Category Archives: Humor

The Christian Writer’s Den Auction is Over

I’m happy to announce that an offer has been accepted for the complete package and the Christian Writer’s Den auction is over. Thank you to all who had planned to participate and contacted me with questions and clarifications. You’re the most encouraging bunch of friends and I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life! I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to serve him through your writing and speaking ministry!

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First Deadline is Tonight! (For the Complete Auction Package Only)

I’m happy to announce that an offer has been accepted for the complete package and the Christian Writer’s Den auction is over. Thank you to all who had planned to participate and contacted me with questions and clarifications. You’re the most encouraging bunch of friends and I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life! I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to serve him through your writing and speaking ministry!

 

Hello, Friends.

Just a quick note to remind you that bids for the Complete Auction Package must be submitted by tonight, Monday December 4 at 12midnight ET. Please note this deadline is ONLY for those who want to bid on the entire contents of the auction. (If that package is purchased, the auction will then be closed.)

The deadline for bids on the other two large packages, the Writing is Fun Workshop Package and the Christian Writer’s Den Package, must be submitted by Tuesday, December 5 at 12 midnight ET. If one or both of those packages are purchased, the auction will then consist of only the items that WERE NOT included in the package(s) that were sold.

The final deadline for the remaining items in the auction is Thursday, December 7 at 5pm ET. Please remember that you can go ahead and bid now on the individual lots. If the large packages aren’t sold, your bids on the individual lots will then be active and bidding will continue on those items.

If you haven’t already, please be sure to read the complete instructions before bidding. It’ll make the process much easier! Here are the updated instructions.

Bidding is open only on the December 3 blog post, so click here to bid. 

 

Remember, there’s no bid too small to start your bid. Also be sure to contact me if you need to discuss a longer payment window for the larger packages.

Please feel free to email me at vondaskelton@gmail.com with any questions. I’m happy to discuss anything!

Hugs,

Vonda

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Important Update: Christian Writer’s Den Auction Details

I’m happy to announce that an offer has been accepted for the complete package and the Christian Writer’s Den auction is over. Thank you to all who had planned to participate and contacted me with questions and clarifications. You’re the most encouraging bunch of friends and I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life! I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to serve him through your writing and speaking ministry!

 

Wow! Oh, how you have blessed me with your words of encouragement and validation at the news of my retirement. You make me feel so loved! I’ve been reminded again why it was so difficult to announce the move into my new season of life.

But as many of you have said, seasons do change, and those orders to stop and rest are as much a part of His plan as are the original marching orders to go and do. Your words have brought me a new level of peace and confirmation. Thank you.

And thank you to those who have already shared the auction with others. I’m confident there are writers and speakers out there who could benefit from this opportunity. I appreciate you taking the time to help them hear about it.

When you share, would you please use this updated page instead of the original one?

Auction Update: (The complete instructions are located below this update. Be sure to read the instructions so you’ll understand the bidding process.)

As I mentioned in the initial post, I expected there would be some necessary clarifications after announcing the auction. And there are. First of all, in order to make the offered items easier to locate, today I’m reposting the available items/packages here on this page, along with any current bids on them.

Also, as questions came up yesterday, I added a few explanations into the original post. For that reason, I’ve reposted all the instructions at the bottom of this post. But if you’d rather just read the clarifications, here is a summary of the explanations/added info:

1. To make it easier to follow the auction, this update post will now become the current auction site. I will continue to monitor the original site and will move any bids over to this post if they’re placed on the original page.

2. A question has come up about a longer payment window for the larger packages. That is certainly something that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Simply email me at vondaskelton (@) gmail (dot) com and we can discuss possible options.

3. All items will be transferred with a simple contract.

4. I’ve added more detail to some of the item descriptions. They are listed in the items offered in the comments.

5. Please note that items/comments with longer descriptions may be abbreviated with a clickable SEE MORE note at the bottom. Be sure to look for the note on longer posts and click in order to see all the information.

