Thursday, April 26, 2018

Guest Post - 14 Basic Writing Tips

So, you’re wondering how to get started with writing? So was I! How do you start writing? How do I get obsessed with writing like that professional writer over there? Well, I don’t have all the answers, I’ve only been writing seriously for three years (with the ultimate goal of being an author), I even used to hate writing.
But, you can write, you can start, and you can get to the goal you want to set!
Here are some ways to do that!  

  1. Get writing materials. To get started, you need writing materials! Do you prefer using a pen (or pencil) and paper, or using the computer to type your ideas out? My personal favorites are Sharpie Pens! They come in all colors, everywhere, and they are amazing to write with! As well as your good old mechanical pencils. I also have varying sizes of notebooks, but they are lined. Word documents are also so useful, I have been using Google Docs.
  2. Set yourself a realistic goal (even something small, like writing 100 words a week to start) and schedule writing into your week. Use a calendar to schedule it out for the week, or a checklist to make sure you get it done!
  3. Start writing! Sit down and get your paper out (or whatever you prefer to write with) pen, pencil, laptop, or even phone.

  1. Set a timer to write, using your phone, or a stopwatch or the timer on the oven always works. Setting a time helps with consistency of habit. Challenge yourself. Find out what works for you. Every day? Once a week? Twenty minutes per day? Experiment. Find what time of day works best for you.

  1. Find a location best suited for productivity. Write away from distractions, this helps concentration and will help you write more efficiently if you are alone and able to focus completely on your writing. Places such as a private room in your house, outside, or a library.

  1. Block off your social media. Blocking off certain sites or stepping away from electronics completely during your writing time is important for productivity, concentration, and efficiency. Too many tabs open can cause your mind to wonder and panic with so many things to think about. Some use an app called Freedom App I just turn off all my tabs or don’t use the computer at all.

  1. Get someone to keep you accountable. Make a blog with Wix, Wordpress or Blogger Tell a friend or family member. Start a group either online or in person on a regular basis. Starting a blog and setting a goal of posting every week has really helped me develop the habit of writing consistently. It wouldn't even have to be a blog, just something so that you're accountable to other people to be consistent!
  2. Take time to brainstorm. This helps plan out what you want to write so you don’t get stuck. To find ideas, ask yourself, what are your interests? What do you want to read? What message do you want to send to your readers? Start there. You can also write what first comes to mind, write your thoughts, a list of ideas. A random story. Just start writing. Brainstorming isn’t for perfection it is just to get your ideas flowing!
      9. Look at your surroundings. From your surroundings, you can get  inspiration. Ask, “What are people saying or doing? What’s the weather like?” Was there a particular event happening around you that you could implement into a story? Use those!
      10. Keep writing even if you don’t want to. That’s part of forming a habit. You have to do it repeatedly before it starts to come naturally (and it definitely won’t all the time, even after). So keep going with that pen, motivation comes and goes, but to stay consistent, you just have to write!
Don’t stop writing.

11. Don't be discouraged by age. Writers can be any age! It’s really just a matter of starting.There’s no age limit whatsoever!

12. Read before writing. Discover what styles you like and what things you want to avoid. Read outside your genre.

13. Find a community of writers that can critique your writing and that you can critique. Want to start a blog? Connect with other bloggers, by actively participating in that community. Start your own in person group.

14.  Find a writing mentor (even if he/she is younger). As long as they are ahead of you in their writing path they are perfectly qualified to guide you in your writing goals!

So! That’s it for now! 14 things to get you started on your writing path, no matter how big or small your goals are! As I mentioned I’ve only been writing and blogging for the past three years, and I definitely don’t have everything figured out.
Have questions, or further comments? Post them in the comments section below!

Anne Rhys is a young writer who blogs at Fathers Joy with the goal of inspiring others of all ages in the arts of reading and writing, she also is in the middle of several writing projects with the intent to publish. To find out additional information subscribe to her email list Fathers Joy Writings . 

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year



I grew up mostly in a small town. We were one of the larger towns for our area, but still, it was a little place where you knew everyone in school, you saw mostly the same people most of the time, you did business at the same places and, when things happened to someone, it affected everyone.

Its a little different in a city. When you hear sirens, you don't call around to see who was in an accident. When people are hurting or having trouble, you are just glad it wasn't you or yours. When you see an accident, you don't stop to try and help, you just get irritated that they are keeping you from where you need to go.

It's just different here. We are busy.

This morning, as I was heading out while it was still dark to pick Ethan up from some all night thing for teens at the church, I saw a young girl trying to push her obviously not working car out of a busy intersection.

My first thought was, "I hope someone is around to help her."

I had one of those I'm not gonna stop, I'm in a hurry, I'm sure she will be fine, I don't want to scare her, she looks like she's got it moments.

Then I thought, no, that sucks. I've been broke down before, and it feels so frustrating and you can feel so helpless when their is no one to help. If it was me, wouldn't I want someone to just help out a little?

So, I helped her push her car out of the intersection and made sure she had someone coming to rescue her, and felt like a jerk for not wanting to take five minutes to help someone out.

This is a New Year. 
I'm not trying to brag about my good deeds. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to share how I've overlooked people I should have helped plenty of times, and was going to just leave her there to take care of her own problems, when helping wasn't much trouble at all.

