To Blog or Not to Blog?

A Brave Blogger Interview with Greg Hurley

Many beginning writers believe the writing process requires great confidence and unfaltering courage. I’ve learned the writer’s journey requires the ability to admit we’re not brave or altogether perfect.

As Christian writers, we fare well if we possess the wisdom to ask God for the strength and discipline needed to buckle down and type the words He gives us. Of course, we may have to erase them, type them again, and repeat until we convince ourselves to click save and post.

This week, it’s my privilege to introduce one of the bravest bloggers in this series. Greg Hurley, founder of Hurley Wealth Management Group, is a new writer who recently took that first leap of faith.

Greg serves as a speaker who encourages others to align faithful stewardship with financial management. He answered ‘yes’ to God’s nudging to dig deeper into the Bible. He answered ‘yes’ to following God’s leading from Los Angeles to San Francisco. And he answered ‘yes’ when God led him into the blogosphere.

Please help me welcome Greg to celebrate what God has been doing as he writes from the heart on his first blog, “Calendar, Cash, and Calling,” launched in September, 2016.

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Congratulations, Greg. Please tell us what led you to start your blog?

I dream of a different Bay Area, one where Jesus Christ is reigning as King over everyone and everything, as soon as possible. I started the blog to encourage Bay Area Christians to live as God intended in the areas of calendar, cash and calling—three areas I think we all tend to get stuck in. Why? So the other 97% will know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and live as God intended. This is what I think about most, and what drives my decisions.

 

What steps did you take to prepare for launching your blog?

I got advice from wise mentors, who happen to be bloggers themselves. I journaled, dreamed, prayed, and focused on knowing God more and more (not in that order). With my mentor’s help, I realized I did, and still do, have an arrogance problem. I asked for accountability and started learning more and more about what the Bible said about that subject.

Realizing how debilitating pride can be helped me along this path. I have a long way to go but I have come a long way through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, the truths of God’s word, others praying for me, and with the support of my wonderful wife Nicole who has been so patient over the last 16 years.

 

What were the biggest obstacles you faced when you made the decision to share through this medium?

Confusion, fear, perfectionism, and making sure my wife and I were united in this decision fully.

 

How did God help you work through those challenges?

God sent me Nicole for numerous reasons, but one I know for sure. He uses her to help me accomplish what He created me to do. She’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. She’s not afraid to share her opinion with me, which can drive me nuts but is totally necessary if I am to become all that God created me to be. My wife also played a key role in helping me find the best writing coach.

 

Please share some of the greatest rewards you’ve experienced through your blogging adventures.

It’s most rewarding to be able to share what God has put on my heart and see people encouraged through the pain I have gone through. Being able to give talks that relate to my blog topics has been awesome. I’ve been able to interact with people face to face, answering some of their questions and hearing feedback on how my talks have helped them to think differently. It’s rewarding to see people’s lives changed, as they draw closer to this Awesome God we serve and begin to live out their purpose.

 

How often do you post new content and what can get in the way of your commitment to maintain this consistent blogging schedule?

I post once a week, usually midweek. I also share a Friday Inspiration quote. Balancing my schedule to include family, work, and the organizations I am very passionate about has been challenging. But with Nicole’s support, it has been okay.

 

How do you prepare for those distractions?

Just finishing my MBA in May of this year, I have been able to learn to do a lot of work in a short amount of time. Sometimes the work pressures can be intense, but then I go back to the promises of God’s Word, and know that God can do the impossible and surely get me through a time crunch I may be facing.

 

What have you done to expand your readership?

I have mostly been focusing on content and direction for the blog. I am trying to direct most of my efforts to creating great, concise, blog posts. I worked with my writing coach and my design consultant to create 30 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude During the Holidays, a free PDF giveaway. This project was meant to help me during my Christmas time grumpiness, but will hopefully help others and lead to new subscribers.

 

How do you prevent being overly concerned with the number of subscribers, likes, or comments on your blog posts on your website or through social media?

I believe God owns the blog. He is going to bring who He wants to read the content. I try and understand what part I am supposed to play and leave God’s parts to Him. I am trying to be patient and know that it takes time to build a platform, especially in a place like the busy Bay Area. I believe in the message He has put on my heart. I believe He wants that message to get out, in His timing.

