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.

Murphy’s Law – As It Applies To An Author

As authors, we are beset by hills and valleys of success and failure. Some days, we may feel there are more valleys than hills. Some days, Murphy’s Law has the upper hand.

What is Murphy’s Original Law?

If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.

Other wise men have opined similar notable truisms.

  • Etorre’s Observation – The other line moves faster.
  • Franklin’s Rule – Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will not be disappointed.

Such profound truisms speak to life in general.

In my experience, I have found that some days just reek of… Murphy’s Law!

1. The chance that your copy machine will break down is proportional to the importance of the manuscript that needs to be copied.

2. When you arrive at your Writer’s Conference pitch session appointment, you find you’ve left the synopsis at home.

3. There will always be candy and soda cans on the floor of your car when the writing instructor asks for a ride home after class.

4. Any time you are unable to resolve a scene in your manuscript, ask your critique leader. She probably won’t know either, but she will fake it.

5. If you’ve spent all your money earmarked for “Advertising and Writing Conferences,” someone will always remind you of what you wasted your money on.

6. Your computer will play havoc the afternoon you have to finish an article for a 5:00 press release.

7. At the Writer’s Conference, you forgot to attend an important lecture you signed up for on Day One.

8. Your neighbor will cut down trees on the day you planned to work on that difficult chapter.

9. Your laptop will fail during the main speaker’s lecture at the Writer’s Conference.

10. To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer. (I didn’t make up that one.)

Yes, even Christian writers can fall prey to the trials and valleys set upon us by events beyond our control, but take heart. We have the ultimate secret weapon for success. We have a friend who gives approval and comfort when things go wrong. Whether we write devotionals, women’s fiction, or cozy cat mysteries, if we are writing to glorify Him…God will bless our efforts in His own way and in His own good time.

The Lord has always been our greatest support and our most devoted fan.

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”  Psalm 45:1

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

 

Elaine Faber has published four novels, various magazine articles and multiple anthology stories. Elaine lives in Elk Grove with her husband and three house cats. She teaches an Inspire critique class and volunteers  at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop.

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Why Bother Sharing Your God-Given Voice?

inspire-joy-book-cover-november-2016When I attended my first Christian Writers Conference in 2010, the Lord affirmed He’d given me a voice and taught me to appreciate the other unique voices using writing to share His truth and love for His glory.

I left that conference inspired, ready to learn, and ready to write with Spirit-empowered boldness. But a few years ago, I made the mistake of listening to someone who claimed to find “nothing of value” on my blog or in anything else I wrote.

After God helped me recover from the shock of that so-not-constructive criticism, He freed me from the bondage of that debilitating lie. Still, I sometimes wonder why anyone would want to read what I have to say.

As I commune more frequently with the Lord through prayer and dig deeper into His Word, I’m learning to write with obedience as I focus on God’s voice, not on myself, my shortcomings, or my qualifications.

I’m not a writer.

I’m a Christ follower who writes.

Writing is a tool purposed for ministry, a tool designed to help God’s disciples fulfill the Great Commission.

Using my God-given voice to write for His glory is a form of worship and good stewardship.

Every voice matters. Every voice makes a difference. And every beautifully diverse voice has a specific purpose.

In my devotion “Harmonizing Voices,” published on the Deeper Waters blog, I share how God confirmed those truths so I would no longer feel the need to compare myself to others.

As members of God’s Writing Tribe, we don’t need to feel competitive or jealous of other scribes. We don’t need to judge the worth or criticize the impact of someone else’s offering to our good, good Father.

All of our voices are important because one writer can’t possibly reach every reader in the world.

But God can’t use what we refuse to offer Him.

As I continue using my God-given voice, I still battle fears and insecurities. I still fend off the why-bother-writing-if-no-one-reads-it thoughts.

But, I’m learning to simply obey God’s leading, trust Him to decide how He wants to use my offering, and encourage others to write for His glory.

And this year, I’m celebrating the debut of a new voice.

My husband’s first devotion, “Teach a Man to Fish,” joins my short story, “Pictures of Joy,” in this year’s Inspire anthology. But ours are only two of the God-given voices in this compilation, so I encourage you to order your copy of Inspire Joy today.

While Inspire Christian Writers invites members to be a part of next year’s anthology, you don’t have to wait to use the voice the Lord has entrusted to you.

There’s a simple way for writers to immediately begin using their God-given voices.

Blogging.

Have you considered starting a blog?

Are you brand-new to blogging?

Do you want to refresh your passion for blogging?

Or do you shudder at the thought of starting or continuing a blog?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you won’t want to miss my upcoming interview series: Brave Bloggers.

I’ve had the privilege of learning from some of God’s beautifully diverse voices in the blogging world, and am looking forward to sharing a few of those writers with you.

Until then, I look forward to hearing your stories.

How has God helped you appreciate the value and purpose of different voices, including your own?

How have fears, insecurities, or anything else kept you from sharing your writing with others?


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.