Latest Blog Posts for August 2016

A Writer’s Health Dilemma by Tim Suddeth and Who Won Susan Baganz’s Book?

Tim Suddeth headshotA Writer’s Health Dilemma

By Tim Suddeth

I am learning, as I start this journey of a writer, that I have to careful to keep my life in balance. This became real to me earlier this year when I began to see higher numbers on the scale. Being in my fifties, I didn’t want my weight to keep increasing and I had to do something to get it back under control.

But here’s the problem for a writer. What’s the most important thing we can do for our health? Exercise, get up and get moving.

And as a writer, what are the two things I’m suppose to do the most?

  • Reading, otherwise known as cute hiney in recliner, and
  • Writing, or butt in chair.

Neither one’s conducive to good health.

And don’t tell me to try to do them standing. My brain doesn’t work like that.

So to help me make some lifestyle adjustments, I bought Jenna Wolfe’s Thinner In 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days. I wasn’t concerned about the 30 days as much as I wanted her tips to change my habits.

A few of the tips from the book that I’m doing:

  • Walk 10,000 steps a day. I bought a Fitbit for this and it’s going well. It really pushes me. A lot of evenings I’m walking in place to hit my number. It’s fun to go to bed knowing I achieved my goal.
  • Two to three days of exercise a week. This is in addition to the walking.
  • 20 sips of water when you wake up. I have to admit, I’m getting slack on this.
  • Start a food diary. It makes you question that extra snack when you have to write it down.
  • Rethink what you drink. I have coffee in the morning and water the rest of the time. No sodas except for special occasions.

For me, it’s a struggle to find time to get in my ten thousand steps. Here are my tips if you have a similar goal:

  • Get a good portion of your steps in the morning. I try to have four thousand by noon.
  • Take a break in your reading or writing or get up from your desk job every so often. I try to get up for ten minutes each hour and move around. You can make an exception if you’re in a flow. But don’t let this become an excuse to procrastinate or surf the net.
  • Walk your dog. It really adds to your numbers. Besides, can you possibly be a writer without a dog? Dog walking is great for plotting and working out your characters. And there’s nothing like watching for poo to help you iron out a scene.
  • And your cat. Well, don’t walk it. But enjoy it purring on your chest and feel your heart rate go down.
  • And sometimes, just chill. This is for you, you’re in charge. No competition unless you want it. You’re doing the walking for your heart, don’t get stressed about it.

So where am I now? I’m down ten pounds and staying steady. We’ll see what happens when Halloween comes. But then, I’ll adjust as necessary. After all, your health isn’t a thirty day sprint, it’s a marathon. With a divine celebration at the end.

Bio: Tim Suddeth attended Clemson University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He’s been married over twenty years and has a happy 18-year-old son with autism. You can reach him at timingreenville@gmail.com or www.TimInGreenville.com.

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FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1And who won Susan Baganz’s book, Feta & Freeways?

The winner is . . .

Glenda Mills!

Congratulations, Glenda! Simply contact me with your mailing address and Susan will send the book soon after it releases September 16.

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Feta & Freeways.

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Susan Baganz & Please Pray For My Mom

Baganz 0524 Edited colorSweet friends, first of all, I need to ask for your prayers. My 83yo mother took a nasty fall on Sunday and is still in ICU. Praise God, nothing is life-threatening right now, but she had a deep gash to her forehead, which was repaired Sunday in the ER. But the bad part is she has broken multiple bones, including her arm, shoulder, multiple ribs, and her kneecap. She’s in a lot of pain and has surgery scheduled (again–this is the 4th date we’ve been given!) for Wednesday. Christian Communicators Conference begins tomorrow and I’m not going to be able to be there, at least not now. I’m praying I’ll be able to get up there later in the week.

Please pray for relief of pain, successful surgery, and that she’ll be able to get into a good rehab facility. She’s expected to be in rehab 3 months. Praise God, none of this has taken our Lord by surprise and He’s still in control! Now let’s get to this exciting interview with author and editor Susan Baganz!

Friends, if you’ve ever wondered how anyone can write a gazillion words a month and create multiple books a year, well, here’s your chance to find out. Prolific writer, Susan Baganz, is with us today to share her story about writing stories!

And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Susan’s latest book, Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan here and you’ll be in the drawing!

Let’s get started! Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Susan. We’ve all seen you post significant word counts over the past few years on this blog for the MoGo7000 Challenge. So inquiring minds want to know, how much and how often do you really write?

I’m an author but I’m also an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group so I juggle my writing with my editing for others. I can’t write every day but when I do, I do it quickly and obsessively. I’m a panster. I start with a concept and inciting incident and my characters take me on a journey. On a rare day I can pen 5,000-10,000 words (the next might be 161!). I write every year in November for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org), and “won” seven years in a row.  I’ve written two to three novels/novellas a year for some time now, completing 16 manuscripts in six years. As of this date five have been published and eight more are contracted.

