Latest Blog Posts for October 2014

Parting Words From The WORD…A Change of Plans

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, this year has been a busy one. Beyond the usual writing and speaking demands, Gary and I are honored to be able to love on his precious parents as they need more care. Needless to say, my days are full.

So on those rare days when I’m home all day and can attack my business To-Do list, I have a big list. A really big list.

I had such a day recently. No meetings. No errands. No responsibilities other than work. All…day…long. I couldn’t wait to hit that list. I was going to get so much done!

Then the phone rang. Instead of hitting my list, I put it down and hit the road.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to do what needed to be done. It just hadn’t been in my plans, so it felt more like an interruption.

This past Tuesday I opened my copy of Jesus Calling and turned to the day’s devotion. On this predetermined day, God chose to use Sarah Young’s words to break my heart.

In respect to Sarah Young and the copyright of her devotion, I won’t use her words, but here is the gist of what she envisioned Jesus saying:

Vonda, you’re one rebellious woman. You think your plans are so important, and you become frustrated when something happens to change your day. If you truly believe and trust in my sovereignty–as you say you do–why can’t you consider the change in plans come from Me? Who do you think you are?

My heart broke as I read her beautifully-written words. She was right. Who did I think I was?

My devotion time that morning was spent confessing my sin and praising God for His attention to the minute details of my life…regardless of what I might have planned. And just for the record, I’ve had to recall that lesson several times since Tuesday.

Am I the only one?

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

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


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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Conferences, & Christian Communicators’ Save the Date!

newspapersHappy 3rd Tuesday to you, dear friends! Let’s start with a list of writing opportunities and contests selected just for you!

1.  CBH Ministries Keys for Kids teaches children about God’s love and His Word. Keys for Kids Writer’s Guidelines here.

2.  Catholic Sentinel looking for Oregon-focused articles of interest to local Catholics.

3.  Creation Illustrated is the “leading Bible-based nature journal” and is looking for writers and photographers. Creation Illustrated Submission Guidelines here.

4.  Escapees Magazine is looking for articles of interest to RVers who live the RV lifestyle. Escapees Magazine writing guidelines here.

5.  Eldridge Plays and Musicals submission guidelines 

6.  Writers wants articles on how to make money writing. Do not send “how to write” articles. Writers Weekend guidelines here.

7.  Bead&Button Magazine is a bimonthly magazine devoted to techniques, projects, and designs of beaded jewelry and accessories. Bead&Button Submission Guidelines here.

8.  Woman’s Day magazine accepts articles from very experienced writers. Woman’s Day writer’s guidelines here.

9.  Guide Magazine: Guide is a Christian story magazine for young people ages 10-14. The 32-page, four-color publication is published weekly by the Review and Herald Publishing Association. Our mission is to show readers, through stories that illustrate Bible truth, how to walk with God now and forever. Guide Magazine Writer’s Guidelines here.

10. Shotgun Sports magazine writers must have first hand knowledge of hunting, trapshooting, or collecting or repairing guns

11. The Kids’ Ark is always looking for great stories for kids. The Kids’ Ark is a quarterly children’s Christian magazine full of the truth about God’s love. There are many questions kids have growing up: Who am I? Am I loved? Am I worthy? Am I valuable? Think of all the pain that could be avoided in a lifetime if a child knew the answers to these questions at an early age. The Kids’ Ark Writer’s Guidelines here.

12. Small Farm Today magazine is dedicated to preserving and promoting small farming, rural living, community and agripreneurship. Writing guidelines here.

13. Highlights for Children is a general-interest, advertising-free magazine for children up to age twelve. It was founded in 1946 by Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and Caroline Clark Myers, and is still owned and run by their family. The magazine has no religious or organizational affiliation. Highlights has a circulation of about two million and is published monthly. Highlights Writer’s Guidelines here.

14. Lerner Publishing Group works with many talented authors and illustrators to create its books for children and young adults. Lerner Books Submission Guidelines here.

15. Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards. Deadline October 31, 2014.

16. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Contest. Deadline December 15, 2014.

And these two opportunities were submitted by our friend and CCC grad, artist and speaker Cyn Rogalski. Thanks, Cyn!

