Monday, July 09, 2018

Are you joining us this Saturday?

We will have an informal meeting this Saturday, 

July 14, from 10-noon, 

upstairs in the Barn at Cornerstone Christian Church. 

Since this is our first attempt to meet during the summer, 
please RSVP at by Wednesday 
to let me know if you will or will not be attending. 

Come with your writing quandaries or questions. 
As usual, we will leave time for critiques. 

Our next meeting will be 8/4. 
Please note that the first two fall meetings will be on second Saturdays:
September 8 & October 13

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Yes, we're meeting over the summer!

Summer meetings

July 14 (upstairs) 

August 4 (regular room)

These informal meetings will be opportunities for encouragement and to discuss personal questions or concerns. There will no Focus Point or planned exercises but critique pieces are welcome. Regular members, please contact Barbara ( with your intentions. If we do not have a number of attendees and decide to cancel, we want to notify members who travel a distance. Also give me a heads up about questions or topics you want to discuss. The Focus Point from our June meeting is below.

Focus Point
Our Story

When E. B. White was 48 years old, he wrote, 
“I’m glad to report that even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me—more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon. It holds all the hope there is, all fears. I can remember, really quite distinctly, looking a sheet of paper square in the eyes when I was seven or eight years old and thinking, ‘This is where I belong, this is it.’” Letter to Stanley Hart White, January 1947 
I can’t say I’ve ever thrilled over a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen), but I love E.B. White’s sense of anticipation and his awareness of limitless possibilities. Our joy in writing should not falter under the shadow of staleness, the pressure of a deadline, or a feeling of obligation. 

As a Christian writer, my thrill is to be a blank sheet of paper. I love the joy of Creator God writing my story and using me to write His. I delight in discovering a creative thought, a twist of words, the perfect analogy, an original description, or inspired theme. 

As the bride spoke of the bridegroom in Song of Solomon (2:16), let us say, “I am His.” What will God write in us? What will He inspire us to write? Let’s rekindle the joy of our gift. As we share summer writing goals, let’s remain as a blank sheet, ready to receive from the Author of our faith. 
Take home thought: Lord, I am yours. As the author of my story, use me to write your story.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Story Callout

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat
101 Stories about Our Feline Friends and What Matters Most

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Dog
101 Stories about Our Canine Companions and What Matters Most

We are making two books, but since they are similar in tone, 
we are describing them both to you in this one e-mail.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Dog will be both entertaining and heartwarming.

Our dog and cat titles are so very popular, and you have so many great stories to share with us, that we do new pet titles every eighteen months or so. Here is another chance for you to share a story or two about the member of your family who just happens to walk on four feet!

We are looking for first-person true stories and poems up to 1200 words. Tell us what your pet taught you. How he made you smile. How she "rescued" you after you "rescued" her. How she brought your family closer together, helped you find love, inspired you to change something in your human life. Stories can be serious or humorous, or both. We can't wait to read all the heartwarming, inspirational, and hysterical stories you have about your dogs or cats and what you learned from them!

Here are some suggested topics:

  • Who rescued who?
  • Who trained who?
  • Do you sometimes think your dog or cat is human?
  • Insights from your dog/cat
  • Empathy from your cat/dog
  • Compassion from your dog/cat
  • How my cat/dog picked me
  • My dog/cat can almost talk
  • My therapy cat/dog
  • My cat/dog makes me laugh
  • My dog/cat understands
  • How my cat/dog changed my family
  • How my cat/dog changed my life
  • My dog/cat's interaction with other animals
  • From puppies to senior dogs, milestones, end of life
  • From kittens to senior cats, milestones, end of life
  • Your work at a shelter or rescue organization
  • Children and dogs/cats
  • Your dog/cat and holidays
  • Your dog/cat overcoming hardship, getting lost and coming home, being injured and recovering

When you go to our website to submit your story or poem, please be sure to select either the Life Lessons from the Dog title or the Life Lessons from the Cat title we have posted on the pull-down menu to be sure your story or poem gets to the correct place. Thank you!

All stories and poems need to be true — we do not publish fiction. Stories should be no longer than 1,200 words. If your story was already published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. We will not publish it again. If you submitted a story to one of our previous cat or dog book titles and we did not publish it, please do submit it to us again so we will be sure to consider it for one of these new titles.

Please remember, we no longer publish "as told to" stories. Write your story or poem in the first person. Do not ghostwrite a story for someone else unless you list that person as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published and the approximate exposure it received in the "Comments" section of the submission form.

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it or self-publish it.




Friday, May 25, 2018

Meeting this Saturday

NJCWG's Monthly Meeting

June 2, 10 am - 12 pm

Cornerstone Christian Church
in the Barn (second building on the right as you enter) 
495 Wyckoff Ave., Wyckoff

This Saturday, Susan will share information about connections and growing audience.
Whether you're an experienced writer or a wannabe, we welcome you,

May's Focus Point

Blessed Repetition

In chapter 12, verse 12 of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher wrote, “Of making many books there is no end…” living in the digital age, we could expand that and say, “Of the writing of many words there is no end.”

I don’t know if Andre Gide ever read Ecclesiastes, but this quote could be taken as a response to that verse: “Everything has been said before. But since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” (Andre Gide, Le Traite du Narcisse)

How many times have you heard a familiar message presented a different way and suddenly you got it? Or, how often have you spoken into a friend’s life to no avail and someone else comes along saying the same thing and it clicks?

