Resources for Christians

If you’re a communicator for Christ, as I am, you can find Writing Resources with Christian poets, writers, and pastors in mind on my website.

In addition, I hope you’ll follow these blogs, which I maintain as often as family, church, and book-writing commitments allow:

Bible Prayers
Bible Reviewer
Mary Sayler (in lieu of this site)
Poetry Editor & Poetry
Praise Poems (many of which have been compiled in the book PRAISE! and the forthcoming chapbook, WE: the people under God.)
What the Bible Says About Love

May God bless you and your good work in Christ.

Mary Harwell Sayler, (c) 2017

 

Tips on writing nonfiction

• Pick a subject that clearly relates to the theme and purpose of the publication or blog for which you would like to write.

• List the points you want to make. [Hint: Give your ideas time to surface.]

• Select the most significant, timely, and/or freshest points.

• Arrange those points in order of importance.

Next, evaluate how long your article will probably need to be.

If you have one main point or fresh perspective you want to discuss in, say, 200 to 300 words, that would be about the right length for a blog post.

If you have 3 to 5 points you’d like to develop in, say, 1500 to 3000 words, that could be a magazine article.

If you have a long list of points that will require research and/or take time to explain, you might have the makings of a book!

If you’re interested in suggestions on ways to develop each point, let me know in the Comment space below, and, Lord willing, we can talk about that next time.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2015

Besides a couple dozen books in all genres for Christian and educational markets, Mary has placed over 1,500 articles, devotionals, and other short manuscripts with traditional and indie publishers. She also wrote the Christian Writers Guide e-book on writing, revising, and publishing to help you in your Christian writing life.

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Does one blog fit all?

This morning another writer announced that her blog just took an unexpected turn, and I thought, “Thank you for saying so!” Although blogs and websites have been around for a while, we’re still the First Generation of Bloggers or poets and writers who actively post on the Internet. Therefore, many of us might feel like we’re re-inventing the wheel, maybe because we are!

Some of us have so many ideas to discuss we don’t know where to begin. Or we start off with a blog we cannot possibly confine to one category.

So what do we do?

For me, trial-and-error has been full of trials and errors!

I keep hoping to have as few blogs as possible just to keep up, but my topics do not seem to be cooperating. For example, I’m highly interested in helping other writers, discussing poetry, and making the Bible come alive to show how relevant and timeless God’s Word is, but poets want to talk about poetry. Writers want to talk about writing. And people who want to pray Bible prayers might have no interest in poems or the concerns we have as poets and writers!

Having more than one blog takes more time but has some advantages:

A blog for each major topic gives you space to separate and organize your thoughts instead of trying to cram too much into each posting.

A blog for each topic gives you a wider reader base since your readers can hone in on what interests them. If they consistently find what they want, they’ll be apt to tell their friends.

A blog for each topic gives you a separate URL for each blog, allowing crosslinks or hotlinks from one blog to another. Reportedly, Search Engines take note of such activities, which can give each of your blogs a push toward higher visibility.

I do not know how or if I’ll be able to keep up with the blogs I feel led to write, but I thank you all for giving me a chance to try. Since I’ve already posted a number of new poems, prayers, and articles under the title Bible Prayers, Poems, and Promises, I’ll leave those in place in case you want to revisit them here. Otherwise, Lord willing, I’ll use this blog to post updates to the blogs, books, articles, poems, interviews, or whatever I’m doing on the Internet or elsewhere that might interest you.

Lord willing, I also hope to post:

Prayer-a-phrased prayers from the Daily Bible Readings on the Bible Prayers blog

Poems about Bible people (from my in-progress book) on the Bible People blog

Writing resources, articles, and info relevant to communicators for Christ on the Christian Poets & Writers blog

Poetry tips and info on the Poetry Editor and Poetry blog

Reviews of English translations, children’s Bibles, and new study editions on the Bible Reviewer blog

Quick notes and hotlinks here on my personal blog to keep you updated on the above and also my news as a Christian poet and writer, who’s sometimes stressed but surely blessed by the work God has given me to do.

God bless you,

Mary Harwell Sayler

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One day in the life of a full-time Christian writer-poet-editor

Years ago an acquaintance from church asked what I do, and I said, “I’m a writer” to which she responded, “I know. But what else do you do?” If you hope to be a “full-time writer” you might wonder the same. Since I’ve been doing this for my most of my adult life – well, part-time when I was a full-time “stay at home mom” – my workday might give you a glimpse of the “real” writing life, which differs each day for each person and each project.

