Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Your Christmas stories need sensory details

Be sure to include sensory details in your Christmas stories.

Sensory details: What do you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel?

Why are sensory details so important? What's the big deal?

You want to draw readers into your stories. Let them experience what you experienced. Sensory details can do thatthey can draw your reader right in beside you. 

During these weeks leading up to Christmas, even if you're too busy to write, pay attention to the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures of the season. Jot them down so you can use them later when you do have time to write.

What sensory details will you include in your holiday stories?

Maybe these: the sight of the northern lights, the sound of shoveling snow off the sidewalk, the taste of fruitcake, the scent of a pine Christmas tree, and the texture of a woolen scarf.

Or maybe your sensory details include palm trees, sandy beaches, saltwater on your skin, the smell of smoky barbecues, the taste of gingerbread.

Your Christmas details are unique. Find words for them so your readers can relive your past holidays with you.

And have fun writing!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

You have all this evidence: Write about it!

You can't see God's hands or face or look into His eyes.

You can't take a photo of Him or of His promises, but God does give evidence of His involvement in your life.

He gives tangible evidence of His love, His power to help, His creation, protection, guidance, and forgiveness. He gives perceptible evidence when He answers your prayers.

"God has blessed his peoplejust look at the evidence!" (2 Chronicles 31:10b, The Message).

God ". . . never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness" (Acts 14:17, NLT).

"There's no end to what has happened to youit's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives" (1 Corinthians 1:4, The Message).

"Everyone will see this. No one can miss it—unavoidable, indisputable evidence that I, God, personally did this...." (Isaiah 41:20).

This is important: Remember . . . that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced . . . the Lord, . . . his majesty, his mighty hand.... It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the desert until you arrived at this place...." (Deuteronomy 11:2-7, NIV).

Do you grasp what these words mean? They mean you have a story that only you can share.

"You have all this evidence confirmed by your own eyes and ears. Shouldn't you be talking about it...? (Isaiah 48:6, The Message).

You need to write your stories!
If you don't write them, someone else might try,
but only you know the whole, accurate story.

What "unavoidable, indisputable evidence" do you have that God has acted on your behalf?

Maybe He helped you with a financial need.

Perhaps He caused someone to notice and help when you were in danger.

Maybe God sent someone to sit with you and pray for you when you were desperately ill or brokenhearted or frightened.

This listyour list—goes on and on....

Writing stories of God's involvement in your life will strengthen your faith—for today and for the future, whatever it holds.

Writing your stories will also strengthen your readers' faith.
Who knows what they'll face in their lives?
God can use your stories to prepare them,
and mature them,
and use them,
and bless them.

Let's write our stories so that this can be said of you and me:

"Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn.
They will hear about everything he has done."
(Psalm 22:30-31, NLT)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Celebrate God’s grace upon grace

Make time to remember:  
  • God’s blessings, one after another,
  • His favor,
  • His grace on your behalf,
  • His mercy,
  • and gifts,
  • heaped upon you—all because of the abundance of God’s grace.

And when you have remembered, write them into your memoir. Create a memoir that's a celebration of God!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Praise and Thanksgiving

Write your memoir to carry out these verses: 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list all the great things He has done?
Who can ever praise Him half enough?
Psalm 106:1-2

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving memories: Who spurred you on?

Thanksgiving is a time to remember those who have encouraged you, believed in you, and spurred you on.

It’s a time to recognize people who trained you, challenged you, and influenced the direction of your life.

At this Thanksgiving time, think back: Who taught you about integrity and hard work and self-discipline?

Who inspired you spiritually and modeled what genuine faith looks like?

Who helped you find your way through the dark—took you by the hand, kept you moving forward, step by step, toward the light?

Who inspired you to become the very best you, to become all God intended for you to be?

Look back over the years
and recognize that
God Himself placed those people in your life.
When they touched you,
they were reaching out in God’s name,
extending His hand,
smiling His smile,
speaking His words of hope and peace.

That’s one of the ways that He,
in His unfailing love,
leads His own.
(Exodus 15:13)

Who comes to mind when you read these words?

