Category Archives: Interviews

“Interviews with authors who have a heart for writers ”


Interview & Book Give Away with Cindy Sproles, Author of Mercy’s Rain, Part 2

Cindy Sproles headshot 2I could hardly wait to share Part 2 of my interview with Cindy Sproles, author of Mercy’s Rain. You might want to start with Part 1 of my interview with Cindy Sproles.

Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Cindy. All commenters to both last week’s and this week’s posts will be in the drawing for a free book! Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner. Now, let’s gather back around the kitchen table with Cindy.

I read your book, so I can attest to the fact that it’s not preachy. Tell us how you were able to weave a spiritual thread through Mercy’s Rain without hitting the reader over the head.

I allowed Mercy to ask the question over and over, “Why would a God who was worth a hoot, allow sucha thing?” She continually attacks God, calling Him cruel. The thread comes through love. Samuel (the preacher friend) and the Johnsons love Mercy into the hands of forgiveness. Today we spend so much time trying to PROVE God and prove we are right about God, when what we are commanded to do is LOVE. Once the seeds of love are planted, God will nurture it. The thread of the spiritual context is unconditional love, not trying to fix the person, but loving them into a place where they will allow God to fix them. Our example speaks loud. We should really pay closer attention to it.

Thank you. I needed to be reminded of that. Sounds like you’re committed to the importance of Christian fiction.  

There are Christians who think fiction is misguided. What better way to show redemption than through the eyes of a fictional character? Those characters can say, do, and feel the things we would never allow ourselves to do. People are touched by the stories. I get tickled when folks preach that Christian fiction is bad, when in the same breath they can tell you in detail the last movie they watched. Uh…99.5% of the movies they watch are…none other than fiction. At some point, we have to realize stories have changed the world, moved hearts, drawn people to Christ. There is nothing sweeter than an email from a reader who says, “I loved the story of Mercy. I’m not much on fiction, but this story forced me to stop and face my own demons.”  That is what we want to hear. Yes?

As Christians, we have a higher set of standards to adhere to when we write our fiction. The world tells us to “write where the reader is .  .  . ie, if they curse, stomp, slash or whatever, write it real in the words you would hear.” I disagree. Mercy’s story is hard. It’s filled with horrible abuse, but I never crossed the line. I did not use foul language. I did not draw every gory scene. I didn’t delve into the nastiness of rape. Instead Cindy Sproles Mercys Rain coverI wrote the emotion. When the reader felt Mercy’s agony, their own imagination wrote the graphic scenes. That drew the picture. We have a responsibility as writers to set the standards. One review in a major site said if this were a movie it would be rated R because of the topic . . . not because of the scenes written. So, we can dig down as writers and use emotion to paint a more vivid picture than nasty language or gory details. It’s much easier to write the foul language rather than challenge ourselves to dig deep into the emotion and tell the story.

I so agree! And if we have a problem with fiction or difficult topics, all we need to do is read the Bible! (Okay, now I’M the one standing on my soapbox!) You mentioned that you used the emotion of the characters to demonstrate the horror of sinful deeds. Without sharing any spoilers, what was the most emotional scene for you to write in your novel?

Oh, there are so many, but I think the burial of her baby. That said, you gotta read to find out why.

Oh yes, that was a gripping scene. One I won’t forget. My next question: Writers often desire to teach a lesson in and through their writing, but we as Christian writers also learn something. What was one thing you learned while writing Mercy’s Rain?

God constantly wears at me to be better. I’ve learned that God’s love is what heals. Even in my own life, I’ve made mistakes, had hardships, but God’s love has always healed.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

My voice. I’m very much a mountain girl. The dialect is second nature to me. The mountain folk of Appalachia are kind, gentle, and simple people. They’re truthful. So when I launch into tellin’ you all about my kin, it ain’t so hard to picture who they was or how they lived. A man had to work hard for his earnin’s and he had to pray hard for his survival. But they ain’t a soul alive who don’t find peace on summit of the mountain. They ain’t a soul livin’ who can stand on top of that mountain and stretch his arms up, scrapin’ his fingers against the door of heaven and not see God Almighty peering through the clouds. This is the mountains. Where the breeze carries the whisper of God and trees sing His words. A body just has to stand quiet like. Still. And listen. The good Lord’ll speak when a man chooses to listen and pay Him some mind. J

Oh, I love your voice, and look forward to more opportunities to read it. What’s on the horizon for you now?

I’m currently working on the next two books in the Appalachian Novel Series. I want to be a writer that listens to His call and writes the whispers He gently speaks into my ear, so we pray for good words and blessing.

Cindy Sproles booksigningAny chance you would share the first chapter of Mercy’s Rain with my friends?  

I’ll do one better. Here’s the link for the excerpt of the first three chapters of Mercy’s Rain. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you’ll take time to grab the book.

Wow, Cindy, thanks! Hey, did y’all catch that? You can click on that link and read the first three chapters of Mercy’s Rain—for FREE! So what are you waiting for?

Bio: Cindy Sproles is an author and speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is a conference teacher and speaker, working conferences all across the country. Her devotions are found in newspapers all over the eastern seaboard. Cindy is the executive Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireAFire.com. She is the author of four devotionals and compilations and her first fiction novel, Mercy’s Rain is now available. www.CindySproles.com

Thanks for Tweeting!

You’ve never read a novel like Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain! Win a book! @CindyDevoted #BookGiveaway on @VondaSkelton #MustRead (Click to Tweet)

Friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book from Cindy. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Hope to see you back on Friday!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Cindy Sproles, Author of Mercy’s Rain

Cindy Sproles headshot 2Wow, wow, wow. Friends, have I got an interview for you! Today’s guest is my long-time friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators grad, Cindy Sproles. Cindy and I met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and she’s been a dear friend ever since. You may know Cindy as director of Writer’s Advance Boot Camp or through ChristianDevotions.us or Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, but now I introduce her a master storyteller of unforgettable fiction. I’ve never read a book like her new novel, Mercy’s Rain. Never.

There were many important aspects to discuss related to this unusual book, and with having a 5th Tuesday this month, this was the perfect time to do a two-part interview. Be sure to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of Mercy’s Rain. Then return next week for Part 2.  And yes, if you post comments both weeks, you get TWO entries! (Be sure to return April 7 to see if you’re the winner.)

Okay, let’s get started. Welcome Cindy! You have a long career writing and teaching writing. Congratulations on your debut novel! Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

Thanks for having me. I’m a true born and raised mountain girl. Raised in the mountains of East Tennessee. I started writing seriously in my mid-40s. I always knew I wanted to write but I never afforded myself the privilege. I had a family, two jobs . . . there just didn’t seem to be time for frivolous ventures. But God piqued my interest, then called me. I listened, attended my first conference and the rest is history.

