Latest Blog Posts for July 2014

Interview & Book Give-Away with Miriam Bradley–You Could Win A Free Book!

Miriam Bradley headshotI met  Miriam Bradley at the 2012 Carolina Christian Writers Conference and then got to know her even better at both the Christian Communicators Conference and the Christian Communicators ADVANCED Conference. I soon discovered we had a lot in common. But I never realized we were sisters separated at birth! Read on and you’ll see why. :-)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a free book!

Now, let’s get started. Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Miriam. I’ve read several of your books and I couldn’t wait to have you with us. So, here’s the first question: What inspirational influences led you to write?

First, I would say my grandparents and parents who actively used history—general and personal—to influence those who came behind them. For instance, Grandpa Jones wrote three books about his life. He was a real cowboy who at eight traveled by covered wagon with his family from Kansas to Nebraska in 1913. Reading those books about his life is amazing. He wrote how he talked and even today, when I read them I can hear him in my head. And he wasn’t alone. My other grandparents were quick to share stories.

Secondly, I would say the books I read changed me. I was a voracious reader and one of my favorite places was the library. I loved mysteries, specifically mystery series. I am very character driven and I don’t care so much about what is happening but to whom it is happening! I dreamed of writing the Christian Trixie Belden type series someday. Only, my characters would age. It made me crazy that they were always the same age but there were three different Christmas mysteries!Miriam Bradley cover Missing Watch

The third thing would be the items my elders chose to record and save. My mother died when I was ten. Many years later my aunt sent each of us a collection of all of the letters my mother had typed on carbon paper to her parents and sisters. They were weekly missives from 1959 until two weeks before her death in 1973. In those letters she wrote about the daily events, the funny things we did, the bad days, the good days. Those letters were so influential in my desire to record stories. I was also captivated by the photo albums and old things my parents and grandparents saved.

What a beautiful legacy you’ve received from your ancestors, Miriam! My grandparents were storytellers, too. I remember sitting for hours with my grandma in her porch swing as she told story after story about life and family. AND Trixie Belden was my favorite character, too! Everybody went on and on about Nancy Drew, but I never could identify with her. She was much too rich, too beautiful, and too proper. I, on the other hand, was quite a rascal. But enough about me. I’m curious to know what opportunities these influences have led you to become involved in?

After three of my grandparents died within six weeks I decided to record some of their stories in picture books for children. So, I joined a writers group and took a Writer’s Digest correspondence course. I quickly Miriam Bradley cover Torn Maprealized that picture books are hard. You only get a few words. I like lots of words. I also learned that I should write what I know. So, I wrote a children’s mystery book about cousins who visit their grandparent’s ranch and encounter a mystery. This was based heavily on personal experiences at our grandparent’s ranch in Nebraska with our—you guessed it—cousins. Sadly though, we never had a mystery in real life. The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch was self-published in 2009. Since then, I found a publisher for two more in the Double Cousins Mystery Series, as well as a collection of pieces celebrating the legacy of godly and practical wisdom I received from my grandparents and parents. This non-fiction book, All I Have Needed–A Legacy for Life, has a section with practical ideas for recording history written by my husband, Bruce Bradley.

Promoting and marketing the books led to opportunities for speaking to students and adults. I love teaching on the writing process and encouraging people to celebrate and record their own legacy! I also have a passion for encouraging children and young people that they can be whoever God wants them to be.Miriam Bradley cover Rushmore Treasure

Okay, this is unreal. My first book was a mystery based on my cousin and me when my family visited Tybee Island AND I speak not only to adults about writing, but I also teach writing to kids in schools, libraries, and bookstores! I know you still work as a registered nurse. I’m curious to know how you balance those very different careers.

