and continue to do through the words He gives me.

 

R: Tell us about your blog and about some of the topics you talk about.

S: I have been blogging and writing devotionals regularly for five years. I didn’t sit down and decide ahead of time that I would write about particular topics. However, the topics I write about are generally about faith, purpose, and relationships.

I usually write from the things that God is teaching me through life, or what I am learning through the Bible. I have always thought that the most powerful lessons we can share with others are those that we have experienced ourselves. So, I try to be a funnel and be pretty transparent.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about you other book.

S: I have written several other books: Betrayed by God? Making Sense of Your Expectations. It’s about dealing with the disappointment we all face when life doesn’t turn out how we would like. I’ve written 30 Days of Hope, which is another devotional inspired from the blogs on my website. I’ve also contributed to several God Hearts Me devotionals for tweens and have ghost-written a couple books for a good friend who lives in Georgia. One was self-published, The Fulfillment Factor, which is about finding fulfillment through discovering and living out a calling God has for your life, and also Blueprint for Life, which is the same idea, published with Harper Collins.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

S: I actually just started creating new content for singles over age thirty. I am working on an online course for that group as well as a new website. We will see where God takes me. There are over fifty percent single adults in the U.S. for the first time in history, and many of them want to marry and are hurting. I didn’t marry until I was forty-six, so I understand that pain of being an older single, so I want to encourage that group.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

S: They can get them at shanaschutte.com.

 

R: Shana, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

S: You are so welcome. It was my pleasure.

 

How To Create A Killer Resume In 4 Easy Steps

Job hunting is all about getting noticed and without a killer resume no-one is going to take any notice of you at all. It’s all about making a fantastic first impression so you make it through the early stages of recruitment. Writing your first resume can be daunting. You can sit for hours staring at a blank screen and worry that you don’t have any experience to boast about.

Here’s how you can take just four easy steps to create a killer resume that will truly show what a fantastic employment prospect you are.

Set out the basic format

 

Fill up that blank page with some sub-headings and immediately you have the basic structure of a killer resume. Use these headings:

  • Contact details – your name, address, telephone number and email
  • Personal statement – all about you and what makes you unique
  • Experience – what sort of work you have done that is relevant to the post
  • Education – a list of your qualifications starting with the most recent
  • Achievements – any awards and accolades that you have
  • Hobbies and interests – try to relate these to the post that you are applying for
  • References – names and contact details of people who have agreed to provide a reference

Focus on your experience

 

When you have worked for a while this section will be a chronological list of all the posts that you have held. When you are starting out, you have less to put in here but it is still a vital part of your resume. Instead of focusing on the employment, shift the focus to skills and experience. You can use bullet points to list key skills. You could have acquired these skills at college or at school where you held positions of authority. Don’t forget about sports teams or societies where you were a captain or a team member. You need skills to hold down those positions. Employers like transferable skills such as the ability to work as part of a team, ability to meet deadlines and ability to lead a small group pf your peers. If you have volunteered in the retail sector or in an office you may be able to add:

  • Answering phone calls, responding to emails, dealing with queries from the public
  • Keeping records up-to-date and filing.
  • Introducing a new way of working

List your educational achievements

 

This is the easy part because it doesn’t take much thought. List the most recent ones first. So, if you already have a degree, you should start with that and work backwards. Don’t forget about any additional qualifications that are especially relevant to the post such as Provider Skills CME Courses that will impress the employer.

Personal statement

 

This is one that everyone dreads! There are plenty of examples online so don’t feel that you have to re-invent the wheel. Keep it short, crisp and to the point.

References

 

You do not need to include the actual references. All you need is the names and addresses of someone who has agreed to write you one. High school teachers are perfectly acceptable referees for your first job.

Chit Chatting with Poet Nakada Wilson

pinkI recently had the honor of interviewing poet Nakada Wilson, author of the book Girl Poems. Read on to learn more about her, her book of poems, and her goals for the future.

 

R: Tell us about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.

N: I started writing poetry once I realized that lashing out and being disruptive was not only alienating, but an inadequate way to express my anger. Bottling up my emotions wasn’t healthy or helpful, so I started to use the journal my mom had given me. However, simply writing down my feelings felt tedious and dull. I put a spin on the writings and that resulted in metaphors and rhythmic sentence structures–poetry. Through words, I’m able to pinpoint why I’m feeling what I’m feeling in a moment, and see on paper what’s really going on in my mind. Putting pen to paper turns the chaos in my mind to order. I can relinquish the chaos through a controlled medium so that I don’t have to hurt anyone or myself.

