Category Archives: Christian Communicators

Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities and Conferences

newspapersHello, Christian Writer’s Den friends. This is our monthly Opportunities issue, so let’s see if we can help you get published! Let’s start with writing opportunities compiled just for you.

1.  Bethany House Miraculous Answers to Prayer Call-out deadline has been extended to January 31, 2016!

2.  Donna Goodrich is working on a caregiver book. While it will include inspiration, devotionals, and humor, she also wants practical information to help caregivers find their way in the labyrinth. You can get guidelines for that project by emailing Donna at: msencourager [@] cox [dot] net

3.  Cat Fancy writer’s guidelines 

4.  Wisconsin Trails writing guidelines

5.  DollarStretcher.com writing guidelines

6.  Blue Ridge Country editorial guidelines

7.  AmericanCatholic.org writing guidelines

8.  Working Mother writers guidelines

9.  Astronomy Magazine article submission guidelines

10. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine writers’ guidelines

11.  Lots of writing opps and contests listed at Christian Writers Submission Information by Sally Clark

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Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

conferences. 

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

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

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

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

3.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 24-28, 2016, Leesburg, FL

4.  Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 11-12, 2016, Spartanburg, SC

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

6.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 19, 2016, Colliersville, TN

7.  American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreats begin in April: Various locations and dates

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

9.  Orange County Christian Writers’ Conference: April 15-16, 2016, Fullerton, CA

brmcwc 201610. Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 11-14, 2016, Estes Park, CO

11. Northwest Christian Writers Renewal: May 13-14, 2016, Redmond, WA

12. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 22-26, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

13. Write to Publish: June 8-11, 2016, Chicago area

14. West Virginia Writers Conference: June 10-12, 2016, Ripley, WV

15. New England Christian Writers Retreat: June 17-19, 2016, Hamilton, MA

16. St. David’s Christian Writers Conference: June 22-26, 2016, Grove City, PA

17. Christian Communicators Conference: August 24-28, 2016 The Billy Graham Training Center at Theccclogosmall Cove, Asheville, NC. Registration will open in March. (I’ll see you there!) Please note: The 2016 conference isn’t uploaded quite yet, but it will be soon! Please don’t register yet. :-)

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Thanks for Sharing!

 #Writing & #speaking opportunities & conferences to help you get published & speak! @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet!) 

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Does the Bible Say What You Think It Says?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Do we know what we think we know about the Bible?

Please understand I’m not saying that we need to know everything there is to know about the Bible–none of us will ever be able to do that!

But I am saying we need to be sure that what we’re saying is in the Bible really is in the Bible. Before we write or speak words of encouragement, admonition, or explanation and state something as fact, we need to make sure it is indeed that: A fact.

We can’t depend on what we’ve been told.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post, Christmas Chaos? Check Out Mary’s First Christmas. In that piece, I addressed a couple of misconceptions that were cleared up the first time I really studied the scripture regarding Jesus’ birth instead of depending on what I’d been told.

  • Remember when the angel appeared to Mary and she was greatly troubled? I had always thought she was troubled because the angel told her she was going to have a baby. But the Bible tells us she was troubled because an angel had appeared to her. She hadn’t been told the good news yet.
  • Remember in Luke 2 where it talks about Mary pondering all those things in her heart? I had always thought she was pondering the Wise Men’s visit and all that entailed, but in reality, it was the shepherd’s visit that she tucked away and treasured.
  • And after that post ran, my friend Edie Melson pointed out another frequent misconception I had never noticed: The angels SAY “Glory to God in the highest,” they don’t sing it.

But Jesus’ birth isn’t the only thing I’ve been confused about through the years.

  • I had always envisioned Adam off playing with the elephants or something when Eve was enticed and seduced by the serpent. But the Bible says, “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” That definitely puts a new light on the subject.
  • Until I actually studied the Word I thought becoming a submissive wife meant I would have to become a doormat. But God’s Word is overwhelmingly clear that submission has nothing to do with a doormat! And if you need to find out more about that, just look at the word “head” in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. God is head over Christ and man is head over woman. The word head is the same Greek word in both instances. Is Christ a doormat to God? I don’t think so.
  • And did you know:
    • Eli didn’t tell Hannah she would have a son?
    • Job wasn’t patient?
    • The Holy Spirit Himself thwarted Paul’s missionary journey plans?

    The truth is, the Bible is Truth. But our tradition or recollection of it can be innocently misguided. Before we share the Bible as Christian writers and speakers, we must be sure that we check our instruction and our interpretation against the Truth within His Word. After all, His Word is the only one that matters.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opps, Conferences and Contests

newspapers

(Vonda here: I’m sorry for the delay in today’s post. My internet has been down since yesterday and I’m just now up and running again. Hope like all the opportunities I found for you!)