 

What’s the most important thing God has taught you about using the voice He’s given you through your blog?

To be humble and to watch my tone in my writing.

 

What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are hesitant about taking that first brave step into the blogging world?

Know God more. Wait on His timing. Enjoy the process. Have fun. Dream big.

 

Thanks for inspiring us, Greg. 

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You can connect with Greg by visiting or subscribing toCalendar, Cash, and Calling.” You can also like his Facebook Author Page or follow him on Twitter. Greg will be available for questions, and would be blessed by your encouragement, in the comment section under this blog post.

 


Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

 

When Good Blog Posts Go Viral

A Brave Bloggers Interview with Jami Amerine

Platform. Platform. Build your platform!

As writers provide quality content, nurture community, and meet readers’ needs, their platform grows. This process requires time, effort, consistency, and patience. But sometimes, as Jami Amerine learned, a message shared through a personal blog touches the hearts of readers, gets shared until that good post goes viral, and expands the writer’s reach unexpectedly and quickly.

Though Jami entered the blogosphere reluctantly in March 2015, she faithfully encourages readers with courageous transparency, authenticity, wit, and wisdom from the trenches of life. One heart-felt rant posted on her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, whisked her into an instant platform and changed the course of her writing journey.

After “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great” went viral, Jami gained an agent’s representation and signed a two-book contract with Harvest House. Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for The Real Savior, her debut book, is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2017.

Please help me welcome Jami, as she encourages fellow writers and shares her adventures since entering the blogosphere at top speed.

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Congratulations on your upcoming book and the exciting things God is doing in and through Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, Jami. Please share how God blessed you with an “instant platform” through your blog.

Thank you, Xochitl. Honestly, I had given up on publishing the minute I learned about platform. It seemed daunting and unrealistic to me. Who am I? Just a mom. I wasn’t even a “writer.” After attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I left convinced I would never be published but that it was fun to write. A few writers convinced me to blog. I admit now, I believe myself a needle in the haystack. I was okay with this. Maybe the greatest act of faith is oblivion and relinquishment. I expected nothing. When I posted “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great,” I had 69 loyal readers. Two days later I had 690,000.

 

What was your initial response to that first viral post?

I was in shock, undone, and humiliated. I was harshly irritated when I wrote the article and had posted it with misspelled words, from my phone while at a dance recital. I couldn’t believe the response, or face the comments. I was receiving death threats and accolades. I wrote a response, “Then a Riot Broke Out in Target,” and my numbers skyrocketed.

 

What challenges did you face after that good blog post went viral?

My newfound audience wanted more and I didn’t know what to say next. My agent encouraged me to sign up for Write 31 Days, a blogger challenge for the entire month of October. The night before, I still hadn’t chosen my topic. I was crying in my bathroom, reading another venomous comment, and it came to me like manna from heaven: “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying.” The viral status went over the million read mark within the first three days of October.

 

You encourage writers to build their platform and increase opportunities for posts to go viral by participating in syndication. Please explain the concept of syndication and share your top tips for bloggers as they explore this option.

Syndication is when an online magazine publishes your material and links back to your site. They usually only pay for unpublished works. Currently, I rarely syndicate because I have a good following.

 

I appreciate your genuine relationships with your blog readers. How do you nurture those connections with such a large following that seems to be continually growing quickly?

I just comment. I love them. I care what they say and what they are going through. As my numbers increase, I have one fear: I don’t want to lose touch with any of them. Readers email me and send me private messages. They ask for prayers or pray for me. I feel like they’re my real life friends. I confess this to God: Let me stay grounded in this, and please afford me the time and resources to be with these readers.

 

Through authentic encouragement, you continue to establish great network connections with other writers who share your target audience. How does connecting with and supporting other writers better your blogging experience and expand your reach?

Well, I was very convicted of “greed” with my platform. This was laughable, so I decided to share all of my tricks.

The greatest message I like to convey to “Jesus Bloggers” is you don’t have to look behind you.  Your message and words are different from the other guy. Trust God with your platform. Share what you know generously. He didn’t bless you with the gift of words to stress you out. He moves how He moves and saves how He saves. If your words meant eternity for JUST ONE… would you be satisfied?