I just hope you will take a moment to consider how you might be able to help someone else if you are able. And how you might bring a little concern for those outside your usual circle, even if they seem a to be giving you a little inconvenience.

Happy New Year friends!


Friday, December 8, 2017

The Gifts We Get

a fun rhyme to remind that we don’t always get the gift we wanted::


I didn’t ask for this so called gift I have
At least not that I remember
And I don’t really want to use it
It inflames hearts like it were, to the fire, tinder

It makes me seem much too direct
Making my words feel like a dagger
Under this burden, that I must carry
So often I stumble and stagger

But the truth, it must need be said!
And the truth it must prevail!
Somehow I’m compelled to follow this line
Even when i know my words will fail

So if by chance a tender heart
Will catch wind of what I said
And feel the pain of what it means
Perhaps even be filled with dread

Please understand that it comes to you
With naught but pure intention
And a hope that you can see all I do
And not just hear the words I mention

But dare you call this thing I carry
A calling, a blessing or a gift?
Don’t you know how many times 
It’s caused nothing but a rift?

To have to speak the truth inside
when, really, I only want to uplift
It may be the truth, but if you would
Please don’t call it my “gift”


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Small Victories

Sometimes we have to celebrate the smallest victories

And, in doing that, sometimes we can finally recognize the larger ones.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Puzzle of the Persecuted

My first trip to India was in April of 2002. It was at this time that persecution of the Christian Church was beginning to ramp up.

A pastor and his son had been burned to death in their by radicals in a major city , simply because they were Christians. Other Pastor's reported being dragged from their homes and Churches and being beaten and falsely accused of crimes. One of the leaders we visited had his home broken into and the intruders fired random shots down the hallway and around the house.

I was asked by Open Doors to join a team to travel to a few different areas and teach Pastors and other Christian Leaders about how to deal with persecution.

I thought that this was more than a little pretentious and quite the puzzle.

How was I going to teach anyone about that? 

 While I had dealt with the challenges of everyday life and had helped others walk through their problems, I was simply used to dealing with problems that paled in severity, next to the idea of being burnt to death because of my beliefs.
 
What could I possibly say that would help them on their way? Can you imagine being asked to teach someone else that has faced a life and death situation about how they can successfully navigate that problem, when you've never even faced it yourself? That's pretty much where I was.

But, I found the solution to that puzzle!

 I found that the simple acts of going there, talking to them, reminding them of the hope they have, listening to their experiences and praying with them made a huge impact on their lives.
 
I have recently begun a non-profit organization (in all my spare time) that helps connect people like you and I with International Christian Leaders for the purpose of encouraging them and praying for them, and letting them know that we stand with them. We call this organization "Alentar" (A Spanish word that means, simply "To Encourage").

We dont send them stuff, we dont send them money, we send them ourselves...our time, our prayers and, when possible, our visits. 

I was surprised at how much of a difference that can make, but now I know that it does. Not only in the lives of our International Family, but ours as well.

You can follow along with me by "liking" our Facebook page (facebook.com/AlentarInternational) or by getting on our email list by dropping us a note at alentarinternational@gmail.com.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cyber Warfare and a sharpened Kabar

Our youngest recently attended a week long Cyber Defense camp with the Civil Air Patrol.

We showed up at the end of the week to see his graduation ceremony and pick him up. The special guest speaker told us that he had literally waged war and killed with his computer and had been given mission orders from computers.

I had visions in my mind of him smashing someone with his old Apple IIe, literally killing someone with his computer, and Skynet becoming sentient and ordering him to wage war. Maybe this isn't quite what he meant.

Then they showed a video. In the video, a team of High Intensity Interval Training fit superbad looking special operators clandestinely sneak in on a compound with a few enemy combatants meeting in a pickup to plan the next 911 or something.

Instead of taking them all out with their Carl Gustav's and  Mark 3's, they get on some sophisticated communication thing that links them with some base in Alaska, a Cruiser in the Mediterranean, a satellite in outer space and a couple of jets flying around. It showed the grand vision of the integrated, high tech and lethal potential of Cyber Defense! It was impressive. Each link of this chain was a sight to see.

Then I thought that integrated systems are awesome! But, if one link in that chain is compromised, will the individual elements of these systems still be able to function independently? Or will a bad cell connection put an end to the entire operation?

At what point does a guy just have to sharpen up his Kabar and go to work?




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stay the Night



Many years ago, Diane and I took Tom, the oldest, on a trip to Nebraska. On the way back, it was dark and late as we drove through New Mexico. On top of that, a sudden storm began to lash out at us on the darkened highway.

The nearest town was Las Vegas New Mexico, and the closest lodging we could find was the Inn of Las Vegas. Perhaps the loud party in the adjacent auditorium (that was really just a big covering built over a filled in swimming pool) should have been a clue, but it was late and we were tired.

The first room key we were given let us open up a room with someone else's luggage and stuff filling the room, which didn't make us feel too safe when we finally got a room of our own. Neither did the "fire escape", which was more of an old access panel from some older era, and opened to the hallway.

The saddest moment was when Tom dropped his toothbrush on the floor. He was so sad when he a mom made him throw it away, since his grandma gave it to him. But the floor didn't seem exactly pristine.

As we drove by on our recent trip, we were almost glad to see that all that was left of the inn was the sign.