Category Archives: Interviews

“Interviews with authors who have a heart for writers ”


Interview & Book Give-Away with Sarah Meece and Who Won the Free Writing Workshop?

Sarah Meece headshotI’m excited to introduce my friend, Sarah Meece, to all my Christian Writer’s Den friends! I met Sarah several years ago at a writers conference and was amazed at her story. But when Sarah attended the Christian Communicators Conference, I was privileged to see what an incredible and talented lady she is. Then, when I read her manuscript for A Dose of Hope, I knew I wanted to bring her to you!

Readers, be sure to leave a comment for Sarah and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Don’t forget to come back next week and see if you’re the winner!

Welcome, Sarah. I’m so glad you’re here! Let’s start with an easy question. Was being an author a life-long dream?  

Absolutely not! For 29 years, I had been an educator at the secondary level. I loved high school students, and I was one of those teachers who was the first to pull in the parking lot each morning and the last to leave. I know according to The New York Times, 80% of the population has a desire to write a book, but honestly, I was too busy with school. I laughed and told a reporter once, “I didn’t have time to write the first paragraph much less a whole book!”

So what changed your heart and mind?

Having gone through several devastating events in my life, I felt a strong calling to speak to women. With my hectic teacher schedule, I would speak periodically, but I simply did not have time to speak on a Sarah Meece A Dose of Hope book coverregular basis. However, in 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After several weeks of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy, my life changed. For the first time, I slowed down long enough to devote some valuable time to Bible study and prayer. It was during this period that I realized my life could be short, and I needed to be obedient to God. At the end of that school year, I retired from education and created Sarah Meece Inspiresa ministry encouraging others to deepen their relationship with God.

I think I know the answer to this question, but which came first—speaking or writing?

Speaking definitely was the catalyst which led to writing. As I began booking speaking engagements, I would often get the question, “Do you have a book?” I quickly realized that in order to be perceived as a credible speaker, I needed the word author after my name. Having always enjoyed devotional books, I decided to write, A Dose of Hope, a devotional book containing real-life, everyday situations which people could easily relate.

Since writing was not a long-life goal, was it difficult for you?

I have to tell you, God was so gracious to me during the writing process. Almost every morning when I opened my eyes, God had planted a topic in my heart. I would run to the office, type as fast as I could to capture the message which He was encouraging me to share. Of course, my first draft definitely needed Sarah Meece headshot 2work, so I spent hours and hours on the final document. Plus, I was extremely blessed with a wonderful team of people who served as my editor and proofreaders. Interestingly enough, the members on my team were all retired educators (even from different states). By the way, those former English and business teachers can be hard core! (*wink) I am forever grateful to this awesome team!

Tell us about your publishing process.

My goal wasn’t necessarily to be included on the best seller list; therefore, I decided to self publish through CreateSpace. I wanted to create a document to help people build a deeper relationship with God. When I speak, I always have the book available on my product table. In addition, A Dose of Hope is available on Amazon.com. Thus far, I have been extremely pleased with the success of the book.

I know you had a great book launch for A Dose of Hope. Please tell us how you did that.

The book launch was fabulous! And I truly believe the secret to a great book launch is forming a book launch committee. I asked six friends—all from different walks of life and from different social circles—to assist with the book launch. We meet once a week for about six weeks prior to the launch where we decided everything from decorations and food to publicity and giveaways. Committee members Sarah Meece Book Launch--Celebration Teamdistributed invitations via social media, and the invitation was included in the local newspaper. The launch was held on December 3rd, at a local country club, and approximately 300 people attended the launch.  [Note to self:  Next time, sign some books in advance!] I simply cannot say enough; it was the perfect evening! Early December ended up being a great time for a book launch because many people purchased multiple copies of A Dose of Hope to give as Christmas presents to friends and family.

Do you have any new adventures in the near future?

Yes, I have all kinds of new and exciting things happening in the ministry! On the speaking front, I am joining two other speakers and forming The Hope Tour. We just did our soft launch this past weekend in Middletown, Ohio. Our mission is to spread hope to women across the country. Plus, I already have several events scheduled for 2015, including speaking at two major breast cancer events. And, on the writing front, I am in the process of writing my second book, A Dose of Peace.  I would sincerely appreciate your prayers in all of these endeavors.

