Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year... and happy writing!

The first 2016 NJCWG 

is this Saturday, January 2, 10 am til noon.

Be prepared to share specific writing goals for 2016.

Location details and critique guidelines are on our website:

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Christmas Brunch Reminder

Please join us for our annual Christmas brunch. 
Sat. Dec. 5 ... 10am-12pm

Bring a Christmas reading to share 
along with something tasty to eat! 
(We have bagels, dessert and pasta salad so far.)

RSVP to Susan :: 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Next meeting: Annual Christmas Brunch

Please join us for our annual Christmas brunch. 
Sat. Dec. 5 ... 10am-12pm

Bring a Christmas reading to share 
along with something tasty to eat! 
(We have bagels, dessert and pasta salad so far.)

RSVP to Susan :: 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Meeting this Saturday

Our next meeting

Saturday, November 7
10 am - noon

North Haledon Church of the Nazarene
(address on our website)

Saturday's focus: 
Tell me a story!

Bring your notebook (paper or electronic) along with your most colorful adjectives, strongest verbs, and greatest story lines.

If you have work for critique, 
please follow guidelines on our website.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Beautiful Words

From NJCWG member, Maude Carolan Pych

A friend came up to me at church one Sunday (She’s a woman who studies Scripture in depth and who also enjoys my poetry.) and said, “You are of the tribe of Napthali.” I asked what made her say that and she referred me to Gen 49:21: “Napthali is a doe let loose. He gives beautiful words.”

This verse comes from the “Blessing of Jacob,” the longest poem in Genesis, in which Jacob blesses each of his twelve sons with the appropriate blessing for each of them.

A few interesting points: Napthali, being a “son” of Jacob is described as a doe. The reason given by Rabbi David (I couldn’t make out his first name) on the “Hebrew Nation” website is that the female deer is swifter than the male. The rabbi also said that the Hebrew for “beautiful words” is Imrei shefer, which speak of musical ability and natural eloquence and that the word shefer is related to shofar, an instrument that may be used to issue warning and alarm.

Also, while looking at this verse online, I found that other versions translate “beautiful words” as “gives goodly words.” “John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible” says this verse looks ahead to the New Testament and refers to good tidings of good things (the Gospel). He says it points to the people of Christ’s time who were swift to run after Jesus and hear him; panted after him as the hart after the water brooks. The people who received and gave out the goodly words of the Gospel were made free and became like a hind let loose.

The verse caused me to think of the beautiful words/goodly words in Scripture that we use and write about. Here are examples:

Grace, salvation, holiness, righteousness, purity, Jesus, living water, eternity, eternal life, glory, forgiveness, resurrection, love, mercy, truth.

I’m sure you can think of more “beautiful words.” Use them as a springboard to write a prayer, a poem, an article, haiku, etc.

                                                                                    Maude Carolan Pych

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Next Meeting

Saturday, October 3

10 am to noon

North Haledon Church of the Nazarene(directions on website)

Think outside the box! What topics, genres, formats await your discovery?

If you bring pages for critique, be sure you followed the guidelines on our website.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Meeting this Saturday

September is here and we're back to our monthly meeting schedule. 

Saturday, September 5

10 am to noon

North Haledon Church of the Nazarene
(directions on website)

Please be prepared to report on your summer progress and share new goals for the fall.

If you bring pages for critique, be sure you followed the guidelines on our website.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday for a time of inspiration, accountability and encouragement,

Monday, July 06, 2015

Writing Prompts

Following is the devotional from our June meeting.

Writing prompts are all around us. Life abounds with inspiration for that next story, essay, poem or book. We simply need to keep our eyes open, our ears tuned and a notepad in our pocket. As Christian writers we have an even wider field because we see life in two dimensions, physical and spiritual.
The stories we tell, regardless of genre or format, are public declarations of what resides deep within. In its own way, each is a testimony - “a formal statement about something that we saw, know, or experienced (Macmillan Dictionary). Convictions of the heart, things we know to be true by what we saw or experienced provide writing prompts we may overlook or dismiss.
In Cecil Murphey’s blog post of June 16, 2015, he wrote:
My biggest obstacle is to keep writing, even now, because I'm tempted to hit the delete key a dozen times a day. I constantly think, This is garbage and everybody knows it. 

