Sending out a Christian Wave upon a Secular Sea

Finding Another Person’s Voice by Bryan Powell



Much has been written about finding your “voice.” You can attend a writer’s conference and learn how to reach deep within yourself, discover the real you and express it in cogent terms.

But how many of us have found someone else’s voice? How many of us have been charged with the responsibility of expressing another person’s thoughts without tainting them with our own?

Recently, I had the privilege of doing just that.

By divine appointment, I was given an older gentleman’s journal. As I sat and read it and later interviewed him, I discovered he had a story to tell. He had a message to give us. Like a canary, held captive within a cage of flesh and bone, his spirit yearned to be set free. However, with his limited vocabulary and lack of skill, it languished, thinking it would never take flight. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to  set it free. When that happened, his voice echoed throughout the pages of his story, and it rose to new heights.

The more I studied his life, the more I saw his motivation and message. I discovered his love and passion, his goals, his dreams and yes, his weaknesses and failures.

He taught me two important principles that guided his life. The first one; God can use a person for His glory no matter how unskilled that person is. This simple man took faith’s baby steps and soon found manly strength to run the race, keep the faith, and win the crown.

The second guiding principle was a bit harder to find, yet it was there. He said, “Find people smarter than you to do the things you don’t want to do and hire them.”

That was his message and his motivation. He spent his life finding jewels in the rough and developing them, polishing them, getting them ready to take his place. And by doing so, he built people and a fortune. 

From his humble beginning as a dirt farmer in central Georgia during the Depression years to the present day, he invested his life in helping people reach their potential.

The benefit to me was that I was privy to those formative years through his journal. I watched him grow to manhood; I grew with him, I hurt with him and even loved with him. I heard his voice, captured his thoughts, emotions, his heart. For those precious hours in which I labored over the text, I became this man. And so will you when you invest the time to get to know the person you are writing about.

So the next time you undertake a story: fiction or non-fiction, biography or historical, get to know your character. Plunge deep into the well-spring of creativity or reality and discover their voice. In so doing, you may find your own.

Getting Into Trouble with “Myself” by Diana J. Baker

image001One of my pet peeves when editing manuscripts is the incorrect use of the
pronoun myself and its friends, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, themselves, and itself. It is amazing to me that words that have only three grammar rules regarding them are so often misused by writers. I would like to encourage everyone reading this article to take the time to learn the basic rules for using these pronouns and apply them. It might mean the difference between having one of your manuscripts accepted or rejected.

Rules of use for the pronoun myself:
1. Myself is used when the subject and object are the same. Examples:
a. I need to learn not to take myself so seriously.
b. I wish I could learn not to be critical of myself.
c. If I know what’s good for me, I’ll get myself out of here in a hurry!

2. Myself is used when you need to clarify that the subject has performed some action alone or unassisted. Examples:
a. I can’t possibly pick that rock up by myself.
b. I cannot tell a lie; I ate the whole pie myself.
c. I am amazed that I raked the entire yard by myself in only two hours.

3. Myself is used when the pronoun acts to emphasize another word (It is then called and intensive pronoun.) Examples:
a. I myself would never want to get caught in that situation.
b. I hate to admit it, but I myself am the guilty party.

*Please note: The word myself and the other pronouns listed should never be used as the subject of a sentence and are not used correctly if used in any setting other than those covered by the three grammar rules above. Myself should never be substituted for the pronoun me.

Examples of the incorrect use of the word myself:
1. Used as the subject of a sentence:  Incorrect: Two of my friends and myself found a lost puppy. Correct use: Two of my friends and I found a lost puppy.
2. Used in place of the pronoun me. Incorrect: My cousin Jeff went to the ball game with my son and myself. Correct use: My cousin Jeff went to the ball game with my son and me.

Rules for the use of the pronouns yourself, yourselves, herself, himself, themselves, and itself:
1. Used when the subject and object are the same. Examples:
a. You take yourself too seriously (singular). You take yourselves too seriously (plural).
b. She looked at herself critically.
c. He was stuck on himself.
d. It couldn’t get itself out of the trap.
e. They thought more highly of themselves than they should.

2. Used when the subject has performed an action alone or unassisted. Examples:
a. You need to study by yourself.
b. She did all of the decorating herself.
c. He taught the lesson himself.
d. The children went to the playground all by themselves.
e. The puppy had gotten itself lost.

3. Used when the pronoun acts to emphasize another word. Examples:
a. John himself doesn’t know how he broke his fishing rod.
b. My reputation itself was at risk.
c. We ourselves expected to be rescued.

Write right and get your work accepted and published!

Writing Short Stories by Cynthia L. Simmons

Woman writing

What’s Your Story?


How would you like to be able to say that you’re an award winning author? It’s a great testament to your writing ability. This year CAG offers a nonfiction article contest and a short story contest at our Coffee & Quill mini-conference.

How do you write a short story? First you need an idea. You might take your idea from something that happened to you or something you wish for. Either way, you must develop a plot, which is a sequence of events in which the characters experience a serious problem.

Start by introducing your characters. For instance, you could have an overworked mother and an active toddler. Describe them a little so your audience gets interested and then present a problem. Show just how frazzled mom is in light of the child’s energy.

