July 4, 2015

WWll poem

Discharging Toggle Annie: Mediterranean Theatre, 25 March 1945
in honor of Horace E. Harwell

by Mary Harwell Sayler

On her last flight (my 7th mission) “Toggle Annie” took off slowly
over small gardens growing and new-green fields of barley, wheat, or rye.
Oxen stood still beside a rock-lined ditch formed well to keep good earth
from washing down the hill and wasting. Along a narrow road, a donkey
pulled a two-wheel cart then disappeared into the same descending blur
that held the floorless tent where our crew slept with no heat, no stove, and
no light but the candle we’d snuffed out before rising, rising with the sun.

Five miles up with my oxygen mask on, I hoped this mission would be a
milk run for “Toggle Annie.” The old ship had seen better days with 100
missions more than me and over 90 sorties, a sort of record for a B-24
Liberator also known as a “Box Car” -- a label that annoys me some.
(Nicknamed, the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17 gets better press.) Oh, well.
It doesn’t matter. All that matters is meeting up, on time, with our fighter
escort and not bailing out. Sometimes, I’ve had my doubts when we’ve
caught flak too close and heavy. Afterwards, I’ve been glad for those two
ounces of regulation whiskey used to regulate our nerves, but now? I don’t
know. Some days I hardly feel a thing but numbness when we’ve flown so
low we see too much to dream.

The children here have such hard faces.

Even in “Toggle Annie,” an oxygen mask can freeze up real quick
if you’re not careful to keep the condensation wiped. One mission
takes two cotton handkerchiefs, and wiping makes me woozy.

I do not ever want my face to get too hard.

On every mission, I think about my girls and how I miss them.
Sure hope “Toggle Annie” doesn’t miss her mark today! Wish I
had those Esso maps from home to pinpoint targets, but thing is,
I’d just as soon my wife not know how much we need them.

The hardest part is walking through a door from one life to another.
Flying’s not so hard, but some things you don’t think about. Like,
coming over on the cargo ship, I couldn’t use my electric razor
since it sent out waves the enemy might detect. Shaving with cold
water carried in a metal helmet doesn’t cut it! I wonder if my girls
will like my new mustache.

It’s hard not knowing if my family is okay.
The $218.80 a month, including flying pay,

won’t go far for them when I’m so far away.
I send all I can but keep a five and two tens
in my escape kit, just in case.

Some do go down. Some missions fail.

Some need money to buy a stranger’s help and food.
Worry does no good. I figure if flak gets close enough
to take me down, I’ll go down then, but not before.

Some do go down. Some freeze with fear. Some faces harden.

Flying this high is hard on everyone. At five miles up and thirty below
zero, a person can work for merely minutes and be exhausted for a while --
sometimes for nothing but frostbite if we’re forced back by too much flak.
One day, I saw a close-by crew go down in silver petals and bright flames.

Some do go down.

I hope this plane outlives its name as Liberator. Meant to carry 30-
caliber guns and nothing more, 50 makes us too tail-heavy. To lift
the weight, we have to bounce then place support beneath before
our tail-gunner’s hand can catch a wrong bounce, down. Timing is
everything. Like now -- we’ll do our job and lay this ship to rest,
one way or another.

We all could use a rest -- three missions in four days, each time on
a different, nameless plane except for good ole “Toggle Annie.”
She’s seen her days of drawing escorts, catching flak, and dropping
bombs, so she’s more than caught her quota of close calls.

I want to fly until I drop -- whatever it takes to stop this dad-burn war.
But hey! We did okay on today’s run -- 650 B-24’s and 17’s striking
airfields and tanks works. Took us eight hours and fifty-five minutes --
not bad for this old barge. A thousand hours logged -- quite a record,
Annie. You did swell. Tonight you’ll rest on solid ground while I’ll
sleep well on a nice firm cot, thanking God I’ve got a sweet-faced
wife and good life back at home. Tonight I’ll dream of daughters.

© 2002, 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Poem originally appeared in the 2002 chapbook, Winning the Wars.

July 1, 2015

Poetic Power of Dyslexia

Most poets and writers draw on experience, personality, or the power of observation to find something fresh to say in their fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. If you do that in your writing too, great! Keep up the good work. However, the traits you think of as a disadvantage or even a handicap might be the ones that help you to develop your own voice or distinctive style. Take, for instance, dyslexia.