You have stories about those key people in your life,
and only you can write them.
Those stories are important.

Someone else needs to read those stories.
Through them,
God can use you to touch others,
to reach out in His name,
extend His hand,
smile His smile,
speak His words of hope and peace.

That’s one of the ways that He,
in His unfailing love,
leads His own.
(Exodus 15:13)

Connect your story with God’s story—
not as a hobby,
but as a ministry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: “Mourning and thanksgiving together”

Some of you are grieving this Thanksgiving season: This post is for you.

I pray Michelle Cushatt’s words will comfort you:

“Your grief doesn’t lessen your gratitude.
It transforms it.
Tears turn an ordinary, two-dimensional Thanksgiving table
into a complex and glorious altar.
Dying and living,
mourning and thanksgiving, together.
Holy, fragile, beautiful.”

And while you process all of the above during this Thanksgiving season, and when the time is right, consider writing your stories. Use your words, your thoughts, your discoveriesyour memoir—to do what MaxLucado says:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

On giving thanks: A remedy if you find yourself among the nine

If you find yourself among “the nine,” you can become “the one” by writing your memoir.

Confused? Read on.

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed paths with ten lepers—despised, cut off from society and loved ones, lonely, suffering, and desperate for healing.

They cried to him, “Have mercy on us!”

And he did. He healed them.

Then they all took off—we can imagine their joy!—but one man turned around, fell on his knees, and said thank you.

No doubt the man’s gratitude touched Jesus’ heart, but he couldn’t help but wonder, aloud, “Ten men were healed. Where are the nine others? Where is their thanks?”

Jesus seemed hurt, disappointed, maybe even stunned by their ingratitude.


How many times have you and I failed to thank God for what He has done for us? So often, when we get through something difficult or scary, we simply wheeze, “Whew!” and get on with life. Where’s our gratitude?

Could it be that we crush God’s heart when we fail to thank Him? That He’s disappointed at our ingratitude? Maybe even stunned?

Don’t be “one of the nine.” Be “the one” who deliberately says thanks.


By writing your memoir. Write it as a book full of falling on your knees in gratitude.

Your memoir can include all kinds of interesting, entertaining, humorous, and even wild and crazy stories about everyday stuff—

childhood escapades,
family times,
falling in love,
raising kids,
practical jokes,
health (or poor health),
death of loved ones,
answered prayers,
—and in all those stories, you can include gratitude and thanksgiving to God.

So, gather your memories and write your stories!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Your Thanksgiving stories

What stories come to mind when you read this verse?

Have you written them into your memoir?

If not, jot down a few notes to yourself
and think about them for a day or so.

Your mind will work on your stories while you rake leaves
and bring woolens out of trunks
and stoke up the fireplace fire.
Believe me, more and more details will pop into your mind.
Jot them down in your rough draft.

You still have time before Thanksgiving’s busyness begins
to write a rough draft of your stories.  

You’ll be glad you did,
and your friends and family will thank you.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Back to basics: What is a memoir?

Sometimes in the midst of writing our memoirs, we need to make sure we’re on the right track. That’s why from time to time we must remind ourselves what a memoir is.

A memoir is so much more than spinning yarns and passing on tales.

Since the genre of memoir confuses some people, let’s get back to basics: What is a memoir?

A memoir is not autobiography, which documents your life beginning with the day of your birth.

Instead, a memoir focuses on one segment of your life—a specific theme or time period.

You can write a memoir on a theme, like coaching Little League baseball, or volunteering, or foster parenting.

Or you can write a memoir about events that occurred during a specific time period, such as the three years you worked in a fast-food restaurant, or the first five years of parenting triplets, or your tumultuous college years during the hippie revolution.

Whether your memoir is based on a theme or a slice of your life, you’ll explore your topic in depth. And you’ll include only details that belong—only people and events relevant to your story.

A key component of writing a memoir is reflection. If you want to write a memoir, “reflection” must be your middle name.