 

What has been the greatest reward you’ve experienced through the whirlwind growth of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors?

Freedom in Jesus Christ. I didn’t even know what I was saying, until I started saying it out loud. He is a good Father. He loves me. He died for me. I was “saved,” but I didn’t believe in my salvation until He started unfolding the story of Stolen Jesus. All the bad theology, all the misinterpreted emotions, hurts, hardships and joy have brought me to a place where He trusts me to shout GLORY and know what the heck I am talking about. I can’t believe what He is doing. I can’t believe what He has done. I am sad I lost so much time fearing Him and bathing in condemnation, but I wouldn’t change it–if it was only for one reader to stop and look at who Jesus is… I am truly blessed.

 

What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are navigating through the blogosphere?

Keep writing. Trust Him to move your words. The reality is I gave up, in my weakness, but people stopped and read some of the harshest words I have ever written. God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Every time you start to wonder, ask Him, “How can I bring you glory?” Sit back and let Him be God. He is really good at it.

Thanks for inspiring us, Jami. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you continue to honor Him and minister to readers through and beyond Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.

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To connect with Jami, you can receive email notifications by subscribing to her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, join the community on her Facebook Author Page, and follow her on Twitter. You can also support her newest adventure, The Easy Wife, a Grace Podcast she launched with her sister, Stacey Todd in December 2016.

Jami will be joining us in the comment section of this post to answer questions as she continues to inspire us to use our God-given voices through blogging.

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Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

 

A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem

An Original Poem Written by Xochitl E. Dixon

 

“A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem”

An Original Poem Written by Xochitl E. Dixon

 

’Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the land,

not a writer was stirring, none lifted a hand.

With paper and pencils put up with great care,

scribes opened their Bibles, to meet Jesus there.

 

Refreshing their spirits−they’d intended to do−

inhaling the Scriptures, believing they’re true.

With nary an argument, all snuggled in grace,

each writer excited to seek the Lord’s face.

 

A break from the hurry, they needed this season,

to affirm, with great hope, that Christ was their reason.

Yes, God−above all−gave them purpose to write.

The Lord−above all−was their Hope and their Light.

 

They prayed for their loved ones. They prayed for their readers.

They prayed for their projects, their friends, and their leaders.

Hearts fully surrendered, they asked God to be clear.

They asked Him for wisdom to last through next year.

 

Each writer confessed their worldly behavior.

They wanted so much to be changed by their Savior.

Transformed by God’s love and empowered by grace,

these writers prepared for the obstacles they’d face.

 

Discouragement. Doubt. Some would even fight fear.

But, the scribes would not quit. Not today. Not next year.

They had readers to serve, with each word and each story.

In the power of the Spirit, they’d write for God’s glory.

 

Be it novels or poems, their message the same.

Through devotions and articles, they’d spread the Lord’s name.

No frets over platform. With no worries, they’d edit.

With courage they’d write and give God all the credit.

 

Honing their craft, they’d trust the Lord’s choices.

They’d share the Good News, with their God-given voices.

In courage and faith, they’d gather for training.

No comparing, competing, criticizing, complaining.

 

They’d encourage each other, giving Jesus their best.

But the day before Christmas, in God’s presence they’d rest.

There’d be time to meet deadlines, to critique, to write brave.

And they’d make time to reflect on all that God gave.

 

’Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the land,

Christian writers were resting secure in God’s hand.

They’d surrendered their dreams to the Lord and obeyed.

In His unchanging character, their hope and faith stayed.

 

No matter what words the Lord gave them to write,

it was His words they’d ponder, each day and each night.

Equipped with His truth and empowered by grace,

these scribes would persist, content with God’s pace.

 

They’d honor their Savior and bask in His love.

They’d serve with great gladness, as He watched from above.

With total submission, on God they’d depend.

They’d trust in His plan and be willing to bend.

 

Though some days would be harder and tempt them to hide,

the Spirit of God would be with each brave scribe.

With challenges ahead and struggles so real,

they’d follow the High Priest, who knows how they feel.

 

Springing to action, with words at the ready,

God’s scribes, moving forward, persevering and steady.

Filled with deep joy, they’d shout into the night,

“On this Christmas we rest. For tomorrow, we write!”

