Category Archives: Interviews

“Interviews with authors who have a heart for writers ”

Interview & Book Give-Away with Miriam Bradley–You Could Win A Free Book!

Miriam Bradley headshotI met  Miriam Bradley at the 2012 Carolina Christian Writers Conference and then got to know her even better at both the Christian Communicators Conference and the Christian Communicators ADVANCED Conference. I soon discovered we had a lot in common. But I never realized we were sisters separated at birth! Read on and you’ll see why. :-)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a free book!

Now, let’s get started. Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Miriam. I’ve read several of your books and I couldn’t wait to have you with us. So, here’s the first question: What inspirational influences led you to write?

First, I would say my grandparents and parents who actively used history—general and personal—to influence those who came behind them. For instance, Grandpa Jones wrote three books about his life. He was a real cowboy who at eight traveled by covered wagon with his family from Kansas to Nebraska in 1913. Reading those books about his life is amazing. He wrote how he talked and even today, when I read them I can hear him in my head. And he wasn’t alone. My other grandparents were quick to share stories.

Secondly, I would say the books I read changed me. I was a voracious reader and one of my favorite places was the library. I loved mysteries, specifically mystery series. I am very character driven and I don’t care so much about what is happening but to whom it is happening! I dreamed of writing the Christian Trixie Belden type series someday. Only, my characters would age. It made me crazy that they were always the same age but there were three different Christmas mysteries!Miriam Bradley cover Missing Watch

The third thing would be the items my elders chose to record and save. My mother died when I was ten. Many years later my aunt sent each of us a collection of all of the letters my mother had typed on carbon paper to her parents and sisters. They were weekly missives from 1959 until two weeks before her death in 1973. In those letters she wrote about the daily events, the funny things we did, the bad days, the good days. Those letters were so influential in my desire to record stories. I was also captivated by the photo albums and old things my parents and grandparents saved.

What a beautiful legacy you’ve received from your ancestors, Miriam! My grandparents were storytellers, too. I remember sitting for hours with my grandma in her porch swing as she told story after story about life and family. AND Trixie Belden was my favorite character, too! Everybody went on and on about Nancy Drew, but I never could identify with her. She was much too rich, too beautiful, and too proper. I, on the other hand, was quite a rascal. But enough about me. I’m curious to know what opportunities these influences have led you to become involved in?

After three of my grandparents died within six weeks I decided to record some of their stories in picture books for children. So, I joined a writers group and took a Writer’s Digest correspondence course. I quickly Miriam Bradley cover Torn Maprealized that picture books are hard. You only get a few words. I like lots of words. I also learned that I should write what I know. So, I wrote a children’s mystery book about cousins who visit their grandparent’s ranch and encounter a mystery. This was based heavily on personal experiences at our grandparent’s ranch in Nebraska with our—you guessed it—cousins. Sadly though, we never had a mystery in real life. The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch was self-published in 2009. Since then, I found a publisher for two more in the Double Cousins Mystery Series, as well as a collection of pieces celebrating the legacy of godly and practical wisdom I received from my grandparents and parents. This non-fiction book, All I Have Needed–A Legacy for Life, has a section with practical ideas for recording history written by my husband, Bruce Bradley.

Promoting and marketing the books led to opportunities for speaking to students and adults. I love teaching on the writing process and encouraging people to celebrate and record their own legacy! I also have a passion for encouraging children and young people that they can be whoever God wants them to be.Miriam Bradley cover Rushmore Treasure

Okay, this is unreal. My first book was a mystery based on my cousin and me when my family visited Tybee Island AND I speak not only to adults about writing, but I also teach writing to kids in schools, libraries, and bookstores! I know you still work as a registered nurse. I’m curious to know how you balance those very different careers.

It’s hard to believe I have been a nurse for almost thirty years. Nursing has been a versatile career for me. I can control my schedule which allows for my writing-speaking life. In addition I find it hugely beneficial to have both ends of the age spectrum in my life. At work I care for people struggling with the effects of age. I love hearing their stories, when possible, and gaining from their wisdom. Then, on my “days off” I visit schools and rejuvenate by being around the energetic and enthusiastic children! It is the best of both worlds.

Okay. I know this sounds like I’m making it up, but I promise I’m not. I was an RN for almost 30 years AND I wrote my first book when I was working three days a week in ICU. Did you realize we had so much in common? I love it! Okay, I think that’s the end of my blabbering, so please share with us how readers can find your books and learn more about your speaking opportunities…and I’ll Miriam Bradley cover Legacybe quiet this time…I promise. 

I would love for them to visit my website at My books are available online as well by ordering them through local bookstores.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Miriam. And for putting up with my gushing over our similar stories. Don’t you just love seeing how the Lord brings like-minded people together?

Friends, you’ll want to be sure and check out Miriam’s books for children and for adults. And if you need a speaker for children or adults, you’ll want to get in touch with Miriam.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you could win a FREE book! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Miriam Jones Bradley has lived “from sea to shining sea”, but spent most of her life in the Great Plains.  She has worked as a nurse for the past 29 years. She enjoys speaking about the writing process and recording memories. In addition to the Double Cousins Mystery Series, she is the author of All I Have Needed—A Legacy for Life. She and her husband, Dr. Bruce Bradley, make their home in Hendersonville, North Carolina.



