Elizabeth Sherrill Master’s Writing Workshop—Tuesday

Authors of such Christian classics as The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), Cross and the Switchblade (David Wilkerson), and God's Smuggler (Bro. Andrew), Elizabeth and John Sherrill have ghostwritten, co-authored and edited more books and articles than I can grasp. They were editors and contributors of the Guideposts Magazine back in the day when people thought it was a travel magazine, if they’d heard of it all. The Sherrills traveled coast-to-coast, up to Alaska and around the world, writing over two thousand stories of real people and the great work God had performed in their lives. In April 2012, I had the privilege of attending Elizabeth Sherrill’s Master’s Writers Workshop. The week I spent at YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Woodcrest was so huge it’s hard to approach in a mere blog post. So I’m going to make it a six part series, taking it one day at a time with the hope I can be as interesting my witty teachers.

Tuesday—Meetings and…Meetings

The whirlwind continued on Day Two. I couldn’t take notes fast enough, laugh hard enough, and thank God enough times for letting me sit and learn under master storytellers.

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The joy and excitement bubbled over that evening when I hosted my group, Christian Writers Gathering. Yes, my mom picked me up from the Woodcrest facilities and drove home that evening for a quick shower and prep for the Gathering. I left the campus in such a tizzy I forgot to grab my makeup bag and hairbrush. Ah well. There are more important things in life.

April’s Gathering was special in that we celebrated our one year anniversary as a group with renting the historic Blackwell House and enjoying refreshments. I couldn’t stop myself from sharing story after story I’d heard in just two days, and I included Elizabeth Sherrill’s Seven Steps to Publication, and her manuscript evaluation formula.

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Somewhere around eleven that night, I made it back to my dorm room. I settled in for another attempt at sleep, still pinching myself.

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Next post I share a confirmation for my mission in writing. And also a picture of “Lake” YWAM.

Are you part of a writing group or book club? What do you share at it?

 

Elizabeth Sherrill Master’s Writing Workshop—Monday

Authors of such Christian classics as The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), Cross and the Switchblade (David Wilkerson), and God's Smuggler (Bro. Andrew), Elizabeth and John Sherrill have ghostwritten, co-authored and edited more books and articles than I can grasp. They were editors and contributors of the Guideposts Magazine back in the day when people thought it was a travel magazine, if they’d heard of it all. The Sherrills traveled coast-to-coast, up to Alaska and around the world, writing over two thousand stories of real people and the great work God had performed in their lives. In April 2012, I had the privilege of attending Elizabeth Sherrill’s Master’s Writers Workshop. The week I spent at YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Woodcrest was so huge it’s hard to approach in a mere blog post. So I’m going to make it a six part series, taking it one day at a time with the hope I can be as interesting my witty teachers.

Monday—A Day with God’s Greats

I didn’t sleep much Sunday night. Much of the night was spent watching for the dawn, waiting for my alarm to go off. I was up getting dressed before it had the chance.

No one else at the dorms did much breakfast, so it was just me most mornings. I didn’t mind. It was good quiet time and a peaceful view.

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I was the first in the classroom, straightening things and asking Joyce what she needed done. I folded name table tents and tried to meet people as they came in. I knew some.

I saw Elizabeth and John Sherrill when they arrived but was too busy lining out last minute arrangements to introduce myself. That was okay. I sat across from Ms. Elizabeth the whole week.

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Phyllis, sister of Janice Cunningham Rogers and Loren Cunningham, led our first devotion of the week, regaling us with stories of their humble beginnings including the time she and her husband were down to their last set of wheels. It had carpet on the dashboard and they had to tie the muffler up.

“God took care of our pride real quick.”

Loren Cunningham and his sisters Janice and Phyllis

Then Elizabeth Sherrill prepared to take charge. She didn’t care for the table set up, putting her at the head. She moved to the side, and we rearranged the other end so that everyone faced each other as much as possible. She called it the “editorial board.” All the writers were on it. She partnered us with the person on our left, to serve as their “editor,” the one who would start the evaluation of the manuscript.

Ms. Elizabeth passed the mic around for us to introduce ourselves, talk about our writing and what our ultimate goal was. I’d established mine some time back:

To meet someone in heaven who says, “I’m here because of the stories you wrote.”

I know Elizabeth Sherrill will have that. There were people in that room who had were saved and dedicated their life to ministry after reading one of the Sherrill’s books.

