How to Become a Writer (if you’re interested)

Did you know that 80 percent of people want to write a book? It’s true, but most of them will never do it. People get intimidated by the work. They don’t know how to find a publisher or even self-publish. They never try, or give up because it seems “too hard.” Anyone can self-publish with tools on-line, and there are ways to get your books printed by paying for it. Whether you self-publish or publish with a traditional publisher (where they pay you an advance), you are still responsible for marketing. Don’t be fooled. Authors are not only writers, they are marketers, “experts,” salespeople, speakers, and we wear many hats!

I would not suggest for you to write a book simply because you want to. You have to practice writing. Millions of people write books, but the majority of them are not any good. You don’t have to be born with the talent, but you do have to practice! You can start by writing for fifteen minutes a day. Keep a diary, journal, or notebook. Write somewhere where you can focus and edit. If you don’t want to write every day, write for one to two hours a week. Three hours of writing per week or more would be an ideal schedule.

You also have to determine your topic. What do you want to write about? Who will be in your audience? Will you write in a blog? You can start a free blog at WordPress.com or Blogger.com. You could also start a blog at WordPress.org but you would have to buy hosting. I purchased a domain at GoDaddy.com for my website. I’m not an affiliate. I’m just giving you ideas for how to get started.

Your writing is not for “everyone.” People who think their blog or book is for everyone are mistaken. I’m sure the topic you choose to write about has been written before. Someone, somewhere may have wanted to encourage others through their personal struggle, or someone may have had a similar idea for a novel.

Don’t let that discourage you. You have to write about something fulfilling. In my Writer’s Guild, I heard a man say he feels “parched” while he writes. I was listening to a live webinar. He was asking our writing coach how to solve this problem. He shouldn’t feel parched, he should feel inspired. You cannot inspire someone else until you inspire you first. My writing is therapeutic for me. I realize things because I write about my own personal life.

Image found on Pinterest

You have to meet with other writers. Book events, conferences, and Writers’ groups are all good places to go to. If you cannot find one nearby, you can have a friend or family member help you. Ask for honest feedback, but also ask they that are not too harsh. Complements with constructive criticism are healthy for you. You have to be willing to learn from others, but you don’t have to get hurt. I’ve had that experience before!

Sometimes we don’t follow our dreams out of fear. You may have a fear of failure, or a fear of not “fitting in” anymore. You may have a fear of going too far! I believe there are endless possibilities for all of us to distribute good in the world, be prominent in business, or successful in some endeavor.

It’s hard work, I’ve stayed up many nights trying to type the right words and the right messages. The high expectations I put on myself are not from the Lord, though. What I mean is, He may have put the idea to write in my heart. But He does not expect perfectionism. In all my articles, I strive to do what I long to–help someone else!

About Zina
Zina Hermez authored the book, Not Without God: A Story of Survival. She works as an English Instructor and has been an educator for more than fifteen years. Her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest posts, newsletters, and medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com
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Its God’s Timing

I think sometimes we expect too much in too little of a time. We don’t like to wait. We get frustrated if we’re in a long line. Through the power of the Internet we have a lot of information right at our fingertips! A student once told me that in her country, you could wait on the cable guy for a couple of days before he comes to resolve the issue with your television. I’m usually able fix any technical problem over the phone.

But we have to understand that in the spiritual realm things work differently. We can’t get what we want quickly, or simply have our dream come true! Success is a process, and so are things like healing and promotion. We have to work hard, and we have to learn to get better and earn what we have. There are no short cuts.

Have you ever heard its “God’s timing” before? God’s timing means you work towards your hopes, dreams, and goals but know that ultimately—you are not the one in control. He wants to promote you. But you have to trust Him. I would rather have God’s timing, it’s better than my own!

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages. Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming challenges, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, the Breathe Writers Conference blog, newsletters, guest posts, and medical journals. To learn more about Zina visit http://zinahermez.com.

Faith as a Mustard Seed

Faith is the ability to see something good in your life with no evidence of it being true. You create the experience. ~Zina

I would like to share a quote from my book, Not Without God: A Story of Survival because I believe it can be helpful. “Life sometimes happens whether we are prepared or not. I had one hope: my faith.” What does this mean to you? When you read this passage, what comes to mind? Let me repeat it: “Life sometimes happens whether we are prepared or not. I had one hope: my faith.”

Could you paraphrase this expression, or interpret it if I asked you to? Feel free to share your thoughts with me. Faith means so much. I would not have come this far without it. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).”

If I didn’t believe this passage, I would not have healed after my accident. I could see myself getting better in the beginning even when I could not move! But it took a lot of faith. Faith is not something you see, you can use it to imagine, to believe that something will happen even when it seems like it won’t!

