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Getting Your Message Through Part 1- Carl Townsend

megaphoneIf your are serious about God’s call on your life, God will give you  a burden, a message. You then begin to respond that call and call other people to join you in terms of that call God is placing on your heart. That is your message. There are many ways to get your message out: social media, a blog, magazine articles, authoring/publishing a book, speaking, singing. and more.  How you share is important, but also here are some issues common to all of these.

  1. Who shares your message? Identify, in contemporary language, who is your tribe? Who also owns the same message? This “tribe” defines others you know that share your burden and message. This identifies your tribe and may exist within your current church, a viral church, your network of churches, or you may need to create your own “Church”. One major pastor shared with me as I left for a new job: “Stay with the vision God gives you, even if it costs your your life. Join a church that affirms that vision. If  you cant find it,, build it yourself with others that share it. As an example, back in the eighties Dr. Joe Aldrich began sounding a message that he wanted to see one city or region anywhere totally transformed by the Power of the Holy Spirit. By the early nineties, George Otis, Jr. had identified a dozen cities in the world where that was already happening.  His Sentinel group published the video story of four of these cities on  a DVD. Last time I talked with Otis, he had identified some 250 cities or regions worldwide, with fires started in some 500 more as this grows. This didn’t make your local newspaper, did it? In my own city. Dr. Joe identified those pastors who wished to see this locally and called them to prayer. We had a database of 1800 churches in our four-county area. In the Christian language, you define the harvest force.
  2. Define your audience very specifically. The “audience” defines those whom God wishes to hear your specific message. To use the Internet, which is very inexpensive, you need to aim at a very specific audience. This is very different from traditional advertising, which casts its net to a very broad audience to get a few people within it taking action. Your audience should be a group of people you are naturally called to. In the Christian language, this is your harvest field.
  3. Define your message. What is your specific message to your audience? What is your burden and passion? In Chapter 1 of Nehemiah, what was Nehemiah’s burden and passion? It was not building a wall. This wall isn’t even mentioned in the first chapter. For example, it might be “Restore America” or “Transformation of America” as the message. Your message should be one that your audience can understand and relate to their heart -need.
  4. Add value to the vision of your audience. For this you need to know the need of your audience. This is heart question. What is the heart of your audience? Now you need to communicate your message in terms of the heart need. With Nehemiah, the heart need was security. Jerusalem, or what was left of it was destroyed and they were surrounded by enemies. Nehemiah was going to address that by building the wall. Their real need was a unity and oneness and spiritual recovery.  He spoke to that by leading them in building the wall. The wall was the vehicle for the real need. Some years ago in Portland we had discovered using powerful mapping tools a Hispanic community without a church and needing one. Their want was ESL classes to learn English so they could get jobs. We started by addressing their need. We can confuse needs and wants if we are not careful. Define each for your audience, then add value.
  5. Define the warfare. What is keeping you from carrying your message forward? Finances? time? education? health? depression? Define your counter strategies for each. If the Lord wants you to deliver this message, He will provide a way if you commit. You’re the “postman”. Your job is to deliver the mail, not fight the dogs.
  6. Go personal. When younger I, like others, kept a journal (still do). I’d  get upset if anyone read it.  Now I journal on Facebook. So does a lot of my tribe. And I want you to read it. The personal posts that I do get read  the most, and are also shared the most.  If you want your posts to go viral, getting your readers to share you is essential. Don’t use Truth to beat others. Build relationships in trust and love.
  7. Evaluate. Make sure you have some type of feedback system to measure your on-going success.

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Insights for Fiction Writing

Brandily Collins - fiction writingLast Saturday was by far the most exciting day of the Oregon Writers Conferences I’ve ever attended. The speaker for the entire day was Brandilyn Collins, a well-known Christian fiction writer of suspense stories that has some 29 titles in print. As I’m writing my first fiction book (I’ve authored some 40 non-fiction), this was a chance to glean from someone with a LOT of experience. I wasn’t disappointed. The tagline associated with her books is generally “Don’t forget to breathe”. The Oregon Writers Conference people said they had been working for 3 years to get her here. The group was small enough that we could easily get one-on-one time with her.

The most important thing for the writer? She shared that it is to draw out and communicate the deepest desire of the Protagonist as specifically as possible as soon as possible.

