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Where is your writing place/space?

Do you have a special place where you like to write? What makes it work for you?

Kathleen M. Muldoon wrote a chapter in her book Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market about the importance of setting up a place to write. Here are the first few paragraphs from Chapter 3, “In the Beginning”:

The book I most re-read while growing up is Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. This semi-autobiographical novel chronicled the lives of the four March sisters growing up during mid-19th century America. Despite the fact that I read this book from my favorite reading spot, the fire escape of our inner city tenement building, I still fancied myself as Jo, the second oldest of the sisters and an aspiring writer. Her need for private space in their cozy Concord, Massachusetts, home resonated with me. Whenever inspiration struck, Jo headed for the only place she could have some private writing time—a cubby she’d carved out for herself in the dusty attic.

Writing is a solitary, personal activity that requires a special place. Before you begin writing, determine where you will write. Before you crunch numbers to see if you can afford to rent an office somewhere, let me describe my “office” space.

I do not own a home nor do I rent an apartment. For the past 16 years, I have rented a single room in a friend’s two-bedroom, one-bath house. That room (one of the two bed-rooms) is about 10’ x 10’, and it suits me just fine. My friend allows me the run of the house for cooking, bathing, and entertainment. But my rented space is where I live and work. My writing nook is the 4’ x 4’ northwest corner of my room. I’ve set up a computer hutch in that corner, next to a window on the right that looks out onto our street and neighborhood. On the left of the hutch is my dresser, on top of which sits my printer and a three drawer Rubbermaid “thingy” that holds printing paper and envelopes. Going clockwise around the room from my computer hutch, on the other side of the window are two bookcases which form an “L” in the northeast corner, my twin-sized bed, a nightstand, a two-drawer file cabinet, my clothes closet, a chest of drawers, the door to my room, and a small roll-top desk which abuts the dresser. Oh, and on the carpet beneath the window is a cat bed meant to sleep one large, literary feline named Walter. Of course, Walter much prefers stretching out on the bottom of my bed, from which he can jump into my lap while I’m writing.

I tell you all this because I want you to know that no matter what your circumstances, you should be able to find a cubby, however small, that will be used for only one thing—writing. One of my colleagues, a prolific author and mother of four, has her space atop a card table in the laundry room. Any place will do it if affords you some privacy, comfort, and quiet.

I learned about Kathleen Muldoon’s book, Sowing Seeds at one of the Highlights Foundation Workshops where we discussed the importance of establishing a writing space. One of the other authors attending the workshop shared that her writing space was in an unused closet in her home. I marveled that her home was so large that she had an unused closet that was big enough for a writing nook, and found it amusing that even her husband didn’t know she was writing in there. What a cool get-away place!

Where do you write?What writing tools do you keep at your fingertips? What kind of surroundings best inspire you to write? Please share in the comments below.

 

Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children's Market
Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market

On Amazon Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market

 

Copyright: undrey / 123RF Stock Photo (featured image)

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Christmas Reflections—Benefits of Christian Writing

10871324_sFor me, this has been one of my best Christmases ever, though you probably wouldn’t have guessed it:

  • My daughter’s family lives in North Carolina, and they spent Christmas with her husband’s family again, where there are plenty of children of all ages for the grandchildren to play with.
  • Our unofficially adopted daughter who lives nearby had toddlers with the flu, so we were encouraged not to come for a visit.
  • We couldn’t afford afford to travel to New York or Tennessee to be with my husband’s family or my own brothers and sisters.
  • We never accomplished getting a Christmas tree up in our home again this year.
  • The above situations aren’t all that unique to me. Click here to see what I posted in Christian Children’s Authors three years ago.

On the upside, we had other things going for us this year:

  • We enjoyed singing in two different Christmas concerts this year. Our own church choir is exceptional, and it’s such a privilege to sing in it—even more so considering the small rural community we live in. The other choir was made up of two church choirs that joined forces and sang in both churches on two Sunday evenings in a row. It was a blessing to enjoy that fellowship with Christians in other churches.
  • We’re trying to prepare property in the country to build a home on, and we were given the free use of a “Bobcat” (mini-Caterpillar) for a couple weeks recently to help clear areas on the property and make a circular driveway. Our tiny cabin-in-the-making provided a rustic getaway for us, and that’s where we spent Christmas Day.
  • The weather was beautiful.

But the big difference in this year’s Christmas apart from that of earlier years came from the object of my focus—the baby Jesus Christ and the message of the first Christmas.

I can’t exactly take credit for setting out to make Him the total focus over the past few weeks. This was the byproduct of a blogging series I took on early in December for my Bible Bites 4 Teens blog. My goal was to write a series of posts that would encourage teens to focus on Christ this Christmas.

I used the arrangement of my children’s book The First Christmas along with the illustrations but tried to delve a little deeper for a teen audience. This pushed me to re-read and explore the various passages as well as explore what others had written about the various events. So these events were continually on my mind as I wrote one post after another.

I tried to time publishing each post to spread the posts out at the beginning, giving a sense of time passing, and closer together at the time of the birth of Christ and the shepherds’ visit. Then the last posts about the wise men are spread out again to convey the time it took for them to travel from a distant country. The last posts still haven’t published, and some still haven’t been written.

I’ve never felt so primed to feel the presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us . . . who left His home in Heaven to squeeze His full personhood into a tiny baby that had to be fed and cared for by a human mother and stepfather.

Glory!

And the angels came to tell the lowly shepherds that nobody else valued.

Hosanna!

And the heavens opened up with legions of angels praising God!

Alleluia!

And then there was Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus, wide-eyed with wonder. What would it be like to be the earthly parents of this little baby who was God Himself?

Waiting…
and wondering…
       for thirty more years before Christ would begin His ministry.