Sarah, thank you for being with us and sharing your heart today. I hope readers will learn more about you and your powerful, amazing story! Readers, I know you’re going to want to have a copy of Sarah’s book, so here’s a direct Amazon link to the Kindle version of A Dose of Hope and the paperback version of A Dose of Hope.

Sarah Meece headshot 3Bio: Sarah Meece is not only a former educator and successful business woman, she is also a motivator, a leader, and most importantly, a survivor with an incredible story. For over 30 years, she has been reaching out to both students and adults as a strong witness and Christian role model. Traveling extensively, she has addressed a variety of audiences with her inspirational messages.

During her career in education, she received numerous awards including being named the recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Teacher of the Year Award, Outstanding Young Women in America Award, and the Ashland Oil Golden Apple Achievement Award. Since retiring from secondary education, her heart for God has led her to devote her time and energy to speaking about persevering through life’s most difficult storms.

Today, her main love and focus is on her family — her wonderful husband, Curry, their four children, and two grandchildren. You can visit Sarah and find out more about her speaking and writing ministry at her website: SarahMeece.com.

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vonda teaching

And Who Won a Free Writing Workshop from My Store?

The winner is Jeanne Doyon! Congratulations, Jeanne! Please go to my online store, click on Downloadable Writer’s Workshops, and decide which one you want. Then contact me with your choice and I’ll send it right out to you. Hope you enjoy it!

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Thank you for joining me again today. I hope you’ll be back on Friday as we look at His Word!

Blessings,

Vonda

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Interview with Author and Speaker Brenda Nixon & a Chance to Win a Free Writing Workshop!

Brenda Nixon head shotHello friends! I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend, author and speaker, Brenda Nixon. Brenda and I have been friends for many years through Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and occasionally we’re on faculty together at writing conferences. Brenda has a varied background, including her roles as a parenting expert (Parenting Expert Brenda Nixon) and now as a writer/educator of real Amish life (Beyond Buggies & Bonnets).

Brenda has a heart for writers, parents, and the Amish, and I’m honored to welcome her and her wisdom to the Christian Writer’s Den today!

Welcome, Brenda. Let’s start with an easy question. How long have you been a writer?

Well, my first accidental writing experience was a letter to the editor. As a young mom, I’d replied to a magazine article. The editor phoned me to say he’d edited my letter and would publish it as an article – with pay. I was naive about writing – didn’t know I could get paid for my written thoughts. That was 30 years ago. Then 20 years ago, I wrote a passion project. I’d written a book on parenting to accompany my busy speaking schedule. That book was my springboard into professional writing – magazine articles, contributing to compilations like Chicken Soup for the Soul, co-authoring, selling reprints, and teaching at writers conferences.

It looks like we started seriously writing about the same time. So how many magazine articles have you written?

More than 400. For me, writing for publications gave me experience and confidence to write books. I wrote out of my heart – my passion to empower parents. Once in a while I’d receive an editor’s invite to write on assignment about a topic unfamiliar to me. Then I’d put on my research hat and go work.

So if people want to write books, are you suggesting they first write for publications?

I do. Think about it, you get a byline – name recognition – and experience while receiving income. Plus, if you don’t sell all rights, you can resell that same article. Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving.

What about your books? How many have you written now?Brenda Nixon Buggy Ride

I’m working on my 35th book. Combining the books I’ve solo authored, co-authored, and contributed a chapter or story to, the count is 34.

Brenda, what tips do you have for aspiring or new authors?

Join a critique group, attend writers conferences, and network with other authors. Don’t be a lone ranger in this industry. I know of one author who is trying to isolate herself in this industry isolated – she’s discouraged, competitive, and judgmental of other authors. Dah. Critique groups are how I improve my wordsmith skills, writers conferences are how I connect with others who “get it” about writing and the writer’s life, and networking is how I help others and make friends.

