Latest Blog Posts for February 2016

Parting Words From The WORD…To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

In this achievement-oriented world, it’s easy to get caught up in the accomplishment, in the doing of the good thing. I have to admit, I sometimes come to the end of the day and recount all the good things I did for Him. I sometimes equate the sacrifice of time and money and giftings as evidence of my stand with Christ. It’s a fragile stand.

Yes, God expects us to use our talents in writing and speaking and drama to glorify Him and lift up His Great Name. But if we’re doing it out of a disobedient heart, it’s all in vain.

Saul fought the Amalekites and won, just as God had commanded, but he didn’t do it in the way God commanded. Instead of wiping out the Amalekites and all they owned, he decided to bring the best of the herd back as a sacrificial offering to God. He also brought back Agag the King.

In 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel tells Saul:

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…”

Wow.

All our quality, hard-earned, and often sacrificial, deeds–our compelling fiction, our powerful devotions, our heartfelt non-fiction, our scripts and music and plays–are worthless if we’re sacrificing in our own way.

Instead of being an act of sacrifice, it’s an act of disobedience.

What has called you to do? What has He called me to do? Are we obedient in our efforts to sacrifice our time and sleep and money and talents?

We must remember, obedience is better than sacrifice.

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

Vonda

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The Fastest Route to Publication–It’s as Easy as 1-2-3! Plus Let’s Celebrate These Writers!

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhoto

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhoto

Well, it’s the 2nd Tuesday, so that means we’ll start with some tips for writers!

Some of you have heard my story of writing a poem in first grade. You know that in high school I worked on the newspaper staff and was editor of the literary journal. Some have heard me say that by the time I was in college I knew that one day I would write a book…and the next thing I knew, I was forty.

At that point, I figured my life was half over. If I was going to write a book, I’d better get started!

But do you know the rest of the story?

I sat down and wrote a book. It only took me about three months to dash from start to finish, but I was confident it would be the next great American novel for kids. I remember the day I dropped the first batch of ten envelopes in the mailbox. “Oh my. What am I going to do when five publishers want my book at the same time? Oh, my!” (I’m dead serious. That’s exactly what I thought.)

But instead of a bidding war, the submissions received 10 rejections before the stamps were dry. (Yes, those were the days when you had to actually lick the stamps, too!)

The years came and went and I continued to recycle that book over and over and over, confident that I’d eventually find an editor who had sense enough to see what a gold mine my book would be for his or her publishing house. I did this for at least 5 years, never considering that perhaps, just maybe, I needed to learn something about writing.

In my rush to see my name in print, it took me 7 years, lots of conferences, and lots of rejections to dash across the publication finish line. And it took 10 years to have a published book!

I had a simple 1-2-3- plan for publication: 1)feel the urge, 2)write the book, and 3)collect a big fat advance.

Oh, if only it were that easy! For most of us, successful writing is a tortoise event, not a hare one. A cross-country event, not a sprint.

If you want to write a book and then spend 10 years trying to get it published, that’s fine. After all, it’s your book, you can do whatever you want. But if you really want to cross the finish line as a writer, here are the 1-2-3′s to help you get there faster.

1.  Take the time to learn the craft. If you don’t get anything from this post, I hope you get this: There are no shortcuts. I once heard bestselling author, T. Davis Bunn, say something like, “Would someone decide he wants to be a concert pianist, learn to bang out Chopsticks, and then expect to play Carnegie Hall? Would someone decide to be an artist, slap a little paint on a canvas, and then expect a buyer to pay her for it? Of course not! But that’s exactly what we do when we simply sit down, write a book, and think it’s going to be sold.”

So, instead of jumping straight into a book, start at the beginning. Find a local writer’s group, take a class at the community college, and attend writing conferences. Read instructional books and follow instructional writing blogs like this one. (You could sit and read the archives and have your own writer’s conference right in the comfort of your own home!) Learn the techniques of good writing, apply them to your work, and get valid feedback from others who know what to look for. This doesn’t mean you can’t be working on your book from the beginning, but you need to be learning the craft in the process.

2.  Start with short pieces. Many of us start out with a big dream to write and sell a book. And it could happen. Possibly. But your chances for publication may actually increase if you start out small by submitting articles and stories. And for some editors, agents, and publishing houses, the chances of publishing a book are greater if you’ve already proven you can write publishable short pieces. And the good news is, I post writing opportunities right here on The Christian Writer’s Den every third Tuesday of the month, listing places that are looking for writers.

3.  Write a blog. Yes, writing a blog can help you in your race to the writing finish line. Good blogging requires discipline, writing skills, and promotion. All this will help you build a platform while building your writing paper trail. A blog rarely leads to a book contract, although it could happen. But the better goal is to use that time to make connections while learning to write well. Visit Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation, for great posts about blogging and social media.

So there you have it, the 1-2-3 of writing for publication. The steps are simple, but they certainly aren’t easy. The dash to the finish line not be a sprint, but follow these steps and you’re more likely to win your cross-country goal of publication.

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let’s celebrate your kudos!

Congratulations to these Christian Writer’s Den friends who are working hard and reaching their goals!

1. Nancy Foss (NC): My first book, Lord, Change Him; He’s Such a Jerk: Finding Hope for an Unhappy Marriage, was just published. I’m looking forward to seeing where God will take me this year.