Like many poets and career freelance writers, I began writing as a young child but, in my case, backwards. One way or the other did not matter to me, but this stressed out my teacher so much, she made me stay after class on my very first day of school. For years I thought Mrs. Smith called Mother to come in, too, to see how sloppily I wrote as my left hand smudged the soft pencil across the lined paper in my notebook, but no. I had perfectly copied everything the teacher wrote on the blackboard (which actually was black then), and I had formed each letter of the alphabet correctly. I had just written everything on the blackboard backwards.

For fun, I still like to spell ippississiM in my head, and I must warn you not to even try to beat me at word games like Boggle or Wheel Of Fortune unless, of course, you’re also a bit dyslexic. Most of the time, though, inverting letters and scrambling words or thoughts has gotten me into trouble, especially when I’m tired. If someone happens to spew double-negatives then, I can almost guarantee my brain will not follow.

In writing poetry and poetic manuscripts, however, dyslexia can come in handy. Word scrambles often lead to word play, and scrambled thinking can connect this to that in a previously untried but true way. Such “mistakes” might add a note of humor to fiction or nonfiction too and, in some cases, bring about a fresh idea, insight, or observation.

For example, as a Christian writer I often write nonfiction articles and devotionals. In one short article I wrote for other Christian poets and writers, I talked about the importance of double-checking facts and speaking with a loving voice whenever we write in the name of Jesus. Since Christians pray in Jesus’ name, my point was to encourage that thought also as we write. However, instead of typing “in the name of Jesus,” I wrote, “in the amen of Jesus.” Same letters, you notice, just scrambled. When I finally noticed this myself, I thought, wow! That better said what I wanted to say anyway. i.e., Anything we write (or pray) in Jesus’ name needs Jesus’ amen or affirmation.

I certainly do not pray for my dyslexia to increase or for you to catch it! But I do pray that you use your talents and “flaws” well. I pray you begin to see your “mistakes” or “handicaps” or “shortcomings” or “disadvantages” as a means of making your writing distinctive, inimitable, and one of a kind. Do I hear an name?

©2010, ©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you need a fresh perspective on your poems, children’s picture books, or book proposals and one-on-one feedback for a minimal fee, visit the Contact & Critique page of Mary’s website.

June 16, 2015

Getting inspired by God

by Mary Harwell Sayler

I love You, Lord.
I love The Way
You write
right through my hands
to touch
unknown readers’ eyes,
and immediately,
they see!
They love you, Lord.

©2015, Mary Sayler, poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres, aims to encourage other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, critiques, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’s Guide and Christian Poet's Guide to Writing Poetry.

June 2, 2015

From Gospel to prose poem

The Parable of the Sower
prose poem by Mary Harwell Sayler prayer-a-phrased from Gospel readings in Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-15

A farmer went out to sow,

and some say he was stupid or careless or wasteful with the seed, which he let fall all over the just and the unjust. Some of the seeds clung like stick-tights – hitchhiker seeds that stuck around for centuries until inspiring Swiss naturalist George de Mestral to invent Velcro – sticky seeds that produced weeds like burdock known for medicinal purposes and sometimes planted purposely as a vegetable to be eaten or treated like the sunflower family to which burdock belongs.

Some seed fell on hard ground

paths too often taken to be open to anything new. Some fell on stone, sliding off in rain or finding a crack to sink into then growing roots strong enough to split a rock, which isn’t easy.

Some of the seeds settled into nestling soil so good for growing that thorns liked it, too, and rose up – tall, crowded, dense, and as overwhelming as fear or worry and as brightly colored as almost anything urgent.

But some seeds found a fine place to light, take root, bear fruit, and feed you, me, the birds, and anyone else who’s hungry before sending out new seeds that the farmer went out to sow.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-author of 27 traditionally and indie published books in all genres has been focusing on connecting poetry and the poetic word of God as shown in this prose poem, originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Penwood Review and included in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

May 25, 2015

poem for Pentecost

by Mary Harwell Sayler

Pentecost – the day I'd long awaited through
dust and ashes, Lenten dirges, and the veiled
face of the cross. For fifty days and nights,
filled with longing and white lilies, I considered
Pentecostal possibilities – new study group,
new hope – renewed awakenings from long ago.
I went to an unfamiliar place, feeling sent
to see, to wonder. What?

Is no proclamation prepared for me? Did God
forget the Upper Room where we would meet?

These feet have tiptoed lightly on carpeted aisles,
swayed and stumbled beneath the push of
expectations, uncertainty, and, yes, pride.