6. There are 10 auction offerings, but with so many comments, you may not see all of them if you don’t watch for and click the LOAD MORE COMMENTS bar as you scroll down. Be sure to click on that note or you will miss out on items that are included in the auction.

7. To place a bid, you must hit REPLY to the specific item I’ve posted. Follow up questions must also stay in the thread under each item.

8. When you place a bid and I respond with APPROVED, that simply means your bid is noted and recorded. Others may continue placing bids on those items until the posted deadline.

9. Please note that there are three separate deadlines. This is necessary because some of the items are listed both individually and in the larger packages. This allows the purchase of a package to be complete as advertised and associated items will then be removed from the auction.

10. If a package is not sold by its deadline, the package will be removed from the auction and all associated items and their bids will then be active.

11. Bidding is open for all items until their deadline, whether a single item, small package, or large package. You do not have to wait to see if a package sells before bidding on items that are also part of a package. (Clear as mud?)

12. The deadline for the Complete Package of all items listed in the auction is Monday, December 4 at midnight ET. 

13.  The deadline for the Writing is Fun Workshops Package and the Christian Writer’s Den Package is Tuesday, December 5 at midnight ET. 

14. The deadline for all other items is Thursday, December 7 at 5pm ET.

And if you haven’t read the full instructions below, please do so before bidding. It’ll make the process much easier.

Complete Instructions

General instructions:
1. The auction is open to all writers and speakers. It’s always more fun with more participation, so please feel free to share the Auction post with any writers, speakers, and groups you know.
2. Remember that while some items are appropriate for writers of any level, others are best suited for experienced, published writers and speakers. Be sure to read recommendations before bidding. If nothing specific is mentioned, the item or package is appropriate for anyone.
3. The auction will be online only and will be held here at the Christian Writer’s Den blog.  It will close December 7 at 5pmET.
4. If you’re not already a registered commenter at the Christian Writer’s Den, you’ll need to register. There is no charge to participate and you will not be automatically added as a follower.

How to bid:
5. Each item/package will be listed separately in the comment section of the Auction Blog post. You may place a bid by hitting REPLY directly under the specific item/package you want to bid on. Please do not try to bid by placing a general comment or by replying to other bids or other comments.
6. A bid is only approved if it is written as a REPLY under a specific item/package.
7. I will reply to your bid by stating APPROVED. That simply means I see your bid and have noted it in my records. It does not mean you have won the item. The winner will be the highest bidder at the deadline.
8. Bids will be accepted in the order of posting.
9. General questions that will be of interest to all participants may be posted in the general comments.
10. If you don’t mind using your name to bid publicly, simply post your bid as a REPLY to the specific item or package you’re bidding on.
11. I’ll be at the computer continuously from 9amET to 12midnightET each day except Sunday. You’re free to bid on Sunday if you would like, but bids will not be marked as APPROVED until Monday morning.

Anonymous bids:
12. If you’d rather make an anonymous bid, simply email me at vondaskelton (@) gmail (dot) com with your real name, your preferred bidding name, the item you’re bidding on, and the amount of your bid. I’ll post it for you publicly using your bidding name and the time of your email. Please note that other bids may come in between the time you email your bid and when I note it and post it for you.
13. If you must make an anonymous bid during the night hours, it will be added when I get back to the computer the next morning.

Packages vs individual items:
14. IMPORTANT NOTE: Some items are also offered as part of a package. The packages will be offered for a limited time, as noted in the post. You may go ahead and bid on individual items while the package bidding is still active.
15. You may bid on individual items and packages from the beginning; however, an acceptable package sale will eliminate the possibility of individual sales of items included in the package.

Reserve minimum bid:
16. ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: A reserve is placed on the three major packages: The Complete Package of all items in the auction; The Writing is Fun Workshop Package; and The Christian Writer’s Den Package. This means that if the highest bid doesn’t meet the undisclosed minimum amount set prior to the auction, the package will be withdrawn from the auction and will not be sold as a package. Any bidder who has placed a bid on these larger packages but does not meet the reserve will be contacted with more information prior the deadline.
17. If the package isn’t sold, the bids for individual items will be put into effect at that time and bidding will continue until the end of the auction. If the package sells, the associated individual items will be withdrawn and those bids will be cancelled.

