Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Must be a Hobby -- den Boer

In my mind I'm a writer. In real life I work in a bookstore, run around for my husband's business, keep house for our family of five, and play Scrabble on Facebook.

It's not that I don't write. That's my book in the picture.

I also have a blog titled, 'Blooming.' Never mind that there hasn't been a post on it since last October. The blog is where I published the second draft of the novel, "Minnie Goes to Heaven" a product of the 2012 NaNoWriMo competition. There is also a 2013 NaNoWriMo manuscript, "Minnie Goes to the World." Between the two there might be a  decent novel. Just a thought.

At present I am reading "My Best Stories" by Alice Munro and today I bought the four volumes of Stuart McLean's "Vinyl Cafe." My head is swimming with ideas for short stories.

Maybe if I give up the Scrabble....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Call is a Call is a Call!

Welcome-to-my-World of writing as requested! In reflection, it seems I've been writing forever; my cat being my first audience. Give her a piece of a sun ray and the sound of my voice and she was happy. I began to read and write about ordinary and simple things: farm fields, secret corners in old houses, showing calves in fall fairs and walking more than a concession to a one-room school house—that was my life. I’m a farmer’s daughter and youngest of the family. 
On my long walks to take the cows to the back field after milking, I dreamed about going to far away places and I talked to the squirrels, chipmunks, birds, my dog and to myself. I probably began talking to God when I learned to make angels in the snow—which would be about age five. I would print little stories, letter by letter, with very long sentences ending up in one big paragraph that filled most of a page. It never occurred to me that I should use punctuation. I think I learned ‘just get the story down’ very early. 
Probably around 14 years of age, I experienced God’s still small voice. “I would be a missionary. . . go to Africa." Big plans for a young farm girl! Disturbing plans for this farm girl’s father! Family life won out and both the writing and the call lay waiting.
In my early married life with youngsters at my knees, I wrote pieces that usually ended up in a pile or the waste basket, simply because of lack of time, skill and confidence. In those days, I was teaching Sunday school. My ‘talking to God’ practice had developed into prayer and the children around my table thought it was spooky talking to someone they couldn't see. However, that changed as they began to understand this new relationship with God. I remember looking for biblical women’s stories for the girls and great male prophets and leaders for the boys.  I soon became aware that I could find the names of Noah’s three sons, but I couldn’t find the names of Philip’s four daughters, or mention of his wife.
Our denomination published ‘The New Curriculum’’ in the 60s and as typically happens, there was a great resistance to something new. But, I couldn’t get enough of it as it told the old story of God’s love and guidance with men . . . and women to whom I could relate and from whom I could learn.
I began to write monologues in first person from the heart of Haggi, Rahab, and then Euodia and Syntyche; Lois and Eunice. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was not only trying to understand these women and the role they played in God’s larger plan, but I was giving them voice. Doing a degree in Women's Studies at Trinity Seminary/USA took me deeper into their lives.

I soon became interested in genealogy; I found Grandmothers and Great Grandmothers with empty profiles, sometimes not even years of birth. And as I looked around, I soon began to see important Canadian women across this nation that I could help others remember.
Blessing on the call God has given you.
Agnes Macphail books; A Rare Find – Life and witness of Ethel Ayres Bullymore. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Reynolds Rap, by Alan Reynolds

Until I retired, I didn’t have much time to write. Even then, it was a slow start. I don’t take rejection very well. If I did submit a manuscript and it was rejected, I would crawl back into my hole for a year or two until I worked up the courage to try again.

Finally I did have a book published: Reading the Bible for the Love of God (Brazos Press, 2003, a division of Baker Books), which won an award for “General Readership” from the Word Guild in 2004. It didn’t sell too well. However, I entered the first contest offered by Word Alive Press in Winnipeg. I can still remember getting the mail with the word that my manuscript had won the contest: A Troubled Faith: Affirming Christian Faith in the Twenty-first Century (Word Alive Press, Winnipeg, 2006 – available through “any sensible bookstore”). Word Alive did a nice job of publishing the book (embossed cover and all), and it won awards from the Word Guild for both General Readership and Apologetics/Evangelism. Again it didn’t sell very well.