That’s unbelievable! Don’t you ever get writer’s block?

I don’t call it writer’s block. I call it a wall of fear. With every novel I hit a point in the story where I think the story is crap and I’ve written myself into a corner. I pray. I go to bed. The next morning, I force myself to write. I cannot remember where that spot was in any of my stories. Fear is a writer’s biggest enemy.

I totally agree! What’s been your biggest surprise in writing?

I love my stories and characters but when revisions come I’m always amazed at the mistakes I made. Editing is a humbling process. I write romances but what surprised me most is that men love my stories. I’m grateful for the unexpected audience.

You’ve written a series of contemporary romance novels of which Feta & Freeways is the third book. What ties these novels together?

I wrote the first book, Pesto & Potholes, to show not only the story but the importance of being involved in a church. The opportunity to worship, be taught, engage in fellowship with other believers along with encouragement and accountability—is a key part of our faith in Christ.

All stories are set against the backdrop of a fictional church, Orchard Hill.FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1 Renata and Tony were the subject of Pesto & Potholes and Stephanie was Renata’s roommate and became the subject of Salsa & Speed Bumps. At the end of that novel we meet Tia who becomes a friend of Stephanie’s. Tia appears in book 3, Feta & Freeways. Niko and Tia feature there along with Niko’s cousin Johnny who then becomes the feature of book 4, Root Beer & Road Blocks. There are several more fun titles and great characters in the series to come!

Those are fun titles, how did you come up with them?

I originally wanted to show, in Pesto & Potholes, the concept of potholes. The difficulty of overcoming challenges through perseverance. That even with faith, emotional growth is often a rocky trajectory. Pesto had Antonio, a single Italian chef, and it’s a favorite sauce in our family. A funny combo of food with a road-related theme became a fun way to set the stories apart.

When someone dared me to write book two and title it Salsa & Speed Bumps the challenge was on to continue to use road themes to illustrate growth through emotional challenges but in the context of a body of believers.

When I got my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I never dreamed I would be using my education and training to illustrate God’s love and the power evidenced in the Body of Christ, through fiction. The reality is that our faith is dynamic and thrives in community. We cannot grow spiritually without also growing emotionally. Personally I can’t imagine facing the trials of this life without God and the support of a community of believers. My characters live those truths.

Yes, I can attest to the fact that characters can help us and others face lies and live truth. What an honor to create evidence of the Lord and His Light! 

Thank you for being here with us today, Susan. And CWD friends, thank you for stopping by. If you’d like to have a chance to win a free copy of Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan and you’ll be in the drawing. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and serves on the board of the southeast chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz. Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/silygoos

 

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Music to Work By

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As you may know, we’re in the homestretch of preparations for the 2016 Christian Communicators Conference, which begins next Wednesday, August 24 and goes through Sunday, August 28 at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. And even though it’s a week of little sleep and lots of heart work, it truly is the highlight of my year. It’s the week I look forward to more than anything . . . once I get there.

I must say, I don’t look forward to the weeks leading up to the conference. They’re hard, long, and involve multiple, endless To-Do lists. Needless to say, some things that aren’t related to CCC just don’t get done. You may have noticed that the past couple of weeks.  :-(

These are the weeks I’m reminded how thankful I am that God created music and gave me ears to hear it. (Well, actually He gave me a solitary ear to hear it with, but He did allow that one ear to hear it very well!) Throughout the day, whether I’m working on emails or appointment schedules or novels or teaching plans, beautiful music, His music helps me stay focused, calms my spirit, and keeps the fiery darts away.

But it can’t be just any Christian music.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to music with words when I’m creating. It doesn’t matter if it’s an email, an appointment schedule, a novel, or a teaching plan, my creativity is stifled by words in music. It’s as though I can’t create words when I’m listening to words others have created.

Which bring me to the topic of today’s post: Music to work by.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you like to have beautiful music–without words–playing in the background while you work. But perhaps you’ve had trouble finding it. Here are my two favorite sources for tender, soothing, music to work by. I hope their music blesses you as much as it does me.

Soaking.net

(Scroll down to Streaming Music Players)

and

 

Bethel Music – Without Words: Synesthesia 2015

 

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Psalm 108:1 NIV

Now go. Create.

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

Vonda

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

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday, so it’s time to share some writing opportunities and contests with you!

1.  Today’s Christian Living writer’s guidelines.

2.  Charleston Style & Design submission guidelines.

3.  Call for anthology submissions: The Binge-Watching Cure. Word counts vary from 100-25,000. Deadline December December 31, 2016.