My late wife, Shirley, used to say to me, "Because you think about it all the time, you assume everyone knows it. But they haven't read it the way you write it." (see blog)
How true! God speaks to us and through us in unique ways. Our personal understanding of an event or truth is expressed from an individual voice that is ours alone. 
God has made precious deposits in us. Let’s not overlook writing prompts of the heart. The psalmist gives us several in Psalm 71:15-18:
       My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long...
       I will … proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; 
       I will proclaim your righteousness...
       I declare your marvelous deeds.
       Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare 
       your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.
What has God shown you of His righteousness, salvation, mighty acts, marvelous deeds, power and might that you can write about?

Take away thought: I will tune my heart to the writing prompts of the Holy Spirit.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our meeting is this Saturday

Just a reminder...

Our June meeting is this Saturday, June 20, 10 am - 
our last meeting until September.

We will focus on periodicals, looking at format and writing ops.

Please bring two periodical/anthology writing opportunities and 
your summer writing goals. 

If you have work you want critiqued please follow the guidelines on our website.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Change of June Meeting Date

Our June meeting is rescheduled for Saturday, June 20, 10 am, when we will focus on periodicals, looking at format and writing ops.

Please bring two periodical/anthology writing opportunities and 
your summer writing goals. 
This will be our last meeting until September

On June 6 (our original meeting date) several of our members will be attending The Justice Conference
Please scroll down for information and consider attending.

Thoughts to Ponder from our May meeting:

Focus: Discovery. I consider discovery to be one of God’s best gifts and one of the greatest joys of life. Take a look at the definition:
  • to gain sight or knowledge of (something previously unseen or unknown)
  • to see, find, or become aware of (something) for the first time
  • to learn or find out something surprising or unexpected (Mirriam-Webster)
I remember the thrill when I first realized that we won’t know everything the minute we’re in heaven but will enjoy an eternity of discovery. How could it be heaven if there was nothing new to discover or learn? 

Think about the excitement you feel when you’re in the car and spy a deer grazing by the side of the road - or spot the first crocus of spring - or hear your child or grandchild reveal an ability you’d not yet seen - or discover a deeper meaning to a familiar Scripture passage - or, as a writer, find just the right word for the description you’re writing. 

Understanding can hinder discovery, i
n every area of life. When we’re certain we have things figured out and clearly understand our position, we don’t keep our eyes open or hearts alert. I don’t want that to happen with our writing gifts. Recently, I attended a webinar about children’s writing and, even though it's not a genre that interests me, discovering it as a possibility was energizing. Let’s not limit ourselves to a particular genre or style or project, but have ears to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting and a curiosity that will test new waters.

Psalm 31:19 says, "How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you."

Who knows what blessings lay in store for us? I don’t want us to miss a single one.

Take home thought: Let’s not decide what God wants for our lives and close our hearts, but discover the surprises He has for us along the journey.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May Meeting this Saturday

I blinked and it's the last week in April, which means our May meeting is here already.

Saturday, May 2
10 am - noon

We will meet as usual at High Mountain Church, but in the all-purpose room.
The entrance is at the back of the building.
Please see the website for directions.

Please bring work to critique (guidelines on website).

We will briefly discuss options for writing children's books.
If this is not a venue you're interested in, don't be deterred from attending.
I'm certain you will pick up tips and be inspired.   

Here are the Thoughts to Ponder from April's meeting.

Focus: Show, Don’t Tell, according to James the Apostle

Telling is the lazy writer’s way. It’s less creative, less costly, less inspiring than showing. This is true in writing and it is true in life.

     Easy: The cat contentedly sat on the old woman’s lap, both with closed eyes.

     Easy: I’m in the process of writing a book.

     Easy: I believe, I have faith in God and you should too.

     Hard, but better: She tucked a stray gray strand behind her ear and rested her hand on the purring        pet in her lap. Both closed their eyes, one in sleep, one in prayer.

     Hard, but better: Yesterday I wrote 500 words of chapter two. I plan to write 500 words, five days      a week… or 500 words a week… or… I sent a proposal to three publishers this week…

     Hard, but better: Walking, living, acting according to faith-based decisions. “Faith, by itself, if it is      not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:17.   “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will        show you my faith by what I do” (2:18b). “Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says”          (1:22).

Showing requires more thought and energy; more writing and rewriting; more doing, less talking.