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Interview & Book Give-Away with Ellen Gee

Ellen Gee headshotToday’s guest is a new friend I met when I was an instructor at the Florida Christian Writers Conference this past March. We made an immediate connection and as soon as I heard her story, I knew I wanted her to share it with you.

Ellen’s award winning memoir, My Mother’s Song, details tragic events of her childhood that no child should have to experience. I read her book while we were on vacation and devoured it in just a couple of days. I couldn’t put it down!

Be sure to leave a comment for Ellen and you could win a free book!

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Ellen. Now, let’s get started. After reading your book, I have to ask, why did you write your memoir? What compelled you?

I always felt led to write my story. I grew up around a violent father who my mother eventually shot in self-defense. But there was always this hidden story I wanted others to see.

As a ten year old, I quickly came to grips with my father’s death, but I struggled for years with the negative effect his death had on my mother. I expected her to be the same afterwards, and she wasn’t.

My Mother’s Song is the story of how my mother’s sister, who was a missionary in South America, stepped in to help my mom raise her six kids. And how my Aunt Jeanne Marie helped me focus on the amazing woman my mother was before my father’s violence destroyed her.

What did you do to develop your writing style?

My father was a writer, and my mother an editor, so it’s kind of the family business. But other than their constant grammar correction growing up, I didn’t have any formal training.  So I started by taking a creative writing course at a local community college.

What was your key take-away from that course?

The first assignment the professor gave us was to write about the most meaningful experience of our lives. He then quickly added, “But don’t write about your coming to faith experience. If you do, I won’t read it and I’ll give you an ‘F.’”

I thought he was a bit extreme, and probably an atheist. But then a few weeks later, while lecturing us on using poetry in our writing, he jumped up from his desk and said, “The Bible is the most poetic book ever written.”

Then in big letters, he wrote on the board, “By the sweat of thy brow, thou shalt eat thy bread.”

It got me thinking. Here’s this guy who loves the Bible, but doesn’t want to read another faith story. What’s the disconnect? I figured most writers told boring stories. So I decided when I wrote my book, I wanted to write in way that would impress this professor. Not sure if I succeeded, but I worked hard at it.

Well I can certainly confirm that it wasn’t boring! Now that it’s written, what do you hope people willMy Mothers Song cover Ellen Gee gain from reading your book?

Many of us were raised by emotionally wounded parents. Moms and dads, who sometimes by no fault of their own, wounded us. It’s my hope that My Mother’s Song will inspire children to love their parents, in spite of the damage done when their parent’s wounds disrupted their own childhood.

Writers are always interested in signing with an agent. How did you get agent representation?

Several years ago, my writers group gave me an all expense paid trip to the Greater Philadelphia Writers Conference. I’d never been to a writer’s conference so I read up on everything I needed to do. Then I did it. From my research, I decided Chip MacGregor was the agent I wanted to represent my book. I didn’t have enough done on My Mother’s Song to pitch it at that conference, but it motivated me to get some solid chapters done before my next conference.

A year later, I went to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference with more experience, and more words on the page. I pitched to Chip, and he showed interest. He then helped me guide me toward finishing my book. I feel honored to be represented by him.

What are you working on now?

My next book is the story of my 38-year marriage to my husband Tim. I got pregnant at 17, almost had an abortion, but got married instead. I never thought the marriage would last. But we stuck it out until his death in 2012. It’s the story of how one couple did just about everything wrong, except quit on each other.

Wow, that sounds like another great story, Ellen. I love how you’re using your own traumatic experiences of life to show that our pasts do not determine our futures. Thank you for sharing your journey with us today.

BIO: Ellen Gee’s ability to find beauty amongst brokenness is inspiring. Her talent is never more evident than in her award winning memoir, My Mother’s Song, where she details the tragic events of her childhood. After living in Northern Virginia for over fifty years, she and her husband Tim moved to Orlando Florida, where tragedy struck again. After a courageous two-year battle, Tim lost his fight with lung cancer. Now she spends her time writing her next book about her thirty-eight crazy years with Tim. She also randomly posts on her blog, Slipstream. You can contact Ellen at

Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Ellen 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!

Happy writing!


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Patty Mason

Patty Mason headshot 2012Patty Mason is Hearing the Cry to Know God and Make Him Known

My guest today is Patty Mason. Patty is a wife and mother of three who is madly and passionately in love with Jesus. Besides being a writer–and one of our Christian Communicator graduates!–she is the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries and the host of the radio program Joyful Living: Finding God’s Joy in a Turbulent World. Her testimony of God’s grace and deliverance from depression has been featured on numerous TV and radio programs, such as The 700 Club; and in many blogs, books, and magazine articles, including LifeWay Magazine. Her second book, Finally Free, won book of the year, and she was voted one of 50 Great Writers you Should be Reading.

Welcome Patty…

Hey Vonda, thank you for having me on the Writer’s Den. I’m excited to be here to share with your readers and fellow writers.

You have a brand new Bible study out, Know That I AM God. What inspired you to write this study?  

I believe there is a cry rising up among believers today that begs for the revelation: “I want to know God!” I am convinced there are people today who yearn to embrace a relational knowledge of God that goes far beyond bible facts and the basic concepts of Christianity—a people who want to take knowing and experiencing God to the extreme.

Wow! Know That I AM God sounds like a passionate Bible study. How did you get started writingPatty Mason Know That book cover Bible studies?