I know we didn’t talk about this, Cindy, but I want to include the back cover blurb for Mercy’s Rain so readers can get insight into the overall story. I hope you don’t mind. 

Mercy Roller was raised by a twisted father who wore the collar of a Pastor, and chose to be Jesus, judge, and jury, by his own appointment. Abused, broken and bitter, Mercy lifts the hand that takes the Pastor’s life. In one swift action, she becomes what she despises most about the Pastor. Now she seeks redemption. Can the unconditional love of a mountain preacher and his friends, guide Mercy to find peace?

Having read your book, I’m dying to know how you came up with the idea for Mercy’s Rain.

Funny what goes through your mind at 3 a.m. I had the title for Mercy’s Rain long before I had the story. But one morning I couldn’t sleep so I flipped on the television and got one of the old time, down home, spittin’ and hollerin’ preachers. It made me laugh, but I thought, “Wouldn’t he make a great bad guy?” I turned the channel and landed on a documentary (which to this day I still do not know the title of) but it was on sexual abuse in children under 7 years of age. It broke my heart. The more I thought on it the more I realized the perfect storm had formed. Mercy Roller was born.

You wear so many hats, how do you protect your personal writing time?Cindy Sproles Mercys Rain cover

Sometimes it’s hard. Between the ministry of Christian Devotions, the devotions that pour in, project management for LPC and editing, it gets testy. But I’ve learned, you make the time. And I do. When I write on my own, it’s restful for me. I do wear many hats, and I find myself not always having the sympathy for writers who whine they just don’t have time. If you love to write, and you know that is your calling – and you are serious — you make the time to be obedient and write. Folks make time for everything else. This is no exception. (I’m on my soapbox, aren’t I? Sorry.)

Was the transition from non-fiction to fiction an easy or challenging one for you?

It wasn’t hard, but it was different. I wanted to do fiction right and so I studied the fiction writers I love, Alton Gansky, Steven James, Ann Tatlock, Yvonne Lehman, Nicholas Sparks, DiAnn Mills, Francine Rivers. These folks are masters of the art. I’ve taken their classes at conferences, sucked in everything they taught, and it paid off. It was an adjustment to write fiction. I fell into all the first time fiction writers blunders, but I quickly learned. So it wasn’t hard, but it took practice. I still feel like I need practice. Fiction is a fun place to go to let go of all your inner fears, wild ideas, and imaginary friends. Just put them in a story.

Why did you choose the particular theme in Mercy’s Rain? What do you want your readers to gain from the book?

First off, Mercy’s Rain was not geared to the Christian Market. I wrote it to the secular market. There were a number of things I wanted to accomplish:

1) I wanted to thread the underlying idea of redemption and its availability to everyone. The Christian world’s television evangelists falling to sin and bearing it in a very public manner gave me an easy “in” to the secular market. That market of readers tend to call Christians hypocrites, so why not capitalize on their already established ideas? By their standards, who doesn’t love to hate a preacher?

Cindy Sproles booksigning2) I wanted to address two difficult subjects. The first to the Christian market: Worship your God Almighty, not your preacher. I’ve seen so many congregations crumble because they put their faith in the man, not God. I wanted to address this issue. Let me be clear. I don’t have a vendetta against ministers. I went to Bible College and married a minister. But I do want people to understand that preachers are men . . . men who can be equally as tempted, who can fall to sin, just like everyone else. I also want folks to know that just because they are preachers doesn’t mean they can’t have the same redemption you and I get. It’s a balance. And one that can easily tip either direction.

The other topic was one of child abuse. I was just broken-hearted to watch that documentary that morning and see infants murdered from the cruelty of their abusers. Maybe I could address it with a deep passion through the eyes of my character Mercy Roller. We see and hear about these types of abuse on a daily basis, but we choose to look the other way. I don’t want you to look the other way. I want you to be aware that these horrible things happen and it’s up to us to help find a way to stop it. I’ve had a lot of folks blast me over this subject. “How could someone who calls themselves a Christian be warped enough to write such trash?” My case in point. We don’t want to see this horrible state of affairs.

My husband and I watched a show called In an Instant this week. It was a horrible story of spousal abuse. Half way through the show I was in tears. This stuff REALLY happens. It wasn’t a figment of this poor woman’s imagination. She was nearly killed. So call me warped if you like, but Christian or not, we have to open our eyes to this and become active in working together with authorities, doctors, and support groups, to find legal and appropriate ways to combat abuse to both women and children.

3) Finally, I wanted the world to understand that Christians ask God the same questions – Why do you allow these horrible things to happen? But it is through our deeper relationship with Him that we see God is present in every situation. That’s what sets us apart. Faith, trust in the higher power of Christ. God doesn’t create the sin, but He is ever present, even when we do not see the reasons why. I feel sure God cries at the atrocities some can concoct.

My goodness, Cindy, I can’t imagine how difficult it was to go through the emotion of writing Mercy’s Rain. Thank you for your faithfulness to bring such difficult subjects to the forefront for Christian readers.

Friends, I hope you’ll return next week to see the conclusion of this interview as we see more of the hows and whys Cindy wrote Mercy’s Rain as she did.

AND there’ll be a special gift for everyone who returns next week–you don’t want to miss it!

Thanks for Tweeting!

I’m sorry but Twitter and/or ClickToTweet are on the blink this morning, so here’s a Tweet you can copy and paste into Twitter, if you would, please. Thank you!

You’ve never read a novel like Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain! @CindyDevoted #BookGiveaway @VondaSkelton #MustRead http://bit.ly/1ELi2tB

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Interview and Book Give-Away with Donn Taylor & We’re Celebrating Kudos!

Donn Taylor portraits 12/7/07First, let me introduce Donn Taylor…

I can’t remember the year, but I’ll never forget the sight. I was at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, walking through the lobby, when I saw Donn and Mildred Taylor for the first time. They walked toward me, holding hands like high school sweethearts. It didn’t take long to realize that I would rarely see them when they weren’t holding hands!. Once I even walked into my classroom to discover Donn at the piano, Mildred listening intently in a chair, eyes closed. They were both enjoying the music and each other. It was beautiful.

I wondered if Gary and I would still be holding hands when we’ve been married that long. So far we are!

So today I’m thrilled to Donn Taylor to you today. You’ll learn about his writing and achievements as you read his interview, but I want to go on record as saying Donn Taylor is truly a gentleman and a scholar. He’s also a mentor, an encourager, and he loves his Mildred and his Lord.

