Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Final Part 8 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: Tell us what you see in your future. Do you have any new or different writing plans?

JW: Winning this award has encouraged me to keep on keeping on. In a small town, I can speak from the platform of the printed page to a great many people--some of whom may not go to church. I do a variety of free-lance writing including magazine articles, newspaper feature stories, and church member interviews for our church newsletter. God has already begun to open new doors for my writing. I plan to follow where He leads.

Dianne: Thank you, Jan, for talking with us this month about winning the Amy Writing Award. I have found it fun and encouraging for my own writing!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Real Answers" available for your newspaper from the Amy Foundation

Would you like it if articles written from a Christian worldview addressing current issues appeared regularly in your local newspaper? What if you didn't even have to write them?! What if your newspaper could access them for free? Welcome to the Amy Internet Syndicate.

One more service The Amy Foundation provides is just such articles available for use in your local newspaper. Written by several different writers, these article or columns are written regularly and can be downloaded and printed in any daily or community newspaper for free.

You can meet the writers and read their articles and columns on Click on the "Amy Internet Syndicate" button for all the information.

Why not take a few minutes to stop by and check out some of these articles and writers? Then give a call or send a note to your local newspaper and see if they're aware of this service. Encourage them to use it. Let them know you'd be interested in reading these columns in your newspaper.

It doesn't take much for each of us to make a difference for good (and for God) in our nation.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Part 7 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: If you get negative responses at times, how do you handle that? Do you find it discouraging? What do you do with that discouragement?

JW: I've seldom heard a negative comment, but if I do I consider their point. I strive to quote people and facts accurately, so a negative comment would typically be from a person who may disagree with my viewpoint. I believe, like Mr. Russell, the power of the printed Word of God according to the promise of Isaiah 55:11 [where God said], "It shall not return unto Me void. But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

Jim Russell stressed writing the truth in love, concisely and accurately, while including a verse of Scripture. Whether or not a reader understands or agrees with my words, God's Word will accomplish what He intends.

Dianne: As a Christian, what challenges, fears setbacks, and/or disappointments have you experienced while working in this field?

JW: The challenge is coming up with an idea and writing a meaningful column week after week through the years.

Coming next: What do you see for your future?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Discipling Our Nation...Jim Russell's dream continues

Jim Russell dreamed of mobilizing Christians to disciple our nation, meaning to restore spiritual and moral character in America. So the Amy Foundation mapped out a plan to disciple our nation in our generation. The Foundation offers "The Discipled Nation Resources."

These resources include a brochure called "The United States - A Discipled Nation in this Generation" which, according to their web site, "outlines a biblical plan for discipling our nation by the year 2025." The Amy Foundation makes these brochures available for free for distribution at scheduled Christian events, such as church services, prayer breakfasts, seminars, workshops, concerts, retreats, prison ministries and wherever Christians gather.

Besides the brochure, The Amy Foundation also created four other resources:
  • Discipling Myself
  • Discipling My Family
  • Discipling My Congregation
  • Discipling My Neighborhood

Find information about these resources to use in your church school classes, church, home, neighborhood, and more at

(There's a little information on Click on "Discipling Resources," then on the "Order" button and use the menu on the left.)

You may also find these discipling resources in your local Christian bookstore. Why not give them a call and ask?

More with Jan White, Amy Award winner, next time (and in Butts About E-zine and on

Monday, October 22, 2007

Part 6 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: Do you ever get responses to your column from readers?

JW: Yes, living in a small town where people really get to know each other, I often have someone comment on a column when I'm in the grocery store, the post office, or at church.

Dianne: I imagine positive responses can be a great encouragement. Do you have any great behind-the-scenes stories of your writing making a difference in our nation or in one person's life?

JW: I recall a lady telling me how she was going through a struggle in her life. During that time, I wrote a column about hope. She said she needed to hear words of hope to help her make it through that tough time. Positive comments are encouraging, but also humbling because they remind me of my responsibility as a writer to seek God for inspiration and strive for excellence in my writing. He deserves my best.

Coming next: If you get negative responses at times, how do you handle that? Do you find it discouraging?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Part 5 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: How did you learn you had won first place in the Amy Writing Awards?