Out of sheer need! Several years ago, I started teaching bible study for junior high girls. I went to the Christian bookstore to find a study I could lead them through, but at that time I couldn’t find any studies to fit that age group. There were studies for youth, but I found those studies to be too focused on older teen struggles and not for younger girls, so I began writing the weekly lessons that later evolved into writing bible studies for women.

How did God inspire you to take this quest to know Him and make Him known?

In Isaiah 43:10 God said, “You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.” This verse spoke to me about the relentless desire of God’s heart for us to know Him intimately, believe Him unconditionally, and understand who He is and that He alone is God. So when I put the two together, the cry of the people who truly desire to know God, and God’s desire to truly be known, it was powerful—it became a passionate love story that begged to be told.

How do you approach knowing God through this study?

The Bible is filled with those who knew God. Isaiah, Moses, David, John and Matthew, Paul and Peter all recorded the experiences of the One they came to know as their Father; their Bridegroom; their Shepherd; their Healer; their Redeemer; their Friend; their King, and their God, and they told the world.

For example, the Apostle John, in 1 John 1:1-3, talks about seeing, hearing and touching the living, breathing Word of Life, and then he talks about proclaiming what he and the other disciples witnessed.  The Word appeared—they saw Him—they experienced Him—and then based on what they experienced, they gave testimony.

What do you hope people will take away from this study?

It is my hope and prayer that this study, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will challenge people to take the road less traveled, daring them to radically expand their view of God; and that it will whet the appetite of anyone who is in hot-pursuit of God.

What do you think is going to be the hardest or most challenging part of this study for people?

God is like a multi-faceted diamond, but many of us can become comfortable witnessing God through one or two specific areas. For example some people are not comfortable with Jesus as the Bridegroom, yet they can approach God as Father. Still others are not comfortable with God as Father because they didn’t have a good relationship with their earthly dad. Maybe they grew up abused and feeling unloved by their dad, and this spills over into their relationship with God as Father. It is my hope that, as people open their hearts to God, they will begin to experience Him and know Him in new aspects of relationship and just settle on one or two.

Patty Mason Know That DVD coverThis sounds like a study that would inspire all of us to dig deep and go straight for the heart of God. How can we get a copy of Know That I AM God?

The Know That I AM God workbook is on Amazon. But to get the complete study, including the workbook and Leader’s Guide combo, along with the 10-week video series (taken from the book of Ezekiel) check out my Bible Studies section on my website at

This sounds like an amazing study, Patty. I can’t wait to read it! Thank you for giving us a sneak peek!

And friends, did you see that Patty is offering multiple products of Know That I AM God? Workbook, leader’s Guide, and a 10-week video series!

Readers, if you would like to be in the drawing for a free copy of the Know That I AM God workbook, please leave a comment and then check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

If you would like to contact Patty, email her at To learn more about Patty Mason, her ministry, radio program, or about any of her books, visit her website at

Grace and peace,


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Linda Gilden, Kudos, & MoGo7000 Totals

Linda Gilden headshotWhat a great day today…learning about writing with Linda Gilden, celebrating your successes, and offering a chance to win $100!


Called to Write: 7 Principles to Become a Writer on Mission, by Linda Gilden

First up–What a joy to welcome back my friend Linda Gilden! Linda is not only a talented, prolific writer, editor, and conference director, but she’s also a great roomie! We’ve shared rooms in hotels and conference centers from Florida to Colorado and Atlanta to Texas!

Be sure to read her bio below, but for now I’ll just tell you that she’s the author or co-author of at least six books that I can think of, ghostwriter of a bunch more, and has published gobs of articles, so when it comes to writing, she knows what she’s talking about!

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Christy Finalist Tessa Afshar, and Who Won Norma Gail’s Book?

tessa headshotWhat an honor to have Tessa Afshar, a recently-announced 2014 Christy Award Finalist, with us today! We’ll also announce the winner of Norma Gail’s book!


First of all, I’m excited to welcome my new friend Tessa Afshar to you. Tessa and I were introduced to one other by mutual friend, Lauren Yarger, and we scheduled this interview over a year ago. Then just last Thursday I read that Tessa is a Christy Finalist! Talk about great timing!

Readers, as you read Tessa’s bio below you’ll see she’s not new to awards and nominations. Wow! I think you’ll agree that she knows a little about how to write quality books, and the good news is, this week you have a chance to win one! Just leave a comment on today’s blog and you’ll be in the drawing. Don’t forget to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

Congratulations, Tessa! I can’t wait to get started. First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of my life. I attended an English boarding school called Princess Helena College in Hertfordshire before moving to the United States permanently. My conversion to Christianity in my mid-twenties changed the course of my life forever. I struggle with loving the wrong things, like too much dessert with additional whipped cream, and not liking things that are good for me, like exercise and quinoa.

Hmmm…sounds like we like–and dislike–the same things! Tell us about your publishing journey.