Do all chants sound the same? Is there
another name or tune or time for
tapping out discrepancies?
Without church
arms outstretched to bear the strain of my
offense, who will straighten this lurching
load? To regain a steady balance by myself
seems far too great a task – beyond all reach.

I stand on shaky ground with trembling
knees, sinking toward a ninety-degree
angle in which, most rightly, I sit or kneel.

Oh, God! How do I get out of this
uncomfortable position?
How do I admit –
even on Pentecost, when Holy Spirit
soars – I cannot fit myself to fly?

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres, is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’s Guide and Christian Poet's Guide to Writing Poetry.

May 18, 2015

How to write a book proposal

Before you take time to write a full-length book of fiction or nonfiction, you can save yourself time and worry by writing a book proposal. This will help you to think through your book, keep your writing on track, then propose your book in a professional manner to the editor of a traditional or indie book publishing company.

A previous article "Basic Steps for Writing & Marketing" will give you an idea of what to expect as you aim for traditional publishing markets, which the e-book, Christian Writer's Guide discusses too, along with everything else you need to get started as a freelance or assignment writer. Also, see "Outline or Synopsis" for information on preparing an outline for your nonfiction book or a synopsis for your novel.

In addition to an outline or synopsis, your book proposal package will include one to three chapters of your book, depending on the publisher’s preference as shown in their writers’ guidelines. You’ll also need to include a one-page cover letter and a book proposal sheet with headings relevant to your manuscript as shown below:


[Place your name and contact information across the top of each page as you would for a letterhead.]

Book Proposal for (name of the company that your research shows might be interested)

Title: (Check online bookstores to see if anyone else has used the title you want. Then place your catchy but relevant title here.)

Author: (Type your full name as you want it to appear on the manuscript.)

Theme: (For Christian writers, a favorite Bible verse such as Romans 8:28 can provide an excellent theme. Regardless of your choice, a theme and purpose will help you to keep your writing focused from beginning to end.)

Purpose: (An incomplete sentence or phrase with no punctuation usually works well here, for example, “to strengthen faith” or “to promote unity among Christians.”)

Genre: (Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry, but if fiction, add another heading entitled Setting.)

Book Summary (for nonfiction book or Story Line for fiction: Summarize the book in a sentence or two or a brief paragraph written to encourage an editor to read more.)

Audience (or Readership): (State here what group or age of readers you aim to reach. For instance, a nonfiction book might be aimed at pastors, youth workers, or general laity, whereas a children’s book might appeal to a 2 to 4-year span among toddlers, preschoolers, or school children, for example, 6 to 8 or 8 to 12.)

Length: (Put the expected number of double-spaced pages or the expected word count.)

Marketability (or Comparative Analysis): (Base this brief information on what you find as you research your topic and title in Internet bookstores. Provide any similar or competitive titles and publication dates. If you believe your idea will fill a unique need, say why.)

Platform (or Ideas for Promotion): (If you already have a following or have established an online presence in a blog, website, or profile page on the major social networks, include that information here.)

Author Bio (or About the Author): (Group prior publishing experiences by genre and/or age group. Briefly provide relevant information such as your education, research, teaching experience, or workshops you have led on your topic.)

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved

If you would like Mary’s feedback on your book proposal package before you send it to a traditional or indie book publishing company, visit the Contact & Critiques page of her website.


April 20, 2015

You can write devotionals!

Writing devotionals to uplift your readers can uplift your faith too!

Devote yourself! Begin with a commitment to devote quiet time each day to praying, Bible reading, and meditating on what God says to you and wants you to say to others.

Take note! Keep a notebook nearby to write down each inspired thought God puts on your mind. Also, a sturdy wide-margin Bible in your favorite translation will encourage you to interact with Holy Scripture and respond to the Holy Spirit as you pencil notes in the margins. Later, those notes can be developed into a devotional poem or article shaped to fit this typical pattern:

Title – For individual articles you plan to send to a devotional magazine, the title will usually be a short phrase or single key word. For a full-length, one-year book of devotionals, your title needs to reflect your 365-day theme and purpose such as Devoted to Marriage: Devoted to God. Each devotional would then use that day's date as the title.

Bible verse – After the title comes a Bible verse from which the entire devotional flows. If you’re writing for Catholic readers, the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) makes your best choice for quotes, but the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) and The Message, Catholic Edition can work too. For evangelical Christian readers, the main choices will be the New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), or New King James Version (NKJV.)