The main goal of NJCWG is to write and to be read. Each month we encourage each other to write and persist and grow in excellence. So… keep on going on. Research, read, write, rewrite, submit, blog. You are a writer, write!

Take home thought: My writing, and my lifestyle, is best when I show, don’t tell.

Write for Him!
Barbara Higby

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Reminder: Meeting this Saturday, April 11

Our April meeting is the second Saturday, 4/11, due to Easter celebrations.
  • Please note our change in time: 9-11:00 am (this meeting only).
  • Bring paper, tablet or laptop for a creative writing exercise. 
  • If you have work for critique, please adhere to guidelines on our website. 
                                                                      Hope to see you on Saturday,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Whose Story Is It?

That question was the "Thought to Ponder" at our March meeting.
Everyone has his or her own story - one that is different from everyone else's - a story that is woven with individual threads of varying color and distinctive stitch combinations. Even when the events in two lives are alike and details are similar, the unique, personal distinctions of each individual make their story unique. If God tells us in Psalm 139 that He saw each of us before we were born and, not only recorded every day of our lives in His book, but also laid out every moment of our lives before we lived a day, I can be assured that my story is my own and your story is your own.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at
Individual stories - yours and mine - have value when others connect to our experiences, or learn from them, or are inspired and encouraged. However, when our story becomes God's story we enter a whole new dimension. Now the story is not about actors and actions and drama, but about the writer. Now the glory is not given to the cast, but the One who assembled the cast for puposes beyond what we see on life's stage or can understand.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we... might be for the praise of   his glory. (Eph. 1:11-12)
What does this have to do with our writing? Any tale we write of success or victory will inspire, but when that tale reflects the Author's brilliance and reveals the depth of His wisdom and knowledge, discloses Him as the Designer of time and space, the competent architect of destiny, our readers receive more than a simple human story can offer. As His vessels, we are empowered to impart life and hope. I encourage you to remember that ours is a high calling.
Take Home Thought: My story has more value when it's His story.

Please note the change in date & time for our April meeting:
April 11, 9:00 am to noon
We will have a creative writing exercise using colors. (How many ways can you say blue without saying "blue"?) We will allow time for critiques afterward.
Please check the website for directions and critique guidelines.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

NJCWG meets this Saturday

Photo by Stuart Miles at
Learn about Twitter at our March meeting, 3/7, from 10am to noon.

Hear about the ins & outs of tweeting, as presented by Elise Daly Parker.

If possible, register with Twitter before the meeting and bring your tablet or laptop.

We meet at High Mountain Church in North Haledon. 
Details can be found on our web page, as well as guidelines for critique pieces.
Whatever your level of writing experience, you are welcome.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Meeting - Sat. Feb. 7

Meeting this Saturday, Feb. 7  10:00 am - 12:00 noon
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Rd.
No. Haledon, NJ
Click here for the assignment for Saturday's meeting.
We'll be critiquing the devotions we've written according to the Judson Press guidelines. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

February's Assignment

Photo by winnond at

That's right! You read correctly. We have homework for our next meeting... 
February 7, 10 am - noon I'm giving you an early meeting reminder.

Read the specifications for devotions at Judson Press and write a devotional. We will share our work at the February meeting, critiquing the devos with special attention to their adherence to the guidelines specified by Judson. Happy writing! And for those who want to submit a Christmas story to Chicken Soup, you have 19 days to do so.

Thoughts to Ponder from our January meeting:
Personally, my word for the year is complete. I shared my thoughts about this word at our January meeting because it's important that we apply it to our writing.

Our 2015 writing goals and efforts should move us to completion. Since I already blogged about this on my personal site, I won't repeat myself here. Please visit for the thoughts I shared at the NJCWG meeting. 

 "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6 NIV

Write for Him,

Friday, January 02, 2015

Our next meeting is January 10, 9-11am

It's here - 2015!

New year, new goals! Please note the difference in week and time for our January meeting. We're meeting the second Saturday, 1/10, an hour earlier than usual, 9am.

Be prepared by polishing your goals for 2015. Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals - 
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Please be as specific as you can, including possible venues for publication, but be realistic. If possible, bring two page for critique (guidelines are on our website sidebar,

Our session on twittering will be rescheduled for a future meeting. 

See you Saturday!