Gifts Given for a Purpose

by Marcia Lee Laycock
 
November 30th 1982. I sat up in the hospital bed as a
nurse brought me a breakfast tray. I smiled at the small card propped up in a
plastic holder – Psalm 103:1,2 – “Bless the Lord O my soul: and all that is
within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all
his benefits…”
I had a lot of reasons to bless the Lord that day. It’s
a day I will never forget because it was the day I gave birth to my first
child. She was a miracle child, God’s gift to me, a gift that proved He
existed, proved he loved me, proved He wanted a relationship with me. That gift
awakened my soul to those truths and changed my life forever.
Yes, my daughter turns 32 today and that means it’s
been 32 years since I accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I shake my head and wonder
how that happened – how have all those years gone by? They have been good years
– years filled with raising our children, serving a church, and launching a
writing career. Some of those years were difficult, times when teenage
rebellion threatened to tear our family apart, times when illness filled the
long hours with shadows and doubt. But they were years when God made his
presence known to us.
And they were all years in which I wrote thousands of
words, many of them about that daughter and the other two who came after her.
They were the inspiration for my writing when I first began, working on short
stories for Sunday school papers and short devotionals for a faith column in a
local newspaper. Sometimes my daughters weren’t happy about that, especially if
I forgot to tell them they would be in the paper that week!
All of my children are God’s gifts to me, given for a
purpose. They are His way of revealing Himself to me, challenging me, healing
me, as we grow together in the understanding of who He is and what He wants
from us.
I believe God gives us all the people in our lives, family
members, friends, co-workers, even those we prefer to hold at arm’s length, so
that we will see Him, recognize His goodness and grace and then write it down
so others will see what we have seen. I believe God orchestrates the events and
circumstances of our lives to that end.
That’s the role of a writer of faith, to seek ways to
understand and reveal God’s character. Sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes we
must struggle with doubt and fear and even anger, before the truth shines
through. But it is in the struggle that our faith is deepened, our
understanding broadened. And it all happens within the community of those who
surround us.
“It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken”
Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,
because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also
raise us with Jesus and present us with you to Himself. All this is for your benefit,
so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving
to overflow to the glory of God.” (2Cor. 4:13-15) 
**** 
To celebrate my daughter’s birthday and since Black Friday has just gone by, I am offering Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers for FREE through December. It can
be downloaded here in any ebook format. Just use the code GM35V
 
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta
Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She
was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel,
One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed
in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two
devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer,
Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.  

Will They Like My Writing?

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. For relaxation, he writes westerns. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.


Every writer has doubts.

Again. EVERY writer is mired in doubt.

You and I are sitting at my kitchen table, talking this through.
We both have doubts. Sure, we’ve a few writing credits to our name. A blog
here. Maybe a published book or a few articles. I’ve won an award or two. I
share that one writer I spoke with is on his twelfth book and called me because he’s filled with doubts.

But not like our hero writer. Not like the one we emulate.
Because she’s got it all together.
Ahhh, forget it. It’s been a brutal day at work, and I’m in
no mood to write or talk, so I’m going for a jog. I’ll talk to you in a bit. You
head home.
My playlist rocks and rolls, pumping creative juices.
Cool winds brush across my skin, and my feet beat a steady
rhythm to the music, awakening joy in my soul. But fears about my writing drive a
frozen spike through any happiness. Worthless, pointless, unskilled and
readerless—the doubts drift through my mind. My running slows and I lower my
head. Writing is everything to me.
Then a song jars from my absurdly awesome playlist. Muppets.
Mahna Mahna. Do doo bedodo.
A fun song, no doubt, but not for this run. I reach up to
skip it.
Mahna Mahna. Do dodo do.
DON’T CHANGE THIS SONG
I pause. It’s God speaking. The song continues.
Mahna Mahna. Do doo bedodo.
I hold my thumb on the clicker. LEAVE IT
Come on, God. I have some amazing music on this playlist.
Some Christian tunes even.
LISTEN
I stop running and listen. There’s not a real word in the
entire song. Mahna Mahna is just
dribble. Worthless, pointless, unskilled, and amazing dribble. How could the
writer of that silly song know the meaningless words would make millions upon
millions of people happy?
My mouth opens wide. I play the song again as I sprint home to
call you.
Listen, I say in a rush. It’s not about the work and the
edits and the story. Sales aren’t our problem. Reviews…pshhh—we can’t
control them—and they weren’t written for us, anyway. In fact, it’s not about
us at all. God’s given us a passion. It’s inside us, and He wants us to write.
That’s it. There’s nothing more. Sure, we’re going to do our best to learn the
craft and market and stuff, but in the end, who knows how our writing will influence people? Yep,
that’s right. Only God.  

