Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Fun

Hi, this is daughter-in-law Steph again, showing you what grandma Susanne has been up to the past couple weeks here in Minnesota! We have all been very sick this past week (including grandma), but luckily last weekend before the sickness came, we had time to go to the pumpkin patch. Here is grandma and her chickadee peeps on the hayride!

Picking out our pumpkin. . .
and now decorating.
Speaking of "chickadee peeps", guess what costumes I found online this year? In honor of grandma being here for Halloween for the first time, the girls are going as Peeps!

We love you, grandma!


your chickadee Peeps -- Emily and Bri

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article -- Part 5

In this final post on "The Art of the Article" we are going to chat about what you do once you’ve sent in your query to a magazine publisher—you start to write your next article or devotion.

Do not wait to hear from the editor. It could take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months before you have a response. In fact, once I heard from an editor three years after sending a query. They wanted to publish it after all that time—amazing!

Somewhere between 60 to 90 days it is permissible to send an email just to see if they have received your query. Do not expect them to remember it off the top of their heads, but you can jog their memory with a brief description.

If you have not heard anything from the publication after six months and you would like to query another magazine with the same article then you must send a formal withdrawal to the magazine withdrawing your article from consideration. Keep a copy of this withdrawal for your own personal records.

Perhaps you will receive an offer to be published in the magazine. Yippee! Most publications will send you a contract describing the “rights” they are offering. The rights are usually something like this:

All Rights—Your relinquish all rights to your manuscript. The publication can publish the article as many times as they would like and in any magazine.

First Rights—They have the rights to print the article the first time and then the rights return back to you after a certain amount of time. You can then republish the manuscript in another magazine or chapter of a book, etc.

Reprint Rights/2nd Rights—The publication is acquiring the rights of your manuscript to publish a piece that has previously been published.

Well, are you thoroughly confused? Welcome to the world of writing! Please let me know when you have submitted your query. I would like to pray for your success in the Art of Article Writing.

Pens & Pencils Hugs,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Help--Caramel Cake

This post is to my foodie friends. A few weeks ago, I blogged about one of my all-time favorite books--The Help. Throughout the book it referenced a caramel cake that Minnie made, a southern prize-winning cake. (Except that Minnie put the "Terrible Awful" in it.) Now does that make you want to read the book or what?

Anyway, I was intrigued by the cake. I had never heard of caramel cake prior to reading The Help. So I did what any foodie does--I Googled the recipe. I made it for our last book club. It was delicious. A bit labor intensive, but if you like caramel you'll like this cake. The frosting is more like homemade carmel candy than a regular buttercream frosting. Here's the recipe. Happy Baking!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 4

In the Writer's Porch last Friday, I blogged about how to query an editor for the possible publication of an article. Below is a copy of a query letter that I sent out several years ago to two different magazines in two different years. I sold it both times. The first time I sold First Rights and then I sold Reprint or 2nd Rights.

Susanne Scheppmann
My Address
My Email
My Phone #

Magazine Name
Attn: Name of Editor
City, State

Dear Ms. ?????,

Ministry may embezzle laughter from life. Lost laughter affects not only those in ministry, but also their families. Those of us in ministry need to evaluate and regain the joy promised to us. For your consideration, please find enclosed “Has Ministry Embezzled the Laugh from Your Life?” an article concerning one of the hazards of ministry.

Currently, I serve as Women’s Ministries Director at The Crossing, A Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. My education includes a BA in Interpersonal Communication and a BA in Christian Studies.

I am published in The Young Believers Case Files by Tyndale Publishers, 2003; God’s Way for Mothers by WhiteStone Publishing, 2003; Encounters With God by Family Christian Bookstores, 2004. My most current bylines include articles published in: Pray!, Proverbs 31 Woman, Today’s Christian Woman, and Breakthrough Intercessor.

Thank you for the ministry of (magazine name) and the opportunity to submit an article for possible publication. I have enclosed an SASE for your convenience. (Email is now the more likely source of correspondence.)


