Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things by Diana Flegal

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I love all things about this holiday. Gathering with family and friends, great food, and great FOOTBALL! Seriously, can it get any better? Wait- and then there are LEFTOVERS!!

Although this year will be different than many of the others I have known, it will be spent with great friends, eating good food, and watching FOOTBALL! 

And my contribution to the meal will be my baked corn casserole dish. I thought I'd share my recipe with you. There are many versions circulating now, but I stick to this tested and beloved one. Do not count carbs or calories tomorrow. Enjoy and recoup the next week.

Diana’s Baked Corn 

One stick of butter – melted in 2 quart casserole dish 

Add 6 oz’s of sour cream and one box of Jiffy corn muffin mix to melted butter  

Mix well 

Add one can of creamed corn and one can of sweet corn (do not drain) 

Mix again 

OPTION: add one small can of green chilies 

Pour batter into lightly oiled casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for 55 to 60 minutes.

And in case you are asking, "Any new recipes for those leftovers Diana?"

These Hot Brown's are really terrific. Open faced hot turkey sandwich with cheese gravy and crispy bacon...what's not to love?

I pray, no matter what personal challenges you face, your heart is full to overflowing as you list the things you can be thankful for.  

Happy Thanksgiving ya'll!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankful for Ctrl+H by Andy Scheer

I appreciate this versatile shortcut.

This season, it’s easy to think of the usual, big reasons to give thanks.

But the past few weeks as I’ve worked to edit a massive, multipart project, I’ve had many opportunities to appreciate one feature of Microsoft Word.

Because a few of my colleagues on this have worked more as writers than editors, they weren’t familiar with some of Word’s keyboard shortcuts. Of the dozen or shortcuts I listed for them, the one they find most useful for editing is Find & Replace.

If you’re trying to revise a manuscript without it, you’re likely doing some tasks the hard way.

Simultaneously keying Crtl and H opens a world of possibilities for making selective or global changes.

Do you sometimes enter two spaces between sentences? That’s easy to fix. Go to the Find what box and enter two spaces. In the Replace with box, enter one space. Then click Replace all. You’ll even get a tally of how many instances were changed.

In many documents I edit, authors sometimes use the Tab key for paragraph indents. But tabs typically don’t work with typesetting programs. They need to be deleted. Fortunately, there’s no need to remove them manually. Find/Replace has an easy answer. In Find what enter ^t (the carat symbol appears over the number 6). In Replace with, enter nothing. Click Replace all, and all those unwanted tabs disappear.

Do you sometimes capitalize a word that should be lowercase? By clicking the More box, you’ll get a list of options that can enable you direct Word to replace all uppercase instances of that term with lowercase, such as biblical instead of Biblical.

Years ago at a conference, novelist Angela Hunt suggested using this case-sensitive feature to identify words you know you overuse. If you too often type was instead of a stronger verb construction, she suggested using the Replace all feature to change each instance of was to WAS. As you review the draft, they’ll instantly scream for your attention.

But in some instances, Find next is your better choice. My current client wants to refer to places where the ministry operates as centers, not projects. I was tempted to automatically replace each instance. Then I encountered one document that spoke of the center having just purchased a projector. Having made the change globally, I found a reference in the text to a centeror. Fortunately, that got flagged by the automatic spell-check feature. But that’s another topic for another day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

There, they’re, their. You’re and your. By Linda S. Glaz

Ah, yes. These words have been thorns in author—editors’ sides forever. We see blog posts on them, FB posts on them, and they lead as the greatest pet peeve in most every set of writing tips. They all boil down to one main thing. The individual has not proofread their work sufficiently.

In our rush when someone wants to look at our work, we tend to hurry through the most important process: proofing our work. Anyone can put down words and tell a story, but not everyone can make it shine.

We justify the rushed job by saying the agent or editors wants to see it now. They won’t wait. They might take someone else’s project. And all of these are possibilities. But I would rather someone made me wait than to receive their work done in a haphazard manner.

We write. We rewrite. And then we write again until the product is the absolute best that it can be. It should be. 

As Christian authors our goal can nothing less than our best. Otherwise, we give a poor example to the world of what is possible. And of what we expect of ourselves. And of our true calling. Are we writing to draw others to Christ? Are we writing to make buckets of money? Are we writing to tell stories and entertain people? All reasons should receive the same, meticulous care.

