Category Archives: Guest Blogger

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

Tim Suddeth headshotA Writer’s Health Dilemma

By Tim Suddeth

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

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

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

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

Neither one’s conducive to good health.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The winner is . . .

Glenda Mills!

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

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

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . He Precedes Your Every Test

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.
Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Vonda here: I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, Evangelist Aidan McKenzie to you. He’s a dear man of God who has suffered for years from a rare, painful muscle disease that keeps him bedridden much of the time. And yet he sees the medical professionals the Lord has placed in his life as his personal field of ministry. Every time he sends out a testimony of what the Lord is teaching him, Aidan teaches me. If you’d like to receive his encouraging writings, you can reach him at aidanmck [@] aol [dot] com.

HE PRECEDES YOUR EVERY TEST

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:6

The first man said, “eight months wages . . . is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little,” in order to feed the multitudes (John 6:7). He looked at the situation and concluded that it couldn’t be done because he couldn’t see how; therefore it couldn’t, he wrongly concluded!

The second was a little bit more optimistic. He said there was a lad who had five barley loaves, and two fish, ” . . . but what is that for so many?” He too concluded it couldn’t be done. Why not? Because he couldn’t see how; therefore he wrongly concluded it couldn’t be done.

They both looked at the circumstances logically, and concluded it couldn’t  be done. They excluded Jesus Christ from the circumstance and took the place of the Almighty in their thinking! They failed to relate it to Him who was present. They believed what they saw and not Him who had done so much in their presence previously. They came to the wrong conclusion because they leaned on their own understanding, and when they–and we–do that, they–and we–exclude Him from the scenario . . . and we wrongly conclude, “It can’t be done.” Why not? Because I can’t see how, therefore it can’t be! It is living as though He is not present, able, caring, sufficient. He tested them as He does us and we must remember . . .

In your trial . . .
I may not know how, but I know Whom.

In your trial . . .
He Himself knows what He’s going to do.
That is good news, and meant to bring comfort to our mind and soul.

He precedes your every test . . . He is present in your test . . . He is pre-eminent over your test . . .

He Himself knows what He is going to do!aidan mckenzie headshot 2
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Aidan McKenzie
Reconciliation Ministries INC
PO Box 4052
Greenville, SC 29608
www.proclaiminghim.com

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Sustainable Writing: Research, Redo & Reuse, by Edie Melson – Call Out for Kudos & MoGo7000 – And Book Winner!

Recycle 3R PixabayVonda here: I admit, I’m not a great recycler. We don’t have recycle capability with our garbage pick up, so it’s not easy to make the best use of this worthwhile endeavor.

But garbage recycling isn’t the only thing I miss the mark on. I could do a much better job of recycling my words. Edie Melson is here today to show us the benefit of Sustainable Writing. Welcome, Edie!

Sustainable Writing: Research, Redo and Reuse

Sustainable Writing is the way I describe writing for a living. Having a regular income as a freelance writer requires multiple streams of income. Managing those streams and keeping them afloat is where the sustainable part happens. Just like the environment, we have to be good stewards of our time and resources as writers and business owners.

As a matter of fact, there is a lot we, as writers, can learn from the environmental awareness movement. If you don’t believe me, just substitute the word TIME for the word ENVIRONMENT and you’ll be surprised what becomes applicable.

When we think about sustainable writing, we need to have a recycling mindset. We should never waste anything. Say you’re doing research for an article titled, Remodel Your Kitchen. If you pay attention, you’ll find material to write several dozen articles. How about one called New Trends in Lighting Your Kitchen or Using Kitchen Cabinets in the Bathroom. Once you know where to look, the possibilities are endless.

This works with more than just research, you can repurpose articles–change them by 50 percent–and sell them as a new article to another source. Or, don’t change them at all and sell the reprint rights.

Here are some ways to apply this attitude to your writing.

