Latest Blog Posts for February 2015

Interview and Book Give-Away with Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia Simmons headshotHappy 4th Tuesday! I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, author and speaker Cynthia L. Simmons, to you. We met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Cynthia is not a newbie to writing. As the writer of articles, devotions, and interviews for regional and national periodicals and devotionals, author of Women Who Overcame, and writing instructor, she has a lot to offer all of us!

Today we’re talking about her book, Women Who Overcame. Be sure to leave a comment for Cynthia and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book!

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Cynthia. Thanks for joining us today. Let’s start with a question all writers love to talk about: Why did you start writing?

I’m a homeschool mother with five kids. My youngest suffers from multiple disabilites. Learning to teach a disabled child and juggle a busy family brought lots of stress. When I got discouraged, God brought along stories from history to encourage me. Finally the Lord kept calling my attention to the verses in 2 Corinthians chapter one. The writer, the apostle Paul, told us that “the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” I began writing in order to give away the encouragement God gave me.

How did you get interested in history?

Years ago I visited the Smithsonian and went through an exhibit on how women impacted politics. Usually history revolves around men, so the material aroused my curiosity. I started to read biographies of the presidents’ wives. From there I purchased diaries and letters written by women in various time periods.

That sounds very interesting, but I’m curious: Why would a modern day woman want to read your book?

Even though these women lived years ago, they had the same feelings and struggles we have today. In fact, at times I found myself crying while immersed in a letter or diary. In addition, Women Who Overcame contains believers and unbelievers. I wanted women to see the contrast. I believe they’ll agree with me that walking by faith is the best way to live.

When I first started reading your book, I have to admit I was surprised that there were both Christians and non-Christians in it. Why do you say faith in Christ improves the lives of women?

First, women who trust in God don’t have to rely on their cunning. The apostle Peter said we have a ‘living hope.’ Our Savior is alive and making intercession for us. When hard times come, the Spirit intercedes for us to the Father. I think as women read my book, they’ll see these truths illustrated in the stories of women who believed.Cynthia Simmons WWO cover

You’re right–that’s exactly what happened as I read it! So, I’m curious: What is historical in these stories and what is fiction?

Each of these women actually lived, but when you study historical women, you find gaps in the story. Women stayed in the background while men had center stage. Even prominent women left behind few personal writings. I filled in the missing data with my imagination. In fact, I could have called this book creative nonfiction, since it’s as accurate as I could make it.

What is your current project? I’m working on a study guide for Women Who Overcame for churches to use in their women’s groups. It will be a twelve week Bible study and will have daily assignments. The student will be immersed in Scripture as they seek the answers to various issues raised in the stories.

That sounds like a great companion to your book, Cynthia. I hope to see it published soon, too! Thank you for being with us and sharing a little about your journey

And readers, be sure to leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win a free copy. Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you won!

Thanks for Tweeting!

#Women Who Overcame – Interview & Free Book w/ @CynthiaLSimmons via @VondaSkelton #amwriting http://bit.ly/1DOIgfk (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Cynthia L. Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She taught for over twenty-five years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, ECLA magazine, Christian Devotions.us, and BookFun Magazine.  Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director.  “Cyndi” has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year.  She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio for women seeking the elegance of God’s wisdom.  To listen to her broadcasts, visit her website: www.clsimmons.com

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Parting Words From The WORD…Is the World Out of Control?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thursday, as I began working on my Friday post, a friend commented on Facebook about a common feeling that things are out of control. That prompted me to put together this thought-line and combine it with an excerpt from my book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe. I pray this message encourages you today.)

Let’s face it, we can wake up feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the day. But all it takes is a quick look at the headlines, Twitter, and Facebook to send us reeling.

This world is out of control.

There have been times when I’ve fretted and worried and made myself sick about a problem, all because I believed a lie of Satan—the lie that says everything is out of control. But in truth, it was simply out of my control.

