Latest Blog Posts for March 2014

Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Let’s face it, there are some special benefits to being a writer, whether published yet or not. One is that we can often get copies of books, signed and personalized to us by the author.

Another plus is that sometimes we have the opportunity to sit down with authors and ask for clarification and enlightenment, receiving wisdom and revelation about our shared love of writing. (And the opportunity is almost guaranteed when we attend writers conferences!)

What a blessing to have these published books, signed by the authors, and the potential opportunity to sit down and actually talk with them, picking their brains and discovering how their lessons might benefit us and make a difference in our own writing lives.

I’ve been fully aware of those benefits for quite some time, but I must admit, I’d never considered the following point about books and authors and autographs and conversations until my pastor, Larry Scott, brought up this point in a recent sermon:

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Bethany Jett

Bethany Jett HeadshotMy goodness, have I got a treat for you today as I introduce Bethany Jett! Moms and dads, youth workers, and those who have any influence on teen and pre-teen girls, you’ll be especially interested in what Bethany has to say here and in her book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. I met Bethany when I was an instructor at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, and I can tell you, she is beautiful and smart and passionate about instilling the confidence Christian living offers to young women.

Be sure to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Bethany’s book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. (Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!)

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Bethany. First,  I want to know more about what inspired you to write your book, The Cinderella Rule: a Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After.

Thanks for having me, Vonda. The book actually started out as a blog. My husband and I have been in youth ministry for several years, and I realized that each year, our girls asked the same questions about boys, dating, relationships, sex…so I started writing down my answers so they could have 24/7 access to what I would tell them.

Your title caught my attention. What is the “Cinderella Rule”?

Let the guy chase you! Cinderella didn’t text, friend, follow, call, or make any attempt to purse the Prince, instead allowing him to chase her. Being pursued is crazy fun, and even though it may seem like an old fashioned idea, the book shares how to be ready when the guy worthy of pursuing you shows up!

I agree! Okay, besides dating, what other areas does your book cover?

My first chapter starts off with the line, “Confidence is sexy.” I want to encourage women to be strong, smart, independent, and awesome. I also talk about femininity, modesty, purity, second chances, deal-breakers, break-ups, and engagement.

There are discussion questions in the back, so it is great as a small group study or for parents to read with their daughters. I’ve had great feedback from moms who’ve been able to start dialogue with their teen girls about boys, kissing, making out, etc.

Great topics, and ones that girls want to know about, even if they’re afraid to ask. Now let’s change gears a little bit. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?Bethany Jett cover Cinderella Rule

The hardest part of writing for me is after something is published and I continue to edit in my mind—it’s too late at that point to make any changes! But another hard part is getting that first draft written. Stephen King in his great book, On Writing, says the first draft is for you. So I try to release any inhibitions and let the words flow, no matter how terrible they are.

Writing the second draft is much easier! I love tightening my writing by replacing two or three words with a stronger one. It’s like a game.

You sound so much like me, Bethany! I continue to edit long after the book is out, hate getting that first draft down, and love rewriting to make it pretty! Were there any interesting vices or methods you used when writing the book?

Strangely, I found television to be cathartic. Even though it was moving my eyes from one screen to another, often times I could let my mind wander, and after several minutes, BAM! Bursts of inspiration!

Also, I often retreated to my church’s youth room to write in the peace and quiet it offered. My mom, also an author, loves to write where she can people-watch, or with music. I had to write in silence to really get “in the zone.”

Well, we’re alike in that aspect as well. I have to have silence–or at least music with no known words–in order to write. Otherwise, I catch myself singing along with the music instead of focusing on the writing. And I’m thrilled to say I’ve also had the joy of having your mom as a guest on my blog. Readers, you can catch Johnnie Alexander Donley’s interview here

So what’s your advice to writers wanting to get published?

Attend a writers conference! I owe the start of my official writing career to the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC).

The one-on-one face time with publishers and agents is priceless. Along with learning from the experts, the networking and connections are invaluable. The FCWC launched my writing career, and the connections and friendships born from that first conference are continuing to offer opportunities.

I totally agree. I, like many writers I know, got my start at writers conferences. As I mentioned earlier, you’re a speaker, as well as an author. Where have you been speaking lately?