  • Research – When you research a topic or person for an article or book, keep all your notes. I keep all mine in a single computer file. Within that file it’s important to have a document that lists all the websites you’ve visited to get your information. I’ve gotten in the habit of copying and pasting the web address into this document the first time I determine the importance of the webpage I visit. I also keep a transcript and/or notes from any interviews I conduct on the subject.
  • Rough Drafts – Many times when I’m writing an article it will start off way over the word count I need. I keep a copy of that first draft in my file before I start cutting it and revising it. Often I’ve come back to it and pulled parts out for a brand new article.
  • Related Subjects – I’ve also learned to make a list of possible related subjects while I’m working on an article. Frequently, when I’m writing an article, ideas for other articles will come to mind. When that happens I’ve learned to immediately make a note of my thought. If I wait, the idea often disappears.

So don’t waste your time starting from scratch with every article, and then using it only once. Research, redo, and reuse and you’ll be able to get much more mileage our of your words. Edie Melson, crop, high res

Edie Melson—author, editor and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular instructor and mentor. Her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers across the country.

She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a prolific writer, with numerous books and thousands of articles. Her popular writing blog, The Write Conversation, is a well known resource. Edie is the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, senior editor for Novel Rocket, and the social media mentor for My Book Therapy websites. She’s also the military family blogger for Guideposts.org. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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It’s Time to Share Kudos of YOUR Successes!

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!

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Who MoGo’d in April?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in April, 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 April results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in April. (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 has lots of opportunities left for you. 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. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A Stranger On My Land cover Sandra Hart

And who won Sandra Hart’s book?

The winner is…

Ruth Allender!

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

And readers, since I know you want you own copy of Sandra Merville Hart’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, here’s your direct Amazon link to A Stranger on My Land Kindle. And as I write this, it’s only $1.99!

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ccclogosmallOnly one more opening for Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in August!

Ladies, do you feel God is calling you to be a speaker? Or perhaps you already have a speaking ministry, but want to take it to the next level. If either of those are true, you’ll want to check out Christian Communicators Conference!

Could this last spot be for YOU?

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Another happy Tuesday to you! Be sure to come back next week to enjoy another teaching post and celebrate you and your friends’ successes!

Never give up!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 4

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: I can’t believe it, but here we are already, at Part 4 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Of course, you don’t want to read the last of the series without reading the first of it, so here are direct links to Parts 1-3: “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1, “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 2, and “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 3. This four-part Parting Words Fridays is unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 4, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 4

By James Watkins

 

4. You have an incarnational role in Christian writing

I’ll give you a second to let that truth sink in until I see whiffs of smoke coming out your ears.

I’m not diminishing the role of preachers, but writers have exponentially more influence and longevity! The average church in America runs less than 100 people. As a magazine writer, you can reach a thousand times that number with just one article.

And, unless the sermon is recorded and posted online, it stops reaching new people after the last amen! But as a writer, your work can last for years in waiting rooms and bathroom magazine racks. Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ is still in print over 500 years since he wrote it and continues to be a best-seller, second only to the Bible!Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

And even if your book goes “out of print,” it doesn’t go out of existence. It lives on until Jesus comes in homes, in church libraries, in garage sales!

I recently received this email:

I cannot tell you, how much reading the three chapters that i did just before writing meant for me. I am so thrilled with the way the Lord has gifted you not only in your writing; but primarily your love for Jesus and the deep Spirit filled way you have written this book.

It was from India . . . concerning a book that had long gone out of print . . . on a day I was feeling especially un-important!

God uses our words to communicate his Word!

Without the written word, Christianity would have never made it past the first century. The writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John preserved the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The writings of the church fathers, such as Augustine, gave us a systematized theology and kept heresy at bay.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverAnd as the relationship with the living Christ slowly devolved into a religion of works, legalism, profiteering and politics, Catholic writers like Thomas a’ Kempis reminded us of the pure, intimate relationship with Jesus in his The Imitation of Christ. Martin Luther’s 96-Point Thesis reminded us that salvation is by faith and faith alone.

