By Margo McKenzie
When patrons walk into a Barnes and Nobles store, immediately they are confronted with hundreds of books, which are either novels or memoirs. To find the poetry section, they’d have to go further into the interior. Though not exactly the most popular form of writing, poetry is still alive. Dylan Thomas was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for 2016, and Juan Felipe Herrera is the current Poet Laureate Consultant. In April every year, the Academy of American Poets promotes the art form with Poem in Your Pocket Day.
Exactly what is poetry, though? When my students used to ask me that question, I’d say the following: a shortened, delightful piece of literature in which the writer has confined space to communicate her emotions. Is that enough?
One early English writer, William Wordsworth (19th century), in his famous introduction to a collection of his poems entitled “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, he makes several profound claims about poetry:
What other genre of writing can be described as “the most philosophic,” or “the image of man and nature?” If man is made in the image of God, “the image of man” must reflect some aspect of the Creator.
According to Percy Bysshe Shelley (I’m stuck in the 19th century) in his essay entitled “A Defense of Poetry,” he makes these powerful statements about the poetry:
In 2002, Reverend William Augustus Jones, former pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn asked, “Which conveys the best knowledge concerning God: theology or poetry?” Implied in the question is that poetry, at its best, is a genre that belongs in the realms of the divine. It is an elevated language best suited for revealing truth and beauty.
Where did it all begin? Let’s take a look.
Epic of Gilgamesh
The English credit the anonymous author of Beowulf for getting the genre started, but if we take a look at the literature of the world, we will find that a poet from present day Iraq (Mesopotamia) wrote the first poem ever written on tablets entitled “The Epic of Gilgamesh," an heroic epic about how no one escapes death. That was some 2,000 years before Christ.
Some other ancient writers of poetry include names we’ve probably heard like Homer who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Then there’s Virgil who wrote Aeneid, an epic history of Rome.
The Bible also contains some pretty astounding poetry, which is included in those books known as the poetic books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Songs of Solomon. I thought I’d take a closer look at some of the poetic devices contained in the Psalms.
This book of 150 poems was sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments like harps and lyres. The idea of poetry and music is a major feature of today’s rap. Of course the contents of the two are starkly different. But understanding the similarity of some genres gives us reason to pause. According to the Scoffield Reference Bible, these poems were written approximately 10 centuries before Christ ( p 540). Amazing, isn’t it? Many of the poetic devices used in the Psalms, we still use today.
Ever since times of antiquity, many different poems have been written, the best still succeed in accomplishing two things: speaking truth and providing pleasure. Poets have developed poems, which obey varying rules concerning rhythm and rhyme. Other poets exercise complete freedom from the constrictions of those formulas and will write in free verse. We will begin our discussion with a few poems that follow a formula.
It’s the type of poem that tells a story. The ballad--a song that tells a story-- and the epic--a long poem that tells a story--are considered narratives. Some of these narrative incorporate a rhyme scheme. To qualify as a story, the poem must include characters, setting, theme, narrator, and plot and maybe even dialogue. The main components of the short story are included in narrative poetry. The rhyme scheme of the poem below is ababc.
Two woods diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
I looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the overgrowth
Then took the other, as just as fair,
Ad having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Thought as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leave no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sight
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by
And that had made all the difference.
Consider the title of a few other narrative poems.
Annabel Lee Edgar Allen Poe
My Papa’s Waltz Theodore Roethke
Dance With My Father Luther Vandross
The Touch of the Master’s Hand Anonymous
The is a fourteen line poem, which begins with an octet (eight lines). It explains a problem and concludes with a sestet (six lines), which resolve a problem. Some variations of sonnets include the Petrachaean and Shakespearean, which differ in meter and rhyme.
Many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are known by their first lines:
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day(18)
“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes (29)
“Let me know to the marriage of true minds” (116)
Elizabeth Barret Browning and her husband are famous for the love Sonnets from the Portuguese. Here’s one of the sonnets from these poems:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Claude McKay, a Jamaican poet of the Harlem Renaissance who relocated to New York City, is also known for his sonnets. Take a look at “America.”
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
There are several other types of poems that follow rules of line, rhyme, or meter. The Japanese created the haiku. This type of poem contains three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the last line.
Here is a sample:
The sun is so bright
It lights even my darkness.
Then here comes the moon.
This type of poem is a light, funny poem. It contains five lines, which follow an aabba rhyme scheme like the poem below:
There once was a woman from Rome
Who feared others and stayed in her home.
One day she ate something became very ill.
The doctor came by to give her a pill.
And she attacked him with a broom.
Rappers took poetry to another level when they set their rhymed words over hip-hop music, and the skill of the deliverer came into play.
Here are additional quotes about poetry:
Despite the internet and other fast-moving methods of entertainment, poetry will survive. As long as human beings need beauty, truth, and pleasure, there will be a need for poetry. Whether we know it or not, poetry speaks to the soul: and as long as man has a soul, mankind will need poetry.
So if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, consider giving someone the gift of words this Christmas by giving them a book of poetry.
By Margo McKenzie
In a few weeks, Christians around the world will celebrate the most significant birth in history, that of Jesus Christ himself. Born in a barn, he began his life with humble beginnings. As he matured, he learned his purpose and never veered off its path, regardless of the hardship he would have to endure.
Christ is a model for us all. No fuller life exists than one that discovers its mandate. Today, this column is about Marlene Bagnull, writer, CEO and public speaker who discovered her purpose in life and walks in it with humility.
She grew up in a home with a father, who classified himself as an atheist, and a mother, who called herself a Christian, but never discussed her faith. Suffering from a variety of health issues, anger enveloped Marlene’s father, and she often found herself the victim of his physical abuses. He would slap her and sometimes lock her in her bedroom for hours. Those experiences left Marlene believing that she was a bad girl.
Despite how her father made her feel, her parents did allow her to attend church where people treated her with kindness. There, she learned about God. She didn’t understand the concept of knowing God personally until she heard nuns read catechistic stories that penetrated her spirit and helped her to understand Christ’s sacrifice. In prostrate response, she threw herself on the floor and gave her life to the Lord.
In her teens, Marlene hated her English classes, but she loved reading. Books provided a way of escape to a world of magic. She immersed herself in the pages of the bible and searched for books in the library which helped to explain the era reflected in its pages. Her interest in Christian subjects and her love of words led her to books such as The Silver Chalice, Ben-Hur and The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop..