I don’t mean to be annoying; I really mean this. I WROTE! I wrote until I finished my story. I stopped leaving projects half-finished, or coming up with excuses, or listening to the voices of discouragement in my head. When I was working on my first published book, Pearl in the Sand, I constantly had to resist negative thoughts: who will ever want to read a book about Rahab? No one will be interested in this book. I should just give up. I had to plod on and do the work because I had promised God I would be faithful to the project. To my shock, that book landed a contract within months of being completed and went on to win me “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards, 2011. Sometimes the voices in your head are simply not true. They prevent you from fulfilling the destiny God has set aside for you.Harvest of God cover tessa

How well I know those voices, Tessa. Your novel Harvest of Gold was recently nominated for the prestigious Christy Award. You’ve penned several critically acclaimed novels and the fans seem to want more. And yet I know you sometimes struggle with discouragement. Tell us about that struggle and how you overcome it.

In a recent interview, Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, who has sold over 38 million books, wrote: “The temptation to give up, to surrender, is very, very strong. And you have to have faith in the work that you’re doing. You have to have faith that as dark and unlikely and as dreary as things may seem, that it’s worth pursuing.”

Most writers need to contend with the temptation to give up. Writing is hard. It means constant sacrifice. Even giants like Hosseini get to the point of wanting to throw in the towel on a certain project. So how do you resist that temptation? How do you hold on to a work that has potential, or even to the dream of writing itself?

While I don’t have a remedy for discouragement, I have several sources of strength to which I turn when discouragement descends. First, for me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard?

Second, I have writing partners whose opinion I trust. If they felt I was wasting my time over a certain project, they would tell me. Just as they wouldn’t let me walk out the door with toilet paper stuck to my skirt, they wouldn’t let me work on a book that had nothing to offer.

Writing makes me myopic. It’s easy for me to think doom and gloom about my work. So I trust my critique partners to help me discern whether my perceptions of failure are accurate.

Third, I take a break. If I am under a deadline, that break might be for a few hours. If I have the luxury, I step away for a week in order to gain a fresh perspective.

Most of us struggle with some degree of discouragement. You don’t win victory by never having such feelings, but by resisting them. By overcoming and fulfilling your destiny.

In the Field of Grace cover Tessa copyPowerful advice, Tessa. Now, before we go, please tell us about your next project.

My next book, In the Field of Grace, a novel based on the story of Ruth is due out in July 2014. I have always been drawn to the Book of Ruth. Why does God choose so many outsiders to be in the lineage of His Son? Why this barren, destitute Moabite widow? There must have been more suitable candidates available in Israel that year! And yet God’s criteria for being chosen, loved, and redeemed are not ours.

Oh Tessa, I love the story of Ruth and often use it to encourage women that God can use all of us, no matter what we’ve come from. Thank you for the reminder. I can’t wait to read that book, either!

And thank you for joining us today at The Christian Writer’s Den. It’s been a joy to hear your story and learn from you!

Vonda, it’s been a pleasure visiting you on your wonderful blog.

Readers, be sure to check out Tessa’s bio below and then leave a message for her. Be sure to check back next week to see if you win a free book!

And for those who want to go ahead and order your own copies, here are direct Amazon links for Tessa’s books: Harvest of Gold, In the Field of Grace, Harvest of Rubies, and Pearl in the Sand

Bio: Tessa Afshar’s book, Harvest of Rubies was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Book Award (formerly known as the Gold Medallion) in the fiction category. World Magazine chose Harvest of Rubies as one of four notable books of the year. Her novel, Harvest of Gold was nominated for the 2014 Christy Award. Tessa was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last fifteen years in full-time Christian service in New England.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Norma Gil cover

And Who Won Norma Gail’s Book?

What fun it is to give away another book this week! So who did chose as this week’s winner? It’s Rene` Diane Aube! Congratulations, Rene! Just contact me with your snail mail address and Tessa will send your book right out to you!

And for those who are ready to order your book, you can get Norma Gail’s Land of My Dreams here.


Thank you for stopping by this week, my friends. I hope you were encouraged and learned something today. I know I did!

Happy reading and writing!


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Norma Gail, and Writing Opps for YOU!

Norma Gail - headshotWhat a joy to celebrate with Norma Gail as her debut novel, Land of My Dreams, releases TODAY from Lighthouse of the Carolinas! Be sure to leave a comment for Norma Gail and you’ll be in the drawing for a signed copy of her book!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Norma Gail. First of all, please tell us how you started writing.

I have always had a vivid imagination, and wrote stories from childhood and all through college. My degree is in nursing, and with marriage, a job, and children, I didn’t write much for about 20 years.

When I broke my right foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I needed something to keep me occupied. Land of My Dreams is the result. I began attending writer’s conferences which helped me learn and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

I have always felt compelled to write: poetry, letters to the editor, devotionals to open the Bible study I lead, and stories for my kids about their adoptions. I wanted to see my name on a book. Never give up on your dream.

This may come as a surprise to new writers, but you and I know the writing life isn’t easy. What was the greatest problem you faced in writing this book?

It was challenging to write about a country I had only visited for two weeks and couldn’t return to for more research. It didn’t matter when I was just making up a story, but when I became serious, I needed to be accurate.

I spent hours researching, read everything I could find, watched movies and documentaries, listened to music, and made a screen-saver with over 400 photos, and a Scottish-Gaelic dictionary on-line, and also sites with slang and common terms. I found a wonderful writer and editor, through the ACFW romance loop. Amy Drown lived in Scotland and was willing to read my book for accuracy.

It must have worked because it convinced one editor I must have lived there!