Susanne Scheppmann

Your assignment--write your query letter for your article. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 3

Did you write your 500-word article as assigned last week? I hope you did, because today we are going to learn how to query a magazine editor.

Now, I am sure many of you are asking, “Query? What is a query?” A query is a letter written to an editor to express your desire to write an article and to pique her interest in your idea. The query letter must be perfectly written with a great hook, so that the editor decides she needs to see your manuscript. If the editor requests your manuscript, it does not mean that she is going to publish it. It only means that you’ve hooked her attention enough that she wants to see more of your topic and writing skills.

All right, so you have a great idea on an article that you would like to submit to a magazine or an e-zine. Where do you go from here? Great question! There are two approaches for article writing and submission.

1. Query the magazine editor with your idea and wait for a response before writing it.
2. Write the article and then query the editor.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each of these tactics. Make sure to study the magazine’s writer guidelines so that you know how they prefer to be queried.

Query 1. The reason to query the magazine first is that you don’t waste your time on an article that nobody wants. If you query and there is possible interest, then the editor might be able to give you advice and clarity on what he or she would like to see in the article.

Query 2, or option number two. Writing the article first benefits you in knowing that you can actually write the article. Plus, as you write, you may discover a completely different angle to take. Thus, when you query an editor your piece may hold more appeal than when you began with only an idea.

For myself, I prefer the latter option. I am not sure why, but I think if I have a concept of an article, I like to see it on my screen. I believe I write better queries. But with that said, I have wasted a lot of time on articles that never saw the light of day.

In addition, this approach may hinder an editor that may want to assign me a topic as a writer. The editor may not think I have the ability to write on assignment. Also, if I promoted myself more as a freelance article writer, I would probably have switched to the query first and then writing the article. But for now, I write and then submit. Do whatever makes the most sense to you and your writing style.

I currently need to write about ten articles on a variety of topics coming from my various books to help promote the books. Even as I write this I think, “Why don’t I just send out the queries to see if I get a nibble?” But for some quirky reason, I want to write the article first. So, I put pressure on myself to write. Is this good or bad? I really don’t know, it’s just my personal preference.

Two Very Important Rules:

Make sure before you query a magazine editor that your article is a good fit for their magazine. Don’t send an article about raising godly children to a publication that publishes articles on fashion!

Only query one editor at a time for each magazine article. It is considered taboo to query more than one at a time because these magazines are competing for the same audience. Once you have received a rejection on the article, it is all right for you to send a query to another magazine.

Let the editor know what rights you are offering for the article: All Rights, First Rights, Reprint Rights. (We’ll take a look at that in two weeks.)

Keep the Heart-Print Faith—Fun, Fearless and Fulfilled,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quit Reading?

Should we quit reading?

This post is a guest post by Margaret Traudt. (She's my daughter-in-love's mom and one of my best friends.) She wrote this on her personal blog and she allowed me to "steal" it for mine. (She also reads most of my work as a personal editor. Her editing information is below.)

"Last post I mentioned the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about how to bring out your creative side, and one of her "requirements" is to write everyday. (She says to write 3 pages, but I'm pleased if I finish 1 page each day.) One thing this writing accomplishes is to "unblock" your creativity. In other words, you're supposed to write about all the things, people, circumstances that are keeping you from being creative, so that once you've written about them, you've moved them out of your way and voila! you're free to be creative.

But, then she goes a little far and says that one thing that blocks creativity is too much reading! So, she recommends a season of reading deprivation so your mind can think about the things you want to create instead of focusing on what other people have created. Actually, I have to admit that she makes a good point. I find that I can really become wrapped up in a good book, or in a series of good books. Like lately! She doesn't say this deprivation has to be long term but until you've spent some time "creating" and you're no longer blocked.

