Friday, December 30, 2011

Calling All Writers!

Blog Post Contest

In April 2010, I started writing and publishing an online Blog tilted, “Mark Showalter’s Blog.” What inspired me to start writing and publishing my thoughts and inspirations was another Blog that I began following in late 2009. During that time of my life, I had many doubts and questions surrounding my relationship with God and the church. The Blog posts more often than not were exactly what I needed at the time. After reading and being fed by them for about five months I began to feel God impressing me to write and publish my own Blog.
At first I argued with God. I reminded Him that I had never written anything for the public to read nor did I have any formal training in the art of writing. I felt extremely under-qualified, and thought, “Nobody would ever want to read or would be fed by anything I wrote!” I reminded God that He had far better people out there who were much more qualified to write and publish a Blog than I was.

But God wouldn’t let up. He reminded me that my salvation isn’t all about me and that “He” is the one that is the giver of good gifts! I began to think, “What if this Blogger that I now enjoy would never have published their thoughts? What other form of help would God have to find me? What if everybody denied God because they felt inadequate or under-qualified? Sure, we would still have the Bible, and wasn’t that written by just a few ordinary men? However, even the Ethiopian Eunuch, when reading the scripture, needed Phillip to help him understand what God’s Word was trying to tell him. And wasn’t Peter just a regular guy with a moderate education!? He wrote two books of the Bible! So, if God could move on some ordinary men to make an extraordinary difference, why couldn’t I do the same?”

This is when I decided to write and publish an online Blog. Since April 2010, I’ve written just over forty-one posts. I’ve been honest, open, and best of all transparent. I know that in a world of so many people trying to hide, out of shame or fear, who they really are, I had to be honest. As a result, I’ve received numerous comments or email responses from people dealing with issues including suicidal thoughts, manic depression, and divorcing their spouse. Others issues mentioned were believing that God had failed them or that they had failed God, while others have felt like the promises God made them could never come to pass. All of these hopeless people felt that due to major failures or sins, they had resolved to live a life of empty church going with no hope of ever being used by God again. Honestly, the list truly goes on and on with numerous accounts of hopelessness, regrets, fears and doubts. But God has been faithful to help! Through the posts, many have received the answers and hope they needed to face the situation once more, and now, they KNOW God is on their side and has never given up on them.

More recently I’ve felt like God is wanting others to speak out and be an encouragement. Problem is, most don’t know how to do so, or even how to get started. This is where the “Blog Post Contest” comes into play. Most, if not challenged, will never really step out and do anything unordinary. So, this is your challenge, your chance, to be heard, to express your thoughts, but best of all, “overcome the Devil by the word of your testimony.”

Below are a list of guidelines that will help you to get started.

Twelve winners will be posted
 1. Of all the posts submitted, twelve will be posted over the next twelve months. The last and final Post will be posted on January 2013.
2. The first Post will be posted on February 6, 2012, (That will allow us enough time to read and pick the twelve Posts that will be posted.)

Rules for entering Post
1. All Posts must be submitted by January 14, 2012.
2. Post must be less than 1,000 words but more than 500.
3. Posts can be any form: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, devotion or creative prose.
4. The post must be written by the one submitting it. (May be submitted using another’s email, but must be clearly stated  as such)
5. Must have Biblical references, and be sound in doctrine. (Can be a personal story or life principle, but must have 6. scriptural thought and reference to back it up.)
6. Your post must include a small letter of permission stating that you give us permission to judge and post your Post in my Blog. It also must include your full name and date.
7. Your post may remain anonymous if you so choose. (You can state that in your letter of permission to post your Blog Post. Your confidence will remain with me only!)
8. Posts will be judged upon the above – regardless of age, race, gender or religious affiliation.
9. We reserve the right to make corrections and alterations to your Post. (Only to correct any grammatical or spelling errors we may find. We will not change or alter the message or thought in any way.)
10. All posts should be submitted to

All Posts will be read and winners determined by three People:
Mark Showalter (Blog Host)
Kris A. Newman (Author and Publisher)
Christina Li (Author and Publisher)

NOTE: Winning posts will be published on the following Blog sites:
Mark Showalter’s Blog –
Through a Writer’s Eyes –

Get writing and watch how God inspires you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Friend Named Jesus

 My second book is about to hit the world.  Second.  The one after the first.  I can’t really quite believe it. 

