Category Archives: Interviews

“Interviews with authors who have a heart for writers ”


Interview & Book Give-Away with Nan Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the impetus of writing this book?

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

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

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

Where can readers find your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading and writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Amber Massey – From Rider to Writer

Amber Massey Headshot-with-Signature-199x300Hello, Christian Writer’s Den friends! I’m thrilled to have author and horsewoman Amber Massey as my guest today. Amber and I met years ago when our critique group was meeting at the restaurant she and her husband own. She overheard our conversation and before we knew it, we were all writing friends. She ended up sharing some of her writing with us (and we were blown away by her words!), then followed us to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and got her first contract!

Amber says the purpose of For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle is to share the Gospel with horse lovers from all walks of life. She says, “As I share my story bit by bit, you will consistently see the spiritual truths I’ve learned along the way. You’ll laugh with me, cry and sometimes ask, ‘Why?’ but more than anything, I pray you get to know the heart of Christ better through the work He has done in this book.”

I know you’ll enjoy this interview, so be sure to leave a comment for Amber and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Welcome, Amber! Let’s jump right in and get started. First, I’d love to hear about your history with horses. When did you start riding and when did you get your first horse?

I was that little girl who always wanted a horse, so I rode any chance I got…which was very seldom. In high school I took some lessons and showed a little, but once time for college came around, I was forced drop the reins. At 28 years old and married with a career, I rolled coins until I had enough cash in hand to drive to Tennessee and buy Marquise, my first horse.

I love your book about what you learned from horses. If you didn’t ride, do you think you would haveFor the Love of Horses-Compressed ever started writing?

No way. I’ve never been one to journal or write down my thoughts and feelings, so it wasn’t until God started filling my life with stories and inspiration that the ink hit the paper.

Why did you start writing?

When I was in college, my English professors encouraged me to write and consider it as a profession. At that point in my life I was dead-set on doing something I thought was more glamorous, so I never gave it a second thought. It took a treacherous fall with Marquise at the top of a waterfall for God to convince me His plans were greater than my own.

(Okay, readers, you have to pay attention to the wording of the next two questions!)

How has riding influenced your writing?

Not only did riding inspire my stories, but it also taught me how much joy can come from something that is so hard. I have a lot of stories about rough times Marquise and I have faced, but the joy that I’ve found on the other side of them makes it worth the struggle.

Marquise with his book3How has writing influenced your riding?

Now that I’ve started writing, I’m constantly looking for “horse lessons.” Sometimes I learn something that makes a great story, and sometimes I get a lesson that I dare not share. ;)

How do you stay motivated to ride and to write?

It’s easy to stay motivated to ride. It’s been a passion from the first My Little Pony I held in my tiny hands, but writing–that’s a different story. I love it, but it’s hard. Really hard. However, once I get to a quiet place and get into a zone, the words start pouring out faster than I can type. That experience alone is enough to keep me writing.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Finding the place where I can really lock into my characters and sort out their stories. We are all guilty of being too busy, and getting quiet is almost an impossibility in today’s fast-paced society. I have to be very intentional with my time and limit distractions in order to be productive.

What has writing allowed you to do that you may never have done otherwise?

I never would have had the bravery to share my faith with other horse lovers. If God can use a horse, a trail, and a tack room, He can use anything to show His love, and I’m thrilled He’s letting me be a part of His plan.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring rider or writer?Walking Under Tree-2

For the aspiring rider–find a good trainer or friend who will teach you the art of listening to your horse. So many horse “problems” can be fixed when we take time to understand and respect these magnificent animals.

For the aspiring writer—again, listen to those around you. If you are a gifted writer, or just enjoy putting your thoughts on paper, take time to learn the craft. Don’t discount what your writing may be used for.

I know that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle will be donated to Brown Family Ministries. Who is the Brown Family and how will this money be used?

