Category Archives: Announcements

Writers Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences Just for YOU!

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday, and time to look at lots of opportunities. Let’s start with writing opportunities compiled just for you!

1.  Chicken Soup is always looking for stories. Current topics: Dogs, Cats, Traumatic Brain Injury, Home Sweet Home, Guardian Angels, and more! Check out Chicken Soup topics and deadlines here.

2.  YouthWorker Journal is the leading resource for Youth Workers. Writing guidelines here.

3.  Just4Kids Magazine writer guidelines

4.  Kentucky Magazine guidelines

5.  Animal Wellness Magazine Guidelines

6.  Kaleidoscope Magazine for people with disabilities

7.  AARP Writer’s Guidelines

8.  Highlights Magazine–They’re always looking for submissions!

9.  Quilter’s World designer guidelines

10. Senior Living Magazine guidelines here

11. Our Little Friend and Primary Treasure Magazines guidelines

12. Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine guidelines

Okay, that should be enough to keep you busy for a while. And when you get a publication, don’t forget to report it for our monthly Kudos celebration!

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Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And here are some writing contests. Some of the deadlines are coming up soon…

1.  Cyle Young has started a new writing site, Almost An Author (A3), and he offers A3 writing contests! But you must hurry–Deadline is September 1, 2015!

2.  Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards for Short Stories But you must hurry! Deadline September 15, 2015!

3. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story ContestDeadline November 16, 2015

4. Writer’s Digest Poetry AwardsDeadline October 1, 2015

5.  WOWWomen on Writing Summer Flash Fiction Contest Hurry! Deadline August 31, 2015

6.  Ongoing Stage-of-Life Writing ContestsFrom teens to seniors!

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If you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about attending writing conferences!

 

1. Atlanta’s Christian Writing Conference: August 20-22, 2015, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall2. Christian Communicators Conference: August 26-30, 2015, Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. We are currently full, but the waiting list is open. Every year ladies on the waiting list have been able to attend. Maybe this could be your year! 

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

4.  Writer-to-Writer: September 18-20, 2015, Murfreesboro, TN

5.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

6.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 18-22, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC

7. Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference: October 22-24, 2015, Greater Kansas City Area, KS

8.  Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference: October 22-25, 2015, Norton Shores, MI

9.  Next Step Writers Contreat (Yes, the spelling is correct. :-) : November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, WritersBootcamp2016 logoNM

10. Weekend with the Writers: January 29-30, 2016, Greenville, SC

11.  Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

12. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: March 18-22, 2016, Mount Hermon, CA

13. Write2Ignite for Writers of Children’s Literature: April 1-2, 2016, Tigerville, SC

14. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 22-26, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there! Watch for details coming soon!)

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Happy writing!

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences; and Who Won Aleta You’s Book?

newspapersI LOVE the 3rd Tuesday of every month! Let’s start with writing opportunities I’ve collected just for you.

My goal on this day of each month is to make your writing life easier! Take advantage of these and we could soon be celebrating YOUR kudos, just like we did with Gail Cartee last week. :-) Don’t forget to study the magazine/publisher and follow guidelines carefully.

1.  Pelican Book Group is looking for book proposals for several imprints. Here are their guideline links:

2.  Adirondack Life Writers’ Guidelines

3.  Sasee Magazine Guidelines - It’s all about women

4.  Free Spirit Publishing GuidelinesMeeting kids’ social and emotional needs

5.  Toastmasters Magazine GuidelinesI know some of you are involved in Toastmasters. This could be your opportunity!

6.  Living a Better Life, Free Money-Saving Tips e-Zine Writer’s Guidelines

7.  Writer’s Guidelines for Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill Magazines

8.  Eating Well Magazine Writers’ Guidelines

9.  The Chronicle of the Horse Writers Guidelines

10. The Banner Writers’ Guidelines

11. Reach Out, Columbia magazine, a Christian magazine celebrating the life and work of Christ in ordinary people, is accepting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year-themed articles and devotions as well as evergreen (all-season) Christian living articles and devotions. Articles are approximately 1,000 words, devotions are 600-700 words. Submission guidelines are at www.ReachOutColumbia.com or contact Lori Hatcher, editor, at Lori@ReachOutColumbia.com.

Pencil and trophy contest FDP digitalarts

Image courtesy of digitalarts/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, that should be enough to keep you busy for a while. Don’t forget to report your successes for our monthly Kudos celebration!

