Welcome

Hello I am Sheila Johnson and welcome to my website and blog. If you want to learn more about me visit the About Me page.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Writing is my calling

I really should post here more often, although I hate to post when I have nothing useful or interesting to say!

I have just returned from an inspiring Lydia prayer conference. Lydia is an organisation of women and we meet to pray for this nation of the UK. I am also a writer as well as a praying woman, prayer is my God given responsibility, writing is my calling. I was inspired while away to read a post from one of my colleagues on the association of Christian writers www.christianwriters.org.uk talking about rejection and how it really hurts each and everyone of us at some time or other. Of course, this is true but I got to thinking about this and this is when I thought that as a Christian I am more than just a writer, this is my calling but I am also a spirit filled Christian. Therefore, although it still hurts I am able to rise above it because my writing isn't everything to me. God is.

I also have a real reason to be grateful today too. I have signed a contract with a publisher for my second book, Tarureka, a book about New Zealand in the nineteenth century and the first pioneers.
What a beautiful land and what a privilege to write about it. So, whether it is successful or not, it's still a privileged calling for which I am very thankful and I look forward to working on the book.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Writing, Racing and the Winning Post

Can't believe it's been over two months since I last posted here! To be honest there hasn't been a whole lot of writing in February either. And to think I started the year so well, thanks to the encouragement of James Prescott and his Facebook writing group https://www.facebook.com/jamespressgang encouraging us to write every day. I think I managed that almost up until mid-February when financial work considerations stepped in. Isn't that always the writer's problem? For most of us writing doesn't pay and so we're forced to seek paid employment. I have two jobs - working two days a week as a receptionist for a Podiatrist - feet guy and then waitressing up at our lovely racecourse whenever I can and there's a major event. I also host two lovely Irish guys once a year for the Festival B & B, biggest event on Cheltenham's calendar with the Gold Cup to play for, or should I say ride for.  This year I was also up at the racecourse for the actual day itself, working, although I didn't even see a single race that day. But the most exciting thing that happened to me in our corporate box was making a cup of tea for the famous jockey A. P McCoy before he had to go on telly!
I wonder too, if I was hearing correctly when he left and I wished him a safe journey home and he said, 'thank you, Sheila'. I'd like to think so!

Anyway, back to writing... At least the Festival stimulated the writer/poet in me and I ended up writing one complete poem and a limerick (how very Irish!), the latter of which I'll share here below.

Yesterday, on Gold Cup day,
I got no tip and minimum pay,
But compensation for my aggravation,
Was serving tea to jockey of the nation, A.P.

With grateful thanks to Tony McCoy!

May I remind my followers too that my book, Alpha Male, has a racecourse scene in it. Please buy to relive the experience.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Rachel Ridler - Guest post

I'm happy to guest blog, Rachel Ridler this month. A Christian blogger and a mum of two young children. Her post challenges me to consider whatever season we're in as Christians, God can and wants to use us. At my stage of life with grown up sons and a bit of freedom before grandchildren I feel I have more time than ever for his purposes, whether through my writing or through my relationships. I am also aware that being in the final third of my life I need to make use of the days left to me. Thank you Rachel for your thoughts here below.


Serving through the seasons

What season do you find yourself in right now?

I am a mum to young children (3 years and 1 years old).   People tell me it’s a busy season to be in, that I have too much on my plate and that I shouldn’t take on too much.  I don’t think they’re completely wrong.  But then I also don’t think it’s an excuse to not spend this season seeking and serving God.

We all know that in life we go through many different seasons and that our roles and responsibilities change alongside that.  Who doesn’t forget their footloose and fancy free days as a child and teenager?  And those who have been or are currently parenting new-born babies will understand the unique challenge that sleepless nights’ present!  I am sure that retirement and all the seasons I have yet to face will bring even more challenges and trials into the mix.

But whatever season you are currently in, please don’t use it as an excuse not to fulfil your commission to serve and make disciples.  Jesus DID NOT SAY “go and make disciples, but only on your good days and only when you are financially secure and only when you are full of energy and enthusiasm and only up until you retire”.  He just said to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

I for one choose to use the unique opportunities I have access to during this season of my life for the benefit of God and his kingdom.  I am using the toddler groups to get to know other mums.  I am using the time at home to be hospitable to others and invite them in for a cuppa which I couldn’t do when I was working full time.  I am trying to pull my children into mission and teaching them to be generous and loving like Jesus was.  In any other season, I wouldn’t be able to reach these people, but amazingly during child-rearing years I have an immediate bond with other mums that opens doors.  So I am choosing to use that to fulfill my commission to go and make disciples.

Back to the question I started with.  What season do you find yourself in right now? And here is a more important question – how are you going to serve God in this season?

