Category Archives: MoGo7000

Do I Really Need an Agent? Kudos & MoGo7000 Celebrations!

Contract PixabayDo I Really Need an Agent?

When I teach at writers conferences, I often get the question, “Do I really need an agent?” Well, you’ll be happy to know I can confidently and unequivocally answer that question in three simple words: Yes, no, and maybe.

When I wrote my first book, I knew I didn’t want an agent. I mean, why would I want to give a whopping 15 percent of my earnings to a total stranger when I could do it myself and keep all that money?

Then the rejections came–years of them–and I finally began to think that perhaps 85 percent of something would be better than 100 percent of nothing! So I started my search for an agent, and the only nibbles I got were from agents with shady reputations. And we won’t talk about that today.

Fast forward eight years to 2001 and I finally have a book contract for Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island–without the help of an agent.

So, did I do the right thing by publishing without an agent? I’ll never know. But I do know this: When it came time to write my first women’s non-fiction book, I didn’t even consider trying to find a publisher as an unagented writer. And I’m so glad I didn’t.

You’ve probably heard it said that finding a good agent is harder than finding a publisher. That may be true. But it’s also true that once you find a good agent, it’s a lot easier to land a publishing contract. Many publishers now use agents as their clearinghouse to wade through the junk to find the publishable writers. Those publishers know that a good agent will only take on good writers, so the fact that a reputable agent is presenting you lends credibility to your work.

A good agent will know who’s looking for what, what genre has the best chance at certain houses, and whether a publisher just signed a deal for a book similar to yours. Good agents have connections, know the latest scoop, and many of them have worked as editors themselves.

So let’s look at the three simple words and their meaning in response to the agent question.

Yes…

  • You most likely need an agent if you want to be published by a large publisher. Every now and then we’ll hear the story of an unsolicited manuscript being picked up by a large house, but most major publishers will not even consider an unagented manuscript sent in by the author.
  • You need an agent if you don’t have the time, patience, or knowledge to reach multiple editors simultaneously.
  • You’re most likely to need an agent if you’re not going to writer’s conferences where you’re meeting with editors face-to-face.

No…Yes No Maybe Pixabay

  • You don’t need an agent if you’re interested in any form of self-publishing, such as POD, vanity press, or old-fashioned self-publishing.
  • You don’t need an agent if the Writer’s Market Guide or the Christian Writer’s Market Guide state the publisher does not work with agents.
  • If an editor at a writer’s conference tells you that he or she is interested in seeing your manuscript and then personally tells you how to submit it, you do not have to have an agent.
  • You don’t need an agent for poetry or magazine articles.

Maybe…

  • You may not need an agent for children’s material, especially shorter pieces like picture books and board books. Just be sure to do your research and follow the writer’s guidelines.
  • You may not need an agent for a small press, regional press, or university press. Again, check the guidelines in the Writer’s Market Guide.
  • Even if an editor offers you a contract without agent representation, you may want to consider seeking an agent at that point. There are many agents who would love to represent you in the negotiation phase when you already have a contract–and their involvement could mean a higher advance or higher royalty schedule for you.

As you can see, there’s no one-word answer to that question. So, go back and do everything we talked about in Giving Birth to Your Book, Part 1 and Giving Birth to Your Book, Part 2, then study today’s entry. I have a feeling you’ll know the answer to your question.

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Do You Really Need An Agent? Yes, No, or Maybe! @VondaSkelton via Christian Writer’s Den #amwriting #pubtips http://bit.ly/1IG3j33 (Click to Tweet)

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fireworks PixabayLet’s celebrate with these Christian Writer’s Den friends!

1.  Rebecca Lindsey (CA): My good news is that I have been published twice on an inspirational website called TheSeeds4Life. I also have consistently written on my new blog and picked up followers. I continue to work on children’s magazine articles and my YA girls novel. I’m working on building my platform steadily. Thanks, Vonda for your encouragement and God bless!

2. Jeanne Doyon (CT): Two articles have been reprinted. One in Reach Out Columbia Magazine called, “Going Tandem.” The second in Nebraska Family Times is called, “Gleaning by the Ocean.” I am thankful that words can be repurposed for His purpose. (Vonda here: Me, too!)

3.  Maureen Hager (NC): My story “Quiet Refuge” is published in the new book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses. I am so honored to pay tribute to an amazing nurse whose compassionate heart brought much hope and healing while recovering from a trauma.

Didn’t find your name in the Kudos Celebration this month? Be sure to check back next week when I have a new list of writing opportunities, conferences, and contests just for you!

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Will one of these MoGo7000 Qualifiers win $100?

Congratulations to these writers who earned another chance to win $100 at the end of the year!

#8: Tim Suddeth – 23,419 words
#9: Susan Baganz – 18,270 words 

This is a good year for being in the running for $100 in cold hard cash. Don’t be left out! Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines to see how YOU might be a winner. It’s all free!

