Monday, July 30, 2012

Time Out

Dear WOTH Writers...change is in the wind. This blog will be dormant for awhile as we take time out to reconstruct our website and blogs.

Keep writing!

your friends at Women of the Harvest

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Read My Writing: Change the World

If you want to change the world,
pick up your pen and write.
~Martin Luther

It's my new favorite quote that I found three weeks ago. I have it written, in my hand, on a dry erase board in my office. It gives me hope.

When I was 17, I thought I could change the world. No, I really thought I could. I even declared such on a college scholarship application. However, decades later, my inner mantra has faded like my eyesight. I'm a bit jaded. I wonder if life is passing me by on this change-the-world thing. I've read Revelation and I know who the world-changer is and how it's all going down.

In the meantime, before the Apocalypse occurs, this new favorite quote is dwelling in my psyche and changing my pessimistic perspective. Can I really effect change at this late date? If I can't go somewhere and fight injustice in person, could my writing deliver the TKO necessary to right the wrong? Is Martin Luther correct? Do I dare dust off my buried, deflated dreams and put my pen to work?

This week in reading your writing, I came across a post with a link to an article that reinforced the concept of how powerful the written word is. I am changed having read it.

Wendy, who serves in Japan, linked her readers to the blog post, "After Shocks," by Philip Yancey, that gives his account of the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Like Martin Luther, Philip Yancey is quite influential in his writings. This week, he unknowingly becomes our mentor.

By reading his post, I would like to point out several things Mr. Yancey does that could make your writing effective as you tell your global stories.

1. He educates and reminds the reader with his research and use of facts. He sets the stage by reporting in the first few paragraphs the details of the tsunami; he brings in scientific principles throughout the article; he accurately reports the numbers of deaths, locations, debris totals.

2. He then weaves in the human side of the tsunami with stories, quotes, and photos. Note how these personal stories are written: not over the top, no excessive use of adjectives. The reader is not manipulated by the writer; she is moved by the simple telling of the story.

3. He personally enters in throughout the course of the post...and writes with the hope of changing the world: "May we not forget Japan."

I would love to read about what's happening in your corner of the globe with stories written like Mr. Yancey's. Although he crafted his post to end with a call to action, I think I came to that conclusion somewhere in the middle of the article.

Good writing stirs our hearts, daresay, changes us and the world we live in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Read My Writing: Generosity of Spirit

I don't know why generosity always amazes me. When I experience it, I find myself reveling in a state of disbelief. When I see it happen to another, I am shocked and delighted and a little jealous. Even though my Father is the one with a thousand cattle grazing on the hill, I still forget His generosity is never-ending. The world that envelopes me is competitive where the getting and the giving are usually quite measured. I succumb to believing generosity is in short supply.

Something special is happening on this blog; you all are amazing me with your generosity of spirit. It was after I put a call out for articles that I noticed. One woman wrote in suggesting another's blog post for publication. I was transformed by that one simple act of generosity. I checked out her recommendation. [It was quite good. We published it.] And then I clicked over to her blog. [It was quite good. We published one of her posts too.]

As I was reading the blogroll today, I noticed the same generosity of spirit through your comments to one another. There is a network of mutual encouragement happening weekly. Let's keep perpetuating this life-giving and inspiring spirit. I love to read your posts about the ministries you are involved in; by the very nature of your work, you are generous. But what defines "generosity of spirit" best to me is when you write encouraging comments about what one of your writing colleagues posted. This type of currency is priceless, and I must admit, in short supply. There is nothing more lonely than "0 Comments" beside a well-written, heart-on-a-sleeve post.

Let's not leave each other dangling. When you read good writing, be generous. Comment. Share. Like. Submit. One small act of kindness in my Inbox awakened something in me: generosity. My little measured heart is enlarging each time I release it. I wonder, though, if I will ever lose my amazement.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Read My Writing: Six Tips for Writing Entrancing Titles

I love writing titles. It is a challenge to craft a gate that readers will want to open and walk through. Many of the articles published in the onlineMagazine and now, Connection, have been re-titled to create a more compelling entrance to the valuable literary efforts of its writers.