The Browns have been friends of ours for years, and when they were called into full-time ministry in 2009 as Brown Family Ministries, Inc. (501-c3), we came alongside them as supporters. Mark, Angie, Erin, Meagan, and Caleb travel near and far following the mission statement of BFM which is “Loving People to Christ.” Their musical talent has allowed them to lead worship at conferences for well-known speakers such as Jim Cymbala, Richard Blackaby, and Ken Ham, but true to their Mississippi roots, they haven’t forgotten the guys and girls of the cowboy culture. Their cowboy ministry has allowed them to serve within avenues such as the Professional Bucking Bull Association and most recently the Professional Bulls Riders. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of For the Love of Horses will be donated to BFM to encourage them as they continue to reach the people of the rural culture we love so much.

Press Kit 1Amber, thank you for being with us today and sharing your story of going to Rider to Writer. I know many have been touched by your words.

And friends, be sure to leave a comment for Amber and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. Don’t forget to check back next week and see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Amber H. Massey is a passionate equestrian and author with an innate gift of storytelling. The clarity of her voice draws readers into her world and is a pleasant surprise for anyone who comes in contact with her personal stories. In her first book For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons from Life in the Saddle, Amber shares the spiritual truths she’s learned through loving horses and life on a farm. When Amber isn’t riding or writing, she works alongside her husband, Jeff, in their family-owned restaurant in Greenville, SC. Home is a five-acre farm, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information about Amber and her writing and riding, visit her website at www.AmberHMassey.com or by email at amber (@) amberhmassey (dot) com

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From Rider to Writer – For the Love of #Horses – #FreeBook @AmberHMassey via @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview & Book give-away w/Aleta You. Win a #free book! @VondaSkelton #BibleStudy #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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

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

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den friends…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will one of these MoGo7000 Qualifiers win $100?

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

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

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

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Celebrate w/Christian Writer’s Den successes – Kudos & MoGo7000 @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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

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

Vonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YouTube Preview Image

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

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

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

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

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

And Random.org says the winner is…

Julie Garmon!

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

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

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Tammy Blackburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

To what age group is this book targeted?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Lori Roeleveld and May Kudos!

Lori Roeleveld Headshot

(Vonda here: I’m currently in Michigan caring for my dear cousin who needs a miracle. Please join me in praying for his healing. Thank you, dear friends.)

Lori Roeleveld is my special guest today!

Friends, I’m excited to introduce my friend author Lori Roeleveld today. Lori and I met at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference several years ago and it has been a joy to watch her career skyrocket. She was the recipient of the 2015 Blue Ridge Director’s Choice Award for her new book, Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus).

Be sure to leave a comment for Lori and you’ll be in the running for a free book!

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Lori. Let’s begin with the question everyone asks about your book, who IS the crazy man?

My title, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus), comes from the story of King David. David knew God had anointed him king and had every reason to believe his path would lead straight to the throne. It must have created incredible confusion for David to find himself spending part of his life running from King Saul but we know God was present and active in David’s life even then.

What is the message for modern believers that you explore in the book?

In the seventies, the message communicated about Jesus was that He would make our lives better. That’s true but it doesn’t always look or feel the way we expect. Many of us begin our life with Christ with expectant hope, but not all of those hopes are realistic. When our lives detour down roads called disaster, disease, depression, or personal devastation, we’re tempted to pull off to the side of the narrow road and wonder what happened. I wrote Running from a Crazy Man for those moments in every believer’s life when following Jesus doesn’t make sense, to encourage us all to remain in the adventure.

Alton Gansky, Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, called your book an “unconventional devotional.” Tell us how you’ve designed each chapter.

Each chapter is adapted from a popular post on my blog so they’re short – usually under 1000 words. The titles are quirky such as Elephant Repellent, Church Bullies, and I Hope that You’re Perturbed but I include headings to help you know what each is about such as Following Jesus when You’re Feeling Useless, or Following Jesus when Other People are Mean. I’ve concluded each chapter with scripture references, thought questions, and words to remember so readers can use this book as a daily devotional or with a Bible Study/small group.

