Latest Lost & Found Theatre play destined to be a Christmas classic

Tags

, , , , , , ,

LF - Charles Dickens WritesDescriptions such as “a holiday classic” or “must-see theatre” have been used so frequently that they seem hyperbolic this time of year.

This isn’t the case with Lost & Found Theatre’s latest production: Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol. If tonight’s performance is any indicator, this play is destined to be a Christmas classic and certainly is must-see theatre for the few performances that remain.

Written by L&F company member Richard Quesnel, Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol tells the story behind the now-classic story of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Written in 1843, a time when the celebration of Christmas was considered out of fashion in London, A Christmas Carol became one of the most popular books of the English language and has been credited by some as ‘almost single-handedly reviving the Christmas holiday'” writes Quesnel in the playwright’s notes.

The play depicts the challenges Dickens (Gareth Potter) faced in providing his publisher with a story as successful as The Pickwick Papers – which had been published seven years earlier. Drawing inspiration from a group of carollers and a tightfisted publisher who insisted on new and publishable work by Christmas morning, Dickens slaves through the night to produce A Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol  seamlessly weaves the story of how Dickens crafted the story with the story itself

Quesnel, who also directed the play, seamlessly weaves the story of how Dickens crafted the story with the story itself. Potter assumes the role of both Dickens and Bob Crachit while L&F company member Christy Ziss is memorable as Mrs. Dickens and Mrs. Cratchit. Both veteran actor Ted Follows (Jacob Marley/Old Joe) and L&F’s Kathleen Sheehy (Mrs. Dilber/Mrs. Fezziwig) are unforgettable.

For me, the challenge of any actor depicting Ebenezer Scrooge is meeting the standard set by Alistair Sim in the 1951 film Scrooge. Vince Carlin’s portrayal of Mr. Hall/Scrooge meets and, dare I admit it, exceeds that standard. In his own way, Carlin shows Scrooge’s self-centred approach to life in which only his business is preeminent. By the end of the visits of the three spirits, Carlin is able to demonstrate Scrooge’s repentance in which mankind becomes his business.

From a cast which effectively handles British accents and Victorian dialogue, to a simple set which transforms itself from Dickens’ study to the Cratchit’s cottage to Scrooge’s bedroom, the play shines. A particularly memorable scene, often missing from film versions of the story, is the Ghost of Christmas Present’s visit to those celebrating Christmas: a pair of miners, a lighthouse keeper and those aboard a ship at sea. Under Quesnel’s direction, the scene features carols in German, French, another language I couldn’t quite catch and ends with an English version of the the traditional Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still” in a moment which brought the audience, including  myself, to tears.

The acting is superb. The set is stunning. The original music is moving. Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol will become a Christmas tradition. And that’s a prediction, not hyperbole.

********************

Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol continues its run at the Conrad Centre in Kitchner until Saturday, December 12. For ticket information check http://www.lostandfoundtheatre.com/

To listen to playwright/director Richard Quesnel talk about the origins and production of Charles Dickens Writes A Christmas Carol check http://tinyurl.com/ojf22xr

You’ll look at Christmas differently after reading “The Yuletide Factor”

Tags

, , , , ,

Yuletide Factor - coverNormally, I don’t review a book until I’ve finished reading it. But because of the subject matter, and time of year, I’ve decided to make an exception for Tim Huff’s The Yuletide Factor.

For close to three decades, Huff has ministered to, and been ministered by, street-involved youth and adults and has become one of the Canadian Church’s leading resources on poverty and homelessness. Huff is also a musician (performing with the band Outrider) and an artist whose work has graced the pages of the Compassion series of children’s books The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge, It’s Hard Not to Stare, and the forthcoming The Honour Drum (co-authored by Cheryl Bear).

The Yuletide Factor is the third in a series of books that Huff has written about his experiences in street ministry: Bent Hope: A Street Journal and Dancing with Dynamite: Celebrating Against the Odds. Each of these books have introduced us to a number of people that have been touched by Huff’s care and compassion as he shares in their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They also tell how these people, in spite of their own struggles with poverty, homelessness or sexual exploitation, have touched Huff’s own life.

The Yuletide Factor parallels the themes of poverty and homelessness with both Scripture and many of the cultural stories now part Christmas tradition

His latest book, The Yuletide Factor, touches on many of the same themes while, at the same time, noting the parallels between those themes and the Christmas narrative…whether the traditional Scriptural account of Jesus’ birth or the cultural stories that have become so much a part of North American Christmas tradition.