If anyone told her back then that her future life would include writing books and delivering speeches, she would have said, “A loving God would never give that to me.”
When Marlene was an adult with a family, she was forced to return to work because of her husband’s back surgery. She hated the job and prayed to God about it. She ended up at the editorial office of the American Baptist Church where her job included editing and other production responsibilities. She loved this job, especially the excitement around making deadlines.
When she became pregnant with her second child, Marlene could not return to work. Then, a full-time mom of two, she squeezed in writing time.
In 1979, Marlene attended a writing conference and met Lee Roddy who became a writing mentor. She couldn’t afford to purchase his book, so she asked him to write something in her bible. He turned to Habbakuk 2:2: “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others." In a note, he added, “This was God’s promise to me as an author. Maybe yours, too?”
But even when God gave her the scripture, Marlene was uncertain about what it meant. She felt inadequate and resisted the call because she had never gone to college or taken a writing course. Who was she to teach someone else? Her excuses elevated to, “I don’t know what you want me to write." Since God answers all prayers, he answered Marilyn with this:
“Write out your life experiences, make yourself transparent and vulnerable so others can see what I have done and am doing in your life." The reservations about writing mounted in Marilyn’s mind. “[She] didn’t want people to know that [she] wasn’t a model Christian and that [her] faith falters, and that some days [she] feels overwhelmed and inadequate.”
When she thought deeply about her journey and how far God had brought her, she realized that she could help someone else by sharing her experiences. As difficult as it was for her to do, Marlene put pen to paper and began to share some of her experiences in articles such as “Battling and Defeating Depression,” “Coping with Ingratitude,” and “Praying about Everything.”
She expanded her writing to include articles about her role as wife and mother. It was difficult for her to write articles entitled “What’s the Matter With Me?” and “Taking it Out on the Ones I Love.” But she felt compelled to write them.
Just because she was following God didn’t mean that her writing was unfolding the way she expected. In fact, just the opposite occurred. After pouring out her heart, editors rejected one manuscript after another. According to Marlene, she had to learn how to carry the cross and follow Jesus, understanding that doing so would not be easy.
In her book, Write His Answer, Marilyn says she is still plagued by feelings of doubt and inadequacy, but she has full faith in the God who called her to write; and she has not wavered in following him.
Conferences and Books
To date, Marlene has written over 1,000 articles and eight books. She conducts two writing conferences annually. Since 1997, she conducted the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference in Estes Park, Colorado; and since 1983, the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
These conferences are the equivalent of a semester’s worth of college courses. Whether an emerging writer or published writer, this conference offers a rich experience. Topics covered range from information about craft and editing to publication. Roughly 200-300 people could be in attendance choosing from 60 workshops and over 50 faculty members, who represent the writing industry. Marlene promotes this conference as not only one with an emphasis on enhancing writing skills but also as an opportunity to build friendships with people who share the same passion for writing.
In addition to writing, founding a ministry, and public speaking, Marlene Bagnull also has founded a publishing company. This move was not in her plans either, but an eighty-year-old woman who consulted with Marlene for career counseling wrote a book and had it edited. Marlene was walking her through the publication phase when they both discovered the publishing company they were pursuing had closed down. Marlene found herself saying these words to the lady: “Do you want me to publish it for you?” Since the lady wanted a barcode, Marlene had to create a company. She thumbed through a Greek-English inter-lineal Bible in her library and found her favorite verse John 15:4: “No branch can bear fruit of itself; it must remain on the vine” (NIV). The word vine penetrated Marlene’s spirit, and she used the Greek form of the word as the name for her company.
Advice for Writers
When it comes to advice for writers, Marlene offers the following:
Thirty-seven years ago, Marlene Bagnull sheepishly entered the world of writing. Despite feelings of insecurity and doubt, she continued on the path the Lord set before her, and today thousands benefit from her tenacity.
This is a lesson for us all. God places us all here for a reason. In this holiday season, may we be ever mindful that Jesus Christ knew his purpose and fulfilled his mission. May he be our example as he has been for Marlene.
Marlene Bagnull, Write His Answer, (Ampelos Press: PA) 1990
Larry Burd, “Living Truth,” goo.gl/BH1cvG
Patti Shene, “Lit(erally) Speak(ing),” goo.gl/kAp59B
By Margo McKenzie
It doesn’t matter whether the writer in you surfaced before your role as mama, or whether you were a mama first and then the creative juices began to flow. Maybe they occurred simultaneously. However they surfaced, you now find yourself with dual roles you must perform. You have a little one who calls you Mama, and you have a little voice that calls you writer. At first sight, they may appear like they are conflicting calls, but Christina Katz, a freelance writer, wrote a book entitled Writer Mama to inform you it is possible to balance the mama with the writer in you.
If you think that Ms. Katz just writes a few articles a month, think again. A quick read of her biography in the back of the book shows that she has both feet firmly planted in her writing business. Her by-line has appeared in hundreds of articles, interviews, profile and columns.
She is a publisher and editor and has used the vehicle of her own web magazine, Women on the Rise, to mentor writers. She has also appeared on Good Morning America. She does all this while co-parenting with her husband.
The book does not address how she mothers her child while she writes. The book focuses on how to be a phenomenal writer while also being a parent.
Parenting is a full-time job and in some respects so is writing. The beauty of freelancing as a writer is that you can establish your own hours. So the question becomes, how can we make optimal use of the limited hours we have in order to pursue our passion for writing?
Katz provides a few strategies in her book, which is neatly divided into four sections: Preparation, Practice, Professionalism, and Poise. Each page includes a quarter-inch aqua border. The aqua is evenly utilized throughout the book to highlight headings and sidebars providing a calm, feminine aura for readers.
Much of the advice Katz provides is good for writers, whether they have a child or not; but she does specifically address mothers who are writers.
For one, interspersed throughout the book are quotes from other mothers who write.
Let’s examine each section to determine how they live up to the challenge of the title.
One of the main problems mothers confront is finding the time to complete projects, so this section of the book provides several strategies for gathering ideas while fulfilling the primary duty, which is raising a child. The key is to be sure the writer in you is mentally present at all times, whether strolling or shopping. The idea of paying attention to headlines that grab our attention is a great idea. We see headlines everywhere. As we pass newsstands, in bookstores, streaming across the television screen, on Facebook or subject lines in our emails. These headlines provide critical information about current topics the world is concerned about. They become subjects for follow-up articles for a writer. At the end of each chapter, Katz includes an exercise and the very first one provides additional strategies to generate ideas for writing.