Well, that’s a confirmation for sure! What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

Of course I want to entertain. As a Bible study leader and devotional writer, I have seen a lot of peopleNorma Gil cover struggle with trusting God when hard times come, and I have struggled myself. It is helpful to use real-life situations to illustrate biblical principles.

Good fiction can teach valuable spiritual lessons. People who would never attend a Bible study will read a novel, and they can learn how to live the Christian life. A novel is a very non-threatening way to introduce someone to the gospel or get a spiritual message across. It might open someone open up to talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.

I totally agree, Norma Gail. And I believe it applies to every area of creativity. So, how did you come up with the idea for Land of My Dreams?

Scotland has intrigued me since I discovered that one of my great grandmothers was from Scotland. My husband and I spend two weeks there for our 30th anniversary and I felt at home from the moment our plane landed in Edinburgh.

We met a woman from Phoenix who married a Scot while in the Peace Corps. It made me wonder what it would be like to transplant your life to another country. My husband’s family immigrated to the US from The Netherlands, so I knew a little about it.

I loved the green fields with their sheep and dry-stone walls. One night I dreamed about a sheep farm, and the idea began to come together.

Tell us something about the book.

Land of My Dreams is a sweet romance about two people who have been hurt by life and no longer trust in God.

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.

Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny returns to New Mexico for her best friend’s wedding, her former fiancé reenters her life. Four thousand miles away, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to an attractive former student.

How will Bonny decide between her two rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future?

Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

My goodness, this sounds like a book we’d all love! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Norma Gail!

And readers, remember, if you’d like to be in the drawing for a free copy of Land of My Dreams, simply leave a comment for Norma Gail and you could be the winner! But you must be sure to come back next week to find out. :-)

And for those who want to go ahead and get your own copy of Norma Gail’s book, here’s the Amazon link to Land of My Dreams. Happy reading!

BIO: I live in the mountains of New Mexico with my husband of 37 years. We have two adult children and a lovely daughter-in-law. I love mountains, and enjoy tackling 4×4 trails in my Jeep. I am a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who loves family research, history, and Scotland. My passion is leading women’s Bible studies, and I have done so for eighteen years. My devotionals, poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the newly formed New Mexico Christian Novelists. My website,, includes a weekly devotional blog, daily scriptures, poetry, and will soon have a writer’s blog.

To connect with Norma and find out more about her writings and ministry, you can email her at She also has a Pinterest board for Land of My Dreams where readers can find photos that helped inspire the book:
Facebook Author Page:
Book Trailer:


newspapersAnd Here Are Some Writing Opportunities I’ve Found Just For YOU!

Thanks to Edie Melson for sharing many of these opportunities with us today. Be sure to check out Edie’s award-winning writing blog, The Write Conversation!

1.  Inspire a Fire is always looking for articles. Here are Inspire a Fire submission guidelines

2.  Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest: You must hurry–deadline is May 1, 2014!

3THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2014. How to enter, visit:

4.  Adirondack Life: Writers’ guidelines for Adirondack Life

5.  Ladies’ Home Journal: How to write for Ladies’ Home Journal.

6.  Highlights MagazineThey’re always looking for submissions!

7.  Educational Markets for Children’s Writers: LOTS of markets listed here for children’s writers!

8.  Parents Magazine is always looking for writers

9.  Free Spirit PublishingTheir mission is to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world. They publish high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children and teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people.

10. Reader’s Digest: “If you are a writer and would like to submit a great article proposal, email us at”

11. Go Galavanting, a magazine for women travelers. Read Submission guidelines for Go Galavanting here.

12. In Site Magazine: InSite, the bimonthly flagship publication of Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA), seeks to inform and inspire professionals serving in the Christian camp and conference community. InSite Magazine writers guidelines here.

So…now that you have these guidelines before you, what are you going to do about it? :-)


Well, that does it for another day at the Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the joy of writing with me!

Happy writing!


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Michelle Cox; Who Won The Writing Sisters’ Book? and Kudos & MoGo7000 Call-Out

Michelle Cox headshotAs you can see, today is a busy day. And it’s all my fault. Last week, I completely forgot to ask for your Kudos and MoGo7000 totals! So today, in addition to an awesome interview with the multi-talented Michelle Cox, our triple duty day will also cover call-outs, and a book winner!


First Up–Michelle Cox Shares Her Amazing Journey with Her Book, Blog, and Screenplay, Just 18 Summers®!

Yes, you read right. My brilliant friend, Michelle Cox, got a great idea, the Lord multiplied her vision, and now she has all kinds of stuff going on! Read on to hear how a simple comment from her pastor kicked off an avalanche of opportunities!

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Bethany Jett

Bethany Jett HeadshotMy goodness, have I got a treat for you today as I introduce Bethany Jett! Moms and dads, youth workers, and those who have any influence on teen and pre-teen girls, you’ll be especially interested in what Bethany has to say here and in her book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. I met Bethany when I was an instructor at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, and I can tell you, she is beautiful and smart and passionate about instilling the confidence Christian living offers to young women.

Be sure to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Bethany’s book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. (Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!)

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Bethany. First,  I want to know more about what inspired you to write your book, The Cinderella Rule: a Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After.

Thanks for having me, Vonda. The book actually started out as a blog. My husband and I have been in youth ministry for several years, and I realized that each year, our girls asked the same questions about boys, dating, relationships, sex…so I started writing down my answers so they could have 24/7 access to what I would tell them.

