National Honey Month

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

I Love Honey!

I know I say that about a lot of things, but it’s because I enjoy life so much and I embrace the many good things God has given us mere mortals to enjoy. And, my dear blogger friends, that includes honey. And so, honey must be the foundation for this week’s One Another Living Challenge.

I thought about challenging you to include honey in your daily diet in some form or fashion, but you might conclude I am on the payroll of some local beekeeper’s union.  So that is not the challenge,. But adding honey to your diet won’t kill you, it probably will help you and it sure is tasty. And it is best, or so I’ve heard, to consume locally “grown” honey to help with allergies. Honest, I’m not on anyone’s “honey payroll.”  I Just Love Honey!

Then I thought about challenging you to express to your “Honey”, whomever that may be, and in whatever creative way that comes to mind, how much you love them, cherish them and honor them.  If that were this week’s challenge, I would actually challenge you to do that everyday for the next 7 days and just see what positive changes will come about simply because you actually express how special your “Honey” is to you. But, alas, that is not this week’s challenge.

Then I thought about challenging you to think wisely about our Father’s command to Adam, and through generations…to us, to rule over the all that is in the Earth. If this were the challenge this week I would ask you to do some serious soul searching as to just what kind of “rulers” we’ve been over this precious gift called, Earth.

I would ask this because of the perilous plight of the honey bee and I would give you a little education on how their dwindling numbers are already causing difficulty for our world and if it continues will effect many food sources, not just honey. (No I’m not a tree hugger or a paid lobbyist for the honey federation.) I’m just concerned that we, especially born-again believers, are so paranoid to be associated with radicals, that we aren’t very good “rulers.” We take our environment and world for granted, and just like any relationship, when we take them for granted they usually go down the tubes.

“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (NASB)

But, alas, the challenge to be “good rulers” is not this week’s challenge. But, you can Google honey bees and see for yourself…just because.

No, none of the above is this week’s challenge.

This week’s challenge is to take time to connect in a meaningful way with your grandparents or if they are no longer living, your children’s grandparents (your parent’s) or if you don’t have kids…somebody’s grandparents.

What do grandparents have to do with honey? Everything!

One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting with my dad’s parents at our kitchen table in the mid-afternoon for tea. My grandparents were British through and through and it just would not do to go through an afternoon without tea. My tea was mostly milk with a dab of tea in it, but Grandpa H. liked his tea strong and Grandma H. liked her tea with just a little cream and 2 lumps of sugar. At least that’s what I remember. I was all of five or six so some of it is fuzzy.

What I do remember very clearly was always and I mean always fresh honey was available and liberally used on whatever cracker, bagel or baguette was offered at the time. And I clearly remember Grandpa and I  dabbing a little on our cookies when Grandma wasn’t looking. It was our little secret. Grandpa loved his honey. And so did I!

Grandpa died while living with us. One day my brother walked into their living area and chatted with Grandpa for awhile, probably about sports. He was sitting in his favorite chair. I’ve often wondered why people, especially grandparents, have favorite chairs. Anyway, they finished their conversation. Then within seconds of each other my brother went out to play whatever sport was in season and Grandma returned from the bedroom. She found her husband eternally asleep.

Grandma moved in with her daughter after that and I never had daily “tea” again. I missed it and I missed them. That was oh so many ages ago, but the precious memory of being delighted with tea and honey and the company of my grandparents is fresh and sweet every time I pop open the lid of my honey bear!

Don’t let a precious memory pass you by. It was Grandparents Day on Sunday, but I think our grandparents are worth more than just one day, don’t you?

I’d love to hear about a precious memory of your grandparents and how they impacted your life.

Turn Write Series with Guest: Author Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt’s unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams.

Janalyn also writes western romance novels, and will publish in that genre under Janalyn Irene Voigt. She is represented by Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary. She serves as a literary judge for several national contests and is an active book reviewer. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA.

When she’s not writing, Janalyn loves to find adventures in the great outdoors.

We welcome Janalyn to the Turn Write Series. Be sure to leave her a comment at the conclusion of this post and be entered to win a free copy of her just released novel, DawnSinger.