For interdenominational or ecumenical choices, consider the New Revised Standard Version, (NRSV) Common English Bible, or King James Version (KJV.) Since the KJV lives on and on in the public domain, you don't have to get a publisher's permission to quote large portions of that Bible. However, most translations let you use 250 verses without having to get permission from the publisher, and some permit up to 500 verses or more. To find out, look in the front matter of the edition you choose.

Text – With God and a biblical passage or verse to guide your writing, the main body of your devotional might be a poetic insight, a prayer, or a reflection on God's word. To help your readers fully enter that experience, avoid abstracts. Use active verbs and concrete nouns as you recall a true-to-life event in around 300 words that illustrate your chosen scripture. A “take-away” will also occur if your words, thoughts, and comparisons show your readers how to apply the Bible to their lives.

Prayer – In one or two sentences, a prayer ties together all of the above and helps your readers to seek God’s guidance as you've surely done!

Editorial guidance helps, too, as you follow a publisher's guidelines. If you know which publishing company you hope will accept your work, find their website and follow their writers’ guidelines. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends to save publications that use devotionals. Also, study the periodicals, books, and writers’ guidelines produced or sponsored by your church’s denominational headquarters.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler. This post originally appeared here in 2012 as “Writing devotionals.” If you need help with your devotionals, poems, children’s picture book, or book proposal, Mary offers professional feedback for a minimal fee.

April 16, 2015

How to deal with writer’s block

If you’re staring at your keyboard and would rather wipe it than type on it, this could be a sign of writer’s block. Will it last forever? No. Is there anything you can do about it? Sure.

It’s like being boxed between cars in a parallel parking space. Tight, but you have choices: You can wait until the owner of the other car comes along to free you. Or you can inch your vehicle by increments until you wiggle out.

Trying to think of something new to do might sound like an experiment in frustration when your thoughts already seem blah or singularly uninspired, but don't fret. Remember: Wiggle.

Do something different. If you can’t go anywhere, stand on a chair or stretch out on the floor, but get a fresh perspective. Look up and notice the texture of the ceiling. Look down. Describe your feet. Look around and notice the sound, smell, sight, taste, or feel of objects surrounding you every day. Munch your salad slowly and identify the flavors and textures. Compare. Listen to the hum of a washing machine, a fan, a furnace, an air conditioner, then fill in words that fit the beat.

Take a mini-vacation. Getting away from normal surroundings can help you to chip big chunks from a writer’s block even if just for an afternoon of vacating your premises. (Pun intended.) Use your writer’s block as the impetus for touring that museum in town you keep meaning to visit. Or go to a movie with sub-titles. Check out a library book of poems totally unlike anything you usually read or write. Pick up a travel magazine, and look at photographs of enticing places. Search for a video of a country you hope to visit or, better yet, one you would never dare to set a sandal inside.

Consider your interests and available options. Writer’s block is like a box every poet or writer steps into occasionally, but you don’t have to stay there. Even if you’re really boxed in, you have choices. Jump out. Find a different perspective on whatever is familiar, safe, or boring!

Mingle! Get around people. Go to a mall. Help out at a Christian service center. Attend a Bible study. Worship with a church you have never visited.

Take care of yourself. If none of the above appeals to you, lounge on the deck. Rock out on the porch. Pray for the Lord to speak to you even as you sleep. Take a nap.

[The original version of this article appeared here on March 5, 2010, entitled “Writer’s Block In A Box.”]

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres, is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’s Guide and Christian Poet's Guide to Writing Poetry.

March 26, 2015

Writing to heal the Body of Christ

Are you concerned about the decline in church attendance in almost every denomination? Are you as distressed as I am about the divisions among Christians? Do you wish you could do something. As communicators for Christ, we can! For example:

We can write honest, accurate, uplifting poems, devotionals, books, and stories to strengthen the faith of our readers.

We can visit the websites of each denomination and study their statements of beliefs then write to overcome assumptions, errors, or misunderstanding.

We can write about what we love in the Christian community and encourage forgiveness, acceptance, and respect for one another.

We can research what the Bible says about fellowship in Christ and write about what draws us together and makes us One.

We can investigate areas of dissension and pray to provide a voice of reason, balance, and healing.

If we write fiction, we can do so with a healing theme and purpose. For example, we might set a novel in another era where people dealt with similar concerns or write a Romeo and Juliette story between two lovers from opposing backgrounds, say, during the Reformation.

Most importantly, we can pray for discernment, expecting God to answer, and we can examine our minds and motives as we ask ourselves:

• Does my writing stir up debates or stir and quicken readers to consider differences from a spiritual perspective?