Be sure to leave a comment for Donn and you’ll be in the drawing for next week’s give-away of his book. Now, let’s get started!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Donn. Would you first tell us something about your writing journey?Lightning Cover - 300dpi

Thanks for having me! My writing journey followed more twists and turns than a snake on a mountain railroad. In my college years I wrote some fairly good poems and considered a Western novel titled Lightning on a Quiet Night. The Korean War killed that project before it got past the precipitating incident. So the next two decades of Army brought only bare-facts tech writing, and after that came graduate school and the painful switch to bloviated academic writing—and in both situations no time for creative writing. Two decades after grad school I retired from college teaching (English lit) and decided to see if I could write the kind of poetry I enjoyed teaching. That point proved, I returned to the old ambition of publishing a novel. It took longer than I expected to convert from literary thinking to commercial-fiction thinking. That first novel—The Lazarus File—took a couple of years to finish. It was published in 2002, and it’s still selling as an e-book.

Did you ever return to the Western you thought of in college?

Yes and no. After Lazarus, I learned there was a Christian market. So I resurrected the title Lightning on a Quiet Night and its precipitating incident. But I set this novel in Northeast Mississippi soon after WW II. The focus changed to examine a small town too proud of its virtues having to come to grips with its first murder. That theme alone could get pretty dull, but it mostly hovers in the background while the story follows a romance, the sheriff’s search for the murderer, and teenagers playing various pranks. In the process, though, the novel covers a fairly wide variety of Christian experience. Begun earlier, it’s just now published. Thanks to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for accepting a novel that combines several genres.

The-Lazarus-File_cover-300x400Describe some of the techniques that make your writing distinctive. How did you learn them?

I learned capsulization the hard way. I wasted a whole day writing a painstaking description of an upper-class Colombian home. The next day I captured it in one sentence: “The Rocas received Mark in a room whose graceful décor spoke equally of solemn tradition and spontaneous laughter.” Since then I try to find the capsule first. From Shakespeare I learned to take the reader quickly from comedy into pathos. From Robert Heinlein and classic movies I learned to lighten suspense with momentary comic elements. Heinlein mentioned, in passing, a zoologist named Tiergarten (German for zoo); in my WIP I mention an oncologist named J. Carson Oma. And some of my minor characters speak in clichés but never get them right: “The grass is greener when you are not straddling the fence.” Well, that’s what I try to do. I guess the readers receive it okay because they haven’t yet thrown tomatoes.

I love the combination of pathos and comedy. I’m working hard on that in my current WIP. You’re writing for the Christian market, so you need to stay connected with God. How do you do that?

Honestly, I don’t always make it. Mildred, my wife, taught me to set aside a time for prayer and reading scripture, usually before starting any serious work. But off and on during the day I do quick prayers, often for people with problems, and I always conclude with prayer at night. Joanne Hillman’s Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear the Shepherd’s Voice added a new dimension to my prayer life.1964 Mildred & Donn Taylor

Besides your day of salvation, what is the happiest day in your life?

No contest on that. It was the day Mildred and I married (August 21, 1952). We never wanted anything more on this earth than just to be together. John Milton says it best: “The world was all before them, where to choose/ Their place of rest, and Providence their guide . . .”

You always speak of Mildred with such love and respect. A great tip for all of us. So what is the best tip you can give someone just beginning to write fiction?

Two important items. The first is patience: It always takes longer than you think it’s going to. Second, learn the craft: Don’t be too proud to learn basic rules of grammar and punctuation. (I was stubborn, but students sent me to the grammar books so often that I finally learned.)

Thank you, Donn! I know I’m not the only one who enjoyed your insight and stories. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment, then check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Thanks for Tweeting!

Author & poet DonnTaylor3 shares tips for writers at VondaSkelton’s Christian Writer’s Den. You could win a free book! (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD degree and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. He has published four novels and a book of poetry, and is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics. You can find Donn on the Web: www.donntaylor.com (includes contact info) www.facebook.com/donntaylor; www.facebook.com/authordonntaylor; www.twitter.com/donntaylor3.

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celebration - MorguefileAnd now let’s celebrate with these Christian Writer’s Den friends!

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

1.  Cherrilyn Bisbano (RI): Cheryl has two great things to share! First of all, she started a new blog  January 1, 2015. Check out her Pelican Promise blog at http://pelicanpromise.blogspot.com  Also, Cherrilynn gives God the glory for three upcoming speaking engagements. She’ll be at: Cape Cod March 27-28 and at Singing Hills Campground April 24-26 & November 12-15.
2.  Tammy Blackburn (NC): Tammy has a new children’s book. How Do I Know? is a picture book and is available on Amazon. You can find out more about Tammy at her website, www.TammyBlackburn.com.

3.  Azuka Chinonso Igwegbe: Please celebrate with me for the success of my first book
titled, Crushed But Not Destroyed. It’s a book worth reading at this season.

Congratulations, Cherrilynn, Tammy, and Chinonso! And if you didn’t have a new success to share, be sure to come back next week when I’ll have a new collection of writing opportunities and contests for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview and Book Give-Away with Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia Simmons headshotHappy 4th Tuesday! I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, author and speaker Cynthia L. Simmons, to you. We met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Cynthia is not a newbie to writing. As the writer of articles, devotions, and interviews for regional and national periodicals and devotionals, author of Women Who Overcame, and writing instructor, she has a lot to offer all of us!

Today we’re talking about her book, Women Who Overcame. Be sure to leave a comment for Cynthia and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book!

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Cynthia. Thanks for joining us today. Let’s start with a question all writers love to talk about: Why did you start writing?

I’m a homeschool mother with five kids. My youngest suffers from multiple disabilites. Learning to teach a disabled child and juggle a busy family brought lots of stress. When I got discouraged, God brought along stories from history to encourage me. Finally the Lord kept calling my attention to the verses in 2 Corinthians chapter one. The writer, the apostle Paul, told us that “the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” I began writing in order to give away the encouragement God gave me.

How did you get interested in history?

Years ago I visited the Smithsonian and went through an exhibit on how women impacted politics. Usually history revolves around men, so the material aroused my curiosity. I started to read biographies of the presidents’ wives. From there I purchased diaries and letters written by women in various time periods.

That sounds very interesting, but I’m curious: Why would a modern day woman want to read your book?

Even though these women lived years ago, they had the same feelings and struggles we have today. In fact, at times I found myself crying while immersed in a letter or diary. In addition, Women Who Overcame contains believers and unbelievers. I wanted women to see the contrast. I believe they’ll agree with me that walking by faith is the best way to live.

When I first started reading your book, I have to admit I was surprised that there were both Christians and non-Christians in it. Why do you say faith in Christ improves the lives of women?