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And here are some writing contests I found. Who will take the plunge?

1.  Cyle Young has started a new writing site, Almost An Author (A3), and he offers A3 writing contests!

2.  Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards for Short Stories But you must hurry! Deadline September 15, 2015!

3. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story ContestDeadline November 16, 2015

4. Writer’s Digest Poetry AwardsDeadline October 1, 2015

5.  WOWWomen on Writing Summer Flash Fiction Contest Deadline August 31, 2015

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If you’re serious about writing or speaking, you need to be serious about conferences!

1.  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: July 29-August 1, 2015, Langhorne, PA

2.  Atlanta’s Christian Writing Conference: August 20-22, 2015, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall3. Christian Communicators Conference: August 26-30, 2015, Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. We are currently full, but the waiting list is open. Every year ladies on the waiting list have been able to attend. Maybe this could be your year! 

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

5.  Writer-to-Writer: September 18-20, 2015, Murfreesboro, TN

6.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

7.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 18-22, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC

8.  Next Step Writers Contreat (Yes, the spelling is correct. :-) : November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM

9.  Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

10. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: March 18-22, 2016, Mount Hermon, CA

11. Write2Ignite for Writers of Children’s Literature: April 1-2, 2016, Tigerville, SC

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Aleta You BookCoverImage

And last, but not least, who won the free copy of Aleta You’s book?

The winner is…

Nan Jones!

Congratulations, Nan. Contact me with your snail mail address and Aleta will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here is a direct Amazon link to Biblical Solutions for Daily Living.

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Aleta You and Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Aleta You headshotHello, dear friends! I hope you’re staying cool and comfortable on this hot, hot 2nd Tuesday of July. This heat reminds me of the August I met today’s guest, Aleta You, at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference several years ago. It was miserable outside, but what a great conference week. Aleta and I met when she took my How to Develop a Speaking Ministry to Women continuing class. Today she’s here to share her writing journey and her new book, Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God.

Remember to leave a comment for Aleta and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

So let’s get started, Aleta. What inspired you to write your book Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God?

The idea for this book had been floating around in my head for quite some time. Following a painful divorce after 29 years of marriage, writing became a catharsis for me and a way to cope with a difficult emotional period in my life. I had studied the Bible in 1984 and was struck by the practical application that God’s Word has to deal with every challenge in life. For me, writing was a way to practically apply God’s Word in helping me deal with and overcome the pain that I was experiencing.

I love how God redeems the hardships of life by using them to help us grow. Tell us a little about your book and the main points that you would like your readers to come away with.

The main thesis is that whatever challenges you are going through, God’s Word has answers that can bring wholeness to your life. The over arching theme is that we are in a spiritual competition and we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). In spite of a formidable spiritual enemy, and the challenges in life that we encounter, God has fully equipped us with all that we need to stand and withstand against our spiritual adversary, the Devil.

He certainly does! I know firsthand that the real writing life isn’t as many perceive it to be. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing your book?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was procrastination. Another challenge was self doubt. I had to remind myself that I was in a spiritual competition and that I was battling with the accuser who didn’t want me to write the book.

A third challenge was in sharing some personal experiences in my life. As a former college professor and a senior administrator in higher education, I was used to writing for the academic profession. A colleague, who read earlier drafts of my work, kept on saying that my writing was too “academic.” I had to put more of myself into the examples I gave so that my writing would communicate and touch people’s lives. Exposing my vulnerability and limitations allowed people to relate to a real person whom they could connect with.Aleta You BookCoverImage

You ended up self publishing your book through Create Space. I would love to know more about that process and why you decided to go with an independent publishing company.

I believe a writer has to weigh the pros and cons of going with a commercial publishing company and an independent company such as Create Space. I submitted my manuscript to only four commercial publishing companies and was turned down. Based on other writer’s experiences, that is not a high number of submissions or rejections. In the end, I decided that I wanted to focus on my writing and went with Create Space. I have been very happy with an independent publisher and found their team to be talented, knowledgeable, and professional individuals.

I’m so glad to hear you had a good experience, Aleta. Any final words of advice for an aspiring writer?

Everyone has at least one book residing within them. When God puts an idea on your heart, He expects you to follow through and write about it. You don’t want to be like the man in Mathew 25:25 who was afraid and buried his talent. We want to glorify God through our writing and reconcile men and women back to God’s Word.