Capture a Wide Audience Walt Disney’s Storytelling Techniques

“I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination” ~ Walt Disney.

Each morning during my visit to Disneyland when the rope dropped to allow guests into the park a spontaneous cheer rose from the waiting crowd. Why? What brought people from all over the world and united them with happy expectation? And how can I allow this happy magic to inform my own writing?

The answers take us straight into the heart of Disneyland — to Walt Disney himself. He’s present in every corner of the park, beside you as you fly with Peter Pan, fight with the Force, adventure Indiana-Jones-style or ride a runaway train in the Old West. Walt Disney’s appeal goes beyond his fine understanding of story, evidenced by the following quote:

“If I can’t find a theme, I can’t make a film anyone else will feel. I can’t laugh at intellectual humor. I’m just corny enough to like to have a story hit me over the heart…” ~ Walt Disney. 

From this quote, a writer can draw the following inferences:

  • A story needs a theme.
  • Be real to reach readers.
  • To touch others, engage your own emotions as you write.

Walt Disney detailed the elements present in his stories:

“My entertainment credo has not changed a whit. Strong combat and soft satire are in our story cores. Virtue triumphs over wickedness in our fables. Tyrannical bullies are routed or conquered by our good little people, human or animal. Basic morality is always deeply implicit in our screen legends. But they are never sappy or namby-pamby. And they never prate or preach. All are pitched toward the happy and satisfactory ending. There is no cynicism in me and there is none allowed in our work.” ~ Walt Disney. 

To emulate Disney’s formula:

  • Build your story around strong conflict and soft satire.
  • Allow good to win over evil through your character’s virtues.
  • Allow morality to inform your story world.
  • Never manipulate with sappiness (excessive emotion without cause).
  • Don’t let your storytelling become wishy-washy or run-of-the-mill. Know what you want to express and do so in a unique way.
  • Don’t lecture the reader.
  • Don’t preach at the reader.
  • Develop your story toward a satisfying conclusion. As Walt Disney put it: “A good ending is vital to a picture, the single most important element, because it is what the audience takes with them out of the theater.”
  • Don’t allow cynicism to enter your writing.

Walt Disney’s insights into storytelling were matched by his equally keen understanding of his audience:

“You don’t build it for youself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”  

Disney’s opinion flies in the face of the popular notion that writers should write to please themselves. Contrary to today’s pursuit of niche markets, Disney successfully defined a wide audience for his work:

“To captivate our varied and worldwide audience of all ages, the nature and treatment of the fairy tale, the legend, the myth have to be elementary, simple. Good and evil, the antagonists of all great drama in some guise, must be believably personalized. The moral ideals common to all humanity must be upheld. The victories must not be too easy. Strife to test valor is still and will always be the basic ingredient of the animated tale, as of all screen entertainments”

–Walt Disney. 

Let’s review how to capture a wide audience:

  • Maintain a simple focus in your storyline.
  • Believably personalize good and evil (no cardboard characters)
  • Uphold universally-held moral ideals.
  • Keep tension high with conflict to
  • Don’t give away the ending with a too-easy resolution. Make your characters work for victory.

If Disney’s formula for success seems calculated for profit, think again. I’ll let Walt Disney explain for himself:

“I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was to ever grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds”

–Walt Disney.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all for winning against the odds.

Janalyn Voigt’s DawnSinger

The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Book Trailer  Purchase DawnSinger from Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Connect with Janalyn: or

Don’t forget to leave a comment below and be entered to win a free copy of DawnSinger

Turn Write Series-An Interview with Kathy Tyers

Today I have the privilege of sharing an interview graciously given by Speculative Fiction author Kathy Tyers. I first met Kathy through the Speculative Fiction email Loop of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers.)  At the time I had no idea the extent of her author experience or wealth of knowledge she would humbly impart to this fledgling author. I would learn these truths when I participated in a Webinar taught by Kathy through the Christian Writers Guild.