You can check your local library for many of her books – my library has many of them. If you are a writer, she gives away many of her secrets in Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, available from Amazon. One of her workshops focused on one of those secrets. Disks can be ordered from soundxdesign@yahoo.com. Perhaps the best is “Coloring Passions: Fully Developed Character Emotions” on one of the secrets, but she only had time to touch on part of section from the book in her workshop. You can get more information on her books and biography at http://www.brandilyncollins.com/.

Christian Fiction Writing – Oregon Writer’s Conference

Oregon Christian WritersThe Oregon Christian Writers Conference meets next Saturday, October 12, for a one-day conference at Multnomah University in Portland. The lead speaker is Brandilyn Collins, a noted Christian suspense fiction writer. She will also be leading and afternoon workshop at the conference on the four D’s of fiction writing followed by a session on character development. You can follow a free interview with her at:

The schedule for the day is at:

The registration online is at:

Writing to Create Change

If you want to be a writer, functionally it is easier today because of the technology available.

  • Printing your book is very cost-effective now. For a few hundred dollars, you can have your book printed in small quantities and distributed through Amazon. Kindle editions of my books now sell for a few bucks on Amazon.
  • Marketing strategies have changed and are now quite inexpensive.Create a strong presence in the social media. With a website, you can move thousands of copies.
  • Distribution can easily be done direct from a website or using Amazon.
Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton writing his journal

That doesn’t mean writing a book is any easier. You are competing with thousands of “would-be authors” who would like to be famous, and the best-selling stuff is more often garbage in God’s eyes. Can you carry a strong message and still cut through the clutter? I’m still learning. I try never to forget that. Believe in yourself.

Here are a few writing tips I have learned:

  • What is the vision for your writing? Why are you writing? What is your burden? Where do you want to see change? Be as specific as you can with this.
  • What are your core values? Where is your reference for these?
  • Write to your audience. What is their burden, their pain? How have you dealt with that? Even if writing a fiction book, build your characters on real people that you know. Develop that character in your book. Where are your conflict issues in your story. Then show how the characters face the issues of those of your audience. Leading authors often spend months or years developing their characters and pre-story before writing their first chapter.
  • Write daily. If necessary, have a mentor hold you accountable to that. Don’t let anyone discourage you. One of the best ways of doing this is to use your own website and blog. In doing that, you own your own Internet space and write to that. Facebook and other social media are great, but use them to point people to your home base, which really should be a website and blog – at least the blog.
  • “A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day. What did I do today to keep in ‘form’?” (Susan Sontag)

  • Even in writing non-fiction, write using stories. Everyone loves stories. If using real life stories (and these are generally the best), protect the confidence of those involved. Use dummy names or get permission.
  • Use strong verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Don’t say “He walked into the room” if you mean “He staggered into the room”.
  • Be sure you facts are correct, verifying with multiple sources that are reliable. A single wrong fact can destroy an entire argument.
  • In reading magazines, notice which advertisements catch your eyes. Why did these stand out? What graphic were used? What keywords were used in the text? What is the action step asked of you in the ad? Did you take any action step from the ad?
  • If writing a book, experiment with different covers and titles that you create. I often take my samples to a restaurant and put these on my table, watching to see which of these catch the eyes of people passing and then taking with them about that cover sample. Remember: If you book is in a bookstore or displayed on a web page, the cover with your title is all people see and all you have to motivate them to the next step.
  • Include a feedback strategy for your writing. Have mentor-level friends critique your writing. Join a writer’s group. Blog or put material on social media and see the response. I often test stories I use in speaking or writing out in conversations first and judge the response. When writing a book, I’ll have at least three people editing it.Get testimonials. When I’m giving a speech, be careful what you tell me afterward. You may find it later as a testimonial on my web page. I’m always listening from feedback. Incidentally, the most profound compliment anyone has given me cam from John Eldridge in a website interview with a magazine that was forwarded to me. I don’t even use it on my web pages. It’s simply too profound.

“There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.”
Susan Sontag

Carl does professional and affordable website development for people serious about changing their world.

Writing Your Story

We all love stories. Earlier Saturday I followed some stories on Facebook from a lady just back from ministry in Africa. Later that day,, I took a diversion to Ken Medema’s website (http://kenmedema.com/) and followed his stories there of his daughter’s wedding and his trip to Africa. Ken is physically blind, but sees more than I do. Jesus led by telling stories. I love movies with a good story. Which movies do you like? What is your own story?

writing your storyGod commands us to tell what He has done in our life to our children, grandchildren, and others (see Deut 11:19). Jesus told those he healed to tell their story (Luke 8:39). Today we live in a world now where if you want to get your story out, publishing is easy.