I was giving some serious thought yesterday to trying this, but then because of a new tutoring student starting today I had to read Lord of the Flies last night. (It's amazing I'd never read it before because it seems to be required reading for many high school students. I think that trend may have started in the late 60's after I was out of high school.) But, I was able to finish it in less than 24 hrs. So, now, I'm back to considering the deprivation thing. I'm not going to give up my day-to-day readings that I'm already committed to, but I may have a season (a short season) with no "pleasure" reading. (Not that my day-to-day reading isn't pleasurable--maybe frivolous would be a better adjective--for the reading I'm giving up, that is.)

Hmmm--what will I do with that extra time? Is there something creative I should be working on? We'll see! I do have a sewing project started, or some knitting, or maybe I could do some creative cooking, or work in the yard, or. . . . .If you have an opinion about the reading deprivation, let me hear it. Have a great day!"

(Copyright Margaret Traudt, 2009. )

Editing & Proof Reading

Margaret Traudt


(402) 782 8973

What are your thoughts?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Groovy Grandmas

I wish I could have had a groovy grandma. Unfortunately, both of my grandmothers were quite crotchety. One I couldn't even call "Grandma". She only allowed me to call her by her first name--Jean. She pretended to be my aunt to everyone, I guess because she didn't want to be a grandma. (Obviously she was biologically, but not emotionally.)

So years and years ago, way before I became a grandma, I decided to be a groovy grandma when I had the privilege to be one.

When my boys were little I prayed for their future wives and families. One of my requests was, "Lord, let me love their families. Let them have fun families."

Sure enough, the Lord granted that request--BIG TIME! I adore both of my daughters-in-loves' mothers. Margaret lives in Nebraska. Barb lives in Virginia. They are long distance best friends. What a blessing to me, my children and grandchildren.

Together we are three groovy grandmas who want our grandchildren to live out lives of faith. We desire for the Christian legacies of families to continue on for generation after generation.

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a (NLT)

Share your Heart-Print Faith,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making God Real at Home

This is a devotion written by Micca Campbell which I thought was appropriate for this blog series. Thanks, Micca, for allowing me to use this today!

Making God Real at Home

Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall talk about them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Discovering God and His ways are not meant to be a duty, but that’s what it can feel like when it comes to having family devotions. Most people think teaching their children about God means building an alter in the middle of their living room floor and meeting there daily to rehearse scripture and prayer. That’s not God’s intentions at all. Our key verse instructs us to “talk about [God] when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when are lying down and when you rise up.” God’s desire is for us to teach our children about Him in normal everyday settings as we simply live life.

My three children range in age, so naturally everybody wanted to do something different when it came to devotions. Can you imagine? That would be more like having a three-ring circus than learning about God. On the other hand, God is a fun and creative God. With that in mind, I was sure I could come up with a way to teach my children about Him without chaos or slumber.

I, indeed, found a fun way for our family to learn about God—it’s not to replace reading the Word but in addition to. We spend devotional time by watching movies together that have great moral lessons. Usually, I purchase these movies at a Christian book store or online. After the movie, we discuss how the characters in the show applied God’s moral law to their situations. I discovered this was a great way of teaching my children the right thing to do whenever they found themselves in a similar situation at school, church or in the neighborhood. Knowing our family discussions prepared my children for whatever may come their way brought peace to my heart and mind.

Another way our family continues to learn about God is by having spiritual birthdays. Celebrating spiritual birthdays is also a great way to establish your children’s faith. It makes it their own.

After dinner, we have cake and talk about the past year and how the child has grown spiritually. Sometimes I purchase a small gift such as a What Would Jesus Do bracelet. This celebration helps God become personal and their faith become stronger. If your child has accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, then every year on that date you can have a spiritual birthday for them, too!

When my eldest son turned thirteen, I combined his physical day of birth with his spiritual birthday and invited the entire family—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to the party. We had a backyard bar-b-que.