Hello, Christian Writer’s Den friends! This is our big opportunities issue, so let’s see if we can help you get published! Let’s start with writing opportunities compiled just for you!

1.  Miraculous Answers to Prayer anthology
This new anthology by James Stuart Bell is looking for your stories. Here are the Miraculous Answers to Prayer Guidelines. But you must hurry–Deadline is now December 1, 2015.

2.  Adoptive Families Magazine
Adoptive Families is the leading information resource for families before, during, and after adoption.

3.  Blue Mountain Arts Greeting Cards
Seeks contemporary prose or poetry written from personal experience that reflects the thoughts and feelings people today want to communicate to one another, but don’t always know how to put into words. Does not need rhymed poetry, religious verse, one-liners or humor. Pays $300 for all rights and $50 for one-time rights for a book use.

4.  Colorado Central Magazine
To put our guidelines in a nutshell: We publish material we like to read about the area we live in. We’re not interested in it if it’s routine and boring, or if it’s not about this area. We serve Central Colorado and the San Luis Valley. On a map, that’s a swath from Leadville and Fairplay south to the New Mexico line. It’s the counties of Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Lake, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache, along with the adjacent parts of Fremont, Gunnison, Huerfano and Park counties.

5.  Eating Well Magazine
EatingWell is the only national food magazine that focuses exclusively on eating healthfully (our motto: “Where Good Taste Meets Good Health”). We are the preeminent magazine resource for people who want to enjoy food that is delicious and good for them.

6.  Alaska Magazine Submission Guidelines for Freelance Writers

7.  The Cattleman Magazine – Guidelines for Writing for The Cattleman

8.  Better Homes and Gardens writers guidelines

9.  Backpacker Magazine guidelines

10. Southern Writers Magazine guidelines

Remember to follow the guidelines carefully and then let us celebrate with you when you have a publication!

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If you’re serious about writing and/or speaking, you’ll be serious about attending conferences. Here are some awesome conferences you don’t want to miss!WritersBootcamp2016 logo

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

2. Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC Scholarship deadline October 31, 2015 (I’ll see you there!)

3. Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 24-28, 2016, Leesburg, FL

4. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 11-12, 2016, Spartanburg, SC

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

6. Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 19, 2016, Colliersville, TN

7. American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreats begin in April: Various locations and dates

brmcwc 20168. Write2Ignite for Writers of Children’s Literature: April 1-2, 2016, Tigerville, SC

9. Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 11-14, 2016, Estes Park, CO

10. Northwest Christian Writers Renewal: May 13-14, 2016, Redmond, WA

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

12. Write to Publish: June 8-11, 2016, Chicago area

13. West Virginia Writers Conference: June 10-12, 2016, Ripley, WV

14. New England Christian Writers Retreat: June 17-19, 2016, Hamilton, MA

15. Christian Communicators Conference: Hold the date! August 24-28, 2016, The Billy Graham Trainingccclogosmall Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. Registration will open in early spring. (I’ll see you there!)

16. St. David’s Christian Writers Conference: June 22-26, 2016, Grove City, PA

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And here are some writing contests you’ll want to look into…

1.  The Amy Awards for Christian-related pieces published in secular publications. Deadline January 15, 2016

2.  Fresh Voices Writing Contest is now open for submissions – Deadline December 31, 2015

3.  Writer’s Digest Short Short Story ContestDeadline December 14, 2015

4.  The Anagram Holiday Short Fiction ContestDeadline December 19, 2015

5.  NeoVerse Short Story Writing CompetitionDeadline December 20, 2015

Red Sale Bag pixabay~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Need some help with your Christmas list? I can help!

Yep, it’s time for my buy-one-get-one-half-price Christmas sale! That’s right, buy any product in my store and you’ll get the second item for half-price!

But here’s the catch: You’ll need to order it directly from me by email, or PayPal will charge you the full price! So, head on over to my store and decide what you’d like and who you’d like to have it personalize it to, and then contact me with your order. I’ll get in touch and you can either pay by check or by credit card. DO NOT ORDER THROUGH REGULAR PAYPAL or you won’t get the discount!

Whether you need downloadable writing workshops or books for kids or women, this sale is for you!

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So that should keep you busy for a while. Don’t forget to let us know when you get that publication. We’ll want to celebrate with you.