I remember being discouraged because it seemed God was repeating a message to me over and over but I wasn’t changing. Unaware of my struggles, a sanguine friend (and we all need positive sanguines in our lives) was bubbling over with gratitude and said, “Isn’t it wonderful that God will keep repeating the same message until we get it?”

Prior to the Teacher’s comment about the abundance of books we find that it may not be as defeatist as it sounds. Read the verses right before it (9-11):
Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails — given by one Shepherd.
  • He searched to find just the right words, 
  • Writing what was upright and true 
  • And his words were like goads, firmly embedded nails. 
Take home thought: “Of making many books there is no end…” (Eccl. 12:12) and I will add mine to the count, searching for just the right words—upright and true words—to prod my readers to stand firm in their faith.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Submission opportunity

Miracles Do Happen
A Guideposts Compilation

NOTE: Do not reply or send submissions to this email address. Send all submissions to Jeanette Littleton at

James Stuart Bell is putting together this compilation for Guideposts. It is a separate book from his other current callout for Heaven Sightings for Bethany House. Jeanette said this book requires a quicker turnaround, so get your submissions in as soon as possible to be considered for the Guideposts book.

The deadline is not fixed. See "rolling due date" info below.
From James Stuart Bell:

Dear Contributor,

You may recall my role as editor for story collections such as: A Cup of Comfort, Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, and a number of books related to Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, published by Bethany House.  I am now helping to compile a story volume for Guideposts entitled Miracles Do Happen.  I have added a summary of the subject matter by chapters with additional considerations at the end of this letter.  Chapters three through ten comprise the story categories of the book from which you can choose.  These stories must have at their heart a true miracle, something that simply cannot happen by natural means.  (See guidelines and considerations below.)

We’ll consider original, unpublished stories of up to 1,500 words and they must be at least 900 words.  The stories should have a creative title, an attention-grabbing introduction, main body with a conflict or challenge, and a clear, satisfying resolution.  They need to be descriptive, rooted in time and place, with a realistic portrayal of the characters involved.

They also need to be substantive stories rather than mere testimonies or teachings, and the focus should not be just on the supernatural realm alone, but rather the spiritual lesson learned.  Please include a personal biography of 30 words or less at the end of each manuscript.

We will have a rolling due date for the manuscript until we receive our quota of stories but would appreciate your submission within a month of receiving this email.  Please send your manuscript attached to the e-mail rather than pasting text in the email window.  Send your manuscript in normal manuscript formatting in Times New Roman, 12-point, with your full contact information--name, address, phone number, and e-mail address at the top of the first page.  We are offering a one-time fee of $50 for stories 1,250 words and over, and $25 for stories under that word count.                            

We will send you contracts upon the publisher’s acceptance and would need them back promptly.  Payment will be made after all contracts have been received.  Please direct all inquiries and manuscript submissions to my colleague, Jeanette Littleton, at  If this e-mail has been forwarded to you, and you can’t submit to this call, but would like to hear about other editorial needs as they arise, please send us your e-mail address and we’ll add you to our notification list.

If you have a specific chapter you think your manuscript fits, please note that in the manuscript—near your contact information.

Blessings to you and yours,

James Stuart Bell

Story Descriptions, Guidelines, and Considerations:
Chapter 3 – Nature and Animals
         Stories: miracles involving nature and animals
Chapter 4 – Children
         Stories: miracles involving children
Chapter 5 – Dreams and Visions
         Stories: dreams and visions
Chapter 6 – Healing
         Stories: physical and emotional healing
Chapter 7 – At the Right Moment
         Stories: coincidence, divine providence, timing, just in the nick of time
Chapter 8 – Spiritual Growth
         Stories: awakening, reawakening, conversion
Chapter 9 – Prosperity
         Stories:  financial, money matters
Chapter 10 – Answered Prayers
         Stories: miscellaneous

Story Guidelines:
  • First person experience of a miraculous encounter or event
  • Amazing and miraculous, as opposed to a gentle, inner nudge
  • Must express a Christian connection and worldview; no preaching
  • Experience should be grounded in a real-life situation: physical setting, time, place, context of the person’s life
  • Must not have been previously published
Miscellaneous Considerations:
  • The wonder of a miracle is that its cause is hidden.
  • Against all odds
  • Soul-stirring accounts that reassure the reader that God is watching over them.
  • Give reader hope that a miracle can happen to him or her
  • Help the reader to look beyond what she or he experiences with the five senses to realize that God is holding him or her up.
  • Ordinary people experiencing extraordinary events
  • Protection from danger; sending in His angels
  • Interceding when reader’s faith needs to be strengthened
  • Cried out to God and received an answer
  • Bolster and encourage faith
  • Everyday people just like the reader experiencing miracles
  • Includes biblical references and useful prayers
For updates you can also join us at

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Submission Opportunity with agent Cyle Young

Cyle Young, an agent with Harline Literary Agency, is seeking new submissions:

Send me your best submissions. :)

My team is having an open submission period from May1st-June 30th. Send you submissions to

We are looking for children's, MG, YA, and adult audience books for the general and Christian markets. Both nonfiction and fiction accepted.

We look forward to reading your submission.


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