Social networks like Facebook or Twitter will distribute your story at no cost to you. Or you can publish it as an eBook and distribute it as a download using any of several methods. Or publish your own newspaper or magazine and distribute it on the Internet. Or you could serialize your story on a blog from a website. If you wish to publish a book, various companies will publish it for you for very little cost.

The new option is to print the books as you need them, a system called print-on-demand. Unlike the year or so a traditional publisher takes, this print-on-demand publishing takes about a month to set your book up on automated printer, and then you can purchase your creative endeavor in small quantities after that. The books I have authored are often done this way, then show up on Amazon, and can be purchased from us, Amazon, or other book sellers. You can also get my books inexpensively on a Kindle. Publishing is easy.

Writing, however, hasn’t gotten any easier. I notice, though, that often when I am trying to write that the story unfolds on itself and I can write fast enough. Trying to keep up with where my mind is going, I jot notes quickly on ideas, outline structure, and even keywords that strike at the heart. Someone may argue with you on your worldview or philosophy; but no one can deny your story.

Isn’t it time you started writing your stories?

Getting Started

Getting started doesn’t have to be expensive. The first rule is to commit to practice. Every day, if only for a few minutes. With the first book I did, I committed every Saturday morning to it. My wife liked to sleep-in then, so that schedule worked for us. A chapter a week. The book was eventually published by a major publisher, and I felt like a hero.
Doing daily posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are good starting points It is free and you get great practice. And friends will “like” you and follow when you do a good one, so you get feedback on your work. At the same time, you should be open to others that are sharing their stories and critique them.

your storyIf at all possible, however, at least set up a blog. Even that can be free. The best free blogs are at http://www.wordpress.com and Google’s http://www.blogspot.com. A blog is like a “reverse diary” except that people can comment on your entries. Also, a blog has the most recent entries first. You can then put short entries in Facebook or Twitter with pointers t the expanding stories in your blog. At times, you may wish to copy and paste from blog entries you are working on to Facebook or to Twitter or, alternately past from a social network entry to your blog. This strategy gives you an online space to work your writing that is free and available for others to critique. Unlike with the social networks, this space is not cluttered with commercial noise and other messages.

For Serious Writing

If you wish to make a serious commitment to writing, you should set up a personal blog and web site. This involves choosing a domain name, and purchasing space on a host. Hosting and a domain name are cheap. The WordPress software for the website and blog is free. Buy a good book on WordPress (Yes, there is a “Dummies” book for it) and you are home free except for a little learning curve. We can help you with that – we sell domain names, hosting, and can install the WordPress software on a host.

This gives you your own space on the Internet that you own 100%. No commercials or unsolicited except what you permit. Unlike the social networks, you control the security. Blogs can be open for comment or dialog; and Google will love to index you as you go in their organic search engine at no charge. People can link to you, and you can link to others. You even have a mini-word processor in the blog for editing, and you can also copy and paste to the blog from your word processor. You blog supports images, movies, sound, and PDF files as well as text.

SPECIAL: Isn’t it time you got story shared and editing on your own web site? Why not contact us today and let us help you! Better yet, here is offer is available until August 31st and may not be extended. We give you a full hosting setup with a WordPress blog, a registered domain name, and email address for $250 for a year. Order your domain and hosting from us and we will set your web site with WordPress ready-to-go in about 2 days. Just order from our business site. Better hurry, though.


Tips for Writing

  • Keep your focus on the needs and wants of the person to whom you are writing. Not yourself.
  • Remember that people today have a short attention span. Once you have their attention, it will only be for a short while and then you have to get their attention again.
  • Use stories, stories, stories.
  • Avoid the passive, write in the active. Don’t say “I was walking” or “I walked…” when it might should be “I stumbled into…” .
  • Use strong and descriptive verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Draw pictures in the narrative to pull the user into the story. This is true of both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Be careful with legal issues, as blogs are public unless you set them otherwise. Don’t use copyrighted material. Just because a picture is on the internet doesn’t mean you can use it in your web or blog. Here is a site with information for getting pictures. Another trick for finding pictures is to look up your subject in wiki, as the material there is public domain. Sometimes the pictures there, however, have restrictions. Right-click on picture there and choose properties to see the restrictions. Anything in the Creative Commons license is useable. It is still nice to give credit for it, however.