The Yuletide Factor also seems to be the most personal of Huff’s trilogy. Among the examples of his own story are:

  • His re-telling of how his annual stint as a Christmas Eve Santa for friends and family takes a poignant turn in a nearly-empty laundromat.
  • His tale about spending his teenage years years selling Christmas trees, leading to a new appreciation for retail workers during the Christmas season.
  • The memory of a Kindergarten craft for Christmas reminds him, and the reader, about one of the most down-to-earth needs of those living on the street.

As with Bent Hope and Dancing With Dynamite Huff has collaborated with other voices who share in his compassion and care for those in need. Television personalities Moira Brown and Lorna Dueck bookend The Yuletide Factor with their foreward and benediction. Singer/songwriter Steve Bell and Greg Paul (pastor and founder of Sanctuary Ministries) provide interludes to Huff’s narrative. And, after finding out that his previous two books were being used for study and discussion, Huff asked Ann Brandner to provide a reflection and discussion guide for each chapter.

Huff has the ability to write about crucial issues with care, compassion and, in some instances, humour…without laying on the guilt. But his stories do carry a sense of urgency and need, leaving many readers wondering if they are part of the problem and asking how they can become part of the solution.

The Yuletide Factor will have you looking at Christmas in an entirely different way. Maybe that’s why the book has been subtitled: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy.

*****************

For more about The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy check http://tinyurl.com/jsk2wo8

 

 

 

Three items you need to add to your must-buy list

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Welcome back. Yes, I’ve been busy. No, I haven’t posted for a while. And, sorry for not meeting my self-imposed deadlines and keeping up to date with this blog.

But I’m back. While my schedule isn’t completely clear (Meet You at the Manger is in full-blown rehearsal mode and I’m still working on memorizing my lines), I do intend to keep up with the blog on a regular basis.

With this post, I want to catch up on three items that have come to my attention that need to be on everyone’s must-buy list:

SMRTdigipak_template_0.5mmlower_11by17_TEMPLATEKarla Adolphe – Live at the Space

Alberta singer/songwriter Karla Adolphe’s (http://www.karlaadolphe.ca/#!home/mainPage) latest release is a five-song EP recorded live at The Space, a recording studio in Red Deer, Alberta.

Anyone who has heard Adolphe’s previous releases, Honeycomb Tombs and Lingering, along with her work with The Emporiums and Jacob and Lily are familiar with her sweet voice and intricate guitar work. Live at the Space showcases a maturing artist and songwriter through a crisp production, that includes a tight studio band whose accompaniment supports Adolphe without overshadowing her.

The opening track, “Trouble Won’t Go” is probably the most poignant and personal. The song’s opening lines, “Trouble won’t go and peace won’t stay/Oceans roar and levy break,” harken back to the 2013 flood that devastated her home, and hometown, of High River, Alberta. It’s also the only song on the EP Adolphe didn’t write.

My personal favourite is “Child of the King,” the EP’s final song, which presents a joy and hope that juxtaposes the pessimism of “Trouble Won’t Go.”

The only problem with this EP? It’s too short. One can only hope Adolphe is working on more songs and a full-length CD is forthcoming.

********************

Creative Church Handbook – J. Scott McElroy

Creative Church HandbookAnyone thinking about starting an arts ministry in their church, or even those who have started one, needs Creative Church Handbook by J. Scott McElroy, the Indianapolis-based director of the New Renaissance Arts Movement (http://jscottmcelroy.com/).

The book, subtitled Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation, methodically presents both a biblical and practical rationale for the place of the arts in churches. Through interviews, e-mail conversations and personal experience, McElroy provides real-life examples of individuals and churches making an impact on their congregations and communities through the arts in all its forms.

This isn’t a book where Canadians have twist themselves into knots tying to figure out how American examples can be translated into the Canadian context. McElroy provides examples of Canadian churches releasing the arts and artists for ministry

An added benefit is the myriad of web-based resources McElroy provides, which couldn’t be included in the book.

********************

Seeing the Unseen: Launching and Managing a Church Gallery – Sandra Bowden and Marianne Lettieri

Seeing the Unseen - coverPublished by CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts http://civa.org/), Seeing the Unseen is a step-by-step handbook for those who want to display art in a church gallery setting. Starting with the basics of defining what kind of gallery program you want to have, the book also explores the details of how to exhibit, hang and light paintings and how to engage viewers.