I just returned from speaking in Ohio at an event called “The Cinderella Project,” which provides a pampering night (which I spoke at), a dress, shoes, jewelry, and mentoring in the weeks leading up to and after prom. It was incredible.

Ladies’ groups have been so much fun—I love women’s ministry, along with youth ministry, and it’s been a blessing to speak to women’s groups and at ladies’ conferences.

This weekend, I’m holding a two-hour workshop on confidence for a local church’s youth group. The youth minister is having a Guys’ Day and a Girls’ Day, and I get to teach girls the various aspects of portraying confidence – in their appearance, manners, accomplishments, and most importantly, teaching that true confidence is found in Christ. We are going to play with some makeup and learn how to sit, and get in-and-out of a car wearing a skirt. So fun!

It does sound like fun! Thanks for being with us today, Bethany. I love the opportunity to love on and encourage you in your writing and speaking. But before we go, how can people connect with you?

I love making great connections with people via social media! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (betjett2), and I blog regularly on “girly topics, godly perspective” at

Bethany Jett headshot 2Bio: Bethany Jett is an award-winning writer, whose first attempt at writing a book proposal landed her Writer of the Year at the 2012 Florida Christian Writers Conference, a contract with the MacGregor Literary Agency, and a publishing deal. Her first book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After, released in April of 2013. Bethany is a “Regal for Women” author who video-blogs on dating for, and has been interviewed on radio stations across the US, as well as internationally. She is a featured double columnist with Choose NOW Ministries, and also writes for Sisterhood, Sonoma Christian Home, and other magazines. Along with speaking to women’s groups, youth groups, homeschool groups, college discipleship groups, parents of teens, as well as retreats, conferences, and camps, Bethany blogs on “girly topics, godly perspective” at

Thanks again for joining us today, Bethany. And friends, don’t forget to leave a word of encouragement for Bethany and you’ll automatically be in the drawing for a free book! Then, return next week to see if you’re the winner.

But I know some of you will want to go ahead and get copies for the young girls in your life, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Bethany Jett’s The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. Enjoy!


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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Last Sunday night I had the joy to sharing a devotion with the AWANA kids at our church. It’s an honor to be able to bring the Word of God to the little children that Jesus instructs us to be like!

I never know what God is going to allow me to share with them. There isn’t a topic list to follow or a calendar of lessons, at least not in our church. Instead, it’s similar to what God does every week with Parting Words From The WORD. I simply share something from what the Lord is doing or has done in my own life. This week’s AWANA message was no different.

As I considered what God has been teaching me through our church-wide Bible study, 40 Days in the Word by Rick Warren, I realized the lesson was something even a child could understand:

We’re not only to love the Word and learn the Word, but we’re to live the Word as well. We’re to apply it to our own lives, giving it permission to change us from the inside out. That’s what scripture has done and continues to do in me.

I remembered–and shared with the children–the first time I found Romans 12:18.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV)

God showed me that verse and its application to my life way back in 1982 or so when I truly gave my life to Him. I had been in church all my life, walking an aisle at 9 years old with a Bible that carried no meaning, and walking out the door the same way I came. But about 25 years later, after God truly entered my heart and mind, the Bible had new meaning, and this verse was an integral part of the change.

Simple, straightforward, as if written for a child, this verse showed me the responsibility we all have to work toward peace with others. As one who had a sharp tongue and a judgmental heart, this truth was a new concept to me.

Live at peace? With everyone? Not one-up-man-ship? Not cutting others down? Not proving I can do it better, faster, prettier than the next guy?

Romans 12:18 became my guiding verse for that first year or two as I began to learn the art and heart of gentleness. Notice I say I began to learn it. I’m sorry to say, it will be an ongoing, lifelong process for me.

But the good news is, through that verse, God’s Word made a direct, visible change in my life…just as it should.

I shared Romans 12:18 and several other verses with the AWANA kids, and they got it. They easily grasped the concept of loving, learning, and living the Word by applying it to their lives.

What about you? Can you point to a verse in God’s Word that had a life-changing effect on your heart, mind, and spirit? If so, I’d love for you to share it here. Who knows–it could be a life-changing verse for someone else.

And today, as I ask God to bless the work of your hands and your hearts, I’m also asking Him to bless you with peace…at least as far as it depends on me.


(Image art courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Conferences, & Who Won the Contest?

newspapersCan You Believe It’s Already the 3rd Tuesday in March?