First, women who trust in God don’t have to rely on their cunning. The apostle Peter said we have a ‘living hope.’ Our Savior is alive and making intercession for us. When hard times come, the Spirit intercedes for us to the Father. I think as women read my book, they’ll see these truths illustrated in the stories of women who believed.Cynthia Simmons WWO cover

You’re right–that’s exactly what happened as I read it! So, I’m curious: What is historical in these stories and what is fiction?

Each of these women actually lived, but when you study historical women, you find gaps in the story. Women stayed in the background while men had center stage. Even prominent women left behind few personal writings. I filled in the missing data with my imagination. In fact, I could have called this book creative nonfiction, since it’s as accurate as I could make it.

What is your current project? I’m working on a study guide for Women Who Overcame for churches to use in their women’s groups. It will be a twelve week Bible study and will have daily assignments. The student will be immersed in Scripture as they seek the answers to various issues raised in the stories.

That sounds like a great companion to your book, Cynthia. I hope to see it published soon, too! Thank you for being with us and sharing a little about your journey

And readers, be sure to leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win a free copy. Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you won!

Thanks for Tweeting!

#Women Who Overcame – Interview & Free Book w/ @CynthiaLSimmons via @VondaSkelton #amwriting http://bit.ly/1DOIgfk (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Cynthia L. Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She taught for over twenty-five years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, ECLA magazine, Christian Devotions.us, and BookFun Magazine.  Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director.  “Cyndi” has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year.  She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio for women seeking the elegance of God’s wisdom.  To listen to her broadcasts, visit her website: www.clsimmons.com

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Interview & Book Give-Away, Kudos and MoGo7000 Results

Sheri Levy and dogsI’m thrilled to share Sheri Levy and her new book, Seven Days to Goodbye, with you today! Normally, this is where I tell you how I met Sheri, but she did such a good job in her interview that we’ll just let her explain it all!

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

Sheri, welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den. Let’s start with an easy question: What inspired you to write?

For years I taught special education and tried to find the key to each child’s learning potential. Most of my students didn’t have a reading environment at home and it became my goal to instill their love of books. Each morning the students anticipated the continuation of a chapter book I read at the end of each day. They’d lean forward in their desks, hanging on to each word I read. When I retired, remembering their delight motivated me to write for children. I took my first pages to a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) conference and discovered quickly, writing a book was different than writing a letter or an academic paper. I signed up for classes, discussions on writing, and met Vonda Skelton.

I remember that day very well! What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Beginning to write brought feelings of insecurity, questions–if this was a worthwhile desire? The biggest change in my life was writing for hours at a time, and giving-up free time with friends and my husband. I have kept my promise of turning off the computer at 5:00, most evenings! Receiving rejections broke my spirit. Luckily, after hearing Vonda speak about her rejections, and how she bounced back and continued sending them, I realized rejection was part of the writing career. She gave me hope, inspired me to work hard, and not give up.

I’m so glad that encouraged you, Sheri! How do you stay motivated?

I’d not be writing if it wasn’t for friends, new acquaintances, and my critique buddies supporting me. Once again, Vonda reached out to me. Was this a coincidence, or was God stepping in? Vonda knew I was writing about service dogs and she sent me an email. Her editor with Clubhouse Magazine wanted a story about a service dog that had changed a child’s life. I had already met Hayden, an eleven-year-old boy, walking with his Diabetic Alert dog in Walmart, and had interviewed him, completed his story, and was starting to query. After one revision, “Scent with Love” was published in Clubhouse Magazine, July, 2010. Another online friend, Sheila Webster Boneham, PhD, encouraged me to join the Dog Writers Association contest. In 2011, “Scent with Love” won a nomination for a Maxwell Medallion and won in their Special Interest category. Having my first article published was a thrill and a confidence builder.

How did Seven Days to Goodbye find publication?Sheri Levy book cover

I read about Barking Rain Press being open for submissions. I researched them, sent my query, and received a request for the entire manuscript. I had done this a number of times with no results, so I waited. Months later, while drinking coffee and watching the Today Show, I scrolled through my emails on my phone and noticed BRP’s name. I clicked on their email and read it. I lost my breath, handed the phone to my husband, and had him read the message out loud. The rest is history!

My young-YA novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, is my heart book. With permission, I share Carol Baldwin’s description from her October blog.

“What do you get when you mix together a week on Edisto Island with a puppy raiser and her best friend connecting to guys for the first time, protecting a loggerhead turtle’s nest, finding her service dog relating to a young boy with autism, and agonizing over what comes next. You get the ingredients for Seven Days to Goodbye.” Carol Baldwin

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

Writers need a thick skin. After the story is completed and revised, send it to reputable blogs that generate contests and critiques. My favorites are Adventures in YA Publishing and Pitch Wars.

Take a break from the computer–do normal activities, allowing your brain to think and create.

Do Not Give Up! Start something new. Change Genres. But keep writing!

Great tips, Sheri! Thanks again for being with us today and sharing your writing journey with us. Best wishes for much success for your book!

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

Bio: Sheri Levy taught Special Ed for sixteen years, a Family Learning Program for nine years, and continues to tutor students once a week. She has two amazing adult children, two brilliant grand boys, and after raising four other dogs, now has two younger Australian Shepherds. Her most favorite activities besides reading and writing are her dogs, having her toes in a sandy beach, music, movies and ice cream. www.sherislevy.com

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Who do we get to celebrate with today?

Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den writers for doing the work and finding success!

1.  Cathy Baker (SC): My story on a past miscarriage will be included in Chicken Soup of the Soul: Hope & Miracles, on sales February 10. (Vonda here: That’s TODAY! What a great way to celebrate with you!)

2.  Tammy Whitehurst (TX): 1)The United Methodist Publishing House just bought a 5th article from me. 2)I also wrote and sold a greeting card to Warner Press. 3)And I have been invited to speak at Gatesville Women’s Prison again. There is nothing that compares to it! I invite all of you to my daily devotional on Facebook. The page is filled with giggles and grins and a whole lot of God! Connect on FB at https://www.facebook.com/JoyForTheJourneyMinistry

3.  Beth Fortune (SC): 1)I had two more devotions accepted at ChristianDevotions.us; 2)I had another article accepted in Reach Out Columbia; 3)I was recently a guest blogger at the Christian Communicators blog!

Congratulations to these writers! Don’t see your own name on the list? Be sure to check back next week when I’ll have a whole new list of writing opportunities!

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Who were the first ones to earn entries into the 2015 MoGo7000 drawing for $100?