Good point, you say. You end the call, sit down, and push away
your doubts. Because you’re a writer. And the rest is in His hands.

Bleeding Heart Publications To Launch on November 30, 2014; Hosts Open Submissions for Fiction & Creative Non-Fiction

BleedingHeart Publications, a new literary publishing house looking for “new voices” in
full-length and short creative non-fiction and fiction, is launching in the
United States and globally from its home base in Southeast Asia on November 30,
2014. A small, dedicated group of British and American ex-patriots—led by
co-founders Gordon Ross, director, and Cali Dawson, managing director—have four
books scheduled for publication in all formats in 2015 and are aggressively
seeking manuscripts and short stories from new and previously published
authors.  Bleeding Heart Publications
also will publish Transfusion, a twice-yearly literary
journal featuring short stories of 5,000 words or less. The company is
registered in Singapore with editorial offices in Bangkok, Thailand. 
Gordon Ross, Bleeding Heart Publications
“There
are so many gifted writers out there today who cannot get a publishing
deal,” says Gordon Ross, a Scottish businessman and entrepreneur who
has lived and worked in Asia since 2008 and is the director of
Bleeding Heart Publications. “The business model has changed for the major
publishing houses. They are far less inclined to take a chance on an
up-and-coming writer these days, no matter how promising. Their focus is on
established, best-selling authors and that’s where they are putting their
marketing money. Also, self-publishing is exploding in the States, but many
creative writers simply cannot afford it, and even if they could, they would
face built-in reviewer bias against self-published fiction.
We
are offering a different approach. We are a traditional, ‘old school’
publisher that values and supports and nurtures good writers while taking full
advantages of modern technologies and marketing platforms. We also believe
there is great opportunity for success in the mid-range, for authors who can
sell between 10 and 40 thousand books. Another thing that sets us apart—we’re
not going to be shy about using state-of-the-art advertising and marketing and
PR to promote our authors and books.”
Cali Dawson
Cali
Dawson, who grew up in the Midwest and is an author herself, co-founded
Bleeding Heart Publications with Ross in 2013 and is the company’s managing
director. “Many people are intrigued by the idea of having an
English-language press in Thailand—and maybe a little skeptical,” she
says. “Certainly the Internet and social media have opened the door for a
more global publishing industry, and made it easier for small independent
presses like ours to flourish, but I don’t think New York and London are in any
danger of losing their leadership status in the publishing world. 
What
has changed, though, is how many writers are being treated by the big corporate
publishing entities. It’s not pretty. I’m a writer and I get it. New
writers want publishers and editors who understand that they’ve poured their
hearts and souls into their work, who care about them personally, who can offer
editorial guidance and are transparent about the business side of publishing. That’s
who we are at Bleeding Heart. We’re very hands on with our writers. We
like being in the trenches with them.”
Bleeding
Heart Publication will publish its first book, The Job Pirate by
Brandon Christopher, on February 19, 2015. Christopher, who lives in
Portland, Oregon, writes with wit, irreverence and honesty about some of
the 80 obscure jobs he has “collected” on his rebellious journey through
the American marketplace. Often hilarious and constantly thought-provoking,
Christopher’s stories take us through the corporate offices, department
stores and kiosks of the West Coast. We ride along with him as he
chauffeurs the famous, the dead and sometimes just their furniture.  The
Job Pirate
 strips off the façade of the American Dream and gives us a
raw, funny and ultimately compassionate look into the work lives of everyday
Americans who are just trying to survive, and whom we encounter
anonymously every day.
Bleeding
Heart Publications is partnering with Greenleaf Books in Austin, Texas, to
provide book and cover design, production and distribution services, and
marketing across all formats and platforms in the U.S.
For
more information about Bleeding Heart Publications, its authors and submission
policies, please visit the website.  For
media inquiries or to arrange an interview with BHP’s principals or authors,
contact Scott Busby at The Busby Group at scottb@thebusbygroup.com or
310.475.2914.