Today I’m thrilled to bring you a new list of writing opportunities and conferences to help you in your writing quest. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many words have been published because of an opportunity or a conference listed here at the Christian Writer’s Den?

Let’s Start with Writing Opportunities

Here’s this month’s list of writing opportunities gathered just for you! As always, be sure study the publisher and read and follow the submission guidelines carefully.

1.  Chicken Soup is ALWAYS looking for stories! Currently look for stories about moms, forgiveness, angels, Christmas, facing challenges, and more. Find the Chicken Soup Call-Out for Stories here.

2.  ADDitude Magazine is looking for articles from health care professionals and journalists, and first person accounts from those living with ADHD, learning disabilities, and related conditions. Find the ADDitude Magazine writers guidelines here.

3.  Outdoor Photographer: Okay, I know we have a lot of photographers among the CWD readers, so here’s your chance to submit your photographs, too!

4.  Good Old Days Magazine“The magazine that remembers the best.” I know there are quite a few of us oldies but goodies out there. This is your opportunity to share your good ol’ days. And the good news is, their instructions ASK you to submit often! Good Old Days Magazine guidelines here.

5.  Last month we featured a dog magazine, but we don’t play favorites. Here’s I Love Cats Magazine writers guidelines.

6.  Jack and Jill Children’s Magazine

7.  Over My Dead Body is looking for fiction, book reviews, and interviews.

8.  In Touch Magazine. In Touch Ministries is the teaching ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley.

9.  LifeWay Publications. LifeWay is a great way to connect with the editors of many magazines. Do a good job for one of their publications and you may have an opportunity to write for several others. I know that first hand!

10. Ask Magazine for Kids (Cricket – parent company)

Okay, so that does it for this month’s opportunities. Be sure to read on for upcoming writing conferences. After all, that’s the BEST way to connect with a magazine or book publisher!


With Al Gansky

With Al Gansky at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference

Upcoming Conferences

1.  Coffee & Quill Mini Conference: March 22, 2014, Woodstock, GA

2.  Write2Ignite: March 28-29, 2014, Tigerville, SC

3.  FAM Fest Film Festival: March 29, 2014, York, SC

4.  Festival of Faith and Writing: April 10-12, 2014, Grand Rapids, MI

5.  Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop: April 10-12, 2014, Dayton, OH

6.  Cross ‘N Pens Creative Nonfiction Workshop: April 12, 2014, Simpsonville, SC (This is my local writers group!)

7.  Orange County Christian Writers Conference: April 25-26, 2014, Santa Ana, CA

8.  Writing Success XXIII: April 26, 2014, Stoneboro, PA

9.  Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 14-17, Estes Park, CO

10. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 19-23, 2014, Ridgecrest, NC

11. Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival: June 14, 2014, York, SC

12. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 17-21, Grove City, PA

13. Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival: July 11-15, 2014, Orlando, FL (I’ll be there co-directing the Teen Intern Program again and would love to see you there!)

14. Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: July 30-August 2, 2014, Langhorne, PA

15. Christian Authors Guild Catch the Wave Conference: August 14-16, 2014, Marietta, GA

16. Christian Communicators Conference: August 27-31, 2014, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC (Although the financial need scholarship slots are open and accepting applications until April 1, the waiting list is open to everyone!)

17. Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 10-11, 2014, Grand Rapids, MI


PrintI’m Looking for Teens 16yo-18yo Who are Interested in the Media Arts!

I’m honored to again be a co-director of The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Teen Intern Program at this year’s conference, July 11-15, 2014 in Orlando.

If you know a teen interested in acting, directing, screenwriting, singing, songwriting, or anything else related to the media arts, please send them to the Gideon Intern Page for details and application. But they must hurry–Deadline for applications is April 15. Please note I incorrectly posted the deadline last month. The correct deadline is April 15.


Who Won Cyn Rogalski’s Writer’s Blocks?

Photo courtesy of Cyn Rogalski

Photo courtesy of Cyn Rogalski

Wow, what fun to read your additions to Jolene Philo’s Top 10 Things About Being a Writer! We writers certainly have lots of things to love when it comes to writing. I must say some of my personal favorites about being a writer are 1)working in my PJs; 2) living in a world where I can make anything happen; and 3)doing and saying things to people I would NEVER do or say in real life! I know you have no idea what I’m talking about!