• Will my words help readers from diverse cultures to accept the forgiveness, redemption, and salvation of Jesus Christ, perhaps by showing that love and those blessings through story people, personal experiences, biblical truths, and practical suggestions?

• Does my writing speak ill of others or speak peace? In what ways can my poems, stories, devotionals, articles, and books bring reconciliation and healing to denominational or other church factions?

• The Bible gives us the wonderful analogy of One Body with many parts. Where do we see ourselves in the Body of Christ? Are any parts missing?

• Obviously, an elbow is not a toe, nor an ear a shinbone! But each part is vital to the whole. Can our writings show this? Can you think of another analogy that might speak to people today to show the need Christ has for each one of us to be One in Him?

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you would like Mary’s feedback on your book proposal, children’s picture book, poems, or devotionals for a minimal fee, visit Critique & Contact for information and pricing. For general help with your writing, revising, and more, order the Christian Writers’ Guide e-book.

March 12, 2015

How to know which writing contest to enter

If you ask other poets and writers what they think about writing contests, the responses will vary according to each person’s experience. The truth is, all writing contests are not the same, nor do they have the same goals. Some are reputable. Some are not.

To judge whether a writing competition is right for you, consider:

Is this a “blind” competition? If so, the judges do not know who enters what until the final decision has been made and recorded. Therefore, a “blind” reading assures you that no favoritism will be shown.

Who sponsors the contest and why? For example, the sponsor may be looking for a publishable book from the winning entry. If so, contestants will typically pay an entry fee, which makes them more apt to send in their best poems or manuscript.

Does entering a contest give you access to a publisher whose work you like? Many publishers will not look at a manuscript without literary representation, but if that same company sponsors a contest, your entry fee assures you of a reading.

What about a contest with no entry fee? Entering a free contest sounds good and may be to your advantage – or not. For example, a reputable e-zine that normally cannot afford to pay poets or writers may offer a no-fee contest in hopes of drawing manuscripts of higher literary quality than they usually get. If so, entering that contest could be a win-win situation. On the other hand, another sponsor who does not charge a fee might not actually judge the entries but instead include all of them in an anthology later sold to each “contestant” at an exorbitantly high price. Since the resulting anthology will inevitably contain all sorts of lame poems and stories, the real prize for your pricey copy might be the value you gain in seeing how your work compares with others.

Are entry fees in line with prize monies? Some sponsors have grants or other sources of financial backing that enable them to charge a low fee for a high prize with heavy competition. In such cases, you can expect a seasoned poet or writer to be the big winner, not only of the cash but of the prestige and far-reaching effects of winning a highly prized competition. Conversely, a low fee with a low cash prize generally means you have less competition and, therefore, a higher chance of winning.

Does the sponsor offer poets and writers professional assistance year-round? For years, for instance, Writer’s Digest has published a magazine, books about writing, and market guides to publishing in your chosen genre, so their contests offer another avenue of encouragement to the literary community. Something similar can be said of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Poets & Writers, and other writing-related groups, so visit their websites to see what help they offer.

For many years, I have belonged to the Writers-Editors Network, a professional organization with member benefits such as helping editors find writers for a particular project and vice versa. As a writer, I’ve benefited from job postings for Members Only and have kept up with publishing markets and writing tips. I’ve also found the founder and director to be highly conscientious and helpful.

Over a decade ago, however, I noticed their annual contest did not include a poetry category, so I wrote to ask why and discovered something important: A poetry contest requires a poetry judge. Since I had the qualifications by then, I volunteered and have chaired the poetry division ever since. So, I don’t recommend the contest because I’m involved. I’m involved because I recommend the organization.

That particular contest requires an annual postmark deadline of March 15 (or March 16, if that’s a Sunday), but throughout the year, the website lists other writing contests to consider. In addition, the site posts Contest Tips to give your entries as good a chance as anyone's of placing. In general:

• Write well.
• Revise well.
• Read each revision aloud.
• Make your work as good as it gets.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Article originally posted in 2011 as “Writing contests: you be the judge.”


March 7, 2015

5 common mistakes in writing nonfiction for kids

Each year when I read the entries in the children’s literature category of the international writing contest sponsored annually by Writers-Editors.com, I hope to find well-written nonfiction articles and interesting book chapters excerpted from dynamic nonfiction. Some do arrive, while others seem promising until 5 common flaws start to appear.