Aleta, thank you for being with us today and giving us a peek into your writing experience. And readers, be sure to leave a comment and then return next week to see if you’re the winner of Aleta’s book!

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Bio: Dr. Aleta You has been studying the Bible as well as countless philosophers and religious theologians since 1984. Her life’s efforts and spiritual journey have informed her beliefs and now serve as an inspiration and guide to finding the powerful potential of God and His Word, which she shares in Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God.

During the past 32 years as an academic in both teaching and in the administration of university education, Dr. You was an Associate Professor and Director of Student Teaching at Incarnate Word College, Assistant Director of the Teacher Preparation Program at Princeton University and was a senior administrator at Rutgers University. After a productive and fulfilling career, Dr. You retired from Rutgers University in July 2013 and moved to Parker, Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bradley University, her master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, her PhD from Arizona State University, and did her postdoctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. You serves as a Bible Household Fellowship Coordinator and continues to  study, research, and teach the Bible. Learn more about Aleta at her website, www.aletayou.com where she posts a monthly blog. She can also be reached at amhyou@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den friends…

These writers have been hard at work…and we want to celebrate with them!

1.  Margery Warder: My husband and I were able to sponsor a recent “Missional” Christian Writers Retreat in Oklahoma. Several established authors and speakers voluntarily participated to encourage and assist others interested in using writing or speaking as part of their expression of their relationship with Jesus Christ.

2.  Cyn Rogalski (PA): I won the Thistle Award at St. David’s CWC! It’s given for beautiful
writing with a point-less than 250 words! Link to the Facebook post is–
https://www.facebook.com/StDavidsWriters/photos/pb.140153497943.-2207520000.1436317465./10152937518512944/?type=3&theater

3.  Tammy Whitehurst (TX): I run a daily Facebook devotional 5 days a week at TammyWhitehurst.com.
And I am giving God the glory and the praise for a completely booked speaking schedule through April of 2016. I also love working with my new agent, Karen Power! I recently had work published with Standard Publishing in their Fall 2015 Sunday School curriculum as well as their devotionals.

4.  Cheryl Barker (KS): My piece “Propelled by Mother Love” appeared in the Spring 2015 issue
of The Lutheran Digest.

5.  Gail Cartee (SC): My haiku was accepted by haikujournal.org. (Vonda here: Just wanted to let y’all know Gail found that writing opportunity here at The Christian Writer’s Den!)

Congratulations to all our writers for their successes! Be sure to check back next week when I’ll share a brand new collection of writing opportunities for you!

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Will one of these MoGo7000 Qualifiers win $100?

Congratulations to these writers who earned another chance to win $100 at the end of the year!

#6: Susan Baganz – 26,242 words
#7: Tim Suddeth – 9,735 words

Have y’all noticed that these writers have a VERY good chance of winning $100? Don’t be left out! Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines to see how YOU might be a winner. It’s all free!

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Thank you for joining me today. I hope your time has been encouraging to you as a writer and a lover of Christ!

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

Vonda

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3 Points to Consider if You’re Considering Self-Publishing, Call-Out for Kudos & MoGo7000, and Who Won Laurie Coombs’ Book?

Book signing fdp Bill LongshawIt’s another exciting day at The Christian Writer’s Den! First up: Let’s talk about self-publishing. It may be closer than you think!

Let’s be honest here. Back in the old days, self-publishing carried a stigma among writers. Self-publishing was for those who couldn’t get a traditional publishing contract. Self-publishing was a last resort.

But that’s no longer the case. Done well, self-publishing is now a respected route to holding your book in your hand. But it’s not for everyone in every situation. If you’re considering self-publishing, here are some points to consider.

1.  Consider your audience. If your goal is to write your family history, self-publishing is the perfect–and perhaps the only–route for you.

But the good news is, your audience can be more than family. If you’re a speaker who can have back-of-the-room sales or someone with a following through radio, television, or social media, self-publishing is likely to provide a larger income, or at least a larger profit margin. Dave Ramsey is a perfect example. Many of his books have been done through his own company, Lampo Press, and I have a feeling he’s made a bunch of money in the process.

Self-publishing is also a good fit if you’re writing for a niche market. One of the most successful self-publishing stories I know is about an author who wrote a book for caregivers of people with a specific disease. She had 10,000 books printed for an associational conference (back before print-on-demand technology), and sold every book within weeks or months. Now that’s writing to a niche market!