 

R: Tell us about your book Girl Poems.

N: Girl Poems is about the essence of femininity through my eyes. Girl Poems is about accepting a role that leans towards conforming, but giving in because it’s accessible and because there are things to enjoy and take pleasure in, regardless of the simplicity. I chose a few poets to make contributions in Girl Poems as well, whom I felt clearly understood the message.

 

R: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

N: I titled the book before I filled its pages because I knew what I was going for. My poetry, as a whole, hasn’t much to do with girls, just aspects of the human condition in general. So, adhering to the “girl” theme in Girl Poems meant digging through an old notebook I had utilized in while living with five other girls in a dorm at school. At that time more than any other, I had been questioning gender roles and exploring what it meant to be a girl. I, like most people, am blended with both masculine and feminine aspects. In Girl Poems, I simply zeroed in on the feeling of what femininity meant to me.

 

R: Do you have a favorite poem?

N: It’s hard to pinpoint just one favorite poem, but one that stood out to me recently is Red by Fatimah Asghar. “You’ll feel tin in my bones and think you are making love to a copper woman.” That line really sticks with me.

black-outfit

R: For people who have not read the book yet, how would you describe your writing?

N: It’s difficult to describe my writing because it’s up to the readers to interpret the style. If I can be as objective as possible, though, I’d say it has dark undertones made indulgent by the use of flowery language.

 

R: Do you have any future goals on writing more books?

N: Absolutely. I plan on publishing a novel in the future. I write short stories often, and plan on either turning one of those into a novel, or starting up a completely new idea.

 

R: Where can people get your book?

N: Amazon

 

R: I read that you are also a director. Is that true? If so, what have you directed?

N: I wouldn’t quite call myself a director. I created a few shorts before I caught the acting bug when I moved to a big city last year. Who wouldn’t want to be a Hollywood director, though? That’d be awesome.

 

R: What has been your biggest influence?

N: My biggest influence on my writing stems from the music I listen to more than anything. Bands like Katatonia and Massive Attack are very poetic in their lyrics, and you can often find me listening to them while writing.

 

R: What are some of your future goals?

N: My dream is to get married and have a few kids. No, I’m joking. Seriously, I’d like to have the resources to create whatever unconventional idea I have in mind and see it play out on the screen.

hair-up

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

N: I’m a metalhead, I prefer large dogs to small ones, I believe in ghosts, I find bruises and scars cooler than tattoos, and I enjoy spending time in the woods during autumn.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a poet?

N: Just start writing. Allow that filter of self-protectiveness to slide off in the moment and become one with yourself and whatever you’re feeling. Don’t worry about how it will come across, just be raw and indiscriminate towards your words. Only once you’ve finished and care to edit should you judge your structure or words.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

N: I was at a rock show with my mom and sisters and while I was outside, this guy on the street came up to me and asked me if this children’s book he was holding belonged to me. I said yes but he kept it anyway, explaining that it was actually for his daughter.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites?  If so, which ones and what are their addresses?  Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

N: I don’t have an official website, but I am on Instagram and Twitter as @NakadaWilson.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

N: Sure. Even though the book is titled Girl Poems, I think that regardless of gender, anyone feeling boxed in within a certain title will relate. While editing the poems, I infused even the darkest of poems with something to look forward to or feel good about. Life can be depressing, but it’s short and something of a gift. It’s important to find something enjoyable or pleasurable out of it. Finding beauty in the depth of darkness is magnetic and inspiring enough to bring anyone fully to light.

 

R: Nakada, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Chit Chatting with Author of the KARE KIDS ADVENTURE Series Charles A. Salter

kare kidsWritten by Jill Sheets

Recently, I had the honor of interviewing Charles A. Salter. He is the writer of the “Kare Kids Adventures” series. Read on to learn more about Charles, his book series, how many books he plans on writing, and what advice he gives to someone who wants to become an author.

 

R:  Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in writing.