 

 


Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

 

 


“A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem,” was written by Xochitl E. Dixon on December 23, 2016. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon appeared first as a personal blog post on December 23, 2016 and may not be copied, printed, or dispersed in part or in its entirety, without expressed written consent from the author, Xochitl E. Dixon. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon, may be shared on social media accounts, by using the share buttons on Xochitl E. Dixon’s personal website, or the share buttons under the December 24, 2016 posting of this poem on the Inspire Christian Writers website. “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon may be shared through the various options offered through social media, as long as the original author is credited. However, “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon may not be shared, in part or in its entirety, on a personal or community website without expressed written consent from Xochitl E. Dixon. Please submit your request to share on a personal or community website in the comment section below the original posting of the poem on Xochitl E. Dixon’s personal website or the Inspire Christian Writers website. When sharing this poem on social media accounts, please note the following: “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon. The original link for “A Christian Writer’s Christmas Poem” by Xochitl E. Dixon is: http://www.xedixon.com/writer-to-writer/a-christian-writers-christmas-poem/

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Finding Your Writing Voice

At every conference I’ve attended, the process to find your unique voice has been hammered into my head like a railroad spike. The question is, how do you find your voice?

Great question, fellow writer.

The answer? Write. A lot. Keep writing. Copy other writers until you find your unique voice. Simple? Nope.

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When I started writing my yet-to-be-published novel in 2008 (yup, eight years ago), I wanted to write like Rosamind Pilcher. Beautiful, flowing descriptions. British accents galore. When I read my first few chapters back, out loud, it sounded phony. Definitely not my style. Not my voice.

I tried emulating Francine Rivers. I read her books and copied her voice. That didn’t work either.

It took thousands of words and countless hours to find my voice. Experts say to reach success, it takes ten thousand hours. A quick calculation of ten thousand divided by eight years, yields 1,250 hours per year. Divided by 365 is approximately 3 ½ hours per day. Think on that while you read on.

Below are three examples from some random authors. See if you can determine which one is Anne Lamott:

Example # 1:

People rarely took any notice of the tongue-tied and sadly inhibited Missy Wright, but Una, as the new assistant was named, had seemed instantly to detect in Missy the stuff of a good friend.

Example # 2:

The next morning, Elizabeth was on her knees weeding in the flower bed near Rosie’s window, impatiens and columbine. Rosie discovered this when she threw her window open, her room already hot and bright with sunshine. She said hello to her mother, and her mother answered, “Hello, darling. What are your plans for today?

Jeez, Rosie thought, it was like living with a secret agent.

Example #3:

Monday mornings had never been FBI Special Agent Savannah Barrett’s favorite day. Lawbreakers did their best work during the weekend. She stared at the crime report on her computer. Another Houston church burned during the night. This was her city, her responsibility, and the fourth church torched in the past two months.

Which one do you think sounds most like Anne Lamott? If you picked number two, you are correct. Her voice combines beautiful descriptions, gritty dialog, and snarky undertones. The paragraph is from her novel Imperfect Birds.

Have you grasped the enormity of what it takes to find your voice? Does the thought of 3 ½ hours a day for 8 years scare you? I hope not.

Jane S. Daly, Christian Author

I’ll be teaching an entire workshop on finding your voice at the West Coast Christian Writers Conference, February 17 and 18 in Pleasanton, CA. Hope to see you there!

For more information on my books and my blog, please visit www.janeSdaly.com.

Jane is the author of two nonfiction books, Because of Grace (2015 Hallway) and The Caregiving Season (2016 Focus on the Family/Tyndale). She makes her home in northern California.

Building a Fiction World through Your Blog

A Brave Blogger Interview with Sarah Sundin

sarah-sundin-author-photo-nov-2016Novelists strive to draw readers into their characters’ worlds, tirelessly crafting scenes to develop realistic settings within the limits of one novel or a series of books. There are some, though, who enrich their readers’ experience by inviting them deeper into the history of the settings in which their characters’ stories unfold.

Sarah Sundin welcomes readers to meet her characters in the World War II era she’s introduced through her three historical fiction series: Waves of Freedom, Wings of Nightingale, and Wings of Glory. Sarah’s unique approach to blogging taps into the heart of her family’s personal experiences and treats readers with her intriguing “Today in World War II History” facts.