Payments:
18. If you place a bid, you are verifying that you are prepared to fulfill the commitment of your bid, should you win it.
19. At the end of the auction, the winner of each item/package will receive a Request for Payment through PayPal and will be responsible for completing the sale at the bid price within 24 hours. With PayPal, you can pay by credit card or through a PayPal account. (See added item, #20 below.)
20. A question has come up about the option of a longer payment window for the bigger packages. That is certainly something that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Simply email me at vondaskelton@gmail.com and we can discuss it. Thank you.

Contracts:
21. All items/packages will be transferred with a simple contract.

Ready to join the fun?

Thank you again for your interest in this auction. I hope my years of work will bring a financial blessing to those who participate, making your writing journey more productive and easier to navigate.

After all, the goal of the Christian Writer’s Den has always been to encourage and celebrate writers and speakers!

With love and appreciation,
Vonda

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The End of My Season and the Beginning of Yours: Christian Writer’s Den Auction

I’m happy to announce that an offer has been accepted for the complete package and the Christian Writer’s Den auction is over. Thank you to all who had planned to participate and contacted me with questions and clarifications. You’re the most encouraging bunch of friends and I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life! I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to serve him through your writing and speaking ministry!

 

Welcome back to the Christian Writer’s Den!

Hello, friends. My goodness, we haven’t talked in a long time. A lot has happened since my last post almost a year ago, and today holds one of the biggest announcements of my life. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to see what’s going on and what it could mean for you and your writing and speaking journey!

Change is in the air

It’s with lots of excitement and a little sadness that I announce my retirement at the end of this year. I’m excited for more time with my sweet hubby and family, but wow, I know I’m going to miss you—my writer/speaker family. After all, many of us grew up as writers and speakers together!

Some of you know that Gary and I have been caregiving for several years, and believe me, we wouldn’t take back those years for anything. It’s been an honor and a joy to care for those we love. But after much prayer and seeking wisdom from professionals I respect, I recognize it’s time for me to transition into a (hopefully) simpler life.

Although ministry seasons change, we know that ministry never ends for those of us who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I’m confident that I’ll honor Him best by honoring by family.

The end of my old season could be the beginning of your new one

Yes, there’s a little sadness with this announcement, but I’m thrilled to share the opportunity this could mean for you. After talking with several wise friends, I see that my change in season could be a positive change for you and your ministry as well, helping you move forward in your own call to write and speak.

As I looked back on my own journey, I realized that I’ve been doing this writing and

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

speaking thing for quite a while now. I started speaking in 1997 and although I wrote my first book in 1993, I wasn’t published until 2002. That’s over 20 years of writing, speaking, encouraging, and making others laugh. That’s 20 years of classes, keynotes, workshops, school programs, blog posts, challenges, domain names, and endless ideas. I would love to see those creations bolster the writing and speaking careers of others, like you!

How will that happen, you ask? We’re going do it with a Christian Writer’s Den Auction of Speaking and Writing Resources . . . and you’re invited to join in! These resources of writing and speaking programs, domain names, rights to become the seller of my downloadable workshops, blog content, and much more will be offered to writers and speakers. All who are interested may participate through the online auction, right here at the Christian Writer’s Den.

General instructions:

The auction is being announced today and will be immediately open for bids. Here’s how it’ll work:

1. The auction is open to all writers and speakers. It’s always more fun with more participation, so please feel free to share the Auction post with any writers, speakers, and groups you know.
2. Remember that while some items are appropriate for writers of any level, others are best suited for experienced, published writers and speakers. Be sure to read recommendations before bidding. If nothing specific is mentioned, the item or package is appropriate for anyone.
3. The auction will be online only and will be held here at the Christian Writer’s Den blog, on the post dated December 1, 2017. It will close December 7 at 5pmET.
4. If you’re not already a registered commenter at the Christian Writer’s Den, you’ll need to register. There is no charge to participate and you will not be automatically added as a follower.

