Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
From October 4 to 7, magazine writers and editors from Japan, Malaysia, India, United Kingdom, and the Philippines listened to us trainers as we shared about the calling of the Christian writer and the craft of writing and editing magazine articles. I particularly shared about the keys to powerful writing and got the participants busy with some writing exercises.
While writing this, I received an email from one of the participants from Japan. She informed me that she and her colleagues will be sharing to their editor-in-chief the things that they’ve learned while in the conference. During the conference also, a Filipina participant asked me if she could save a soft copy of my presentation. She anticipated echoing the seminar to her coworkers in the communication department of their institution.
I have been privileged to coach these brothers and sisters along with trainers Dr. Michael Ray Smith and Kim Snider. Dr. Smith is an award-winning writer, photojournalist, academic and conference speaker, and professor in communications at Campbell University (http://www.maryanndiorio.com/blog/archives/general/000413.php). On the other hand, Kim Snider is the editor of Moms magazine (http://www.apmedia.org/site/moms/) and coordinator of print publishing for Asia Pacific Media Ministries.
I could not have done my part during the conference if God had not empowered me. Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng showed their destructive force but God is continually building up people’s lives through the powerful writing of those whom He has called.
You may view pictures of the conference by clicking on this link http://www.facebook.com/marlene.legaspi.munar#/album.php?aid=115390&id=684578540
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
It’s not surprising then that my first writing job was as a staff writer for a lifestyle magazine. It was a short stint, but I really learned a lot of things. Aglow Christian Magazine had just been out in the market for a month or so when I applied as a writer. I was a nervous neophyte but ambivalently, I was also eager to write just about anything. Looking back, I am thankful that I was given the chance to do just that. I interviewed celebrities, wrote cover stories, features, fillers, devotional, how-to-articles, and even restaurant reviews.
Writing for the magazine enabled me to express my God-given creativity and to communicate a Christian perspective. Years later, I would appreciate even more the value of a magazine that communicates the gospel when I saw my ten-year-old daughter reading a magazine. A few minutes later, I saw her crying, still holding the magazine. I asked her why, and she answered, “I just realized…I need Jesus Christ in my life.”
God can use a magazine and its magazine writers to proclaim the good news. As we magazine writers seek to hone our skills, we can be more effective messengers of glad tidings. Magazine Training International will be holding a conference in Manila, Philippines on Writing Effective Magazine Articles from October 4-7. I am privileged to be one of the trainers. For details about this course and inquiries on registration, please visit http://www.magazinetraining.com/UpcomingConferences/mticonf_Writers/. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A colleague was wowed when I told her about this realization. I was also caught by surprise. Until last Sunday, I wasn’t counting the years; I was just writing and writing, following God’s leading. Others may be amazed at such staying power, but others in the know are probably wondering how I’ve survived. Writers, like artists, don’t get rich (unless they’re a Stephen King or a local history textbook writer whose textbooks have been used for decades in most public and private schools in the country).
But I’d like to believe that God is using me to leave behind a “rich” legacy to my present and future readers. A college friend told me that to leave a legacy you have to plant a tree, bear children, and write a book. I am grateful that God has opened the doors for me and enabled me to write a short fiction book (on the theme of finding and receiving love through forgiveness); a Bible-based Values textbook for Grade 3 published by Glad Tidings Publishing (http://www.gtpicomm.com/) used in several private schools for the past 10 years; and another Bible-based Values curriculum for Voice Philippines (http://www.voice-phils.com/) which uses the material in partnership with churches in 115 public schools. The opportunity to shape young minds is an awesome privilege and a serious responsibility. I give all the glory to God for using me as His instrument to write all these and many other devotionals, articles, radio scripts, and translations.
But on the other side of the writer’s legacy is the writer’s process. God led me through many difficult, challenging phases of writing. From a staff writer, I moved on to freelance for both Christian and secular market, for both local and a few international publications. In my earlier days, I would write for free or for a measly honorarium. I would write and rewrite articles. I would imaginatively and diligently craft book proposals that would later be rejected and cause me to doubt my worth as a writer. I’ve battled with pride (especially when a peer was praised and my byline was erased) and impatience (often with the release of a payment). I’ve drunk cups of coffee and stayed up until dawn to beat deadlines. I’ve cried too many times asking for more rewarding projects and prayed almost all the time for wisdom and strength to write every assignment.
Yet, I continue. The words of God have been my comfort, hope, and direction. The God who called me to the ministry of writing reminds me of my calling. As the writer of 1 John says, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:3-4).
Through my writings, I want others to know more about God and His grace through Jesus Christ. I want to encourage them to keep trusting God in their daily lives. I am still in the process of becoming a writer useful to God. So I keep on learning. I scavenge for books on writing from book sales; I browse websites on writing; I network with other writers; I attend seminars and workshops on writing and publishing; and yes, I am still hoping I could attend this year’s LittWorld, a Christian publishing conference to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from November 1-6.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Two days later, I decided to visit an old aunt whom I haven’t seen in perhaps a year. She was out of the house when I arrived, but my cousin and his wife were around to welcome me. My cousin, whom I haven’t seen in a while, excitedly told me the good news.