All the entries were excellent, but since my sweet hubby, Gary, doesn’t know any of you, I asked him to choose a winner. And he proclaims that the winner is…Judith Robl!

Congratulations, Judith! Please contact me with your mailing address and Cyn will get your blocks right out to you!


Well, I think that does it for another Writer’s Headlines week. Please be sure to let us know when you find success!

And, as always, thank you for joining me, dear friends. It’s a joy and an honor to share the writing life with you.

Write on!


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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I love how God shows us stuff from His word and then allows us to encourage others with the very thing He’s just shown to us!

Our church is currently doing Rick Warren’s 40 Days in the Word: Love the Word. Learn the Word. Live the Word. In my quiet time this week, I was reading the miracle of the loaves and fishes again. Each week’s lesson uses a different technique for memorization, understanding, and application of the Word. This week’s technique instructs us to read a specific passage of scripture, insert ourselves in the story as various characters, and then envision the story as a movie we’re in. (I love that part since that’s one of the ways I teach writing!)

Then it asks how the passage applies to our lives, and what are we–what am I–going to do about it.

I envisioned myself as the little boy with the lunch. I had the lunch that day only because my mom had made it for me. Nothing I did created the miracle.

At that point, I realized that even though the little boy was a huge part of the story, he was only a conduit for the delivery of the miracle. He wasn’t responsible for feeding all those people. He was only responsible for giving to Jesus what had been given to him.

The truth is, Jesus could have done that miracle with the lunch or without it. But He chose to use that little boy to make it happen.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Mark 6:41 (NIV)

What a great reminder to all of us as speakers and writers! We all have gifts and talents. Not because of anything we did, but because they were given to us, just as the lunch was given to the little boy.

It’s our responsibility to turn around and give them back to Him to use as He sees fit. And, like with the loaves and fishes, Jesus can use us as conduits for the delivery of miracles.

What miracle might He do with our paltry gift offerings? Those things that were given to us?

We don’t know. All we know is that we’re to be prepared, go, and give…and He’ll take care of the rest!

Now what are we going to do about it?

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


(Image art courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Top Ten Things About Being a Writer, A Contest, And Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals!

I love my job fdp pakorn

Image courtesy of pakorn/

A while back, my friend, Jolene Philo, posted her Top Ten Things to Love About Being a Writer and I immediately knew I wanted to share it with you!

And since this is Kudos and MoGo7000 reporting day, I think it’ll be a great time to have a fun little contest. After reading Jolene’s list below, please post a comment of your own top things (any number) about being a writer. Then I’ll have an independent judge choose the most interesting or unusual or just plain funny answer, and the winner will receive a set of Cyn Rogalski’s Writer’s Blocks!

Then read on to celebrate with our successful friends this month. :-)

Let’s get started!

Top Ten Things About Being a Writer, by Jolene Philo


10. Writing often feels like Show and Tell felt in elementary school…when you knew your show and tell item would be the talk of the playground at recess.

9.   Having our books on library shelves is as exciting as meeting Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, or Derek Jeter is for basketball, tennis, or baseball fans.Jolene Philo headshot

8.   Writing in the afternoon produces a sweet feeling akin to when elementary teachers read aloud to their students after lunch.

7.   Writing in the evening is akin to snuggling with our kids when reading them a bedtime story.

6.   Writers who work from home never stress about drive time weather.

5.   Writing is one Bilbo Baggins adventure after another: “Go back?” he (Bilbo) thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”

4.  We writers absolutely must travel to unusual and interesting places to conduct research.

3.  We have to remind ourselves that we are working when “work” involves hours and days of reading.

2.  People buy our words. How cool is that?

Photo courtesy of Cyn Rogalski

Photo courtesy of Cyn Rogalski

1.  Writers meet the most fascinating people in unexpected places.

So, what do you think? What are your favorite things about being a writer? Post your answers below and you could be the winner of Cyn Rogalski’s Writer’s Blocks! Be sure to come back next week to see if you’re the winner. :-)

Bio: Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream Parenting series. Her new book, The Jolene Philo cover Different Dream ParentingCaregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others will be released in November of 2014 by Discovery House Publishers. Over 100 of her articles have appeared in publications including Focus on the FamilyParentLife, and Home Cooking. She speaks at conferences and events throughout the United States. Her blog,, provides resources and encouragement for parents of kids with special needs. She also blogs about life on her dusty gravel road  at You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter,  and Pinterest. She is slightly addicted Netflix. With their two children married and on their own, Jolene and her husband are kicking up their empty nester heels in Boone, Iowa.


Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Kudos to YOU, Cathy Baker!


I think this is the first time this has ever happened, but we had only one report of Kudos this month. Yes, it has been a long, cold winter!

So this month, let’s all join together to celebrate with Cathy Baker as she shares TWO exciting reports this month:

Cathy Baker (SC): My blog has been revamped. It’s now “Fragrant Ink.” (same blog address) It has a NEW name, format, and focus. Also, I’ve been asked to lead a workshop on Writing to Heal for mothers who’ve lost children of any age. For more information on the retreat, please contact Cathy at

Congratulations, Cathy! Congratulations on two jobs well Done!



Who MoGo’d in February?mogo7000 logo


These CWD writers have earned a February entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cash!

#5: Eddie Snipes – 7,300 words#6: Jeanne Doyon – 7,378 words

Congrats, Eddie and Jeanne! Keep up the good work and you’ll earn even more entries into the drawing.

Writers, want to know how you can qualify for the $100 challenge? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge here. It’s free and open to everyone all year long!


Okay, I think that does it for another week at The Christian Writer’s Den. Thank you, friends, for visiting with me week after week. As we celebrate our 6th year of meeting together, I’m reminded again I am blessed to have you joining me in this journey called the writing life.

Writing is hard enough without doing it alone. It’s my goal to encourage and challenge and lift you up for the journey. Please let me know any time you have a new book coming out and I’ll be happy to highlight your success!

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


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Parting Words From The WORD…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

In the past few weeks I’ve heard from quite a few writers and speakers who admit that conflict has moved in and taken hold of their lives. These aren’t nominal Christians who don’t know His word, don’t know the power He holds in His hand.

And yet, they’re struggling.

I’ve been there, too.

Maybe today you’re of those friends. Maybe you’re going through a conflict with your significant other. Maybe you have more questions than answers right now about what you’re supposed to do in a situation with your mate, your children, your job, or your ministry. I’m thankful that even in the midst of the conflict, we serve a God of peace.

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

As children of the Most High God, let us claim His peace and receive His wisdom, regardless of what we’re facing this week.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,


(Artwork courtesy of Robert Wilson Fine Art)

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Who Won Sharon Lavy’s Book? Call-Outs for Kudos, MoGo7000 Totals, & CCC Scholarship Applications

Sharon Lavy Deadly Secrets coverWho Won Sharon Lavy’s Book?

And the winner of Deadly Secret: A Tale from The Ohio Valley is…Julie Garmon! Congratulations, Julie! Just contact me with your snail mail address and your preference of a paperback or digital format and your book will be on its way! But I need to let you know Sharon may still be in Israel, so it may take a few extra days to hear from her.

Israel. Can you imagine? I sure hope to be there one of these days. I would love to walk where Jesus walked! :-)

And friends, you don’t have to miss out. Here’s the Amazon link to Deadly Secret: A Tale from the Ohio ValleyAvailable in both digital and paperback. Enjoy!

Thanks for joining us and sharing your book with us, Sharon.


Call-Out for Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!


mogo7000 logoCall for MoGo7000 Totals

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in February, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2014 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your February results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in February. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Monday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2014 challenge is underway! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Meet it 12 months and you’ll have 12 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have $100 this time next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)


Still Accepting Scholarship Applications for the 2014 Christian Communicatorsccclogosmall Conference!

Thank you for your quick responses to the Christian Communicators Conference open registration announcement. The response was overwhelming and open registration is now closed; however, we’re still accepting applications for FIVE scholarships.

If you have a financial need, please feel free to visit the CCC Scholarship Information page and submit the completed application. But you must hurry, deadline for receipt of scholarship applications is April 1, 2014.

And if you don’t have a financial need, but would like to attend CCC, please contact our Conference Coordinator, Cynthia Owens at ccc [@] to be placed on the waiting list (at no charge).

Okay, that does it for this Tuesday call-out! Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to this month! Thank you for letting us celebrate your successes with you!



(Celebration image courtesy of m_bartosch/

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