Please help me welcome Sarah Sundin as she celebrates her latest historical fiction series, Waves of Freedom, and shares more about how she expands her characters’ world by building their real world settings through her blog.

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sarah-sundin-book-cover-anchor-in-the-stormCongratulations on the completion of your third World War II era series, Sarah. Would you share a teaser for Anchor in the Storm, which was released in May 2016? No spoilers, please.

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection?

 

How and why did you decide to use your blog to enrich the setting of your novels by presenting historical facts through your daily posts?

While researching my novels, I’d started a timeline document to keep facts and dates straight. Before my first novel released in 2010, I decided to start posting Today in World War II History tidbits on my blog, then sharing them on social media. I never dreamed how many people would enjoy them!

I also post occasional articles on WWII topics. I’ve found the articles with the broadest appeal have to do with Home Front topics, like rationing. I look for topics in my novels that pique interest and explore them through blogging. For example, the heroine in Anchor in the Storm is a pharmacist, so I ran a series about pharmacy in World War II, and the hero serves on a destroyer, so I posted pictures of my tours of WWII destroyers.

I also enjoy writing posts around important dates, such as D-Day and V-E Day. For the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I’m running a series from December 5-9 with photographs from my recent visit to Pearl Harbor—plus I’ll be giving away some commemorative items I purchased there.

In general, I like to write articles that provide extra value for those who have read my novels—and might draw new readers as well.

 

I’ve heard fiction writers voicing their struggles with choosing relevant blog topics or themes to support their novels. How would you advise novelists, as they seek to determine a topic or theme for their blogs?

Finding topics that resonate with current readers and attract new ones requires creativity and trial-and-error. Look at theme, setting, time period, and characters for ideas. What makes you and your novels unique? You may have blog topics.

Also, think about frequency. Most true bloggers like to post weekly, even more often. While this does increase blog readership, it might not increase book readership—and it can steal valuable time from novel writing. Personally, I prefer to target my posts around a book release or around special dates.

 

sarah-sundin-book-cover-through-waters-deepWhat are your top tips for writers who are considering presenting historical facts through blogging?

Select topics that would appeal to your target readers—or attract them. Do your research and be careful to be accurate—I’ve had students use my blog posts for research. Also, be careful to check copyright information on photographs. Many historical images are public domain, but not all.

 

How has your blogging approach expanded your readership in ways you didn’t expect?

Some of the articles I’ve written, especially on rationing during the war, continue to draw hits through Google searches years after they were written. I’ve received quite a few emails from people who have discovered my novels through these articles. Definitely worth the time. Also, the Today in History posts are fairly popular on social media and increase interest in the WWII era, which—I hope—also increases interest in WWII novels.

 

What was your most rewarding experience with a reader through your unique blogging approach?

My favorite experiences have been when readers share their own stories with me, either their personal stories or family stories. I’ve heard some of the most amazing memories—funny, fascinating, heartbreaking, inspiring. Those stories remind me why I write.

 

What was your most challenging obstacle you’ve overcome as you began building your characters’ worlds through your blog?

The greatest obstacle has been time. Writing a thorough, well-researched article—even for a topic I know well—can take hours.

 

sarah-sundin-book-cover-when-tides-turnPlease share a final word of encouragement for novelists who are considering expanding their novels’ settings by building a more complex world through their blog.

Blogs are a wonderful place to “dump” all that lovely research you can’t put into your novel. By exploring your time period or setting in greater detail on your blog, you can expand your readers’ experiences and allow them to immerse themselves in that world for a while longer.

 

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Thanks for giving us a peek into the World War II era, through your novels and your blog, Sarah. I’m looking forward to the March 2017 release of your next novel in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn.

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To see Sarah’s photographs in honor the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and to enter for a chance to win some commemorative items that she purchased during her recent visit to Pearl Harbor, please visit her blog on or before December 9, 2016.

You can also connect with Sarah through her Facebook Author page, Twitter, and through the comment section below. Sarah will be dropping in to answer questions and encourage Inspire blog readers today (December 8, 2016).


Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys sharing God’s Word to the ends of the earth, being a mom, traveling, and photography.