Faith can be likened to a mustard seed. The Lord said that if you have “faith as small as a mustard seed” nothing will be impossible. So I want to challenge you. How can you have more faith? The kind of faith that can help you overcome. Are you practicing it? Jot down any ideas on how you can expand it. How can you water the mustard seed so that your faith will continue to grow?

 

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages. Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming challenges, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest blogs, newsletters, medical journals, and other publications. To learn more about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com.

A Tribute for My Friend

I attended my friend Chris’s funeral the other day. He died at the tender age of thirty-five. Heart-breaking. Way too young. Sometimes I break out and cry, even when I think I am feeling fine. I can’t believe he’s not with us anymore.

He accepted me with my challenge. Although he lived in another state, he did his best to keep in touch by phone. He never denied his illness, and fought against it all his young life. He never denied being addicted.

With Chris at his sister, Heidi’s house a couple years ago!

Each time we spoke, I told him how proud of him I am for confronting his disease, for accepting his faults, and for trying to improve his life! In the end it got the best of him. Nonetheless, he was ahead of others in his situation.

He lost the battle though, and it hurts me so bad. I keep thinking – I should’ve tried harder. I should’ve been there for him more! I’m dwelling over what could’ve happened.

I’m listening to the Bible for comfort, it’s the only way to get me out of feelings of sorrow. I have faith he’s in a better place! The Pastor at his funeral was great. He kept saying how good our Lord is, and how He died for our sins and mistakes.

How this has everything to do with Jesus! He highlighted how Chris gave his life over to Christ. I love how he pointed out Chris even got baptized in the very same church we were at! “To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord” (2Cor. 5:8).

About Zina

Zina Hermez authored the book Not Without God: A Story of Survival and created the Spinal Injury Solutions! online website. Zina works as an English Language Instructor, and has been an educator for fifteen years. Her thousands of students have been from many parts of the world, and she’s worked with all ages. Zina writes articles on faith and overcoming challenges, and her stories have been featured in Christianity Today, guest blogs, newsletters, medical journals, and other publications. To learn more about Zina visit: http://zinahermez.com.

 

Some Things I Learned About the Universe

Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?”
~Isaiah 66:1

When was the beginning? Why is the universe so big? Can Christians believe in the Big Bang Theory? How old is the earth? Are we the only life that exists? These are some questions that were answered in a course I’ve almost completed called “Equip Your Mind” that is offered at a church in Michigan. It’s an Apologetics class that is taught as part of a six-week series, and it is very interesting. I’ve learned some new things; some things I already knew were reiterated. I’m enjoying it.

“Do you think that more Atheists or Christians support the Big Bang Theory?” was an opening question from our teacher. The class was divided–fifty percent raised their hands for Christians, and fifty percent raised their hands for atheists. In case you’re wondering, I raised my hand for the Christians category.

I visited this topic before when I showed a video called “Hunting the Edge of Space” by NOVA that has been aired on PBS to my students in the past. When on the chapter of a book that discussed space, I wanted a reliable video to supplement it. I thought this video was very neat and interesting. I’ve shown it more than once. If you’re interested in the cosmos, it is a must watch! Please let me know what you think…

A few things we’ve learned in our class:

• Legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble looked through his telescope in the late 1920’s and discovered that the universe appears to be expanding from a distant point in the single past. The universe is not expanding into empty space. Space itself is expanding between galaxies, and it’s getting bigger.

• If there was no beginning, the universe would have run out of energy already and no stars would be shining. Just like a vehicle, it cannot run endlessly unless you fill it with gas. A great miracle already occurred; the beginning. It’s proven by science. Science and religion are not opposite of one another; they work hand in hand.

• Why is the universe so big when we are the only life that exists? It had to be for us to be able to live on this planet. “All throughout the universe, discoveries indicate aspects of the universe have happened to be precisely as they need to be for our advanced life to exist, and if they varied just a bit, the universe would be without life. Amazing examples could be given on every size scale, from the entire universe, all the way down to the moon, all the way down to the subatomic forces and particles,” said the teacher of my class. God made it big for us!

This reminds me of how loved I am. If everything God created–space, time, and matter all work perfectly. Then how much must God love me? More than I can fathom. Can you fathom the size and scope of the universe? I’m sure you can’t. Now try to compare that to how much God loves YOU. It’s hard to comprehend.