Instead of simply recording facts about what happened on the surface, you must reflect: ponder, examine, muse, unravel, disentangle, and then make sense of it allput everything back together in the right order.

Reflect: Look back, go deep, relive key experiences and relationships. Inspect them all. Do some soul-searching. Reevaluate your experience.

Most would-be memoirists need to work on reflecting adequately because it takes time and it can be painful. Richard Foster observes, “The sad truth is that many authors simply have never learned to reflect substantively on anything.”

Reflect: Look for significance you missed in the past. Search for those profound lessons you overlooked years ago. Make time to discover insights, healing, and blessings that were there all along.

And notice what God was doing. Find His footprints and fingerprints—they’re all over the place.

I’m not suggesting we all have supernatural experiences to share, stories that would make the evening news and get tweeted around the world. Nor do I believe Christian memoirists need to mention God on every page.

Here’s my point: Whether or not you knew it at the time, God was with you during each event you write about—not just watching from afar, but working on your behalf, working out His good plans. Spend time discovering what He was doing, and from time to time, let your readers know. Discover the higher, wider, richer stories in your experience.

What was God doing as you see it now, in retrospect? Look for deeper lessons God had for you in the events of your memoir.

  • Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?
  • What patterns in your faith did you discover that you hadn’t noticed before?
  • What did you learn about God?
  • Do you now have a better understanding of God’s purpose for your life?
  • How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?
  • How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?

God can use your stories to help others—not just kids and grandkids, since not all of us have them—but also siblings, cousins, aunt and uncles, nieces and nephews, coworkers, church friends, neighbors, and even people you’ll never meet.

“As Christian writers,
we can rarely change the circumstances of others—
but we can change their outlook on life.
Every day the headlines proclaim more tragedy,
more bad news.
Every day we wake up to more heartache and heartbreak.
It’s easy to feel defeated. To want to give up. To lose hope.
That’s where the job of the Christian writer comes in
we need to constantly hold out hope
in this desperate world….

Christian writers: Do your job.
Be the light. Hold the torch of hope high.”

I think I've fixed the problem with links, but if not, I'll post them in the comments below.  Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Market your published memoir as a Christmas gift

If you’ve already published your memoir, remind people it’s a great gift idea for people on their Christmas list.

Books in general make good gifts, but consider promoting your memoir.

Marketing Christian Books* lists six reasons books make meaningful gifts:

  • Books don’t go out of style.
  • Books are affordable.
  • Books are life-giving.
  • Books are for everyone.
  • Books last.
  • A book is a gift you can open again and again.

Your story is important.* You might never know how much it can bless others.

“As writers we seldom know 
the impact our words will have. 
We might write an entire book 
and then learn 
that a single sentence 
made a difference in someone’s life or thinking.” 

Your memoir can do that.

So, remind your friends, fans, and family 
about your memoir 
and suggest it as a Christmas gift.

My new computer still doesn't work well with links so I'll list them below:

Marketing Christian Books: https://marketingchristianbooks.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/market-your-book-as-a-gift-2

Alton Gansky:  http://www.altongansky.com

Your story is importanthttp://spiritualmemoirs101.blogspot.com/2011/05/are-your-stories-important.html

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Holy threads, consecrated strands, hallowed fibers, blessed filaments

God’s footprints alongside ours, his fingers all over our lives: Divine intervention.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? We like having God intimately involved in our lives.

But “...divine intervention is nowhere near as simple a thing as we might imagine,” writes Ravi Zacharias (Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives).

Think about this:

Sometimes those footprints alongside ours are muddy.

Sometimes tattered, stinky, holey shoes left those footprints.

Sometimes those fingerprints all over our lives are sticky, smudged, scarred, bloody.

Divine intervention “cannot be only a journey of unmistakable blessing and a path of ease,” Zacharias continues. “To allow God to be God we must follow him for who he is and what he intends….”

Each of us has heartaches, disappointments, failures.

Too many experience betrayal. Unfaithfulness. Abuse. Bullying. Racial prejudice and profiling.

Some know hunger and sickness and handicaps and homelessness.