Before proceeding with her suggestions, she encourages that we determine what type of Mama we actually are. The type will determine the system we should establish for recording our ideas. Katz has identified five mama types: Real Simple, Process-Oriented, On-the-Go, Visual, Bigger is Better. The first type will record ideas on a yellow pad while the last might use poster paper.
When it comes to finding time to actually write down ideas, Katz provides some relevant suggestions, such as implementing mandatory quiet time for the child--depending on age of course. During this time, the child plays quietly and does not disturb mommy. During that time, writers can either prepare for writing the next day or actually write. The key is to structure time to actually write.
As I read through this section of the book, I found that most of the advice would benefit any writer; she provides suggestions from different types of lists writers should keep to handling procrastination. Since time is critical, she addresses that by including a segment on establishing boundaries, the necessity for limiting our availability. She ends the chapter with a discussion about whether child care is a wise choice.
This section filled with great advice to writers. Katz provides insight about finding a “tribe,” a group of writers that will support our growth and development; writing query letters; negotiating; and setting monetary goals. The way the world of writing works appears to be the same for everyone, so this section is one that could be found in any professional writer’s handbook. As expected, the world doesn’t change to adapt to a writer’s particular needs as a mother. The takeaway is that the standard operating procedures are the same for all writers, so understand what the rules are and play them to perfection.
Operating two jobs will cause stressors to surface. This last section tells writers how to keep it altogether in order to avoid “Writer Mama Burnout.” For some assignments, Katz advises Mamas to completely withdraw and perform, what I consider to be, a Jill Scott activity: "Take a long walk around the park after dark, or maybe see a movie or see a play on Saturday . . .feel the breeze or listen to a symphony . . . or just remain silent."
No matter the age of the children, the writer mama never has to go into retirement. You may find yourself balancing writing with not just your children but with grandchildren as well. If you didn’t think peaceful coexistence was not possible for writer and mama, Katz wrote this book to prove otherwise.
By Margo McKenzie
Life brings with it a multitude of emotions and concerns. Some days we feel we are practically on Mount Zion, transported to heavenly joys and understanding. At other times we can’t lift another foot, can’t write another line, or make another phone call. We are operating on empty. If a driver continues to move forward with an empty tank of gas, the car will sputter and die. And a person will come close to doing the same also. Sometimes we are aware of our emptiness. Very often when we journey on empty, we don’t even know it.
An empty chair at the table may generate feelings of emptiness in people, especially around this time of year. People may place more emphasis on what they do not possess rather than on what they do possess, sometimes taking permanent action for a temporary condition. The reality, however, is that when we haven’t achieved what others say we should have, this is the opportunity to create something new and meaningful.
During my single years, to confront the feelings of emptiness around birthdays and holidays, a few female friends and I decided to celebrate ourselves. We made reservations at many fine dining establishments for each other’s birthdays. We traveled around the globe together. We didn’t think about what we didn’t possess; we celebrated what we did have—friendship.
If the “traditional” family pieces are not in place, instead of allowing feelings of emptiness to swell within, this is the time to get together with whomever is in our family of friends. If necessity is the mother of creativity, then the holiday season is the time to rethink how we celebrate if the traditional pieces are not in place. This is one way to overcome feelings of emptiness. Understanding the history of emptiness may also help to overcome it.
Before the beginning, there was nothing but emptiness: “The earth was without form and void” (Genesis 1:2 NIV). There was no light nor plant life. There were no animals nor trees. Earth was a meaningless, unproductive place, taking up space until God moved upon the face of the waters and spoke. God exercised lasting creativity when he looked on the face of the earth and didn’t like what he saw. Through his power, God transformed the emptiness into an amazing place of beauty and order.
There is a lesson here for people who experience feelings of emptiness. God’s word generates transformation. The Genesis story teaches us that by reading His word and meditating on it, we can overcome feelings of emptiness. And if the creation story isn’t enough, seven chapters later, we find another illustration of divine intervention over emptiness.
Take a look at Naomi. During a famine, she and her husband and two sons left Bethlehem to go to Moab where there was food. There, her two sons married, and later died; and her husband died, too. One minute, Naomi was married and the mother of two sons. The next minute, she was a widow and the mother of two deceased sons. What else could she have felt but emptiness while living in a pagan land (Moab) with no man to look after her?
Naomi was empty and bitter, and said to her daughters-in-law, “The hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Naomi left the land of Moab and returned to her home in Bethlehem, and one daughter-in-law, Ruth, returned with her. Once Naomi left the pagan land and returned home, the place where the sovereignty of God was recognized, life brightened for Naomi.
Ruth married and gave birth. Naomi had a family again. Through no fault of her own, Naomi ended up in a bitter situation. When she was able to get back to Bethlehem, the house of bread, she no longer complained of emptiness.
The lesson for us is to take our feelings of emptiness to where God is, and allow him to fill us. Very often, we don’t have to move our feet to get there; we just have to move our spirit, our attitude, our pride and, in humility, go to God. We just need to seclude ourselves in prayer and read the Bible.
Woman of Samaria
Consider the woman of Samaria. She thought she only needed to quench her physical thirst, and we find her at the well, prepared to do just that (John 4). However, she encountered Jesus there, who asked her for a drink. Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, and the woman was well-aware of the rules of non-engagement. Perhaps Jesus spoke to her because he needed to do something outrageous to get her attention. Then Jesus read her situation and told her that if she knew his identity, she’d be asking him for water, because after drinking his water, she’d never thirst again. Scripture suggests she really didn’t understand the spiritual water Jesus was talking about. But she did go telling her friends to “Come see a man.”
What’s the takeaway? Sometimes we’re empty and try to fill up on physical things that do not satisfy. But if we allow him, if we listen, God will diagnose our condition. He’ll let us know when we are empty, and he will fill us up. He knows how to restore our weary soul. If the woman realized who Jesus was and what he had to offer, this could have been her song:
Fill my cup, Lord
I lift it up, Lord
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul
Bread of heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
The words of that song by Richard Eugene Blanchard could be the prayer of the unsaved when they recognize their condition, or even of the saved when they haven’t taken care of their spiritual diet.