Now, I just send in articles to this blog and a weekly meditation by email to about 180 family, friends, and interested others. I call it Reynolds Rap. I do get a good number of expressions of appreciation.

Otherwise, I have had a very fulfilling ministry and really a wonderful life.

I am eighty-four years old, born in Prince Edward Island, grew up in Nova Scotia. Ordained in 1954, my ministry was largely in New Brunswick until we made the big jump west in 1971. I live in Richmond, B. C., and am still married (since 1962) to beautiful, blue-eyed Brenda, who enjoyed her own career in Volunteer Management and Community Engagement for Vancouver Coastal Health. We enjoy great family times with four children (all above average), three incredible daughters-in-law, and eight wonderful grandchildren.

When I retired, I was minister of University Hill Congregation on the campus of the University of British Columbia. Brenda said, “You can go where you like, but I’m staying at UHill.” After some five years, I joined her there. 

I have enjoyed fishing for the famous Kamloops rainbow trout on the interior lakes of British Columbia, for Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick, and for Pacific salmon off the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. I’ve hunted moose in Wells Grey Park in January, climbed the backside of the Stawamous Chieftain as well as Mt. Albert in the B.C. coastal range.

Other hobbies included walking with Brenda on the dykes around Richmond and playing the trombone in old-guys bands, including the RiverCity GospelJazz (Gospel music played in Dixieland style). We still enjoy travel, and have taken a number of tours with members of my congregation, a fulfilling experience.

"For all that  has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes." (Dag  Hammerskold)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Love Triangle - Tracy Krauss

I sometimes think of myself as a writing chameleon because I write for two very distinct audiences. My first writing love is romantic suspense fiction, but I also dove into the role of playwright several years ago and found that I loved it almost as well. It's a bit of love triangle - me, secular comedy plays, and Christian fiction.

I started writing way back in 1985. I was a young mom and I found I needed a creative outlet when my daughter went down for her nap. I borrowed my mother's old typewriter and clacked away for an hour or so each day. I had no idea what, if anything, would come of these stories, but it was an outlet that soon became an obsession. Sixteen years later I had one full manuscript finished and several other works in progress. I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could find a publisher. Little did I know that the road to publication was not as easy as I thought. Another seven years, many rejections, and much heartache later, I finally signed my first contract. It was a steep learning curve - one that I am still navigating.

Around the same time that I decided to seek publication, I also went back to work as a public school teacher. I have a fine art and theatre background so when I got offered the job as the sole art and drama teacher at our local secondary school, I was sure God had placed it right in my lap. My first drama class was a mixture of grades, experience, and enthusiasm and I just couldn't find the right material for some kind of show. I decided to let the students write their own short skits and I tied them together with a set of scenes featuring aliens watching the human activity from above. 'Look Who's Watching' was a hit with the audience and spurred me on to write more plays for my students, many of which have been published with various play publishing houses.

My eldest daughter is turning 29 this summer. I can't believe that so many years have flown by since I wrote those first tentative bits of narrative. A lot has happened since. My first book And the Beat Goes On came out in 2008. Since then My Mother the Man-Eater (2010), Play It Again (2011), and Wind Over Marshdale (2012) released. A serialized novel called Neighbors is currently coming out in separate instalments and I am working collaboratively on another serialized novel called Colony Zero.

I have also been privileged to see several stage plays in print. Ebenezer's Christmas Carol (2010), Dorothy's Road Trip (2012), The Western Tale (2012), Little Red in the Hood (2012), A Midterm Eve's Phantasm (2012), and Hook's Nemesis (2013).

Finally, I recently self published a devotional book called Life Is a Highway, based on several speaking engagements, and an illustrated children's book called The Sleepytown Express, based on a 1930s song by Haven Gillespie. I also signed a contract for the sequel to Wind Over Marshdale called Lone Wolf.