Thanks for Tweeting!

#Writers: MoGo7000 could win you $100-it’s #free! #amwriting @VondaSkelton via Christian Writer’s Den http://bit.ly/1IG3j33 (Click to Tweet)

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That does it for another 2nd Tuesday. Hope to see you back next week for a new bunch of writing opportunities, conferences, and contests!

Write on!

Vonda

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2 Writing Tips to Avoid First Sentence Mistakes, Call-outs for Kudos & MoGo7000 & Who Won Amber Massey’s Book?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First up, let’s look at 2 things you can do to avoid first sentence mistakes…

If you’ve been a student of writing a while you know that first sentences are critical to the success of your work. I’ve actually heard an editor say she reads the first sentence, and if it grabs her interest and doesn’t have any glaring errors, she’ll move to the second.

She will then read the second sentence and decide if she wants to read the third. The process continues until she comes to the end of the first paragraph. At that point she’ll have a pretty good idea whether she has any interest in the story or not.

But did you know the first sentences of the remaining paragraphs are equally critical?

Once you leave that first paragraph to begin the second, the real struggle begins. Here are two common problems to look for as you work on your rewrites.

1.  Take a look at the opening sentences of the following paragraphs. Do you see a problem?

I remember the first time I bought a pair of designer shoes. Money was tight, even though we’d always had enough for our needs. But between the mortgage, the Christian school, and the grocery bill, there wasn’t much left at the end of the month.

I decided that bargain shopping and yard sales would clothe my family. But one day I decided the time had come—I deserved better. And in those days, “better” meant a pair of Aigner shoes.
I headed to the mall and made my selection. I wrote the check for $52 (at least four times my usual shoe allotment) and wore the blue fashion statements out the door.

I walked across the parking lot and proudly glanced around for anyone who might want to smile at me and my shoes. No one smiled.

I drove to the grocery store, anticipating the envious looks from shoppers wearing their dirty old sneakers. But no one noticed. No one except me. By the time I’d selected the apples and thumped the cantaloupe, the left shoe had begun to rub my big toe.

I knew fashion came with a price so I forged ahead, waiting for the admiring glances of moms who wanted to wear—but couldn’t afford—Aigner.

I finished my shopping and hobbled out the door. Then reality hit. Not one person had acknowledged my shoes and the message they carried. Not one person cared that I had just spent half my grocery money on a pair of hard, uncomfortable status symbols. Not one person gave a rip about me and my designer shoes.

I got what I deserved.

Okay, what do you think? If you said all the first sentences started with the same word, you’re correct.

A good writer will vary the first word of the paragraphs.

2.  Now take a look at the first sentences of these paragraphs. Do you see a problem?

As a bona fide, card-carrying daddy’s girl, I grew up feeling beautiful. It didn’t matter if I sported blue-ribboned ponytails or a wet head full of bright pink curlers, Daddy never missed an opportunity to pull me onto his lap, wrap his arms around me, and tell me I was beautiful. It was a great feeling, but it didn’t last.

Before long, I was like every other female in America—I believed the lie. The lie that says we must be beautiful or young or sexy to be worthy of love.

If you’re aware of today’s culture, you may realize airbrushed models, Botoxed movie stars, and ready access to plastic surgery has fueled this lie. And we’re falling for it.

As you know, sex and beauty sell. They sell everything from cars to toothpaste and lawn mowers to furniture polish. But the world’s beauty is a false reality, one manipulated through technique . . . and presented as truth.

And because our culture and its web of deceit are never satisfied with us, we’re never satisfied with ourselves.

Well, what do you think? Did you see a problem?

If you said all the first sentences are similarly constructed, you’re right. The opening sentence of each paragraph begins with a phrase or clause, followed by a comma.

A good writer will vary the structure of the first sentences in a page of paragraphs (and the other sentences throughout the piece).

So there you have it, two things to look for as you rewrite your work. Vary your first word choice and your first sentence structure in your paragraphs, and you’ll increase your chances of seeing your work in print.

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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2 Writing Tips to Avoid 1st Sentence Mistakes via @VondaSkelton #pubtips #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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Calling All Kudos!

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you. Everybody’s welcome to share.

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in July?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in July, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your July results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in July. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 Challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 5 months and you’ll have 5 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

Thanks for Tweeting…

#Writers you can win $100 w/MoGo7000. Only 5 months left to qualify! via @VondaSkelton Christian Writer’s Den (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~For the Love of Horses-Compressed

Who Won Amber Massey’s Book?

And the winner is…

Margery Warder!

Congratulations, Margery! Contact me with your snail mail address and Amber will get your book right out to you!

And friends, you don’t have to miss out. Here’s your direct Amazon link to For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle, by Amber Massey.