This comprehensive guide can seem overwhelming, but for churches truly interested in engaging their congregation, and the general public, through art, Seeing the Unseen is book to have.

Stretching creative muscles may ache, but they’ll be stronger in the long run

Tags

, , ,

PSX_20151017_132529[1]Around the time the Audience of One Christian Theatre Company was holding auditions for this year’s Christmas production, I came across the link to an article titled “How to be a Playwright in the New Play Rehearsal Room.”

The article was full of great advice, especially since this was the first time a work I’d written was being produced. I was quite willing to put into practice the advice playwright Stephen Spotswood suggested:

  • Be around for the first few rehearsals so you can answer questions about character, plot and structure
  • Get to know your director (which had already been done while we worked on the initial drafts of Meet You At the Manger).
  • Be ready to listen to actors who may either ask questions or make suggestions.
  • See the script as a blueprint which can be modified (instead of quoting Pharoah from The Ten Commandments by saying “So let it be written. So let it be done.”)
  • Know when to put some distance between you and the play to allow the director and actors to develop the play.

This project has opened new avenues of creativity for me. First, it was taking two short stories I’d written and crafting them into a script. Second was working on song lyrics which were edited, polished and put to music by Audience of One artistic director Kim Pottruff. Second, in my conversations with Kim, I shared my long-standing interest in directing, so she invited me to take on the task of assistant director. Third, once auditions were over, we found we still needed a male actor/singer for the role of the play’s antagonist. Despite my reservations and limitations, I was cast and began learning the lines I’d written (and realized the remainder of Spotswood’s advice was now irrelevant).

This project has opened new avenues of creativity.

Rehearsals have been underway for a few weeks now. Recently the cast and musicians gathered for a Saturday rehearsal and worked through the first half of Meet You at the Manger. Up to that point, the cast was working on individual scenes or working with the musical director (who initially auditioned for a part, but whose background suited him to his current role). The “stumble through” allowed the cast to see the sum of the parts.

The stumble through also demonstrated the collaborative side of workshopping a new production. The songs Kim created had initially been transcribed by a musician who is now back home in Ireland. Those transcriptions are being worked into shape by the musical director. As we put roles, music and blocking together, ideas come to the fore — from everyone: director, musicians, actors, writer. Working through one section, where we moved from one scene to the next for the first time, a blocking idea came out that brought out some humour and foreshadowing.

As I’ve said in previous posts, being involved with this production is an adventure. And it’s an adventure that’s stretching my creative muscles. Yes, sometimes those creative muscles ache but I know, in the long run, they’ll be stronger for the experience.

********************

For more information go to http://www.audienceofoneguelph.ca/

If this is “just getting started,” Carolyn Arends has a bright future

Tags

, , ,

JGSCoverSinger/songwriter Carolyn Arends titled her 20th anniversary retrospective CD Just Getting Started. If Arends is “just getting started” then I can hardly wait to see what the next 20 years of songs will bring.

Arends released her first album, the now out-of-print I Can Hear You, in 1995. Produced by the legendary Brown Bannister it featured “Seize the Day” and garnered the BC artist a Dove Award nomination. Since then she’s produced 11 CDs/albums (which includes 2 Christmas CDs, a parenthood project and a best-of collection).

Just Getting Started: An acoustic reflection on 20 years of music is an homage to both the music that has gone before and a tribute to the fans who have supported Arends for those two decades.

The CD is a fitting retrospective to one of Canada’s best singers/songwriters

The 12-song compilation starts with a new one: the title track “Just Getting Started.” As she has in the past, Arends demonstrates a deft turn of the phrase: “These are but tastes of the banquet before us/The music is great but just wait for the chorus/From delivery rooms to the dearly departed/Just getting started.”

The remaining 11 songs were selected by her fans. Some were songs Arends hadn’t performed for a while (“it was like meeting old friends and getting to know them again”). Others were perennial favourites, such as “Seize the Day” which was reinvented “on piano in a Billy Joel ‘Piano Man’ kind of direction” for the acoustic CD.

Arends’ songwriting forms the backbone of this CD. Adding meat to those bones are Spencer Capier’s intricate accompaniment on a variety of instruments including mandolin, violin and background vocals. Producer Roy Salmond fleshes out the production while also adding musical touches via, among other instruments, accordion, Wurlitzer, lap steel and percussion. The almost unnoticeable touches on background instrumental touches are one of the components that make this CD shine.