How to bid:
5. Each item/package will be listed separately in the comment section of the Auction Blog post. You may place a bid by hitting REPLY directly under the specific item/package you want to bid on. Please do not try to bid by placing a general comment or by replying to other bids or other comments.
6. A bid is only approved if it is written as a REPLY under a specific item/package.
7. I will reply to your bid by stating APPROVED. That simply means I see your bid and have noted it in my records.
8. Bids will be accepted in the order of posting.
9. General questions that will be of interest to all participants may be posted in the general comments.
10. If you don’t mind using your name to bid publicly, simply post your bid as a REPLY to the specific item or package you’re bidding on.
11. I’ll be at the computer continuously from 9amET to 12midnightET each day except Sunday. You’re free to bid on Sunday if you would like, but bids will not be marked as APPROVED until Monday morning.

Anonymous bids:
12. If you’d rather make an anonymous bid, simply email me (vondaskelton@gmail.com) with your real name, your preferred bidding name, the item you’re bidding on, and the amount of your bid. I’ll post it for you publicly using your bidding name and the time of your email. Please note that other bids may come in between the time you email your bid and when I note it and post it for you.
13. If you must make an anonymous bid during the night hours, it will be added when I get back to the computer the next morning.

Packages vs individual items:
14. IMPORTANT NOTE: Some items are also offered as part of a package. The packages will be offered for a limited time, as noted in the post. You may go ahead and bid on individual items while the package bidding is still active.
15. You may bid on individual items and packages from the beginning; however, an acceptable package sale will eliminate the possibility of individual sales of items included in the package.

Reserve minimum bid:
16. ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: A reserve is placed on the three major packages: The Complete Package of all items in the auction; The Writing is Fun Workshop Package; and The Christian Writer’s Den Package. This means that if the highest bid doesn’t meet the undisclosed minimum amount set prior to the auction, the package will be withdrawn from the auction and will not be sold as a package.
17. If the package isn’t sold, the bids for individual items will be put into effect at that time and bidding will continue until the end of the auction. If the package sells, the associated individual items will be withdrawn and those bids will be cancelled.

Payments:
18. If you place a bid, you are verifying that you are prepared to fulfill the commitment of your bid, should you win it.
19. At the end of the auction, the winner of each item/package will receive a Request for Payment through PayPal and will be responsible for completing the sale at the bid price within 24 hours. With PayPal, you can pay by credit card or through a PayPal account. (See added item, #20 below.)

20. A question has come up about the option of a longer payment window for the bigger packages. That is certainly something that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Simply email me at vondaskelton@gmail.com and we can discuss it. Thank you.

Contracts:

All items/packages will be transferred with a simple contract.

Ready to join the fun?

Thank you for hanging out with me as we muddled through the details. I’m sure there’ll be a few bumps along the way as we get started, so I’m asking now for your grace!

I hope you’ll prayerfully consider participating in this opportunity. What a joy it’d be for my work to continue to help writers and speakers succeed! After all, the goal of the Christian Writer’s Den has always been to encourage and celebrate writers and speakers.

I continue to pray the Lord’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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

This is Chip.

This is Chip.

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

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

Thanks, Chip!

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Kudos must have taken a vacation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vonda

 

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Interview & Gift Set Give-Away with Judy Bone & Debra Paulk and While My Soldier Serves Book Give-Away

Cookie ladiesChristian Writer’s Den friends, do I have an exciting post for you today! I had the joy of meeting Judy Bone and Debra Paulk when I spoke at First Baptist Church of Macclenny, FL this spring, and my goodness, did I fall in love with these ladies and the precious women of their church! Then when I read their delightful book, Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar, I just knew I had to share it–and them–with you. If you want to peek at the funny craziness of these sweet friends, just check out their Facebook page and their website. These are the kind of girls you want to hang around and go to the beach with. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re good cooks, too. 🙂

And listen to this, these dear ladies are giving away a gift set of both Stir Up Some Sweet Life and a cookie cookbook! To get your name in the drawing, simply leave a comment for Judy and Debra and you’ll automatically be in the drawing. Be sure to return next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner.