One thing I love about both your blog and your book is the ability to pull me in through those quirky titles. I even noticed that rather than the usual Foreword, your book has a Forewarned written by bestselling author, James L. Rubart. What led you to create such a unique voice for your projects?Lori Roeleveld book cover

Readers tell me they enjoy the humor of my posts but always know that something in the post will unsettle or challenge them in their faith. When they forward my posts to others, I’ve noticed they often warn that the post may create discomfort that may lead to action. I decided to embrace reader reaction to my voice. Challenge is what I seek in my spiritual life. I’ve loved Jesus for over fifty years and I know the temptation of settling in, getting too comfortable, or expecting to drift through my later years on cruise control. I always want Jesus to spur me on to a deeper relationship with Him. God uses hard times in my life to unsettle me and like Frodo (from Lord of the Rings), I’ve learned that even though I resist it, I do like adventure with Jesus. I hope to invite and incite others to continue in the Jesus adventure.

“Invite and incite,” I must admit that doesn’t sound like the usual call to salvation. Is that where you came about with the tagline, Disturber of Hobbits?

Yes, exactly. I love the Lord and I love the church. As much as I’m aware of the shortcomings of the church of Jesus, I just love the family of God. I equate believers with hobbits because hobbits like comfy settings, we like our meals on time, and we resist adventures because they make us late for dinner. When I write, I use humor but also gentle exhortation to remind us all of the goals set forth in scripture. I’ve been making comfortable Christians “late for dinner” for many years now – I included.

As we close, what advice do you have for other bloggers?

Partner with God in your work and don’t underestimate the power of “small.” I hear bloggers complain, “Only 30 people read by last post.” If 30 people showed up on your doorstep asking your thoughts on God, you’d consider that a ministry. Respect the value of a small but faithful readership. Pray for them and give them your best work. We don’t write for numbers, we write for readers. Each one has value in God’s eyes. My blog is small but God uses it in big ways for His glory.

Al and Lori with Award

Photo courtesy of Mary Denman

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

Bio: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.LoriRoeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is Sweet!

Running From a Crazy Man-Be forewarned-this book will unsettle you, not make you comfortable! @LoriSRoeleveld @VondaSkelton #Christian (Click to Tweet)

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Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And now let’s celebrate with these Christian Writer’s Den friends!

Congratulations are in order for some of our writers and speakers.

1.  Nan Jones (NC): My first book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife, is releasing on June 30th. I’ll be having a Facebook launch party on July 2nd from 7-9pm with special giveaways (the big one is a prayer shawl crocheted by me at a value of $85) and girl chats and encouragement and fellowship and… and… Hope you’ll join me. It will be fun. Click here for the Amazon link to my author page and The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife.

2.  Tracy Crump (MS): My story, “The Circle of Volunteerism” will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back. My story “Fishes and Loaves” has been accepted for CrossRiver Media’s anthology, God’s Promises. My article “Chicken Soup with a Dash of Faith” appeared in the Christian
Communicator. And my devotion “Two Little Lights” appeared on ChristianDevotions.us

Congratulations, Nan and Tracy! So proud of you and all you continue to accomplish!

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Well, that does it for another second Tuesday. Be sure to return next week for a new list of writing opportunities, conferences, and contests. Oh, and don’t forget to check to see if you’re the winner of Lori’s book!

Blessings,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away of Andrea Merrell’s Praying for the Prodigal, and Who Won Edie Melson’s Book?

Hello, Christian Writer’s Den friends. I’m back from Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and I’m so pumped! I can’t wait to share some of your books here at the Den, so get to work!

Andrea Merrell headshotToday is a special day as I introduce Andrea Merrell to you. Andrea and I met years ago when someone gave her my phone number, suggesting I could help her with writing. Well, as you know, I can’t make anyone a writer, but I can make suggestions of how to get started or what to do next. And the suggestions are always the same:

  • Attend writing conferences
  • Join a writer’s group
  • Learn to take critique well
  • Read everything you can about writing
  • Write, write, write
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite
  • Hang out with writers (network) where you’ll constantly be learning from each other

Well, I’m happy to say that Andrea did everything I suggested–and more–and now she’s not only a published author, but a freelance editor, too! Way to go, Andrea!

(Friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Andrea and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!)

Okay, Andrea, let’s get started. First, would you tell us a little about your writing journey? 

Vonda, it’s such an honor to be with you and your readers today. I’ve been writing seriously for about sixteen years, but I owe a lot to you for being the first one to give me a spiritual kick in the pants (eight years ago) that got me headed in the right direction. Some of the best advice I ever received came from you, and I always like to pass it on to others, especially writers just starting on their journey: “Join a critique group, go to writers’ conferences, and network, network, network.” It takes time, effort, and finances to pursue the dream of being a writer, but when you know God has called you, it’s well worth it.

Amen, sister, it is soooo worth it! So tell us why you wrote Praying for the Prodigal: Encouragement and Practical Advice While Waiting for the Prodigal to Return?perf5.000x8.000.indd

Without exception, everywhere I go I run into someone who is dealing with a prodigal. Because I went through several years of my own personal hell with not one, but two prodigals, my heart goes out to parents, grandparents, and guardians dealing with the same situation. It’s easy to relate to their pain. I’ve shared bits and pieces of my story over the years with individuals one-on-one, but felt God nudging me to write down my experience and everything He taught me along the way.

What do you want readers to gain from your book?

Because I’ve been there—and survived—I want to share some of the lessons I learned, offer some practical advice, and encourage parents to learn to pray the Word of God over their children daily. It’s also important for them not to get caught in the blame game, or be weighed down with guilt and condemnation. My husband and I never thought this could happen to us, but we learned that even good kids rebel, and even good parents can end up with a prodigal—or in my case, two.

Did you ever get discouraged and want to give up?

Yes, yes, yes … so many times. I would say, “That’s it God, I’m not praying anymore. They’ve turned away from you and everything we’ve taught them. I can’t take it anymore. I’m over it!” That would last for about thirty seconds before I started crying and saying, “God, I’m sorry. You know I didn’t mean that.”

What a heartache! It must have been difficult to be so transparent about what you went through with your own children.

Murder of a Manuscript coverWriting this book was definitely a challenge in many ways. As I poured out my heart on paper, I had to relive many of the events that threatened to choke the life out of me. Even though it’s been over fifteen years, I still get emotional when I talk about my children and some of the agonizing moments my husband and I experienced. But as a writer, I’ve learned the more real you are with people, the more they can relate and the more benefit they receive from your words. The best part is the healing that took place in my own heart as I wrote through the pain.

I know there are other books that deal with prodigals. What makes your book different?

Along with my story of dealing with two prodigals at the same time, my book has A Parent’s Checklist for Survival and a chapter with Thirty Days of Prayers and Scriptures. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to pray for our children daily, especially grabbing hold of specific Scriptures and making them personal. God is faithful. His Word is true, and prayer is certainly what protected my children and brought them back to a place of repentance and restoration.

Another unique feature of my book is a chapter that gives advice from the prodigals themselves. One day while driving and thinking about how to end the book, the Lord dropped this idea in my heart: Ask your children to give advice from the prodigal’s point of view. I knew it was from Him because I would never have thought of such a great idea. I got so excited I almost ran off the road.

Powerful revelation, Andrea! Now, before we go, if you could give parents one thing to hold on to, what would it be?The Gift cover Andrea Merrell

The main thing I want them to know is that there is always hope. God loves our children even more than we do and He never plays favorites. If He delivered and restored my children, He can and will do it for anyone. The key is to trust Him wholeheartedly, stand on His Word, and never, ever give up—no matter how bad the situation may appear.

Thank you again for being with us today, Andrea. And friends, leave a comment for Andrea and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Don’t forget to come back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Andrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a freelance editor and has led workshops at various writers’ conferences. Andrea is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, The Gift, and Praying for the Prodigal. To learn more, visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

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#Praying for your #prodigal? @AndreaMerrell knows & understands your #pain. #parents Win a book! @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

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WMSS, final, high resAnd who won Edie Melson’s book, While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those With Loved Ones in the Military?