JW: First, I received a certified letter in late March saying I'd placed in the top 15 out of 600 qualified entries. That alone was exciting! The letter said that a panel of judges would decide the order of the 15 by mid-April and the winners would be notified. I received a phone call on Thursday morning, April 19, that I'd won first place. It's still hard to believe this has happened to me. Truly, God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Dianne: Tell us about winning first place in the Amy Awards. What was it like?

JW: My family and I attended a dinner with the Amy Foundation [in Lansing, Michigan] on Tuesday evening, June 12, where I was asked to give a ten-minute speech. The family of the late Jim Russell was present and others with the Amy Foundation. The award was presented the next morning at the Michigan Prayer Breakfast with an approximate attendance of 800. I was given a few minutes to respond upon receiving the award.

Note: Jan's acceptance speech can be found on page one of the Spring 2007 issue of Pen & Sword. Read it on

Coming next: Do you get responses to your column from readers?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More about speaking out through newspapers

Another way most every one of you can let your views be known and stand up for your faith is by writing letters to the editor of newspapers. Some magazines also use these letters. If you'd like some helpful tips about writing letters to the editor and increasing your chances of seeing your letter in print, that's the subject of the November Butts About E-zine.

Also, more of my interview with Jan White will appear in the November issue of Butts About E-zine.

You can sign up for your free copy using the Bravenet form on This free monthly e-zine is filled with "how-to" articles to help you learn ways to let your views be known.

I promise not to fill your e-mail box with other stuff--I only send the newsletter once a month, by the last Friday before the first of the month. That means it will come out early this month: on Friday the 26th, so sign up soon so you don't miss it! (And don't neglect to respond to the confirmation e-mail you'll receive from Bravenet or you're not subscribed.)

If you'd like to view a back issue of Butts About E-zine, you'll find links to those archives at the bottom of the home page at

We'll continue the interview with Jan White next time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Part 4 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: What was your winning article about?

JW: The article I submitted to the Amy Writing Awards was a column I wrote after the tragic shooting of the Amish schoolgirls in Pennsylvania. It was published in the Andalusia Star-News on October 7, 2006, with the title, "Forgiveness is the key to unlocking hatred." Watching the news coverage of the horrible event, I realized the Amish community demonstrated the meaning of forgiveness to the news media and the rest of us. It begged the question: would we be able to forgive such a horrible act? What about the people we know who have wronged us? Would someone learn the meaning of forgiveness by looking at our lives?

Dianne: Is your winning article online where we can read it?

JW: Go to Click on Amy Writing Awards and then click on Past Winners for articles published during 2006. There you will find a press release and the articles by the top 15 winners.

Coming next: How did you learn you had won first place in the Amy Writing Awards?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Part 3 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: Tell us about your weekly column. How did that come about? How long have you been writing it? How many readers do you have?

JW: In God's plan, a few months after I heard Jim Russell speak, the publisher of the Andalusia Star-News contacted me about writing a weekly religion column. Over 13 years and almost 700 columns later, I am still writing a weekly religion column. Along the way, an editor named it "Everyday Faith." About three years ago, an Enterprise, Alabama, newspaper began publishing my column. The combined circulation of both newspapers means that I could have a potential audience of over 15,000 readers.

Coming next: What was your winning article about?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Church Writing Groups and the PEN & SWORD

What do you think would happen if you got together with a few other Christians in your church to team-write letters to the editor and opinion articles for newspapers? Do you think you'd get more done, having others to meet with regularly? Do you think it would be easier having the help of others--one person's strength compensating for another's weak areas? When you ran into something you didn't know how to do, wouldn't it be helpful to have others around who might be able to help you figure it out?

Welcome to another idea from the Amy Foundation: the Church Writing Group.

The brainchild of Jim Russell and the Amy Foundation, Church Writing Groups are designed to tap into the power of, as Mr. Russell called them, the "latent" writers in the church, giving them training to speak out. These groups are not necessarily for professional writers (though pros are definitely welcome!). These groups are to help ordinary Christians speak out to our spiritually hungry nation.