Right off that first day, my story came around for critique, to be used as a teaching tool, good or bad. I wasn’t nervous. Much. Just thought about stepping out of the room for the whole time…

Really, it wasn’t so bad. The main thing that came out was my lack of enthusiasm for research. Then I got to talk about my novel (Update: I finished the first draft in February, 2013). Everyone liked the premise, giving me another spur in the side to get it done.

That first day, I felt comfortable with everyone, with my place at the table. We were writers, trying to figure it all out and knowing we wouldn’t before our lives ended. But this was the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest Christian writers of our time.

Around noon that day, we had a special visitor, Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM and the one credited with Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God. The Sherrills worked on that book with his sister, Janice, who co-wrote with him.

I sat stunned at the stories that poured out of him, the laughter, and the connection between old friends. For only the second time ever, four special people were together in one place—the Sherrills, Loren Cunningham, and Janice Rogers.

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After an hour and telling about the thousands of militants coming out of the jungle after YWAMers ministered to them, Mr. Cunningham leaned forward. “I said all that to say this—we need more Christian writers!”

I’ll never forget those words.

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The day was far from over as we all packed up after dinner and headed to one of my mentor’s home, the one God used to get me in that week, Sandi and Scott Tompkins. There, we stuffed with desserts and sat around for an open questions time with the pros.

How do I describe such a mind-blowing experience of the stories that poured out, the theories about Christian media, trans media, filmmaking, writing, and culture today in America? Why didn’t I have a recorder?

See me on the floor? I was literally sitting at their feet to learn...

The evening ended way too soon.

In the next post are details of how the workshop proceeded.

Special thanks to Scott Tompkins for most of these photos!

What’s your ultimate goal with the life God has given you? Do you realize you are one of God’s great?

Elizabeth Sherrill Master’s Writing Workshop—Introduction

Authors of such Christian classics as The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), Cross and the Switchblade (David Wilkerson), and God's Smuggler (Bro. Andrew), Elizabeth and John Sherrill have ghostwritten, co-authored and edited more books and articles than I can grasp. They were editors and contributors of the Guideposts Magazine back in the day when people thought it was a travel magazine, if they’d heard of it all. The Sherrills traveled coast-to-coast, up to Alaska and around the world, writing over two thousand stories of real people and the great work God had performed in their lives. In April 2012, I had the privilege of attending Elizabeth Sherrill’s Master’s Writers Workshop. The week I spent at YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Woodcrest was so huge it’s hard to approach in a mere blog post. So I’m going to make it a six part series, taking it one day at a time with the hope I can be as interesting my witty teachers.

Sarah Elisabeth with Elizabeth Sherrill

Sunday—New Friends

Last minute plans in place, a week’s worth of work done in a day, frantic packing, and then we were on the rainy road for the thirty minute drive to YWAM Woodcrest on that Sunday evening. I hadn’t been there before, but it wasn’t hard to find back in the lovely piney woods of East Texas.

My mama helped me unload at the building that contained the classroom, Resonate News office, and upstairs’ dorm. With no one around, we found the office with my new friend, the copy machine. After playing with it a bit, my other new friend, Joyce, arrived and showed me how to operate the machine we’d run manuscript copies through. I estimate we handled about 3600 sheets by the end of the week.

Joyce and I with a small stack of our duties. Help!

Finally, I met my roommate, Meliza. She settled me in my room, showed me where the important things were, i.e. restrooms and the separate kitchen building.

Meliza, my sweet Philippine friend!

I spent an hour and a half making copies and stapling them together. Four manuscripts, 4-6 pages each, 25 stacks. This is what’s known as “working your way through.” I was blessed with that opportunity.

Too much excitement pumping through my veins, I laid awake that night, only imagining what meeting Elizabeth and John Sherrill in person would be like.

In the next post, you’ll read about the first day of the workshop and a special visit and stories from Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth with a Mission (YWAM).

Have you read one of Elizabeth and John Sherrill’s books? How did it impact your life?

Update: I recently saw on Facebook where the Sherrills were flying to London for their 65th wedding anniversary!

My Writing Life Today - National Museum of the American, Choctaw Spirit, Book Fun Magazine, First Monday Insider, Camp NaNoWriMo…

When my dad passed, I cleared everything off my agenda I possibly could, including this blog. After over seven months and nearly completing my NMAI Program, I’m slowly taking things back on again. I’m starting back up here with a quick overview of my writing life as it looks today.  