It’s hard to believe I have been a nurse for almost thirty years. Nursing has been a versatile career for me. I can control my schedule which allows for my writing-speaking life. In addition I find it hugely beneficial to have both ends of the age spectrum in my life. At work I care for people struggling with the effects of age. I love hearing their stories, when possible, and gaining from their wisdom. Then, on my “days off” I visit schools and rejuvenate by being around the energetic and enthusiastic children! It is the best of both worlds.

Okay. I know this sounds like I’m making it up, but I promise I’m not. I was an RN for almost 30 years AND I wrote my first book when I was working three days a week in ICU. Did you realize we had so much in common? I love it! Okay, I think that’s the end of my blabbering, so please share with us how readers can find your books and learn more about your speaking opportunities…and I’ll Miriam Bradley cover Legacybe quiet this time…I promise. 

I would love for them to visit my website at www.MiriamJonesBradley.com. My books are available online as well by ordering them through local bookstores.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Miriam. And for putting up with my gushing over our similar stories. Don’t you just love seeing how the Lord brings like-minded people together?

Friends, you’ll want to be sure and check out Miriam’s books for children and for adults. And if you need a speaker for children or adults, you’ll want to get in touch with Miriam.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you could win a FREE book! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Miriam Jones Bradley has lived “from sea to shining sea”, but spent most of her life in the Great Plains.  She has worked as a nurse for the past 29 years. She enjoys speaking about the writing process and recording memories. In addition to the Double Cousins Mystery Series, she is the author of All I Have Needed—A Legacy for Life. She and her husband, Dr. Bruce Bradley, make their home in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

 

 

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opps, Contests, and Conferences

newspapersAs many of you know, I’m on a writing retreat, working hard to redirect a book proposal for an interested agent. And yes, even after four traditionally-published book it’s still so hard!

Check out these writing opps, contests, and conferences!

So Here Are This Month’s Writing Opportunities I’ve Located Just for You!

1.  Inspire a Fire is looking for your inspiring articles based on the theme list available at http://www.inspireafire.com/submissions-guidelines/.

2.  Yvonne Lehman is collecting stories for Divine Christmas Moments, a new anthology. The first book in the series, Divine Moments, has just been released. If you have a story about a divine Christmas moment, you can contact Yvonne at yvonnelehman3@gmail.com.

3.  The DreamQuestOne Poetry and Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125;
Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2014. How to enter, visit: http://www.dreamquestone.com/

4.  (Must hurry! This webinar is tomorrow!) Tracy Crump and her writing partner, Marylane Wade Koch, will present another Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul webinar on Wednesday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Go to www.WriteLifeWorkshops.com for more information or to register.

5.  The Christian Authors Guild sponsors a writing contest for short stories. Anyone can enter. We will stream winners online on Friday August 15.

6.  Reach Out, Columbia magazine, a regional print publication dedicated to proclaiming the life and work of Jesus Christ in and through ordinary people, is open to article submissions. We publish teaching pieces (800-1,250 words), reflection pieces (500-800 words), and informational pieces on subjects related to the Christian life (health, sports, family, marriage, singleness, church membership, nutrition, etc., 800-1,250 words). We’re especially interested in subjects of interest to men. We are also open to 2-3 part series of articles if the subject can support it. ROC is not a paying market, but a print publishing credit looks great on your resume. Please visit our website for article submission guidelines (www.ReachOutColumbia.com).

7.  Eva Everson is acquisitions editor of Lighthouse of the Carolina’s imprint, Firefly Southern Fiction and is open to submissions. Firefly Southern Fiction will be stories that entertain, have strong plots, and include elements of family and faith. Above everything else, they want stories that are heartfelt and true to Southern roots. Literary agencies interested in receiving proposal and submission guidelines should contact

8.  Christian Home and School Magazine writing guidelines.

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Now Let’s Look at Some Upcoming Conferences…

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

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

3.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 27-31, 2014, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC (We’re full, but the waiting list is open to everyone!)