And today, holy men and women are using pens and pixels to write the love of God on the hearts of followers and seekers as well. So, you and I are a part of the parade of published writers who have kept the Word alive for over 2,000 years. I’ll probably be in the tiny clown car.

For me, writing is an act of worship.

It’s acknowledging the important, indispensable role in writing that God has entrusted to me.

It’s fellowshipping with other writers, agents, editors, and publishers as an interdependent part of this eternal work.

It’s rejoicing in my individuality that God has personally, uniquely, lovingly crafted me into a writing instrument for his glory.

And it’s shaking with holy joy and fear that I am an incarnation of the Word of God!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Vonda here: Wow, Jim. Wow. Thank you for your powerful, encouraging reminder that we truly are “…His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Jim, thank you for sharing His heart through the lens of His hope and your humor. We love and appreciate you! And friends, if you appreciate Jim message, I hope you’ll visit his site and support his work as he walks the journey God created him to do!

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!Jim Watkins real headshot
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Don’t miss @JamesWatkinsCom final fun–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 -Part 4 via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 1

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: Okay, friends, today kicks off four Parting Words Fridays that will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter! As many of you know, I just returned from teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where one of the highlights of my week was hearing author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins deliver his keynote, “Your ‘Write’ Role.” Another highlight was when he agreed to let me share the message with you over the next four Fridays!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 1.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 1
by James Watkins

 

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12, as I read from the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers:

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If a writer should say, “Because I have not been published in Charisma, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the Body. If the whole body was writing for Guideposts, who would write for take-home papers?

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many kinds of writers, but one body.

1. You have an important role in Christian writing

How many of you truly believe that you have an important role in Christian writing?

Writers’ conferences are the absolutely worst place for you to feel important! Here’s what happens. You visit the website or look at the brochure, and there they are: “important” writers who have written fifty New York Times best-selling books, won “major awards” and spoken to thousands around the world.

And there you are having not written fifty New York Times best-selling books, not having won “major awards” and not speaking to thousands around the world.

And to be perfectly honest, I look at the conference faculty bios and wonder What am I doing here giving a keynote address?!

Okay, I do have books with Zondervan, Tyndale, HarperCollins, but most of my books are with small houses. Yes, I’ve spoken around the world, but mostly in cement-block churches with tin roofs and circus tents (no editorial comments, please, about clowns). And, while four of my books have won national awards, but not one has been a best-seller.

“Hi I’m Jim. I’m critically acclaimed, but commercially ashamed.”

So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and underqualified, I feel your pain. But my most “painful” event was a book signing in Seattle sitting next to Frank This Present Darkness Peretti. Frank had a line as far back as Nebraska; I had one or two people at a time in line. He was frantically writing “Frank.” “Frank.” “Frank.” I was writing little essays: Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

Dear friend, thank you for stopping by. If you can just stand there for just a few minutes until someone else comes, I won’t look like a complete loser. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, here comes another person.

3 John 2, Jim

So, you’re not alone if you’re sitting here at this writers’ conference feeling less than important. But here’s that verse from 1 Corinthians 12 again.

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18

In your Bible, circle that name “God.” Then underline that verb “arranged.” God has arranged the body of Christian writers. He has you right where he wants you to be right now!

I hope and pray you feel safe here this week. It is so easy to feel all alone as a writers among people who just don’t get you. Here, you’re with your fellow peculiar people.

And most important, you are with fellow parts of the Body of Christ.

When you speak at churches in India, “honored guests” are outfitted with a gigantic floral arrangement around your neck, so you look like a Kentucky Derby winner. Plus, you have to take off your shoes when you’re on the platform. So there I was, the only white man in the entire church, dressed like a winning thoroughbred, in my sock feet, and they started singing “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” and suddenly—I felt right at home. I belonged!

I felt that same way in our two trips to Africa. I was with my brothers and sisters! Okay, I was white brother who can’t dance, but I was family!