During this time I've moved fifteen times, lived and worked in five provinces and territories, raised four children, homeschooled for nine years, supported my family while my husband went back to school, and went into full time ministry. Phew! My head spins just thinking about it.

My writing journey had a slow start. Sometimes I wish I would have been more proactive about seeking publication sooner. I have so many more stories to tell and time is slipping away! I just need to stop and reflect on the goodness of God, however, and consider that everything happens according to His perfect timing. I would not have been ready any sooner for the demands of promotion and online marketing that now take a considerable amount of my time. Family, church and work responsibilities simply would not have allowed it. I am grateful for the small measure of success with which God has seen fit to bless me. And I look forward to the next leg of the journey...

Tracy Krauss is a best-selling author, playwright, artist and teacher. She is a member of 'American Christian Fiction Writers', 'Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship', and ‘The Word Guild’ as well as several writing related social networking groups. An avid reader, she also reviews books and posts most of these reviews regularly on her blog ‘Expression Express’ as well as at other locations on the web. Originally from a small prairie town, Tracy received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Sask. with majors in Art, and minors in History and English. She teaches High School English, Drama and Art. Apart from her many personal creative pursuits, she also directs an amateur theatre group and leads worship at her local church. She and her husband, an ordained minister with the PAOC, have lived in many remote and unique places in Canada's north, including Churchill Manitoba - the 'polar bear capital of the world', the Yukon, and the NWT. They raised four children and were active advocates of the homeschooling movement for many years. They currently reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC, known for its waterfalls. Visit her website:

Friday, April 25, 2014

This is my story - Gibson

Just past the turn of last century, during the most productive of my freelance writing career, following God's pointing finger to "go ye" I walked into a local newspaper office—throat in mouth and file folder in hand. It held my writing resume, ten 500-word columns and a proposal to write a new one each week.
When I left the editor’s office, I walked out a faith and life columnist, under the heading “Sunny Side Up.” (I suspect the quick agreement had less to do with my writing than with my solemn pledge never to miss a deadline. I never have.)

On October 10, 2010, as I submitted my column, I realized something: …Lord, I’m 500 columns down that road!
Today, in 2014, I’m almost at 700. With God’s help, in five hundred words (or so) a week, I strive to show a primarily secular audience of many thousands how faith intersects with everyday life. Along the way, I’ve revealed much about my family, my friends, my faith, and myself. I’ve tried to keep things positive. Real. But…

“Are you surprised I made it to 500?” I asked my clergyman husband, Rick, on that “500 anniversary.”

“Because, well…”

“Well, what?”
“Because you’re quite often…(throat clear)…well….(squirm)…not sunny.”

“Examples, please,” I demanded.
“I can’t recall any, not off the bat.”

“Negative about life? Negative about people? Negative about what?”
He shrugged. “Never about other people…but …”

“Am I negative about you? I know I nag sometimes. But you so often NEED nagging!”

“There,” he sputtered. “And I’ll refrain from saying, ‘nuff said.’”

Milestones spur reflection. There followed a rather serious discussion about what it means to live out a consistent, authentic, Sunny Side Up faith on cloudy days. About letting the Son shine in—and out—where it matters most—at home. After years of practice, I’m still working on that. 
I thank God for a spouse who loves me enough to tell me the truth. I need nagging too—the Preacher (as I call him in my columns) let me off easy.

Some weeks when I’ve submitted my column, I’ve felt that it should have a different heading: “Over Easy,” maybe. Or, “Hard and Stepped On.” Even, horrors, “Scrambled, Fluffy, and Irrelevant.”  (My readers have been gracious.) Many weeks I long to go deeper, to tackle the big issues of life. Things that make we Christians squirm. Theological issues. Questions that won’t go away but deserve to be addressed anyway. But God keeps reminding me of my audience. Whispering that my role on those pages is simply to plant seeds and allow others to water them.
Of all my writing assignments, Sunny Side Up has brought me the most joy. God—who alone gets the credit for any helpful words and the milestones we’ve travelled together—has spread it far beyond my long-ago hopes of simply sharing my faith, Christ’s hope, and his love in my own community.