#1: Joan Hall – 7,055 words
#2: Suan Baganz – 16,866 words

Congratulations, Joan and Susan! You’re both off to a great start! And readers, don’t forget, every month you write at least 7000 new words on a book project, you can earn an entry. So what are you waiting for? Get to work!

And if you’re interested in finding out how you might win $100, check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page.

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Thanks for joining me today. Without you, it’d be a pretty lonely place. I appreciate you and pray for you and your work.

Blessings,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Lori Hatcher

Lori Hatcher-1Hello, friends! Welcome to another Christian Writer’s Den author interview. Today’s guest is my friend and Christian Communicators grad, author and speaker Lori Hatcher. Lori’s new book, Hungry for God, Starving for Time: 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women, has just been released. And she’s here to tell us about her journey!

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

Welcome, Lori. Let’s start with an easy question: Why write a five-minute devotional for busy women?

Because I know how hard it is for women to carve out time for God. I’m a wife, a mother, I work outside (and inside) the home, I volunteer at church, the list goes on and on. There are days when I want to spend time with God, but I’m not sure how to fit it in. I wanted to create a resource that would help busy women connect with God wherever they find five minutes for quiet reflection—carpool lines, break rooms, yes, even the bathroom, although you won’t find that on my book jacket!

Sounds like a book we all could use! What three words would you say summarize your writing style?

Transparent, quirky, and relevant.

I totally agree! In your book, each devotion begins with a Facetime question. Tell us about that.

I was always the kid who asked why? I guess I never completely grew up, because I’m still asking why? Facetime questions are questions a woman would like to ask God if she could see him face to face. They’re usually questions I’ve asked myself, like God, this is so broken, does it do any good to pray? or God, nobody  notices what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? Some of the Facetime questions are lighthearted, like God, I’m having a bad hair day. What can I do to feel better about myself? Others are serious, like God, I can’t believe she said that to me. Why shouldn’t I respond the same way? The five-minute devotion that follows is the answer to the question—based on Scripture and wrapped in a real-life story busy women will relate to.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Readers ask me that often, and I tell them, “I’ve been gathering material for 50 years.” I never know what life experience or memory the Holy Spirit is going to pull out when he rummages around in the back of my mind looking for something to connect a scriptural principle to. Sometimes I’m entirely unprepared for what He dredges up. It just goes to prove that nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

Which is your favorite devotion?

Hm. It’s probably a tie between “The Day the Car Caught Fire” and “Skinny White Woman.” Although you won’t find the second title in the book. My editor made me change it to “An Inheritance from Grandmother Eve,” but it will always be “Skinny White Woman” in my mind.

What’s your best reader response to your book?Cover HungryForGod

I love hearing that people are buying the book to give to non-Christian or nominally-Christian friends. The “busy woman” focus makes it less scary. People know that I share the Gospel in the last devotion, called “Hopeless in the Chocolate Factory,” and they see it as a non-threatening way to share their faith with someone they care about by giving them my book.

“Hopeless in the Chocolate Factory,” now that’s an intriguing title for a devotion. Tell me about it.

That devotion is based on the old I Love Lucy show where Lucy and Ethel were stuck on the assembly line packaging chocolates. The harder they worked, the more behind they got until they were completely overwhelmed, ineffective, and hopeless. That pretty much describes our lives without Christ. It’s the perfect segue into the Gospel.

I love that analogy! So, who’s been your toughest critic?

My mom. She’s also been one of my best encouragers, but she’s not a reader. She just doesn’t enjoy it. Two days after I gave her the beta copy of Hungry for God, she called me to tell me she had taken it to bed with her. Before she knew it, she’d read half the book. She finished it the next night.

Okay, one last question before we go. What’s one detail about your book you’d like our readers to know?

These aren’t cotton candy devotions. I ask hard questions, and God has given me good answers. I like to describe Hungry for God like a spiritual power bar—solid, biblical nutrition to get you through the day.

A spiritual power bar! Great comparison! Thanks for being with us today, Lori. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Hungry for God, Starving for Time.

Bio: Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. She’s the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, works part time as a Registered Dental Hygienist, and homeschooled her daughters “from birth to college.” She’s authored two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook (Hungry for God), Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or by email (LoriAHatcher@gmail.com). www.LoriHatcher.com

Check out the YouTube Book Promo, filmed at the Christian Communicators ADVANCED Conference:

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Linda Goldfarb, Kudos, & Who Won $100 in the MoGo7000 Challenge?

Linda Barn headshotWow, do we have a jam-packed day today! First up: Linda Goldfarb…

Friends, you can’t imagine how excited I am to introduce Linda Goldfarb to you! As you’ll see in the interview, we go wayyyy back to our much earlier days of writing and speaking. We’ve both experienced the joys and sorrows of living the writer/speaker life…and we wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Be sure to leave a comment for Linda and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her new Bible study, Loving the ME God Sees. Don’t forget to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Okay, let’s get started! Linda, welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den. You and I go way back to the Glorieta Christian Writer’s Conference days, also as trainers with CLASSEMINARS Inc., and I was a guest on your radio show, Not Just Talkin’ the Talk, many years ago. We’ve shared a lot of road on our journey and now you’ve released your first Bible study. These are exciting times!

Ha ha, yes we have so many stories we could talk about for sure, Vonda! Thank you for the opportunity to be here with your readers, it’s an honor for me to be on the other end of the interview especially with you as the host!Loving the Me God Sees cover Linda Goldfarb

What inspired you to write a Bible study for women on Relational Transparency in Loving the ME God Sees?

Seriously, I never had the intention of writing a book, let alone a Bible study. I’m one of those speakers who writes magazine articles, online columns, personal/professional blogs, and yes, I have co-authored an eBook with Kim Garrison called, The Art of The Interview: Before, During, and After the Interview Strategies for Writers, Speakers, and Leaders, but a Bible study was never on my radar.

If it’s okay with you Vonda, I’d like to touch on two concepts leading to my book; our fear of exposure…or being transparent, and God’s will for our best.

Transparency is something we usually run away from, and being truthful, I ran from it with style. As a professional speaker/actress, I had the knack to disguise hurt, pain, shame, and low self-esteem with humor, a quick wit, redirection and if need be, withdrawing from situations that made me vulnerable to exposure. You’re a great actress yourself, so I’m sure you know where I’m coming from.

Linda Goldfarb communicationI knew there were things in my life, my past, that I had to face or let go of, but covering it up and using humor seemed more Christian-like—I became very comfortable with the phrase, “I’m fine. Everything is good. No worries.” Over the years of speaking and coaching I realized women around the globe suffered as I did…especially women in the church.

Several years ago, God’s will brought me face-to-face with our mutual friend, Georgia Shaffer. Without going into a lot of detail concerning our discussion at a CLASS Seminar event, Georgia’s words, “Linda, until you allow others to see your pain, you are limiting God’s impact on their lives and yours” struck me hard.