We know we have the Holy Spirit. But the question is, does the Holy Spirit have us? Have we submitted to His authority and power in our lives? Have we swallowed our pride, exposed our weakness, and handed our mess over to Him?

If we’re truthful, most of us would have to admit we try to handle it on our own. Only after all other options have failed do we call out to God, admitting our frailty and acknowledging our need for help.

We’ve got it backward

One day, my pastor’s two children were playing in the den when the youngest began to cry because he had broken his toy. “Don’t worry,” his older sister said. “We’ll just take it to Daddy. He can fix anything.” You can imagine how Pastor Scott felt when he overheard his children’s conversation. His heart swelled with pride, knowing his children trusted him. They respected and honored him as their father—the one who could fix anything.

That’s how the Father wants us to see Him—as our Daddy who can fix anything. And although there is a limit to what Pastor Scott can do, our Heavenly Father doesn’t have any limits! He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. And He is all love.

That’s not to say our problems will be resolved according to our preferences. But God does promise that everything will work out for His glory, that He is in control, and that He—and we—can handle it. All we have to do is submit ourselves and our messes to Him, and then trust Him with the details of our lives.

He wants only the best for us, and He’s the only One Who knows what the best really is. It may not be the new house we want or the husband we long for. The best for us may not even be our healing. But Romans 8:28 promises us the best is what we’ll get . . . for His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

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

Vonda

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Is the world really out of #control? #Peace is available. @VondaSkelton via Parting Words from The WORD (Click to Tweet)

 

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opps, Conferences, Contests, & Who Won Sheri Levy’s Book?

newspapersWriting opportunities and contests collected just for you, Christian Writer’s Den friends!

Yep, it’s time to share some writing opportunities I found just for you. Hope this makes a difference in your journey!

1.  Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference blog is always looking for posts. Click the link for info.

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

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

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

5. Nan Jones is currently accepting guest bloggers for her blog Morning Glory at http://morningglorylights.blogspot.com/. Morning Glory is a devotional site that helps people find the Lord in the midst of their darkest hours. She is presently receiving over 5,000 visitors per month. Guest bloggers share testimony through a devotion of how God revealed Himself to them during a difficult time. For submission guidelines please contact Nan at nan@jubilantlight.com. Write “guest blogger” in the subject line.

6.  Chicken Soup is looking for stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!
101 Joyous Holiday Stories
. Guidelines here.

7.  Country Woman Country Lifestyle Magazine: Guidelines here.

8.  Photo Life submission guidelines.

9.  Stages of Life Writing Contests for teens to retirement agers!

10. I Love Cats Magazine writer’s and photographers guidelines.

11. Write Integrity Press has call-out for writers for upcoming eBook! 

There you are! Don’t forget to let us know when you have a writing success to share. We want to celebrate with YOU!

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If you’re serious about writing and speaking, you’ll be serious about attending

conferences. 

When I first started this writing journey, I didn’t have money for conferences, so I asked my family and friends to contribute to my conference fund rather than giving me gifts for Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day, anniversary, and Mother’s Day. That went a long way towards my conferences. You might want to try it, too.

Here’s a list of upcoming writing and/or speaking conferences. Make your plans now to attend at least one conference a year. You wouldn’t expect to get a job without being prepared and qualified, would you? You can be sure your chances of publication increase with your training and experience in writing as well.

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

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

3.  American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreats begin in March: Various locations and dates

4.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 7, 2015, Memphis, TN (I’ll be there and would love to see you there!)

5.  Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 13-14, 2015, Spartanburg, SC

6.  Weekend with the Writers: March 20-21, 2015, Greenville, SC

7.  Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: March 25-31, 2015, Felton, CA

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

9.  Orange County Christian Writers ConferenceApril 24-25, 2015, Santa Ana, CA

10. Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 13-16, 2015, Estes Park, CO (watch for details coming soon)

11. Northwest Christian Writers Renewal: May 15-16, 2015, Redmond, WA

12. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 17-21, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll be there and would love to see you there!)