Amen to all your suggestions! A little birdie told me that you’ve recently won another award. Would you tell us about that?
My blog, Beyond Buggies & Bonnets: True Amish Stories won BLOG OF THE MONTH at Book Fun Magazine (with a 400K readership)! See page 193 of this quality magazine for an interview of me Brenda Nixon familyaccompanied by lots of fantastic photos. I’m grateful Beyond Buggies & Bonnets was reader-nominated, receiving 45.1% of the votes!

Now my blog will automatically be entered in BLOG OF THE YEAR voting this December. If you check out my blog and find reality and respect, learn a fact or two, or get a laugh, I hope you’ll go to Book Fun Magazine in December and vote for Beyond Buggies & Bonnets blog – because for many of my former-Amish friends and family I’m their “voice” to the world.

Congratulations, Brenda! Wow, that is quite an honor! Thank you for taking the time to share your writing words of wisdom with us today. I hope everybody will take your instruction seriously, because it’s all good stuff!Brenda Nixon's birth to five book

And readers, be sure to leave a comment for Brenda and you’ll be in the drawing for a free writing workshop from my Store! (Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.)

Brenda’s Bio: Got questions? Amish Sex Ed? Shunning? Rumpsringa? Ordnung? Gma? Lifestyle? Ex-Amish?

I got answers. And experiences. And they’re NOT what you see on TV or read in fiction books. Cultural Literacy is what you get when I bring my suitcase of Swartzentruber Amish clothing to speak, or post in my blog, answer media questions or serve as a resource on the Amish. Helping former Amish assimilate to the English world is teaching me volumes about their struggles and the life they left.

My son-in-law lived and left the Swartzentruber Order, I’m blessed to have two “sons” from the Swartzentruber Amish – Mosie and Monroe – and at the holidays our home welcomes ex-Amish who need family. Worldwide, more than 200K readers come to get real stories at my Beyond Buggies & Bonnets blog. I hope you’ll visit, too!

My contributions to the literary world include my award-winning: The Birth to Five Book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, and 32 other titles I’ve contributed to including Miracles & Moments of Grace and six Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Author or contributor, 34 books. Writing a reality (but respectful) book about Amish, and Beyond Buggies & Bonnets blog

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Ane Mulligan and Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Ane Mulligan headshotWe have a full, fun day ahead! First, I can’t wait to tell you about Ane Mulligan’s new book, just released yesterday, Chapel Springs Revival

What a joy to introduce my sweet friend, Ane Mulligan! While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Be sure to leave a comment for Ane and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Just check back next week to see if you’re the winner. 

So let’s get started, Ane. Did you always know you would be a writer?

No way did I ever think the stories I told as a kid (back then they called it lying) and played out for weeks with my dolls, would someday become books.

As Creative Arts director for my church, I wrote my first script in 1996, and after we performed it, I sent it to a publisher. They bought that one and everything I sent them afterwards.

How did you start writing novels?Ane Mulligan play

The hubs said I spent a lot on books, I ought to write one. I realized that was God’s call, because as soon as Hubs said those words, an idea dropped into my otherwise empty mind.

But as a playwright myself, I know that plays are a far cry from novels. How did you go from play-writing to novel-writing?

First, I found an online Christian critique group and a few mentors, who told me plainly I had a lot to learn. What an understatement.

POV? Never heard the term.

Omniscient? That’s what God was.

Show don’t tell? How do I tell a story without telling?

Yikes! Yet, with each critique, I absorbed a new concept. I bought every writing craft book they recommended, read them, and absorbed more.

Ane Mulligan crit groupI would never have made it without my original critique partners, either! Who are your critique partners?

In 2005, four other writers and I formed a critique group, and being serious about publishing, we were tough on one another. So tough, we all earned nicknames: Attila the Holmes, Hannibal Dotta, Genghis Griep, and Ludwig von Frankenpen, and Ane of Mean Gables.

Hahahahaha! I love that! Okay, so with your awesome critique group, it must have been easy to get published, right?

Not even. One editor took my manuscript to committee. While I waited for the answer, I got an agent. However … sigh …the editorial committee said no. Then, God called my agent into ministry.