I have come to deeply respect Kathy, not just for her great books, but more for her heart for the craft of writing and for those who strive to master it. If you like science fiction and fantasy or just love a good read from quality authors, I know you will enjoy Kathy’s books and her message.

You can visit Kathy at: or on Facebook at:

And you can find her most recent projects, including the Annotated Firebird Trilogy, at Marcher Lord Press.

Please Welcome, Kathy Tyers


Kathy Tyers has published ten novels in the Christian and general markets, including two authorized novels for the Star Wars expanded universe. If she isn’t writing, she might be teaching a flute lesson, mentoring a hopeful author via the Christian Writers Guild, or battling quackgrass in her vegetable garden. Kathy lives in Montana, has one son and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

  1. How long have you been writing Speculative Fiction? Have you ever written in any other genre? Non-fiction?

I’ve written speculative fiction since 1983. That summer, I found myself inspired by the third Star Wars film, “Return of the Jedi;” the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird’s air show in my home town; and my infant son’s two-hour naps. Yes, I’ve also written a bit in other genres. Several years ago, one of my friends produced a series of coffee-table books and asked me for a text for Exploring the Northern Rockies. I also assisted my friend, guitarist Christopher Parkening, with his memoir Grace Like a River.

2. Why do you like writing Speculative Fiction and what got you started?

It’s a genre I have enjoyed reading since I was about eleven. A friend gave me a copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and I liked it so much I went looking for more at the public library. I started writing Firebird that summer of 1983, then joined a local writers group and learned to self-edit. That group changed my life. I’d never dreamed there was so much more to storytelling than simply putting ideas on paper.

3. Those of us writing Speculative Fiction in the 21st Century have the groundwork and inspiration laid by you and others to help us in our writing and publication. Who laid the foundation for you? Why were they inspirational to you?

I’m sure that my junior-high and high-school trips through Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings laid the groundwork for a love of a well-crafted imaginary world. I love the writing styles of Dorothy L. Sayers and Lois McMaster Bujold, among others. I’ve also enjoyed C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, although some of their novels seemed too dense to enjoy until I grew up a bit! My favorite end-times novel is the little-known Father Elijah by Michael O’Brien, since it approaches the apocalypse from an unexpected direction. No spoilers here!

4. The Annotated Firebird Trilogy is available from Marcher Lord Press. I remember last year I was the reporter for Jeff Gerke’s session for the 2011 ACFW Conference and he was so excited to announce its release. Tell us about the process and experience of doing this annotation and working with MLP.

It was fun to read all three novels after a long time away, reminiscing with a book and a legal pad, making notes whenever a plot event (or prop, or character’s name, or anything else) stirred a memory. Jeff was gracious enough to let me come up with as many annotations as I liked, without setting an upper limit. We knew the book was going to be mighty thick, even without annotations.

5. Why do you think some fans of Christian Fiction struggle with the concept of coupling a Christian worldview with Speculative Fiction writing?  Give an argument or two for why this skeptic reader should read Daystar, Firebird or other quality Science Fiction and Fantasy.

A tragically high number of Christians in our culture seem to think that science fiction, fantasy, etc. is harmful or even Satanic. But I disagree. I’ve read many speculative novels (not all of them written for the Christian market!) that wake the sense of the numinous and illustrate truths about God and His kingdom. Readers today have been raised in an entertainment-rich but joy-impoverished culture. They’re starved for stories that affirm something they know deep in their hearts — that God is real, truth is deep, and there is joy beyond all sorrows — and they’ve almost forgotten how to believe in the unseen. Something wonderful really is out there! By writing speculative fiction, we can help those joy-starved readers realize that deep down, they still have a spark of God-given faith. They yearn for the Holy Spirit. They want to find God. We can link that longing with spiritual reality.

6. Can you divulge what is up ahead for you as an author and Christ Follower?

I’m listening for God’s voice and watching for his leadings, and meanwhile I’m doing more mentoring and freelance editing than original writing. That, however, is subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Kathy, thank you for sharing with us today. We deeply appreciate your generous gift of time and expertise.