4.  Maranatha Christian Writers Conference: September 15-18, Muskegon, MI

5.  American Christian Fiction Writers Conference: September 25-27, 2014, St. Louis, MO

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

7.  Queen City Writers Conference: October 14-16, 2014, Charlotte, NC

8.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 19-22, 2014, Ridgecrest, NC

9.  CLASS Christian Writers Conference: October 23-25, 2014, Albuquerque, NM

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. Be sure to let us know if good things come of any of these leads!

Write on!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…How Good is My Sacrifice?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As we’ve discussed before, I’ve been competitive all my life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leg-wrestling or a game of Pigtail, I WANT TO WIN!

We’ve also discussed in the past how easy it is to get lulled into the lie of a works-grace, especially if we’re naturally competitive and struggle with a check-off mentality. Oh, we know that salvation is only through grace and not something we have earned, and yet, when we least expect it, Satan can ratchet up the pressure and insinuate his lies into His truth.

Yesterday, as I continued my Bible study of Planted: Sit, Stand, and Walk with Jesus , Annie Pajcic addressed the subject of obedience. As I reflected on the topic of obedience, I remembered the story of Saul and how the Lord commanded him to destroy King Agag, all the Amalekites, all their families, and all their possessions.

But Saul had a better idea. Yes, he destroyed all the people, but he captured King Agag. He killed all the Amalekites and their families, but kept the best sheep and cattle. Bottom line, he disobeyed God.

Although Saul defended his actions by saying he did it for the Lord and saved the best animals to offer as sacrifices to God, Samuel responded with these powerful words:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”
I Samuel 15:22-23

Samuel’s words reminded me that all the great things we may do for God don’t count for much if we aren’t sincerely following His commands. Are we following the letter of the law, but ignoring the spirit of it? Are we proclaiming Christ and Him crucified, but finding fault with everyone around us? Are we writing books to change hearts, but hardening our own hearts to the concept of grace for all?

Friends, we can write books and articles, create great programs, visit prisoners, go on mission trips, and give back more than the tithe, but if it’s done with a works mentality and a judgmental heart, if we’re not following the Lord’s commands found in His Word, our sacrifices of talent, time, and money are nothing more than going through the motions.

After all, obedience to His Word is greater than any sacrifice we may offer.

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos and Who Earned Another MoGo7000 Entry for $100?

newspapersCongratulations to These CWD Friends!

Yes, it’s time to celebrate you! Congratulations to these CWD friends who are working hard and seeing results!

1.  Tracy Crump (MS): The MS Alzheimer’s Association arranged three book signings for my story, “Unsung Heroes,” which appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias released in April. All royalties go to the Alzheimer’s Assn. Also, my blog post “Chicken Soup with a Dash of Faith” appears Monday, July 14, on Alycia Morales and Andrea Merrell’s new blog, The Write Editing. http://thewriteediting.blogspot.com/  And my writing partner, Marylane Wade Koch, and I will present another webinar on “Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul” on Wednesday, July 16. http://www.writelifeworkshops.com/events (From Vonda: You can sign up now!)

2.  Allison K. Flexer (TN): My first book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman: Dispelling 10
Common Myths, will be released by Beacon Hill Press on October 1, 2014! I am excited to share this resource with single women, who will be challenged to reject lies, embrace their value, and gain a deeper
understanding of the character of God.

3.  Tammy Whitehurst (TX):  Lifeway has purchased an article I wrote titled, Life In The Middle,
for a 3 page spread in October 2015. I am jumping for joy! And you’re invited to join my morning devotion, Joy for the Journey, on Facebook

4. Jeanne Doyon (CT): Nebraska Family Times has requested to reprint my article, Summer Growth Needs a Plan. You can connect with them at http://www.nebraskafamilytimes.blogspot.com/  And my How-to articles, To Blog or Not to Blog and Ready, Set, Blog! were hosted on The Aspiring Writer Blog.

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And Who Earned ANOTHER Entry for the 2014 MoGo7000 Drawing for $100?