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…We ARE Somebodies

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 NIV

When I read this verse, it immediately took me back to a conversation at a Christian Communicators Conference where the topic was wisdom. Could be kind of a heady topic, wouldn’t you say? Especially for those who write, teach, and speak The Word.

Left to our own devices and convictions, it would be easy to think more highly of ourselves than we should. After all, people sometimes look up to us as writers and speakers, as if we were smarter or had something they couldn’t have.

As if we’re somebody.

Yes, I know that God gifts each of us differently and it’s up to us to use those gifts for His glory, but we have to remember that the gift of wisdom has nothing to do with us.

We are somebodies. We’re sinners, saved by grace based on nothing we’ve done or deserve.

So who is wise and understanding among us? If God has called us, gifted us, endowed us with the ability to write and speak about Him and teach His Word, it’s our responsibility to live a “good life” (God-honoring life) and continually offer good deeds done in the humility of our position: A sinner saved by grace.

That is the true evidence of any wisdom we may or may not have.

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Nan Jones

Nan Jones new headshotFriends, it’s a joy to introduce my friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators speaker training graduate, Nan Jones, to you. Nan and I met many years ago when she attended one of the writing retreats Edie Melson and I used to lead in the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Since then we’ve watched her grow as a speaker and award-winning writer of The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife. We feel like proud mamas!

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

Welcome, Nan! Let’s start by letting you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in the mountains of North Carolina. My home is a farmhouse built in 1895 with a much loved wrap-around porch, complete with rocking chairs and porch swing. I have three adult children and one grandchild. I served as a pastor’s wife for 31 years—a great honor—but these years of ministry were some of the most painful and difficult in my life, thus my book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife. When I’m not writing or preparing messages for my speaking ministry, you’ll find me gardening, crocheting, reading or sharing a cup of coffee with a friend.

Will you share how you began your speaking and writing ministry?

As a child I was an avid reader and have always enjoyed the power of story. I am also an artist. Around age ten, I realized I could put my two passions together and paint with my words. It seemed to ooze out of me. When I was twelve I made a list of my life goals. Writing a book was number one.

Throughout my life writing was a hobby— something I did, not something I was. But a pen and paper was never far from me.

In 1992 we were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While attending a ladies’ conference I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. He quietly whispered deep in my spirit, Nan, look at these ladies surrounding you. Even as they lift their hands in praise to Me, many are hurting deep within. You will take My message of love to them. You will teach them of My faithfulness, especially during the struggles of life.Nan Jones Perils book cover

For eighteen years I waited. I used those years to develop my faith, to be available for anything the Lord asked of me albeit teaching Bible studies, leading women’s ministry, writing and sharing devotions … whatever He asked, I did while awaiting the appointed time.

About five years ago my husband and I went through an extensive period of unemployment. It was at that time that my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing and speaking full-time.

As a reader of your blog and book, I can totally confirm that you paint with words. I have to remind myself that coveting your gift of lyrical, beautiful writing is wrong!

What was the impetus of writing this book?

Pastors’ wives often live in silent pain. We have struggles, we experience enormous amounts of rejection, and our hearts are often ripped in two through the lonely fires of ministry. That sounds harsh, I’m sure, but most pastors’ wives will agree with me. My heart’s cry is that the pastor’s wife will realize she is not alone—that someone understands how she feels. I want her to walk away from this book with renewed confidence in her calling, with healing deep in her wounded spirit, and the realization that in her darkest moments God was with her—He is faithful.

Yes He is. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

The word that comes to mind is diligence. Be diligent in all things and write for an audience of One. Let it be an offering and leave the results up to Him, whether it reaches thousands or just a handful of people. God’s ways are not our ways. In that knowledge I can cease striving, but remain diligent.

Where can readers find your book?

The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

So what’s on the horizon? Do you have another book in progress?

Yes, I’m working on another non-fiction piece tentatively called SEEING BEYOND THE VEIL. It’s about learning to look for the evidence of God in our lives. When we’re going through a difficult time, it’s easy to think God has abandoned us, but I’ve learned that during our darkest moments, the Lord is closest—He is drawn to our pain. But we must open our eyes to see Him. I’m also working on a Bible study for small groups by the same title. In addition, I’ve created a Facebook community page with a similar purpose: Seeing Beyond the Veil.

Thank you for joining us today, Nan. I pray God’s continued blessing as you continue to bless others! And readers, don’t forget to leave a message for you. You could win a free book!