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Thanks for Tweeting…

2 Writing Tips to Avoid 1st Sentence Mistakes via @VondaSkelton #pubtips #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for another 1st Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve found help for your writing journey today! After all, that’s my goal at The Christian Writer’s Den. :-)

Blessings,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Aleta You and Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Aleta You headshotHello, dear friends! I hope you’re staying cool and comfortable on this hot, hot 2nd Tuesday of July. This heat reminds me of the August I met today’s guest, Aleta You, at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference several years ago. It was miserable outside, but what a great conference week. Aleta and I met when she took my How to Develop a Speaking Ministry to Women continuing class. Today she’s here to share her writing journey and her new book, Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God.

Remember to leave a comment for Aleta and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

So let’s get started, Aleta. What inspired you to write your book Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God?

The idea for this book had been floating around in my head for quite some time. Following a painful divorce after 29 years of marriage, writing became a catharsis for me and a way to cope with a difficult emotional period in my life. I had studied the Bible in 1984 and was struck by the practical application that God’s Word has to deal with every challenge in life. For me, writing was a way to practically apply God’s Word in helping me deal with and overcome the pain that I was experiencing.

I love how God redeems the hardships of life by using them to help us grow. Tell us a little about your book and the main points that you would like your readers to come away with.

The main thesis is that whatever challenges you are going through, God’s Word has answers that can bring wholeness to your life. The over arching theme is that we are in a spiritual competition and we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). In spite of a formidable spiritual enemy, and the challenges in life that we encounter, God has fully equipped us with all that we need to stand and withstand against our spiritual adversary, the Devil.

He certainly does! I know firsthand that the real writing life isn’t as many perceive it to be. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing your book?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was procrastination. Another challenge was self doubt. I had to remind myself that I was in a spiritual competition and that I was battling with the accuser who didn’t want me to write the book.

A third challenge was in sharing some personal experiences in my life. As a former college professor and a senior administrator in higher education, I was used to writing for the academic profession. A colleague, who read earlier drafts of my work, kept on saying that my writing was too “academic.” I had to put more of myself into the examples I gave so that my writing would communicate and touch people’s lives. Exposing my vulnerability and limitations allowed people to relate to a real person whom they could connect with.Aleta You BookCoverImage

You ended up self publishing your book through Create Space. I would love to know more about that process and why you decided to go with an independent publishing company.

I believe a writer has to weigh the pros and cons of going with a commercial publishing company and an independent company such as Create Space. I submitted my manuscript to only four commercial publishing companies and was turned down. Based on other writer’s experiences, that is not a high number of submissions or rejections. In the end, I decided that I wanted to focus on my writing and went with Create Space. I have been very happy with an independent publisher and found their team to be talented, knowledgeable, and professional individuals.

I’m so glad to hear you had a good experience, Aleta. Any final words of advice for an aspiring writer?

Everyone has at least one book residing within them. When God puts an idea on your heart, He expects you to follow through and write about it. You don’t want to be like the man in Mathew 25:25 who was afraid and buried his talent. We want to glorify God through our writing and reconcile men and women back to God’s Word.

Aleta, thank you for being with us today and giving us a peek into your writing experience. And readers, be sure to leave a comment and then return next week to see if you’re the winner of Aleta’s book!

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Interview & Book give-away w/Aleta You. Win a #free book! @VondaSkelton #BibleStudy #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Dr. Aleta You has been studying the Bible as well as countless philosophers and religious theologians since 1984. Her life’s efforts and spiritual journey have informed her beliefs and now serve as an inspiration and guide to finding the powerful potential of God and His Word, which she shares in Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God.

During the past 32 years as an academic in both teaching and in the administration of university education, Dr. You was an Associate Professor and Director of Student Teaching at Incarnate Word College, Assistant Director of the Teacher Preparation Program at Princeton University and was a senior administrator at Rutgers University. After a productive and fulfilling career, Dr. You retired from Rutgers University in July 2013 and moved to Parker, Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bradley University, her master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, her PhD from Arizona State University, and did her postdoctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. You serves as a Bible Household Fellowship Coordinator and continues to  study, research, and teach the Bible. Learn more about Aleta at her website, www.aletayou.com where she posts a monthly blog. She can also be reached at amhyou@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den friends…

These writers have been hard at work…and we want to celebrate with them!

1.  Margery Warder: My husband and I were able to sponsor a recent “Missional” Christian Writers Retreat in Oklahoma. Several established authors and speakers voluntarily participated to encourage and assist others interested in using writing or speaking as part of their expression of their relationship with Jesus Christ.

2.  Cyn Rogalski (PA): I won the Thistle Award at St. David’s CWC! It’s given for beautiful
writing with a point-less than 250 words! Link to the Facebook post is–
https://www.facebook.com/StDavidsWriters/photos/pb.140153497943.-2207520000.1436317465./10152937518512944/?type=3&theater

3.  Tammy Whitehurst (TX): I run a daily Facebook devotional 5 days a week at TammyWhitehurst.com.
And I am giving God the glory and the praise for a completely booked speaking schedule through April of 2016. I also love working with my new agent, Karen Power! I recently had work published with Standard Publishing in their Fall 2015 Sunday School curriculum as well as their devotionals.