2.  Consider your attention to detail. Depending on the self-publisher you choose, you may be on your own when it comes to book covers, proofreading, editing, and formatting. Remember that in self-publishing, you are driving the editorial boat, and that can be a good or a bad thing.

Are you a graphic artist? If so, you could possibly create a great cover. Are you skilled at line editing, proofreading, and punctuation? Have you had valid input from others on your content or story structure, voice, and point of view? If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, then self-publishing could be a good fit.

If not, would you be willing to pay out of your own pocket, and probably upfront, for the services of reputable editors and graphic artists? That’s what it would take to make self-publishing the best choice for you.

3. Consider your motive. Most of us are at least somewhat impatient. I know I am. If your motivation is to get a book out fast at all costs, self-publishing can do that for you…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to choose that route.

If speed is the only motivator, you’re likely to be disappointed in the outcome. Working fast without a quality goal could lead to missed typos, story holes, and funky formatting. A short turnaround and a quality product is completely possible, but it takes the right team, working hard together to bring it about.

Is fear of rejection your motive? No one likes rejection, but if you want to be a writer, you’ll most likely have to experience it. But avoiding rejection by going the self-publishing route is not the answer.

With fear as the sole motivator, you’re more likely to allow–either through ignorance or oversight–a less than quality product in the end. Fear can certainly lead you to investigate self-publishing, but it shouldn’t be the sole decision-maker.

So there you have it, three critical points to consider if you’re considering taking the reins. With the right audience, right attention to detail help, and right motive, self-publishing could be the best route for you.

(Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Calling all kudos!celebration - Morguefile

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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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in June?

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

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

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 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 6 months and you’ll have 6 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. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Laurie Coombs book cover

And finally, who won Laurie Coombs’ book, Letters From My Father’s Murderer?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Sandy Quandt!

Congratulations, Sandy! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Laurie will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s a direct Amazon link to Laurie Coombs’ Letters From My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness.

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Well that does it for another 1st Tuesday. I can’t wait to see your successes, so be sure to get your kudos and MoGo7000 information to me through the proper channels.

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Laurie Coombs: Letters From My Father’s Murderer, & Who Won Tammy Blackburn’s Book?

Laurie Coombs Round HeadshotToday is the 5th Tuesday, and that means that I’m free to do whatever I want on the Christian Writer’s Den blog. Well, today I want to introduce you to Laurie Coombs and her new book!

(I know this post is longer than usual, but this is a powerful message for all of us, so I pray you’ll stay with me as we work through this amazing testimony. You won’t be sorry.)

Laurie and I met in August 2014 when she attended the Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, NC. I immediately fell in love with her contagious smile and engaging manner. Little did I know the horrendous heartache she had been through. And now I’ve asked her to share her journey with you. So sit back, open your heart and hear how–through the power of the Holy Spirit–one young woman changed not only her own heart, but a murderer’s heart as well.

And as always, be sure to leave a comment for our guest and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Laurie’s book.

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Laurie. Let’s start with this question: Why did you want to write Letters from My Father’s Murderer, which details such a tragic and painful part of your life?

To be honest, I didn’t initially want to write this book. I wanted to share my story, but I knew that writing it in a book would require me to bare all. I knew I’d have to share difficult things, and I didn’t want to. But greater than my resistance was my desire to see people experience freedom and redemption and healing as I had. I wanted God to be glorified for what He had done in and through my life.

I knew God was calling me to write this book. And I knew God well enough to know that if I answered that call I’d most assuredly see lives change as a result of the message He has given me. God allowed me to see that good could come out of the ashes of my past. That I could play a small part in the grand story He has been unfolding since the beginning of time. That I could participate in what He’s doing in the here and now, for the good of many. And so, I chose to say yes, and of course, I’m now completely on board.Laurie Coombs book cover

Tell us about the significance of the few interactions you had with your father just prior to his murder.

About one month before my dad died, he said, “Laurie, when I die, I want people to remember me for who I am. I don’t want anyone turning me into something I’m not.” The comment sort of stunned me at first. It came out of absolutely nowhere. My dad continued to tell me that people only want to talk about the good parts of a person after they die. “But that’s not who they really are,” he said. “There are good parts and bad parts to every one of us.”

