Category Archives: Announcements

Interview & Book Give-Away with Andy Lee

Andy Lee 2016Dear friends, thank you for your grace as my blog posts aren’t on a consistent schedule right now. And thank you, too, for your kind notes, emails, and prayers as my mother continues to heal. Today she will see her new room at the assisted living and tomorrow she officially moves in. She’s so excited!

I’m excited, too, and it’s not only because of Mother’s progress. I’m also excited to share Andy Lee’s new book with you! Andy and I met years ago, I believe it was at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It’s been a joy to watch her put in the time and attention it takes to be a serious writer, and it’s been a joy to watch her career grow! Today we’re going to focus on her new book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called. Don’t you love that title?

Be sure to leave a message for Andy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Welcome, Andy. I know you wrote this book in part to inspire and empower women who have been called to ministry. What are some of the inner obstacles women may have to overcome when choosing to answer God’s call for their lives? What obstacles have you had to overcome?

Oh my, so many obstacles! The enemy of our lives is threatened by us, and loves to discourage us in our calling. A huge obstacle is comparison. That’s why I wrote this book. If I compare my speaking, teaching, writing, mothering, cooking (which I’m not a fan), decorating, gardening (which I don’t do), cleaning (which I don’t want to do), etc. to my friends’ and virtual friends’ cooking, writing, speaking, mothering, etc. I’m sunk. Comparison throws a blanket of discouragement over my soul, and I want to quit. I fight comparison by admitting my imperfectness and thanking God for the opportunities He puts in front of me everyday, and I ask for grace to do my best for Him, not for Pinterest or Facebook or the writer of the year award.

For women called to preach and teach and perhaps pastor, there will be many obstacles. All I can say is, “Trust God.” Trust that He will open and close the doors. Go where He leads. Know that He is creative with His calling. It may not, and probably won’t, look like you envisioned when you first knew He was calling you into full time ministry.

Finally, don’t despise small beginnings, the hidden places. God’s economy is not ours, nor is His timing. Live and serve right where you are with the people He has put in your life. They may be smearing jelly all over your television with chubby fingers. Pray for grace. Kiss those fingers. Thank God for today, and use the hidden places, the small beginnings to grow deeper into Him. Practice His Presence. And practice your calling right where you are now.

Powerful truths, Andy! We tend to read Bible characters as flat, unrelatable characters, distant from us because of time and cultural differences. How do you hope your book helps modern women to better connect with the Marys of the Bible?

Oh . . . this is such my heart. Yes, they were from a different culture and spoke a different language, and they lived so long ago, but I am convinced that all of the biblical characters, men and women, dealt with the very same heart issues we do today. We see it easily with Peter and Paul, but for some reason, the “good girl” biblical characters have a holy glow when we read their stories. This detaches them from us which distances God from us in our hearts because we don’t think we could ever serve Jesus as they did. It’s that comparison thing again. But when we find someone who can relate to our struggles, we are no longer threatened by them. Camaraderie encourages us and draws us closer. I also think that once we connect with the Marys’ human hearts, the thousands of years, language, and cultural barriers disappear, and the Bible becomes more real and applicable for today.

I love the way you incorporate the Bible’s original languages, Greek and Hebrew and even Aramaic, into your study of these women. Your book gives great pointers on simple, non-intimidating ways anyone can add this kind of study to our own Bible reading, even without a Bible degree. What does it add to our Bible study when we explore the original languages?A Mary Like Me image

Oh my goodness, it adds LIFE to our Bible study when we study this way. It is incredible. My husband says that my goal is to turn everyone into a Bible nerd. It’s true, but only because digging under our translation has brought so much excitement and joy and life into my walk with God. Nuances have been lost in translation that can be discovered by word-studies, and exploring the ancient language also brings a fresh understanding into familiar scripture. If the Bible seems dull or hard to understand, you’ve got to try studying this way. You’ll never read the Bible the same, and you’ll find the truth of Hebrews 4:12, “The Bible is alive and active . . . .”

You use the Marys’ experiences to address deep topics like grief and mental illness, with stories from your own life and ministry. How can an encounter with the Marys in the Bible help Christian women who are grieving a loss, or wrestling with mental illness?