But it is so easy to lose our sense of importance with three deadly C’s:

Comparison: Back to the conference website or printed brochure. Maybe you’re thinking I haven’t had 50 books published. I haven’t been interviewed on national TV. I haven’t spoken to a stadium filled with fans. So I must not be an “important” part in the body of Christian publishing.

So, we move on—and down . . .

Copying: I’m going to write like Max Lucado. I’m going to get on the national talk shows. I’m going to be a great Bible teacher like Beth Moore.

And when we all, inevitably, fail, we move to the third level:

Criticizing: We move from feeling inferior to them to feeling superior to them. I can write better than E. L. James. Okay, anyone can write something better than Shades of Grey. I’m a better, deeper speaker than so and so.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverI love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Galatians 5:4-5:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG).

Comparison is a killer of creativity! And worse, a killer of your unique design as a writer. (We’ll talk more individuality later.)

For now, you may want to write this down:

I am important not because of who I am,
but because of Whose I am.

Give that a second to sink in, because it just may be the most important thing you’ll hear all week. More important than “Write tight,” “Show, don’t tell” and “Avoid adverbs.” Even more important than “Develop your brand and platform.”

My very funny friend, Jeanette Levellie, who has written two hilarious books reminds us, “God has already defined you. You don’t need others to tell you who you are.”

And from the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, A. B. Simpson:

Many Christians are in the place that the Lord has appointed them, and yet the devil is harassing their lives with a sense that they are not quite pleasing the Lord. If they could just settle down in the place that God has assigned them and fill it faithfully and lovingly for Him, there would be more joy in their hearts and more power in their lives.

So, you have an important role in Christian writing. But the enemy is ruthless. If he can’t convince you you’re not important, then he will try to make you feel you’re more important than you are! Look at verses 15-18 (New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers):

A writer for Decision cannot say to a writer of a church newsletter, “I don’t need you!” And a best-selling author cannot say to the one who writes letters to the editor, “I don’t need you!”

On the contrary, those writers who don’t command six-figure advances are indispensable, and the writers who don’t appear on the cover of Today’s Christian Woman deserve equal honor as those who do. And the writers who are never interviewed on Christian talk shows are just as necessary as those in the spotlight.

Paul is incredibly honest in acknowledging that there is an earthly hierarchy in the church and in Christian publishing. So, we need to maintain that careful balance that, “I am incredibly important, but I’m not any more important than anyone else . . . despite what the world may say and, particularly, despite what Christian publishing says!”

Moving on to verses 24-26:

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

If one part receives a rejection slip, every part suffers with it; if one part signs a contract with Tyndale House, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

Copyright © 2015 James N. WatkinsJim Watkins real headshot

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Vonda again: Thank you, Jim! Now friends, isn’t that a powerful application to us as Christian writers and speakers? Be sure to come back for our 1st Tuesday post next Tuesday and then return for more insight next Friday from Jim Watkins’ Your “Write” Role, Part 2.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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Canceling Christmas (When You Have 22 Kids!)

Canceling Christmas, by Sue Badeau

Sue Badeau Laurie with her cookie tray“You have HOW MANY children?” Upon hearing that the answer is 22, 2 by birth and 20 adopted, the next statement many people make is “Christmas must be amazing in your house!”

Truly, Christmas IS amazing in our house. When my husband and I were first married 35 years ago, we began a tradition of doing something special on each day of advent to allow the anticipation to build, the light and joy of the season to grow day by day in the spirit of “Maranatha.” The activities ranged from baking special recipes, to making homemade ornaments, to reaching out and visiting a nursing home or prison. As each new child joined the family, these festivities also grew and traditions from each of their heritage, memory and culture were added to the mix. The whole month of December became a magnificent, chaotic cacophony of joyful noise and bustling energy.Sue Badeau Christmas_Short_Street_stockings

December in our house never included a moment of rest.