Working in an office at home necessitates a general structure to get anything done. So each morning, as FL weather permits, my husband and I take our coffee onto the deck to watch the arrival of birds and wake up a bit.

Inside, at my desk with half a cup of cooling coffee, I pick up my favorite devotional book, God Calling, and savor the day’s reading, which also speaks a word to Christian writers who have dozens of great ideas and not enough time, “My will shall be revealed as you go.” Yes, thank You, God! I count on that a lot, especially on days when the To-Do list has grown beyond To Do-able.

If I were working on a book contract, I would most likely get right to it. Ditto if I had a book of poetry or devotionals to critique today. Instead I search for something to wear then lug an overflowing laundry basket toward the washing machine and walk away from that mountain as others await.

Without warning, a poem comes to me, and I hurry to write it down before I forget. To be precise, I pull up the Word file for my poems, add and date a new page, then type:

Move

My faith
God’s power
No more mountain

©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, All rights reserved.

I thought I might be working on new blog postings this morning, but email beckons me to various LinkedIn Groups. Someone I’ve never heard of wants to connect, so I check out his profile and accept his invitation then notice that a bunch of people checked me out too. No clue who, but I recently sent invitations to several editors, who just might approach me with book contracts and magnanimous advances. Most likely though, I’ll need to study their current list of titles and topics, see where my ideas fit, then contact one editor at a time for each project.

Sometimes other people make the first move. Years ago, for instance, an editor at a writer’s conference, where we’d both been invited to teach, phoned to ask if I’d like to write a series of devotional books for her company. Like, yeah! More recently, though, I discovered I had been made the moderator for a poetry group on LinkedIn without being asked! My first thought was to close down the group, but after prayer, it came to me that those few hundred poet-members might be interested in The Poetry Editor blog and website. So I changed the name to The Poetry Editor Group, added my logo, and encouraged discussions about writing, which doesn’t always happen.

This morning, for instance, someone wants to hawk his website under Discussions, but I move the URL to Promotions where it belongs. In the manager’s section, I recognize some names as members of the group (which I’m happy to say has doubled in size!), but I have to look up the Profile for another person who wants to post a comment. Nope, not a member! Oh, why not! As with all the main social networks, LinkedIn is free with no obligation. Oh, well. The poet has a helpful comment to add, so I post what she has to say in the Discussion as she’d intended.

I often start or join group discussions too, but if I do so now, I won’t get anything else done, so I sign out, then check Facebook to see if family or friends posted anything significant. Yeah, someone had a birthday I acknowledge then notice that one of the literary journals I “Like” has posted a call for poems that relate to a particular picture. Checking my Word file, I find 2 two-lined poems that fit, so I post both under Comments as the editor instructed. I then check my Facebook “Author” page and The Poetry Editor page I maintain and am happy to see new “Like’s” on both!

That’s encouraging since I really do want to offer helpful tips to poets and writers in each post. But, oh, I see someone has been posting on my page! I don’t mind if other writers and poets respond to something on my page with a link to theirs. But this guy put a hotlink to his website which is rabidly against anything ecumenical. After deleting that post, I see a note from another writer in another country, who wants me to take a “quick look” at his work.

How can a full-time writer-poet-editor take a “quick look” at anything? Why can’t the writer take a long, serious look at his own work, reading it aloud and listening for areas that need improvement without asking me to do it for free? This comes up so often by so many people in so many places that I sigh, pray, and tell the man he will find many helpful articles and resources freely provided on my blogs and websites. I also let him know that I’d be glad to provide a professional, one-on-one response to his writings for a reasonable fee, but I probably won’t hear from him again.

Feeling discouraged by the frequency of requests for freebies, I remind myself how Jesus said that “workers are worthy of their hire,” but I hit the “like” button on several FB postings to encourage other Christian poets and writers as much as I can. In the process, I notice an announcement from Sally Stuart – The Expert in Christian publishing whom I interviewed in this blog last year – about the release of her 2012 marketing guide. Hitting the “Share” button, I let FB Friends know about this valuable resource.

Before untangling myself entirely from the Internet, I check email for The Poetry Editor and see new followers of the blog and also, an editor’s acknowledgment of a manuscript I submitted. In my personal email, another editor-writer agrees to an interview I hope to post soon, and a writer tells me how the contest I judge helped to boost her confidence. Nice to hear – and a good idea to discuss in another blog posting.