1. In an obvious effort to be fresh and lively, many writers start their nonfiction for children with scenes straight out of a novel. For example, they might begin with dialogue, a problem, a child’s thoughts, or an amusing conversation that reads like the opening of a sit-com. Often, a main character asks a grandparent about a subject soon to be addressed but, unfortunately, not nearly soon enough. These novel openings sound good at first but quickly bring confusion since readers will rarely be able to tell what the subject is until they have read an entire page or two or three.

2. Another problem arises with credibility and accuracy – or lack thereof. With no bibliography to cite sources at the end of a manuscript, no one knows if the author has spent weeks searching, sorting, and sifting through reliable information or passed along opinions and assumptions as fact.

3. A more common flaw occurs in the quality of writing. For instance, passive voice seems particularly prevalent with phrase after phrase stating, “It is” or “There was.” Such a passive voice seems to speak for a passive writer, who did not take time to search for active verbs and strong nouns that readers can readily picture.

4. Speaking of pictures, young readers need to be able to envision what they’re reading whether the pages contain illustrations or not. For the writing to be clear, each sentence usually needs an easy-to-picture noun that brings to mind a person, place, or thing, but not a vague idea. An active verb can then put that noun into motion. If the nonfiction manuscript happens to be the text for a children’s picture book, those mental images on every page become vital or, voila, no picture book.

5. That seems obvious, and, fortunately, so do some solutions to each of the problems mentioned. Most writers have fine minds and can figure these things out for themselves once they recognize a problem or even know to look for one. What often happens, though, is that we get caught up in stories we can’t wait to share with our children or grandchildren, forgetting they’re right there beside us with their own interests and preferences, waiting for the next enticing subject they can connect with and enjoy.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. This article first appeared as “Writing Winner Nonfiction For Kids,” posted on 2010/07/10.

If you would like one-on-one help with your book proposal, children’s picture book, poems, or devotionals, visit Critique & Contact for information and pricing. For general help with your writing, revising, and more, order the Christian Writers’ Guide e-book.

February 23, 2015

Spiritual Ministry Gifts and writing

Christian writers with creative ideas sometimes find it difficult to decide which writing project to focus on first. Quite likely all of your ideas have the potential to strengthen the Body of Christ, draw readers to God, and/ or help other people in general, so you won’t go wrong with any Bible-based theme or treatment. Nevertheless, one manuscript might be well-timed and another not. Or, one idea might fill you with enthusiasm (a word rooted in “en theos” – in God), whereas another project might leave you feeling ho-hum or put you into a panic. Regardless:

When you ask God to direct your work, expect that to happen.

Since the Holy Spirit promises to give every Christian one or more Spiritual Ministry Gifts, recognizing those gifts will guide you and give you insights into yourself, your work, and the writing to which you have been called.

We talked about this a little in a previous article on your “Writing talent and spiritual gifts,” so you might want to re-read that short discussion. Since then, I've had the opportunity to take a Spiritual Ministry Gifts test that differs from one I took years ago, and the current results confirmed the very projects to which I am now drawn.

Most likely, you also have some ideas that interest you more than others, but just in case you have not yet taken a test to discern your God-given gifts and confirm your next project, I did an Internet search to see which Spiritual Ministry Gifts test to recommend. As it turned out, I found several! So I took them all, and here’s what I found:

This excellent site provided by Ken Ellis not only has a Spiritual Gifts Test with online analysis but also a separate test for new Christians and another for youth. Since you’re encouraged to respond quickly and not over-think it, the main test takes only 15 to 20 minutes with immediate results and hotlinks to explain each gift with ideas and relevant scriptures. The results felt right-on, even though I initially had trouble responding to “Always” for areas that interested me.

Spiritual Gifts tested on this website did not include obvious gifts of healing or prophecy but, instead, clarified tasks that typically need gifted workers within the church.

Another site I recommend does not provide a test but offers insights and information relating to your Spiritual Gifts and Leadership, including definitions, scriptural references, and practical instructions.

The Spiritual Gifts Inventory by Paulist Fathers includes a test, which, like the others, encourages you to respond spontaneously and honestly to get the most accurate results. The site also includes helpful information and instruction for using your ministry gifts.

As you take a Spiritual Ministry Gift test, keep in mind, there are no right or wrong answers!

Also, this may not be true of other sites, but the hotlinks above give you and only you an analysis, so no one else needs to know the results. What you do with that information is up to God and you and the writing ministry to which you feel most drawn.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler. This revision of a ©2011 post has been updated with a check of hotlinks included.