One year, things had been particularly stressful for months. Bad news, seemingly insurmountable challenges, illnesses, and even deaths were all piling up along with the endless stack of bills to be paid. Another blow was dealt to us just days after Thanksgiving and my husband and I had reached the breaking point. “That’s it!” We declared that we had just had enough and we were “canceling Christmas.” We held a family meeting and told the children that this year, there would be no Christmas. No activities, no cookies and eggnog, no lights, no tree, no stockings hung from the bannister. And most importantly, no gifts.Sue Badeau 2008Christmasphotocard

We needed a break from the action. We needed rest.

Three of our children – ages 11, 12 and 14 – had a different idea. They had a small after school job helping to deliver firewood. Secretly they decided to pool their pay and tips and buy gifts for the entire family. Stealthily they accomplished their mission with no one, not even mom and dad, catching on. Excitedly, they waited until after everyone had gone to bed on Christmas Eve and then tiptoed into the living room and filled every stocking and added a pile of wrapped gifts around the fireplace.

The astonished faces and tears of joy that graced our home that Christmas morning have never left my mind, or my heart. It was only by accident that I discovered who the 3 secret elves were, and I have kept their secret. Like the very first Christmas-mother, I too have “treasured up all these things and pondered them in (my) heart.” (Luke 2:19).Sue Badeau Stockings on Bannister

The dollar-store goodies that they provided were worth more than all the other gifts of Christmas past and future. We learned a simple and profound lesson that year. Christmas simply cannot be cancelled. Even in the darkest of times in our life and even in the darkest spaces in our world, the light of Christmas will not stay under the bushel-basket. The light will burst forth, spilling and spreading and dancing brighter and brighter as it is shared. The light of Christmas brings not only joy but refreshment and rest to the weary, and satisfies those who are feeling faint.

As the chaos and noisiness of the first festivities of Advent 2014 begin with rambunctious grandchildren excitedly setting out the decorations while others stir up the cookies and blend up the eggnog, I am bursting with gratitude and reminded that Christmas is ALWAYS amazing in our house!

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

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Sue Badeau CCCA 14Sue Badeau is a national inspirational speaker and writer and a graduate of both Christian Communicators and Christian Communicators ADVANCED. She and her husband Hector have raised 22 children of diverse backgrounds, many with disabilities, 3 with terminal illnesses who have passed away. They now enjoy 35 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Sue is the author of Are We There Yet? Adopting and Raising 22 KidsRoots and Wings at Loonstone Lake, The Christmas Primer, ‘Tis the Season in Sweetland, and Roots and Wings at Loonstone Lake, Volume 2.

The Badeaus understand that parents caring for children with special needs often need rest and refreshment, so while Sue continues to use her life experiences to inspire others through her speaking, they are also developing a ministry to open their home to provide rest, refreshment and care for caregivers. To learn more about their family and vision, or Sue’s speaking, visit www.badeaufamily.com and www.suebadeau.com . Maranatha!

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Left Behind: When You Can’t Attend a Writer’s Conference, Call-Out for Kudos & MoGo7000, & Who Won Patty Mason’s Book?

BRMCWC 2014 logoA couple of weeks ago I missed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for the first time in a gazillion years. And man, did I miss it! The classes, the friends, the one-on-ones, the late nights, the opportunity to help other writers and speakers, the chocolate macaroons–I missed it all!

And then there were the pictures. Every time I opened Facebook, there they were! My news feed was a moment-by-moment timeline of BRMCWC life. Everybody in the world was there, and they were having fun. Everyone, that is, except me.

Yea, I was feeling kinda left behind.

So when Lori Hatcher’s article plopped into my Inbox, I have to admit, I was comforted. Hurray! I wasn’t the ONLY writer who wasn’t at Ridgecrest learning and laughing with writer-friends! (Guess you could say I’m proof positive that misery really does love company.)

But as I read Lori’s article, I realized that–unlike me–Lori had already moved past the whining stage and was hard at work putting her experience to good use.

If you didn’t get to go to Blue Ridge or another favorite conference, this post is for you. Let’s join Lori, quite whining, and just move forward!