Sunny Side Up has a wider audience today. Though it runs mainly in prairie newspapers, it has expanded through the internet and through spin-off radio spots that air locally and, through a syndicated partner, in many countries around the world. To my amazement, people have responded from Japan, India, Britain and elsewhere.
I began writing Sunny Side Up in March of 2001. Within two years, requests started arriving. They came by email, card, word, and in person. Many followed the same line:

“Won’t you please put your columns in a book, so we don’t have to go fishing through our drawers to find the one we’re looking for?”
Eventually, I compiled the first year of columns into one manuscript and sent out a few proposals. But traditional publishers love column compilations about as much as yesterday’s congealed oatmeal, I learned—and stopped trying.

“My family can publish them after I die,” I told my daughter. She grimaced and rolled her eyes.
One day I received a call from a lady who had the responsibility of sifting through a friend’s belongings after her death. “Kathleen, I’ve found something I think you should have.”

The “something” was a burgundy binder, stuffed with plastic photo sheaths encasing yellowed newspaper clippings. Years of  Sunny Side Up columns. Every one in order. The lady had made her own book.
God’s nudge deepened in that moment. I dug out my manuscript and began reworking it, trusting God to direct me to the right publisher.

But another book raced to publication first—West Nile Diary; One Couple's Triumph Over a Deadly Disease; (Bastian Publishing, 2009) the book a mosquito started, the Preacher lived and I wrote. Not until after its promotional tours and interviews finished, did I return to the column collection—and finally I understood the requests for a Sunny Side Up book compilation.
Since I had last read the manuscript, a mosquito had flipped our lives around. My husband’s sudden and permanent disability had sent us into exile from home and community for six months. When we returned my husband had no job. Our church family was no longer our family. And our parsonage home? No longer our home.

We’d moved to temporary low-income housing, living on a disability income. I took a magazine editing job, but lost it within a year when the company drastically downsized. With a sudden spike in housing costs, we had no idea where we would live following our temporary situation.

Nevertheless, our life seemed bright, compared to the stories of many of my readers—the people who had written, phoned, and emailed to thank me for the inspiration they’d found in Sunny Side Up.

As I re-read those first columns from a very changed circumstance than when I’d first written them, they encouraged me too. In the words God had inspired years earlier, I found hope. Reminders of life’s truest wealth—God’s unchangeable, constant love. And I knew I must do all I could to honor my readers’ wishes and “get Sunny Side Up between covers.” For God’s glory alone.

To my amazement, Practice by Practice; The Art of Everyday Faith, won the 2009 Word Alive Publishing Contest (nonfiction). The company far surpassed my expectations in production. Four years after publication, I still get requests for the book.

All this telling makes me uncomfortable, frankly. As all writers who feel called, I strive to keep my balance. My other roles in life take up far more room and often bear far more appeal: wife, mother, grandmother, and full-time employee as a constituency and communications assistant for  the best boss in the world -- or at least I think so -- Garry Breitkreuz, our MP. 
Nevertheless, this is my story. And most days…this is my song: Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace…tidings of Jesus…redemption and release.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Some Stories Bear Repeating - M. Laycock

“I will come again, tomorrow,” Iya repeated. I nodded once again and told him we would continue his English lesson then. We chatted for another few moments, then he repeated the same words again, pronouncing the Melanesian pidgin slowly to make sure I understood. Again I acknowledged that I did. But just before going out the door, Iya turned and said, again, “I will come again tomorrow.”

Later that afternoon I spoke with my neighbour, who had lived in Papua New Guinea for some time. I mentioned the fact that I was sure Iya thought I was a little slow. “He repeats everything at least once, sometimes more, even when I tell him I understand.”