Your title caught my attention. What is the “Cinderella Rule”?

Let the guy chase you! Cinderella didn’t text, friend, follow, call, or make any attempt to purse the Prince, instead allowing him to chase her. Being pursued is crazy fun, and even though it may seem like an old fashioned idea, the book shares how to be ready when the guy worthy of pursuing you shows up!

I agree! Okay, besides dating, what other areas does your book cover?

My first chapter starts off with the line, “Confidence is sexy.” I want to encourage women to be strong, smart, independent, and awesome. I also talk about femininity, modesty, purity, second chances, deal-breakers, break-ups, and engagement.

There are discussion questions in the back, so it is great as a small group study or for parents to read with their daughters. I’ve had great feedback from moms who’ve been able to start dialogue with their teen girls about boys, kissing, making out, etc.

Great topics, and ones that girls want to know about, even if they’re afraid to ask. Now let’s change gears a little bit. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?Bethany Jett cover Cinderella Rule

The hardest part of writing for me is after something is published and I continue to edit in my mind—it’s too late at that point to make any changes! But another hard part is getting that first draft written. Stephen King in his great book, On Writing, says the first draft is for you. So I try to release any inhibitions and let the words flow, no matter how terrible they are.

Writing the second draft is much easier! I love tightening my writing by replacing two or three words with a stronger one. It’s like a game.

You sound so much like me, Bethany! I continue to edit long after the book is out, hate getting that first draft down, and love rewriting to make it pretty! Were there any interesting vices or methods you used when writing the book?

Strangely, I found television to be cathartic. Even though it was moving my eyes from one screen to another, often times I could let my mind wander, and after several minutes, BAM! Bursts of inspiration!

Also, I often retreated to my church’s youth room to write in the peace and quiet it offered. My mom, also an author, loves to write where she can people-watch, or with music. I had to write in silence to really get “in the zone.”

Well, we’re alike in that aspect as well. I have to have silence–or at least music with no known words–in order to write. Otherwise, I catch myself singing along with the music instead of focusing on the writing. And I’m thrilled to say I’ve also had the joy of having your mom as a guest on my blog. Readers, you can catch Johnnie Alexander Donley’s interview here

So what’s your advice to writers wanting to get published?

Attend a writers conference! I owe the start of my official writing career to the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC).

The one-on-one face time with publishers and agents is priceless. Along with learning from the experts, the networking and connections are invaluable. The FCWC launched my writing career, and the connections and friendships born from that first conference are continuing to offer opportunities.

I totally agree. I, like many writers I know, got my start at writers conferences. As I mentioned earlier, you’re a speaker, as well as an author. Where have you been speaking lately?

I just returned from speaking in Ohio at an event called “The Cinderella Project,” which provides a pampering night (which I spoke at), a dress, shoes, jewelry, and mentoring in the weeks leading up to and after prom. It was incredible.

Ladies’ groups have been so much fun—I love women’s ministry, along with youth ministry, and it’s been a blessing to speak to women’s groups and at ladies’ conferences.

This weekend, I’m holding a two-hour workshop on confidence for a local church’s youth group. The youth minister is having a Guys’ Day and a Girls’ Day, and I get to teach girls the various aspects of portraying confidence – in their appearance, manners, accomplishments, and most importantly, teaching that true confidence is found in Christ. We are going to play with some makeup and learn how to sit, and get in-and-out of a car wearing a skirt. So fun!

It does sound like fun! Thanks for being with us today, Bethany. I love the opportunity to love on and encourage you in your writing and speaking. But before we go, how can people connect with you?

I love making great connections with people via social media! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (betjett2), and I blog regularly on “girly topics, godly perspective” at

Bethany Jett headshot 2Bio: Bethany Jett is an award-winning writer, whose first attempt at writing a book proposal landed her Writer of the Year at the 2012 Florida Christian Writers Conference, a contract with the MacGregor Literary Agency, and a publishing deal. Her first book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After, released in April of 2013. Bethany is a “Regal for Women” author who video-blogs on dating for, and has been interviewed on radio stations across the US, as well as internationally. She is a featured double columnist with Choose NOW Ministries, and also writes for Sisterhood, Sonoma Christian Home, and other magazines. Along with speaking to women’s groups, youth groups, homeschool groups, college discipleship groups, parents of teens, as well as retreats, conferences, and camps, Bethany blogs on “girly topics, godly perspective” at

Thanks again for joining us today, Bethany. And friends, don’t forget to leave a word of encouragement for Bethany and you’ll automatically be in the drawing for a free book! Then, return next week to see if you’re the winner.

But I know some of you will want to go ahead and get copies for the young girls in your life, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Bethany Jett’s The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. Enjoy!


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Sharon Lavy, and Only One Spot Left for 2014 Christian Communicators Conference!

Sharon Lavy headshotReaders, I’m excited to introduce my friend, Sharon Lavy, to you. Sharon and I met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and I was immediately drawn to her sweet smile and enthusiasm for writing and for the Lord. You can read Sharon’s bio and book blurb below, but let me just tell you that she lives an interesting life with her husband, flying all over the country in their own plane!

In Sharon’s newest book, Deadly Secret: A Tale From the Ohio Valleyjust released in November 2013, the protagonist is an oncology nurse. As an RN for almost 30 years with experience as a hospice nurse, I was particularly drawn to this story and I know you will be, too!