Left Behind . . . When You Can’t Attend a Writer’s Conference

By Lori Hatcher

Common sense tells me I’m not the only one who was unable to attend the most recent writers’ conference. Social media, however, begged to differ. Every post I saw was from someone squealing with excitement. Agents were hoping to sign the next Karen Kingsbury. Instructors were thrilled to be presenting new and insightful workshops. Writers were eagerly anticipating productive times of learning and networking.

And I was sitting at home. Missing it all. Waaaaaaaaah!

Maybe you’re one of the other three people on the planet who wasn’t able to attend the conference. Perhaps you couldn’t afford it. Or couldn’t get time off from your day job. Or didn’t have someone to watch your kids or your aging parent. Whatever the reason, your inability to attend doesn’t have to hamstring your writing life.

I’d like to share six suggestions to help you move forward:

  1. If a friend attended the conference, invite her over for coffee and pick her brain. Ask her to bring her notes and debrief with you.
  2. If someone attended the conference from your local writers’ group, invite her to share what she learned at your next meeting. If several members went, ask them to share the three (or five) best things they learned.
  3. Subscribe to faculty blogs. Go to your favorite conference’s website and click on the Faculty link. Most professionals have very informative blogs. By subscribing to their feeds, you can get helpful instruction on all aspects of the publishing process. It’s free continuing education that lasts much longer than the writing conference itself. Some of my favorite writing blogs are Writer to Writer, The Write Conversation, MacGregor Literary blog, The Write Editing, and, of course, The Christian Writer’s Den.
  4. Set new goals. One of the most helpful aspects of a writers’ conference is coming away with a new list of writing tasks, ideas, and goals. While it’s easier to overcome inertia with a push from someone else, a prayerful look at where you are and where you’d like to be in the future can help you formulate goals on your own. First, brainstorm several small projects you can complete in a day or two (blog posts, an article, or a computer file cleanup). Be sure to set a larger one that might take a few weeks of steady progress (researching new publications and sending out query letters). Finally set a long-term goal (a book or editing project). Set deadlines for each and ask a writing friend to hold you accountable.
  5. Plan a private writers’ retreat. This is an annual tradition for me. Every year I invite two or three friends to join me for a weekend getaway at a kind friend’s mountain house. We pack the books we never have time to read, our current work in progress, and lots of food and chocolate. We sequester ourselves in different rooms to pray, plan, and write, then come together for meals, brainstorming, and critiquing. While we never accomplish everything we hope, it’s wonderful to have an uninterrupted chunk of time to work.
  6. Think long term. There are several wonderful conferences in my area each year, and it’s unrealistic to expect to attend every one. If I do my research, plan carefully, and save intentionally, I can usually attend at least one. If you really want to attend a conference next year, start planning now. If finances are a challenge, divide the cost by 12 months (or 52 weeks) and begin saving that amount. The total often seems overwhelming, but when you break it down, it’s usually doable. For example, if a conference costs $800, you’ll need to save about $16 per week. This is the equivalent of one lunch out or a few lattes. And the next time your husband, mother, or children ask you what you’d like for your birthday or Christmas, tell them you’re saving to attend a writer’s conference and invite them to contribute to your fund.

Writer’s conferences are wonderful. Every time I attend, I come away inspired, educated, and motivated. They’re a great way to move forward as a writer, but they’re not the only way. If you implement even one of the suggestions I’ve shared today, you’ll begin to move forward on your writing journey. May God bless your efforts.Lori Hatcher headshot

Bio: Lori Hatcher is the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and the author of the devotional book Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A Yankee transplant and a Christian Communicators Graduate, she uses her speaking and writing ministry to encourage and empower women. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time.

Thank you, Lori! I feel better already!

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We Need To Hear About Your Successes!

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)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogo7000 logoAnd Who Worked on Their MoGo7000 in May?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in May, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2014 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 2014 challenge is ongoing! 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 12 months and you’ll have 12 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have $100 this time next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

Patty Mason Know That book cover~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And Who Won Patty Mason’s Book?

The winner is…Clella! Congratulations, Clella! Now, simply contact me with your snail mail address and the book will be on its way!