A few months later, I signed with my second agent. Soon, she called, saying my manuscript had passed editorial committee and was going to pub board! This was it! Whoopee! Pub board loved it, but their slate was filled, so the editor was going to hold it for their next quarter. Only she retired before the next quarter, and her computer hard drive was wiped clean.

I was lost in cyber oblivion. Then my agent retired. Do you see a pattern here? I did and it looked like a maze. Once again, I whined, “Lord, what is going on?”

And He said, “Wait. Trust me.” He didn’t offer me another choice, so I chose to trust. Ane Mulligan signing contract

I’m glad I did. In 2012, I signed with Sandra Bishop, and ten years after I began this journey, she called me to tell me we had an offer from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

And my heart quickened. All right, God! This was it. This time, He said, “Yes.”

I believe people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. Through fiction, I can entertain readers. Through fiction, I can present seeds of God’s truth. Then when they least expect it, the story can reach out, touch their hearts, and change them. And isn’t that why we write?

Ane Mulligan book coverOkay, friends, here’s the scoop on Ane’s new book, Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages as much in need of restoration as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

Ane, thank you for joining us today and sharing your delightful journey. Friends, I know you’re gonna want to be in the drawing for a free copy of Ane’s book, so be sure to leave a comment for her. Then check back next week to see if you’re the winner! And if you’re ready to go ahead and grab your own copy, here’s a direct Amazon link to Chapel Springs Revival.

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now, whose successes can we celebrate this month? Oh, and see if you notice a pattern this month. :-)

1.  Edie Melson (SC): I’m excited to share that I’m one of 12 winners in the Guideposts TELL US YOUR STORY contest. Here’s the link to the contest page: http://www.guideposts.org/other/tell-us-your-story

2.  Beth Fortune (SC): Beth has two great things to share: 1)Another article was published in the wonderful publication “Reach Out Columbia” – September Edition. 2) My posts are beginning to show up on In Touch Ministries website in their new daily blog section.

3.  Andrea Merrell (SC):  www.thewriteediting.blogspot.com My new short story, The Gift, will be the first installment in the Christmases Past Series by HHP. The release date is September 25th, and the Kindle version The Gift is now available on Amazon for pre-order for $.99.

So, did you see the thread throughout this month’s kudos? All three successes are from South Carolina writers! Way to go, sweet friends!

Didn’t see your name on the list? Be sure to return next week when I’ll post my monthly list of writing opportunities!

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mogo7000 logoWho received entries into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cold, hard cash?

These CWD writers have earned an August entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cash!

#18: Tim Suddeth – 15,805 words
#19: Susan Banganz – 41,671 words

Woo-hoo! Congrats, Tim and Susan! Keep up the good work and you’ll earn even more entries into the drawing.

Writers, want to know how you can qualify for the $100 challenge? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge here. It’s free and open to everyone all year long!

Okay, that does it for a fun-filled day at The Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me. I look forward to seeing you Friday as we open to His Word to hear His voice.

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Verna Bowman

Verna Bowman headshotReaders, I’m excited to introduce my friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators grad, Verna Bowman, to you. Be sure to read her bio below, but for now, let me just say that Verna and I met at CCC in 2011 and it didn’t take me long to realize what powerful stories she had to tell!

As I told Verna, when I started reading her book, I had planned to read one story per night before I went to sleep–but I couldn’t do it! Instead, it was “Just one more, just one more.” I couldn’t stop! You’re gonna love her interview and her book!

And don’t forget to leave a comment for Verna and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

So, let’s get started! Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Verna. Even though I know much of your story, I don’t know how your writing began. When did you begin to write?

About forty-five journals ago! I love to record life in remembrance of what God has done. Scripture tells us to write it down on stones of remembrance so those that follow will know the goodness of God. My first intention was to compile the stories for my children and grandchildren as a legacy of faith because I feel it’s important to hand down to the next generation the reason we believe, to encourage them in their own journey.

However, for the past twenty-six years (really!) I’ve been attending the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. The director, Marlene Bagnull has been instrumental in developing and encouraging my writing. I’ve written for many publications and devotionals throughout the years, but finally came to the realization that I needed to write it in a book, not a journal.