For many years, I didn’t understand why my dad had said that to me––obviously, neither one of us knew he was going to die––but as I began to write this book, his words came to mind, and I knew, without a doubt, that God had him speak those words to me, over a decade before I needed them, to give me the freedom to share my story however God may lead.

You’re very honest in the book about the mistakes your father made and how that affected your teen years and even your choice to reject the faith you had been raised in. Was that difficult for you to do?

Absolutely. I had to do a lot of thinking and praying about how to write what God wanted me to write. But ultimately, I knew God was calling me to truth. My dad was an amazing man. A wonderful father. I really was a daddy’s girl. But he wasn’t perfect. And neither am I. It’s my hope that I conveyed my imperfections throughout the book as well.

Laurie Coombs Not-My-Plan-269x404Almost immediately after learning about your father’s death, you say the hate for his killer began to fill your heart. How did that hatred affect you?

My hatred affected just about everything I thought and did at first. Anger consumed me. But then after several months, I chose to lay aside my anger and my grief. I knew my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to live like that, and so I deliberately chose to put the whole terrible thing behind me and move on.

I didn’t see the affects of anger on the surface after that, and I honestly thought I had worked through it, but in reality, I had simply buried it. For years, that anger festered in my heart and turned into bitterness without me even knowing it until the day God brought it to my attention nine years after the murder.

You began to build a lovely life with your family in the years following the trial, and appeared very strong. What happened that finally brought you to the point where you turned to the Lord?

I fell apart. God presented me with something I couldn’t fix. Anxiety and depression finally brought me to my knees, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps, so to speak, as I had many times before. I had fallen into such an incredibly dark place, and I was scared. I tried everything the world tells you to do, but nothing worked. So as a last resort, I found my way to church.

My family and I willingly walked through those church doors with an incredible sense of desperation. God was truly my last hope, but even though I desperately wanted Him to be the answer, I was highly skeptical that He would be. The concept of God speaking to man was so foreign to me, but having that pastor preach a message to my inner thoughts got my attention. It was enough to draw me back the next week and the week after that and the one after that, but each time, I fully expected the God-thing to be a fluke. But it wasn’t. Over and over again, God showed Himself to me in many ways, and I was given the proof that I needed to believe.

What made you decide to begin corresponding with your father’s killer? What did you hope would Laurie Coombs Would-I-obeycome from it?

God had freed me from the anxiety and depression after coming to Jesus, but then He began to show me that I was irritable pretty much all the time. He showed me that the root of my irritability was anger, which had ultimately turned into bitterness.

I prayed, asking God to remove the bitterness in my heart, and that’s when I heard His gentle whisper tell me, “It’s time to forgive.” But then He took it a step further with “Love your enemy.” God’s call to forgive and love my enemy resulted in the my correspondence with the man who murdered my dad. Initially, I wasn’t sure what would come out of our interaction, but I did know where God was taking me. I knew He was leading me toward forgiveness and healing. I didn’t know what that journey would look like, but I knew wherever I ended up would be a good place.

And you were finally able to forgive. Tell us about that.

Forgiveness came when I least expected it. My correspondence with the man had gotten heated. He was blame-shifting and justifying, and I was obviously not okay with that. All I wanted to do was rebuke him, and I almost did, but instead, God said to me, “Laurie, leave him to me. Now forgive.” And I did. But it wasn’t of me. God called me and enabled me to give that which I had already been given: grace and love and forgiveness.

After I forgave, God brought him to his knees. All the blame-shifting, all the justification stopped. He began taking complete responsibility for what he had done, and he was repentant. And ever since that time, I have witnessed this man share the gospel of Jesus Christ subtly, yet powerfully, with his fellow inmates. Lives are changing in there. He truly is living to the glory of God in that prison.

Laurie Coombs book signingWhat a powerful testimony! So what is at the heart of the message?

Hope is at the heart of my message. God truly has worked all things for good in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The first part of Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God brings good out of evil. Love out of hate. Peace out of despair. I believe it is His desire to do this for every one of us. You see, our pain won’t be wasted. We don’t have to sit in it. If we bring our pain, past and present, to God, He will redeem it.

Yes, He will. Thank you for being with us today, Laurie. But before we go, I want to tell our readers that your story was blessed to be part of Billy Graham’s latest film and evangelistic tool, Heaven. Friends, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch.