13. Write To Publish: June 3-6, 2015, Wheaton, IL

14. West Virginia Writers Conference: June 12-14, 2015, Ripley, WV

15. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 24-28, 2015, Grove City, PA

16. Christian Communicators Conference: Hold the date! August 26-30, 2015, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. 2015 registration details will be up by March 1. (I would love to see you there!)

17. American Christian Fiction Writers Conference: September 17-20, 2015, Dallas, TX

18. Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MISheri Levy book cover

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And who won Sheri Levy’s book, Seven Days to Goodbye?

The winner is…Lori Hatcher! Congrats, Lori! All you need to do is contact me with your mailing address and your copy of Sheri’s book will be on its way!

And for those who didn’t win, I know you want your own copy, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Seven Days to Goodbye.

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Writing opps-conferences-contests – all for #writers – at Christian Writer’s Den @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips http://bit.ly/1AL5DWh (Click to Tweet)

 

Well, that does it for another 3rd Tuesday. I hope you’ve found lots of help here today. After all, that’s my goal!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…What is unseen is eternal…

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Are you struggling today? Overwhelmed? Paul was, too, but he didn’t focus on the hardship.

I pray this encourages you as much as it encouraged me.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away, Kudos and MoGo7000 Results

Sheri Levy and dogsI’m thrilled to share Sheri Levy and her new book, Seven Days to Goodbye, with you today! Normally, this is where I tell you how I met Sheri, but she did such a good job in her interview that we’ll just let her explain it all!

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Sheri and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Sheri, welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den. Let’s start with an easy question: What inspired you to write?

For years I taught special education and tried to find the key to each child’s learning potential. Most of my students didn’t have a reading environment at home and it became my goal to instill their love of books. Each morning the students anticipated the continuation of a chapter book I read at the end of each day. They’d lean forward in their desks, hanging on to each word I read. When I retired, remembering their delight motivated me to write for children. I took my first pages to a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) conference and discovered quickly, writing a book was different than writing a letter or an academic paper. I signed up for classes, discussions on writing, and met Vonda Skelton.

I remember that day very well! What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Beginning to write brought feelings of insecurity, questions–if this was a worthwhile desire? The biggest change in my life was writing for hours at a time, and giving-up free time with friends and my husband. I have kept my promise of turning off the computer at 5:00, most evenings! Receiving rejections broke my spirit. Luckily, after hearing Vonda speak about her rejections, and how she bounced back and continued sending them, I realized rejection was part of the writing career. She gave me hope, inspired me to work hard, and not give up.

I’m so glad that encouraged you, Sheri! How do you stay motivated?

I’d not be writing if it wasn’t for friends, new acquaintances, and my critique buddies supporting me. Once again, Vonda reached out to me. Was this a coincidence, or was God stepping in? Vonda knew I was writing about service dogs and she sent me an email. Her editor with Clubhouse Magazine wanted a story about a service dog that had changed a child’s life. I had already met Hayden, an eleven-year-old boy, walking with his Diabetic Alert dog in Walmart, and had interviewed him, completed his story, and was starting to query. After one revision, “Scent with Love” was published in Clubhouse Magazine, July, 2010. Another online friend, Sheila Webster Boneham, PhD, encouraged me to join the Dog Writers Association contest. In 2011, “Scent with Love” won a nomination for a Maxwell Medallion and won in their Special Interest category. Having my first article published was a thrill and a confidence builder.

How did Seven Days to Goodbye find publication?Sheri Levy book cover

I read about Barking Rain Press being open for submissions. I researched them, sent my query, and received a request for the entire manuscript. I had done this a number of times with no results, so I waited. Months later, while drinking coffee and watching the Today Show, I scrolled through my emails on my phone and noticed BRP’s name. I clicked on their email and read it. I lost my breath, handed the phone to my husband, and had him read the message out loud. The rest is history!

My young-YA novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, is my heart book. With permission, I share Carol Baldwin’s description from her October blog.