Donna smiled and nodded. “Don’t take it personally,” she said, “it’s the way they speak. Remember, this is an oral culture, and the language lessons are very important to Iya. To him, anything that is important bears repeating several times.”   

I thought of that conversation as I sat listening to a preacher on Good Friday. Though I came to Christ late in life, I realized I have heard this same story over and over again many times. The facts never change, the characters are always the same and the climax of the story is well known.

So why do we keep repeating it?

The answer of course, is that it is one of the most important stories we will ever hear. The details of Easter outline the salvation of the world, as well as our personal way to eternal life. It’s a story that bears repeating, a story that resonates deeply in the heart of every believer no matter how old it is, no matter how many times we hear it.

Perhaps that’s why, on that Good Friday morning, I found myself moved to tears once again by the mercy of a sinless God who took my sin on Himself so that I could stand before His Father, clothed with the righteousness of Christ. That’s the only way I can stand before Him, because my sin cannot be blotted out any other way.

Yes, it’s a story that bears repeating, in those same words and in any other words we can think of that will illustrate it. Because it’s important. Because it’s life-changing. Because it’s life-giving.

“Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more peo;le may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2Cor. 4:13 -15).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia’s Website


Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Name is Carolyn, and I'm a Wordaholic by Carolyn Arends

You may have noticed that many of the Canadian Writers Bloggers this month have been offering (rather delightful) glimpses of their pathways to the writerly life. I have resonated with so many of their stories. It seems appropriate to share here my most recent Christianity Today column ... all about the power of words, the need for silence, and the relationship between the two.

Listen. Write. Rinse. Repeat!

Knowing God Means More Than Describing Him

Sometimes, our spiritual experiences can't be put into words

the-ocean-4In the April, 2014 issue of Christianity Today

 I tackled my first English essay in college with enthusiasm, a thesaurus, and a naive disregard for page limits. The paper came back with the following comment: "Carolyn, you've made some fine points, but unfortunately they are lost in a sea of circumlocutious wordiness."

 I've always loved words. A well-turned phrase can replace chaos with cosmos. Solomon likened words aptly spoken to apples of gold in frames of silver (Prov. 25:11). When a preacher parses some Greek or Hebrew, I'm astonished at the vistas of meaning that hide within a bit of syntax. Words are teachers, Swiss Army knives, and painters' palettes. Given the right choreographer, they dance.

Yet, for all my love of language, I've been troubled by a growing sense that I need to pay more attention to wordless things. I don't mean simply that "actions speak louder than words"—although they often do, and we should all be required to balance each use of "compassion" with at least ten compassionate acts. Lately I've been wondering: Have I reduced the scope of what I can know to what I can articulate?

Occasionally, something—a strain of music, a friend's touch, a sunset, or simply a sudden sense of Presence—will "speak" to me. When that occurs, I have an overwhelming urge to put whatever's happening into language. Otherwise, it doesn't seem real. This impulse is particularly noticeable in my devotional life. Give me a prayer list or a passage to study, and I'm there. But ask me to sit silently in God's presence, and I get anxious.

Ronald Rolheiser, a Catholic writer, distinguishes between meditative and contemplative prayer. In the former, he argues, we are active and verbal. In the latter, we are passively inarticulate. When we try to perceive God, Rolheiser suggests, we're often like a fish who asks his mother, "Where is this water we hear so much about?" First, the mother might set up a projector at the bottom of the ocean to show pictures of the sea. Then, she might say, "Now that you have some idea of what water is, I want you to sit in it and let it flow through you." That difference—between thinking about water and actually attending to it—is like the difference between meditation and contemplation.

Epistemology (the study of how we know what we know) often emphasizes knowledge rendered in propositional statements: I "know" that 2 + 2 = 4. But there is also "acquaintance-knowledge," gained through direct encounter with another person, place, or thing. Many non-English languages have a distinct vocabulary to signify the profound differences between these ways of knowing. For example, the verb for knowing something factually is wissen in German and sapere in Latin, while "acquaintance-knowledge" is designated kennen (German) and cognoscere(Latin). The first kind of knowledge is general, abstract, and easily put into words. The second is individual, particular, and often hard to articulate. You find wissenin textbooks and creeds; kennen comes through relationships and experience.