Random.org says the winner is…

Jeanne Doyon!

Woo-hoo! Congratulations, Jeanne! I love it when God orchestrates a win for someone who can directly benefit from a book! Thank you, Lord.

Jeanne, simply contact me with your mailing address and Edie will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to While My Soldier Serves.

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 Who won @EdieMelson’s book While My SoldierServes? #militaryfamilies #prayers via@VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet) 

That’s it for another 4th Tuesday. I’ll look forward to seeing you again on Friday!

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Edie Melson, While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military

Edie Melson, crop, high resVonda here: I know you’re probably surprised to see a post from me on a Wednesday, but this is one of those times I just had to make an exception. It all started back in 2001 when Edie Melson and I met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference as writing newbies. Not only did we discover we lived in the same town, but we lived only three miles from each other! It was the beginning of a special friendship of encouragement, support, learning, and love.

God has blessed us both through the years, and we’re constantly amazed at how He has overseen and directed our lives as we’ve left the newbie stage behind and are now privileged to encourage, support, teach, and love on other writers.

And this week, while Edie and I are both at Blue Ridge again–she as the co-director, me as faculty–I want you to join me in celebrating the release of her brand new book, While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. I know you’ll see why this book is so important, especially at this time in our nation’s history.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Edie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Interview & Book Give-Away with Edie Melson, While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military

 

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den again, Edie. I’m so excited about your new book! Let me start by asking was it so important for you to write this book.

I struggled with fear while our son was deployed. Often the worst times were when I was awakened with horrible nightmares. I’d make my way downstairs and sit in the recliner, clutching my Bible and trying to pray. So often the prayers wouldn’t come. I longed for a book like this to give me a jumping off point for my own prayers.

Oh, Edie, I well remember those days for you. How was your own perspective helpful as the mother of an active duty marine?

I think that experience has given me insight into the deepest fears we face while a loved one is away at war. I know firsthand the hopelessness that comes from being unable to protect someone you love.

Why is prayer vital for our military soldiers?WMSS, final, high res

It’s vital that we’re covering our military with prayer. Prayer activates God’s power. Sure, He can and often does work without it, but I’ve also seen how He moves mountains because of it. Our prayers help provide protection, comfort, even peace for those serving so far from home.

I loved the fact that the prayers didn’t only focus on the soldier. Why is it important to not only pray for the soldier, but for their families and loved ones as well?

Our soldiers are not the only ones serving. The families may not be official members of the military, but the battles they face are every bit as real and every bit as dangerous. This is especially true now that terrorist groups are targeting military families in their war against America.

How did you choose the six categories (Wisdom, Strength, Faith, Protection, Peace, Those Close to My Loved One) to pray for the soldier?

I kept a deployment journal while my son was away at war. When I looked back through the prayers I recorded there, these were the things I prayed. It seemed to make sense to go with what brought me peace during those stressful time.

How did you choose the seven categories (Fear, Peace, Patience, Faith, Strength, Anger, Reaching Out to Others) to pray for oneself / those waiting at home?

Again, by going back through my journal and looking at the things I struggled with.

I love that you offer the most prayers for Faith for our soldiers. Why is faith so critical to those serving during these trying times?

I think faith is what gets us through the dark times. So often when things are the blackest, it’s hard to hear from God. Even though it isn’t true, it feels like God is far away with His back turned. It’s only our faith in what we know is true, instead of what we feel, that keeps us moving forward.

Image courtesy of Edie Melson

Image courtesy of Edie Melson

Yes, prayer is often the only thing that can get us through the dark times. I noticed that each prayer provides a perfect notable quote as well as dedicated scripture to tie in with the prayer’s message. How and why did you choose these?

I love quotes, and I felt that adding a quote would be another way to illustrate the focus of each prayer.

I know that the book isn’t just limited to individual family members and friends at home. Please share how While My Soldier Serves can be used for prayer groups praying for the military.