I love Marlene Bagnull! As the first person to help me see that writing was my calling from God, she has been a powerful influence in my writing life as well. So what finally inspired you to write Crumbs Along the Broken Path?

Many years in Women’s Ministry brought me close to the heart of a number of wounded women experiencing some of the things I had. I wanted to encourage those who needed hope in seemingly hopeless situations. I created a blog, Encouraging Women One Story at a Time and the book came about soon after.

The book traces a personal path of rebellion, repentance, and restoration. In the middle of the road somewhere I began to take inventory of my life and saw that the good and especially the not-so-good were the very things God used to bring me to a deeper place with Him. I wanted to share it with others.

God’s most powerful blessing can be the brokenness we experience because of where it leads – to wholeness. It reminds us that we’re not the main character of our story.

“We’re not the main character of our story.” So true! What can you tell us about the book – what are some of the stories about?

This is a collection of short stories that tells of a faith struggle in the midst of a life interrupted by countless crises. It’s the difficult and the dark things that touch all of our lives in some way, although not usually condensed into one lifetime, as it has been for me. I once had someone tell me my life sounded like fiction. The stories are as real as God’s intervention in each one.

A few stories are special to me. . . . certainly the one about our youngest son’s unending journey with Crumbs Along Broken Path Verna Coverkidney failure, Journey of a Lifetime.

Also, If I Should Wake Before I Die, the story of when my husband suffered multiple strokes and cardiac arrest developing into a coma. He was pronounced brain dead and we were asked to remove the life support. After much prayer that helped me in a difficult decision, I told them I knew what God could do in seven days, and I would wait. The seventh morning he woke up! This also has seemed like an unending journey, but today he is a master woodcarver to fill in his forced-to-retire hours!

Another story has to do with our Bible study that helped us build another home similar to the near-by Amish barn raising, when we lost ours due to extreme medical bills. You won’t believe who God supplied in that labor crew!

What do you hope the reader will take away after reading your book?

Hope. Deep hope. We all face challenges but the hard things that touch our lives that seem unending, don’t have to last forever. We can see beyond the circumstances that shout in our faces when we learn to listen for the merciful whisper of a sovereign Father.

My book is simply journaled pieces of life. I end each one with a question in the hope the reader will discover a piece of his or her own story, because . . .

Everybody has a story!

You’re absolutely right, Verna! And it’s often through our stories that we’re able to connect with those who need to connect with Jesus. Thank you for your willingness to share the good and the bad with us, and pointing to the Savior who can heal it all.

BIO: Verna has over twenty-five years in ministry leadership inspiring women to a deeper relationship with God. Her passion is encouraging women through writing and speaking messages of hope. Her experience in leading Bible studies, teaching, mentoring, and coordinating retreats have provided opportunities to share God’s Word with women of all ages. Verna’s book, Crumbs Along the Broken Path, walks readers through her rebellion, redemption, and restoration by following scattered crumbs on her path that led to a deep relationship with the Lord.  Her stories can bring each one of us to a deeper understanding of how God uses tragic circumstances in our lives. Verna is a graduate of Christian Communicators Conference and a long time participant of the Greater Philadelphia and Colorado Christian Writers Conferences. She posts a weekly blog on her website Encouraging Women One Story at a Time. Her articles and personal experience stories have been featured in various periodicals and devotionals. She and her husband Jeff have four adult children and five grandchildren – all wonderful. In her free time she works as a medical secretary. Be sure to visit her website at www.vernabowman.com

So that’s it for today, friends. Be sure to leave a comment for Verna and you could win a free book! Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner. :-)

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Barbara Hattemer and Kudos & MoGo7000 Results

Barbara Hattemer headshotFirst of all, get ready to be impressed by Barbara Hattemer…and possibly win a free book, too!

I’m thrilled to introduce a long-time acquaintance (and now friend) Barbara Hattemer today! Barbara and I met at a conference years ago, then I had the joy of reconnecting with her at the Florida Christian Writers Conference this past March. What fun it was to catch up and see all the amazing things she’s been up to! My goodness, she’s living proof that we never have to outgrow the joy of learning, growing, and producing! Believe me, you don’t want to miss her story.