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Don’t forget to leave a comment for Laurie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven. Laurie is a graduate of Christian Communicators Conference and a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Be sure to visit LaurieCoombs.org or connect with Laurie on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet…

Letters From My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of #Forgiveness – #FreeBook @LaurieCoombs via @VondaSkelton http://bit.ly/1U1tfOM (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tammy Blackburn book cover

Who won Tammy Blackburn’s children’s book, How Do I Know?

And Random.org says the winner is…

Julie Garmon!

Congratulations, Julie! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Tammy will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win…I know you want a copy for the little ones in your life, so here’s a direct Amazon link to How Do I Know?

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Well, that does it for another 5th Tuesday here at the Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! So now, go write the words He gives YOU to write!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Tammy Blackburn

Itammy_blackburn_headshott is a joy to introduce my friend, Tammy Blackburn, to you today. Tammy and I met at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference many years ago and she’s been working hard ever since! In addition to being an author, she is a counselor and children’s pastor. I hope you enjoy hearing about Tammy’s new book and her journey to publication. As an author of children’s middle grade books, I love insights from writers of children’s literature.

Be sure to leave a message for Tammy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Now, let’s get started!

Welcome to The Writer’s Den, Tammy! I’m excited about your new book. Can you tell us what inspired you to write a children’s book?

Thank you, Vonda. I’d love to! Some of my favorite memories as a child were spent with a book in my hands. When I wasn’t reading books I was making up stories to write down with the dream of being an author someday. I grew up and had children of my own, but that love of children’s books never went away. A favorite time with my kids was curling up with a stack of books to read. Meanwhile, I continued to write stories of my own. Vonda, you were instrumental in inspiring me as well. In 2008, I attended my first writer’s conference at Blue Ridge. You were the very first person to ever give me an “official” critique. You were tough, but you gave me such encouragement about the story I had before you. That’s when I knew in my heart I would be published someday and I wanted my first books to be for children.

Wow, Tammy, I had no idea I would be part of your story! Thanks for letting me know. Yes, those first critiques are sometimes tough to swallow (mine certainly was), but what writers do with them often determine their progress as writers. So, where did the idea for How Do I Know? come from? Can you give us a sneak peek into the story?

Well, at the risk of giving my age away, let me start by saying I’ve been a Children’s Pastor/director for nearly 30 years and in that time have had some crazy questions thrown at me from left field. You know, the kind where you have to stare at the child for a minute in order to get yourself under control before telling them you’ll need to do a little research on that. But, I’ve had a few really good questions that seem to pop up regularly. One such question is, “How do I know God is real?” Our children live in a world full of evil and it can sometimes test even a childlike faith. In the first book of this series, I attempt to answer that particular question in a way that leads a child to think and discover God in a real way. My character, Michael is a little guy who is full of questions. When he finally gets the nerve to ask his mom about God’s existence, she answers him in a very beautiful way.

To what age group is this book targeted?

I’m glad you asked. It is written in a Dr. Seuss style rhyme and has beautiful illustrations. The book is in the 6-10 year old category, but my 3-year-old grandson loves for me to read it to him as well.

What is your heart’s desire for this book?Tammy Blackburn book cover

Oh, Vonda, if the words that God gave me to put in this book help to strengthen a child’s belief in God, then how could I ask for more? I have to share a powerful testimony that I have already received. A young lady was planning to abort an unwanted pregnancy. A friend of mine felt God prompt her to give this young lady a copy of How Do I Know? and even though it seemed a strange thing, she was obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. A few days later, this young woman came back to her and said the book had helped change her mind. She had decided to keep the baby! That makes every ounce of hard work and effort I put into this book worth it!

Wow! That’s a beautiful testimony to the power of our words. You mentioned this was the first book in the series. Can you tell us anything about future books?

Yes! How Do I Know? is the first book in a series of three. The next one is titled, What Do I Say?, and will help children know how to talk with their Heavenly Father.  It is already written and is in the hands of the illustrator.  

I’ll look forward to seeing that book in print as well! In parting, do you have any advice for other writers?

The best advice I can give is the same advice that has been given to me: attend writer’s conferences, join a critique group, network, and WRITE. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. It was an honor.

Great advice, Tammy. Thank you for joining us today at The Christian Writer’s Den. And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Tammy and you could win a free book! Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner.