Do your best. If it isn’t the absolute best writing, then address it again. And again. And again. And again, until it is.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Words and Peace by Jim Hart

I read a blog this week that asked the question Can Books Counter Terrorism?
It’s definitely food for thought. Is the written word so powerful that it could really counter terrorism? 

It depends on the words.

As Christ followers we believe that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris the world is looking for answers and a plan of action to stand against this growing threat. This week there have been many words, written and spoken, with passion, anger, sorrow and a whole range of emotions. I’m reminded of Mark Heard’s song from 1982, Everybody Loves a Holy War and Bruce Cockburn’s 1981 song Justice.  Although both songs are a bit ‘preachy’, and not very subtle, they still, decades later, represent a certain sentiment, that even if not spoken out loud, we still repeat in our hearts.

I read a number of quotes this week that declare Christianity is the enemy of Islam. Violent words about infidels and death. And yet, despite the very real and deadly persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslims, stories abound of Jesus appearing in dreams and visions to Muslims to let them know who He is and how greatly He loves them.


It makes 2 Peter 3:9 so real and so relevant: He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” If this is Christ’s attitude, and since we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), then this should be our position as well. I was also reminded of this verse: "Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. (Ezekiel 18:23 NLT)

As writers who have surrendered life and talent to Jesus, remember that there is power in the words that you write, both non-fiction and fiction. Ask the Lord to guide your words. Maybe your words will, in some way, speak life and love to hearts lost in hatred and fear.

The blog I read a few days ago ended with these words: “Books are great at helping people learn how to improve their lives and to live a more fulfilling life.  We now have to call upon our best authors to dedicate themselves to leading us to peace.  It won’t be easy.  Every president and military general of every land of every era has failed us when it comes to bringing about a lasting peace.” (Can Books Counter Terrorism?)

Let’s end this blog with the only Word that is capable of bringing about a lasting peace:

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. (Colossians 1:6 NLT)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Writing Advice According to Dr. Seuss Compiled and Arranged by Diana Flegal

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!

Whenever things go a bit sour in a job I'm doing, I always tell myself, 'You can do better than this.'

Step with care and great tact, and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What’s Your Best Time? by Andy Scheer

It’s one way to optimize your work.

For the past month I’ve been driving to an office five days a week, working on a special editorial project from 8:00 to 5:00. Besides helping an organization I respect, it’s given me insights into how and when I do my best work.

A team of ten editors sits with laptops around a conference table, each working on our sections of this project. Dealing with short pieces contributed by writers around the globe, we’re charged to edit the content to a particular length, making sure it’s readable and uses the organization’s preferred terminology.

Each of us around the table works differently. Some use multiple monitors, others a single screen raised well above the table top. I think I’m the only one using just the screen on the laptop and no external keyboard. It’s the way I’ve worked in my own office for years.

As soon as they arrive, some people insert earbuds and start listening. The editor on the end listens to classical; the guy to my right alternates between classical and talk radio. The editor across from me tries to protect herself from any distractions by listening to white noise. The editor to her left, who seldom speaks, says she couldn’t possibly work while listening to music.

I can sympathize, at least when the music has vocals. But the past two mornings, I’ve done some of my best work while listing to Christmas music performed by brass ensembles.

But only in the mornings. Each day as I tally how many of the segments I’ve done, I see that I almost always complete more than half my day’s output before noon. Though I take a quick lunch, I struggle to get back into rhythm. No matter how hard I try to concentrate, I’m never my most productive for the next few hours. The last couple hours of the day, I get back into the swing again. But never quite where I was first thing in the morning.

These observations only confirm what I’ve known for years. While working as a magazine editor or for the Christian Writers Guild, I had the luxury to juggle multiple projects. So I could reserve my prime hours for projects that needed my best concentration and work after lunch on tasks less critical.

But at times like now, I don’t have a choice. So I adjust my expectations for my productivity. Sometimes, that’s the best I can do.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Filling the Emotional Bucket by Linda S. Glaz

This week has brought many of us to our knees in prayer, as it should.
It has drawn from our emotional wells of grief, as it should.
It will fill some of us with never before raw emotions, as it should.
Many of us can use that in the end to fill our emotional buckets to use later, to pull from, to give us empathy in our writing for those in pain, as it should.
And while we’re writing through the heartache, we will feel a strong call to prayer, as we should.
There just aren’t words today.
Everyone have a wonderful week.