4.  Cricket Media submission guidelines for their 11 magazines for kids!

5.  Real Simple Magazine’s 9th Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Deadline September 19, 2016.

6.  Bethany House Life Changing Miracles guidelines. Deadline “a couple more weeks” per editor. You can follow Jim Bell Compilations on Facebook for announcements and call-outs.

7.  Call Out for Chistian Quotes from Your Books

8.  Connecticut Magazine submission guidelines

9.  Guide Christian Story Magazine for 10-14yo guidelines here

10. Small Farm Today magazine is dedicated to preserving and promoting small farming, rural living, community and agri-preneurship. Writing guidelines here.

11. I Love Cats Magazine writers and photographers guidelines.

12. Relate Magazine: To inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Topics include design, entertainment, the future in terms of college and jobs, beauty, faith, life, quizzes. Average article is between 300-450 words in length. Sidebar information is also encouraged, as well as graphics, including illustrations, and photographs. Online. See Relevant Magazine writer’s guidelines at bottom of the page here.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while!

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Which conference are you or conferences are you planning to attend in the next year? This list should help you decide!

1.  Atlanta Christian Writers Conference: August 18-20, 2016, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall2.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 24-28, 2016 The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC.

3.  American Christian Fiction Writers: August 25-28, 2016, Nashville, TN

4.  Maranatha Christian Writers Conference: September 29-October 1, 2016, Norton Shores, MI

5.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 7-8, 2016, Grand Rapids, MI

6.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist RetreatOctober 16-20, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC

7.  Heart of American Christian Writers Network Conference: October 20-22, 2016, Kansas City

8.  Classeminars Writers Contreat: November 10-12, 2016, Albuquerque, NM

9.  Asheville Christian Writers Conference (AKA Writers Advance Boot Camp): February 17-19, 2017, The Cove, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

10. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 10-11, 2017, Spartanburg, SC

11. Blue Lake Christian Writers Conference: March 22-25, 2017, Andalusia, AL

12. Write2Ignite Conference for Writers of Children’s Literature: March 24-25, 2017, Tigerville, SC

13. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: April 7-11, 2017, Mount Hermon, CA

14. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC

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So there you are, opportunities, contests, and conferences for writers. What’s stopping you from succeeding?

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Ask the Agent: What 10 Editorial Mistakes Do Most Novice Authors Make? And Kudos!

This is Chip.

This is Chip.

If you’re not following agent Chip MacGregor’s blog, I have three words for you: You need to. Chip is a literary agent and president of MacGregor Literary. He works with both the Christian and general market and loves sharing his snarky-laced words of wisdom with writers. I’m telling you now, you don’t want to miss his annual Bad Poetry Contest every May–what a fun way to celebrate his birthday!

Today, I’m thrilled to share a recent question submitted to Chip’s Ask the Agent blog series. Great advice for those who are serious about writing. But watch out, you must have your humor hat on or you may not get it.

Thanks, Chip!

Excerpt from Chip MacGregor’s blog series, Ask the Agent: “What 10 editorial mistakes do most novice authors make?”

I suppose if you asked this of ten agents, you’d probably get a hundred total answers, but here are my pet peeves with newbie authors:

  • Too many exclamation points!!!
  • A proposal that has not been proof-red
  • Overpromising, as in “This proposal will sell a billion copies!”
  • FEELING A NEED TO PUT LOTS OF WORDS IN ALL CAPS.
  • Random numbering in an outline.
  • I did this, I did that, I did this other thing, I, I, I.
  • Random commas, that make no, sense.
  • A failure to understand how to properly use “quotation” marks. (Also parentheses. And their attached punctuation).
  • Failing to understand the difference between its and it’s (or there and their and they’re).
  • The manuscript is passive due to the author.

From Chip: Hint for the humor impaired: There are intentional errors in that list. If you see one, don’t send me a scolding note or you’ll be banned from the blog. It’s a joke. I know you don’t get it. Just trust me – others find it funny. 

Friends, I hope you learned something about agents and what they’re NOT looking for. And if you’re a writer interested in finding out more agent answers to your questions, check out Chip’s new book, How Can I Find A Literary Agent? And 101 Other Questions Asked by Writers .

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Kudos must have taken a vacation!

It’s definitely summer. We writers are too hot, too busy, too far away to worry about writing or reporting successes. For that reason, I’m especially thankful that Sandy Quandt and Kristi Woods had a lot to celebrate this month!

1.  Sandy Quandt (TX):  1)Won the 1st place award in the unpublished Children’s Literature category at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. 2)Contracted to write 20 devotions for Worthy Inspire’s Seeing God in Nature devotional. 3)Article, “How to Write a Devotion in 300 Words or Less,” was published on WOW! Women on Writing*.