Here are six of my favorite ways to create titles:

1. I read the entire article and try to find a phrase that pops out. At the IRL* blog, Jamie Jo comes up with some phrases in her posts that are uniquely her. I usually play off her voice and originality to draw in readers. For example: Is There Some Hip New Way? came from a question she posed in the body of her post or Computer-induced ADD, a JJ original diagnosis to a cultural behavior she is afflicted with.

2. I like to twist a well-known phrase, song or book title:

3. I like to be tastefully provocative. Two cover stories in the onlineMagazine come to mind:

4. I capture the essence of the article and put it in the title, appealing and pulling on the reader's emotional heartstrings: Kidnapped! or Furlough Grocery Tears.

5. I try to keep my titles short and to the point. Being on Twitter helps immensely with developing this skill.

6. If your article/post gives your readers some tips, or promises to make their life easier, or explains something they might need or want to know, put that beneficial promise in the title:

Finally, put yourself in the reader's shoes. Look at the current titles of your blog posts in your archives. Are they entrancing? Would you want to click on them? In the weeks ahead, put an extra measure of effort into writing titles for your blog posts. Take some risks; try one of the tips and see if more readers come to your blog through the gateway of a well-crafted title.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Read My Writing: The Pull of a Compelling Title

This will be quick. Glance down the WOTH Writer's blogroll. Look at the titles of each of the posts. Which ones do you want to read? This is my list:

How you title your post is important. Why? Read the top paragraph again.

More on this next week...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Read My Writing: Published!

Nothing makes me happier than to publish stories of women serving cross-culturally. Yesterday we sent out our interim publication, Connection. It is our innovative solution while we are re-designing our website and publications. Connection is a monthly publication that features four articles written by women who are or have served as missionaries, Women of the Harvest ministry updates, and links to all our social media outlets and blogs to keep you connected 24/7.

This shameless plug does have a tie-in to our "Read My Writing" series. One of the articles is from a woman on our blogroll. It's her first published piece. And I know she's pretty excited about that. Hence my joy.

Congratulations to Suzanne, from Her article, "Furlough Grocery Tears," is creating quite a buzz; more than 27 women have commented and shared their similar stories.'s so good to know we are not alone in this cross-cultural life.

As my work life settles into a better rhythm since the launch of Connection, I will be getting back to reading your writing. In the meantime, why don't you take a look at some of your blog posts. Would one of them make a good article for Connection? Perhaps you can add to, or edit your voice a bit, in order to make it suitable for publishing. I worked with Suzanne to polish up her final draft; in fact, I asked her to take the piece in a different direction and focus more on her time in the grocery store. She complied. I am glad we worked well together on this project.

As you all continue to hone your writing, I want to be an encouraging colleague in your pursuit of conveying your voice well in written form. Remember, the life you are living is interesting and worthy of a story.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Read My Writing: Writer's Block

Oh my...when I signed off for the holidays, I had no idea I would be gone this long. And as we know, infrequent posting spells death to most blogs. But I have a feeling this blog will survive this pause because of its sweet readers.

Thank you for the kindness expressed through your comments...words put together in just the right way really do convey a sentiment that goes deep. I sense your friendship and it makes me smile. So thanks. I am encouraged by you to push through what I am calling my post-holiday writer's block.

The remedy: just write.

A few weeks ago, I read everyone's blogs. Nothing popped out that could hold up a new post. But because of the deadline pressure I was under, I started to get frustrated. Come on creative juices, start flowing! Nothing happened.

So instead of looking at the content of your blogs, I started staring blankly at your form. And by form, I mean how you format your posts. And there in my computer screen-induced stupor was the answer to my blog post prayer: Offer a few layout suggestions that would help create a soothing and easily readable post.

Create more white space in your posts
  • add more space between photos so they are not piled up on each other
  • create more paragraphs to break up long text

Create balance and interest

  • place photos with some on the left and then some on the right.
  • vary the size of the photos you upload
  • use subheadings to portion off your writing
  • use colored font judiciously
  • create a blog color scheme with your fonts, background, headers that is soothing to the eye

Create something that looks like it won't take much time to read

  • keep it under 500 words.
  • use lots of small paragraphs
  • have a great first sentence...oops, that's about content.
I think I've hurdled my writer's block. It's good to be with you again.


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