We know loss, grief, exhaustion, confusion.


Other times our lives seem hum-drum: We’re boring people living boring lives. We wonder if we matter, if we are worth anything of value.

“…Incident follows incident helter-skelter leading apparently nowhere,” Frederick Buechner writes, “but then once in a while there is the suggestion of purpose, meaning, direction, the suggestion of plot….” (The Alphabet of Grace)

That’s what Zacharias calls us to see: “the designing hand of God and his intervention in our lives” so that “we know he has a specific purpose for each of us and that he will carry us through until we meet him face-to-face….”

Yes, sometimes life is blah, but other times life knocks the air out of us. If we let him, and if we work with him, God uses all of it to shape and polish us, to mature and beautify us—though we might not understand it at the time, or even see it.

Zacharias challenges us to imagine our lives as exquisite fabric—vivid, brilliant colors with threads of gold and silver intertwined—and to see God as the “Grand Weaver . . . with a design in mind for you, a design that will adorn you as he uses your life to fashion you for his purposes, using all the threads within his reach.”

You are important to God. You are his workmanship, his treasure. He is custom-making the fabric of your life. Your life is sacred.

While writing your memoir, look back over the years and search for each thread and color—the dark ones and the pastel ones, the heavy ones and the light ones, the coarse ones and the golden ones. Those are holy threads. Consecrated strands. Hallowed fibers. Blessed filaments.

Search for—make it your quest to—discover the excellent one-of-a-kind pattern the Grand Weaver is creating out of you.

Go back: Look for spools of thread, God-designed, for you alone. Watch and listen for the sound of the shuttle going back and forth in God’s hand. He’s making something beautiful: You.

The more you grasp
how important you are to God,
and that he’s crafting you
into his masterpiece,
the better you can write
your God-and-you stories—
and the better you can share them
with your children,
and generations yet unborn.

God can use your stories to teach others
That they, too, are important to Him.
They are his workmanship, his treasure.
He is custom-making the fabric of their lives,
And their lives are sacred.

P. S. I can't get the links to work today. This new computer might be the problem.... Sigh.... Anyway, here are links:

Grand Weaver, by Ravi Zacharias: https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Weaver-Shapes-Through-Events/dp/0310324955/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509044209&sr=8-1&keywords=Grand+Weaver%3A+How+God+Shapes+Us+Through+the+Events+of+Our+Lives

The Alphabet of Grace, by Frederick Buechner: https://www.amazon.com/Alphabet-Grace-Frederick-Buechner/dp/0060611790/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455245629&sr=8-1&keywords=alphabet+of+grace

You are important to God: https://spiritualmemoirs101.blogspot.com/2011/05/you-are-important-to-god.html

My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers:  https://www.amazon.com/My-Utmost-His-Highest-Paperback/dp/1572937718/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1509047085&sr=8-2&keywords=my+utmost+for+his+highest

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: “A lump in the throat and a deep, wordless feeling”

Frederick Buechner says that when he writes books, they “start—as Robert Frost said his poems did—with a lump in the throat . . . with a deep, wordless feeling for some aspect of my own experience that has moved me.” (from Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation)

Do you know that “deep, wordless feeling” that longs to find its way from inside you and into black and white on paper?

If so, you’ll find encouragement and inspiration from Donald Murray’s words in The Craft of Revision:

Write so you can discover what you want to say, 
and then rewrite to make sense 
of that “deep wordless feeling” 
and share your story with others.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In time for Christmas: Publishing options for your mini-memoir

Following up on recent posts, we’re encouraging you to give an early edition of your memoir as a Christmas gift to family and close friends—even if you’ve written only a few vignettes. Give them what you have completed and promise them a completed memoir soon.

Click on these links to recent posts covering your: 

Today we’ll look at your publishing optionsBUT FIRST: Before you publish, edit your vignettes thoroughly.

Check for errors in grammar, punctuation, redundancy, unnatural dialogue, and confusing passages. Rearrange sentences or paragraphs if they’re not in the right order.