17. Christian Media Magazine guidelines

18. Moms Magazine submission guidelines

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. Don’t forget to share this with your writing friends!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Vonda teaching at Writers Boot Camp

 And here are some conferences for writers and speakers. I hope to see you at some of them!

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

2.  South Carolina Writers’ Workshop: October 24-26, 2014, Myrtle Beach, SC

3.  Heart of America Christian Writer’s Network Conference: November 6-8, 2014, Overland Park, KS

4.  Writers ADVANCE Boot Camp: February 20-22, 2015, Asheville, NC

5.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 25-March 1, 2015, Leesburg, FL

6.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 7, 2015, Memphis, TN (I’ll see you there!)

7.  Write2Ignite Conference for Writers of Children’s Literature: March 27-28, 2015, Tigerville, SC (I’ll see you there!)

8. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 17-21, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

9. Christian Communicators Conference: Hold the date! August 26-30, 2015, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. Registration will open late February. (I’ll see you there!)

Okay, friends, I can’t wait to see the successes that come from your responses to these lists!

Happy writing!


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Parting Words From The WORD…Blameless in His Sight

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.


The book of Ephesians was written by Paul to the church at Ephesus, and it was written for us today. Unlike many of his other letters, this one wasn’t written to address any particular sin or conflict. Instead, it was written to encourage the Church at Ephesus–and us as believers–to recognize who we are in Christ, to count our blessings and be thankful, and to live and work together in a way that honors the Lord as brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters.

He ends the chapter with the description of how to accomplish those things: by facing each day dressed in the full armor of God, prepared for battle…which we can be sure will come.

But what I want us to look at is this verse:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4

Some may read that and think we think we’re perfect. Or they may think we have to be perfect and blameless before we can come to Him.

If you know me, you know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m a long way from it! But through the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood in place of mine, I am–unbelievably–holy and blameless in his sight.

Sinless…no. Blameless…yes.

Praise Him!

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


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Writer’s Headlines: A Day of Successes–Kudos, MoGo7000, and Who Won Sharyn Kopf’s Book?

newspapersWell, today will be short and sweet! First of all, let’s celebrate these successes with our Christian Writer’s Den friends.

1.  Tracy Crump (MS) and Marylane Wade Koch are leading another writing webinar, The Basics of Getting Published…and More!

2.  Edie Melson (SC): Okay, friends, get ready for this. Last month Edie hit milestones that most of us can only dream of. On September 10, Edie Melson hit the magic 1,000,000 hits on her blog, The Write Conversation (Yes–that’s million, with an “m”), AND she reached 15,000 followers on Twitter! And, just for the record, as I write this, Edie’s blog hits at this moment are 1,058,909…oh, wait…now it’s 1,058,911…good grief, now it’s 1,058,915…now it’s…well, just know it goes up by the second! And she currently has 15.2K Twitter followers. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my face…. Seriously though, Edie has worked hard following her own advice and–as you can see–it works!

Congratulations, Tracy and Edie. I can’t wait to see what you have coming next! And friends, if you need some successes in your writing life, be sure to check back next week when I’ll have a list of writing opportunities and conferences, just for you!


Who Won an Entry in This Year’s MoGo7000 Drawing for $100?mogo7000 logo

Congrats to these two hard-writing writers who wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project!

#20: Tim Suddeth – 18,500 words
#21: Susan Baganz – 43,123 words

Congrats, Tim and Susan! And readers, if you want to learn how to enter the challenge, simply check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page. You have 3 more opportunities to reach a monthly goal and win three entries into the drawing!

Sharyn Kopf Spinstered BOOTS Cover~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who Won Sharyn Kopf’s Book?

And the winner is…Kimberly Long! Yay, Kimberly, I’m so excited you won this book for your Sunday School class of single women! Perfect!

Now, all you need to do is contact me with your mailing address AND PREFERENCE of paperback or digital edition and Sharyn will get your book right out to you!

And for those of you who missed out on a free copy, here are the direct links to Sharyn’s book, Spinstered on Kindle and Spinstered paperback.


Well, that concludes this month’s day of celebration. Thanks for being a part of the fun! And be sure to come back next week for lots of help for your success!

Write on!


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Parting Words From The WORD…Encourage Your Pastor

Praying hands christianphotosnetAs many of you know, October is Pastor Appreciation Month in churches and denominations around the world. So when I found a note I had written years ago in my Bible titled “10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor,” I thought this might be a good time to share it.

