What a joy to have my friend author and speaker Cheri Cowell back with us again today. After meeting at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico years ago, Cheri and I have been friends ever since. She’s written several books, but I’m especially excited about her latest, 365 Devotions for Peace. All it takes is one look at the headlines to know peace can be hard to find in today’s world. I have a feeling I’m not the only one ready to hear more about claiming the peace that’s offered to us.
Don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner. Now, let’s get started.
Cheri, thanks for coming back to the Christian Writer’s Den today and sharing your new book with us. When I heard you had written about peace, I just knew I had to have you back, after all, it’s such a timely topic. So, tell us how this book came about.
I tell writers all the time that this business is about relationships and being where writers areâ€“which is at writers’ conferences. I was in a conversation with an editor, just talking about writing, and I mentioned my new blog focus was going to be on the unrest in the country and the search for peace. She said, “Funny you should mention that because I’m looking for someone to write a daily devotional on the subject of peace.” You cannot underestimate the value of relationships in this industry.
So true! I’m sure most of us who’ve been doing this for any length of time have a story of something that came about through a writing relationship. But back to your book. What did you learn about the subject of peace while writing the book?
Like most things biblical, the Christian’s understanding of the subject of peace must be re-aligned with God’s definition and that definition has many facets. God’s definition is only truly understood as it is practicedâ€“365 days a year.
So how did you go about writing 365 devotions on a single topic like peace?
I am foremost a Bible teacher, so I begin with Scripture. There are 165 direct references to peace in the Bible and an additional 100 tangentially related. Some scriptures gave me the illustration fairly openly, but some I had to rely on inspiration from the Holy Spirit to bring the point to life. Then I followed the format for good devotional writing.
Good devotional writing does have a format. Can you share that format with us?
Sure. I learned this at writers’ conferences. A good devotional has five parts: Scripture, Illustration, Tie-in or application, Take-away, and Prayer. All of this is done in 250-300 words, making devotional writing good practice for writing tight. It forces you to measure every word, and to make good use of transitions so your devotional drives the point easily and smoothly for the reader.
As I mentioned above, 365 Devotions for Peace is not your first book published. Tell us about the others.
I actually began my writing career as an article writer, which gave me a good platform for publication. Incidentally, I still write articles and blogs because I know that writers can reach more people in magazines and online articles than with books. However, I am honored to be the author of four books: Direction: Discernment of the Decisions of Your Life, Parables and Word Pictures in the Following God Bible study series, and Living the Story: Reaching Outside the Church Walls.
Your bio says you’re a sidewalk theologianâ€“what is that?
I like to say that in my writing and speaking you will meet a friend on the sidewalk of life who brings sound biblical answers to your questions of faith. I have a seminary degree from Asbury Seminary, but my real gift is in taking complicated theological issues and applying them to the real questions of faith ordinary people have, sharing those answers in a conversational manner. I hope reading 365 Devotions for Peace is a conversation with your own sidewalk theologian.
Do you have another book in the works?
In June, One Story, One Mission, One God releases, which is an overview of the whole Bible’s story in just 14 weeks. Many of us have only received the Bible in bits and pieces, but I want to show how the Bible is one story with the same mission about the same God from Genesis to Revelation. All of those pieces will fit together better when readers see the whole story from this birds-eye-view. I’ll be blogging about it from my website over the coming months.
I LOVE the focus of that book! I’ll look forward to seeing it come out as well. Well, out time’s about up, so one last question. If you were to give one piece of writing advice, what would it be?
Can I share two? The first would be to write devotionals and articles so you learn good writing technique (and you reach thousands with your message). And the second piece of advice is on attending writers’ conferences. I never would have been published, either as a regular article writer or with books, if I had not developed the relationships needed to make it in this industry at conferences. It is an investment you must make.
Amen, Cheri! Those are words of advice I share every chance I get. As a matter of fact, I recently realized that every positive step in my writing journey can be traced back to a writer’s conference. Some say they can’t afford to go, but I say you can’t afford NOT to go!
I didn’t have the funds when I first started writing, either, but I made it a priority. I asked for donations to my conference fund for my birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, anniversary, etc. Anything that would normally result in a gift, I asked for the donation instead. I did that for several years in order to be able to attend. It was that important.
Cheri, thank you again for being with us today. I know your words will encourage writers for years to come.
And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Cheri and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. The winner will be announced next week!
Bio: Cheri Cowell, an author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian, is the author of several books including the Bible studyÂ Parables and Word Pictures.Â A graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, she shares her passion to help others apply biblical principles to the sidewalk issues of life.Â www.CheriCowell.com
I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,
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