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

#12: Jeanne Doyon – 8077 words
#13: Sue Badeau – 9000 words

Congrats, friends! 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!

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That’s all the successes for this month, but don’t feel bad if you don’t see your name on this list. Come back next week and I’ll have a new list of writing opportunities and writing conferences, all collected just for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…You Wouldn’t Ask Me To Do That, Would You?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s Parting Words From The WORD is a rerun from March, 2012. I ran across it as I was searching to see if I had addressed a specific verse in a prior post. But when I found this one and read it, I was almost moved to tears…again.

I vividly remember writing the post, and even though more than two years have passed since writing it, it still stirs me from the deepest part of me.

On a day when we remember our freedoms and rights in America, are we willing to give up what we want for what He has for us to do?

What will He ask me to lay down? Will I be faithful to do it?

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Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

In Sunday School that morning we studied 1 John 2 and I was reminded again that God called John and Paul and Peter and James to be writers and communicators, just as He has called you and me. Of course, I’m NOT saying our words are the inspired Word of God, but I am saying He put in us everything we need to be able to spread His Great Name through the written and spoken word.

Praise and worship time brought me to that place where I want nothing more than to be in His presence, seeking Him and His will. Then during Sunday morning worship, our visiting pastor, Russ Chambers of Hingepoint Church in CA, challenged us with a powerful message about the cross.

I had had a great morning, starting with Edie’s vivid poem about writing, straight to Sunday School and the reminder that God had called me to write and speak, just as He called the scribes of His Word, right on to anointed worship before the Lord, and then to Russ’ message, to which I could nod my head and my heart in agreement.

But then Russ said, “Our personal preferences have to die.”

In that very moment, my writing and speaking and teaching and singing and acting flashed before me. A catch gripped my heart and mind. Surely He would never ask me to lay THAT down on the altar…would He? After all, He’s called me, gifted me, ordained me if you will, to be a communicator of the Truth of His Great Name!

But…what if…my goodness, I can hardly say it…what if He asked me to lay it all down?

I admit, I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines through the years, but it’s usually just that–a fleeting thought. After all, why would God choose us…only to later UNchoose us to be writers and speakers? But this time the possibility was real, more urgent, more in the moment.

Even as I write this, I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept. But as one who loves the Creator and all it means to call Him Lord, I have to accept that the day could come when He says,”It’s over.”

It scares me how much that thought scares me.

Oh, I can speak in my spiritual voice and say yes, we must be willing to lay everything down for Him and His sake. And I believe it with as much belief as my heart can muster. But if I’m honest–which I’m trying to be here–I hope He doesn’t ask that of me. The truth is, I don’t want to lay it down.

After all, as Edie so brilliantly wrote, “I write because I must.”

But as God clearly showed me this weekend, I cannot let my preference for and my joy in writing or speaking or acting or singing or teaching determine what I will or won’t do with my life.

I have to remember I’m merely a sinner, saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The time He has given me to be a writer or speaker or anything else could very well come to an end. But that wouldn’t mean my life as a useful tool of God would be over.

It would simply be the beginning of another new thing.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts…regardless of what He has for you–and me–to do,

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Call-Outs for Successes, MoGo7000 Results & Who Won Ellen Gee’s Book?

newspapersWe Need To Hear About Your Successes!

Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what you’ve been up to. 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!

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Who Worked on Their MoGo7000 in June?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in June, 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 June results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in June. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2014 challenge continues! 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. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 7 months and you’ll have 7 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. :-)

My Mothers Song cover Ellen Gee~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who Won Ellen Gee’s Book?

And the winner is…AudreyLengyel! Congratulations, Audrey! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Ellen will get your book right out to you!

For those who didn’t win, but still want to read Ellen’s book, here’s a direct Amazon link to My Mother’s Song. You won’t be disappointed.

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Can’t wait to hear from and celebrate with you!

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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