Thursday, December 15, 2016

Book Review: Feminine Wiles: Creative Techniques for Writing Women's Feature Stories that Sell

If you write feature stories for newspapers or magazines, Feminine Wiles is a must read. Author Donna Elizabeth Boetig has been published in many if not all of “the seven sisters” magazines, magazines that pay big bucks—Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, McCall’s, Redbook and Better Homes and Gardens—and she has learned a great deal writing for such national publications.

In Feminine Wiles Boetig shares the ups and downs of her own journey, but more importantly, she shares specifics about approaching editors: how to construct a query letter, where to get ideas, how to write with a passionate point of view. The book includes Reader’s Digest’s “secret formula” for structure in writing true life dramas. And Boetig also shares practical advice on matters such as the 
feasibility of multiple submissions.

I want to remember advice such as: “In every woman’s story you write, strive to pinpoint an image or concept that will help the story live on in the reader’s mind.” And I was not aware that The American Directory of Writer’s Guidelines may be available at libraries. (Unfortunately, not at mine.) What a treasure trove of information that would offer.

Besides information about the construction of articles, Boetig offers advice on interviewing. She suggests repeating the last words of a subject’s response to draw them out further.

Published by Quill Drive Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc., I highly recommend this book to all writers. I may have to return my library copy and buy a copy for myself; it’s that valuable.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: We Died Before We Came Here

Inspirational reading at its best. Author Emily Foreman takes you along on her faith journey that began in the wake of 9/11. She and her husband Stephen took seriously Jesus’ command to love your enemies and relocated their family to serve as missionaries in a Muslim country in North Africa. They paid the ultimate price when Stephen was killed by al-Qaeda extremists.

While most of us might wonder how a couple could put themselves and their four children at risk, her story puts human faces on Muslim people as the Foremans grow to love those around them while ministering to physical and spiritual needs. There’s the humor in everyday interchanges and the challenge of watching new friends draw close to Jesus, knowing the cost of conversion.

And then there’s the inspiration readers will draw from this family’s commitment in light of Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Stephen, when questioned about the danger of living and witnessing in a Muslim country, always told people, “We died before we came here.”

Published by NavPress, this true story is endorsed by Jerry Rankin, president emeritus of International Mission Board, SBC; Jerry Trousdale, director of International Ministries at Cityteam Ministries and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission.

The reactions of the Muslim people to Stephen’s murder and Emily’s own journey through grief to forgiveness is sure to surprise you and inform you about the reality of faith in the lives of those who take seriously Jesus’ teaching to reach the world.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Keeping Christ in Christmas!

Dear Friends,

Do you display a Nativity as part of your Christmas decor? As I meditate on mine, I am struck by how baby Jesus commands attention. His mother meets his physical needs, wrapping him in cloths, cuddling him. His earthly father protects him from unexpected visitors. Shepherds come to him, even while at work. Wise men bow and offer their riches to him. Even animals focus on this child who will become Savior of the world.

This year I had trouble placing my Nativity because we had rearranged the living room. The table I usually used was not available. So I placed the figures on a dining room sideboard, but there they didn’t show up well. I then put them on top of a writing desk, but they looked crowded. On to the mantle. Yes! I love this arrangement. And it puts Jesus front and center in my living room.

So I ask myself: Is he front and central in my life? Like the shepherds, do I focus on him even when at work? Like the wise men, do I dedicate my riches to him? Like Mary and Joseph, do I keep him at the center of my family life?

I always send Christmas cards with a manger scene, because I want to remind people that Christ is central to Christmas. But does my life remind people that Jesus is central in my life—every single day of the year? Let’s COMMIT to doing that:

C – Come to Christ every single day through Bible reading and prayer.
O – Open our mouths to share God’s love with others, to pray with them, to put in a good word for the Lord as opportunities arise.
M – Make ourselves respond in a Christ-like way to our families, colleagues, friends and neighbors. (Yes, it starts with a decision.)
M – Move our eyes from earthly circumstances to a heavenly perspective, to see things as God sees them.
I – Incline our hearts to the Lord 24/7.
T – Trust God to work all things together for our good.

If our lives shows these tendencies, we will do more to build the kingdom than any Nativity on a mantle or on cards.

Lord, help me to keep you front and central on Christmas Day and every other day of the year!

Before we open gifts, I always share with my family a memorized scripture, a prayer or an inspirational reading or thought. Please comment to share how you keep Christ in Christmas. Let’s inspire each other. (To comment, click on the link at the bottom of this post.)

Blessed Christmas to you!