And thanks to Sharon’s generosity, I have a free book to give away! Simply leave a comment for Sharon and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing. But you must return next week to see if you’re the winner.

Okay, let’s get started, Sharon. First of all, welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den. As I mentioned earlier, I was an RN for many years and love medical mysteries, but your Deadly Secrets is actually categorized as Women’s Fiction. Can you explain?

I’ve been told my genre is Women’s fiction because the main theme is always about relationships. In fact I think the most important part of our lives here on this earth is our relationships. And our Relationship with Jesus is at the top of the list.

As one who struggles with finding time to write, I want to know how you spend your writing days. And can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

I try to write 6 days a week. Sometimes the characters refuse to talk to me and I find myself staring at a blank screen.

The first three novels have taken me years just to write the first draft. Then many years of re-writing and editing. Each one took fewer than the book before, but still … years.

As I wind up the draft of Farewell for Awhile, my goal is to write a complete draft of Forgiving the Unforgivable before the end of 2014. What a challenge.

I know your stories always point to truth, so what is the spiritual message in Deadly Secret?Sharon Lavy Deadly Secrets cover  

The theme of Deadly Secret is that sometimes we’re asked to forgive the unforgivable. In fact that is also the theme of the manuscript I am working on at the moment, Farewell For Awhile.  Different situation, but it still deals with something unforgivable.

The actual title of my next book is Forgiving The Unforgivable.  And I’ve developed a problem with this one, because how do you forgive a monster who is still a monster, who makes no pretense of repentance?

That is the struggle many authors have. At first the idea seems straight forward. But before you know it, you’ve written yourself into a corner and wonder how you are going to pull it off this time. If not for the grace of God, I don’t think I will be able to do it.

Would you take this time to describe your latest novel to us? 

Sure! Here’s part of the back cover copy:

The covering on Evalena Davidson’s head invites all kinds of confidences and sharing, a blessing on her oncology ward. But people expect her to be perfect, which makes living up to the promise of her Old German Baptist uniform a challenge. After all, Old German Baptist Brethren do not get involved with the law. But after a series of accusations and unexplained circumstances, how can Evalena turn her back on a friend? An unlikely trio must put their lives and reputation at risk to uncover a deadly secret in an attempt to identify a killer before someone else dies.

Sounds exciting! Now that you’re published, you can sit back and relax, right? 

You’re joking, right? No matter which publishing house publishes the book, the moment an author is published, he or she has the responsibility of marketing, marketing, marketing. I’m still trying to find out what works and what doesn’t. And I don’t want to turn people off. I need all the friends I can get.

So true, Sharon! We’re quickly running out of time, but readers always want to know where authors get their ideas.

That’s sort of a hard question to answer because a writer’s mind is normally going a million miles a minute, but occasionally stops with an “Aha!” moment. So I always say, if you see a writer with a faraway look in the eye … DO NOT DISTURB!

Oh, I know what you mean. My problem isn’t how to find ideas–it’s how do I keep ideas from constantly bombarding my limited brain space! Hahaha!

Sharon, thank you for joining us and sharing your journey today. It’s always a joy to see how the writing experience unfolds for different writers. 

Sharon Lavy with planeAnd readers, I know you want your own copy, so here’s an Amazon link to Deadly Secrets: A Tale From the Ohio Valley. Here’s the Kindle link for Deadly Secrets: A Tale From the Ohio Valley, and it’s only $2.99! Don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a FREE book! Then be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner.

BIO: Sharon A Lavy lives with her husband in SW Ohio. When not reading, writing, or sewing for her family, she enjoys traveling with her husband in their small Flight Design airplane. Sharon has a heart for hurting women, and writes about healing relationships. Because when~~it’s all said and done~~It’s all about relationships. You can reach Sharon here:

Amazon Author Page:


That’s right–there’s only one spot left for the 2014 Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove!


Update 2-25-14 3:15pm: The waiting list is now open for the August 2014 Christian Communicators Conference. To be placed on the waiting list (at no charge), please contact Conference Coordinator, Cynthia Owens, at ccc [@] Thank you for your interest in CCC. We’d love to see you there!

We are blown away by the response to the 2014 CCC! As of Monday afternoon, we only have one place remaining. Is it for you?

As soon as that one spot is filled, we’ll open the waiting list. If you go to the Online Registration page and see that registration is closed, please contact Cynthia Owens, Conference Coordinator at ccc [@] to be put on the waiting list. We expect there will be a few cancellations.

Please note that the five scholarship spots are still being held until the scholarship submission deadline of April 1, so if you’re in need of a scholarship to attend, please complete your application and submit it by the April 1 deadline.

Here’s the link for all the CCC 2014 information. We’d love to see you there.

Thank you for your amazing response to CCC. We praise God for the opportunity to partner with you in ministry!

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


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Interview & Book Give-Away with Jo Ann Fore; Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Jo Ann Fore Headshot

You are in for a treat today, sweet friends! Today I have the joy of introducing my friend Jo Ann Fore to you. We’ve known each other for many years and she just gets more and more beautiful!

Jo Ann is a speaker, life coach, and author of a life-changing new book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a DifferenceAs you’ll see in this interview, her ministry is all about hope.