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#Free kids’ book give-away w/TammyBlackburn via @VondaSkelton Christian Writer’s Den. #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Tammy Blackburn is an author, speaker, counselor and children’s pastor. She lives in Kannapolis, NC near her children, their spouses, and her young grandson. Tammy homeschooled her three children from kindergarten through high school and continues to tutor in reading and writing. She writes curriculum for the ministries at her church including a women’s Bible study called, “Through the Looking Glass”. Her greatest desire is to follow the command of Psalm 78:4 to pass the Light of Christ to the next generation. You can read more from Tammy on her blog, FromTheBriarPatch.com or email her at info@tammyblackburn.com.

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities and Conferences

newspapersWelcome to today’s bonus post of writing opps and conferences collected just for you!

First up, direct links to writing opportunities could be your ticket to publication! Be sure to follow guidelines carefully and send in your best work!

1.  Haiku Journal

2.  Naval History Magazine

3.  Adventist Review

4.  ADDitude Magazine for ADHD and LD

5.  Bible Advocate

6.  The Cattleman

7.  Insight magazine for teens

8.  Internet Genealogy

9.  North Carolina Literary Review

10. New Mobility

11. Outreach Magazine

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

12. Snowshoe Magazine

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And now let’s check out upcoming conferences!

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

2. Kentucky Christian Writers Conference: June 25-27, 2015, Elizabethtown, KY

3. Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: July 29-August 1, 2015, Langhorne, PA

4. Atlanta’s Christian Writing Conference: August 20-22, 2015, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall5. Christian Communicators Conference: August 26-30, 2015, Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. We are currently full, but the waiting list is open. Every year ladies on the waiting list have been able to attend. Maybe this could be your year! 

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

7. Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

8. Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 18-22, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC

9. Next Step Writers Contreat: November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM

10. Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

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List of #writing opportunities & conferences just for you! @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for this month’s writing opportunities and conferences. I hope they help you on your writing journey!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Who Won Lori Roeleveld’s Book?

Lori Roeleveld book coverYes, I know it’s the 3rd Tuesday and time for writing opportunities and conferences, but…

…Since I was out of state caring for my sweet cousin for over a week and am just getting back to the computer, today’s post will be short and sweet. I’ll simply post the winner of Lori’s book, and then post the usual writing opportunities and conferences tomorrow in a bonus post.

So, today’s winner of Lori Roeleveld’s book, Running From a Crazy Man, is…
Sandra Lovelace!

Congratulations, Sandra! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Lori will get the book right out to you!

For those who didn’t win, here’s a quick Amazon link to Running From a Crazy Man. You KNOW you want your own copy!

And friends, don’t forget to check tomorrow’s email for a bonus post of writing opportunities collected just for you!

Blessings,

Vonda

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Could Anthologies Be Your Ticket to Publication? Call-Out for May Kudos & MoGo700 and Who Won Andrea Merrell’s Book?

bitsy3bookphotoFirst up for the first Tuesday of June: Could Anthologies Be Your Ticket to Publication?

Not long after my first children’s book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island, came out, I had the opportunity to submit to a compilation, Mystery Readers Journal: Religious Mysteries. (And just so you know, the words “Religious” and “Christian” are not synonymous!)

I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was they were looking for writers of “religious” mysteries to share something of interest with mystery readers. Surely I had something of interest to say! So I wrote a piece, “Teaching Truth through Fiction,” and talked about the fact that we can teach Biblical and moral truth without preaching. I was thrilled when they accepted my article. And even though I didn’t get paid for it, it was still a good investment. Not only was it an opportunity to introduce mystery readers to my book, but the publication also gave me another writing credit. On top of that, “Teaching Biblical Truth through Secular Fiction” is now one of my most popular classes at writer’s conferences.

A few years later, I read of a call for submissions on stories about fathers. Being a card-carrying Daddy’s girl, I jumped at the chance to submit. What a joy to receive the acceptance letter and offer of a contract to be published in Embrace of a Father…and this time I actually got paid!

Compilations, also called anthologies, are a great way to gather some publishing credits and collect a little money along the way. Several of our readers have found quite a bit of success in this area of publishing, and many of the leads have come through the “Opportunities” list posted here the third Tuesday of every month.