My coffee has gotten cold, but I sip it anyway, and my husband sticks his head in the door. Yeah, I’m ready for our half-mile round-trip walk to our rural post office, where, no, the manuscript someone was supposedly sending for a writing consult did not arrive.

Back home, I dump a load of darks in to wash then come back to the computer to see if one of the editors of my upcoming book of poetry has responded to the poems she asked me to send as representative of the book. Picking three was easy enough, but in case they didn’t speak clearly for the book’s theme, I added a note to explain, “Basically, what I’m saying is: We’re part of the universe. Although I’m aware that nature can seem cruel, love and spirit continue on, regardless.”

It’s now almost 10 a.m., and I need to focus on blog postings that got behind while I redesigned my websites. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wonder, “Lord, did You want me to start so many blogs?” or was this my big idea? Either way, the biblical injunction comes to mind of doing whatever the hand finds to do. Hand – mind, whatever.

All of the blogs began as I researched Bible topics that interest me: For instance, “Christian Healing Arts” got started because I wanted to give credit to God who created everything, including methods and ideas for healing that people seem to think they invented all by themselves. “Bible Prayers” began with research for a Bible study class that took almost two years to cover with excellent feedback from everyone in the group. As a Christian concerned for families (especially the Family of God), I also wanted to see “What the Bible Says about Love.” In addition, my personal Bible readings often resulted in Bible person-poems.

Initially, I’d hoped to do a one-year devotional or nonfiction book on the Bible topics I had researched, but having no immediate takers, I woke up one morning with “Do blogs” in my head. Hoping that God had put the idea there in answer to prayers for guidance, I soon discovered that juggling several blogs gets tricky! Or sticky! i.e., I now use computerized “Sticky Notes” to type the name of each blog and the last date posted. I also keep a Word file for each completed article, along with a list of titles and dates posted, and I type in words or phrases that suggest ideas for future articles. If blog followers ask a question that might interest other writer-readers, I note that as a potential topic too.

But here it is 11 a.m. on a Saturday, and I just put in the second of four loads of laundry. Having skipped my dish of yogurt, I’m thinking about lunch – most likely left-overs of home-cooked meals I make by the batch a couple times a week and freeze.

Living in the country does not make home delivered pizza a meal-time option, but the rural environment provides a wonderful place to get quiet, enjoy nature, and write about whatever God brings to mind. You might wonder, though, when and if I do any actual writing during the day, but, the truth is, while we’ve been chatting, I’ve been writing this article, which, Lord willing, I will tighten and revise after lunch and laundry and post long before church tomorrow with its welcomed day of rest.

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© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

For additional help with your writing: See the Interview with Sally Stuart. To find a list of the above mentioned blogs and hotlinks, visit Blogs by Mary. To connect, visit hotlinks for Profiles or pages on the major social networks. Thanks. And may God guide and direct your work in Jesus’ name.

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Blogs need focus, focus

With new blogs appearing daily on the Internet, your blog can stand out and draw readers if you focus on a specific topic and a specific readership.

For instance, you probably noticed that this blog addresses steps traditionally involved in researching, writing, revising, and marketing manuscripts primarily written for a Christian audience and/ or from a Christian perspective. Therefore, the specific readers to whom I speak are Christian writers, Christian poets, and Christian editors.

For Christian readers in general, the Bible Prayers blog focuses on almost all of the prayers in Holy Scripture, while The Poetry Editor blog hopefully speaks to poets, poetry editors, poetry students, and poetry lovers who want to discuss the poetic techniques, forms, and characteristics of well-written free verse and traditional poetry too.

Before deciding on those particular topics, however, I asked myself some questions that might also help you to fine-tune your focus:

What topics have interested me most of my life and continue to interest me enough to want to keep spending time with them and investigating them, perhaps for a long time?

Which topics have I studied or researched reasonably well?

Which of these topics might readers also want to think about, learn about, or discuss?

Do I have relevant experiences that could benefit potential readers?

Am I willing to double-check the facts and information I relay, even though I think I know?

Realistically, how often can I research, write, and post new articles? Once a day? Once a week? Twice a week? Twice a month?

Do I treat blog readers the way I want to be treated?

Am I willing to focus on their needs even when I promote my blog(s) through the major social networks, so the very people I hope to draw will not feel spammed, disrespected, or overwhelmed?

Will my readers be so glad they discovered my blog that they will just naturally pass on the good news?

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© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

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