Nan Jones Perils endorsementReaders, you can contact Nan through:
Her website: www.NanJones.com
Her blog: Morning Glory
Twitter: @NanJonesAuthor
Facebook: Nan Trammell Jones
Facebook Community Page: Seeing Beyond the Veil (a place to find the nearness of God when you need Him most)
Pinterest: Nan Jones, Author
To contact Nan about a speaking event or prayer retreat, please visit her website or contact her directly at nan@jubilantlight.com

Bio: Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire. Nan has also had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, Bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: “Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord” as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God’s Presence.

Thanks for Tweeting!

Are you a #pastorswife? Have you struggled with #hurts from the #church? Perils of a Pastor’s Wife is for you! @NanJones knows & understands. (Click to Tweet)

Happy reading and writing!

Vonda

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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 MagazineThey’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 RetreatOctober 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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Thanks for Tweeting!

Writing opportunities, contests, & conferences from @VondaSkelton & Christian Writer’s Den! #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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 RetreatOctober 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

Thanks for Tweeting…

Writing opportunities, contests, & conferences from @VondaSkelton & Christian Writer’s Den! #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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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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Thanks for Tweeting…

Writing opportunities, contests, & conferences from @VondaSkelton & Christian Writer’s Den! #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Fathers 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.

YouTube Preview Image

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 Fathers 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 TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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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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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 RetreatOctober 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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Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences Just for You, and Who Won Donn Taylor’s Book?

Dollar sign morguefileIt’s the 3rd Tuesday, and time to offer writing opportunities, collected just for you!

Be sure to follow all guidelines carefully and then let us know if it leads to success. We’d love to celebrate with you!

1.  Writer Beware Blog, a publishing industry watchdog group, is looking for guest bloggers. Check out the Writer Beware Guest Blogger Guidelines here.

2.  Back to College is a news and information resource for adult re-entry students pursuing professional development or an advanced degree.

3.  The Atlanta Tribune Magazine–Black Atlanta’s No. 1 resource for information on business and the business lifestyle. Atlanta Tribune’s writer’s guidelines here.

4.  Diabetes Self-Management–Brings you the information you need to control your diabetes and improve your health. Diabetes Self-Management writer’s guidelines here.

5.  HILLERMAN MYSTERY SHORT STORY CONTEST--Submission deadline June 1, 2015. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press and WORDHARVEST, the Tony Hillerman Prize is awarded annually for the best first mystery set in the Southwest.

6.  Greeting Card guidelines:

7.  ADOPTIVE FAMILIES–Adoptive Families is the leading information resource for families before, during, and after adoption. The award-winning national bimonthly magazine provides independent, authoritative adoption information in an accessible and reader-friendly format. Adoptive Families Writer’s Guidelines here.

8.  EARLY AMERICAN LIFE–Since 1970 Early American Life has been the source for information on early American style, decorating, and traditions. In addition, we cover both antiques and reproductions made by crafters working in period styles with traditional tools. We do it with our own style–we aim to entertain as well as educate. We also feature stories on gardening with a focus on early America. A one-page story in Early American Life, such as Worth Seeing, runs about 750 words. A typical feature may run 2,500 words. We would estimate $500 for a first feature from a new writer, more if you are an experienced, skillful writer. If we assign a story to you, we will negotiate the rate before you begin work.

9.  Catholic Digest writer’s guidelines

10. GEMINI FLASH FICTION CONTEST–Deadline March 31, 2015. ENTRY FEE $5. Grand prize: $1,000. Both new and established writers are welcome.

11. Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions

12. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and BelieversTrust Announce “Beyond the Steeple Award”

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Writing opportunities, contests, & conferences from @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtip (Click to Tweet)

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Next up: Conferences to help you grow as a writer and/or speaker

Conference Room fdp Pixomar
1.  Weekend with the Writers: March 20-21, 2015, Greenville, SC

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

3.  Write2Ignite Conference for Writers of Children’s Literature: March 27-28, 2015, Tigerville, SC

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

5.  Writing Success XXIV: April 25, 2015, Stoneboro, PA

6.  Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 13-16, 2015, Estes Park, CO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Christian Communicators Conference: Registration opened March 1st and we only have two spots left! Scholarships available, deadline April 1. (I would love to see you there!)

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Lightning Cover - 300dpi

And who won Donn Taylor’s new book, Lightning on a Quiet Night?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Tammy Whitehurst!

Congratulations, Tammy. All you need to do it contact me with your snail mail address and Donn will send his book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s a direct Amazon link to Donn Taylor’s Lightning on a Quiet Night.

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Well, I think that does it for another episode of Writing Opps, Contests, and Conferences. I hope it helps you find success on your writing and speaking journey!

Write on!

Vonda

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