4.  Cheryl Barker (KS): My piece “Propelled by Mother Love” appeared in the Spring 2015 issue
of The Lutheran Digest.

5.  Gail Cartee (SC): My haiku was accepted by haikujournal.org. (Vonda here: Just wanted to let y’all know Gail found that writing opportunity here at The Christian Writer’s Den!)

Congratulations to all our writers for their successes! Be sure to check back next week when I’ll share a brand new collection of writing opportunities for you!

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Will one of these MoGo7000 Qualifiers win $100?

Congratulations to these writers who earned another chance to win $100 at the end of the year!

#6: Susan Baganz – 26,242 words
#7: Tim Suddeth – 9,735 words

Have y’all noticed that these writers have a VERY good chance of winning $100? Don’t be left out! Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines to see how YOU might be a winner. It’s all free!

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Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Celebrate w/Christian Writer’s Den successes – Kudos & MoGo7000 @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Thank you for joining me today. I hope your time has been encouraging to you as a writer and a lover of Christ!

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

Vonda

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3 Points to Consider if You’re Considering Self-Publishing, Call-Out for Kudos & MoGo7000, and Who Won Laurie Coombs’ Book?

Book signing fdp Bill LongshawIt’s another exciting day at The Christian Writer’s Den! First up: Let’s talk about self-publishing. It may be closer than you think!

Let’s be honest here. Back in the old days, self-publishing carried a stigma among writers. Self-publishing was for those who couldn’t get a traditional publishing contract. Self-publishing was a last resort.

But that’s no longer the case. Done well, self-publishing is now a respected route to holding your book in your hand. But it’s not for everyone in every situation. If you’re considering self-publishing, here are some points to consider.

1.  Consider your audience. If your goal is to write your family history, self-publishing is the perfect–and perhaps the only–route for you.

But the good news is, your audience can be more than family. If you’re a speaker who can have back-of-the-room sales or someone with a following through radio, television, or social media, self-publishing is likely to provide a larger income, or at least a larger profit margin. Dave Ramsey is a perfect example. Many of his books have been done through his own company, Lampo Press, and I have a feeling he’s made a bunch of money in the process.

Self-publishing is also a good fit if you’re writing for a niche market. One of the most successful self-publishing stories I know is about an author who wrote a book for caregivers of people with a specific disease. She had 10,000 books printed for an associational conference (back before print-on-demand technology), and sold every book within weeks or months. Now that’s writing to a niche market!

2.  Consider your attention to detail. Depending on the self-publisher you choose, you may be on your own when it comes to book covers, proofreading, editing, and formatting. Remember that in self-publishing, you are driving the editorial boat, and that can be a good or a bad thing.

Are you a graphic artist? If so, you could possibly create a great cover. Are you skilled at line editing, proofreading, and punctuation? Have you had valid input from others on your content or story structure, voice, and point of view? If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, then self-publishing could be a good fit.

If not, would you be willing to pay out of your own pocket, and probably upfront, for the services of reputable editors and graphic artists? That’s what it would take to make self-publishing the best choice for you.

3. Consider your motive. Most of us are at least somewhat impatient. I know I am. If your motivation is to get a book out fast at all costs, self-publishing can do that for you…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to choose that route.

If speed is the only motivator, you’re likely to be disappointed in the outcome. Working fast without a quality goal could lead to missed typos, story holes, and funky formatting. A short turnaround and a quality product is completely possible, but it takes the right team, working hard together to bring it about.

Is fear of rejection your motive? No one likes rejection, but if you want to be a writer, you’ll most likely have to experience it. But avoiding rejection by going the self-publishing route is not the answer.

With fear as the sole motivator, you’re more likely to allow–either through ignorance or oversight–a less than quality product in the end. Fear can certainly lead you to investigate self-publishing, but it shouldn’t be the sole decision-maker.

So there you have it, three critical points to consider if you’re considering taking the reins. With the right audience, right attention to detail help, and right motive, self-publishing could be the best route for you.

(Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Calling all kudos!celebration - Morguefile

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you. Everybody’s welcome to share.

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in June?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in June, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your June results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in June. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 Challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 6 months and you’ll have 6 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Laurie Coombs book cover

And finally, who won Laurie Coombs’ book, Letters From My Father’s Murderer?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Sandy Quandt!

Congratulations, Sandy! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Laurie will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s a direct Amazon link to Laurie Coombs’ Letters From My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness.

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Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

3 Points to Consider re: Self-Publishing, Call-Outs & Who Won Laurie’s Book? #pubtips #amwriting @VondaSkelton http://bit.ly/1ThfSsC (Click to Tweet)

Well that does it for another 1st Tuesday. I can’t wait to see your successes, so be sure to get your kudos and MoGo7000 information to me through the proper channels.