Here are some things you need to know if this area of writing and publishing sounds like something you might want to consider:Mystery Readers Journal cover

  • Read the guidelines and follow the directions carefully regarding formatting, word count, etc.
  • Check the address for submission. It’s not always the same as the email of the contact person.
  • Be sure your story meets the topic guidelines. Don’t waste your time–or the editor’s–with pieces that just don’t fit.
  • Be sure you understand the rights you are giving. Many compilations allow you to keep your rights and use it again in the future, but a work-for-hire contract probably means you will not have any rights to the story after they accept it.
  • Find out if you’re able to purchase copies at a discount for resale. You can often purchase copies for about half price, allowing you to make a good profit on books you sell. Even after discounting the price to my friends and family and including free shipping, I still made almost $300 profit from the first batch of Embrace of a Father books I sold. And even though the book is now out of print, it’s still available through secondary venders on Amazon.
  • Even if you don’t receive financial compensation, reputable publishers usually at least give you a complimentary copy of the book.
  • Keep good records. It can take years for books to finally land on the bookshelves and you could forget you even submitted the story!
  • Some books use “seed stories” where the author or editor uses the gist of your story, rather than printing your actual words. In that case, you should receive an acknowledgement (usually in the back of the book), but most likely won’t be listed as the author of the story.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? If so, check out the latest call-outs for upcoming Chicken Soup books. They could be your ticket to a writing credit AND a pay-check!

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Time for Call-Outs for Your Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

Have you had an article published? Contracted a book? Created a new website? Have an event coming up? If so, I 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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Call for MoGo7000 Totalsmogo7000 logo

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

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge is open all year! 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. Meet it 6 months and you’ll have 6 entries!

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

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perf5.000x8.000.inddAnd Who Won Andrea Merrell’s Book?

The winner is. . .

Tammy Whitehurst!

Congratulations, Tammy! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Andrea will send it right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Praying for the Prodigal: Encouragement and Practical Advice While Waiting for the Prodigal to Return.

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Well, that does it for another first Tuesday edition of Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you’ll return next week to celebrate with those who are reaching their writing and speaking goals. And if you don’t see your name highlighted here, don’t feel bad. Just keep doing the work of a writer and speaker, keep submitting to the writing opportunities posted here, and keep attending conferences and learning…and chances are good that one day you’ll see your name listed here. I look forward to celebrating with you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Conferences, & Who Won Mary Allen’s Book?

newspapersWelcome to The Christian Writer’s Den! Today is the 3rd Tuesday, so there’s lots of good stuff to cover. Let’s start with a list of writing opportunities collected just for you!

1.  Penned from the Heart, a 366 day compilation of poems and devotions is looking for submissions for the 2016 edition. Writer’s guidelines can be found at www.marilynnutter.com.

2.  A+ Playwriting Contest for Teachers.

3.  The Mighty Newsletter is looking for articles that highlight the strength, joy, and beauty in disability and disease by featuring real life experiences and perspectives from people just like us.

4.  Since I’m working hard and having fun at Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference this week, I’ll share this HUGE list I just found of Book Editors and Book Publishers: Christian, Religious, Inspirational, New Thought, and Spiritual Books. Please note: Do not assume all are Christian. Be sure to read and follow guidelines carefully!

Okay, so with that longgggggg list of writing opps, you should have plenty to keep you busy. Don’t forget to let us know if you have good news from these efforts. We’d love to celebrate with you!

Photo courtesy of Mary Denman

BRMCWC photo courtesy of Mary Denman

 

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Conference season is going strong! Where will you learn this year?

1. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 17-21, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC (I’m here now–come on and join me!)

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

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

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

5. Kentucky Christian Writers Conference: June 25-27, 2015, Elizabethtown, KY

6. Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: July 29-August 1, 2015, Langhorne, PA

7. Atlanta’s Christian Writing Conference: August 20-22, 2015, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall8. Christian Communicators Conference: August 26-30, 2015, Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. We are currently full, but the waiting list is open. Every year ladies on the waiting list have been able to attend. Maybe this could be your year! 

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

10. Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

11. Next Step Writers Contreat: November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM

12. Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mary Allen Cover-reduced

And who won Mary Allen’s book, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark?

The winner is:

Shirley Buxton!

Congratulations, Shirley! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Mary will get the book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.

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Well, that does it for another Writer’s Headlines Tuesday. I can’t wait to hear of your successes that come from going to a conference and then submitting your work. After all, that’s what real writers do!

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

A new list of writing opportunities & conferences at Christian Writers Den @Vonda Skelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Happy writing!

Vonda

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