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The Sweet Pineapple Years

- 02/12/09  

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Trainer Network | MAI


February/March 09

In This Issue:
The Sweet Pineapple Years
Pray: Writer Training for New Lebanese Magazine 
Double Your Gift
How to Help Beginning Writers
LittWorld 2009: Hot Incentives to Register Now
Write to Win a Scholarship 

Hi, !

In this issue discover the tangy sweetness of training "senior women writers"
 in the Philippines. Take note from our Australian trainer "down under" on how to launch beginning writers on the write track. And don't miss how you can savor a free mug of Kenya's best coffee or tea to sip alongside your favorite reads!

-Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor


The Sweet Pineapple Years
By Miriam Adeney

Photo: Miriam (right) leads a prayer of dedication for Filipina writer Maria Luz Roncesvalles (center) with Yna Reyes of OMF Literature.

When you bite into a pineapple, the tartness surprises your tongue at the very moment that the sweetness pours over you. As you move toward the middle of the fruit, the sugar increases. Where is a pineapple the sweetest? At the center.

Is it possible that our middle years could be the sweetest years of our lives?  That question teased Nor Gonzalez. Last August, when OMF Literature in the Philippines sponsored a writer workshop, she began crafting a book on the topic of midlife.

Nor was part of the week-long workshop I led for “senior women writers.” A dozen women were invited. Most had impressive resumes in their profession, church service and family life, and were accustomed to public speaking. They brought a wealth of experience, the ability to organize and present ideas, and a readiness to accept criticism so as to improve. 

What They Wrote
“There Is Life with Schizophrenia” was the hair-raising chapter created by psychologist Bolet Bautista for her book, Stories of Hope and Resilience. In a different chapter, Agnes wrote about her stage four breast cancer diagnosis and her encouraging recovery. And Malou wrote about raising her Downs’ syndrome child, who is now a young woman. Throughout Southeast Asia there is already a waiting list for this book of hope.    

Living as a Single Woman is frank and funny but also Scripturally-rich. Though Germaine already lectures on this topic, she wanted to expand her material. Should she include a chapter on adoption, for example? What are the implications when a single Filipina adopts a child?  

Making a Difference in the Workplace was written by Yay for young professionals. Yay is a corporate advertising and marketing executive with 30 years experience. Mayette is developing a book for the huge body of Filipinos who work overseas. Bing is writing a practical and extensive manual, How to Run a Camp.  

Relationships is the focus of most manuscripts. This is not surprising, since Filipinos are remarkably skilled in relationships. Two of the books are for teenagers, a current priority for OMF Lit. One book describes the service activities of Filipino Christian teens. The other explores teen friendships. Sibling rivalry explodes in the first chapter, after which the reader learns how to be a friend even at home.   

What We Studied
Major topics in this workshop were:
*How to Breathe Life into Your Writing
*How to Structure Your Writing
*How to Write Biblically
*How to Write for Filipinos

We circled back to each major topic several times, adding new insights.

Our first challenge was to help the writers hone their topics until they fit clear market niches. When a Christian woman is invited to write her first book, she conscientiously reflects on her life. Often this leads her to choose a “soft” topic, focusing on emotional problems. A market can sustain only a limited number of these books. We had to tackle this.

An afternoon of writing fiction in groups provoked chortles and occasional howls. Rich, harmonious singing and worship every morning bathed us in transcendence, overshadowing differences between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals, wealthy and simple, egalitarian and complementarian. Listening to fine writing read aloud yielded sighs. Individual writing and personal and group critiques were ongoing.

Some of us played badminton, dripping sweat but reveling in the chance to whack something. Eventually we retired to ping-pong inside where it was air-conditioned. Some worked out in a small gym, while others strolled among flowering trees.

“This has been one of the happiest weeks in my 18 years in publishing,” said Yna Reyes, editorial director. “Every book here may be publishable.” She formed an online group to encourage these women who have much to give from the sweet middle years of their lives. 

Miriam Adeney is an associate professor of World Christian Studies at Seattle Pacific University, an MAI Board member and the author of Daughters of Islam. 

Pray: Writer Training for new Lebanese Magazine

MAI will lead a three-day writer workshop March 9 to 11 in Beirut, Lebanon, hosted by Fresh Minds, a culture magazine for the whole family published in Arabic and English. The founder points to her participation at an MAI workshop in Cyprus in 1993 as the inspiration for launching the magazine last year and for equipping writers. Most participants at the March workshop will be journalists and reporters. 

Pray for strength, resources and vision for the leader of Fresh Minds, and that her publishing and training ministry will have a spiritual impact on Lebanese society.

Pray for the partcipation of writers who can effectively contribute to the magazine.

Pray for wisdom and safety for MAI trainers. 

Double Your Gift


Support the creation of  life-changing Christian literature around the globe. Give a scholarship to a deserving man or woman to attend LittWorld


Your gift will double if you donate for the first time or sign up for direct-giving to MAI, thanks to a generous foundation. If you give $25 a month by automatic bank withdrawal or credit card, your gift will be matched each month to total $600 instead of $300.* 


It's easy to donate online.  Download the direct-giving form. 

* Automatic bank withdrawal can only be done within the U.S.

How to Help Beginning Writers

MAI Trainer Owen Salter of Australia reflects on problems common to beginning writers. He offers tips to writer trainers here:

Focus on Focus
Ask writers what they want to communicate to their audience—perhaps an experience, factual information or a call to action. Ask them to pick out the main ideas before and during writing. Offer tips on how to choose a focus that’s right for their topic and the kind of writing they are doing (e.g. article vs. book). Urge them to consider the end goal of their writing. Then have them look at their supporting ideas to make sure they don’t stray off topic.

Provide the Tools to Plan
Walk writers through the planning process. Introduce effective ways to structure writing and encourage writers to choose one before they begin. Consider asking the following questions. How will you introduce your topic and gain reader attention? How will you transition into your main points or the major events in your story? Will you compare and contrast or use chronological order? What will you talk about in each paragraph?

Teach Audience Awareness
Many writers struggle with how to address their audience. Try asking them a couple of simple questions. For whom are you writing? Is your topic appropriate for your audience?  Can they understand and relate to your language and style? Encourage them to imagine how their writing will sound to a reader. Is it too preachy? Would a concrete example help?

Writing by Faith 
Writers have much to think about, but it’s not all about strategy and how we train them. “On a different tack,” says Salter, “We need to consider God’s involvement in the process –what I call writing by faith. Training events tend to be practically oriented, but there is a bigger, equally important picture.”

Taking time to discuss a writer’s personal life of fellowship and how it impacts his or her writing can be a major source of growth and encouragement. 

--Lindsey Griffin, MAI intern

For more tips on writing, check out the publishing resources section of the MAI website.


Hot Incentives to Register Now

Kenya's coffee and tea rank among the world's finest brews. You can savor your own steaming mug of either one if you register by March 31. We'll give you a free bag of Kenya's gourmet coffee or tea upon your arrival at LittWorld. (Only paid registrants are eligible.)

Write to Win a Scholarship 

Tell your friends how they can win scholarship to LittWorld. Submit an original, true story that demonstrates the power of reconciliation through the Gospel in 1,500 words or less. Entries must be received via email by March 31.*

Read the complete guidelines.

*If you submitted an entry but have not heard back from MAI, please contact



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