Heather and babyThis photo overwhelmed me when I first saw it more than a year ago. I felt as if I were looking into the soul of the women in the novel I'd just finished writing–When the Morning Glory Blooms.

I couldn't stop staring at it. I knew the real story behind it. A friend of mine held her sweet baby boy, happy to be a mother again. Looking forward to getting back into running and to finishing nursing school.

But my imagination set that aside to picture my characters and their longings, their disappointments, the depth of their pain, some of it related to the children they held and the secrets they suppressed.

Their futures–that bleached light beyond the window in the picture–were filled with uncertainty and more longing.

They, like me, were overwhelmed…but for far different reasons.

A writer's heart is often overwhelmed. He or she dives deep into characters' emotional upheavals, experiencing them in a way, in order to write about them authentically. 

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Maureen Pratt Author PicHello! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly CAN blog. This time, some thoughts on writing the devotional.

The devotional is intensely personal, but can also provide tremendous support for many. I've experienced this first-hand. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I suffered from a number of life-threatening symptoms. None, however, was as confounding as the non-life-threatening phenomenon of lupus brain fog, which is much like looking at the world through a pea-soup fog on a chilly day. It isn't permanent, much like those clouds of fog, and it doesn't cause changes in the brain, per se. But it does make memories slippery at times, and frustration quick to rise.

Faced with a horrible diagnosis, I turned to prayer, Scripture, and reflective meditation on what I had read and prayed about. Only, I would forget what I had read and prayed about. Frequently. I finally bought a spiral-bound notebook and started writing down what I read and prayed about. A year later, I looked back at the now-full notebook and wondered, "Could someone else benefit from what's in here?" Then, I prayed. And then, I called my agent. A few years later, my book "Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness" was published and has been reaching readers like myself, patients of chronic pain & illness, ever since. Such a blessing!

Writing the devotional is a highly personal pursuit, fueled by insight and inspiration born from experience. Not all experience needs to be that of the writer, but ideally each devotion should be linked to a "ripped from real life" instance in someone's life. I liken writing a devotional to being a "spiritual reporter," combining life's events with the place God takes within it all.

As they are extensions of our faith, devotionals spring from Scriptural reflections. Reading Scripture regularly and listening to the passages resonate gives the right context for the meditations you craft for each topic. I also spent much time in an empty church, sitting quietly, reading passages, then sitting quietly again. The waters of the Word can refresh us whenever we partake of them, but they truly nourish us when we let them soak into us completely.

Devotional structure will be unique to each project, but ideally each project does have a structure, an arc, a way in which it builds and carries the reader through to greater insight, comfort, or encouragement. At the same time, devotionals are often read in pieces, and not linearly, so the author needs to keep this in mind (avoid referring to a previous devotion, for example).

Writing "Peace in the Storm…" was exhausting for me, but what motivated me to keep going was the thought of my audience. Each day, I prayed for and thought of someone who would read what I was writing, someone who was suffering with or from the particular problem, or asking the particular question, that I addressed in the devotion I wrote that day. Keeping the reader close to mind and heart enables the words to flow as from a friend to a friend, a very effective and empathetic voice.

Blessings to you!









Hey you sophisticated speakers out there. Have you ever
found a surprise during a speaking engagement?


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A knock at my hotel room startled me.

"Room service," a voice said.
I hurried to let her in. “Only need fresh towels,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

She brought them in and I smiled at her. “Thank you. What’s your name?”


We chatted about mundane stuff. But when I told her why I had visited her city, she was open to hear about my ministry.

I reached for my suitcase. “Got something for you,” I said.

I put a CD in her hands. 

“This is for me?” she asked, her voice gasping a bit.

“Sure it is,” I said. “Hope you like it and it inspires you.”

Two days passed, and I had delivered a message to 500 women on three different occasions during the weekend.

On the last day, as I entered my room, a voice got closer. “This is Rachel.”

“I want to tell you that I heard your CD. It was so wonderful. And I gave it to my friend who really needed to be encouraged. She loved it too. Thank you.”

Her words filled with emotion made my heart leap with gratitude.

I had traveled to address an audience, but he Lord had me minister to her.

What a sweet thing. Every opportunity, every moment, every person we meet on the way is planted by the Lord.

I had developed a sort of crazy habit. Before I leave hotel rooms, I steal the already used soap, place it in a plastic bag and bring it home. I place it on my soap dish in my bathroom. Each time I use it, I say a prayer for the person I met that touched my heart.

This time it’s Rachel, the housekeeping lady who helped me clean my perception. She changed my view of why the Lord sends us speakers to faraway places. It’s not always for the crowd but for the person who knocks at our heart unexpectedly, deliberately and so timely.

Heavenly Father, keep me humble, keep me open to the people you put before me. Keep me mindful of your lead and your prompting to reach those that brush our lives even for a moment.


Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.


Author #1 bestselling book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta


DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3Hello. I'm Donn Taylor, here again with comments on writing poetry. But this month, in honor of Christmas, I'm taking a break from describing the elements that make good poetry. Instead, I'm inviting you to join in celebrating the birth of our Lord with two of my poems (one negative, one positive) that are quite different from the usual Christmas poems. See what you think and leave a comment if you choose.



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