Rachel Ridler
http://rachelridlermumonamission.co.uk

Please also view my interview with Naomi Lynas on her blog http://lifebynaomi.com to learn more about me and my book, Alpha Male



Monday, 16 January 2017

2017 New writing challenges and successes

This year has started well for my writing. I have joined James Prescott (Association of Christian Writer's friend) both to review his forthcoming book and to be challenged by him to write every day. Go to  JamesPrescott.co.uk to sign up. Anyway, it has helped me to get into a pattern of writing every day even when I've been at work. Although, having said that, there were two days during the six when I had to cry off due to busyness but at least one was a Sunday when I rarely write anyway. And, Angus, my husband was away most of that week and my commitments were few, also a bonus. So a good discipline but like all disciplines, there is a need to give oneself a break when life marches in and circumstances overtake.

The second bit of news to share, is the publication of a worship anthology of poetry which features both current and past poets, the anthology is called 'Stones before the Ocean' and is edited by Dan Gilbert. It can be viewed at https://archive.org/details/SBTOanthology  - please view my contributions on pages 114 (just after a poem by Charles Wesley) and on 173 (just after G.K.Chesterton). It can also be purchased from the US at http://www.lulu.com/shop/various/stones-before-the-ocean-a-worship-poetry-anthology/paperback/product-23017453.html but unfortunately at an exorbitant price of over £12 when postage is included. I got an earlier copy which was just over £8 with postage included but the price has obviously risen in the last week! Please do have a look if you have the time. These are my first published poems and it's amazing to be in such illustrious company!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Happy Christmas Blogging friends!

To all my blog followers. I hope that the Christmas period will bring you, joy, peace and rest and that the year 2017 will bring you health and blessings, especially success in your writing.

This is going to be a short post as time doesn't allow for anymore. I have already had 'mini-Christmas' this last weekend for my youngest son who is now away in the States visiting a young lady. He is also looking forward to seeing some amazing places like Niagara Falls, Toronto etc. Lucky boy. He will almost certainly experience a white Christmas. Here in the Cotswolds, our Christmas will probably not be white but more wet and misty. Still, it is a time for families to gather together and enjoy a bit of love and R & R. Us writers can hang up our pens now for another year and look forward to more success in 2017. I am now the proud possessor of a Mac Air Book portable computer which will mean that I can now write on the move once I discover the machine's secrets! I also now possess a Kindle which means I can download more of my friends book to enjoy in 2017. Meanwhile I leave you with a picture of me in my kitchen which my son, Adam, very cleverly digitally designed.

Now you can imagine me in my place of work over the Christmas period!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

NaNoWrimo and busyness

NaNoWrimo or write 50,000 words for November is a great concept. Great, that is, if we don't beat ourselves up about it as I have been doing.

Writing 50,000 words in one month is a tall order for most of us in any month, excepting for those lucky writers who can write as a full time job. But even they must be distracted by the everyday trifles of life, like getting meals, shopping, exercise, washing, children etc etc. But for those of us who earn very little through our writing and have to work hard in November to earn some extra cash for Christmas, it can be a rod to beat ourselves with rather than an inspiration. But that's silly. We should be practical and just try to attempt what is physically possible. After all, surely writing is about enjoying the craft and not feeling guilty if you can't?

It reminds me of the advice to the Christian too, to spend sometime each day reading and reflecting on the bible to inspire and help you. Also good advice. This practical advice though, when time is short is to just select one thought or passage to inspire. Perhaps the writer could do something similar in being advised to write each day to perfect the craft? Maybe just write one or two words or sentences? Perhaps 50,000 words indeed but maybe just do the best you can. After all, each step is progress isn't it? And all things considered I'm really enjoying writing my second novel 'Tarureka'.

I would like to pose a further suggestion to  NaNoWrimo. What about changing the month to say January or February? These are cold, dull and thankless months when there are few classes and few reasons to feel cheerful. Surely writing would lend the writer some real excitement as he/she gets immersed in their characters and story-line?  Well, it's something to think about isn't it?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The writer's vision


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

The words of an old Irish hymn but an inspiration to me today and hopefully every day in my writing. 

The last few weeks have been inspiring in terms of workshops and fellowship with other writers. Firstly, there was the Association of Christian Writer's Day on the first Saturday of the month led by writers, Andrew Chamberlain and Amy Boucher-Pye. Andrew spoke all about 'Capturing your reader' with good beginnings and setting scenes. Thought provoking and inspiring. Amy spoke more about her personal journey which was very interesting but shocking to hear that her award winning book 'Finding myself in Britain', although award winning has only sold fourteen hundred copies to date!! The struggling author indeed, particularly the struggling Christian author, surviving in a very small pond.

There followed another workshop a week later as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival with American author, Gareth Greenwell. He was talking about good description and helping us to use all our senses to engage our language, be it prose or poetry. Helpful as I struggle with description and scene setting.

Since then I have experienced a period of discouragement. Firstly, with a short story writing group I've been engaged with going in a new direction and feeling that it was time for me to move on and then in the simple task of ongoing promotion of my book, 'Alpha Male', hard to keep up sales and even harder to get people, who have enjoyed reading it, to review it, like pulling teeth!!

Then today at church we heard about listening to God and I felt the truth of the words of the old hymn I began this blog with 'Be thou my vision'. I then realised that it's not about us and our sales, or even feeling great or successful, it's about Him. His vision, His words 'our true words'. That's why we write as Christians and why I write. Thanks for the reminder, Lord.