*** 

Janice D. Green is the author of The First ChristmasShe has a passion for reaching youth with the hope that’s available to them in God’s Word. Remembering her own youth and the mistakes she made in her past has added much fuel to her passion. She wished she had understood better what the Bible had to offer during those trying years, and hopes to share these insights with teens through her blog, Bible Bites 4 Teens.

Janice has over twenty years of experience in the public school system and has always treasured the relationships she developed with her students. She often found herself defending one or more students who were being picked on in one way or another; she discovered that defending them bonded her more closely with all her students.

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Writers Giving Back and Building Up: Interview with Authors Janice D. Green and Soraya D. Coffelt

Occasionally, writers, both beginning and seasoned, will donate a portion of their work. Some writers forgo payment in order to build their publishing credits. Others desire to give back to their communities. Several view it as a “tithing” of their talents. This is a tale of two writers who give back: one self-published and the other traditionally published. Their stories vary, but each writer is making sacrificial choices to build up God’s kingdom.

Janice D. Green

Janice Green, a retired school librarian and hand appliqué quilter, desired to write children’s Bible storybooks. Initially she began writing a Bible storybook, using an ABC format. Overwhelmed by the vast number of stories to choose from, Janice narrowed it down to one story—God’s creation of the world.
She says, “I planned to use quilted illustrations from the very beginning. I have a vision of children sleeping under quilts with Bible story pictures on them, and asking to hear the stories at bedtime. I could use this book to test the waters. ”
 
Janice persevered. Finally, in 2011, Janice self-published her first book, The Creation. She learned many things during her first publication.
 
IMG_2427e-TheCreation-200-150x150“When I published The Creation I followed the advice of a well-intentioned friend and ordered over 2,000 copies to get a better per-copy price,” Janice says. “What I didn’t understand was how difficult it is to get self-published books into Christian bookstores. And, I totally underestimated the importance of expensive publicity. I still have about 1,300 copies stored under my bed and under the bed in my guest bedroom.”
 
Eager to get her book about God’s amazing creation into the little hands of children, Janice made a sacrificial decision. She says, “I would rather see these books in the hands of children whose parents can’t afford to buy them, than under my beds. I have sold cases (62 books) at ridiculously low prices to several groups who were going on mission trips. Because of my shallow pockets coupled with SC sales tax laws, I cannot afford to ‘give’ them away or I have to pay sales tax on each book. But if I sell them, the sales tax is based on the price we agree upon.”
 
Janice’s books are making their way across the country. One case of books went to Red Bird Mission in Kentucky with a team of volunteer workers from Bennettsville, SC. Another case went to Helping Hands Ministry in McAllen, Texas. Several books traveled to a VBS in one of the poorest areas of western North Carolina, and more arrived at a large VBS mission near Janice’s home. She has also supplied several copies for fundraisers and for a children’s hospital.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA missionary, while on a trip to Vermont, witnessed children receiving Janice’s books. “Many of the children in the rural area, where we served, knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Most had never heard of a Bible. Eager to learn more about God, they were thrilled to receive Janice’s book. The children were amazed we cared enough to bring each of them a brand new book.”
Janice says she learned a great deal from her first publishing experience and did things a bit differently with her second book, The First Christmas. It released in 2012, as a print-on-demand book.
“It didn’t require as much up-front investment, and I don’t need to store them under my beds,” Janice says. “I did not create quilted illustrations for my second book. My illustrator, Violet Vandor, is from Romania, and I am thrilled with her illustrations.”
However, because this book is print-on-demand, Janice can’t be as liberal with greatly reduced prices. Knowing her books are making a difference is a blessing. There are other blessings as well. Often, when Janice has given The Creation at reduced prices for missions, VBS and Mission Team volunteers purchase additional copies at full price for their own children.

Soraya D. Coffelt

Soraya Coffelt photoThe second writer, Soraya D. Coffelt, is a lawyer and former judge. While serving in children’s ministry for over fifteen years, Soraya discovered a love for sharing the gospel with children.

Her first book, It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus, was originally written as a play for her church. One of Soraya’s two sons played a young boy who writes a letter to Santa and narrates the story of Jesus’s birth.

Soraya thought about self-publishing but found an agent (Ms. Karen Hardin of Priority PR Group & Literary Agency) who located a publisher. James Morgan Publishing released the book in November 2014. Two more of Soraya’s books are slated for release in 2015.

It's Not About You, Mr. Santa ClausOne unique aspect of Soraya’s book sales is that all proceeds will go to a nonprofit foundation Soraya formed. Her foundation, As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc., seeks to help meet the needs of children in the US and around the world. Soraya’s missionary work in Honduras and the Amazon River region of Peru prompted the foundation’s creation.

Janice and Soraya are two writers who have a heart for building God’s kingdom. Each goes about it differently but has the same purpose in mind.

What about you, dear writer? How are you giving back and building up God’s kingdom?

Connect with Janice D. Green at www.JaniceDGreen.com and at www.honeycombadventures.com.

Visit Soraya’s website at www.asthestarsofthesky.org.

***

Sally Matheny leaning on a treeEncouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A member of SCBWI and ACW, her articles have appeared in children’s magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., Cobblestone’s Appleseeds, and in the international devotional Keys for Kids. Sally also writes articles on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian living for on-line publications as well as print publications such as Practical Homeschooling, The Greenhouse Report, and Homeschooling Today. One of Sally’s most rewarding projects was writing Who is Jesus?, a VBS evangelism curriculum for missionaries introducing Jesus to children. A former public school teacher, with a M.Ed., Sally has homeschooled for over 15 years. Married for over twenty-five years, she and her husband make their home in western North Carolina. Their greatest blessings are their two daughters and one son. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny.