Monday, November 4, 2019

Workshop Testimonial, William Flowers, Columbia, SC

In June of 2012, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference. I chose the KCWC for several reasons, but primarily because the scheduled keynote speaker was Chonda Pierce, a well-known comedian that both my wife and I enjoyed.

Sadly, Chonda wasn’t able to make it, but as it turned out, the conference was life changing for me. Since I had signed up for the conference based on only one speaker, I didn’t know any of the other speakers. As a result, I had no idea which workshops to attend, and chose them all at random. Well, almost all. One class caught my attention: “Extend Your Ministry through Writing.”

In this workshop, Ann Knowles introduced us to an organization that I knew nothing about: Christ to the World Ministries. CTTW is an all-volunteer organization that broadcasts biblical radio dramas around the world, focusing on places where it is difficult or impossible to reach people through traditional channels, places where the message of Christ is restricted or banned altogether. But radio waves, it seems, are impossible to stop, and radio dramas that are translated into local languages have no literacy barriers. Feedback from many of these areas indicates that men, women, and especially young people, who would otherwise never hear the name of Jesus are not only listening to the dramas, but are turning to Jesus as their savior.

At the end of the workshop, Ann challenged us to consider writing biblical radio dramas for CTTW, and gave us the appropriate contact information. She said that the work was expanding rapidly, and the organization was in need of writers who would be willing to donate time and energy to this effort.

After returning home, I continued to think and pray about her challenge, and a few weeks later made contact with the editor at CTTW Ministries. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since that time, I have written nearly 100 thirty-minute biblical radio dramas, some of which have been translated into thirty-two languages and broadcast in 50 countries, including Indonesia, Mongolia, South America and northern Africa. It is both humbling and exciting to think that I am part of an organization that is making a huge impact as Christ continues building His kingdom around the globe, one person at a time.

Ann will go to your writers’ conference to teach this workshop or any of her other writing workshops. She also teaches workshops online.

Learn more at or contact Ann by e-mail.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Editing Tips to Improve Your Writing Immediately

In keeping with the idea of "Study to show thyself approved . . . ," I will be posting about the mistakes I see most frequently when I am editing. Be sure to visit Write Pathway every Thursday to get the newest tip. Your writing will start to improve with the first tip. Learning to self-edit will save you money when it is time to hire an editor to polish your manuscript for an agent or publisher.

Editing Tip #1

Passive voice vs Active voice: The voice of a verb indicates whether the subject of the sentence is acting or being acted upon. Active verbs are preferred because they show things in motion. The subject is performing the action. Your reader is there when it happens and feels like he or she is participating in the action.

Passive voice verbs are less desirable because they show that the action has already taken place. The reader isn’t there when it happens and therefore, it makes less of an impact on the reader’s mind. Passive verbs also “encourage wordiness.”


I was impressed by your class presentation. (passive, past tense)
Your class presentation impresses me. (active, present tense)
Your class presentation is impressive. (active, present tense)
Your class presentation impressed me. (active, past tense)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Writing a Book Review

What is a book review?

A book review is a description, analysis, and evaluation of a book. It reflects your opinion of the book, how you feel about the book’s purpose, content and authority. It talks about the quality, meaning and significance of the book as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

When people read your review, they can decide for themselves if it’s worth their money and time to read the book. Therefore, it is valuable not only to readers looking for books, but also to the author who is trying to promote the book in a positive way.

A book review is not:

  • a summary of the book that reveals the plot and climax. No one wants to read a book if they already know the story so take caution not to give away too many details about the book.
  • a book report like you did in high school
  • an opportunity to expound on your relationship to the author. The review is about the book.

How to Write a Book Review

Before you write your review, ask yourself “What would I have wanted to know before I read the book?”

Steps to writing a book review:

1. Write a bibliographical statement, giving important information about the book:title, author, copyright date, type of book, general subject matter, special features, price and ISBN. (If you are leaving this review on a site like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CBD, this information is already provided. But if you’re writing the review for a blog post, newsletter, newspaper, or magazine, you’ll need to provide as much information as you can to avoid any confusion about the book being reviewed.

2. State the author’s purpose in writing the book. Look in the preface or first chapter to find this information. If you don’t find it there, ask yourself some questions:
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the genre, and how does the book fit into it?
  • Why did the author write on this subject?
  • Did the author try to give information, explain something technical, or convince the reader of something?
  • How did the book affect you? Did you change your ideas because of it? 
  • How did it fit in with your worldview? Did it bring up old memories?
  • Did the book achieve its purpose? Would you recommend it to a friend?
3. Comment on how the author tells the story and keeps you interested. 

4. Research the author online through biographical information, reputation, qualifications and experience. This allows you to establish the authority of the author.

5. Depending on the type of book, you may need to comment on cover, layout and any pictures or maps that helped you understand the book better.

6. Check the back matter: index, endnotes, bibliography. Is the material accurate and useful?

7. Briefly summarize and comment on the author’s ideas and main points. Use quotations from the book to support your statements.

8. Be detailed and specific, without giving away the plot. There is no set length for a book review. The publisher usually sets the number of words. Online they are usually 150-300 words, but in a magazine, they may be as much as 500 words.

Any time you read a good book, take the time to write a review on at least one of the Web sites like,,,

Remember you are doing a service for the writer and the reader.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hide It in Your Heart

Tips for Memorizing Scripture

Most of us don’t read the Bible when we’re looking for something to do in our leisure time.There are many other things we’d rather do with our time—read a good book, watch TV, play sports, walk on the beach, and on the list goes. Don’t we care about what God has to say to us personally? Don’t we want the intimacy with God that comes when we pray and study His word? What’s our excuse? Each of us needs to ask that question because internalizing God’s word is the most significant way God speaks to us and teaches us His precepts.

In Psalm 119:11, the psalmist says “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV). In verse 16b he says, “I will not forget your Word.” and then he says, “Your Word has given me life” (vs. 50b). In verse 105 we read “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” These verses assure us of the importance of having God’s word in our hearts, but knowing is not enough.

Memorizing scripture is not an easy task and there needs to be real motivation in order to be successful at it. We must have a driving desire to know Him better, to walk closer to Him, to serve Him faithfully and to feel His presence with us in our daily walk. How can we hide His Word in our hearts?

The Bible is a big book with some 783,137 words. We cannot hope to memorize all of it, though a few have memorized all of it. Dr. Bill Bennett, founder of Mentoring Men for the Master, says, “It’s hard by the yard, a cinch by the inch.” In other words, it’s much harder to memorize long passages than to learn one or two verses at a time. Therefore, we need to begin with an “inch” and later we might master a “yard.” (Read more. . .)

Specifically, there are four rules for memorizing scripture:

(1) Study diligently. You must know it in your head before you can hide it in your heart.
Pray and ask God to direct your thoughts to the things He wants you to learn.

(2) Consider which verses you want to memorize during the week. Write the verses for the week on a piece of paper; carry it with you every day. Keep the verses in your heart by
memorization and meditation. Ask Him questions about things you don’t understand.
Don’t rush; take all the time you need to listen to the still small voice of God.

(3) Show it in your life as you live by it and obey its teachings. Having the scripture hidden in your heart will give you power to live by it. Have an accountability partner who will ask you about your verses and listen to you say them.

(4) Finally, use the verses in your daily routine. Quote scriptures that offer hope and
encouragement for co-workers and friends. Let them see that it’s an important part of your life.

At the end of each week, put the paper with your verses in a notebook; review your notebook at least once a week.

  • (a) Write the verses for the week on a sheet of paper; carry it with you every day. Read the verses when you have a minute---break-time, waiting for appointments, waiting in traffic, etc.
  • (b) Have an accountability partner who will ask you about your verses and listen to you say them. 
  • (c) At the end of the week, put the paper in a notebook; review it at least once a week Add new verses. You’ll be surprised at how God will bring these Scriptures to mind just when you need them most.
Our goal is to be saturated with His Word. When His word is hidden in our hearts, it becomes visible to us and to others in our daily walk.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Writing Contemporary Psalms

I was presenting at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. As an editor, it was my turn to meet with writers about their books and articles and to offer encouragement and suggestions for improvement.

One author sat across the table from me as I read several pages of her manuscript. It was amazing! I felt like I was reading the book of Psalms; only it was not about David or the other writers of Psalms. It was about her life experiences. God had given her a special gift: She had written contemporary psalms about her life and was completely unaware of what she had done. Truly, God had led her to do this for Him.

Has He given you this special creative genius? Would you like to find out?

Wait! Before you sit down to write psalms about your life, let me make a suggestion:

Discover how to write psalms of joy, praise, worship, prayer, and woe. Enrich your life by doing what God has called you to do for Him. In doing so, you will also bless those who read your contemporary psalms.

Using the Bible as our textbook, I teach a course “Writing Contemporary Psalms.” The cost is $40. It’s taught in four classes and begins the first Monday of every month. If you’d like to know more about the class or sign up to take the class, email me at and I’ll send you all the details.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Are Medicare and Social Security Entitlement Programs?

Are You a Maker or a Taker

Richard Leonard, Ph. D 

Write-Pathway welcomes Dr. Richard Leonard, long-time friend from the world of ministry and writing. Richard has given me permission to post this article which was published in the DAILY GATE CITY, Keokuk, Iowa, January 10, 2013. People who are interested in perserving our America the way it was in years past will appreciate the way Richard debunks the myth that our government is promoting that Social Security and Medicare are entitlement programs funded by taxpayers. Information is given below that will let you contact Dr. Leonard and thank him for taking the time to work through the process and inform the American people of the truth.

Recent political debate about how entitlements are stressing the Federal budget has raised the distinction between Makers and Takers. What percentage of the U.S. population are Makers, contributing to Federal revenues through the taxes they pay? And what percentage are Takers, who put nothing in but take out benefits the taxpayers are providing for them? And how long can we sustain a situation in which the benefits Takers receive exceed the resources the Makers provide through the taxes they pay — a scenario that requires the Federal government to go deeper and deeper into debt? 

As a “retired” recipient of Social Security benefits for a decade now, I wondered whether I myself had become a Taker instead of a Maker. With a work record beginning in 1958, I wondered whether the FICA withholdings from my paycheck through the years, plus my employers’ matching FICA taxes, were still paying for my monthly benefit. Or had my “contributions” been exhausted by this time, so that I’m being supported by other taxpayers? My question led me to some research, and the creation of a spreadsheet to figure out the answer. (Read more . . .)

The first step was to capture the record of all my wages that had been subject to the FICA tax; that was easily obtained through the Social Security web site. Then I had to apply the FICA rate (combined for me and my employers) for each year to my wages. (When I started work the rate was 4.5%; when I retired the rate was 15.3%.) The result was the amount of money that was put into the system each year on my behalf.

But that amount had to be adjusted to correspond to 2013 dollars. To do that, I used the average price of a gallon of gasoline each year, divided into the 2012 average of $3.29. For example, in 1960 my FICA combined tax was a mere $15.78, and gas was 31 cents a gallon. In terms of today’s purchasing power, however, that $15.78 became the equivalent of $167.47. I set up the spreadsheet to convert each year’s FICA tax to 2013 dollars. In this way $124,000 of FICA input became equivalent to more than $400,000 today.

I was ready to answer my question: was I still a Maker? I totaled all my Social Security benefits since I retired, at 65½ in 2004, through the year 2012. I used the total benefit, including the Medicare premiums that were deducted. (Yes, we “geezers” pay a premium for our Medicare!) I then subtracted what I have received thus far from the total of my FICA input as adjusted for inflation.

I am happy to report that I am still a Maker — there is still money in my “account” that was paid in on my behalf throughout a work record of 46 years. Estimating my monthly Social Security benefit in years ahead (it will go up some, of course), at age 74 I still have about ten years to go before I transition to Takerhood.

But wait — there’s more to the story! My annual FICA payments were simply absorbed into the Federal Treasury every year. The so-called “Social Security Trust Fund” is a myth. Politicians just took my contributions to the retirement system and used them to make themselves look like better managers of the nation’s budget. But what if my FICA payments had been shielded from raiding by demagogues, invested in the stock market, and allowed to grow?

To figure this out, I looked at the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1958 and compared the closing average each year with the previous year’s close. That gave me a growth (or reduction) factor for my hypothetically invested accumulated FICA input. For example, in 1981 the Dow closed at approximately 875; in 1982 it closed at 1047, nearly a 20% increase. I took the accumulated total in my “account” for 1981, added my FICA input for 1982, and applied the 120% factor to the sum, resulting in a new accumulated total as the base for the 1983 calculations. Those calculations would use the 1983 DJIA closing average to calculate the new factor — and so on down the spreadsheet.

True, the market has its ups and downs. In the 70s it had some negative ratios, and during that time my hypothetical investment accumulation sometimes dropped below the raw FICA total. However, since then the market has “taken off.” Over the years, in fact, the market has had an annual increase in value of better than 9%. As a result, if my FICA input into the Social Security system had been permitted to grow in this way it would today total around 2.5 million dollars. I could not live long enough to become a Taker, instead of a Maker!

A trained economist could probably refine my amateur approach to this question, but I believe his result would have been substantially the same. The point is: if you worked for four decades or more, paying into the Social Security system, and are now receiving retirement benefits, you probably can’t be accused of being a Taker instead of a Maker. The title of Taker should go to someone else. 

So what do you think. Are you a Maker or a Taker? Leave a comment below. 

If you'd like to write a blog that supports Seniors for Patches of Light, contact Please tweet and share on facebook.

Published in the DAILY GATE CITY, Keokuk, Iowa, January 10, 2013.
Posted by Richard C. Leonard, Ph.D.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Advice for Aspiring Writers

Study to Show Thyself Approved 

The best advice I can give an aspiring writer or editor is to begin immediately to prepare for the task God has called you to do. Regardless of your career choice, being an approved workman should be the goal of all of God’s children. Study to show thyself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed. . . (2 Timothy 2:15).

Doctors, lawyers, teachers, ministers, welders, electricians, mechanics, graphic designers, technology gurus—every career choice requires extensive training in order to achieve success. Why should it be any different in the field of writing or editing? Yet many people attempt to write or edit without ever having any professional training. Without training, most of them will fail.

When my husband felt called by God to become a pastor, we had just moved into our new home. He had recently been promoted to supervisor at GE and I was teaching first grade. We had four children (ages 3-14).

His first reaction was: “I don’t know anything about being in the ministry. I have to go back to school and prepare for this task God has called me to do. This will change our lives dramatically. We’ll have to quit our jobs and move to the seminary.”

What was God thinking? It seemed impossible! Four months later we were at seminary, and the whole family was enrolled in school.

When I decided to become an author and editor, I had an MA Ed in education and had recently retired from teaching, but I realized I needed specialized training before I could move to a new career. I knew I had to invest time and money to make this dream come true. I took many online and community college courses and attended several writers’conferences to prepare for the ministry of writing and editing.

Do you dream of becoming a writer or editor? What kind of sacrifices are you willing to make? Do it now! Enroll in your first course today and begin the journey. Check out the "Classes Taught by Ann" on this blog. You can make that dream come true.