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

Vonda

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Could Anthologies Be Your Ticket to Publication? Call-Out for May Kudos & MoGo700 and Who Won Andrea Merrell’s Book?

bitsy3bookphotoFirst up for the first Tuesday of June: Could Anthologies Be Your Ticket to Publication?

Not long after my first children’s book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island, came out, I had the opportunity to submit to a compilation, Mystery Readers Journal: Religious Mysteries. (And just so you know, the words “Religious” and “Christian” are not synonymous!)

I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was they were looking for writers of “religious” mysteries to share something of interest with mystery readers. Surely I had something of interest to say! So I wrote a piece, “Teaching Truth through Fiction,” and talked about the fact that we can teach Biblical and moral truth without preaching. I was thrilled when they accepted my article. And even though I didn’t get paid for it, it was still a good investment. Not only was it an opportunity to introduce mystery readers to my book, but the publication also gave me another writing credit. On top of that, “Teaching Biblical Truth through Secular Fiction” is now one of my most popular classes at writer’s conferences.

A few years later, I read of a call for submissions on stories about fathers. Being a card-carrying Daddy’s girl, I jumped at the chance to submit. What a joy to receive the acceptance letter and offer of a contract to be published in Embrace of a Father…and this time I actually got paid!

Compilations, also called anthologies, are a great way to gather some publishing credits and collect a little money along the way. Several of our readers have found quite a bit of success in this area of publishing, and many of the leads have come through the “Opportunities” list posted here the third Tuesday of every month.

Here are some things you need to know if this area of writing and publishing sounds like something you might want to consider:Mystery Readers Journal cover

  • Read the guidelines and follow the directions carefully regarding formatting, word count, etc.
  • Check the address for submission. It’s not always the same as the email of the contact person.
  • Be sure your story meets the topic guidelines. Don’t waste your time–or the editor’s–with pieces that just don’t fit.
  • Be sure you understand the rights you are giving. Many compilations allow you to keep your rights and use it again in the future, but a work-for-hire contract probably means you will not have any rights to the story after they accept it.
  • Find out if you’re able to purchase copies at a discount for resale. You can often purchase copies for about half price, allowing you to make a good profit on books you sell. Even after discounting the price to my friends and family and including free shipping, I still made almost $300 profit from the first batch of Embrace of a Father books I sold. And even though the book is now out of print, it’s still available through secondary venders on Amazon.
  • Even if you don’t receive financial compensation, reputable publishers usually at least give you a complimentary copy of the book.
  • Keep good records. It can take years for books to finally land on the bookshelves and you could forget you even submitted the story!
  • Some books use “seed stories” where the author or editor uses the gist of your story, rather than printing your actual words. In that case, you should receive an acknowledgement (usually in the back of the book), but most likely won’t be listed as the author of the story.

Does this sound like something you’d like to do? If so, check out the latest call-outs for upcoming Chicken Soup books. They could be your ticket to a writing credit AND a pay-check!

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Time for Call-Outs for Your Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

Have you had an article published? Contracted a book? Created a new website? Have an event coming up? If so, I want to hear from you! It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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Call for MoGo7000 Totalsmogo7000 logo

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in May, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your May results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in May. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Monday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge is open all year! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Meet it 6 months and you’ll have 6 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have an extra $100 in January. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

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perf5.000x8.000.inddAnd Who Won Andrea Merrell’s Book?

The winner is. . .

Tammy Whitehurst!

Congratulations, Tammy! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Andrea will send it right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Praying for the Prodigal: Encouragement and Practical Advice While Waiting for the Prodigal to Return.

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Well, that does it for another first Tuesday edition of Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you’ll return next week to celebrate with those who are reaching their writing and speaking goals. And if you don’t see your name highlighted here, don’t feel bad. Just keep doing the work of a writer and speaker, keep submitting to the writing opportunities posted here, and keep attending conferences and learning…and chances are good that one day you’ll see your name listed here. I look forward to celebrating with you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Mary Allen, Kudos & MoGo7000 Successes, & Who Won the Bad Poetry Contest?

Mary Allen headshot reducedMy goodness, do we have a packed Tuesday or what? Let’s start with an interview with debut novelist, Mary Allen

I first met Mary Allen when she attended Christian Communicators Conference in 2013 and when we saw each other, we became instant sisters. After all, we’re both very short, we’re both RNs, we both love to sing, and we’re both writers and speakers. What better way to connect with a sibling, right? And today I’m thrilled to share her and her debut novel, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.

Be sure to leave a comment for Mary 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!

Okay, Mary, Let’s get started. First, please tell us how you got started writing.