One of my favourite preachers says that, by Tuesday, he must "break the back" of whatever passage he's going to teach on Sunday. In this mode he's seeking wissen—knowledge of the text that he can codify, control, and explain to his congregation.

Alternatively, one of my favorite contemplatives says that his faith only flourishes when he lets a passage break him. He uses the practice of lectio divina ("sacred reading," or dwelling on a text to listen for the Holy Spirit) in order to pursue a more direct encounter.

I believe both modes are essential. God indeed invites us to "come . . . reason together" (Isa. 1:18, ESV). He also implores us to "be still, and know" that he is God (Ps. 46:10). In the earliest Latin Bible translation, the verb for "know" in this passage appears as cognoscere—acquaintance-knowledge—not sapere.

Perhaps it's fitting that I devote my final Wrestling with Angels column to exploring the power and limits of words. We've exchanged a lot of them over the past five years, and I'm deeply grateful. Rest assured, I'm not giving up on language—you can count on my circumlocutious wordiness in future pieces for ct and, Lord willing, in songs and books to come.

Yet I hope to write without the assum­ption that everything knowable can be named in words. Our God is both the Word who became flesh (John 1) and the Spirit who "himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26, ESV). Let's swim not only in the sea of our own words and ideas about him, but also in his fathomless ocean of love.

300x250 Arends - high res

Friday, April 18, 2014



An unrelenting knot in my stomach signals the beginning of my Easter week. My emotions become tender and anxious because Good Friday is approaching-again. 
This tension started ten years ago on a Good Friday, when I heard the whispered, gut wrenching words, “Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?”  In that divine, hushed moment I became that mother gazing upon her own son hanging on a cross. I tried to envision my son in that scene-Donovan, the apple of my eye, with his wistful lopsided grin and dimples. The one who makes me double over in laughter, creates gourmet recipes, shops with me, and makes my buttons burst with pride.  My whole life has been devoted to nurturing, loving and protecting him.
So I am overcome with emotion when I place myself in that moment in time, where Mary stands, looking up at her son’s bloody, nail pierced hands as He hung upon the cross. To a mother, her son is always her cherished boy. We never forget the soft, warm cuddles, or long nights watching him toss with fever. How do we fathom being a mother who raises a son knowing he is appointed to die? How do we fathom the Son, freely giving himself for the world? That is what we have to grapple with-knowing Jesus has such a radical love, it disrupts our world.
 Just before Jesus went to the cross He had an intensely intimate conversation with His Heavenly Father. He said, “I have given them the glory you gave me-the glorious unity of being one, as we are” John 17:22(TLB).  It is unmistakably clear; Jesus was leaving you and me to continue on this radical mission to wash out a dark world full of selfishness, confusion and hatred with His Glory-a reflection of His essence-Love.
 It is glaringly obvious. I have this moment in history-a Glorious splash of time-to reflect God’s glory.  Most moments in time I don’t feel one bit glorious. As I tap my fingers in traffic or look at my watch in cashier lines, I know I cannot muster up any glory.  But Glory comes from the one who died for me, the Lord, whose spirit splashes through me. If I stop myself in the moment, wherever I am, I know that Spirit lovingly spills into me.
 My knot finally dissipates on Easter Sunday. My eyes shift from the excruciating horror of the cross to the magnificent beauty of a love beyond reason. I move from emotion to mission.  I have been asked to disrupt the darkness of this world with the Glory of this radical love. I am ready.
 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18b NIV).
 How do we reflect God’s glory?
1.         Realize that God has given us this Glorious Splash of Time to reflect His Glory.
2.         Seek to know God’s love.
3.         Keep a pure heart – forgive freely.
4.         Ask the Holy Spirit to be the Glory in us.
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

MODEL ANSWERS by Susan Harris

I'm a dreamer. Forgot walking through woods with bluebells that I copiously described from the works of my favourite author, Enid Blyton. When I decided to write it was not because of the castles and trips I took in books during my school-aged years, nor the encouragement of teachers, or the generous praise of friends. Quite the contrary.  I was determined to create a resource that would fulfil the dreams of another. Of several others, as a matter of fact. 