The Greatest Writer I’ve Ever Known

I know some pretty prolific writers. Some write books, some write articles,
some write a little bit of everything.  In fact, I can count four New
York Times bestselling authors as friends. But the most dedicated writer I
ever met never had a word published. 

He attended only one writers’ conference
in his life, and he was lost and way
over his head most of the weekend. 

Even so, he was a  force to
be reckoned with.

His name was Bob and he wanted to be a writer. In fact, that was the first thing he
told me when we met at the conference he attended. “Hi, I’m Bob and I want
to be a writer. What’s your name?”

We chatted for a while then I made my way to the registration table. The
next time I saw Bob he was working the room. Doing what everyone is taught to
do at their first conference: Mingle. Introduce yourself.

“Hi, I’m Bob and I want to be a writer. What’s your name?”

The next time I saw him was an hour or so later in the first session and he
was sitting by himself. When the next session started, he was still by himself.
So, I walked over and joined him.  I noticed him struggling to keep up as
he wrote in a spiral bound notebook with a brand new Bic Click pen (he told me
later, with no little sense of pride, that his wife had given him the pen and
notebook as a gift before he came to the conference) and he said he never
finished school, so he didn’t write very fast. So, I offered to make a copy of
my notes for him. He accepted (and later copied them in his notebook so he
would remember better), and we pretty much spent the rest of the conference
together. 

As I got to know him I found out that Bob was the janitor at a
community college and he had always wanted to be a writer. But having never
finished school he didn’t know if it was possible. But his wife encouraged him
to find out, so, the conference was his chance to see if his dream was even
feasible.

At one point that weekend we were challenged to find a critique partner at
the conference and continue to work together through the mail (Remember the
mail? We used it in publishing before the days of email).

Guess who my partner was.

Yep.

The first thing Bob sent me was a novel. A science fiction novel.
A six page science fiction

novel. It had aliens, spaceships,
government cover-ups, government helicopters, a time machine, advanced
alien weaponry, and a crooked general.

Did I mention it was only six pages long.

I called Bob and we talked about his novel. He was surprised to find out
that he would need to write the whole book because he had heard of people
sending in part of a book and the publisher bought that. I explained that he
was thinking about a proposal and the author still had to write the whole book.
With that, Bob began to tell me about his other book ideas.

And you know something? A lot of them were pretty good. And a few were really good.

Unfortunately, Bob was getting discouraged because he was discovering just
how poor his English skills were. I suggested he go to someone at the college
and see if he could take a remedial English course. I wondered out loud if he
might even be able to take the class free. And instead of becoming more discouraged, he was thrilled to think he might be
able to move even closer to his dream.

We swapped a few short shorts* then I didn’t hear anything from
Bob for a few months. Early the following January I called to see how Bob
was doing. His wife answered and told me the bad news.

Bob died on Christmas day.

I told her how sorry I was to hear about his death, and she stopped me. She
told me how happy Bob had been before he died. He was taking the remedial English class, doing his homework, and writing a little every night. He died, she
said, making his dream come true. She went on to tell me how proud she was of him, and
more important to her, how proud he was of himself.

After I hung up the phone I thought a long time about what I had just heard and how compared to Bob, my own writing efforts were little more than surface efforts. I (nor most of the writers I knew) hadn’t yet tapped into the furnace that fueled an all-out no holds barred desire to write.

His example and subsequent death was the thing that tipped me over the edge and lit the flame.

A few months later I was commissioned to write a play as a
fundraiser for a theater in Louisiana and after much thought, I used one of Bob’s ideas
and wrote the play as a tribute to him. The director was delighted with both the play and the story behind it. During the contract negotiations, my only stipulation was that on opening night a seat be left vacant on the front row in Bob’s memory.

It was the least I could do for someone who continues to inspire me all
these years later.

[* For those who don’t know, short shorts are stories less than 750 words long.]