Sometimes Christians overspend their spirit. We can get so caught up that we forget to “fill up.” We forget to pray and spend quality time meditating on God’s word. When we’re so busy doing God’s work and neglect to fellowship with his people or pray, we begin to feel the symptoms of emptiness, such as defeat and doubt. The antidote to this feeling of emptiness is quality time with God, praying to him, reading his word and listening for his response. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we cause our own emptiness.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ru 1:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Even Jesus himself experienced a moment of emptiness. This was evident when he was on the cross and he cried out, “Eli, Eli, Lamasabachthani” or "Father, Father, why has thou forsaken me?” Carrying the sins of the world in his body, he was separated from his father. Righteousness and unrighteousness cannot walk together. The point is that our unconfessed sin will separate us from God and cause us to experience the deepest of emptiness. The solution is to confess. As stated in John 1:9, “Confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NIV). Of course, Jesus had nothing to confess; he bore our sins as he was assigned to do, and then he returned to be with his father. Mission accomplished.
The Apostle Paul
Even the Apostle Paul felt moments of emptiness. Consider this statement:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
The church at Corinth held a special place in Paul’s heart because he had founded that church. He stayed in Corinth for one and a half years and helped the church to grow. Once away from Corinth, Paul heard reports that false prophets divided the church he planted. To make matters worse, they were also planting anti-Paul seeds among the congregation. Paul was discouraged and weak. What he said in verse 9 provides a model for all of us. Find a quiet spot, away from the noise, and get a refill. Paul’s refill was hearing some truths about God of which he needed to be reminded: “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” These comforting words from the Lord were enough to fill his spirit.
I hesitate to say that weakness is a blessing, but the reality is that in order for us to experience the power of God, we must first experience weakness. This reminds me of another song, “Through it All” by Andrae Crouch.
I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through
For if I'd never had a problem,
I wouldn't know God could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do
In order to know God as a problem solver, we have to encounter those perplexing spaces in life. So what does Paul teach us about overcoming emptiness? He teaches us to embrace it, take it to God and allow him to reveal this dimension of who he is. How can we ever know the fullness of God unless we first experience emptiness? Very often we try to medicate emptiness with drugs, sex, or some other synthetic or diversion. The reality is that we should never attempt to overcome emptiness. What we should do is recognize our emptiness, and stand or kneel before God until he turns it around.
By Margo McKenzie
The term literary is most often associated with novel writing, poetry, drama and the like. Names such as Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Langston Hughes come to mind. On the topic of entrepreneurship, one thinks of business plans, marketing, capital, profits, and losses. Very rarely do we see these two topics combined. Tyora Moody, however, changes that phenomenon. She smoothly integrates the two topics in this short booklet of 135 pages on the business of being a writer and “Building an Online Presence for Authors.
In the literary past, agents and publishing companies represented the vast majority of published writers. Publishing companies edited, branded, distributed, and marketed authors’ books and paid them a percentage of the proceeds from sales. If an author is fortunate enough to enter a contract with a publishing company today, they pretty much perform the same roles for the author. With the advent of the digital era, the entire writing and publishing game has been democratized. All writers with ambition and perseverance can get their work published without the assistance of a publishing company. The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit by Tyora Moody provides an author with all the tools needed to get noticed online. So if you’re looking for a gift for someone’s Christmas stocking, if you want to plant a seed into a writer’s life and ministry, Moody’s book is the gift that keeps on giving. This is a book that should be on every writer’s bookcase.
In ten solid chapters, Moody covers just about every nook and cranny of digital marketing. She shares the knowledge she has gathered after over a decade of experience with “on-line publicity.” Early in her book she offers the following advice: “Think like a reader.” In the writing and marketing of their book, authors must keep the audience in mind.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I answers the question: “Where do I start with building my online presence?” and Part II answers the question: “How do I build and manage my online presence?”
The first section is divided into four chapters, covering building a brand, a website, and a following. In the first chapter on branding, Moody lists fifteen authors--most writers would know at least five of them. This list provides a motivation like no other because readers who purchase her book are seeking just a modicum of the name recognition that those famous authors have achieved. Inspired readers will quickly read through the pages, looking for the quick answers to what they must do to get there. As they read, they will realize that the answers may be quick, and the reading may be easy, but the work is hard. Authors must not only produce their best writing, but if they want an online presence, they have to constantly be on the look-out for opportunities to promote themselves. This first chapter takes the reader out of their ivory tower of literary arts and brings them into the harsh reality of persuasive presentation.
Terms such as blogposts, workshops, seminars, and conferences shake authors from the literary tower and move them into the world of the business of writing.
Yes, you need a website, a domain name, and a host, and Moody carefully delineates the steps writers and others must take in order to acquire them. She goes so far as to provide a list of considerations to insure the website is professional in user experience and efficiency, whether on a computer or a phone. If a reader is not sure what to include on a website, Moody explains five critical pages, and she provides pointers to remember when developing each one.
Moody establishes that she is writing for authors new to the online world, and advises authors to understand these five components of a web page and what they each contain: home page, media kit, book page, calendar of events, and contact page. Moody relies on print to explain these components to the reader. However, this is the section when a reader would benefit from a graphic image such as an effective landing page. A guided tour of her own website would have been beneficial, displaying her own examples of each component she discusses.
To move authors even deeper into the waters of online marketing, she discusses additional topics literary entrepreneurs must master: blogging, capturing readers, and connecting on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr. Just like the living needs oxygen, a writer needs social media to survive: “The strongest way to build your platform is utilizing these free tools.” The key is to find two or three that best meet the needs of your audience.
Moody must have realized that after chapter three, readers would be overwhelmed by the plethora of online building necessary. In chapter four, she attempts to relieve the anxiety with some basics about “How to Build an Online Audience.” This chapter is probably the meatiest chapter in the book. Authors generate an audience by blogging, but the main takeaway is that building an audience requires consistency and planning. Readers will be thankful for the sample Monday-Friday topical calendar she provides. Rather than talking about a calendar, she provides one. She also provides a list of social media management tools to add to a writer’s blog.
This segment reviews the basics of blogging and mentions four tools for bloggers. If there is one weakness in this chapter, it is the limited platform options she provides. In reality, there are over ten free sites, but she makes no mention of these or even suggests they exist. To her credit, however, she does provide a list of possible blogging topics such as: do your characters reflect real life issues? If so, then write about those topics. Is your novel reflective of historical, medical or scientific significance? If so, these become topics for blogs. I appreciate the way Moody personalizes the book by including a list of her favorite blogs.