My book would be called, Model Answers for Management of Business. In the competitive world of education in Trinidad, any book touting ready responses to prepare pupils to pass the challenging, rigorous Advanced Level exams issued by the University of Cambridge, were coveted. Model Answers were essays and calculations to the questions asked in past exams, and to anticipated ones in the future. Internet was not available thus resources were scarce and revered - veritable bibles for the young who took the two additional years of high school. The exams were set and marked by foreign professors who knew the students only as numbers. Paper 1 and Paper 11 declared the results. The results decided university entry and occupational mobility.

When I was placed at the secondary school at which I taught prior to immigrating to Canada, I was flabbergasted when the Head informed me I'd be teaching Bookkeeping and Office Procedures. I countered, and reasoned. One did not need a university degree to teach those courses. Then I refused. I'd go back to my old school even though I had spent over 47 24-hour days commuting the year before. At least I was using my tertiary knowledge to teach Accounts and Principles of Business there. But I had one last plan to stay in the school in my hometown before executing my dare.

"I'd like to pioneer an Advanced Level subject," I requested to the Head of my department. "Management of Business (MOB)". 

The short of it is that I visited other schools where the new curriculum had found favour, and armed with advice, past papers, syllabi and textbook lists, I stood at 5'5" (three inches were from shoes) and promised the somewhat dubious Head and an even more dubious Principal that I'd make the school proud. They had only known me for a week but I knew me for over two decades. I'll deliver.

Fast forward two years later and the first MOB results. 13 out of 14 full passes. The 14th student received an Ordinary level grade. 93% pass rate was historical. The school's name was proudly mentioned, and the Head and Principal were elated. Meritocracy undergirds the reputation of teachers and mine was made. The results over the ensuing years reinforced my subject matter competence, and I was recognized as an expert in my field.

Thus I started the manuscript for model answers. But like the MBA in Human Resources which I left at registration when I moved to Canada, the books, too, took another focus. The Certified Human Resource Professional designation replaced the MBA, and Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Little Copper Pennies series, and Remarkably Ordinary replaced Model Answers for MOB.

I've found that dreams never die. They evolve. I aspire to inspire and educate, and to never cease to dream.


Newly released, Remarkably Ordinary - 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are is only US$0.99 for the rest of April. Find it at your Favourite Amazon site.

Find Susan at:

Susan Harris is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Remarkably Ordinary, Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Susan loves making new friends and answers all her mail. She was born on the tropical island of Trinidad but now lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband, daughter and the gregarious cats.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I was named after a literary character. My mother asked my older siblings what she should name me. So they decided on “Sally” – the baby of the Dick and Jane series.

I loved to read and write when I was a little girl. I am blessed that my mother kept and scrapbooked a number of my stories and artwork. I enjoy going through them once in a while, and am amazed how prescient they have been for my future life.

When I was seven years old, I was the Chief Editor (and reporter/writer) of our classroom newspaper. One time I wrote about my mother accidentally setting the dinner on fire.  I told her that it was my lead story and she made me erase the whole thing and find an alternate topic before the newspaper went to print!

Interesting that my first professional job was as a scientific Editor.

When I was eight years old, I wrote a short piece called When I Grow Up:

“When I grow up I will be a traveller, writing and illustrating things I see. I’ll collect coins and speak all the languages. I’ll make dresses, and eat gourmet meals. I have decided to do this so I can be able to learn about countries.”