It goes back to camaraderie. You aren’t alone. We find comfort when someone shares what we’re going through. It also takes out some of the power of the grief or depression when we realize someone else knows our pain. But what I really hope the reader sees in these stories is how Jesus interacted with these grieving, mentally ill women. He was loving, caring, and desired to heal them. He cried with them, and He understood their human heart. What kind of God does that?

You write about dreams and callings and how important they both are as well as how to distinguish between the two. What advice do you give the writer whose dream for his or her book to be published hasn’t happened yet?

Keep being faithful to what He has called you to today. Again, don’t despise the hidden places, the small beginnings. Minister, tell your story, right where you are—on your blog, in the live Facebook video you feel the nudge to do, or over coffee with a neighbor. Seek God’s face daily—that means worship Him intentionally whether you feel like it or not. If there is an ache with the dream to be published, it is a calling from the Lord. Trust His timing. Seek His will for your writing. Go to conferences, blog, and attend critique groups. Be open to all projects He has for you. You may have to set the first book aside to pitch the second and see it in print first. That’s what happened to me. My second book was published before the first, but I view this as a double portion blessing from the Lord. He loves faith. Remember, His economy is not ours, nor His timing. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. Don’t give up.

Thank you for being with us today, Andy. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next!

And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Andy. You could be next week’s winner!

Bio: Andy Lee loves to teach about Jesus, and she loves to help people dig deep into the Biblical languages. She is a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, blogger, mom to three grown children and a kitty named Hank, and wife to Mike. She’s the author of two books: The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG 2015) and A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (Leafwood 2016). Andy broadcasts the Bite of Bread on Facebook every morning Monday through Friday at 8:20 ET, and she encourages faith and study on her blog Daily Grace found on her site www.WordsByAndyLee.com. Join Andy on her blog and daily broadcasts to learn how to dig deep to live fully.

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/andy.lee.1069

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Taking Some Time Away to Care for My Mom

MOM Pixabay

As most of you know, my mother took a terrible fall on August 21 and her life has been changed dramatically. We praise God for His protection of her life, but she still has some hard days ahead.

In light of these ongoing needs, I’m finally accepting the fact that I simply can’t keep up with everything right now. Please know I love and appreciate each of you and your words and notes of encouragement and prayer.

In the meantime, you won’t be far from my thoughts and prayers as well.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance!

Vonda

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Let’s Celebrate Your Kudos & MoGo7000 Results!

Fireworks Pixabay 2It’s the 2nd Tuesday, and time to celebrate YOU!

Congratulations to these Christian Writer’s Den friends who have been working hard and finding success!

1.  Marilyn Nutter (SC): Marilyn’s article, “Holiday Gifts, Holiday Grief” appears in the November, 2016 issue of Reach Out Columbia; Marilyn’s article, “Keep Cool Over Yule,” appears in the November/December issue of The Mother’s Heart. Marilyn’s story, “Mom’s Red Cookie Tin,” appears in Additional Christmas Moments, by Grace Publishing.

2.  Tracy Crump (MS): 1) The last couple of months have been busy. My story, “A Holey Memory,” was a finalist in the Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest—a first achievement in fiction. 2) Two of my stories appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Joy of Christmas. 3) I presented three workshops at the Successful Writer Conference in OK. And I am so excited to have a new website, thanks to Rhonda Dragomir of the Dragomir Group!
3.  Bonita Bandaries (LA): Published Reflections: A Promise Kept Journal October 14 with Amazon’s
CreateSpace.

4.  Andrea Merrell (SC): Just signed a contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
for my book, Marriage: Make It or Break It. Tentative release date is June of 2017.

5. Verna Bowman (PA): New book – September release, Gathering . . . Seeds of Encouragement is a collection of inspirational writings taken from my blog (Encouraging Women One Story at a Time), created into a devotional-journal also featuring images to color. (Available at www.vernabowman.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Hackman’s Bible Bookstore).

Thanks to each of you for your hard work and allowing us to celebrate with you. You’re an encouragement to all of us!

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These CWD friends earned another entry into the MoGo7000 drawing for $100.

Let’s celebrate with these writers who wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in October:

#21: Hope Welborn – 15,756 words
#22: Susan Baganz – 8,004 words

Way to go, ladies! Won’t be long til you find out the winner!

And friends, don’t worry, the 2016 challenge has two more months to qualify! Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. And yes–your NaNoWriMo words can count toward your MoGo7000 words!

Need more info? Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules.