Now, let’s get started! Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Judy and Debra. Let’s begin with the question most writers are interested in: What inspired you to write your book, Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar?

Judy: Set your imagination to this scene: two women share an uncertain night in an after-surgery ICU. The patient, barely awake in a tangle of tubes and needle drips, is rolled into the room from recovery. Medical equipment beeps and hums. The mood is somber, right? Serious and grim? Well . . . it might read like that in a novel, but not in our real life experience! Minutes after Debra’s breathing tube was removed from the cancer surgery, we were giggling.

Debra: At one point I thought if the cancer didn’t kill me I would surely die of laughter. But in a matter of scant hours Judy and I realized that the Holy Spirit was rolling out a work for us, which eventually became crafted into Stir Up Some Sweet Life.

What an awesome story! So can you tell us how you got from that hospital room discussion actually coming up with the Sweet Life idea?Stir Up Some Sweet Life cover and ladies

Judy: During our hours in the hospital we talked about all kinds of things we love, like scriptures, and baking, and cookies, and Jesus. And it just clicked and we said, ‘We should write a book!’ So we did. As we brainstormed, our ideas developed into a cookie-themed set of Bible studies based on how we experience the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

Debra: The book is our testament to the sweet life moments believers can find in the worst circumstances. God gives us just what we need when the cookie crumbles. That’s the book in a quick mix. Each chapter represents what we like to call a “lesson from the cookie jar.” For example, the title of the Joy chapter is: Joy Is Like A Cookie . . . It’s the Sweet Reward.

So was this writing journey a new venture, or have you written books before?

Debra: This is our first joint book project. When Judy and I brought our experiences together, we snapped with a crazy kind of synergy. We both brought skills and experiences to the table, and that made the process less overwhelming. Judy is a pastor’s wife with 30 years experience as a Bible teacher. She is comfortable developing lessons. For most of my career years I was a jack-of-all-trades editor in a creative niche publishing company. I had written technical books and magazine articles, but nothing like this.

Judy: Writing a book like this and bringing it to market is new for both of us. We don’t always know what we’re doing so we rely on God’s continual help to keep this testimony growing.

Interest in self-publishing has grown tremendously the past few years. Since you self-published Sweet Life, do you have any advice on taking that route?

Judy Bone and Debra Paulk photoJudy: After getting encouragement but no bites from agents and publishers at a writers conference we decided to launch the book on our own. Life is short; we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. With that thought, it didn’t seem wise to wait on a publisher. We believe God has called us to deliver a message so that’s what we’re doing.

Debra: Self-publishing is tough, though. Even with my experience as a publisher, learning a new market is hard and expensive. This is a mission for us.

Yes, self-publishing certainly has its own set of learning curves, as does any worthwhile thing. I’m thankful you hung in there and brought this book to the public! So what’s next for you?

Judy: We’re walking through every door God opens, sharing lots of laughs along with our testimonies at events and workshops, and ministering to groups that cannot be served by major speakers.

Debra: Yes! We tell people, “Don’t worry if your group is small because we work for cookies!”

Oh, y’all make me laugh! I think know that’s why people fall in love with you just as I did! I’ve read Sweet Life, and I know my readers would enjoy it. How can people order your book or get in touch with you?

Judy: They can contact us through our website, www.stirupsomesweetlife.com, through Facebook, or visit our booth at some of the Christian conventions and events.

Thank you for bringing us Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar today, Judy and Debra! And thank you for your heart for others through sharing that life.