Sarah Elisabeth

 

Book Fun Magazine Column: Choctaw Spirit

I haven’t mentioned I have a monthly column in Book Fun Magazine, have I? You can find direct links to my past articles in this blog post: Choctaw Spirit in Book Fun Magazine

Join 30,000 plus other subscribers and get the free digital publication every month: Book Fun Magazine

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Artist Leadership Program

You can see more photos and articles about our D.C. adventure on ChoctawSpirit.com

I just completed my Workshop portion of the program. I’m thrilled with how it went overall. The 20 participants I had were amazing, and I look forward to working with them more as we complete the final phase of the program: publishing an anthology of Choctaw Trail of Tears stories. More on that soon.

First Monday Insider

Just past its one year anniversary, I love our micro business, First Monday Insider. I produce two newsletters a month for it, and my mama keeps the Facebook page brimming with great shopper photos and stories. And of course, a blog. If you ever shop First Monday in Canton, Texas, sign up for coupons here: First Monday Insider Coupons

Camp NaNoWriMo

Who says camp is only for the summer and kids? Writers need a retreat too, a time to focus on the bliss of writing. The best part: no bug spray, no packing, no sleeping on the ground is required.

You also don’t get campfire cooking and roasted marshmallows, but you can’t have everything.

In my “spare” time, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, the April edition. Hey, I need to be churning out my next manuscript anyway, so why not have a little fun? You can keep up with my progress over at my LIGHT series blog, www.sesawyer.blogspot.com

 

That’s mostly what my writing life looks like currently. God keeps opening new doors, and that feeling of excitement at what may be next is coming over me. At the same time, the shock of my dad’s passing is wearing off and reality is setting in. I will never hug my daddy again this side of Heaven. I don’t know how to deal with that yet. I can only rest in the hope of Jesus Christ.

Writing helps.

What’s going on in your life right now? Share in the comments

NMAI Artist Leadership Program, and My Life

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." There are not many ways to describe this season in life. One of the worst summers of my life, and it ended with my dad’s passing. Then I got a phone call.

In May, 2012, I had applied for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Artist Leadership Program. Amid the disasters of the summer, I still checked the mailbox every day in August, catching myself going out there on Sundays too. Waiting, waiting for a letter that would either accept me or a say a polite try again.

When I couldn’t stand the suspense anymore, I emailed the director, Keevin Lewis, on August 25. He emailed back with the news he’d been trying to contact my referral, Assistant Chief Gary Batton (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) with a few questions.

I went through the roof, but tried to keep a lid on my excitement. My application was receiving serious consideration, but not granted yet. A few emails later and I had a call time set up for Keevin to reach Gary.

That was Saturday, August 25.

Sunday, August 26

We weren’t expecting it. It shocked. It hurt. It left me empty.

I wrote a poem. We made funeral arrangements. I got another email.

The phone call had gone well, and could Keevin call me today?

No, not today. Tomorrow.

He called. I’d been chosen for the Artist Leadership Program. I cried, extreme happiness and extreme sadness fighting for dominance in my heart. The battle still rages today.

A few of my recent Facebook statuses:

…Life hurts. God heals. In the in between time, we take it day by day and live in His grace and love…

…I'd rather feel pain than feel nothing. Pain lets you know you're still alive. A time of worship can bring everything out, including pain. Not something we want, but something we need…

…Blowing kisses to the sky…

On the happy end, we’re preparing for a two week research trip in Washington, D.C. as part of the Artist program. I’ll conduct research on our Choctaw ancestry at half a dozen facilities, present lunchtime talks to the NMAI staff, and perform two storytelling concerts at the ImagiNations Center at NMAI. How thankful I am to be doing it all with my mama!

An all-expense paid trip to D.C., plus. Yeah, I’m started to feel some excitement. It’s sinking in. Just in time, too. We leave in a few weeks.

Part Two of the program means putting on an Advanced Writing Workshop for the Choctaw Nation in March. Not a bad credit in my writing portfolio.

Split Focus

A day hasn’t passed that I don’t see scenes from August 26. The event shoved me off the cliff for a shattering landing. God put out deep padding to catch us.

This is the best of times, this is the worst of times. But it's all God's time.

Have you lived through the best and the worst at the same time? I’d like to hear your story.