Next add rising action. Make something happen that creates tension. Your mom could get a phone call from an old friend that absorbs her attention. While she talks, the curious child waddles out of the room exploring. Even the thought makes my skin prickle.

Make sure your level of anxiety rises as you relate each event in the story. Your readers will yawn and wander off if your toddler climbs into his crib. Should your toddler probe an electrical outlet with his fingers and then discover a nail file, your readers wouldn’t put the story down. Think of ideas to keep tension rising.

The climax of the story will be the moment of highest tension. For instance, imagine a damp nail file moving closer to the outlet. Hearts will be pounding.

The resolution comes at the end of the story when you resolve the problem. Your mother could scream and dash into the room, pulling the child away just in time.

Here’s a sample story using my illustration:

Unable to Rest

Bridget sank onto the bench in the kitchen and sat Benjamin down. Her back ached, and her legs wobbled like jelly. All afternoon she had shopped with her sister for wedding clothes. It was the least she could do since their mom died several years ago. A girl shouldn’t do that alone.

Her son’s energy got the better of them both. If only her two-year-old couldn’t move so fast and so constantly.

“Woo-toot. TOOT. TOOT.” Benjamin held up a pretend pipe to his mouth as he marched about the kitchen.

His mother winced and reached for him. “Not so loud, son.”

He side stepped her arms and headed for the stool, which stood by the cabinet. “Wanna cookie.”

“No. No cookies before dinner. Benjamin Charles Fox, stop climbing now.” She hauled her body up to grab the squirming child off the counter top. “You’re going to fall.”

Once back on the floor, the youngster ran in circles flapping his arms. “I be a bird, momma.”

“What a nice bird you are.” She ran a hand along her neck and angled her head to release tight muscles.

The phone rang, and Bridget grabbed it. “Sophie! I haven’t heard from you in ages. Sh-Sh. Mommie’s on the phone talking. Quiet, Benjamin!”

The energetic child barely escaped her grasp. But the room grew quiet in his absence.

“What? You’re dating someone?” She leaned against the cabinets. “Wonderful. And you said you could never marry. Pshaw! I knew that was silly. Tell me what he’s like.”

Ten minutes later she put down the phone and glanced about. Her heart slammed against her chest. “Benjamin?”

Her eyes darted under the table, by back door. Nothing. She hurried into the living room and her whole chest threatened to explode. There, by the couch, sat Benjamin. He held a nail file in his mouth and pulled it out, as if showing it to her. It was dripping with saliva. He leaned forward and slammed it on an electrical outlet, getting closer and closer to the pair of holes she knew carried electrical current.

“No! Don’t!”

Her legs flew across the floor toward him. She grabbed his body and pulled him away, just before he got the file into the outlet.

He screamed.

Her heart racing, she collapsed on the floor, clutching her son, who wailed in protest. ‘No, no! Never touch those. They will burn. Bad.”

She closed her eyes and sang softly in his ear. How could he have gotten into trouble so fast? I can’t rest for a moment.


In summary, as you prepare to write, be sure to add the elements of a story: introduction, problem, rising action, climax, resolution.


Is Scrivener Right For You?

CAG+assorted+book+signings+2010Do you have ADD, only little bits of time to write, or are you struggling to put all your thoughts together? Then Scrivener – a software for writers – is for you.

Nadine Blyseth, gives a special presentation on her favorite writers tool. She says, “And no, I don’t get a commission for selling the product. I just want to share what has helped me so much to have one e-book, Fool’s Bling, and its follow-up, True Gold (available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble).

On youTube check out what Scrivener can do for you.


CAG Spotlight with Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the CAG Spotlight for November 2011. Jennifer is an author, speaker and publicist for Hartline Literary Agency. Her website is

Interview by Cindy Simmons.

CAG October Spotlight

Interview with Candy Arrington

CAG Spotlight–Cindy Sproles

CindySprolesSpiritual life coach, Cindy Sproles is this week’s CAG interview.



Podcast Spotlight-Edie Melson

Cindy is hosting Edie Melson for this week’s CAG Spotlight.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for life’s stories. She loves to share her 16+ years experience in the field of writing through mentoring and teaching others. Her first foray into professional writing was as a technical writer in the 80’s. From there she quickly moved into freelance writing and editing, a perfect fit for someone who loves new challenges. Hundreds of articles and devotions, including those for Focus on the Family,, and, have flowed from her pen to her audience. Visit her site at

Podcast with Jennifer Slatterly

jennifer_slatterlyJuly 2011 Podcast

This month’s podcast is with author Jennifer Slatterly.

Jennifer has written for Granola Bar Devotions, Afictionado, Bloom, the Breakthrough Intercessor, and the Christian Fiction Online Magazine.
Jennifer’s website

Cec Murphey-Author Spotlight Podcast

This week’s Spotlight podcast with Cindy Simmons is NY Times bestselling author and international speaker Cecil (Cec) Murphey. Cec Cec Murpheyis the author or co-author of more than one hundred books, including the bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). His books have sold millions and have been translated into nearly 40 languages. His newest book, Christmas Miracles, released in October 2009, and When God Turned Off the Lights, released in August 2009.

Cec Murphy will be our keynote speaker for our Catch the Wave writer’s conference this September. For more conference information, go to

Listen to the podcast below.