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Be sure to return next week to see a new list of writing opportunities, contests, and conferences collected just for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

 

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NaNoWriMo 2016, Call-outs for Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals, and Book Give-Away

NaNoWriMo_2016_WebBadge_Participant-200How can it possibly be November 1 already? Let’s kick off the month with NaNoWriMo!

Vonda here: Writers, are you wondering what all this NaNoWriMo talk is about? Trying to decide if it’s something you should consider? Thanks to Edie Melson, here are the answers to your questions! (This is my second year to participate!)

To NaNo or Not? NaNoWriMo Decoded, by Edie Melson

Among those whose heart’s desire is to write a novel, November thoughts turn to the dilemma of NaNoWriMo. For the uneducated, November has long become known as National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an idea that has exploded in popularity. The idea is that you write the first draft (minimum of 50,000 words) of a novel in one month. At first this may sound ridiculous, but many writing instructors advocate writing your first draft quickly, without editing. James Scott Bell encourages this in his book, The Art of War for Writers. I highly recommend this book, by the way and it was the very first book reviewed on my blog. Curious to learn more? Click here to read the review.
So how do you get involved with NaNoWriMo?
  • First, visit the website and set up an account.
  • Second, familiarize yourself with the site and the many things they offer.
  • Third, start brainstorming ideas.

Yep, I’ve found it helps me to have an idea of where I’m going with my novel. I don’t want to get into the whole plotter or pantster debate, but I highly recommend at least a glimmer of an idea before you start.

Still unconvinced it’s for you? Consider this, people participate in NaNo for many reasons—many of them good—here are just a few to consider.

  • For Fun: maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel. Here’s your time to give it a try.
  • To Jumpstart Your Next Book: if you write professionally, the work of writing can sometimes get in the way of actual writing. NaNo can help you get back on track.
  • An Accountability Group: Some of us just do better when we have to report on our progress. NaNoWriMo actually requires that.
  • A Deadline and Goal: I don’t know about you, but I can do almost anything for a month—give up chocolate, start an exercise program, get familiar with a new routine. Why not try writing a novel?
  • Company in a Lonely Endeavor: writing is a solitary pursuit and can often be intimidating and discouraging. Aligning with a group that has a shared goal and purpose helps alleviate the loneliness and helps keep us motivated.
  • To Win: yes, I admit it. I’m highly competitive and just thinking about NaNoWriMo gets my adrenaline pumping.

Vonda here: I would love to see who’s participating in NaNoWriMo, so be sure to leave a comment and let me know your NaNoWriMo name (you choose it when you register). Mine is easy to remember: vondaskelton.

Also, if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo previously, please share your suggestions and comments based on your experience. Thanks!

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I want to hear about your successes!

Okay, friends, now it’s time to hear from you! We want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait to celebrate with you!

(Pencil mage courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net)

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mogoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in October?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in October, 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 October results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in October. (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.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. You have two months to reach your 7000-word goal–that’s two entries for $100!

And yes–your NaNoWriMo words can count toward your MoGo7000 words!

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!Jesus and the Beanstalk

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And who won a free copy of Lori Roeleveld’s new book, Jesus and the Beanstalk?

The winner is…

Alycia Morales!

Congrats, Alycia! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Lori will get your free book right out to you!

And to those who didn’t win, here’s the Amazon link to Jesus and the Beanstalk. You know you want it!

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Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’re going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. We need to encourage each other!

Blessings, my friends!

Vonda

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

newspapersHere it is–your monthly writer’s opportunities, contests, & conferences. Nothing can hold you back now!

Here’s your October list of opportunities and contests!

1.  Write2Ignite Writing Contest for writers of children’s and YA literature is open for submissions. Deadline is November 30, 2016!

2.  Brain Teen is looking for personal essays on parenting teens or being a teen. Deadline is December 30, 2016.

3.  Chicken Soup for the Soul is always looking for stories. Current needs include cats, dogs, dreams, military, and teachers.

4.  The American Gardener is looking for articles.

5.  Babble Magazine (by Disney) is a parenting website looking for articles on parenting, relationships, entertainment, beauty, food, and more!

6.  FundsForWriters.com has a huge list of writing contests here!

7.  Blue Mountain Arts Greeting Cards seeks contemporary prose or poetry written from personal experience. Does not need rhymed poetry, religious verse, one-liners or humor. Pays well for all rights.