And I know many of you are going to want your own copy, so here’s a direct link for Know That I AM God workbook on Amazon. But to get the complete study, including the workbook and Leader’s Guide combo, along with the 10-week video series (taken from the book of Ezekiel), be sure to check out Patty’s Bible Studies section on her website at http://www.libertyinchristministries.com/bible-studies.

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Well, that’s it for this week. I hope to see you back on Friday for our Parting Words From The WORD…

Blessings,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thank you to writer and speaker Judith Robl for responding to my call-out for guest bloggers. With all the recent writing conferences, I thought her devotion is perfect for today. Thank you, Judith!)

I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Focus verses: Genesis 37:3-11

Joseph is a boy – a teenager really. Can’t you just imagine his youthful cockiness as he tells his dreams to his brothers?

And the fact that he is his father’s favorite just adds fuel to the fire.

At a writers’ conference several years ago, I sat at the supper table with a young woman who’d had a great day. She concluded her recitation of God’s blessings to her with “I’m His favorite.” As we all took turns sharing our triumph for the day, she’d interject to each “how wonderful! You’re God’s favorite.” It became a running by-word for the remainder of the conference. And it was a reminder to us that God cared about each of us in every detail.

In fact, we’re each God’s favorite. He loves us each as if we were His only child. But this does not give us reason to be cocky and self-assured.

Rather it should make us more sensitive to the feelings of others, more ready to encourage and support their efforts to know God better.

We can best reflect His love by speaking gently and humbly, by loving unconditionally, and by admonishing softly with God’s truth.

Father, God,
Wrap us in the security of Your love. Help us reflect it to all we meet who are starving for knowledge of You.
In Jesus most precious name,
AmenJudith Robl headshot

Bio: Judith Robl is the author of As Grandma Says (Harvest House) and founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married almost 50 years and enjoy time with their grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Parting Words From The WORD…I Can Do It All

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thanks to Edie Melson for allowing me to repost this much-needed message while I’m in AZ with my mother. I admit, it’s a message I need to hear again and again!)

I Can Do It All, by Edie Melson

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. It’s a heady verse for someone like me. Someone who loves to say yes for two reason— the sheer joy of being involved and the fear others wouldn’t like me if I couldn’t perform. It was a dangerous combination. But I truly believed this verse gave me the ability to say yes to everything, and God would provide a way.

Fast forward several years, and the price of saying yes began to take it’s toll on my mind and body. I no longer lived a life of joy and victory. Instead I was a slave of over commitment. And I finally broke. It wasn’t pretty. Diagnosed with severe depression and several other mental health challenges it took me months to recover.

It was a painful lesson, and one I had to learn to ever be able to move forward. When forced to give up everything, I thought I’d never get to do anything fun again and that everyone would dislike me. (Stupid I know, but it’s really what I believed.) Slowly I began to realize God’s plan didn’t involve me saying yes to every good activity or need within my community.

I also discovered that when I said yes to something that wasn’t intended for me, I was in the way. I’d taken a task from someone else and denied them the joy of obedience. I’d become a roadblock in the journey God had for them.

I’ve also learned not to equate a need with a call from God. By that I mean just because I see a hole that needs filling it’s not my job to jump in. God has proven perfectly capable of providing for the needs of those around me.

Now I’m living a much more balanced and joyful life. I’m still not perfect, there are days I just can’t say no. But He’s shown me that the things He’s given me weigh no more than a feather, no matter how labor intensive. But when I pick up a job or a burden on my own, no matter how small the time commitment, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks. That in itself makes me wary about saying yes without hearing from God.

To sum it all up:

I’ve learned that I really can do it all…as long as I’m not trying to do everything.

Today I encourage you to look at the balance in your life. Do you need to lay something down that’s intended for someone else? Are you crying out for rest because you’re carrying a load not meant for you? There is rest and peace, all you have to do is let go.

Edie Melson, originally posted on The Write Conversation 4-14-13

 

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