“What do you get when you mix together a week on Edisto Island with a puppy raiser and her best friend connecting to guys for the first time, protecting a loggerhead turtle’s nest, finding her service dog relating to a young boy with autism, and agonizing over what comes next. You get the ingredients for Seven Days to Goodbye.” Carol Baldwin

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

Writers need a thick skin. After the story is completed and revised, send it to reputable blogs that generate contests and critiques. My favorites are Adventures in YA Publishing and Pitch Wars.

Take a break from the computer–do normal activities, allowing your brain to think and create.

Do Not Give Up! Start something new. Change Genres. But keep writing!

Great tips, Sheri! Thanks again for being with us today and sharing your writing journey with us. Best wishes for much success for your book!

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

Bio: Sheri Levy taught Special Ed for sixteen years, a Family Learning Program for nine years, and continues to tutor students once a week. She has two amazing adult children, two brilliant grand boys, and after raising four other dogs, now has two younger Australian Shepherds. Her most favorite activities besides reading and writing are her dogs, having her toes in a sandy beach, music, movies and ice cream. www.sherislevy.com

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Who do we get to celebrate with today?

Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den writers for doing the work and finding success!

1.  Cathy Baker (SC): My story on a past miscarriage will be included in Chicken Soup of the Soul: Hope & Miracles, on sales February 10. (Vonda here: That’s TODAY! What a great way to celebrate with you!)

2.  Tammy Whitehurst (TX): 1)The United Methodist Publishing House just bought a 5th article from me. 2)I also wrote and sold a greeting card to Warner Press. 3)And I have been invited to speak at Gatesville Women’s Prison again. There is nothing that compares to it! I invite all of you to my daily devotional on Facebook. The page is filled with giggles and grins and a whole lot of God! Connect on FB at https://www.facebook.com/JoyForTheJourneyMinistry

3.  Beth Fortune (SC): 1)I had two more devotions accepted at ChristianDevotions.us; 2)I had another article accepted in Reach Out Columbia; 3)I was recently a guest blogger at the Christian Communicators blog!

Congratulations to these writers! Don’t see your own name on the list? Be sure to check back next week when I’ll have a whole new list of writing opportunities!

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Who were the first ones to earn entries into the 2015 MoGo7000 drawing for $100?

#1: Joan Hall – 7,055 words
#2: Suan Baganz – 16,866 words

Congratulations, Joan and Susan! You’re both off to a great start! And readers, don’t forget, every month you write at least 7000 new words on a book project, you can earn an entry. So what are you waiting for? Get to work!

And if you’re interested in finding out how you might win $100, check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page.

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Thanks for joining me today. Without you, it’d be a pretty lonely place. I appreciate you and pray for you and your work.

Blessings,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Here am I, Please Send Somebody Else

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I think I mentioned that I’m doing my third year of the Living Power Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year Online Bible Study, led by Christian Communicators grad, Shannon Mullins. I love this study. Regardless of how many times I study passages of His word through this study, I always find things I’ve never noticed before.

This week we started going through Exodus, and as usual, I found something powerful. Something that had been there all along, but I’d never grasped it quite like this.

I’ve known that Moses repeatedly responded to God’s call with excuses or questions, but I’ve never compared his responses to some of my own as a speaker and writer.

Moses gave excuses because he thought he couldn’t do what God was calling him to do. His five responses could have come from my own mouth at various times in my writing/speaking life.

  1. In Exodus 3:11, Moses asks, “Who am I?”
  2. In Exodus 3:13, Moses asks, “But what if they ask me your name?”
  3. In Exodus 4:1, Moses asks, “What if they don’t believe me?”
  4. In Exodus 4:10, Moses says, “But you know I can’t speak.”
  5. In Exodus 4:13, Moses says, “Please send somebody else.”

Sounds so much like me when God speaks His directions and His plans to my heart. I often question. I fear. I hesitate. After all, I’m just me. A human who’s frail and flawed. I can’t do what He asks me to do.