I fell in love with words in junior high school. I wrote some poetry and short stories but not much more. When I went back to school in my 30’s, I took some creative writing classes, yet still hadn’t caught the dream. Several years ago, at a women’s retreat, I shared my heart on the topic of joy. The speaker suggested I write a book. A seed was planted. At another retreat I shared my testimony around bonfire.  The positive reaction surprised me. Another seed. Shortly after that I attended Women of Faith where a friend told me I’d be a great speaker. I laughed it off, but another seed was planted. A couple of years later, as I struggled with what God wanted for my life, I prayed and fasted, asking God for guidance. I prayed, “Lord, do you want me to write a book? I need a story, please.” A month later, while spending a little time with my older brother, he shared a part of my life I had never known. The story I wrote is now my book, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.

But I thought your book is fiction.Mary Allen Cover-reduced

Yes, it is. It is a fictionalized memoir. It’s based on the true story of my life with some minor changes in sequence and characters. It is a story of my struggle with self-worth and joyful living though difficult circumstances. It’s a story of finding out, with God, I am good enough. It’s not just my story. It’s God’s story. It’s the story of what He did in my life.

You told us about your story at Christian Communicators and I was blown away. I can imagine it was difficult to write about those memories.

Yes, sometimes it was difficult. The most difficult thing to write, however, was my parents’ back stories. As children, it’s hard for us to comprehend that our parents had a life before we were born. And, if we find out their lives weren’t perfect, or they made mistakes, it is easy to point a judgmental finger. I didn’t want that for my parents. I believe it’s important we understand our parent’s childhood struggles in order to fully appreciate the choices they made in their lives. We must view our parent’s lives through eyes of compassion. I tried to do that. I pray my children do the same with my life–mistakes and all.

Powerful insight, Mary. Why did you self-publish?

As a speaker, my time is often limited, so in order to tell the whole story, I wrote the book to bring with me to my speaking engagements. But I wanted the freedom to fulfill my dream on my terms, in God’s time. Self-publishing gave us that freedom.

Mary allen and VondaSo what is the take away message you hope your readers embrace?

Most women will be able to relate with the story at some level, but I doubt any two women will be touched the same way. If God lead a woman to read Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark, there’s a personal message there for them. I wanted to be able to touch women who haven’t found their purpose in life, to make women realize their unique worth to the Father. I always struggled with feelings of inadequacy, until I heard the entire truth. The moment my brother shared that information with me, I realized God loved me so much He saved my life the morning I was born. He filled my life with joy, blinded me from certain hard truths, and waited patiently for me to embrace His love for me wholeheartedly. My worth in God is immeasurable. That is the message I hope women will take away from this story.

Sweet, Mary. Any words of wisdom for other new writers?

It took me four years to complete my book. Most mornings I was up by 5:00 AM to write before work. (I am a home health nurse.) Looking back, it was worth the effort. I would say, be patient, join a good critique group, attend writer’s conferences, make time to write what’s in your heart and trust God with your story. You are good enough for God!

Amen, Mary! Thank you for sharing from your heart today. I pray God uses your powerful story to point others to the truth that He loves us just the way we are. Period.

Friends, be sure to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing!

Bio: Mary Allen lives with her husband Bob, the love of her life. They’ve been married a whole bunch of years. They have a wonderful, ordinary family they love with an extraordinary love. Mary loves to sing, read, laugh and make people smile. She hates high tech gadgets, but puts up with them. Just barely. She’s hoping she’ll inherit a million dollars from a long lost relative so she can quit the job she loves as a home health nurse to stay home and be a full time writer. But she’s not holding her breath. When she speaks about God at an event, a hand full of people listen, but when she prays, the God of the universe hears every word. You can reach Mary at MaryAAllen@comcast.net.

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now it’s time to celebrate YOUR successes!

Congratulations are in order for some of our Christian Writer’s Den writers and speakers.

1. Jayme Hull (TN): Jayme just signed a new contract with the Moody Collective division of Moody Bible Institute for her book for millennials, Face To Face. She is writing the book with Laura Captari and they’re expecting a spring 2016 release.

2. Lori Hatcher (SC): I’m praising God for these two gifts: 1) In 2014, one of my goals was to teach at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. I’m delighted have been invited to teach four workshops at Blue Ridge next week—two on the topic of public speaking. Thank you, Carolyn Knefely for encouraging me to go for it. 2) I’m privileged to present the one-day seminar “Praying with Power” to the women’s ministry of Good Shepherd United Methodist Parish on May 9.

3. Jeanne Doyon (CT): Vibrant Life has accepted my article, When Your Kids Leave Home: Six Ways to Ease Your Empty Nest. It will be published this fall.

4. Susan M. Baganz (WI): My debut novel, Pesto and Potholes, released on May 1, 2015 in print and Ebook. It has been in the top 100 of “hot new bestsellers” in its category for the past few days. Yay! (Vonda here: Susan says she has “…written many novels racking up my word counts with MoGo7000….”)