2. Ellen Andersen (SC): I had a devotion, Forgive Them? Why Should I?, published at the end of January by Christian Devotions.

3. Barbara Parentini (NC): It’s been a while since I’ve shared with you about my inspirational greeting cards, Soaring Hearts. In the last six months there have been wonderful developments. First: The desire of my heart was to see the cards perch in a hospital gift shop. There is now a large selection in my hometown, Springfield, Ohio, at The Gardenview Gift Shop in Springfield Regional Medical Center. My nursing school is rooted in the new hospital, so God answered my prayer in such a lovely way! Second: Soaring Hearts and the entire “Sea Glass Collection” is in Yoder’s Gift Shop. Yoder’s is the most well-known Amish restaurant in Sarasota, Florida. My family and I have been frequent customers for decades! They are known for their amazing pies, delicious food, and beautiful gift shop. Yoder’s now stocks a wide assortment of Soaring Hearts. Third: I was approached over a year ago about this, and I’ve been chosen as the card vendor for The Garden Club of North Carolina’s 91st Annual Event. Several vendors and I will have our booths set up at the Sheraton Imperial (Emperor Blvd by RDU Airport) in Durham, NC, for the statewide event, April 17-19, 2016. The ladies of the garden club have been welcoming and enthusiastic about the cards. I will feature my Garden Grace Collection which I intend to grow this year. And to note, I’m in the process of editing my long-awaited book, SEA GLASS, a journal/devotional for those who love the sea, filled with Scripture, devotions, poetry, and inspiring prose. I plan to paint pages with sea glass colors and design. I’ve been compiling this over several years, and am excited this will be finished in 2016. Thank you, Vonda, for always being so supportive about my writing and creative endeavors. Blessings!

4. Tracy Crump (MS): I am honored to announce that Chicken Soup for the Soul chose my story “A Glorious Ride,” previously published in their Inspiration for the Young at Heart, to be included in the upcoming For Mom, with Love, which will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Way to go, writers! And friends, if you didn’t see your name on this list, be sure to check back next week where I’ll have a new list of writing opportunities just for you!

mogo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who MoGo’d in January?

These friends wrote at least 7000 words on a book project in January and earned an entry in the 2016 drawing for $100 at the end of the year!

#1: Diana Leagh Matthews – 32,765 words
#2: Susan Baganz – 14,703 words
#3: Tim Suddeth – 20,248 words
#4: Amanda Everett – 7,466 words

Woo-hoo! We’re off to a great start, gang! And readers, if you want to join in the fun and have a bunch of chances to win $100 at the end of the year, check out the MoGo7000 Challenge. It’s free!

Well that does it for the 2nd Tuesday of February. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll take a look at writing opportunities and conferences.

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The Word…Following His Lead When I Don’t Want To

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I don’t know why I don’t always follow His lead. I don’t know why I dare to question, or ignore, or put off responding. After all, I’ve experienced a lot of years walking with the Lord, some more closely than others.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I can look back on my many years and see that some of my most life-changing, spiritual-growth events came as a result of things I didn’t want to do.

For instance, way back in 1997, I didn’t want to share my marriage testimony with the women of my church. These women saw me as an upstanding Christian woman who had a long, happy marriage and who loved their kids. They didn’t know about how I had bulldozed my way through the first 15 years of my marriage. They hadn’t seen the dangerous repercussions of that experience. They didn’t know that event had propelled me to submit to the Father and seek to change who I was.

They didn’t know . . . and I liked it that way.

When God told me in 1997 that I had to share that experience with my church friends, I was quick to let Him know exactly what I thought about His great idea. It was a plain and simple “No way!”

I won’t go through all the gory details, but I’ll just say that His details were miraculous, parting-of-the-sea, a line-in-the-sand moment I couldn’t ignore. And I will say God took me kicking and screaming into women’s ministry through that experience. My life has never been the same. (If you’re interested, you can read about those details here and here.)

So, what if I had never obeyed, albeit defiantly? What if I had stuck to my guns, kept my secret, and never come clean? I don’t know that the world would be that much different, but I sure would be. I would have missed out on close to 20 years of serving Him as a Christian speaker.

I would have missed out on a lot.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What about you? Are you hearing His voice, but saying no? Are you standing your ground, defying His plan for your life?

You could be missing out on a lot.

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Call-Outs for Kudos & MoGo7000 and Who Won Cheri Cowell’s Book?

newspapersIt’s the 1st Tuesday, so it’s time to hear from you: Calling All Kudos!

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small the success may seem to you, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I 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. Everybody’s welcome to share.

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~mogo

Who Worked on Their Book 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 2016 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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Cheri Cowell cover PeaceAnd Who Won Cheri Cowell’s Book, 365 Devotions for Peace?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Bonita Bandaries!

Congratulations, Bonita! All you need to do is contact me with your snail mail address and Cheri will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win…You KNOW you want this book! So here’s a direct Amazon link to 365 Devotions for Peace, by Cheri Cowell. Enjoy!

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Well, friends, that does it for our Writer’s Headlines this week. Be sure to check back next week when you can learn The Fastest Route to Publication–It’s as Easy as 1-2-3! We’ll also be celebrating you, so be sure to send me your good news!

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

Vonda

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