This book is a powerful tool for prayer groups. We know that when many people are praying the same thing it multiplies the power of those prayers. The idea of potentially thousands of people praying the same thing at the same time for our military is one of the most exciting aspects of publishing a book like this.

Thank you for joining us today, Edie. I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to reach out to others through your writing and speaking ministry!

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Edie and then return next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner of her book!

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Military & their families & friends need #prayer. While My #SoldierServes by @EdieMelson via @VondaSkelton Win a book! (Click to Tweet)

 Here’s the Book Blurb:

While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

Bio: As the mother of a frontline infantry Marine, Edie Melson lived this book before she wrote it. Edie understands what it is to face adversity and come out triumphant on the other side. Her years as a wife, mother, and ministry leader have given her a unique perspective to reach out 
to others facing the same struggles.
 She’s the Military Family Blogger for Guideposts.org, social media director for several writing websites, and a popular ministry and conference speaker. Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Twila Belk and Who Won Melissa Pope’s Book?

Twila Belk at BandN NP 031015It’s the 4th Tuesday and Twila Belk is at The Christian Writer’s Den!

Oh my, friends…You are in for a treat today! Twila is a long-time friend who is hilariously funny, delightfully entertaining, and smart as they come. She’s not only a sought-after author and speaker, but she also works alongside bestselling writer and mentor extraordinaire, Cec Murphey. I’m honored that Twila took time from her busy schedule to stop in and visit with us.

Be sure to leave a comment for Twila and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her newest book, Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose.

Let’s get started, Twila. You’re known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal. Tell us about that.

Acts 4:20 describes me well: “For we cannot stop speaking….” It goes on to say, “…about what we have seen and heard.”

When I experience God at work, I can’t contain my excitement. I gotta tell somebody! I liken it to having gas bubbles. If I don’t get it out, it’ll hurt me! As you get to know me, you’ll discover that my favorite thing to do is to brag on God.

“Bragging on God” is a phrase I first heard from Carolyn Knefely, my co-director at Christian Communicators. I love it! So how did you go from bragging on God to getting started as a writer and speaker?

In early 1998, I had foot surgery, several weeks to sit in my recliner, and big plans to use that time cleaning out my purse. (And yes, I thought it would take that long!) Instead, God got my attention in a number of ways and made it clear that I should start writing a book. During that time I heard about the Write-to-Publish conference in Wheaton, Illinois, and registered to attend—though I was clueless and scared. Shortly after the conference, God got my attention again and made it clear He wanted me to be a speaker.

Throughout God’s attention-getting process, I had many of what I call “Moses moments.” “But, Lord, who am I?” “But, Lord, how do you expect me to do that?” “But, Lord….”

His consistent message to me was to trust Him. Trusting God has become my main topic for writing and speaking, and He’s allowed me to become well-versed in it.

You mentioned attending your first writers conference in 1998. What value do conferences have for writers?

Not only are conferences a great place to learn the craft and hone your skills, but they also allow you the opportunity to connect with others in the industry. I speak from experience when I say that one conference connection can change the course of your life and career. It was at Write-to-Publish in June of 1998 I first met Cecil Murphey, which led to my directing the Quad Cities Christian Writers Conference for eight years and another conference for two years. It also led to full-time work with Cec since June of 2007, which Twila Belk April Showers graphic Twila Raindrops from Heaven  2015-4-20provides a much-needed income for my family. And it led to us writing four books together and my teaching at conferences across the nation. Because of my relationship and work with Cec, I’m well-connected in the industry and making an impact in ways above and beyond anything I’d ever imagined.

God knew He could trust you to make some noise for Him! Your newest book is a 366-day devotional called Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose. Why is rain significant to you?

Years ago, while in the midst of bleak circumstances, I stared out the window and noticed the parched landscape due to a long-lasting drought. In my spirit I sensed God telling me, “Twila, the rain is coming. The rain is coming, and it’s for you. Revel in the rain. Splash in the puddles. Delight in the deluge.” It’s a message God gives me often and one He wants to soak deep within my soul.