5. Maureen Hager (NC): My testimony, Out of the Brokenness, is published in Trials and Triumphs II, Rooted and Grounded in Love.

Congratulations Jayme, Lori, Jeanne, Susan, and Maureen! I’m so proud of all of you!

(And I hate to admit it, but I thought I’d heard from another Christian Writer’s Den friend who had a kudos, but for the life of me, I can’t find another one. Hopefully I’m thinking of another month. But if you sent me something and it’s not here, PLEASE let me know!)

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

Who met the MoGo7000 Challenge in April?

These writers earned an entry into the 2015 MoGo7000 Writing Challenge, giving them another chance at winning $100 at the end of the year!

#3: Tim Suddeth – 12,314 words
#4: Joan Hall – 30,909 words

#5: Susan Baganz – 12,876 words

Okay, writers, as you can see, this is a VERY good year to get in on the drawing. The odds are looking really good for winning the cash prize. And it’s FREE!

Want to know how you can join in the fun? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines here.

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And who won the Chip’s Bad Poetry Contest at the Christian Writer’s Den?

According to my husband, the winner is…

Nice Lady with Gun!

Congratulations on your horribly-awesome poem, An Oculance of Love!

And no, Nice Lady didn’t win because she has a gun. :-) She won because I am a former RN who worked in ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology in surgery and in the office for many, many years, and Gary and I loved all the ocular references! “Vitreous humor” was absolutely brilliant! I laughed out loud when I read it and still giggle every time I think of it.

Be sure to visit last Wednesday’s post about Chip MacGregor’s Bad Poetry Contest, and read the bad poems (in the comments) written by some of our own Christian Writer’s Den readers and entered into Chip MacGregor’s Annual Bad Poetry Contest.

Nice Lady, simply visit my store, then contact me with the downloadable workshop you’d like to receive, and I’ll get it right out to you!

Disclaimer: The contest here at the Christian Writer’s Den is a shameless tag-along to Chip MacGregor’s annual contest. He will be announcing his own favorite horrible poem, so be sure to check there to see who wins at Chip MacGregor’s blog.

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Well, that does it for this 2nd Tuesday. Be sure to come back next week when I’ll share a brand new collection of writing opportunities collected just for you!

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is Sweet!

Book Give-Away w/ @MaryAllen, #writing life through fiction. And writers successes! #amwriting #pubtips @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

Happy writing!

Vonda

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ProfNet: The Freelance Writer’s Friend, Call Out for Kudos & MoGo7000, and Who Won Twila Belk’s Book?

magazinesIt’s the first Tuesday, and time to learn something, report your accomplishments, and see if you’re the winner of Twila Belk’s book!

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ProfNet: The Freelance Writer’s Friend

For many years, my primary source of writing income was from freelance articles. Although I’m not freelancing these days as much as I used to, I still love teaching other writers how to see their work in print. One of the most beneficial resources I’ve found anywhere is ProfNet, also known as PR Newswire.

When I first began writing query letters and submitting freelance articles, I used my professional friends as expert sources. That was a good place to start. But as a health writer, I soon discovered I needed experts beyond my network of friends. That’s when I was introduced to ProfNet.

After becoming associated with ProfNet, my expert sources included professionals from Harvard and Duke and the Mayo Clinic. They begged me to include their doctors, dieticians, and researchers in my articles–and it was all free! My writing credibility, acceptance rate, and assignments quickly increased.

But you don’t have to be a health writer to find good expert sources. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about scrapbooking, soccer, or gem cutting, ProfNet can mine a mother lode of sources to pull from.

Interested? You can sign up as a journalist on ProfNet here. (Freelance writers, bloggers, newspaper and TV/radio reporters fall under the Journalist category). It’s easy to sign up, but be sure you read the information first so you know how to do it!

A clear post will help you get the experts you need. Here is the link to ProfNet’s guidelines for posting your request.

And don’t forget, these experts are professionals. Your kind, gracious communication will go a long way to help you be a journalist the experts want to work with and support!

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Call for Kudos!

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you. Everybody’s welcome to share.

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in April?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in April, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your April results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in April. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 Challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 8 months and you’ll have 8 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Twila Belk book signing B&N

And last but not least (How’s that for a cliche?), who won Twila Belk’s new book?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Julie Garmon!

Congrats, Julie! Just contact me with your snail mail address and Twila will get the book right out to you!

And friends, I know there are many of you who can’t wait to read Twila’s book, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose. Enjoy!

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Thanks for Tweeting! Sharing is Sweet…

Freelance #Writers need ProfNet – Find expert sources & up your income! @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for another first Tuesday. I can’t wait to see what you have been up to! I love giving away money to writers–so get to work and write!

Happy writing,

Vonda

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Chip MacGregor: Ask the Agent, Kudos & MoGo7000 Call-Outs & Who Won Cindy Sproles’ Book?