“God is so good! If it were not for Him, we would not have this new business.” I listened with curiosity, because just a year ago, this same cousin was in distress due to financial problems.
“We asked God for help, and one time, when she was praying,” he said, referring to his wife, “she opened the Bible and saw a verse in Deuteronomy 30 saying something about returning to the Lord and obeying Him so we can see our fortunes restored. We believed it and then God suddenly opened the doors for us.”
From fish processing, they diversified into high-end meat products. They are new in the field, but this early, their clients already include five-star hotels and a well-known supermarket. “We just started but how come we were able to get those clients? Only God could open these doors!”
I agreed and rejoiced with them, especially when I remembered how they struggled earlier and how God has rescued them now. “That’s the favor of God!” I exclaimed. God is gracious and merciful. And God’s favor includes opening doors that man can’t open and can’t close either.
Before I went out of their door that day, I also experienced an overflow of God’s favor.
“We’ll give you some of our products,” my cousin and his wife said. Then they took out a chunk of raw pink salmon and several smoked chicken breasts. In the next breath, he brought out sausages and franks and rattled off their names which to me sound foreign, except for cocktail franks. There’s kielbasa, chipolata, and chorizo Mexicano. All mine for free. I didn’t have to buy them from the grocery. Now that’s favor from God!
Whether you’re desperate and at the end of your rope (like my cousin was), or even when you’re not desperate (like we were) and just longing for something you haven’t tasted in a while, or wanting to attend the next LittWorld, God’s grace and favor is available through His Son Jesus Christ. God is gracious .
Friday, May 29, 2009
GOD does, says Pearl during our morning devotion on the third day of Littworld. Pearl is an author and mentor of writers in Trinidad. She puts forth Psalm 68:11 to support her claim. The King James Version of the Bible says it so aptly, “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” The Amplified Bible magnified the thought by saying, “The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.”
I listened intently to Pearl. I was drawn to what the Spirit of God was saying through her. I took down notes as she shared the word of God and her journey as a writer. I scribbled the following on my notebook:
God is the source of our creativity and vision. Wait on God to get vision from God. God sends His Word to us daily, sufficient for each day—not to be hoarded but gathered, distributed to the household. If God offers us fresh manna daily, how dare we serve a stale revelation to others? Gather while it’s still fresh and publish it quickly. If we neglect to promptly deliver the message to others, He will find someone else to do it.
I gathered from Pearl other important things that a writer should remember: that writing is a craft; that writers should write and rewrite; and that as people involved in publishing, we are ambassadors of Christ. But more than that, the Spirit of God etched in my heart the conviction that to be a writer of God I have to be a woman of the Word of God. I have to read it, study it, apply it, proclaim it. I am called by the foremost Publisher to publish His Word, and oh, what a great privilege, what a great calling, what a great responsibility.
All through out the time that Pearl was sharing, tears blurred my eyes, and I could not speak. My head commanded my hand to record quickly the message being proclaimed so that later on, I could go back to the message again and again. It is clear. My heart was captured by God, and my spirit surrendered willingly. The Lord has given His word, and I am among those that publish it.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The second day of LittWorld started with a devotion shared by one of the participants. It was wonderful to start the day with a focus on the Word of God. Using John 20:31, the speaker spoke about the power of a new life in Christ and the power of the printed page.
Later, we had a general session on how publishers in difficult places such as
Two sets of eight elective workshops on different topics were held simultaneously on the second day. There were so many interesting workshops to choose from: financial management of the publishing house, keeping staff, illustrating children’s books, dealing with problem manuscripts, investigative reporting, technology in publishing, organizing your work, designing, marketing strategy, children’s curriculum, and others. Although I am primarily a writer, I wanted to attend the other workshops so I could also learn about the other fields of publishing. But due to some conflicts in time and my immediate interest, I decided to attend the workshops on writing the personal experience story and cross-cultural issues in translation.
Before the day was over, participants were given the chance to have a personal consultation with their preferred resource person. I had the privilege of meeting fiction author Robin Jones Gunn and so I didn't lose time to ask her about refining my focus of writing and dealing with editors. She was very kind and very encouraging. Workshops and consultations like this in LittWorld conferences enable me to glean ideas for improving my ministry. I wish others in the publishing and writing ministry would also be able to attend the next LittWorld in Kenya.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I was excited to meet Robin because I had earlier read a Tagalog translation of one of her fiction books titled Secrets. I spent much of my high school years reading secular romance novels, so when I became a Christian and discovered Robin's romantic novel, I was delighted. I must admit I was star-struck seeing author Robin Jones Gunn. I couldn't believe I was sitting in the room listening to her and Lawrence's valuable writing tips. If it had not been for God who brought me half-around the world to Brazil, I wouldn't be here learning from the pro. Let me share some of the nuggets of wisdom that Lawrence Darmani and Robin Jones Gunn shared in that session for writers:
"Great books have been born out of a tiny idea that was captured and not forgotten."