Rain has become symbolic to me of God’s goodness and greatness. He speaks to me through the rain and reassures me of His love. I’m reminded of His power, presence, and purpose.

As a writer and speaker, what takeaway message do you hope your audiences receive?

Our circumstances don’t change who God is; they show us who God is. He’s a big God who can be trusted in all things and for all things.

Any final thought to leave with us today?

Yes! Here it is:

Imagine what could happen if we aligned our thinking with the size of our God.

Twila Belk book signing B&NWow—powerful truth, Twila! Thank you for the encouragement it gives all of us as we do the work of being writers and speakers.

And friends, remember to leave a comment for Twila and you could win a free book. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She enjoys laughing and promoting laughter, but even more than that, she’s passionate about shining the light on her amazing Lord. Twila has written or co-written six books and contributed to several others. Her newest title is Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose. For more information, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com. Connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/twila.belk.

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Who won Melissa Williams Pope’s book?Love is out there cover index

Random.org says the winner is…Tammie Edington Shaw. Congratulations, Tammie! Tammie, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Melissa will get your book right out to you!

And friends, here’s the direact Amazon link to Love is Out There: True Stories of Hope for Single Women Over 30, so you can get your own copy!

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@TwilaBelk – the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal – is @Christian Writer’s Den today. You can win her book! #amwriting @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

That brings us to the end of another 4th Tuesday together. I hope you’ll join us next week as we look at creative ways to write magazine articles and send the call-out for Kudos and MoGo7000 totals!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give Away with Rebecca Davis

Rebecca Davis headshotHello, friends. Well, it’s the 2nd Tuesday and that means it’s time to read about another writing success. Today’s guest is my friend, Rebecca Davis. I met her several years ago through her husband, Tim Davis, who is not only a successful writer, but a sought-after illustrator as well. Talk about a talented family!

I’m thrilled to share Rebecca’s writing journey, as well as a new fork in her writing path. Be sure to leave a comment for Rebecca and you’ll be in the running for your choice of one of her missionary books!

Welcome, Rebecca. First of all, please introduce yourself and tell us how you got started in writing.

I’m a wife and mother of four. I wrote my first book, With Daring Faith: A Biography of Amy Carmichael, about 28 years ago. Then I raised and homeschooled my four children. Now that the youngest is finished with homeschooling, I have more time for writing and speaking.Rebecca Davis cover BJUP With Daring Faith

I started writing as soon as I could write—I’ve always loved writing stories. I began writing professionally when the Lord opened the door for me to work for a Christian publisher. That was about thirty years ago.

Tell us about the Hidden Heroes series of true missionary stories that you’re writing.

The series is published by Christian Focus Publications; the first one came out in 2010, and I’ve done an average of one a year since then. The sixth one, based in Iran, is scheduled to come out this fall. As far as I know, this is the only series of its kind in publication. Each book is set in a different location, and for each one I gather true stories from that location. I’m looking for amazing stories that aren’t well known—many of them have been hidden away for decades in old newsletters or magazines or out-of-print books. On my website, I tell the story of how I began writing the first Hidden Heroes book, With Two Hands: Stories of God at Work in Ethiopia.

I remember announcing the release of that book back in 2010, and now look at what God’s done! Where can we find out more about the rest of your books?

withtwohandscoverAt the website, www.hiddenheroesmissionarystories.com, you can see a synopsis of each of my books and read a sample chapter of each one. You can also find reader reviews and teacher helps, and find out more about me and the dramatic storytelling presentations I do in schools and churches.

We also have a Facebook page called Hidden Heroes Missionary Stories where I post up-to-date information about what’s going on with my books, other mission projects I’m working on, and other pertinent information. When I finish a draft of a book, I ask for volunteers to be reader families for me—to read the book out loud to their children and make suggestions as to how to improve it. Reviewers win a free copy of the book they’re reviewing.

You said these are true stories. Are these books straight nonfiction?