It’s old and new mixed together telling the story of seasons, of life, of a walk with Jesus.  It’s my stories and words and tells about stuff I see.  It’s smarmy and meant to mostly be a way to send a message of grace to Followers of Christ.  It’s true.  I wrote for an audience.  I don’t know if they will like it and I’m really not sure anyone who doesn’t label themselves Christian will find any value in it.  I didn’t intentionally set out to offend anyone or disenfranchise anyone, but the words fell where they belonged and I couldn’t take them out.

I like some of it.  I enjoyed writing much of it.  Like all of my ramblings, a genuine mix of laughter and tears fell through my hands as the stories grew.  Simplicity and complexity are woven among the lines dragging the reader from one place to another.

I’ve received amazingly gracious reviews from the first book.  I hope this books finds a similar reception.  I hope people grow from it and see how easy it is to live for Jesus through really tough times.  I also hope that Christians see how deeply important it is to show love to others – regardless of how “fine” they are on the outside.  Follow this link:  Love One Another and see just a few verses about the necessity of loving.  

It’s Christmas.  Don’t know what to give someone?  How about a little love?  Easier than you think.  Even easy to wrap.  I generally use words and arms to wrap mine.  A Friend Named Jesus won’t hit your mailbox in time, but love has no timeline.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year, friends!  Thanks for sharing the journey with me.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Second Book, Much Like the First

Anyone who would like to place an advance order for my second book - A Friend Named Jesus - can do so by a quick note to my e-mail at  I will let you know an expected ship date and where to send payment.  Also let me know if you would like a signed copy - which will take a little longer.  Cost is $15 (plus shipping). 

This book is about seasons of life and how a follower of Christ sees them.  From the freshness of spring, the busy-ness of summer, the stillness of autumn and the quiet of winter God is unchanging.  Like my first book, it is a collection of short stories, poems and reflections.  Some of them you have read here on the blog, others were written many years ago - as far back at 1988. 

To whet your appetite, many readers requested an account of Lisa's version of A Night at the Theater.  As fictional as the first, A Night in the Audience tells Lisa's story.  

 Below is a sneak-peek:

A Night in the Audience
            Protected by the leather about her, she huddled in her seat hoping he wouldn’t know she was there.  She wondered if her Day Class peers would fill the front row or be seated elsewhere.  She hoped she would recognize the professor, so as to assure her attendance would be noted.  She wished she could have been at the performance with her Week-End classmates, but she would be busy getting divorced when they were in the audience.
Lisa was startled by a deep bass voice suddenly beside her, “Good evening.”
            “Hello,” she responded politely.
            “I believe you may be in my seat,” he stated quietly.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Writing Day

Today is a writing day.  It has arrived. 

The day when I get the words from my mind to the paper that will tell Lisa's story of her night in the audience.  I'm sure you're not surprised since it was you who asked again and again about Lisa and her view of the play that night.

So.  Today that's what I'll write.

And I'll work a bit on the cover and add everyone's corrections into the manuscript. Then.... then.... I think the second book will be ready for typesetting.  Not by November 1st as I had hoped.  But sometimes the words aren't ready and so we must wait.

While you're waiting, so you don't think I've forgotten you, here is a re-print of a previous post to help you understand the way of words.

Stay tuned.  A book may be soon ready for your enjoyment!

Originally Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Words Dancing Across My Page 

So. Here I am. At Dunn Bros. Writing. Because I can.

It’s a new season, I think.

Surrounded by a babble of familiar voices I have never heard. Encased by familiar buildings I’ve never ventured within. Sipping tea and tapping my heart.
But with a new sense of purpose. A new sense of identity.

The barista said, “I can’t write.”

I answered, “oh, I’m sorry. I can’t not write.”

His co-worker laughed in complicity. He understood.

Words don’t leave me even when I’m trying to leave them. I don’t always like my words, you know. I wish they would leave me alone and let me just go on without being so pushy, forceful, demanding.

And so I’m listening to writers talk about issues and friends talk about relationships and I’m letting the words have their way. Like a wild horse let loose to run in the field.

There go the words. Free. Beautiful in their own confidence. Not as if they had ever been reined in and made to walk properly. I can almost see the wind following behind them as they frolic.

I’m really enjoying listening to the writers talk about writing. I wonder what they would say if they knew I was writing about their words, about their thoughts. I think they wouldn’t mind. After all, writers like to be heard. That’s the point of writing.