After the meal, all the guests sat in a circle. Each person told a story about Mitch before he opened that person’s gift. The story could be sentimental, funny, or one of faith. After each person presented their gifts, Pat and I read a letter to Mitch that we had written. We noted that there were many reasons that made us proud to be his parents, but the main reason was simply because he was ours. If Mitch had never hit a homerun, mastered the drums, or won the state tournament in bible drill, we would still be proud just because he was our gift from God.

It’s so important for us to teach our children about God and affirm their faith, that He commands us to do so. The truth is our children will grow to see God and the world around them by what we teach them and by what we don’t. I’d rather be certain that what they are learning is truth.

Dear Lord, I want to be intentional about teaching my children about you. Give me creative ideas that will draw the heart of my child to want to know you more. As we learn together, seal your truths into our hearts and minds so that our lives will influence others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
According to your children’s ages and interests, develop fun activities you can do together as a family while learning about God and His ways.

How can teaching your children about God build a lasting legacy?
What other ways can you help your child make faith their own?
How can your family influence others as you learn about God?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 1:8, “Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (NIV).

Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (NIV). Copyright Micca Campbell 2007

Related Resources:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 2

Last week we considered what makes a good article. Your assignment was to study current magazines and think through a topic that you might write about from a fresh new angle.

The steps of writing an article are similar to the skeleton of a devotion. (See Shortbread—How to Write a Great Devotion). Let’s review these sections.

  • Catchy title. Think of a title that will grab the editor’s attention. Tell your friends about the topic of the article, and then give them some “test” titles. Find out which title appeals to them. This being said, it is more than likely the editor will change the title of your article, but right now you are trying to attract the editor’s attention.

  • A great first sentence that hooks the reader. The same rule applies to a great first sentence as it does to a catchy title. You want the reader to keep reading. You want to pull them into the article—from beginning to end.

  • The body of the article should be between 500-1200 words. The body of the article is the point of the article. Write with strong verbs. Show, don’t tell. Allow the reader to see, smell, feel, taste and touch through your words. A good practice exercise is to describe a new loaf of bread coming out of the oven. Show the reader the bread, don’t tell the reader about it.

  • The conclusion. Tie your article together. Many times a writer will circle back to the opening paragraph and join the beginning, the body and the end together. Write a strong conclusion so the reader knows what the take away value is. Readers want to feel satisfied with a closure. Don’t leave your audience asking, “So what?”

  • Perhaps a sidebar. Sidebars have come into vogue. They are short bits of information that are an addition to your article. They are written separately, but attached to the manuscript. They help break up the page and make the written page more appealing to our short attention spans. Again, look through magazines to get ideas on different types of sidebars. I highly recommend using them, as editors are looking for such icing on articles. (Also, sidebars are now being used frequently in Bible studies and some books.) Learn the art of sidebars to put yourself one step above every other article sitting on the editor’s desk for review.

OK, I want you to go ahead and write an article. See if you can garner a great idea and then a write a short article of approximately 500 words. Try to include a sidebar. Next week we will discuss how to get the article into an editor's hands.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith--be fearless in your writing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Your Child Hurts

When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Kids Survive the Ups and Downs of Life By Glynnis Whitwer
Harvest House--2009

What makes me cry? When my children are hurting, that makes me weep. It is such a helpless feeling. When my children were in elementary school I distinctly remember crying over certain incidents that broke my children’s tiny hearts—teasing, not making the team, bullying, etc. I felt enraged and helpless. I would have done anything to take their pain myself, but of course, that’s not how life is when you live in a broken world.

However, my dear friend, Glynnis Whitwer wrote a book to aid parents when their children hurt. It just released in August. Oh, I wish this book had been around when my children were young. I would have kept it right on my nightstand. (I usually cried for my children at night with my head tucked deep into the pillow.)

Glynnis wrote from the experience of being a mom with five children, but also from her own experiences as a hurting child. She’s been there on both sides! Here’s an overview of a few of the chapters.