Friends, be sure to leave a comment for Judy and Debra and you’ll be in the drawing for that free gift set! This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss! (Don’t forget to come back next week to see if you’re the winner.)

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And who won Edie’s book, While My Solider Serves: Prayers for Those with WMSS, final, high resLoved Ones in the Military, in our Special Memorial Day drawing?

 

First of all, thanks to all of you who honored the military in your comments. They deserve it, and so much more, don’t they?

Deanna Stalnaker, you’re the winner! Congratulations! Simply contact me with your snail-mail address and I’ll get Edie’s book right out to you. I know you’ll enjoy it!

And readers, I want you to know that both Deanna and her husband served in our military during the Viet Nam era, so it’s a special joy to honor them with this book. Thank you and your family for your service, Deanna. We thank God for you.

Here’s the direct Amazon link to While My Solider Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. Would you please got one for that friend or family member who has a loved one serving our country? You could make their burden lighter by helping them pray. Thank you.

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Thank you, sweet friends, for joining me today. I’m sorry I was late getting this out, but I’m blessed to be teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this week and I’m running behind on everything else. But what a blessed time this week is year after year.

And we have the largest number of attendees this year than ever before! What a blessing. Hope you can join us next year!

Enjoy the sweet life of living for our Savior…

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…The New Me

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

About ten years ago, my granddaughter, Ellie, and I were passing the time on a family road trip by playing one of our favorite travel games, I Spy. It was Ellie’s turn and she had me searching high and low for something purple, our favorite color.

It wasn’t the beach towel, the flower on her shirt, or her purple nail polish. I had a good view of the entire van from my back seat location, but it wasn’t helping. What else could it possibly be?

“You’ll never guess this one,” the seven-year-old announced. That was all I needed to hear. As I was being transported down the highway at 70 miles per hour, my competitive streak went into overdrive.

But there was nothing purple left in the car. “Are you sure you mean purple?” I asked, eyeing Christina’s sweater. “Could it be pink?”

“No, MaMa, it’s purple. I promise.” She crossed her arms. “You might as well give up. You’ll never guess it.”

“You know me better than that.” I crossed my own arms. “I never give up!”

Five minutes later, I gave up. “Okay, what is it?”

She pointed. I leaned over and scanned the floorboard. “There’s nothing purple down there.”

“Not there,” she said, pointing again. “There.”

I followed her pointing finger straight to my leg. My spider-veined leg.

Purple is no longer my favorite color.

This story is true, and one I love telling as I travel around the country. But even though I laugh every time I tell it, I must admit, there’s a little part of me that misses my former self. Maybe I need a new me.

I occasionally catch a makeover show claiming to create A New Me. The recipient of the makeover gift is usually thrilled with her New You results. She sports a new haircut and a new wardrobe and new lips. But regardless of how good this “new” person looks, underneath the surgery and the make up and the packaging, she’s still the same person, with the same baggage, the same struggles, and the same sin.

I’m thankful that when God created A New Vonda, He made me new inside and out. No make-up, no surgery, no fake body parts. He made me fresh and new, clean and white, forgiven and free. Truly a make-over gift.

And that’s why I write and speak. I know what it’s like to be spiritually wrinkled, walking around on spider-veined legs. I know how it feels to be covered in guilt…and I know how it feels to be free.

I can’t keep the Good News of this free gift to myself.

I have to speak.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15b (NIV)

Grace and peace,

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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It’s Time for Agent Chip MacGregor’s Annual Bad Poetry Contest! Enter There and Win Here!

Laughing horse morguefile

Okay, I know you’re not supposed to be getting a post from me today, but I couldn’t take a chance that you might miss out on this ab-so-lute-ly amazing writing opportunity and chance to win.

It’s time to join in the fun going on over at Chip MacGregor’s Bad Poetry Contest to celebrate his birthday. And if you enter there, you could win here!