Well, maybe not the point, actually. But the impetus, the thing that pushes us to the paper. The thing that wakes us in the morning with a song suddenly waiting to be written. The thing that pushes paper to pen – whether the paper is a napkin or the back of a bulletin or a scrap tossed aside and the pen is a pencil or is black or blue or orange. The words don’t always have to be heard, but they must always be recorded, left behind.

Now the writers are discussing a poem and the memories to which it belongs. It makes me think of the bridge at Jackson Park that I just visited. I tried to explain the bridge to someone who didn’t really understand. He tried, but the connection was too ethereal, too disconnected, too much water color and not enough pen and ink.

I wonder if my words are heard like that by most people. Do they float too quickly beyond what people expect to hear? Expect to see? Do they require more definition and people don’t want to work that hard to understand? Or are the ideas and the topics too personal and don’t translate well?

I don’t know if anyone will ever want to read my ramblings, but I still can’t not write. The words live on their own and grow at their own pace.

Mostly, honestly, I do enjoy them.

Like I enjoy sitting here listening to the writers talk about writing and the friends talk about relationships and the students talk about classes while the jazz softly plays and the tea cools.

I’m a writer. And I write because I can’t not.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Words

Golden drops of promise swirl about my feet crunching my steps refusing to hide me. 

I do rather like autumn.  The Indian Summer week for sure!  It's been in the 70s and almost 80 the last week or so. 

Good for walking.  Good for thinking.  Good for living. Not good for writing. 

Who wants to sit inside with the blinking lights begging for morsels of adjectives when the last eeks of summer are taunting?

Not this girl. 

So I haven't written much and I haven't read much and I haven't taken the miasma of thoughts and given them form.   They are there, though, I promise.  Waiting and wondering when they will be seen. 

I had thought the second book would be ready for print by November 1st.  It may still.  It needs a good Saturday rain to get finished, polished, perfected.  The cover isn't right.  It wants more... I don't know.... splashes or flashes or something like that.  Some of the words are awkward.  They don't sit right on the page.  They need more balance, more agility, more time.

Remember last year about this time?  I struggled with crossing the writer's bridge. The one that links the private thoughts to the public domain.  That bridge.  Most of you didn't know I stood at the brink of retraction.  I almost didn't put it out there.... but then, all of sudden, with a life of its own... the book was done.

The words sat tight.  The pictures reflected deeply.  The cover hummed.

I'm not afraid of the bridge this year.  The audience response from the first book gives me courage.  I don't know why God uses my words, but I'm sure He does.  He links my life's struggles and joys to others.  They are hither and yon, these readers who read me.  My words pull them over their own bridges.  My experiences give them peace despite conflict. 

I know the book is almost ready.  Just not quite.  Like the last bit of leaves that sit snugly on the maple refusing to fall, the final touches are holding out for just the right wind to give them flight.

And all the while.... golden drops of promise swirl about my feet crunching my steps refusing to hide me. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I don't generally post poetry here, but I thought you might like another sneak peek into the next book.  I'm waiting still for a couple of editors' thoughts, but I still plan to have something available for purchase by November 1, 2011.  Still can't quite believe it.  What a year it's been!  Hope you like the bit below and hope it makes you wonder at what else is in store. 

Thanks for sharing the journey with me!


When one’s world is
The weight of words
Is skewed

They shout
“I love you”
“where were you?”
“see you!”

And you wonder at
Your value to the
And your value
To the world
In the absence of sound
No one greets

There is only

Loud, astoundingly thick, heavy, suffocating

And then you realize the
Void of sound
Is greatly noticed.

You listen.
If you are listening
To the sound of silence
With an open heart
And a clear mind
You may hear in your heart and mind
The Shepherd’s voice.

He says
His sheep know His voice.
He calls them
by name.

Ears of faith
Tuned to past words
Spoken, read, remembered.

I answer again and again
“Here am I, Lord.”

Wrapping me in grace
He speaks.
Shrouding me with peace
He speaks.
Filling the quiet with abundance
He shouts!

1 Kings 19:12  Amplified Bible (AMP)
“12And after the earthquake a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice.”

Now that the earthquake and fire
Have shaken and burned
All that was,

Teach me, Lord.
Help me hear.
Don’t let me despise
This season.