Category Archives: Interviews

“Interviews with authors who have a heart for writers ”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you want readers to gain from your book?

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

Did you ever get discouraged and want to give up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random.org says the winner is…

Jeanne Doyon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Edie Melson

Image courtesy of Edie Melson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Here’s the Book Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any final thought to leave with us today?

Yes! Here it is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give Away with Rebecca Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

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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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~mogo7000 logo

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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