Chip MacGregor headshot2If you’re not following agent Chip MacGregor’s blog, I have three words for you: You need to. Chip is a top-notch literary agent and president of MacGregor Literary. He works with both the Christian and general market and loves sharing his snarky-laced words of wisdom with writers. I’m telling you now, you don’t want to miss his annual Bad Poetry Contest in May–what a fun way to celebrate his birthday!

Today, I’m thrilled to share a recent question submitted to Chip’s Ask the Agent blog series. Great advice for those who are serious about writing. But watch out, you must have your humor hat on or you may not get it.

Thanks, Chip!

Excerpt from Chip MacGregor’s blog series, Ask the Agent: “What 10 editorial mistakes do most novice authors make?”

I suppose if you asked this of ten agents, you’d probably get a hundred total answers, but here are my pet peeves with newbie authors:

  • Too many exclamation points!!!
  • A proposal that has not been proof-red
  • Overpromising, as in “This proposal will sell a billion copies!”
  • FEELING A NEED TO PUT LOTS OF WORDS IN ALL CAPS.
  • Random numbering in an outline.
  • I did this, I did that, I did this other thing, I, I, I.
  • Random commas, that make no, sense.
  • A failure to understand how to properly use “quotation” marks. (Also parentheses. And their attached punctuation).
  • Failing to understand the difference between its and it’s (or there and their and they’re).
  • The manuscript is passive due to the author.

Hint for the humor impaired: There are intentional errors in that list. If you see one, don’t send me aHow Can I Find A Literary Agent cover scolding note or you’ll be banned from the blog. It’s a joke. I know you don’t get it. Just trust me – others find it funny. 

Friends, I hope you learned something about agents and what they’re NOT looking for. And if you’re a writer interested in finding out more agent answers to your questions, check out Chip’s new book, How Can I Find A Literary Agent? And 101 Other Questions Asked by Writers .

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Call-Out for Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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

Call for MoGo7000 Totals

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in March, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your March results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in March. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Monday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge is underway! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Meet it 10 months and you’ll have 10 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have $100 this time next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

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And Who Won Cindy Sproles’ Book, Mercy’s Rain?Cindy Sproles Mercys Rain cover

The winner is…drumroll, please…

Cindy Patterson!

Congratulations, Cindy (Patterson)! I’m so happy for you and I know you’re going to love this book. Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Cindy (Sproles) will get the book right out to you. (Hmmm…could this be a Cindy conspiracy?) :-)

Well, for those of you who are not named Cindy, here’s a direct Amazon link to Mercy’s Rain. I know–and you know–you want your own copy!

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Thanks for Tweeting!

Ask Agent Chip MacGregor, Call-Outs & Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain winner. #amwriting @MacGregorLit @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for another 1st Tuesday. I can’t wait to see you back next week to meet another author and to celebrate our successes together!

Happy writing!

Vonda

 

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CC Registration Opened March 1 & We’re Already Half Full, Call-Outs & Book Winner

christian-communicators-promo-cove-2015Registration is Now Open for The Christian Communicators Conference for Speakers–And We’re Filling Up Fast!

Ladies, if you feel called to speak, you don’t want to miss the Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Carolyn Knefely and I would love to see you there!

At a Christian Communicators Conference, less truly is more…

By limiting the conference to about 30 ladies, you receive more!

  • You won’t be surrounded by hundreds of women . . . but you’ll be embraced by thirty who will become lifelong friends
  • You won’t experience long lines for dinner . . . but you’ll have long conversations over dessert
  • You won’t need change for vending machines . . . but shared stories at afternoon tea can change your life

Come and learn in a small, intimate setting . . .
then go out and change a great big world

Check out the Christian Communicators Conference registration details here. But don’t delay, with only 30 spots, we fill up quickly!

Thanks for Tweeting!

Christian Communicators #Speaking #Training is filling up fast! Aug 26-30. $ help deadline April 1. http://bit.ly/1EGCqxl (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~celebration - Morguefile

Call-Out for Kudos…I Want to Brag on You!

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

mogo7000 logoCall for MoGo7000 Totals

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in February, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your February results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in February. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Monday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge is underway! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Meet it 11 months and you’ll have 11 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have $100 this time next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Thanks for Tweeting!

Writing a book? You could win $100 in the MoGo7000 Writing Challenge! @VondaSkelton Christian Writer’s Den #amwriting http://bit.ly/18Hw6cJ (Click to Tweet)

Cynthia Simmons WWO cover

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And Who Won Cynthia Simmons’ Book?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Judith Robl!

Congratulations, Judith! All you need to do is contact me with your mailing address and Cynthia will get her book right out to you!

And I know there are lots of you out there who also want to read Cynthia’s book, so here is a direct Amazon link to Cynthia Simmons’ Women Who Overcame.

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Thank you for joining me for a new month at The Christian Writer’s Den. I appreciate you and your friendship as we strive to write words others need to read and hear.

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

Vonda

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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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