For those who’ve been around writing conferences for a while, you’ll recognize the name, Chip MacGregor. For those who don’t know him, Chip is owner of MacGregor Literary, one of the most recognized agencies in the business. He’s spoken at writing conferences in over 100 locations. And I can promise you, once you’ve been around Chip, you won’t forget him. He helps writers around the world with his snarky voice and big heart. (Don’t tell him I said the big heart part. He likes to protect his image.)

Now, this is how it’s gonna work here at The Christian Writer’s Den. Please read Chip’s intro below and then finish it at his blog. Then write your own bad poetry and leave it as a comment for Chip at his blog. BUT THEN…come back here and post a comment that you left an entry at the contest, and I’ll put your name into another contest HERE! I’ll go to Chip’s blog and read for myself how bad your poem is. I hope it’s really bad! My husband will select a winner from among the Christian Writer’s Den submissions.

Here’s Chip’s introduction to his 7th Annual Bad Poetry Contest:

This is Chip.

This week is a special, heart-touching time of year, when all young writers turn to thoughts of bad poetry. That’s because, each year at this time, we take a week to celebrate my birthday — not with cards, not with songs, not with cutesy memes on Facebook that will make me want to gag. Instead, here we do the more creative thing… we create bad poetry. The badder, the better.

A note about bad poetry: Some people just don’t get it. They seem to think we’re making fun of great poets. No indeed. We’re making fun of ALL poets. Those who think they are deep. Those who want to show they’re smarter than you. Those who rhyme “love” with “dove,” “glove,” and “above.” And most of all, those who call out, “Hey, look at me! I’m sensitive!” So the time has come once again to your bad poems. Stop the wordsmithing madness and start constipating on wrong rhythms and awful word choice. The 2015 Bad Poetry Contest is here! Read more from Chip…

I hope you’ll head on over to Chip MacGregor’s Annual Bad Poetry Contest and read the rest of his post, then post your bad stuff and make me proud!

THEN come back here and post a comment letting me know that you entered, and you’ll be in the running for a FREE DOWNLOAD from my writing workshops! ($14.95 value!) Be sure to come back next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner!

Remember, to be included in HIS contest, you have to post your bad poetry AS A COMMENT ON CHIP’S BLOG! And to be included in OUR contest, you have to leave a comment here that you entered Chip’s contest.

Clear as mud?

So go on now…get started. Show off your bad self and make me proud!

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Time for #Agent @MacGregorLit Annual Bad #Poetry Contest! Enter There & Win Here! @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

Expecting great things from you…

Vonda

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Chip MacGregor: Ask the Agent, Kudos & MoGo7000 Call-Outs & Who Won Cindy Sproles’ Book?

Chip MacGregor headshot2If you’re not following agent Chip MacGregor’s blog, I have three words for you: You need to. Chip is a top-notch literary agent and president of MacGregor Literary. He works with both the Christian and general market and loves sharing his snarky-laced words of wisdom with writers. I’m telling you now, you don’t want to miss his annual Bad Poetry Contest in May–what a fun way to celebrate his birthday!

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

Thanks, Chip!

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

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

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

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

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

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Call-Out for Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

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

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

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

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Call for MoGo7000 Totals

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

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

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge is underway! 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 10 months and you’ll have 10 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. 🙂

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And Who Won Cindy Sproles’ Book, Mercy’s Rain?Cindy Sproles Mercys Rain cover

The winner is…drumroll, please…

Cindy Patterson!

Congratulations, Cindy (Patterson)! I’m so happy for you and I know you’re going to love this book. Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Cindy (Sproles) will get the book right out to you. (Hmmm…could this be a Cindy conspiracy?) 🙂

Well, for those of you who are not named Cindy, here’s a direct Amazon link to Mercy’s Rain. I know–and you know–you want your own copy!

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Thanks for Tweeting!

Ask Agent Chip MacGregor, Call-Outs & Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain winner. #amwriting @MacGregorLit @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for another 1st Tuesday. I can’t wait to see you back next week to meet another author and to celebrate our successes together!

Happy writing!

Vonda

 

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