C: Growing up in a writing family, I suppose it was inevitable that I would want to become a writer myself. My earliest memories include Dad pounding away at his Olivetti portable typewriter for hours at a time, producing copious numbers of poems, short stories, novels, nonfiction articles, stage plays, and various autobiographical journals over his entire life. Also at that time we had as a family friend one of the most famous Southern writers in America: Walker Percy. With encouragement from both parents, I wrote my own first illustrated children’s book at the age of 8, a family newspaper by the age of 9, several short stories and mini-plays (which I, along with a younger brother and sister) produced for our parents’ enjoyment between age 10 and 15. That summer of my 15th year my brother and I started writing film scripts and produced a number of these with family, friends, and neighbors serving as cast members. By age 16, I had finished my first novel, though it is important to realize none of the above were formally published or reaching more than a local audience. Not long after college, however, I began to write professionally and for regular publication. I first achieved success in nonfiction, publishing hundreds of articles in journals, magazines, and syndicated newspapers. I also published some textbooks, reference books, and general nonfiction books, including a series of teen nutrition books which became very popular in school libraries and won awards. In more recent years I have turned to fiction, producing both an adult action series and the current “Kare Kids Adventures” series.

 

R:  Tell us about your book series “Kare Kids Adventures,” and how many do you plan on writing?

C: The “Kare Kids Adventures” are about preteen children who don’t merely care as an attitude, but translate their concern for family, friends, animals, and the environment into real action to solve problems and make their world a better place. In all of these books, the Kare Kids can’t rely on magic or super powers to solve their problems. They are realistic kids who live in the real world…BUT with the help of parents and other kindly adults, they know how to think for themselves and act independently. All the books are rated “G” with no bad language or gory violence. I have four volumes finished now and am working on a fifth. I have some tentative ideas for producing up to about 20 books or so if the fan response warrants that many.

 

R:  How did you come up with the idea for the books?

C: I get most of my ideas via dreams while sleeping. I keep a notepad and pen beside the bed to jot the key details of my dream stories down upon first awakening, before they fade away.

 

R:  What is your target age range?

C: About age 8 to 12 is the principal audience target. However, I have seen five- and six-year-old kids love having the books read to them. I think there is also enough intriguing background material about the adults in the series to interest parents who read these books to their children.

 

R:  Tell us about your first book in the series, The Secret of Bald Rock Island.

C: Book #1 of the “Kare Kids Adventures” is The Secret of Bald Rock Island. In it, 10-year-old Kelcie decides to solve the mystery of what happened to her missing fisherman father years ago AND what the mysterious creature on her island might be. Only recently published in June, it has gotten several excellent reviews already, which can be seen here: The Secret of Bald Rock Island – Amazon

 

R:  Tell our readers about “Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place.”

C: In Book #2 of the series, Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place, Kelcie is now grown up and her 9-year-old daughter is the star. Charlotte discovers a serious environmental danger in the woods and does everything she can to alert authorities and rescue two trapped puppies. This book was published on July 1 of this year. It is also available at Amazon.com:  Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place

 

R:  Tell our readers about your 3rd book “How Three Brothers Saved the Navy.”

C: In Book #3, How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, Charlotte’s three preteen cousins uncover a terrorist plot to destroy their Navy father’s ship. They show great courage and ingenuity in ferreting out the details and then thwarting the plot. That book was published in early August.

There is also a fourth book coming out around the end of the summer. Charlotte’s twin brother and sister star in The Travel Twins and the Lost Secret of the Vikings. This book’s plot unfolds on a scary (but real) train winding its way high in the beautiful mountains of Norway. Felons with mysterious motives have stolen the famed Leif Erikson Sunstone from their uncle’s Viking museum in Oslo, and the twins decide to get it back.

 

R:  Are any of the characters based on anyone?

C: Kelcie, the child heroine of the first book, is a composite of my two daughters. Out of the entire series so far, volume #1 is the only one set in the past—about one generation ago. At that time, my now-adult daughters were children and we often went to Maine (the location for this novel). We saw and experienced the kinds of places described in the book!  Kelcie appears in book #2 as a grownup in the current timeframe. The characters of all the kids in books #2 through #4 are based on my grandchildren.

 

R:  Tell us about your other books.

C: As a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) over the past 30 years, I have published a large number of nonfiction books, including textbooks and reference works, as well as an award-winning series on Teen Nutrition. In recent years I have published four volumes in an adult mystery/action series (The Ebay Detective and Brad Scout Detectives, about an Army officer who does special missions for the President), and now this middle grade children’s series.

 

R:  Where can people get your books?

C: These four books are available from the publisher, Outskirts Press, and also from all online books dealers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. Please look up the titles in their search blocks or click on one of the URLs provided above.

 

R:  You also write for a newspaper. Tell us a little bit about that.