You’ll find a lot of help in Self-Editing Basics: 10 Simple Ways to Edit Your Own Book. The first seven points are relevant for you now. The whole list will be relevant in the future when you do a thorough edit before publishing your completed memoir.

Click on Editing Checklist for Writers for help with common errors writers often make in their first drafts.

Make changes to your manuscript and set it aside for a week or so. When you get it out again, read it aloud. Your ear will catch awkward spots your eyes missed earlier—like clumsy words, pacing, and sentence structures.

Below you’ll find a few options for publishing your mini-memoir, your early edition:  
  • Your local print shop or office supplies store can publish a spiral-bound copy.
  • Print your stories on your own printer and put them in a three-ring binder.
  • Make a chapbook. Click on How to Make A Chapbook—An Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide.
  • Publish your book through a company like Blurb. I hesitate to recommend businesses, but I have published a couple of small books (with both text and color photos) with Blurb.  Click on Trade Books at this link.

You still have nine weeks to put together a mini-memoir for Christmas gifts. You can do this!

Let us know if you’re making an early edition
of your memoir for Christmas.
We want to congratulate you
and celebrate with you.

Leave a comment below

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: If you’re giving an early edition of your memoir for Christmas, it needs a Table of Contents and an Introduction

Have you decided to give an early edition of your memoir to your family for Christmas? I  hope so.

If you haven’t completed your memoir—even if you’ve written only a few vignettesno problem. Give what you have completed. 

Today let’s think about your Table of Contents and Introduction.

Table of Contents:

If you’ve written a collection of vignettes/chapters, give each a title and create your Table of Contents: List those stories and include page numbers.


Think of your intro as a letter to your readers. Tell them why you wrote your stories. (See Deuteronomy 4:9 and Psalm 66:16.) Explain that a memoir is just a segment of a person’s life (review the definition of memoir). Tell them what you hope they’ll discover in your stories. Make it personal. Humor is good. Love is a must.

Here’s excellent advice from Frank P. Thomas:

“Avoid making any apologies . . . for your life, for your writing, or for anything else. You are better than you think. So be positive.” (How to Write the Story of Your Life)

For now, make a commitment to give what you’ve written—however long or short—as a down payment, a pledge of more to come. Promise your recipients a finished memoir in the futuremaybe next Christmas.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Your memoir: Does it have a dedication page yet?

Have I convinced you to give family and friends an early edition of your memoir for Christmas? —as a preview, a sneak peek, a promise of your completed memoir soon? I hope so! (Click on this link: You might already have the perfect Christmas gift for your family.)  

You can do it! Even if you have written only a few vignettes so far, you can print them and make them into a meaningful gifta gift of yourself.

In Tuesday’s post, we looked at your need to pin down a title. (Click on If you’re giving your family an early edition of your memoir for Christmas, it needs a title.)

Today we’ll look at the dedication page.

Do you know what a dedication page is?

It often begins with “For” or “I dedicate this book to…” followed by names of people for whom you’ve written your memoir.

But if that seems too spare and dull, get creativegive your dedication some pizzazz!

Lucille Zimmerman over at Wordserve Water Cooler is fascinated with book dedications. She says the book dedication is not “the acknowledgments page where you thank everyone who ever helped you,” but rather it’s “that mostly blank page tucked in the beginning of a book, after the title page and publishing credits.” Her blog post, 7 Ways to Do Book Dedications, includes charming examples for you.

A book dedication should be personal. Joseph C. Kunz, Jr., emphasizes the emotional connection a book dedication can create and writes, “Whether your book’s dedication is only a few sentences or an entire paragraph, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity to give the reader a small look into your life’s story.” Click here to read his post, Book Dedications to Spur Your Imagination, which includes a dozen sample book dedications for you.

Study dedications in books you have on your shelves, or go to the library, or check out the “Look inside” feature on Amazon.com. These will give you added inspiration.

In crafting your dedication page, ask yourself: Which special people did I write this book for? And why did I write it for them?

Your memoir: A gift that will live long beyond your lifetime.