Sound interesting? Then check out these free materials from the Amy Foundation:
  • Guidelines for starting a Church Writing Group
  • Ten Steps to starting a Church Writing Group
  • Twelve lesson plans for Church Writing Groups

All these are available on the "Writing Resources" page of

And while you're there, don't forget to subscribe to the Amy Foundation's newsletter, the Pen & Sword. Again, this is a free resource, and you may receive this bi-monthly newsletter either electronically or by regular mail. You can also read back issues in PDF files on the "Newsletter" page of the site.

I hope this gives you lots of exciting information to check out and use in your own efforts to speak out with Christian truth to our nation and our world. Next, we'll hear more from first-place winner of the Amy Award in part 3 of my interview with Jan White.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Part 2 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Award

Dianne: How did you come to know about the Amy Writing Awards?

JW: In 1994 I had the opportunity to attend the Florida Christian Writers' Conference where Jim Russell, who established the Amy Foundation, was speaking. In his workshop, he challenged Christians to write Op-Ed articles and letters to the editor--the most read pages in publications. At the conference, the booklet of Amy Writing Award winners and information on entering the contest was available.

Dianne: How long have you been submitting an entry to the Amy Awards?

JW: I've been submitting an entry to the Amy Writing Awards for at least ten years. This year I questioned whether I should send in a submission because I knew, once again, that the competition would be tough. I'm glad I didn't give up.

Coming next: How did you get a weekly column in the Andalusia Star-News?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Part 1 - Interview with Jan White, first place winner of 2006 Amy Awards

Dianne: Hello Jan. Thanks for talking with us about speaking out to our nation through newspapers. First question: Can you tell us about the Amy Awards? What are they? Can anyone enter?

JW: Over 25 years ago, Jim Russell, a businessman from Lansing, Michigan, had a vision for discipling our nation by encouraging Christians to write for the secular media. Using his own financial resources, he established the Amy Foundation--named for his daughter, Amy, who has Down Syndrome. The first Amy Writing Award was presented 22 years ago and it has been awarded every year since then.

The criteria can be found at by clicking on the link to the Amy Writing Awards. Anyone can enter if their article was published in the secular media and quotes a Scripture with its reference. They must also address a topic relevant to moral issues facing today's society.

Coming next: How did you come to know about the Amy Writing Awards?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jim Russell had a Dream

What would it take to encourage you to speak out and make your voice be heard in order to make a positive difference in America? Cash? Lots of it?

If you're a writer, you've probably heard of the Amy Foundation and its annual cash awards. If you're not a writer, let me introduce you to the Amy Awards:

The Amy Foundation was founded in 1976 by the late W. James Russell and his wife Phyllis. Named after their daughter Amy, Jim had a dream: to raise up Christians in America to write Biblical truth for general-market (meaning secular or non-religious) newspapers and other publications. Jim saw our nation was losing its knowledge of Scripture. He also knew many people read newspapers and that the most-read page of the newspaper is the Op-Ed page and the letters to the editor written by citizens (not professional writers). So he began to offer cash prizes to Christians who would write for non-religious publications. Mr. Russell only required that a verse of Scripture be used and be identified that it is from the Bible.

And Mr. Russell didn't mess around. He knew cash would get our attention. He wanted to really encourage writers and what he called "the latent writers in the church" to take this opportunity to disciple our nation seriously. So...he made first prize $10,000! And this is a contest anyone can enter--even you.

Each year ten prizes are awarded for a total of $34,000 annually. According to the Amy Foundation web site at, the Amy Award "is acclaimed as the most popular journalism contest in the nation."

The Amy Foundation is best known for this journalism reward, but it does a lot more, such as curriculum for starting and running a church writing group, a bi-monthly newsletter Pen & Sword, awards for writing letters to the editor of newspapers, free resources for discipling our nation in this generation, and a syndication offering opinion and commentary articles to your local newspapers...for free. I'll be telling you more about those resources throughout the month. But that's not all...

I'm very excited that I have been privileged to interview the First Place prize-winner of the 2006 (most recent) Amy Award. For years Jan White has been writing a column called "Everyday Faith" for her home-town newspaper, The Andalusia Star-News in Andalusia, Alabama. I'm looking forward to sharing with you how Ms. White came to have her column in her local newspaper and what it's like to win First Place in the prestigious Amy Awards. I'll be posting my interview with Jan White throughout October.