Some of my favourite cuts include “Happy,” “New Years Day” and “Father Thy Will be Done.” But each time I listen to the CD (and it’s been practically every day since it was released), I pick up something I like about the other tracks. I’m sure every song will become someone’s favourite.

Just Getting Started: An acoustic reflection on 20 years of music is a fitting retrospective to one of Canada’s best singers/songwriters. And the CD has me looking forward to Arend’s next 20 years of music.

**********

Just Getting Started: An acoustic reflection on 20 years of music is available as a free download from http://20.carolynarends.com/

To listen to an interview where Carolyn Arends talks about this project, check http://artsconnection.ca/content/arts-connection-monday-september-21-2015-carolyn-arends-20th-anniversary-cd-renovare

 

 

 

New CD captures energy, spirit of the Toronto Mass Choir

Tags

, , , , ,

TMC - Made for Worship coverThe Toronto Mass Choir hits overdrive with the opening song of its 10th CD, Made for Worship – Special Edition, and doesn’t let up on its energy and vitality throughout.

For almost three decades, the Toronto Mass Choir (TMC) has eloquently translated traditional gospel, contemporary gospel and Caribbean-influenced songs from the music page to hand-clapping, soul-inspiring and life-changing concert experiences. The recently-released 10th CD is, in part, a re-release of its May 2014, Covenant Award-winning limited edition CD/DVD – with new content, arrangements.

Re-release or new, Made for Worship shines. Recorded live, the CD captures the effervescent spirit of the TMC from the rousing “Anthem of Praise” that opens the CD, to the “happy-clappy” (as described by TMC artistic director Karen Burke in an upcoming Arts Connection interview) traditional gospel medley titled “Havin’ Church” to the reggae version of Chris Tomlin’s and Lou Giglio’s “Holy is the Lord.”

Made for Worship captures the effervescent spirit of the Toronto Mass Choir

The CD follows the typical musical peaks and valleys of a traditional gospel concert, with slower tempo numbers like “You Are,” “Your Name,” “Tribute to the King” and “Made to Worship” surrounded by more up-tempo songs. This is where a choir’s energy can flag (something I’ve experienced playing with and listening to brass bands). To the choir’s credit, even at the slower tempos, the TMC members focus as much energy on these numbers as they do the rest.

Rounding out the excellence of the CD are: 1) top-notch musicians including Snarky Puppy’s drummer Larnelle Lewis (who also plays with the Mike Janzen Trio); and 2) excellent production by Corey Butler.

In the liner notes, TMC artistic director Karen Burke states: “We made a very intentional decision to name this project Made for Worship and not Made to Worship. It may seem a subtle change but when we remember that worship is not just something that we do, it was what we were created for…Everything else falls into place.”

With Made for Worship the listener is reminded that we were created for worship through every note and word the TMC sings.

*********************

For more information on the Toronto Mass Choir check: http://tmc.ca/

“The End Begins”: what if today’s headlines became tomorrow’s history?

Tags

, , , , , ,

Seven front coverAll you have to do is read the news headlines to realize Sara Davison’s The End Begins isn’t that far-fetched.

Terrorist attacks on October 10, 2053 make 10/10 as significant as 9/11. The key difference? On 10/10 a group of radical Christians blew up seven mosques across Canada leading, of course, to the legal persecution of Christians.

Meryn O’Reilly, the heroine of The End Begins, runs a small, independent bookstore in Kingston, Ontario, which also happens to be home base for Army Captain Jesse Christensen. Sparks fly when the two first meet: the day the army invades Meryn’s church on orders to keep an eye on potential radicals.

Christians are subsequently threatened  with arrest, incarceration and/or punishment for “terrorist” activities such as owning, selling or hiding now-outlawed Bibles. Meryn runs afoul of the law, and Jesse, as sparks fly with each subsequent encounter. Since this is a romance/suspense/speculative fiction novel, the sparks are as varied as the circumstances that lead to them.

This, however, is one of the problems with The End Begins. Davison’s first novel, The Watcher was a suspense novel with an element of romance and resulted in a better read. The futuristic setting of The End Begins adds the problem of science fiction elements like the “i-com” communications devices. As an avid science/speculative fiction reader, I’ve always had a pet peeve with writers who try to come up with futuristic devices that either mimic current technology or seem illogically far-fetched. There were times The End Begins reminded me of the cheesy late 1970s end-times movies A Thief in the Night and A Distant Thunder.