I wish I could tell you who was speaking when I wrote these notes, but I’m afraid I can’t. And since my notes aren’t verbatim of his message, I feel free to write them here. It was a good reminder to me, and I hope it’ll be a good reminder to you.

Gary and I have a wonderful pastor, Larry Scott. He is everything you’d want in a pastor! I’m going to be working on these specific ways to encourage him and can show him how thankful we are to have him at Westside Church, in Simpsonville, SC.

10 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

  1. Live a biblically-successful life. Tell your pastor how much you’re growing through his ministry.
  2. Make a personal commitment to help him know true success through biblical faithfulness, love, service, holiness.
  3. Don’t ask or expect him to be involved in everything.
  4. Let him be the person God has planned for him to be. Maximize his strengths and celebrate them; talk about his strengths behind his back; minimize his weaknesses and flaws by filling the gaps respectfully.
  5. Provide adequately for him.
  6. Love his family.
  7. Guard and protect the pastor and his family. Believe the best in him; refuse gossip; share kind words.
  8. Treat your pastor with respect.
  9. Find or create opportunities to thank him and his wife for their ministry and service.
  10. Pray constantly for him, his marriage, and his family.

There they are, 10 things we can do to help our pastors be who God created them to be…and they don’t cost us a cent.

Part of #4 was my favorite: “Talk about his strengths behind his back.” Wow. It’s sad, but there are so many times that the opposite is true. Wouldn’t it be great if we all spoke lovingly and graciously about our pastors behind their backs? Can you imagine the encouragement that would be for them?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

What about you? Did you find a favorite way to encourage your pastor this month?

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


(Photo courtesy of

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Sharyn Kopf, Call-Outs for Kudos & MoGo7000, and Who Won Sarah Meece’s Book?

Sharyn Kopf Headshot 4.1.14Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den! We have a lot to cover today, but let’s start with an encouraging interview with author Sharyn Kopf!

Happy Tuesday, friends! I know I say this every time I post an author interview, but it’s true—I’m thrilled to introduce our guest today, my friend, Sharyn Kopf! Sharyn and I met several years ago when I was teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference where I was privileged to read a draft of one of her manuscripts. I was highly impressed with her writing and voice! And now I’m happy to see that after her disappointing contract experience, she decided to self-publish her book Spinstered.

I know you’re going to love the opportunity to get to know Sharyn and her book! Don’t forget to leave a comment for Sharyn and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy. Just remember to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Now, let’s start at the beginning—how long have you wanted to be a writer and what did you envision for your writing life?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I wrote my first poem at the age of 5. And, for the longest time, that dream meant being a romance novelist. In my 20s, I saw myself becoming the clean, Christian version of Kathleen Turner’s character in Romancing the Stone—enjoying a life of adventure and romance and lots of bestsellers.

So, what happened?Sharyn Kopf Spinstered BOOTS Cover

Well, things didn’t turn out the way I imagined. (Do they ever?) Next week I turn 51 and, though I suppose I’ve had a few mild adventures, I’m still dreaming of true love and being such a popular novelist that even people in the jungles of Columbia have heard of me.

But in my 40s, I realized I needed to write about my single heart and broken dreams. When I started writing Spinstered, it was a nonfiction book about grieving singleness. I took the seven stages of grief—denial, disbelief, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and hope—and applied them to what I was dealing with as a 40-something single woman.

A few years later, while at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (which is where I met Vonda!), a friend encouraged me to focus on my fiction writing. As a result, Spinstered the Novel was born.

I’ve always been impressed with your writing, but what would you say are some of your strengths as a writer?

Years ago, I had the privilege to work for the in-house radio marketing department at Focus on the Family. I learned I not only love writing scripts and dialog but I’m pretty good at it. I even won a few awards while I was there. I’m also passionately committed to making my manuscript as good as I can. Though that can also be a detriment because I’m a bit OCD about it, which means I have a hard time letting something I wrote go until it’s perfect. And it’s never perfect.

Sharyn Kopf Labor Day Singles 025

Sharyn with first purchaser of Spinstered, at Labor Day Singles Retreat

And to follow up: What are some of your weaknesses?