"Effective writers don't abandon their manuscripts. They finish them."
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm (Churchill)."
"We are Christians before we are writers."
Another highlight for me for the day was the privilege to be one of the two participants to lead in the opening prayer during the opening night program. Sirima Githinji of Kenya prayed in his native Swahili while I prayed in Tagalog. Before the 200 or so participants in that room, I uttered a thanksgiving to God and asked for God's grace, wisdom, and strength to sustain us in the next days to come, and for Him to enlarge our vision to publish for His glory.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Since Brazil is well-known for its coffee, I bought some packs to bring home to my friends and donors. I also bought several biscuits. And since I collect key chains, I bought a few chains too with the flag or map of Brazil engraved on them. It took me a while to make calculations as I do the purchase because this was my first time to deal with real, Brazil's currency. Actually, my mind was making calculations in three currencies- in real, in dollars, and in pesos (my country's currency)! With a few items and souvenirs on hand, we went back to Atibaia.
More participants from other countries have started arriving--others exhausted but relieved to be at the hotel, others happy to find familiar faces from previous Littworlds, others perhaps a bit nervous for being in a new place surrounded by people who speak a different language--yet all, I believe, look forward to a refreshing week of publishing conference.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
After a week’s stay in
Our flight was a bit delayed that’s why it was already around 9:00 p.m. when I arrived at the airport. I had earlier informed the Littworld organizers of my expected arrival time so that they could arrange someone to meet me at the airport. Every one of the participants would be welcomed by someone from the local host and bring them to Atibaia Resort Hotel, the conference venue. I scanned the arrival area for someone carrying a “LITTWORLD” sign, but found no one. I thought maybe the one who was supposed to fetch me left for a while when I did not arrive as scheduled. But I was confident they would look for me.
After a few more minutes of waiting and searching, I decided to scribble the words “LITTWORLD” in my notebook. I lifted up my hurriedly made sign, hoping someone from the welcoming committee would spot me. As I turned around, I saw a lady, holding up a “LITTWORLD” sign as well, with a luggage in tow just like me.
Our eyes met, and almost simultaneously we asked each other, “Littworld? Are you attending Littworld?” We both nodded, happy to find each other. It felt good to find another participant to the conference, especially since we’re both, at that moment, finding our way through. After exchanging names, Sawsan (from
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Old Opera House in Frankfurt
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
As soon as we reached Eisenach, Tita Glen decided I should not miss the chance to savor Germany’s favorite, Thuringian bratwurst. After all, the famous bratwurst originated in this region, Thuringia, of which Eisenach is a part of.
A view of Eisenach from the Wartburg Castle
We took a taxi to reach Wartburg Castle which is nestled on top of the hill. A tall German and English-speaking lady led us to a tour of the castle into the knights’ hall, the dining hall, chapel, the women’s quarter called Elizabeth’s bower (after St. Elizabeth of Hungary who married the landgrave of Thuringia Ludwig IV), and the banquet hall.
Outside Wartburg Castle
After our stroll in the palace, we roamed freely in the museum of the castle which showcases artifacts from the Reformation, including weapons, furniture, and writings of Luther. From there we went to the Lutherstube, the room where Martin Luther stayed while translating the New Testament. While laboring over the translation, Luther remarked, “I battle against the devil with the ink.” As a Christian writer and translator on my way to Littworld, an international publishing conference, I find that remark significant. Every attempt to write and translate the message of truth and grace (and have it published) is a warfare against the dark, evil forces.
Museum of Reformation artifacts
I may be going ahead of my story, but days later, at the Littworld conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I made sure I attended the workshop on the topic of translating. Also, as I walked from our villa to the auditorium and conference rooms where plenary sessions and workshops are conducted, I realized that the organizers have named the alleys where the villas of the participants are located. They named the alleys after famous Christian personalities who were somehow involved in publishing. I noticed the alley names about two days into the conference already. The name of my alley? Martin Luther.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Inside the high speed train ICE with a stewardess
The cobbled streets of Lutherstadt
The Rathaus (Cityhall); Right in front is Luther's monument
Martin Luther's monument
Luther's 95 theses
I am at a loss for words to describe how I felt as I walked through these great historical places. It was a rare opportunity to be in the very place where God moved at a critical time in the development of the church. It was here in Wittenburg, Germany in the 16th century where God stirred up Martin Luther with the revelation that salvation is by grace through faith alone. I was grateful and privileged, but beyond this, I know I have to keep in mind of the danger of building monuments while refusing to flow with the movement of the Spirit of God.