 

Davison deftly avoids letting the conflicted attraction of this couple devolve into romantic cliches

And, unfortunately for a suspense novel, Davison tends to telegraph plot twists. I guessed, with the introduction of one character, what should have been a key surprise later in the novel.

Davison shines in character and relationship development. Meryn, a devout Christian, chafes at the legal restrictions placed on her. Jesse, an agnostic, runs away from the faith of his parents to his own dark night of the soul. Davison deftly avoids letting the conflicted attraction of this couple devolve into romantic cliches. She also creatively crafts the collision between Christensen’s head and heart, symbolized in the conflict he has with his commanding officer, and best friend, Major Caleb Donevan.

By setting The End Begins in the near future, the speculative fiction components of the novel clouds the clear focus of the book’s romance and suspense. In spite of these flaws, the novel is well worth reading – if only as a warning about what could happen if today’s headlines become tomorrow’s history. And, as the first book in “The Seven Trilogy” it will be intriguing to see where Davison takes her characters.

******************************

The End Begins by Sara Davison (http://www.saradavison.org) is published by Ashberry Lane. The e-book is available from http://amazon.com

(Disclosure: Sara Davison and I were both winners of the 2010 Word Alive Press publishing contest, with Davison taking the fiction award for The Watcher, while the non-fiction award went to my book Chasing the Wind: Finding Meaningful Answers from Ancient Wisdom)

Keep God from getting lost in the craft

Tags

,

Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel)Does God get lost in the craft of our art?

I have to admit, after being a journalist for three decades, the craft of writing stories can – and sometimes has – become rote.

Working on an assignment recently reminded me of how much I need to keep God foremost in all I do. It started out as one of those days when everything seemed to go wrong. To top it all off, it seems my new domain service had problems with one of its servers – the one that held my e-mail accounts. Including the one with the e-mail that had the phone number of an interviewee whom I was already late calling.

I eventually tracked down the number, called, and in the normal chit chat mentioned the e-mail issues. The interviewee immediately offered to pray for the situation. Again, confession time: I have to admit my immediate thoughts were less than charitable. I needed to get to the interview and prayer seemed superfluous. (I later found out the server needed to be rebuilt and I was left without business e-mail for the day.)

“May our days begin in prayer,/Communing with our King,/May our hearts be filled with joy/As His praises now we sing.”

Upon later reflection, I realized I had become so focused on what I considered a routine task that I’d left God aside. And when reminded about it, I almost became resentful.

Perhaps our human tendency to rely on self is the reason two of the books on arts I’ve read recently place our relationship with God at the forefront.

The first section of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship’s 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is titled “Time with God.” The section’s articles, short stories and poems all focus on ways in which the writer (or artist in general) can, and should, stay in touch with God. Sharon Cavers, in her poem “A Writer’s Prayer” suggests in the last verse: “May our days begin in prayer,/Communing with our King,/May our hearts be filled with joy/As His praises now we sing.”

J. Scott McElroy, in providing guidelines for beginning an arts ministry in his book Creative Church Handbook places “start praying now for God’s guidance” as number one and “invite artists to meet and pray” as third. “God has a plan for the arts and creativity in your church, and if you listen and wait he’ll share it with you and others,” writes McElroy about praying for God’s guidance.

While I haven’t taken a formal survey, I would hazard a guess that I’m not the first creative Christian who needed to be reminded that God needs first place in all I do, including the crafting of my art. And I probably won’t be the last.

 

Quote

Post-interview chat leads to new Christmas musical

Tags

, , , ,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the joys of my work is the chance to meet with all sorts of interesting people. And also never knowing what will be the outcome of one of those meetings.

One of my latest projects, a Christmas musical titled Meet You At the Manger began as a conversation with Audience of One Christian Theatre Company artistic director Kim Pottruff. She had come to the Faith FM studios to take part in an Arts Connection interview. In the conversation that followed, I found out the new Guelph-based amateur theatre company was looking for new material.

My interest in theatre goes back to high school where I was part of Ridge Players, a community theatre company that, by the time I landed in the chorus, were producing shows like Oklahoma, Carousel and Fiddler on the Roof. I was also involved in a number of church productions and when I started attending Lakeside Church, I became part of its now-defunct drama team and landed the role of Caiphas in Lakeside’s production of Dust of the Rabbi.