Everyone has heard about Twitter, but Moody makes her readers aware of key considerations and cautions readers to be selective about whom they follow. Even for Twitter, “It’s about quality, not quantity.” She explains by saying that ultimately she will take a look at what some people are tweating, and “If they are not talking about anything I want to see on my timeline, I will choose not to follow.”
Did you know that hashtag is in the Twitter family? If a reader is wondering about hashtag, she clarifies the issue; and if readers wonder whether they have any ideas worth tweating about, she clears that up, too. She covers Twitter in depth and recommends specific literary entrepreneurs to follow.
If you’re not overwhelmed yet, she then provides valuable information about creating an active community on Facebook. She begins this chapter discussing, Edgerank, an algorithm that Facebook administrators use to decide what gets posted on a user’s timeline. Terms like affinity, weight, and time decay are clearly explained. Then she gets down to the basics of profile page, business page, group page, and event page.
The critical section, “What should I post on Facebook," might leave a reader perplexed if she is looking for advice about appropriate topics for their Facebook posts. She does explain how to post consistently using campaign websites, which will post content automatically and the value of using visual posts such as an images, videos, or audios.
If an author still can find any followers, Moody enters into the more professional realm of social media with her discussion of LinkedIn and Google+. These two websites contain elevated discussions about industry trends, job searches, and business outlook.
Winding down, Moody then discusses a few reader-specific websites, listing Goodreads.com as the “largest social network for book lovers.” There is also Wattpad and Amazon Author Central. (View Moody’s profile there.)
Moody nears the end of her book with a synopsis of a few visual marketing sites such as Youtube, Vine, Instagram, podcasting, and Pinterest. She also mentions websites she uses to share documents such as Scribd and Docstoc.com.
The final segment takes the form of a workbook. Moody walks readers through the critical five steps readers can follow to establish a business plan for an online presence because planning is critical. Tyora Moody must know, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Reading about marketing and doing it are distinctly different. Planning for success is the final step.
Her final two gifts in this book are two lists, which will assist in the planning: Quick Links for every literary entrepreneur and a reading list containing podcasts and books.
Throughout her book, Moody explains extensively what literary entrepreneurs can do to promote themselves. By purchasing this book for a friend or loved one at Christmas, you propel that writer to greater heights of achievement.
By Margo McKenzie
As living, breathing individuals, we are expected to speak up at various events such as weddings, dinners, and sometimes even funerals. The event will dictate the purpose of the speech. Our intent might be to entertain, inform or console. We might even want to persuade an audience about a critical idea. Some people distinguish types of speeches based on purpose, and this article will distinguish types of speeches based on method of delivery.
Once we add writerpreneur to our portfolio, more speaking engagements will come our way.
These speaking engagements will come in different forms and with varying amounts of preparation time, but at some point in our business, we will be called upon to speak to one or several people, so it behooves us to be prepared.
Did anyone see Kanye West at the MTV Awards on Sunday evening, August 28? He covered a slew of topics when he took the stage, and he didn’t retrieve a little white sheet of paper out of his pocket and refer to it during his speech. He delivered what is known as an impromptu speech, and it certainly generated a lot of chatter on the internet. Although most people couldn’t figure out the main point of his speech, he did deliver one.
The speech qualifies as impromptu because he didn’t prepare it in advance. It was a spontaneous, unplanned, unscripted speech. When he couldn’t think of anything more to say right away, he just paused--awkwardly. The audience had to wait for Kanye to get his thoughts together.
I know very few people who would volunteer to deliver an impromptu speech. But writerpreneurs have to be ready. Whenever we open our mouths, we represent our business, and our desire should be to always leave a favorable impression with whoever is listening.
So how can we be prepared to give a speech which, by definition, means “unprepared speech” ?
I’m going to reveal a little secret. The minute someone asks us to speak, our mind must make a swift change into the express lane, which means we have to start thinking quickly. Are we going to try and write a quick speech? No. What we are going to do is think of the three key words we are going to speak about. For example, if someone asks us to talk for a brief minute on our business. We should think in chronological order in terms of: Why? Who? What?
When we get to the mic, we can easily think of why we created the business, who we hope to serve, and what we want to deliver. As we’re speaking other, ideas will emerge, and we just go with them as they relate to the three key words. As long as we stick to these key words and support them with relevant anecdotes, people will never know that it was an impromptu speech.
When I had to facilitate a three-hour prayer vigil at my church, at one segment, I ran out of things to pray. So, I just asked the people in the audience for their ideas. This can be awakward for everyone, especially the speaker.
If we encounter one of those frozen moments, we should just remember that the audience wants us to succeed.
Here are some questions that we can ask to engage the audience in our impromptu speeches:
We need to remember that even an impromptu speech needs a conclusion like:
Some people may say this is this cheating, or that even the conclusion of the impromptu speech should be unplanned. But my response to them is this: Like a good scout, be prepared at all times.
Sometimes we will know in advance about a speaking engagement. A school may ask us to speak about our writing at a career fair or we may be called upon to address writers at a conference. This is where the extemporaneous speech comes in.
This type of speech is planned, but not memorized. It’s okay to refer to clearly delineated outlines when delivering these speeches.
Referring to a short outline helps us deliver an organized and planned speech without memorizing every word. We’ve probably seen these kinds of talks at debates. The presidential candidates always refer to notes when they’re speaking.
Those of us who are more visual might prefer graphic organizers as an outline.
The Written Speech
For this type of speech, we are reading every word that has been written. We have all encountered this type of speech at a graduation ceremony where students deliver the valedictory and salutatory speeches. Sometimes pastors preach sermons using this method.
As a writepreneur, we may resort to this type of speaking every time we speak. We don’t have to worry about omitting important information.
After we’ve made decisions about the contents of the speech and the method of delivery, there are a host of other speech-delivery elements that we must implement as identified at the end of the article.
The fourth type of speech-delivery method is the memorized speech. Some of the best I have heard were the speeches delivered at a school-sponsored Martin Luther King oratory contest. Students didn’t just memorize his words; they memorized every pause and peak in his voice.
The downside of memorized speeches is that you just might forget the next line, and no one will be sitting in the first row cuing you on. Frankly, I’m hard-pressed to think of an occasion where a writerpreneur would want to deliver a memorized speech. But just because I can’t think of one doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just be aware of the disadvantages though.