Friends, I love that you’re such an encouraging group for fellow writers, so I can’t wait to see your comments after this interview. Barbara has an amazing story! And don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Just be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Barbara. First of all, what inspired you to write novels?
I was born shy and expressed myself better in writing than speaking. I started my first novel about Deer Isle, the island in Maine where we summer, when I was 9 years old. I never finished it, but I have wanted to write a book about it all my life.

Instead I wrote poetry to friends on special occasions, articles for a variety of magazines and chapters for other people’s books.

For 15 years, I fought the spread of pornography at the local, state and national levels and wrote my first book on the research proving harm from pornography consumption. While doing hundreds of radio interviews, I kept thinking that many more people would read a work of fiction than a research book on the subject.9781602903746-Perfect.indd

I often prayed about this and felt the Lord telling me that one day we would write together. I began attending Christian Writer’s Conferences to learn the craft of writing fiction and combined my love of the Maine coast and my deep concern about the collapse of morality in our country in a novel entitled An Island Just for Us. Often I walked around an island and prayed for direction. Sometimes God gave me a whole scene and I couldn’t wait to get home to write it down.

When I finished it in the late 90’s, I learned that Christian publishers were not ready for this subject. Four publishers liked my setting and my characters but asked me to take out every word about pornography before they would look at it. I set it aside but I still had the desire to write novels about difficult subjects and make them fun to read.

So how did you choose another subject?
There was another experience I wanted to share. Having three known generations of Alzheimer’s disease in my family, I was diagnosed in 1980 as soon to be acutely senile. The story is the history of my family and what happened to me after the diagnosis. I wrote Field of Daisies to give comfort and hope to families with Alzheimer’s who feared they would be next.

Field of Daisies cover Barbara HattemerI set that story on the farm in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania where my grandfather and grandmother were caretakers. Since my parents traveled for business for six months at a time, my grandparents were very special to me. I loved their custom of eating a piece of home-made pie every evening and sharing their day. It was their marriage that I wanted to emulate and I dedicated the book to them. I was thrilled to introduce my children both to the farm and to my grandparents. The romance was total fiction but the farm and the romance made the book fun to read and many people have been encouraged by it. They have also benefitted from my blog, “Live Every Day of Your Life,” which discusses the new epigenetic science about how the life we live can change the way our genes are activated.

How did you get An Island Just for Us published?
The day after my publisher Ramona Tucker of OakTara handed me the first hot-off-the-press copy of Daisies, she said to me, “I like your writing so much, could you have another novel ready for me in three months? I sent Island to her and she wrote back, “I’m hooked. I want to publish that book.”

What thrilling news! It seems to be a subject whose time has come. When I took it last year to CBA, retailers were delighted that there was a Christian book on this subject. Morality in Media, which heads the Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, is selling the book at their conferences because it is a good introduction to pornography’s harms and a way to encourage women to begin to talk about it.

Barbara with major leaders of the anti-pornography movement: Bob Peters, Past President of Morality in Media, Bruce Taylor. Justice Department Prosecutor of Pornography Cases

Barbara with major leaders of the anti-pornography movement: Bob Peters, Past President of Morality (MIM) in Media; Bruce Taylor, Justice Department Prosecutor of Pornography Cases; Pat Trueman, President of MIM.

Strong on family and the delights of Maine’s beautiful and challenging coastal islands, it contains an intriguing romance, an approaching hurricane and two days lost on the bay in a penetrating fog. It is both fun and exciting to read. Readers have requested a sequel which I am writing now.

And do you mind sharing how old you were when you had your first novel published?
I received the first copy on my 80th birthday. It has been fun to have younger women tell me they thought they were too old to start writing. I tell them it is never too late for you to share what God has given you that will bless others.

Barbara receiving 1st copies of her 1st book from editor Ramona Tucker at a writers conference

Barbara receiving 1st copies of her 1st book from editor Ramona Tucker at a writers conference on her 80th birthday!

 

Oh, Barbara, what great advice for all of us! Thank you for sharing your story with us. I sure am glad you didn’t give up! I can’t wait to read the coming comments!