8.  Oklahoma Today focuses on the best of Oklahoma’s people, places, events, and culture.

9.  New Mobility Magazine focuses on the active wheelchair lifestyle, covering relationships, recreation, travel, people, health, and more!

10. Bible Advocate Magazine focuses on the authority of the Scriptures and the Lordship of Christ.

So what will you be doing over this next month to move forward in your writing? Be sure to let us celebrate your successes with our kudos!

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And here’s an updated list of conferences…

I hope you find one in your neck of the woods!

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

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

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

4.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 22-26, 2017, Leesburg, FL

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

6.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 18, 2017, Collierville, TN

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

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

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

10. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll be there as a conferee this time, and I can’t wait to take a bunch of classes!)

11. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 21-25, 2017, Grove City, PA

Remember, if you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about getting to a writing conference.

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Thank you for praying for my mother after her very serious fall. She has made a lot of progress, but she still has a long road ahead. Please continue to pray for healing, comfort, and peace for her and for us as we care for her. I praise God that none of this has taken our Father by surprise and we’re confident that something good will come from this for His honor and glory. After all, He promises us that in His Word!

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

Vonda

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Celebration Tuesday (on Thursday this month!): Kudos and MoGo7000 Qualifiers

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

Happy 2nd Tuesday (on the 2nd Thursday)! It’s a great day to celebrate YOU! Let’s start with the Kudos…

I’m so sorry for the late post. I’m away from my desk this week and unexpectedly didn’t have internet access. But I didn’t want us to miss the opportunity to celebrate with our Christian Writer’s Den friends today!

1. Gail Cartee (SC): Country magazine published my article “Fabric of Faith” in their September Extra issue. The article is about how we used the antique quilts that wouldn’t sell to bring a sense of peace and calm to our VBS.

2. Cheryl Barker (KS):  Nancy Kay Grace interviewed me recently on her online radio program Living Life Unedited. I was so thankful for the extra exposure it gave my book Mother of the Bride.

Congrats, friends! It’s encouraging to all of us when we see the successes of others!

Didn’t see your name on the kudos list? Be sure to return next week for a list of writing opportunities collected just for you!

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And who reached their MoGo7000 goal last month and received another entry in the drawing for $100?

These writers wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in September:

#19: Hope Weldon – 18,642 words
#20: Susan Baganz – 21,542 words

Congratulations, Hope and Susan! So proud of your hard work and many words! I’m looking forward to Na-No-Wri-Mo in November. Hope to see lots of CWD writers there!

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Well, that does it for another celebration day. I hope you’ve been encouraged to work hard and stay the course. And we’ll soon be celebrating YOUR accomplishments!

Blessings,

Vonda

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Kudos & MoGo7000 Call-Outs, and Who Won Angie Martin’s Book?

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, can you believe it’s the first Tuesday of October? Time for call-outs. Let’s start with Kudos…

Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

PLEASE let me hear from you. We want to celebrate your successes!

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

Who MoGo’d in September?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in September, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2016 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

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

Don’t have any entries yet? Don’t worry, there are three more opportunities left for you this 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.

Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Angie Martin photo OBC~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And who won Angie Martin’s book?

The winner is…

Sally Matheny!

 

Congrats, Sally! Simply contact me with your email and snail mail addresses and Angie will get your book right out to you!

And readers, since I know you want you own copy of Angie’s book and materials, here’s your direct link to Angie’s ordering page. Get your copy of Operation Birthday Celebration—A Journey to the Manger here. You won’t be sorry!

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests & Conferences

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday and time for Writing Opportunities, Contests, and Conferences. Let’s start with a database full of writing opportunities!

It’s been a crazy few weeks, so today, I’m sending you to the Freelance Writing Writer’s Guidelines Database, where you’ll find writing guidelines from A to Z!

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And for writing contests…

Here’s a link to 27 Free Writing Contests: Legitimate Competitions With Cash Prizes, published on The Write Life blog.

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As I always say, If you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about writing conferences.

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

2.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 7-8, 2016, Grand Rapids, MIworkshop sign Pixabay

3.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 16-20, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC

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

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

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

7.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 22-26, 2017, Leesburg, FL

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

9.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 18, 2017, Collierville, TN

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

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

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

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

13. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll be there as a conferee this time, and I can’t wait to take a bunch of classes!)

14. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 21-25, 2017, Grove City, PA

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I hope each of you find lots of good stuff here. Be sure to let me know when you land something great. We want to celebrate your successes with you!

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

Vonda

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I Hate Outlines! And Kudos & MoGo7000 Successes

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome to the 2nd Tuesday at the Christian Writer’s Den! Today we’re celebrating our friends’ successes, but first, let me tell you that I hate outlines!

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I Hate Outlines!

I do. I hate them with a passion. The dislike (And yes, I would click the thumb down button here if there was one!) begins with the very premise of an outline.

You want me to put things in order? Line them up correctly? Stick to a pattern? FOLLOW THE RULES?

What about creativity? What about the muse?

Arrgghhhhh! (Did I tell you I don’t like outlines?)

When I sat down to write my first novel, I tried to make an outline. I really did. After all, that’s what writers do, right? I gathered all my writerly stuff, including a dictionary, a thesaurus, and my college English textbook (this was before the development of online resources), put a sheet of paper into my electric typewriter, and pecked out a few words. Then I stared. A long time. Apparently it wasn’t a good outline.

I ripped out that paper, threw it in the trash and tried again with a fresh, clean sheet. I wrote a few words . . . and stared. A long time. Ripped out the paper and started again. Over and over the process repeated. Paper. Trash. Paper. Trash.

Finally I admitted defeat. Outlining just didn’t work for me. I must be a seat-of-the-pants writer, reasoned. I just needed freedom!

I rolled a new piece of paper into the typewriter and wrote a brilliant first line—14 times. I’d heard that getting published was really hard work, so I knew that first line had to be perfect. And after 14 tries, it was!

I hit the return, twice. (Remember this was before word processing.) After all, I had read an issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine from cover to cover. I knew the manuscript was supposed to be double-spaced. I stared at the brilliant first line, and then down to the blank one. And stared. A long time.

Three days later, I had one just-about-as-perfect-as-you-can-get-it double-spaced page of setting, dialogue, and plot.

But hard as I tried, I couldn’t move ahead. I had no idea what was happening next—and on top of that, it had to be perfect!

This was never going to work! Enter: the narrative outline. But not just any kind of narrative outline—the Vonda Skelton style of narrative outline.

I simply started writing plot points, stuff I knew about the characters, and what happened next—all single spaced with no dialogue, no setting, no paragraphs, no spell check, no grammar correction. On and on it went, page after page after page.  I realized that for me, the key was to trick myself into thinking I wasn’t writing a book at this point. I had to give myself permission to make it sloppy and ugly, and in order to do that, I had to single space, leave out dialogue, and forget any rules. Here’s a sample from the Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island narrative outline:

Bitsy goes to Hilton Head Island w/her baseball team (she’s the only girl). I’m not sure why they’re going, maybe they’re in a baseball tournament. I’m not sure what kind of league they’re in, but it can’t be an official league because the rules won’t work. Since she’s the only girl, she can only go because the coach’s wife and daughter are going. But while they’re traveling something happens—car trouble? Sickness? Lost? but the mom and daughter have to go back home and B has to stay with another team at their house since there won’t be a woman with her team. She begs coach to let her stay with them but he won’t. their team is poor—no matching uniforms/in dilapidated van, but the team she has to stay with is rich. Her team is staying in an old dirty beach house but the team B’s with stays in a fancy house. Somewhere along the way—I don’t know what’ll happen to make it happen, but she’s gonna start telling lies in order to try to fit in and act like she’s rich. The Paris Mountain lie. Daddy in oilebusiness. She’s a good baseball player and they need her. There are 5 good players and 5 bad ones. The team has to be outside late at night—I don’t know what they’ll do, but they have to be out late at night so they can find a dead loggerhead turtle. Maybe she blames Ian or maybe somebody else does, but somebody thinks he did it.

And on and on it goes to the end. That’s my personal version of the Narrative Outline, and that outline has worked for me through all three of my published novels and my women’s non-fiction.

The key for is that I have to trick myself into seeing it as a long, fragmented note, NOT a book or an outline. That’s the only way I can be creative and I can turn off the internal editor at the same time!

So, are you having trouble moving ahead with your outline or your first draft? Then maybe you’ll want to consider a Skelton Narrative Outline for your book!

And the best part is, it’s FREE!