Regardless of our type of delivery, there are some qualities of speaking that we should always remember:
Our speaking is a critical opportunity to represent our business. We should master each method of delivery well.
By Michelle Ramsey
Getting lured into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is tempting at best. Most people want to flow with the magic and beauty draped around the town in the essence of lights cascading from lampposts, the tinkling of the bells in the stores, or the jolly laughter of the mall Santa taking pictures with the children. Others desire to engage in parties with shimmering gowns, dazzling lights, dashing gentlemen, and the enchantment of compassion and kindness in the strangers that we meet. However, it’s almost impossible as a writer when you have deadlines looming overhead to engage in all the glitz and glamour of the season, unless of course you’re writing about them.
As a writer, I have deadlines to meet on every front, whether they are for this magazine, or for the contractors whom I ghostwrite for. The topics that I’m writing about aren’t always centered on the holiday theme. It becomes challenging to feel the holiday spirit if you’re tucked away in your favorite writing spot, dashing off a few thousand words per day about a summer in Brazil, or the divorce of a debutante, or some similar issue.
Most writers like to have music while they write. It helps to draw us into the moment so that our muse can come out to play and allow us to pour all energy and passion into that work. I have found that I can still immerse myself in the holiday spirit with all the other expectations that rest on me from my writing processes. While the subject that I tackle may have nothing to do with the holiday spirit, I can change my environment to reflect what I need it to be.
If you have a specific space in your house that you love to write, take an hour or two to transform that space. Purchasing a small pre-lit tree to place on your desk, hanging some lights around your window, and hanging a little mistletoe over the door can transform your space in a matter of moments. If you really want to get creative and do something different, Google a few DIY projects that are easy to re-create in order to change your writing space.
A miniature tree made of pinecones and spritzed in fake snow will do the same job as a pre-lit desktop tree. Decorate your office or writing space door with a few sprigs of pine and a glitzy acorns. A household planter tied in a ribbon tucked away in a corner filled with colorful pinecones, ornaments, and fresh sprigs of pine makes a great visual reminder of the season.
I have found that I am emotionally tied to music and it alters the mood that I am in. If you find that your writing topic doesn’t require you to have music to set the theme, change your music selection to your favorite Christmas music. There’s nothing like Cee-Lo Green singing Mary Did You Know, the Temptations’ Silent Night or Someday at Christmas, or Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas to get me in the Christmas spirit.
At some point during your writing routine, you must take a break. It’s impossible to remain fresh and creative without taking some downtime. During this time, whether you are cleaning the house, or cooking a meal, listen to some Christmas music or read a Scripture related to the birth of our Savior and His purpose on Earth. When it’s time for you to relax, don’t neglect those precious moments. Relieve the stress of the season and the busyness of your writing schedule by looking at a Christmas movie. Whether old or new, you’re sure to find some cheer in watching a Christmas movie that’s guaranteed to have an inspirational message woven throughout. Lifetime, ABC Family, and Hallmark are popular choices to catch Christmas movies on during the season.
Scents create nostalgic connections to our past, causing us to reminisce about favorable or unfavorable moments from our past. Because our olfactory reactions are tied to the emotional centers of our brain, we tend to reflect on past moments when we smell certain scents. Lighting a vanilla, pine, or apple and cinnamon scented candle can bring memories of Christmas to the forefront while you’re writing.
The primary way to continue to be immersed in the holiday spirit, while deadlines are looming is to engage in the holiday. Setting expectations on your family and friends that you will have to disengage at a point can help hold you accountable. Dedicate certain days to writing and hold yourself to keeping those deadlines even in the midst of the holiday season. When you find yourself with nothing to do, or spending an inordinate amount of time watching TV or just lounging, use those moments to write.
Staying committed to a schedule you have already set, and getting writing in whenever possible will allow you to finish ahead of schedule. At this point you can reward yourself by taking a day off to participate in fun activities, such as ice skating, shopping, taking pictures with Santa, or getting to that holiday party you were invited to.
If your place of worship will be holding a Christmas program, take out time to participate. If you don’t have time to participate as a singer, dancer, or actor, perhaps engage in some other way. Maybe, you can volunteer to help out with the props, or the dress rehearsal. No time for that? Make sure to show up on the day of the program and watch all the hard work everyone has poured into that special day. Just attending a program will keep you immersed in the holiday spirit and become an integral part of keeping you in the Christmas mood. Not to mention your church family would love to see you there to help them celebrate their success.
Regardless of the time constraints you face this holiday season, don’t disengage from it. This is a beautiful time of year, where more often than not people come together to demonstrate love and peace towards one another. It’s revitalizing for the spirit and uplifting for your family and friends. Being an instrumental part of that will go a long way towards building memories for you to reflect on in the years to come. Probably the most valuable takeaway from your experience aside from the memories, will be the knowledge that you gain allowing you to pour that into your craft. For every experience that you engage in, your writing will become that much more enhanced.
Above all don’t miss out on the joy and true meaning of the season. Immerse yourself in it if for no other reason than to celebrate our Savior.
What ways do you maintain the holiday spirit when deadlines are looming? How do you weave the Christmas theme into your writing environment? Do you find that changing your environment to reflect the season inspires you?
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Dolls. Cars. Bikes. Skates. Video Games. Clothes. Bring on the Christmas trees, decorate the stockings, hang the lights, and bake the cookies. All these things are a part of the scenery that little children take in and look forward to during the Christmas holiday season. They watch the commercials on TV and see the newest technological gadgets in the store, or hear their friends bragging about the latest and greatest this or that, and they want it too. As parents, we run around attempting to make their merriest dreams come true.
We fill their stockings with little trinkets, charms, and goodies to make their eyes grow wide and round. We carefully wrap their gifts in beautiful paper with decorative bows, and place them under our tinseled, garland-wrapped, brilliantly-lit trees for them to open on Christmas day. We bake cookies with them and set them out in a place that Santa will not miss. Our children sing the songs and hope and pray that Santa will forget the naughty things they have done all year long in exchange for the good deeds that they have committed in the last couple of weeks. Our eyes twinkle because we hold a secret they don’t know. Our love will allow us to give them their heart’s desire as long as our pockets can afford it.
With all that we go through to prepare the children for the season, how much have we really prepared them? What have we taught them about the season? What have we taught them about our Savior? Is their entire expectation and understanding of the season built around society’s marketing ploy to amass as many dollars as possible?