My gut reaction to her words put me in a defense mode, “Seriously Georgia, people don’t want to hear about my hurts, my pain, my challenges. They want to laugh and be entertained. People really don’t care.”

I walked away from our meeting with an unpleasant taste in my mouth and an unsettling feeling in my heart. Georgia was right. You see, in truth, I was very afraid to be real. Afraid of what others might think. I’m a professional; I should have it all together, right?

I’ve found God’s will is most evident in the scary moments of our lives. When we’re asked to step out on that unseen bridge of faith trusting Him more than we fear the world.Linda Goldfarb affirmation

Would you share with my friends the story of how the book came to be published?

In September of 2009 during my morning quiet time, God prompted me to write a Bible study. What transpired over the next two months is too long to share during this interview, let’s just say I had a two-by-four spiritual awakening to God’s best for me.

I began writing and teaching, at that time the study was called Walking Faith-Full, based on the Book of James. God literally provided seven women who met with me faithfully over the course of 13-weeks to complete the study. After that we opened the study to my church. At one point the women attending asked for the study title to be changed, as walking faith-full didn’t quite hit the mark. The result was Loving the ME God Sees.

In 2014, I approached our friend Cheri Cowell of Living Parables Inc/EABooks. about publishing the study as a POD and eBook. Her team worked with me all through the process and I love the results.

My encouragement to your readers: don’t allow your fears to overshadow God’s best in your life. If His will is for you to write a book, an article, a Bible study or whatever, be alert to life and He will affirm your calling. Then walk boldly through the door He opens trusting He has His best waiting around the corner… never give up.

Warrior Sisters Linda GoldfarbI just love that story! And I love Cheri Cowell, too. :-) A two-by-four moment, isn’t that just like God? Now, before we go, would you tell us what’s next for you?

I’m still speaking at retreats and emceeing events as the Lord allows. As a board certified Christian life coach, I’m blessed to work with women, couples, and parents helping them grow from good living to God’s best life. My hubby, Sam and I co-teach Parenting Awesome Kids in our church each week and I’m also writing a couple more books. One for my sisters-in-Christ called, His Warrior Sisters: Standing Strong for Faith, Family & Freedom, and the second is the I CARE Guide for Parents: Bite-sized Child-caring Principles for Busy Parents.

Thanks for being with us today, Linda. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book, Loving the ME God Sees. Just check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: As a national speaker and board certified life coach, Linda Goldfarb empowers women, parents & grandparents to move forward with hope & possibility when life changes. Linda is the author of Loving the ME God Sees: Peeling Back the Layers to Experience a Heart of Transparency. She has over 200 published articles covering physical, relational, and spiritual wellness. Linda is the mother of four adult children, Maw-Maw to six-grandies, and wife to her incredible partner in ministry, Sam. She is the Women’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Church of Universal City, Texas, and founder/instructor of Parenting Awesome Kids. Linda loves her life in the Texas hill country where she and Sam reside with four country dogs! www.Lindagoldfarb.com linda@lindagoldfarb.com

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It’s time to celebrate YOU with our Christian Writer’s Den Kudos!

Congratulations to the following CWD friends who’ve been doing the work and finding success:

1. Cheryl Barker (KS): My article “From Generation to Generation” appeared in the December issue of War Cry. Also, my article “Verbs of the Proverbs 31 Woman” was accepted for publication by Evangel, and my article “Propelled by Mother Love” was accepted for publication in the upcoming spring issue of The Lutheran Digest.

2. Brenda McGraw (SC): Brenda began her blog, AskGodToday.com, in 2013, but in recent months has added some excellent writers to her line-up.

3. Dr. Michelle Bengtson (TX): Michelle is offering a free webinar, “10 Tips to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues” on Tuesday, January 27 at 7:30pmCT. Click here to register for “10 Tips to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues.”

4. Sheri Levy (SC): Sheri’s YA novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, was released in the fall. (I’m so sorry I apparently missed including this earlier. Please forgive me!) You can read more about the book at Sheri’s website and here’s a link to her book trailer

Congratulations, Cheryl, Brenda, Michelle, and Sheri! And friends, if you need help finding success in publishing, be sure to return next week when I’ll be sharing writing opportunities and conferences with you!

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And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . . Who won the 2014 MoGo7000 Challenge?

Well, before I announce the winner, let me share some exciting statistics with you:

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  1. Would you believe over half a million new words were written on book projects and reported by Christian Writer’s Den friends in 2014? The grand total was 517,772 words!
  2. Nine writers participated in the 2014 challenge.
  3. I know several books came out of these months of writing, but I don’t know how many.
  4. And I know one writer is going to be $100 richer. :-)

Congratulations to all the writers who worked hard and made progress in their book projects this year!

So, are you ready to see who won $100 to spend as desired? Drum roll, please…Random.org says the winner of the 2014 MoGo7000 Challenge is…

Joan Hall!

Woo-hoo, Joan! Congratulations! Now, I just need you to contact me with your snail mail address and I’ll get that check right out to you!

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Don’t forget–the 2015 MoGo7000 Challenge is now underway! You could write a book this year and possibly win $100, too!

That’s right, the MoGo7000 Challenge is open to everyone, and it’s free! Check out the page for complete details, but the bottom line is I want to help you write your book this year, and one of the best ways I know to do it is to entice you with cash. :-)

It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s all for you. Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge details and then get to work. Every month you can win an entry. The more months you meet the challenge, the more entries you receive.

So what are you waiting for?

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Well, that’s it for another Celebration Tuesday. I hope you’ve been encouraged today to write the words you were created to write!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give Away with Allison Flexer

Allison Flexer HeadShotHappy almost-New Year, my friends! Wow, what a whirlwind few weeks it has been! As a matter of fact, what a whirlwind YEAR it has been. Do I hear an amen?

I’m thrilled to slow down, take a breath, and introduce Allison Flexer to you. Allison and I met while I was teaching at Writers Advance Boot Camp a couple of years ago, and I was immediately intrigued by her book idea. And so was the editor at Beacon Hill Press! Be sure to read her amazing story of how God blessed her with a book contract and a husband…all in the same year!

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

Allison, welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den. Let’s get started with the first question: What inspired you to write a book for single women?

My journey of prolonged singleness was difficult, especially in my thirties. I believed I was doing all the right things, but my dating relationships never resulted in marriage for one reason or another. I prayed for a husband for a really long time and found myself losing hope.