Who am I to say my life is imperfect? I’ve struggled with self-acceptance since my accident as a teen, but if I am created in His “image” and “likeness” (Genesis 1:26). I am a child of God. He knows the desires and needs of my heart, so I ought to be still for a moment and feel that place of content. A place I need to visit more often. I am in the presence. When we know that, when we experience how much we are loved by the Lord, then nothing else makes a difference.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” ~Genesis 1:1-1:2

A Blessing a Day

“Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In almost fifteen years of teaching, my Reading, Writing, and Vocabulary class this term is one of the rowdiest I have ever taught. Last Monday, I arrived home in the early evening to have a usual late dinner and settle down watching some television while finishing up end of day tasks such as tracking attendance and entering homework. As I got ready for bed, I literally felt beat up. I was so tired. At times, I really agree with the belief that many of us teachers are just not paid enough!

That day I had to put on my teacher hat. The four or five chatty Kathy’s that disrupt the class by constantly talking were threatened with getting zero’s for the day. While teaching, I would stop mid-way while speaking once they started talking and I just waited for them to be quiet. Some of them shook a little. It was obvious I was upset. They became quiet, realizing, yet again they had interrupted the class.

A truly nice group; the interesting thing is they all come to every single class. It’s not the whole group, but several of them that cause a ruckus. These disruptions with a room full of twenty-two students can make the room very noisy. They are also some of the youngest students I have ever taught at this school. Nearly all of them are between the ages of eighteen and twenty, with only four girls in the class including me. I was dreading teaching this class again at 4pm on Wednesday.

To my surprise, my threats on Monday worked! My students were much better-behaved. They paid attention and were respectful. We shared some laughs. A small miracle. I felt much better about going forward with this class. I really am thankful to have a career that I enjoy.

I sit in the classroom sometimes and look at my room full of students one by one, thinking how did I get here? I feel accomplished. It’s interesting, but I always knew I would teach.

I flash back to my childhood best friend, Melissa, who lived across the street from me on Gramercy Court. Her mother, Mrs. Dean, was a writer. Daily she would click away at an old-fashioned typewriter, something you would probably find in an antique shop nowadays. She would sit in the living room for hours and just write. I had a strong feeling I would do that one day. I always knew I would write.

God professes things to us as children, even before we arrive. In Jeremiah 1:5, the word of the Lord came to the prophet saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” God knows what we are supposed to do with our lives.

The small miracle that happened to me this week is part of the larger miracle that has been given to me by the Lord: to love and to serve, and for that I am grateful.

How about you? In retrospect, what challenges have helped you feel grateful this week? What small miracles have happened to you? Feel free to share them with me.

Ever stop in the busyness of life?

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)

This verse has run through my head a few times this past week. Sometimes I get tired, worn down, busy with things to do, unfinished work, there is so much I want to accomplish. And so often I feel I cannot catch up with all that I have to do.

Do you ever feel that way? I feel guilty about things I can’t do, or things that are hard. I want to donate more. I want to visit the elderly. I want to help.

I have a cousin who was in a bad accident this past week. He broke several bones and sustained serious injuries. But thankfully his spine is okay, of course, it’s the first thing I asked about. They said within a year he should be walking normally. Keep him in your prayers please, his name is Shaun.

My nurse Regina, when I was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at U of M after my accident in Oct. of 1994, went to heaven last week. She was the first medical professional to tell me I would walk again. As a matter of fact, she said I would run. Some of the hospital staff were pressing my family to tell me I wouldn’t walk for weeks. I think deep down my family knew I would. That’s why no one wanted to tell me.

“Zina, listen, I had a dream, you were running to me in this dream. The Lord Jesus can heal, and he gives me prophetic dreams about my patients sometimes. And you kept saying, ‘Regina, thank you, thank you Regina! Thank you, and you were running to me.”

Regina was not only a nurse for many years in the PICU, but she was also an ordained minister. She put a poem I wrote after my accident in a plaque for me on my birthday, and bought my first bible. I still have them both. I’m not running but I’ve come far. And who knows, despite the fact that I’m not as healed as I would like to be–I still have to believe “All things are possible, through the Lord who strengthens me.” Don’t we all?

She was diagnosed with cancer last year and within a year she’s gone. I was in admiration of her son, Glenn, in our last conversation his strength and attitude amazed me. Since my accident, he’s been a good friend. This week, I made the trip to the hospital to see Shaun. I made the donation. I made the phone call. I stopped in my busyness, and did my best to be a good friend.

Every so often in our lives someone comes along who’s meant to help us in some way, through a tragedy, difficulty, or problem of some kind. They work as angels, miraculously, they show up. Sometimes, we haven’t realized how much they actually helped until their work is done.

In my life, I’ve been blessed with a few. Regina is definitely one. How about you? I hope you’ve had at least one..