Children are easily impressionable and what we teach them at an early age will carry them through a lifetime. Those values that we impress upon them will shape their views and expected outcomes for their future. Teaching them that the season is not a simple focus geared towards buying gifts and presents, but so much more; it empowers them to become a blessing. Helping them understand that this is the season we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, gives them the true meaning of why we desire to give.
We have received the greatest gift of all in not only His birth, but also His death and redemption. This greatest of all gifts is incomparable, and our gifts to others as we attempt to bless them can never measure up. However, we can teach our little ones to have an open heart, one that desires to bless the way that we have been blessed. For everything that we have received in this life is given to us by the Ultimate Giver.
Bible stories, coloring books, and story books are simple ways to educate your little one on the meaning of Christmas. I believe it is never too early to begin shaping their minds about the purpose of the season. Allowing little ones to participate in Christmas programs enables them to understand and experience the truth on a different level.
When my children were toddlers, I attended church sporadically. By the time they began attending primary school, we were attending church regularly and I had a relationship with the Lord.
However, the difference in how my husband and I have viewed Christmas before and after salvation has not changed much at all. Our views had already been shaped by our family from our early years. Although we were not attending church much when my children were little, as a writer, I wrote little plays for them to perform on Christmas Eve at home. These plays were performed by our three children as a means to teach them about the true meaning of Christmas.
My daughter would drag her dolls and animals out to assign them a part in the play. She would always be Mary, her oldest brother was the narrator, and she would “allow” her baby brother to be Joseph. Whatever favorite doll held her heart at the time was assigned the part of “baby Jesus.” The stuffed animals would play the parts of the shepherds or the animals. My children adored this time of year and the play, even if their small audience were comprised only of their father and myself.
Those little experiences taught them life-long lessons about the true meaning of Christmas and worshiping our Savior. Now in their early and mid-teens, and the oldest in his early twenties, they understand the true meaning of Christmas. They are thankful for the gifts they receive, and anticipate receiving them each year. However, they also understand the most precious gift they have been given that no amount of money could ever buy.
Incorporating an understanding of these lessons in our children begins when they are very young. And while they may not be able to grasp a complete understanding of the concept of our Savior, they can be taught the basics. Giving them the building blocks now can fortify them for the years to come as you add knowledge each year. Teach them the lessons about the true meaning of Christmas in a way that is fun and easy to comprehend for them. Whether those lessons are through storybooks, music, art, or drama is up to you and whatever method your young child understands most. Just ensure that you do give them this valuable understanding.
Other ways to teach a young child about the meaning of Christmas can be shown through expressions of love and giving. Allow your young child to gather gently used toys or clothing to be given away as donations to those in need. You may want to participate in an adopt-a-family program at your child’s daycare, school, or at church. In this manner, they are able to give to someone in need.
Encourage them when they are of a certain age to volunteer to work at a homeless shelter, or to serve food to the homeless at community churches. Continual servanthood in your everyday life will prepare them for the greater lesson when the Christmas season is upon them. It makes it easier than just springing upon them an attitude of gratitude at the last moment.
What methods do you plan to implement to teach your child about the true meaning of Christmas? If you currently do so, or have done so in the past, share your ideas with our readers by leaving a comment. Someone just may be looking for suggestions.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1
By Michelle Ramsey
My readers inspire me to be the greatest that I can be. They challenge me to grow and to reach a higher level as a writer each year. They are important to me, because without them I have no audience.
I recall one year I created a beautiful story about a family struggling throughout the holiday season. The family ran into one misfortune after another, from the loss of a job, to having to move out of town, to taking care of the father’s ailing father, to the children being bullied at school. The parents struggled to keep the utilities on and food on the table. Then of all the losses they had endured, they were informed that they would have to move out of their rental home by Christmas Eve.
The out-of-town landlord failed to cover the mortgage on several properties he owned, and they were going into foreclosure. The family was prepared to give up and give in, but they continued to hold onto the slightest bit of faith. They had a mustard seed mentality. That faith pulled them through the turmoil they were suffering. On Christmas day, they experienced the greatest of Christmas miracles.
Their small town pulled together to bless them in such a mighty way that all of their problems were resolved in one shot. They moved from a hotel room that they had resided in for the night into a home of their own, and the children received the Christmas of their dreams.
I created that story because I began to think about all of the devastation and loss that families suffer at this time of year. We like to think about the beautiful memories we create, but everyone is not experiencing those blessings. I wanted to create a story that my readers could connect with, but with a beautiful ending rather than the tragic ones we experience in life or see on the news.
This story that I wrote was given to my readers free of charge. It played out daily on the pages of my blog for twenty-one days during the month of December. It was interesting to see their remarks in the comments section at the end of the day. Some of them would attempt to guess what would happen next, because I love creating cliff-hangers. If they weren’t guessing what was happening, they were hoping and praying for a miracle. But the beauty of it all is that they connected with that little fictional family, and their hearts were touched by the story.
Some of the readers had experienced similar hardships. Others were inspired by a community of people who would come together for the good of one family. The interesting part is that many members of the community did not know the family. They were new to town and pretty much kept to themselves. Yet, a few significant people knew enough about their hardships to want to make a difference.
I often posed questions at the end of the posts, asking the readers what they think should happen next, or what they would do if they were in a similar situation. The feedback was interesting, and sometimes I would implement it. I posted this story again on my new blog last year.
As a writer we often have plenty on our plate during the holidays. I think it is instrumental that we do not forget our readers. We should value them above all and it is imperative to include them in our lives to a certain extent. Whether it is through the sharing of a story on your blog and incorporating their ideas and suggestions, or sharing your pictures and videos on social media to allow them to engage in, they feel connected with you.
This year, I created an album on Facebook entitled “Christmas with the Ramseys.” This album started on the day after Thanksgiving as we began to decorate our home for the Christmas holiday. My followers on Facebook can see my husband giving a tutorial on “the art of tying a ribbon around a pinecone,” my daughter decorating pinecones with glue glitter, and some of the table décor we created. Whether they’re laughing at our silliness, or admiring our creations, they share some of the beauty of the season with us.
Other instrumental ways to engage our readers in our lives during the holiday season is simply by thanking them. I like to choose a reader who has left a review of one of my books or shared something of mine on social media and write a simple blog post to thank them for their support. This really makes them feel valued, and shows them how important they are to me.