In 2008, I quit my corporate job to take some time off. During those months, I rediscovered my love of writing. God led me on a healing journey through blogging and writing as he showed me the lies I had allowed to subconsciously creep into my life:

“No one has chosen me, so I’m not worthy to be chosen.”

“There is something wrong with me.”

“God has forgotten about me.”

I began writing about the lies I believed and sought truth from the Bible so I would be armed to fight these lies marching through my mind. Over the course of about four years, that healing journey turned into what is now Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman.

What do you believe is the most damaging lie that single Christian women believe?Allison Flexer book cover tlsw

Believing lies instead of truth is a struggle we all have in common, regardless of marital status. Vonda, I know you’re familiar with this topic and wrote about lies in your book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe. Although it’s difficult to rank them, I believe the lies about our sense of value or self-worth affect almost every other area of our lives and are critical to understand. The first half of Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman mainly addresses lies that impact our relationship with God.

The truth about our identity in Christ—we are accepted, love, valuable beyond measure—combats these lies. Once we know we’re fully loved and accepted by Christ, we can better counteract some of the other issues, like the temptation to settle or believing something is wrong with us.

What do you think married people commonly misunderstand about singleness?

I believe many married people, especially those who got married at a young age, don’t realize how difficult singleness can be. It’s tough to do life alone. In the book, I talk about how being single and going on dates during my mid-thirties made me feel childish in comparison to the big life changes my friends were experiencing, things like marriage and babies. Even though singleness definitely has perks—your schedule is completely your own and you can eat popcorn for dinner every night if you want—we shouldn’t overlook its challenges.

I want my friends to hear the story of how the book came to be published. Would you mind sharing it? 

I’d love to! In 2013, I was engaged and planning my wedding. I hadn’t pursued publication for the book in quite some time. It was mostly complete, but I had been rejected by many publishing houses and thought it wasn’t God’s plan for the book to be published.

Out of the blue, I received a call from Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. They had been interested in the book years before, but nothing came of it. A new editor found my old proposal and called me about it. I sent her the manuscript to read. In August 2013, I was in the middle of my “trial run” with a stylist for my wedding hair and makeup. The editor called me and said, “We want to publish your book. I’m sending you a contract.”

After all that time, I couldn’t believe my ears. I was overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s plan. I got married and signed a book contract in the same year. So many answers to prayer in such a short time!

I just love that story! God not only blessed you with a husband when you least expected it AND with a contract after you thought that door had been closed. Isn’t that just like God?

Now, before we go, would you tell us what’s next for you?Allison Flexer photo

I’m beginning to book speaking engagements for 2015 and plan to work on building that side of my ministry. I love to encourage women with truth from God’s Word and help them see their great value in God’s eyes. I’m considering my next book project as well. Since I’ve now been married just over one year, I might work on Truth, Lies, and Newlyweds! I would also like to write a devotional book in the future. In the meantime, I’m a regular contributor at SingleMatters.com and also love to connect with readers on my website/blog: AllisonFlexer.com.

Thank you for joining us today, Allison. I pray God’s richest blessing on your book and your marriage!

And readers, if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman, be sure to leave a comment and then check back next week to see if you won. And if you can’t wait to get your own copy, here’s a direct Amazon link to Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman.

Bio: Allison K. Flexer is an author, speaker, and blogger who is passionate about communicating the love of God to others. Her first book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press), tells the story of her single journey and gives practical steps for letting go of the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women. Allison was also a contributing writer for Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman. You can connect with Allison on her website at www.allisonflexer.com or on Twitter: @allisonkflex. Book’s website: www.SingleWomanBook.com

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Marie Senter and Kudos & MoGo7000 Results

Marie Senter headshotToday is the 2nd Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to talking with author Marie Senter and celebrating your successes!

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Interview with Marie Senter

Marie and I first met at the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference where I was her writing coach as part of the Get Published Now seminar. She brought a rough copy of the true story of the time she, as an industrial nurse, saved the life of a severely injured worker. She worked hard on the piece and turned it into a print-worthy article.

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

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Marie! I’ll never forget how thrilled I was to meet another RN who’s also a writer.

Thank you for having me. As a nurse, I’m still asking myself Cec Murphey’s question: Am I a nurse who writes, or am I a writer who nurses? My answer is, “YES!” I love nursing, and it gives me the economic base to support my writing. Both are God-given passions.

I know what those passions feel like and agree that they’re both God-given! So how long have you been writing?

Mom and Dad would read to us six kids and encouraged us to write our own plays. I believe reading is essential to writing. The combination of memory, wild imagination and the ability to correlate the unrelated defines my style. For instance, one of my high school English assignments turned into a story read over the local 50,000 watt radio station every Christmas Eve for many years.

A high school writing assignment at Christmas time?

Yes, I used a well-known story about a baby born in a stable and placed in a manger. The difference is that my story is told by the straw in the manger with appropriate hay-seed phrases. It has been printed in two different church advent booklets. I’m told it is still part of many Christmas Eve family gatherings.

The Christmas story told by the straw? Now that’s a unique POV! Is your writing confined to short stories?TRESTLE Book One Classroom Edition

The 3-by-5 spiral notebook with my first childhood adaptations still exists. The poems I’ve written have rhyme, rhythm, and a storyline, such as “Suicide” (a college friend), and “A Woman Is…” (ideals plus reality). Twice, newspapers printed my reviews of locally produced musicals, and twice, obituaries: My first husband, diagnosed with leukemia, went heavenward 22 months after our marriage. Our story of life and his death is the lead story in I Believe in Heaven, the recent Cec Murphey/Twila Belk book. Five years later, I wrote a second obituary when a blood clot broke loose, and I became a widow again. Chicken Soup for the Soul printed the story I adapted when my sister encountered breast cancer.

What writing projects have you written and what are you working on now?

Following the example of a petite, gifted author from South Carolina who mentored me at my first big writers’ conference, and with encouragement to “write what you know,” I am polishing Book Three of a mystery trilogy for kids. My mentor wrote of a girl from a loving family who managed to get into and out of situations that skirted disaster. My adaptation is the Trestle over No Name Creek series set in any small town, l960. Junior high kids form a gang and survive “normal for l960” society, culture, and grown-up attitudes. Once chapter one is absorbed, the next chapters build until the very last pages answer the mystery: In Book One, was old man Frank’s death an accident, or was their dark-skinned old friend’s death a murder?  Book Two combines a reclusive old man and a l960’s delinquent with the Meanderthallers in the middle. Book Three―read it and “go figure.” Written for school kids of all ages, the series has no test questions. Instead, the back of each book has an insert with chapter-by-chapter Research Projects. Example: “What’s a trestle?”

This sounds like an interesting series for kids. You must have had a wise mentor! (Hahahaha!) I’m thrilled to see Trestle Over No Name Creek: Book Two has just been released in Kindle version. Congrats!