Well, to be honest, I don’t write as much as I should. I think it’s a mixture of fear and laziness. Fear that what I write won’t be any good. And the laziness that comes from letting other things distract me from what I know needs to be done. Like spending too much time on Facebook.

Why did you decide to self-publish Spinstered?

That’s a long, sad story but suffice it to say I went through a disappointing contract experience that did not end with a published book. In the meantime, numerous interactions with singles fed the urgency I felt to get this book to the audience I know is out there.

My choice was to start over with submitting to agents or editors—a process that can take years—or self-publish. Since the novel had already gone through several rounds of edits, I knew I could have it ready within a week or two. In fact, I was able to make my goal of taking copies to the Labor Day Singles Retreat at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC. I sold several copies there and made some great connections. It also led to my first 5-star review!

What’s next for you and your writing?

Sharyn with a family gift after she finished Spinstered

Sharyn with a family gift after she finished Spinstered

First, I hope to finish and self-publish the nonfiction version—Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40—in the next month or two. In addition, I wrote an unrelated novella titled Cold Read that I’d love to have available by the end of October. Finally, I have two sequels to Spinstered the Novel in the works. Book two will be titled Inconceived and I’ll probably name book 3 Altared. Of course, all of that could change. I’m open to whatever God wants to do!

Sharyn, I LOVE those titles, but my goodness, you have quite a To-Do list ahead! I’ll look forward to reading all of them. Thanks for joining us today at the Christian Writer’s Den.

And readers, don’t forget to leave your comment so you can be in the drawing for a copy of Sharyn’s book!

Bio: Spinstered is Sharyn Kopf’s first novel. Over the years, her work has included co-authoring a book about traumatic brain injury, penning scripts for stage, and writing for newspaper as well as Focus on the Family radio.

Every Friday, Sharyn ponders the over-40 single life at, the blog she shares with two other authors. For her day job(s), she works as a literary publicist for Route 1 Manuscripts and teaches high school English at a small Christian school.

She lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio, just five minutes from her favorite people in the world—her family. You can connect with Sharyn through her blog or on Facebook.


newspapersNow it’s time to hear about your Kudos and MoGo7000 Totals!

Okay, friends, now it’s time to hear from you! 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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~mogo7000 logo

Who Worked on Their MoGo7000 in September?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in September, 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 September results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in September. (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 3 months and you’ll have 3 entries!

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

Sarah Meece A Dose of Hope book cover~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, who won Sarah Meece’s book, A Dose of Hope?

And has selected Cathy Baker! Congratulations! Just contact me with your mailing address and Sarah will get the book right out to you!

Readers, here’s a direct Amazon link to A Dose of Hope. I know you’ll enjoy it!


Well, that does it for another first Tuesday edition of The Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you enjoyed it! I look forward to seeing you on Friday when we open God’s Word and see what He has for us.

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



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Parting Words From The WORD…Do We Have Instructed Tongues?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you feel called by God to be a writer or speaker. So when I found this powerful verse in Isaiah recently, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4

At first glance, this looked like a great verse for us to claim as speakers and writers. But after doing some research, I found that Isaiah 50:4-9 (some commentators say 50:4-11), is the third of four Servant Songs, foreshadowing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And it fits Him so perfectly!

But I must admit I was disappointed that it looked like we couldn’t claim the verse for ourselves.

In the verses prior to verse 4, God is chastising Israel for not recognizing His omnipotence, His power, and His love for Israel. He reminds them that He was not too weak to protect them from their enemies, but that they were the ones who turned away from Him. After generations of rebellion and defiance, God had had enough and had allowed them to suffer the consequences of their choices.

But He also provided the answer to those choices—Jesus, the One who knows the word that sustains the weary. Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name!

And the good news is, as followers of Christ and students of His Word, we are directed to be like Him, which means to shine His light, and to share His saving grace with this lost and dying world. In other words, as we study, as we pray and seek His face, as we confess our sin and meditate on His promises, several things happen:

  • We DO receive an instructed tongue
  • We DO know the Word that sustains the weary
  • We ARE challenged to listen to and follow His words
  • We ARE taught my His Holy Spirit

Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name! So follow, study, shine, pray, confess, and meditate. Then go, write, speak…and share the Word that sustains the weary.

It is a verse for us today.

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


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