Bio: Barbara has been published in a wide variety of magazines. After 15 years fighting for high community and media standards throughout the country, she wrote her first book, Don’t Touch That Dial: The Impact of the Media on Children and the Family, a layman’s version of social science research on the harms of sexually explicit and violent media. She gave hundreds of radio and television interviews on the book and her work was featured in Christian Herald Magazine, Focus on the Family’s Citizen and on a full-length video by Dr. D. James Kennedy.

She now writes novels for OakTara Publishers about difficult subjects in the genre of Women’s Fiction. She concentrates on making them fun to read. Field of Daisies offers hope and comfort to families who have a history of Alzheimer’s disease in successive generations. An Island Just for Us highlights exciting adventures on Maine’s beautiful coastal islands, a tender romance, strong family relationships, and the determination to fight the effects of our increasingly sexual culture on our youth.

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Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now it’s time to celebrate YOU!

Congratulations to these writers who are doing the hard work of being a writer…and finding success. We have a lot to cheer about!

1.  Cheryl Barker (KS): My “For My Amazing Mom” piece is being featured in the 2015 Blue
Mountain Arts calendar, “Thank You, Mom, for a Lifetime of Love“. They’ve used it previously on cards and calendars so it’s a real blessing to see it used again!

2.  Ellen Andersen (SC): I had my first article published this month! It was in The Simpsonville Sentinel, a local paper in Simpsonville, SC. They liked it so much it was put in word for word!

3.  Dawn Mooring (GA): I am going to be a co-host for a new TV show called “The Christian View.” We air on Sept. 2nd on Chanel 57 in the Atlanta area or can be streamed via the website thechristianview.com. I’m so excited to represent the Lord and spread the word through modern day topics.

4.  Verna Bowman (PA): My first book, Crumbs Along the Broken Path was released by Ampelos Press in the beginning of May. It’s been an amazing opportunity to share God’s story that He has allowed me to be part of through the collection of personal stories, interviews, and speaking engagements. I invite you to visit my blog at www.vernabowman.com and check out the Book page!

Congratulations, writers! And friends, if you don’t see your name on this list, be sure to check back next week where we’ll have a new list of writing opportunities just for you!

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mogoAnd Who Earned a July Entry for the 2014 MoGo7000 Drawing for $100?

These CWD writers have earned a July entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cash!

#14: Joan – 20,452 words
#15: Susan Baganz - 32,677 words

#16: Jeanne Doyon – 7,675 words
#17: Linda Greer – 10,743 words

Woo-hoo! Congrats, friends! Keep up the good work and you’ll earn even more entries into the drawing.

Writers, want to know how you can qualify for the $100 challenge? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge here. It’s free and open to everyone all year long!

Okay, that does it for a fun-filled day at The Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me. I look forward to seeing you Friday as we open to His Word to hear His voice.

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Dena Dyer: Author of Wounded Women of the Bible, & Who Won Miriam Bradley’s Book?

First Up: Interview with Dena Dyer, Author of Wounded Women of the BibleDena Dyer headshot

What a joy to re-introduce my long-time friend, Dena Dyer. Dena was among my first guests way back in 2008, and she has certainly been busy since then. (You might want to check out Dena Dyer’s first interview at The Christian Writer’s Den here.) You can read her bio below, but I just want to let you know that as a speaker, writer, entertainer, actress, and humorist, she’s definitely a woman after my own heart!

Friends, don’t forget to leave a message for Dena and you’ll be in the Random.org drawing for a free book! Then be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner.

Welcome back, Dena! I’m so happy to have you back with us and to see what God has been doing in your life. Let’s start by letting the readers know the title and publisher of your latest book.

Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, is my latest book, written with my co-author and dear friend Tina Samples. Kregel Publishers released the book on July 1, 2013.

I LOVE the title of this book! What has the response been so far?

We’ve been so grateful that women have been reading the book and then buying several for friends. That was our prayer—that it would meet a deep need of women who’d been hurt (and that’s all of us!).  Several generous donors have helped us buy books for women in prisons and also women with disabled children at a “Joni and Friends” camp. This summer, we held our first online study for the book and we had ladies from all over the US who participated. And last but not least, we were thrilled to win a Golden Scroll award from Advanced Writers and Speakers for “Non-Fiction Book of the Year” this June. So God has been gracious to us.