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Let’s Celebrate Kudos With Our Christian Writer’s Den Friends!

What a joy to see writers working hard and being successful. Here’s the good news for this month:

1.  Marilyn Nutter (SC): My article, “Rock Collecting,” was published on A Widow’s Might/A New Season on August 27, 2016.

2.  Amanda Everett (VA): I was able to have a blog post, What I Wish I Knew in College published on The Rising!

3.  Tracy Crump (MS): 1)Chicken Soup for the Soul chose two of my stories to publish in their Joy of Christmas book that comes out in October. 2)My story, “Holey Memories,” was a finalist in Southern Writers Magazine’s Short Story Contest and published in their Best Short Stories 2016 issue. 3)And I have a new writer’s website! (No more pitiful homemade site.)

4.  Sandy Kirby Quandt (TX): My entry, Not All Heroes Come Back, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction category of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. (Vonda here: For those who aren’t familiar with Writer’s Digest Competitions, they receive thousands of entries for every competition they hold. Honorable Mention is highly honorable!)

Aren’t these inspiring reports? And I have a feeling that if you asked each of these writers how long it took to begin seeing results, they’ll tell you it was a long, hard journey that required lots of perseverance. So don’t give up. Success or failure isn’t measured by acceptances and rejections. I received 63 rejections before I ever had anything published! I often wonder how different my life would be if I had never submitted that 64th query.

As the late Gary Provost personally told me, “The only way to fail is to not write.” In other words,

The only way to fail is to quit.

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Who MoGo’d in August and Earned Another Chance for $100?

These writers wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in August:

#17:  Susan Baganz – 33,356 words
#18:  KathryneAnn – 13,357 words

Congratulations, Susan and KathryneAnn! So proud of your hard work and many words! I’m looking forward to Na-No-Wri-Mo in November. Hope to see lots of CWD writers there!

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Well, that does it for another 2nd Tuesday. Didn’t see your name in the list of successes? Don’t worry! Just be sure to return next week when I’ll be posting a list of writing opportunities, contests, and conferences just for you!

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

Vonda

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 Steps to a Quality Speaker Website & Call-Outs for Kudos and MoGo7000

www key PixabayIt’s the first Tuesday of September, so that means it’s time to learn and to ask for your kudos and MoGo7000 results. Let’s start with learning 7 Steps to a Quality Speaker Website…

One of the most important tools for any speaker is the internet home. It can be a blog, a website, or a combination of both, but you must have some sort of presence on the World Wide Web. It’s the minimum event planners expect. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive site, but it does need to be a good representation of you.

Here are 7 steps to a website that will serve you well without breaking your budget.

1. A welcome on the front page. With millions of websites now on the internet, we can’t take a single visit for granted. For that reason, we should be sure to welcome each visitor on the homepage.
2.  An About page. Visitors want to know a little about you, your experience, your life, and your family.
3.  A list of speaking topics and printable one-sheet. Be sure to check out my earlier post at Christian Communicators, The Speaker One-Sheet is NOT Dead. But don’t stop with a one-sheet. Your topics should also be listed with a short blurb giving the reader a glimpse of what they will learn.
4.  A Contact page. Make it easy for your visitor to get in touch with you. Small Contact Buttons at the top or bottom of the pages require too much effort to locate.
5.  Photos throughout. As with many other digital tools in today’s world, websites need a variety of casual and professional photos scattered throughout.
6.  Easy to follow tabs and links. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to move from one page to another without having to go back, if possible. I know my website (www.VondaSkelton.com) isn’t perfect by any means, but I do think it’s a good example of locating info with ease on a speaker website. Of course, it does NOT have to be that big, I’m primarily talking about the ease of the visitors finding the information they need. Note the cross-referencing between pages with direct links. That helps a lot!
7.  Include good video, if possible. Here’s a post on my funny YouTube video, but it could apply to any video that promotes your ministry: You Oughta Be in Pictures. But please realize that no video is better than bad video.

Of course, there will always be many more options you can utilize for a more encompassing website, but these 7 steps will help you create a budget-minded website that will introduce you and your ministry to the world.

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Calling All Kudos!

Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 August?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in August, 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 August results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in August. (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 4 months and you’ll have 4 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. :-)

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Well, that does it for another first Tuesday at the Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you learned something or were encouraged by something today. That is certainly my goal for you and me!

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

Vonda

 

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