*(Vonda here: I’m so sorry, but Sandy notified me today that I had already run her kudos last month. Please know this was my mistake, not Sandy’s! But I have to admit, she has enough good stuff going on that it SHOULD be repeated! :-)

2.  Kristi Woods (OK): In July, Kristi Woods was published on Proverbs 31′s Encouragement for
Today devotions and Crosswalk.com. Additionally, she became a contributing writer for Life Letter Cafe and Blessed Transgressions. It was a busy, fruitful month full of thanksgiving to God.

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Well, that does it for another 2nd Tuesday. I hope you’ll come back next week when I’ll have a collection of writing opportunities, contests, and conference collected just for you!

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

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Are We Listening?

Bird over the lake at sunrise PixabayI love spending time on the front porch at the lake. Each morning is similar in that I take our little four-legged baby, Chloe, out to potty. Then I go straight to the coffee pot and fill my mug with piping hot coffee.

Chloe knows that we then go out on the front porch to spend time with the Father. It’s a precious, precious time. At first, I simply sit and sip, allowing my heart and mind a few moments to begin unwinding. I listen to the quiet and the birds for a bit and then listen to a few songs of worship music, taking me to a place of rest and communication with the Father. And finally I open His Word so I can hear His message to me. Each passage is a personal love letter specifically for me.

Last week while I was out on the porch listening to the quiet, I recalled how I used to sit outside with my young grandchildren, trying to count how many different bird “voices” we heard. Way back then, we were amazed at the variety of birds shouting their praise. The birds had obviously been there all along, but we didn’t hear them until we got quiet and allowed ourselves to listen.

As I sat listening last week and remembering those precious times with my grandchildren, I decided to see how many unique bird voices broke through the silence. I listened intently as one, two, three, then four and five voices floated on the breeze. I concentrated even harder and focused my hearing, tuning out everything that wasn’t the language of birds. I had to want to hear them.

Six, seven, eight, and nine spoke to me as I sat, drinking my coffee, and listening for the birds. Then I turned to my scripture reading for the day.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry . . . . James 1:19 (NIV)

A new lesson touched me . . . at a much deeper place.

I realized that if I want to hear the words of my Father, I had to do the same thing I did to hear the birds’ voices. I have to be quiet and listen. I have to concentrate with everything I have and tune out everything that’s not the language of the Father. I have to want to hear Him.

How many times have I sat in my quiet time, half-heartedly listening for His voice as my mind wandered to the day’s To-Do list, the emails I need to respond to, the bookkeeping I need to catch up?

It was a beautiful truth, spoken from the Father’s heart and straight into mine.

What about you? Are you able to hear the voices of the birds? Are you able to hear the voice of God? If not, perhaps you’re like me and need to make listening a priority by “. . . being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

Praise His holy name!

Vonda

 

 

 

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All the World is a Writer’s Stage, Call-Outs, and Who Won Cheryl Barker’s Book?

Cole and Mallory in CherokeeWow–how did it get to be the 1st Tuesday in August already? Today we’ll announce call-outs and see who won a free book, but first, let’s talk about a writer’s stage . . .

Several years ago, I had a one-day job at the Cherokee Indian Museum where I also took the time to learn about my own Cherokee heritage. After that visit, I knew I wanted to go back, take our younger grandchildren, and learn more together. A few weeks later, we did. It was an amazing experience.

But on my way home that day, I realized I did more than simply learn dates and historical events. I began to write about it, at least in my mind.

Isn’t that the way we writers are? We go on a simple vacation or go shopping or read a current event and before we know it, we’re contemplating characters, mapping out plots, scouting locations, capturing events, and creating a world inside our heads.

In As You Like It, William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players . . . .” Today I realize how true that statement is.

Little did I know those events in life would prepare a stage for my characters–-real or imagined–-to enter and exit. After all, I didn’t set out to find locations for children’s books. I simply found myself there . . . and the characters and their stories began.

Now I’m already looking forward to doing something with these nuggets of Cherokee ideas, even though it won’t be right now. After all, I went to Tybee Island in 1961, but it was well over 30 years later that I began to write about it.

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this phenomenon. What about you? Have you experienced anything similar? If so, would you share it with us here at The Christian Writers Den? It could be fun to see where our stories–-whether published or not, whether written or not–-originated.celebration - Morguefile

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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 it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, 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!

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mogoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in July?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in July, 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 July results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in July. (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 2016 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 5 months and you’ll have 5 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. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Cheryl Barker book cover

And the winner of Cheryl Barker’s Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride is . . .

Kristi Woods!

Congratulations, Kristi! To claim your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Cheryl will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, you can get your own copy of Mother of the Bride with this direct Amazon link.

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Well, that does it for another Tuesday. Don’t forget to share your insights about finding your stories from life!

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy writing…

Vonda

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