I may not have travelled to a lot of countries (England where I was born; Germany when I was a baby; United States), but I have always been drawn to people of other cultures. I have lived in every Canadian province stretching from Alberta to Quebec. When I was in my early teens I wanted to be an interpreter with the United Nations, so I took (and excelled at) French and German. I collect stamps (not coins, but close enough). I am an accomplished seamstress. My husband makes me gourmet meals (LOL). And one of my favourite things to do is to travel and take photographs to capture what I’ve seen.

Before I graduated high school, I decided on a career as a science writer. I debated for a long time whether I would go into journalism or science; the latter won out. I have a Bachelor and Masters in Science, and have written a number of research papers.

American writer George Plimpton (of all people) heavily influenced the overall path of my life. He tried out a wide range of careers and then wrote or made documentaries about his experiences.

As for me, I have worked as a scientific editor, chemist/geologist, children’s science entertainer, teacher, science outreach educator, and technical (engineering) editor. I have had the opportunity to write a wide range of pieces about my experiences, many published.

My love for singing started when I was very young. Playing the piano was also a passion of mine. In my late teens I started to put the two together. Then my parents moved away and took the piano with them. Sigh.

It wasn’t until 1995 that I started singing in church. In 2001, a worship leader spoke over me that I would use my hands to write music for the Lord. I have been writing music ever since, although rarely sharing publicly. That is, up until two years ago, when through the Lord’s divine intervention, I wrote and released my first (official) CD, Turn the Page. That was followed in 2013 by my Christmas album Red & White.

In January 2013 I left the corporate/academic world to focus full-time on my writing and music ministry. I have a number of writing projects I am currently working on, including a short story for an upcoming anthology, a children’s picture book, and a devotional based on the songs from my CD Turn the Page.  This fall I hope to tour with my CD Red & White. After two years of praying about it, I am delighted to announce that I have recently entered in partnership as an Artist-Ambassador with Compassion Canada.

Two years ago, just after I released my first CD, health issues forced limitations where life had always seemed to be full of possibilities. Thankfully, the Lord brought me through that season, and the hope and promise of a new season is expressed in my song This New Year (link below). Be blessed and encouraged in your own journey!

This New Year:


YouTube Channel:


Twitter:                      @SallyMeadows

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Different Springboard

I confess I'm a little different. In my mind I can hear my wife saying, "No kidding. You got that right!"

But who says that you have to go through life the conventional way? Why not break the mold? Why not be bold and try something different?
Most writers take up writing because of their profound love of reading. They are voracious readers and quite naturally their writing and love of writing springs from the deep well of literature from which they have freely imbibed. They have drunk deeply from the creative juices of others and their writing craft reflects the influences of other authors that they have read. There is nothing wrong in this. It is the natural outcome or by-product of a love for books.
I'm a little different. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy reading, somewhat. I usually have a book on the go. But am I a voracious reader? No. Not unless you consider reading three or four books over the course of a year voracious. My wife will read that many books in a week. She's a voracious reader. I'm a literary dabbler.

Having authored eight books does however put me firmly into the writer's camp. So where does my urge and inspiration for writing come from? It comes from my love of drama. It comes from my role as an actor and a storyteller. 

Almost twenty years ago I was captivated by the story of the centurion, who at the cross made that startling confession, "Truly, he is the Son of God!" I produced and told his crucifixion account in a one-man play called The Centurion's Report. After developing this drama and doing this play for six years, I realized I had the basis of novel. I began writing that novel and through a coincidence of Divine timing it was released at the same time as Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ. I promptly sold all 2,000 copies. Another 2,000+ have sold since then and later this month a US publishing house is taking The Soldier, the Terrorist & the Donkey King to committee. Of course I'm praying for that big breakthrough into the American market.

My other top seller is Psalms Alive! This devotional study is based on thirteen Psalms that I do at dramatic presentations all across Canada. I also do a full dramatization of the Book of James. I am currently working on a book based on the life of James. So you see acting and drama is at the heart of what I write.  
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finalize packing for tomorrow's trip to Charleston, SC. I'll be doing The Centurion's Report at a large Baptist church there on Wednesday.
Sometimes it pays to be a little different.

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