C: I used to write a weekly column on family issues that was syndicated nationwide by Suburban Features, part of the Scripps-Howard publishing network. I am sorry to say that Suburban Features went out of business.

 

R:  What is your writing process? Do you outline or just start to write?

C: I know some people like to outline their entire novel before starting to write, but I like to begin by dreaming up imaginative new characters and putting them into an exciting new situation or crisis. They soon begin to take on a life of their own and seem almost real to me, and they’ll tell me how they want to resolve the problem. Early on they will tell me what the ending is, but it is always an exciting adventure for us to discover together how they will get there.

 

R:  What are you currently working on?

C: I am currently working on Book #5 of the series, which brings back the three brothers of Book #3 in a new adventure. This time they help the U.S. Army. I am a veteran and military retiree with 28 years of active service in the Army. During some of those years I did considerable work for the Navy, even sailing on many different types of ships on actual deployments. Writing about military topics just comes naturally for me.

 

R:  What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a writer?

C:  Gosh, there are entire books full of good advice! I guess the most important are these two points: (1) Don’t get discouraged and give up when you get rejections by publishers.  Even the most famous writers generally were ignored at first.  From the time I wrote my first novel to when I published my first book was ten years!  (2) The creative process can be fun, even exhilarating, as you see those words pour out onto the page. But that is only the beginning—editing and revision are the keys to making any manuscript more readable and saleable. As one of my creative writing instructors put it, “The mastery of an art takes a lifetime.”

 

R:  Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what about an official website?

C: My primary author social networking site is:  https://www.facebook.com/CharlesASalter/

Among many other items, there are a series of autobiographical posts about how growing up in a writing family turned me into a writer.

I also have an author Twitter account filled with ideas about how to encourage more independence and maturity in youngsters: Charles A. Salter – Twitter

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

C: The whole point of the “Kare Kids Adventures” series as a whole is to encourage young boys and girls to see their own heroic potential within. Youths need to become more independent as they mature, and our culture todays seems to recklessly disregard the fundamental truth that our society needs independent citizens capable of thinking for themselves and acting on principle. I like to think these books will not only entertain, but also inspire today’s youth.

 

R: Charles, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

C: And thank you very much for meeting me like this and sharing my books with your audience! Bye for now.

Chit chatting with experts of AdvancedWriters

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College Application Essay Tips

A collective list from Tutor.com‘s college essay experts…

studyingCollege essays are often the most dreaded and time-consuming part of a college application. And while essays are ranked fourth in importance for most admission decisions (behind grades, rigor of curriculum and test scores) a great essay can be the difference between a college acceptance and denial.

Essays are a student’s big opportunity to highlight his or her strengths and discuss material not presented anywhere else in the application.  This is where you can share who you really are with the admissions staff: Highlight accomplishments that you weren’t able to list elsewhere, express personal philosophies and give insight to your personality, or appeal to the reader’s ethos by sharing personal experiences. Tutor.com, the leader in on-demand, 24/7 tutoring services, helps thousands of students craft compelling essays each year. From brainstorming ideas to final edits, Tutor.com’s expert writing tutors are available for every step of the process. Here, they share some of their top tips.

Brainstorm! Think of what can distinguish you from other applicants. Make lists of your strengths and accomplishments, then think of the events in your life that helped develop who you are. Starting the essay can be the hardest part, so it’s good to have a few ideas.

Understand the different types of essay prompts.  As of August 2013 the Common Application (a nearly universal college application) gives applicants the choice of five different essay options. Familiarize yourself with each topic and make sure your essay clearly addresses each element of the prompt.

Start early! Writing takes time, as does outlining, citing and editing. You’ll probably go through a few drafts, so don’t start the night before the deadline.

Be honest, be an individual. While you may not think your essay topic is the most original or exciting, it is the only one coming from – and about – YOU! Everyone has a story, and it doesn’t have to include a summer backpacking in Europe. As long as the topic is truly meaningful to you, that will come across in your prose.

Take breaks – give a chance for your mind to clear if you feel as though you are getting stuck. Also make sure you are getting full nights’ sleep and exercising regularly to help reduce the stress of college applications.

 Make sure you have a clear introduction, body and conclusion to your essay.

Stay within the guidelines depicted in the essay. Writing an extra 500 words may make you feel like an overachiever, but chances are the admissions rep reading your essay will question your ability to follow instructions.

ALWAYS have a second (or third) pair of eyes review your essay, both for content and for grammar.