No, they fit in the genre of creative nonfiction or narrative nonfiction, the genre that memoirs would fit in, basically factual, but with details put in to help it come alive. I love including conversations and sensory details to help the readers feel as if they’re there in the middle of the scene.

But actually, I want so much to maintain accuracy in my stories that I do my best to find the missionaries I write about and ask them to read their chapters and give me corrections. The book that came out last fall was Hidden Heroes #5, Lights in a Dark Place: True Stories of God at Work in Colombia, and I needed to find six different missionaries that I had written about in that area. I succeeded in finding five of them (the earliest was no longer living). One of them was David Howard, Elisabeth Elliot’s brother, and when he sent me all his corrections, he said that he appreciated my desire to show him what I was writing, because others had written about the work in Colombia and hadn’t always gotten it accurate.FannyCrosby2

So when people say, “But you included conversation!” I can tell them that the missionaries themselves read these stories and agreed that the conversation accurately represents what really happened.

I like that idea. Tell us more about other books you’ve written.

I already mentioned that I wrote the first children’s biography of Amy Carmichael, who was a missionary to India. That one was With Daring Faith, and it won the CS Lewis Award for Outstanding Christian Juvenile Literature. I also have a new series of biographies for the lower elementary grades, called Potter’s Wheel Books: Showing Children the Master Potter at Work. Fanny Crosby: Queen of Gospel Songs is the first book in that series, and Joy Ridderhof: Voice Catcher Around the World is the second. The third should be coming out this year.

You told me in our email conversation that God has recently led you into a different area of writing. Tell us more about that.

Yes, that’s the book Tear Down This Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse in Our Churches (an introduction for those who will hear), published by Ambassador International, and in fact it came out just a few days ago. It’s a very different area of writing, for sure! Here’s the story of how God brought that about:

Riderhoff1God has allowed me to be the friend of several women who confided in me about sexual abuse in their past. Then last year, I went to a writing conference and came away longing to be a ghost writer, helping other people tell their stories. I figured it wasn’t that different from doing the kind of writing I had been doing with the missionary books.

Shortly after that, the Lord brought me in contact with Dale Ingraham, a pastor whose wife was an incest survivor, who had self-published a book about sexual abuse. I saw that his heart about the issue and mine were the same. So among other things, I helped him get the book organized, added voices of many experts in the field, added voices of abuse survivors, and changed the story of his and his wife’s journey into memoir form. I had thought it would be a ghost writing effort, but the publisher wanted my name to be on the cover as well, so it’s considered a collaborative work. Dale is the primary author, and I have “with” billing. You can see more about the book at www.teardownthiswallofsilence.org. This was a labor of love, and I truly loved doing it. We’re praying that it will help open the eyes and ears and hearts of ones who love Jesus to hear and see and embrace the 20-25% of people in our churches who have been sexually abused. We believe that something beautiful will happen when we do.Rebecca Davie HH#5 Lights in a Dark Place cover

Within the next few days I’ll be attending the MK Safety Net Conference in Atlanta, where I’ll have the privilege of meeting several wonderful people who were abused in missionary boarding schools, during some of the same eras I’ve written about in my missionary books. It’s an odd juxtaposition of the stark nature of truth, but I know that God is at work in all of it.

Thank you for an insightful interview, Rebecca. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Rebecca and you could win a free book. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Besides always loving to write, Rebecca has also always loved to teach, and knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher. This desire, however, conflicted with the desire to stay home with her children—that is, until she heard about homeschooling. Now, more than a quarter century after obtaining her master’s degree in education, Rebecca has the amazing homeschooling journey. She and her husband, Tim, are eager to see how the Lord will use their four grown children for His Kingdom.

Thanks for Tweeting!

Writing takes varied paths. Interview & Book GiveAway w/@RebeccaJoyDavis #amwriting via @vondaskelton (Click to Tweet!)

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I can’t believe it, but we had no kudos or MoGo7000 reports for this month, so that does it for another Christian Writer’s Den gathering. Be sure to return next week when I’ll have a list of writing opportunities collected just for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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