Yes, I was so excited when I saw that Wounded Women of the Bible won a Golden Scroll award! Where did the idea for your book come from?

God literally woke Tina up in the middle of the night with the idea. For years, we had been praying for a project we could work on together–-since we both speak, sing and write–-and God nudged Tina to call me and ask me to come alongside her. I said yes, Greg Johnson of Wordserve Literary loved the idea when we pitched it to him, and we co-wrote the proposal over several months.

I’m currently working on a book with a co-writer and we live 1000 miles apart. I must say, it hasn’t been easy for us. I’m curious to know the process you used as co-writers.

Tina lives in Colorado and I reside in Texas, so we wrote our halves of each chapter separately and then combined them. Tina handled the Bible study/reflection half of each chapter, adding in parts of her testimony. I collected and edited modern-day women’s stories, wrote about my experiences, and combined our two separate parts into a cohesive whole.

We worked completely long-distance. Thank God for technology! Our communication happened via emails, phone calls and much prayer. From idea to completion took about three years. It was a long, difficult process, because we completely laid bare many wounds God was (and is) healing us from.

We were thrilled with the job Kregel Publishers did, from cover design to editing to back cover copy, and we were thrilled to share the final product with readers. We’ve also developed a retreat based on the book, and we’re praying for many future opportunities to spread the hope and healing of Jesus Christ.

Your story certainly gives me hope since we’ve been working on our book off and on for well over two years. Changing gears a little here, since we can’t cover everything in such a short interview, would you tell us the synopsis of your book? What do biblical women such as Hagar, Abigail, Martha, Bathsheba (among others) have in common with women today?Wounded Women of the Bible Dena Dyer cover

They’ve all been wounded by relationships, losses, or their own mistakes. In Wounded Women of the Bible, we as authors share fresh spiritual insights gleaned from ancient women who faced the same emotions and questions as contemporary women.

We also tell our own stories of healing, as well as those experienced by our friends and family members. Our prayer is that readers will find hope and strength for their own journeys as they view biblical women’s wounds through the lens of God’s grace.

I love that! What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

We know there are countless women who carry wounds from their past. However, many women feel isolated in their pain, believing that no one could possibly understand how they feel. It’s our fervent desire that Wounded Women of the Bible would touch the hearts of those desperate to find freedom and make them feel less alone.

As they read WWOB, we pray women (and men—because anyone can glean truths from the book!) will find a much-needed connection with biblical women, as well as with those who’ve shared their journeys to healing. In addition, it’s our prayer that readers of the book would come away changed—believing that God is powerful, loves them personally, and longs to heal them.

This is a much-needed book, Dena. Thank you to you and Tina Samples for working so long and hard to bring encouragement and hope to all of us. 

Friends, don’t forget to leave a message for Dena and you could win a free book. But you’ll have to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Speaker/author Dena Dyer’s books include Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Help When Life Hurts, Let the Crows’ Feet and Laugh Lines Come, and Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms. She serves as a contributing editor with The High Calling (www.highcalling.org). Visit her website (www.denadyer.com) to learn more.

Miriam Bradley cover Legacy~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of Book Winners, Who Won Miriam Bradley’s Book?

It’s Cathy Baker! Congratulations, Cathy! Now all you have to do is contact me with your mailing address and it’ll be right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, I know you want your own copies, so here are the direct Amazon links to Double Cousins and the Missing Watch, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Torn Map, Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure, and All I Have Needed: A Legacy for Life.

Thank you, friends, for joining me week after week. You have no idea how encouraging your visits are to me! Without you, there’d be no reason for me to even post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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

Vonda

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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 www.MiriamJonesBradley.com. 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 ellenegee@mac.com.

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!

Vonda

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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 http://www.libertyinchristministries.com/bible-studies.

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 patty@libertyinchristministries.com. To learn more about Patty Mason, her ministry, radio program, or about any of her books, visit her website at www.libertyinchristministries.com.

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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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!

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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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