This production is a fresh look at the Christmas story

 

Along the way, I’d written a few unproduced sketches and even a full-length play – something I mentioned in the conversation with Kim. Whether I offered or she asked, copies were sent to her in the hopes that one would be produced.

She wasn’t interested in any of the ones I sent. Instead, she asked if I could write a Christmas musical. I knew I take a shot at writing the script (or “book” as commonly known in musical theatre circles). But it had been a while since I’d tried songwriting. Still, I said “yes.”

Skipping to the salient parts, I wrote the book and took a stab at the lyrics. Kim honed the lyrics and came up with the music. Et voila, a musical was born:

Ro’i never wanted to be shepherd. Sharar never wanted to be an innkeeper. When they were childhood friends, neither expected to become each other’s sworn enemy. Meet You At The Manger follows Ro’i’s and Sharar’s lives from their boyhood escapades and adult animosities to their reunion at the manger in Bethlehem. This production is a fresh look at the Christmas story and its impact on the lives of those who encounter the Babe of Bethlehem

The journey, to date, has been exhilarating and challenging. And we’re only at the halfway point. Kim and I will meet later this week to go over last minute details before next week’s pre-production meeting. Then, from September 10 to 12, auditions will take place before rehearsals start later that month.

What’s been going through my mind lately is: “this is really happening.” And a mixture of trepidation and triumph. I’m still anxious about what the audience reaction will be once the curtain goes up on opening night. But I’m excited that there will be an opening night.

I hope to see you there.


For more information about auditions, check http://www.audienceofoneguelph.ca/productions

 

InScribe anthology a valuable resource for newer writers

Tags

, , ,

7-Essential-Habits-Cover

We’re back. Thank you for your patience while Arts Connection went through some technical changes. My tech wiz took care of changing the domains and syncing all the Arts Connection pieces (website, blog, e-mail) together. It’s my hope, as Arts Connection re-launches, that there won’t be any glitches or snafus.

***********************************

As with any good book, 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers started with a “what if…?” question. Published by the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship (ICWF), the book is another step in the organization’s development from simply supporting fellow wordsmiths to providing them with tools they need to start, improve and develop their writing skills.

ICWF started out as the Alberta Christian Writers’ Fellowship in the early 1980s and provided fellowship through its regular newsletters and annual conferences (the book’s introduction includes a brief history of the ICWF).

An ACWF workshop I attended proved integral to my own career, where a connection with Peter Fleck from the Alberta SonShine News led to freelance work and, eventually, a writing/editing career in mainstream and faith-based publications. In recent years, the organization expanded its reach outside of Alberta and changed its name to reflect the change.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers was published specifically for writers working within Christian genres and provides advice on:

  • Time with God
  • Healthy Living
  • Time Management
  • Honing writing skills
  • Crafting a masterpiece
  • Submitting your work
  • Marketing

About 30 ICWF member contributed articles, short stories, poems or photos to add meat to the bones. While much of what was written was review for me, I was able to see how 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers would benefit a beginning or novice writer.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is a valuable resource that every beginning and novice writer needs.

The advice is solid and comes from the experience of the writers. Unlike many “how-to” books, it doesn’t provide a recipe for success. Instead it provides a smorgasboard of perspectives, allowing the reader (and writer) to choose which fits their own experience. One example is Ruth L. Snyder’s chapter “Fit Writing into A Busy Schedule” and Loretta Bouillon’s chapter “To Schedule or Not to Schedule.” Both talk about fitting writing into busy lives (a common conundrum for beginning writers), but Snyder and Bouillon provide different means and methods to do so. By including both perspectives, the underlying message is: the only “right” way is the one you find works in your circumstances.

If there was one drawback to the book, it would be the chapters written as a short story. I found the change in narrative styles, from non-fiction to fiction, jarring; with many of the short stories coming across as contrived. The practical tips within the short stories could have worked just as well if they’d been presented as a non-fiction article.

And, while the book was written specifically for those working within a Christian milieu (for denominational and devotional publications and Christian publishers), it would have been beneficial if one or two articles about writing for a non-Christian venue were included, specifically in the “Submitting Your Work” and “Marketing” chapters.

Despite these drawbacks, 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is a valuable resource that every beginning and novice writer needs.

*********************

For more information on 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers check http://inscribe.org/anthology/