Little gifts such as Amazon gift cards, free books, incorporating a reader into a storyline, or other little ideas can be gifted to a reader. During the holiday season, just showing them that you are thinking of them and that they matter will endear them to you. You will find that they will become a loyal fan by simple recognition. It is important because without them you have no audience to market your product.
Use Facebook live or vlogs as a way to capture special times during the holiday season that your readers can share in. Whether it is a viewing of you during Christmas shopping or a party you’re hosting or your visit to a special event, share those special memories with them. I’m not suggesting that you not have a private life at all, or that you open up every facet of your life, but find little things that would be meaningful to your readers. Give a random shout out or thank you to a reader or all of them when you’re capturing these videos. Just let them know they matter.
Perhaps the greatest way to engage your readers is to open up with them on a live forum and ask their opinion on random topics. Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube, and so many other platforms are available to allow you to engage with your readers this holiday season. Take advantage of it by allowing them to look into your world, connect with you, and get to know you better. This relationship-building tool will allow you to take them into the next year with you, and build book relationships to last a lifetime.
How do you plan to engage your readers into your holiday season? Are there special ways that you have of recognizing your readers, or incorporating them into your holiday theme?
Always give back to those who give to you!
By Michelle Ramsey
When the holiday season rolls upon us, everyone has great ideas about how fancy it’s going to be this year. It’s no different around my household as new friends are added to the Christmas list and old ones are scratched off. My children’s list that is. Some years, they have teachers they absolutely adore. Then there are those times they want to purchase a gift for a whole gang of teachers. Other years, they don’t much care for their teachers and don’t want to purchase anything.
Depending on my daughter’s mood, she may want to purchase a gift for a few close friends. Other times, she wants to purchase a gift for only one. Then there are the Christmases like this one that she is only thinking of her family. With all of their additions and deletions, they also want to purchase a gift individually for me, their father, and each other every year.
We quickly have to rein in the controls of their long Christmas lists that swiftly outgrow our budget and the constraints of our pockets. While we are placing limitations on their lists, we also desire to empower them. The important lesson here is learning to budget, prioritize, and manage their wish lists. When they were in elementary school, we would allow them to take a gift to their teacher. Once middle school was upon us, there were an assortment of teachers for each subject. We imposed upon them the importance of selecting one special teacher they could add to their list and purchase a gift for.
Now that they are in high school, that list definitely needed to dwindle down, but as moody as teens can be, we never had to make that request. They decided on their own that they were not interested in purchasing gifts for any of their teachers. Every blue moon, one of them will have a particular teacher that they have bonded with and they want to show their appreciation at Christmas time. This we don’t mind.
Providing teens with a budget for their Christmas shopping empowers them to make decisions on their own. It also teaches them about fiscal management and equips them to make the right choices. When they know in advance the amount of money they have at their disposal, they can make a list that is more realistic. Sometimes this still does not work. This is especially true if you have a teenage child that is more of a dreamer than a realist. This happens with our daughter. In her mind she has illusions of grandeur and she can get everyone on her list a gift she desires them to have...until she goes shopping.
Our son is more of a realist. He can do the numbers in his head and dwindle his list down or up quickly. If he desires to have more funds at his disposal for shopping, he will quickly find ways to make money. Our daughter alternatively believes she only needs to beg more and give us the pouty face. Doesn’t work by the way. We encourage her to create a business venture the way our son does to generate more income. He uses his money to purchase snacks to sell at school and other events, multiplying his original income and expanding his budget.
Equipping your teens with a plan and a budget enables them to grow their own income and make realistic decisions about Christmas shopping. This also prepares them for managing their own income when they have a job. Regardless of the amount of money they have, it is still a smart decision to impose limitations on that budget. I believe it allows them to set guidelines, and prevents them from incurring too much stress about what they can or cannot do. With the remaining money they have after shopping is complete, they can consider buying something special for someone who did not make the original cut, or even start saving now for gifts next year.
Teaching these valuable habits of saving and budgeting now teaches them at an early age to avoid debt and stress later down the road. Because my daughter is always looking for another way to increase her income, I am often concerned that when she becomes an adult she might consider credit cards. That’s a debt road that I do not want her to go down. It is also an example that we have shown her how to avoid, therefore, we can only pray that she follows our lead.
The most valuable way to teach your teen how to make responsible decisions at Christmas time is by modeling them yourself. When they see mom and dad set realistic budgets and adhere to them, they know they can take you at your word. You should also consider teaching them the rewards that come with staying within the budget. Maybe the extra savings you earn can go towards a family vacation the next year, or maybe just a special treat for mom or dad. Or perhaps you don’t want to spend it, but just allow the money to earn interest in the bank. No matter the way you demonstrate the reward system, show them that sticking to a budget has its ups and downs.
If your teen finds him or herself in a bind, do not be so quick to rush and pull them out. Instead encourage them to think of ways they can resolve their own issue. Maybe like my daughter they have to reduce their list, or change the gift they planned to purchase originally. Alternatively, like my son they can find productive and positive ways to earn extra income to satisfy the wishes on their Christmas list. Sitting down with them in advance to discuss budget setting goals, their wish list, and placing realistic guidelines in place to adhere to will eliminate much disappointment in advance. And for those who are dreamers, they just might have to learn the lesson the hard way.
What ways do you empower your teens to make responsible decisions at Christmas time?
A collection of inspiring articles for female Christian writers.
read more articles from amorespeaks.
are you looking to publish your book in 2017?
Then enroll in the Empowered Writerpreneurs Program, and learn how your Christian authorship can change lives while helping you generate an income.
There are millions of new and aspiring Christian Authors who struggle to build a writing ministry that will be inspirational, empowering, and profitable. LiyahAmore Publishing provides the answers to this problem by offering an exclusive training program—the Empowered Writerpreneurs Program—that walks each client through the building and execution of their writing ministry. Unlike with most online courses, the EWP is comprehensive and affordable. It addresses all areas of writerpreneurship, from business planning to product development to effective marketing. While most courses only teach one aspect of building a writing career, the EWP provides the entire solution at a fraction of the cost of most coaching programs. The EWP is the Christian Author’s roadmap to success. With it, new writers learn how to build a writing ministry that will last a lifetime. As a result of this training, they gain clarity, focus, and a system of operations that transforms them from an amateur writer to one who is operating in their calling full-time.
Contact Information: Felecia@liyahamorepublishing.com
© COPYRIGHT 2011-2017 LiyahAmorePublishing & Felecia Killings. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.