But I see from Moses’ life–yet again–that God is always able to overcome our frailties and flaws. The question is, will I let Him?

Will you?

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

Vonda

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Write Your Book & Win $100 with MoGo7000, Call-Outs, & Who Won Lori Hatcher’s Book?

mogo7000 logoWith the new year off and running, I thought today would be a good day to highlight MoGo7000, my monthly–and yearly–writing challenge created to help you write your book. The very first MoGo7000 kicked off in January 2011, and so far I’ve given away $400 in cold, hard cash! The 2015 challenge is now underway and you’re invited to join in!

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to find time to write. We’re all busy. Love and work and family and friends and responsibilities are important and necessary parts of our lives, and they sometimes don’t leave much time for writing a 60,000 to 100,000-word book.

There are many ways to set and reach goals, but we each have to find a system that works for us. Is 500 words a day enough? What about 50,000 a month? Through the years of writing, I’ve discovered that 7000 words a month is a reasonable, achievable  goal. After all, even if we can only write one day a week, most of us could pound out 7000 words in a month. So…

I want to introduce to you MoGo7000! (Do you get it? Monthly Goal 7000)

It’s simple! Write 7000 words in a month and you’ll earn an entry for the end-of-the-year drawing for $100! Meet the goal every month and at the end of a year you’ll have 12 entries AND 84,000 words. Even if you miss the goal here or there, you could still end up with a book-length manuscript. And if you write books for teens or tweens, you might even have TWO books!

Here’s the complete scoop:

1.     Set a goal of writing 7000 words a MONTH on a book project. Even if you can’t write for a chunk of the month, you could most likely meet the goal by seriously writing on those days you can.

2.     You must write new words each month. Yes, rewriting is important to writing a good book, but rewriting the previous month’s words will not count toward your 7000 goal. This does NOT have to be a new project. You can count the words you write beginning today–even if you’re already halfway through the book!

3.     Your 7000 words must be on a book project. Of course you’re free to write as many articles or blog posts or anything else you can each month, but those words will not count toward your 7000-word book goal.

4.     Leave a comment on the first blog post of The Christian Writer’s Den each month, letting me know you met the goal the previous month. Yes, we’re all trusting each other to be honest here. After all, if you

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

can’t trust Christians to tell the truth, who can you trust?

5.     For each month you meet your goal of 7000 words, you earn an entry for the drawing at the end of the year. Didn’t make it one month? Don’t worry, you’ll have eleven more months to meet the deadline and be entered–again and again!

6.     You can join any time during the year.

7.     The contest ends December 31, 2015.

8.     The winner will be chosen by Random.org, a random integer generator and announced on The Christian Writer’s Den blog!

9.      It’s all FREE!

So, are you ready to join me? If so, take a leap of faith and leave a comment to this blog, letting me know you’re on board. It’d be great to know what category you’re writing, too. Remember, writing the goal is essential to meeting it.

And don’t worry, nobody’s going to harass you or embarrass you or make you feel like a failure if you miss your goal. Either way, you win because you’ll write words that would never have been written if you hadn’t set the goal in the first place.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s do it! The month starts…NOW!

Would you share the MoGo7000 Challenge with your writing friends?

TWEETABLE

Write your book & you could win $100 – It’s free with MoGo7000 Challenge @VondaSkelton Christian Writer’s Den  (Click to Tweet)

Thanks!

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Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s time to hear about your Kudos!

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!

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Who Worked on Their MoGo7000 in January?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in January, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

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

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Who Won Lori Hatcher’s Book?

The winner is…Carol Heilman! Carol, please contact me with your snail mail address and Lori will send your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win Lori’s new book, here’s a direct Amazon link to Hungry for God, Starving for Time: 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. You know you want your own copy!

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Thanks for stopping by today, friends. I can’t wait to see what you’ve already been up to in 2015!

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

Vonda

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