I know you’re going to fall in love with Jo Ann, just as I have. Be sure to leave a comment for Jo Ann and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

So let’s jump right in, Jo Ann. I think I know the answer to this question, but I want our friends to hear your heart. So tell us, why did you write When A Woman Finds Her Voice?

I believe God created each one of us with this distinctive life message to share, but far too often the hurts of life block us from sharing. Our stories deserve to be told, need to be told, but sometimes there’s this part of us that can’t help but wonder if what we say really matters, wonders if we ourselves matter.

We tend to develop this concept of who we think we should be, so we spend our days presenting that to the world, masking our true voices. And in this masking, we lose our true selves. Sometimes we try to be so many things to so many people that we stuff our voice so deep that even we forget who we are.

That’s not God’s plan.

I’m passionate about helping with women in this area because I’ve walked this journey. I know the silence, fear, and doubt that comes from unfathomable hurts. And I want to help women identify these toxic beliefs that twist our thinking in the fallout of these hurts.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?Jo Ann Fore book cover

I want women to know, to really know, that just because we walk through some hard stuff in life, it doesn’t mean God’s purpose for us changes.

Sometimes what we need most is a simple word of encouragement that God’s still with us, that if we stick it out we will somehow see His hand and His hand will somehow lead us through.

There’s a scripture tucked in Acts 18:10 where Paul had been trying to share the message that God entrusted him with but no one would listen to him, so in a dream God told him this, “Don’t let anyone silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you.”

That’s what Paul needed to stick it out, to make it through the storms that threatened to blow him off course. It’s the same thing we need: to know God is with us. And we need to trust that, to hold to that when nothing else makes sense.

How do you define “finding your voice?”

As a writer we hear a lot about voice, about finding our voices. It’s drilled into us from the beginning, about how it’s our unique voice that sets us apart in the millions of words that are being spread daily.

And much like that individualism that we read in a particular author’s words, each one of us, whether we write or not, holds our own unique voice deep inside.

Our voice is what makes us us, it’s this unique combination of our personality, belief systems, feelings, and passions, it’s basically everything that encompasses all of who God made us to be.

It’s this unique that pours red from the vein of our authentic selves. A crucial individualism that’s about being known, not just to others, but first to ourselves.

Sort of like our favorite author, when we pick up her work and recognize her voice, this is what we need to walk out in our own lives. When we make decisions, when we live our daily lives, we need to check to make sure it’s our own voice we’re walking out and not a substitute because those just waste our time.

How did you decide on this topic?

I have a wise agent. {Really, I do.} About 18 months ago, I had a meeting with my agent {and his lovely wife}, tossing about ideas for what book I would write. He asked me a simple question, “What book would you write that excites you each morning—a book that you will make you want to get out of bed each day so you can work on it?”

It was this book.

Jo Ann Fore logo imageYou are passionate about the power of story—do you have any tips to help us tell our stories?

There is an extraordinary power in the sharing of story. This finding our voices, its about sharing our stories—stories that have the power to change both our lives and the lives of others.

In the book we have a list of tips for finding your voice, but you can also grab them for FREE in a downloadable printable over here.

Jo Ann, you don’t realize it, but you’ve hit on a very important point we stress at Christian Communicators Conference for women: There truly is an extraordinary power in the sharing of our stories. God doesn’t waste any scars. Thank you for sharing your message and your book with us.

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

But you don’t have to wait to get this great book! Here’s a direct Amazon link for When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a Difference. You could get yours today!

Bio: Jo Ann Fore is known as the “Hope Coach.” She is a popular blogger, certified Life Purpose Coach-Facilitator, and the author of the recently released When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Overcoming Life’s Hurts & Using Your Story to Make a Difference. Jo Ann serves a powerful promise of hope to a woman’s heart. Her encouraging words have been featured in Guideposts, Christianity Today’s Just Between Us & Today’s Christian Woman, Lifeway’s HomeLife, as well as many others, while her coaching experiences have helped many women transform broken lives into beautiful ones.


Kudos to YOU!

We only had two Christian Writer’s Den friends to send in their successes this month, but my goodness, what great successes they are!

1.  Eddie Snipes (GA): I had two books released in January. Abounding Grace and Out of the Ashes (a book written for the Pregnancy Resource Center). Here are Amazon links to Abounding Grace and Out of the Ashes.

2.  Lori Hatcher (SC): Lori is pleased to announce a contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for her devotional book, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time. Also, this spring, she’ll be the featured speaker at the Women to Women Spring Conference at Myrtle Beach, SC March 28-30. She’ll serve with worship leader Janet Rollings and devotion leader Cherie Nettles to present “Too Stressed to Be Blessed? Come Away.”

Congratulations, Eddie and Lori! We’re so proud of you!

And readers, be sure to check back next week for a list of writing opportunities collected just for you. Follow through with submissions and maybe we’ll be celebrating with you soon!


Congrats to These MoGo7000 Qualifiers in January!

My goodness, y’all have been busy! These CWD writers have earned an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cash!

#1: Joan Hall – 7,035 words
#2: Susan Baganz – 14,190 words
#3: Jeanne Doyon – 8,520 words

#4: Eddie Snipes – 65,000 words

Want to know how you can qualify for the $100 challenge? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge here. It’s free and open to everyone!

Well, we’re expecting snow and ice today and the next few days here in SC. Be safe, everyone!

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


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