And our last question: Would you tell us the quick version of your road to publication of your novels?

three books illusAll the writers’ conferences I attended, the publishers, agents, and interviews resulted in zero interest. So once again, d.D.i.–direct Divine intervention–stepped in. It came in the form of a local man who had survived a heart attack, had his books rejected, who then studied Publishing101, and formed his own publishing house. He walked up to me at a local writers’ group and said he wanted to publish my book. After prayer and research, I accepted. My editor is a lifetime Bible teacher friend who has “caught my voice” and shares her gifts of placing punctuation where I do dot-dot-dot.

Yes, I’m very familiar with your dot-dot-dot form of punctuation. :-) We writers are thankful for our editors, aren’t we? Thank you again for being with us today, Marie. Blessings as you continue Book Three of your series!

And readers, be sure to leave a comment for Marie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book, but don’t forget to check back next week to see if you win!

Bio: Writing since grade school, Marie has produced stories, poems, books, and has been published in school and local newspapers. In college, five of her class writing assignments ended up in print. As a professional nurse, she has written, done art work, and designed curriculum for health topics, aiding fellow nurses and other staff, prn. In addition, she has taught child development seminars for child care workers’ accreditation. Adding medical worker in clinics and hospice to speaker, artist, and teacher, Marie continues to serve with God-given abilities.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Our Kudos are Short and Sweet This Month, but It’s a BIG One!

Edie Melson has just signed a contract with Worthy Publishing for her newest book for military families: While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those With a Loved One in the Military. The publication launch date is July 4, 2015.

Congratulations to my long-time writing buddy, Edie!

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Who Qualified for a November Entry in the 2014 MoGo7000 Challenge?

Congrats to these four hard-writing writers who wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in the mogo7000 logomonth of November:

#23: Tim Suddeth – 8,483 words
#24: Glenda Mills – 7,200 words
#25: Susan Baganz – 64,746 words
#26: Joan Hall – 20,000 words

Would you believe these four writers wrote 100,429 words in one month! Congratulations, writers!

And readers, if you want to learn how to enter the challenge, simply check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page. You have 1 more opportunity to reach a monthly goal and win an entry before the $100 drawing in January!

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Well, that does it for another December Tuesday. I hope today’s post encouraged you to do what it takes to reach your goals in 2015.

Christmas blessings as we celebrate the Gift and the Giver!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Laury Davis

Laury Davis headshotWelcome to the Christian Writer’s Den! Today I’m thrilled to introduce author Laury Davis to you as she shares her writing journey and her Bible study, In Pursuit of Happiness.

Be sure to leave a comment for Laury 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.

Okay, let’s get started. Welcome, Laury. I can’t wait to share your story with my friends. First of all, I’d love to know if you always want to be a writer.

No. It never occurred to me until I was about thirty. I was working as a substitute teacher in a local public high school. Most often a teacher would leave an assignment, and I just needed to monitor the class. My goal was to stay alert and look busy, so I began to jot down short stories. I love mysteries, so mostly I was aiming to write something of a cross between Agatha Christie and Edgar Allen Poe.

Writing publishable mysteries was my original writing goal as well! But obviously we both moved beyond being Agatha Christie and Edgar Allen Poe wannabes. Most of your published writing is nonfiction, right? How did you make that transition?’

I had a friend who was going through a hard time. I decided to put some short stories together for her with a theme. She was moving, so I rushed and gave her a very rough draft on the day she moved. After that I put it away for years. Eventually, I moved to Tennessee and joined a writer’s group at my church. Most of the ladies were writing Christian material, so I decided to give it a try. I got out my stories, polished them up and put a Bible study with it. This particular book I just gave away to friends.

After that I began to have some magazine articles published, so I stuck with what paid. Someday, Lord enabling, I’m going back to fiction though.

That’s interesting–magazine articles were a huge part of my initial writing success as well. And the good news was, it paid real money! So, how did the Bible study In Pursuit of Happiness come about?Laury Davis book cover

I had been on a mission trip, and when I returned I realized how much we take for granted in our culture. Just the freedom to choose how to live our lives is a luxury many around the world and through the ages have never known. I wrote In Pursuit of Happiness as a challenge to Christian women to evaluate their pursuits in light of God’s purposes.

What type of vehicle did you use to deliver the truths of this study?

I wanted to study people in the Bible who chose to thrive in tough situations. Not a hero’s story, like when the big miracle happens, but a background story of perseverance in difficult, unchanging circumstances. I chose three familiar characters, but I hope they are covered in a fresh, de-romanticized light. My book focuses on Abigail after she married David, the servant girl before Naaman had leprosy, and Onesimus as a slave instead of a redeemed brother. These were people with few choices in life, but what they did choose was to be faithful and brave.  I think their stories are noteworthy and inspiring.

And just because I enjoy it, I threw in several short stories that I hope convey relevance and context.

Wow–I love that thought process! What a unique way to present these characters and learn from their experience. What’s your next writing project?

I always have a lot of projects in progress–a novel, a church drama, a teen Bible study–these are all things I’m working on right now. I would like to focus more on writing fiction because I think it’s fun, but I will probably always be writing something  nonfiction because I think it’s useful for ministry.

And for our last question, what advice or encouragement would you give to another writer?

I’d tell them to find a local writer’s group. A group can hold you accountable, give you ideas, and keep you motivated. I’d also suggest you do one thing every day to advance your writing. It could be as small as sending a query e-mail, researching a publisher, or editing a poem. Just something to keep you moving forward.

Great suggestions, Laury. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your book with us today. And readers, I know you’re going to want your own copy of Laury’s book, so here’s a direct Amazon link to In Pursuit of Happiness.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Laury and then return next week to see if you’re the winner of Laury’s book!

Bio: Laury Davis grew up by the shores of Lake Erie in Madison, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Cedarville University in southern Ohio with degrees in Business/Marketing and Bible. She has served in church as a Sunday school teacher, women’s Bible study leader, choir member, event coordinator, and drama director. Laury is married and busily rearing three teenagers. Her family currently lives in the Memphis, Tennessee area.

Laury has been published in Focus on the Family’s “Thriving Family,” Standard Publishing’s “The Lookout,” “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” thebrinkonline, centralchurch.com, princessdotkmag.com, and various ministry oriented publications. She also has two books translated and distributed to Christian women in other countries.

Her Bible study entitled In Pursuit of Happiness: Stewarding Freedom as a Modern Christian Woman, was recently released with a small, indie publisher. To learn more about Laury and her writing, you can check out LauryDavis.com.

Blessings, my friends…

Vonda

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