In the Boat With Christ

When life grows turbulent, I find comfort in imagining myself in a boat with Jesus Christ, navigating a restless sea. The imagery comes from Mark 6:45-51:

“… Christ saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn He went out to them, walking on the lake… He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”  

This nautical passage and lesson were first introduced to me by Rev. Karen Hunter (Grace Episcopal Church) in a sermon several years ago. It has stayed with me all this time, as has many of her other writings and sermons. For me, they embody the Christian message of forgiveness, hope, charity, and love.

So I decided a few months ago to share her work through a website I have been volunteer-managing for St. Francis’ Episcopal Church in Grayling, Michigan. St. Francis’ is currently without a full-time priest, and I thought Rev. Karen’s essays from Grace’s newsletters* would make the perfect interim blog. You can find the the blog here, and I hope it will be as inspirational for you as it has been for me.

My niece, 13-years-old at the time, was with me for the Mark 6 sermon. We left the church and turned to each other, saying almost in unison how much we had enjoyed the sermon and that we wanted to be in a boat with Christ. It has since become a catch-phrase for the two of us, sharing a sacred moment and an important memory of how words can give spiritual solace. But even more importantly, it is a reminder of how Christ’s presence is never far away, and how gifted writers and speakers, like Rev. Karen, can bring Him even closer.

*Reprinted with permission—thank you, Karen!

New Christian YA Market Looking For Submissions

Untapped–a new imprint and magazine for Christian teens and tweens from Written World Communications–is on the hunt for outstanding fiction and non-fiction writers.

In the following interview, Executive Editor Christina Harris ( discusses what she’s looking for, her favorite writers, and plans for the publication of the imprint’s first novel and magazine.

What do you look for in a story? Are there any specific types of stories or plots that you wish writers would send you? 

Strong author voice, logical and original plots fit for the YA audience, and real characters. I’m a huge fan of YA speculative and I wish there were more out there in that genre that are better than the average or just non-occult. Saying that, I also would love to receive pretty much anything, be it set as wild west or contemporary, that fits my criteria that I mentioned before. It is definitely hard to find.

Why would you pass on a story? 

Weak voice, bad writing style, “bunny trails” in the plot, lack of conflict in the story, stories that are “written down” for YA teens (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen submissions that are geared toward too young of an audience), and the immoral depicted as good. (Please don’t send me something about a Christian Vampire or Witch! Although there can be evil vampires and witches if it’s part of the plot.)

What do you enjoy the most about editing? 

Exploring another soul’s unique God given gift. I get to be the first to review something that someone poured their heart into and I can help them live their dream of getting the manuscript published. It also makes that the hardest part of my job here because if I find I can’t publish it, I (because I also love to write fiction) know how it is to devote so much time and then find out your story won’t take off or that the entire novel needs a rewrite.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Favorite short stories? Is there a story (or two) that was completely unforgettable… changed your life or outlook in some way? 

Even though I’ve said I love speculative fiction, there is one book that always sticks in my mind that is not speculative at all: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montegomery. Most people haven’t heard of this novel, but I picked that little book up and couldn’t put it down until the end. Set in the early twentieth century, the story is about Delancy Stirling who is 29 and an old maid. She never really lived life. One day when she finds out she only has a year to live, she throws caution to the wind and even asks a man to marry her! I laughed, got angry with the characters who treated her unfairly, and cried for Delancy during her adventures. The ending is absolutely beautiful!

Anything new coming to Untapped this year? 

We’re hoping to release for the first time a magazine and also publish our first novel.

Writing Advice for the Christian Children’s Market: Interview with Kathleen Muldoon

In Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market author Kathleen Muldoon shares her years of writing experience, offering advice for both seasoned and novice writers.

A retired journalist, Kathleen has authored sixteen books in the educational and Christian markets as well as numerous magazine articles and stories for children and adults. She’s also an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and various continuing education programs.

In addition, she finds time to pen a column for Action magazine and contribute as a regional writer for Guideposts. When not writing, she enjoys playing with her literary feline, Walter, and her uneducated but adorable parakeet, Abraham.

In the following interview, she discusses what drew her to Christian markets, gives tips to new writers, and talks about the rewards of Christian writing:

Why did you decide to write Sowing Seeds? 

Last year (2010), an editor from E & & Publishing approached me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a book for this niche market. I had submitted a manuscript to her which she could not use, but when she saw my publishing resume, she thought I might be the right person to write such a book and she invited me to submit a proposal. Fortunately, she accepted my proposal, and Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children’s Market, was born—and launched later that year.

What drew you to writing for Christian markets and specifically for children? How did you get your start?

I had written quite a bit for the adult Christian market. When I decided to write for the children’s market (in 1989—before some of you were born!), I was delighted to discover the world of Christian children’s literature. As I child, I once received a Christian children’s magazine subscription as a gift. I treasured every issue! It’s long since ceased publication, but as I got more into writing for children in general, I began sending for sample Christian children’s magazines so I could familiarize myself with just what these publishers looked for in the pieces they published. I made my first story sale to a wonderful little Catholic magazine, My Friend, in 1990. Sadly, this magazine, too, ceased publication in 2009. But, they still have a book publishing division (Pauline Books & Media), and I’ve authored two books for them and had one of my stories included in an anthology.

Any words of wisdom for beginning writers?

Perfect your craft, be persistent, know your audience (Christian children), and study the markets.

What Christian children’s magazines would you recommend for short-story writers and why?

I like Pockets—it is a themed magazine, meaning each issue revolves around a particular theme, so you’ve already got a “leg up” knowing what those themes will be in advance (the theme lists are available on the website); in addition, they have two stories per issue, one for younger readers and one for intermediate (9-12) year old readers. They also have an annual fiction competition.

What is the most rewarding aspect of writing for Christian markets?

I love the idea that I can share my faith, either through fiction or nonfiction, when writing for this market. I consider it a ministry, a way of giving back and sharing the gift of writing that the Lord has given me. I especially like targeting children, who have just begun their faith journeys and are most open to learning ways they can be like Jesus.

Ebook Winner and Leaving the Pagan Behind

The winner of the ebook giveaway, Playthings of the Gods, is Halli from Alberta (visit her blog at: ). Thanks to everyone for entering the contest.

And leaving the pagan behind, I’ve added a few Christian short-story markets to the links column. I hope to have interviews with the editors sometime soon. In the meantime, since I obviously need some help with this one, please leave me a comment if you know of other Christian short-story markets for young adults.

Also be sure to read Writing for the Teen Religious Market from The article is a little dated but the advice is still excellent.