*Overcoming Insecurity
*Caring for Your Child with a Physical Difference
*The Pain of Loneliness
*Anger: When is it Wrong

This week I have been posting about raising a child strong in faith. When Your Child is Hurting is an excellent tool to help you raise a Christ follower, especially if you have a child who is in emotional pain. You can find it on the Proverbs 31 Ministries website or . Now don’t cry! Help is on the way for you and your child.

Until tomorrow on The Writer's Porch,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Serving in Faith with Your Younger Kids

Serve with your kids! That was one of the comments that was posted yesterday on my blog. I couldn't agree more. As our children see us serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus to others, they will model this behavior.

First let's talk about what we can do with younger children. When my kids were young there were several things we did to allow them to see our faith at work. Here's a short list of ideas.

  • Make a complete dinner and deliver it to a family who has someone chronically ill. Allow the children to help you select, prepare and deliver the food.
  • Sponsor a child through Compassion International that is similar in age to your own child. Keep the child's picture on the fridge. Pray for the child at dinner each evening. Then, if you ever have the chance, go visit the child.
  • Save money each month for Christmas presents for a needy family. Allow your children to help select the gifts, wrap them, and deliver them.

  • Pray for missionaries who you know. One of my friends made this beautiful prayer blanket for kids. You place it on the floor, find the place that you want to pray for, then place your hands on the country and pray together for the country, people & missionaries.

Isn't it great? My friend bought the fabric at JoAnn's and then made the child-sized blanket. Love it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is Youth Ministry Failing our Kids?

Youth ministry as we know it today is failing our children. Last week I went to Dallas to speak at the D6 Conference and discovered startling statistics on how many of our children leave the faith once they leave home. What is D6? It is an orginazation of several national ministries such as Focus on the Family, Randall House Publishing, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and many more that that have banded together to help parents raise their children in the faith. Its mission statement is, "The vision of the D6 Conference is to champion a movement of parents connecting with their kids spiritually to transfer their faith and life values." They are already planning for D6 2010.

The goal of D6 is to equip parents to take an active part in the children's faith process. Statistically, it is proven that if the parent is actively involved in faith discussion, not just taking the child to church, then it is less likely the child will walk away from the faith as an adult.

This subject is close to my heart as I have one child who is not walking with the Lord. Perhaps I failed her as I didn't discuss the issues of her heart. I honestly left that to the youth pastor. I wasn't equipped to delve into theological issues that fed her doubt. (And I was serving in ministry!)

D6 was an eye-opener! It has me fired up about teaching my grandchildren the faith and making it fun, interesting, and eternal. So for the next few blog posts I am going to write about how to do this. Some of the posts will be serious and thought-provoking, others will be funny, and some will be practical. I want your help! Write in and leave some comments about how to keep our children on the narrow path.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 1

Today we are going to start a new series—The Art of Articles. Two weeks ago I posted about writing from your passion. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your articles will sparkle when you care about your topic.

However, there are certain topics that will attract readers. Take a trip to your local supermarket and peruse the magazines. What topics seem to keep popping up? Here are the ones I believe you will spot:



Animal stories

Weight loss



How-to articles


Now consider your personal passion in writing. Could you link it with one of the above popular topics? Try it! You might surprise yourself at the creativity that will spring to your mind and fingers. Editors quote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” This is a true statement, so make sure you have a fresh angle on which to write your common topic. Writing articles is an art—intrigue the reader with a new perspective, new information, or a new how-to. Give the reader something to ponder once they put the magazine down on the coffee table.

In the past, magazine articles might contain three to five main points. This has changed during the past ten years. Because our culture has a short attention span, it’s now best to find one strong point and weave it throughout entire article. The length of an entire article should be between 500-1500 words. Again, in the past, the length of articles was much longer, but editors are now looking for shorter manuscripts. Don’t bore the reader with unnecessary words; keep your writing fresh, crisp and readable.

Today’s assignment: Read current issues of several magazines. Consider if there is a topic that you would like to write about with your own passion and perspective. Next week we’ll discuss the skeleton of a great article.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,