Category Archives: Writing Instruction

“Instruction, encouragement, and inspiration for writers ”


Interview & Book Give-Away with Angie Martin & Operation Birthday Celebration

Angie Martin headshotIt’s the 4th Tuesday, and that means it’s book-give-away day! But today is especially special since we’re also looking ahead to Christmas for the kids!

Friends, what an honor it is to introduce Angie Martin to you today. Angie and I met at a writer’s conference and I was immediately impressed with her work. My goodness, just wait until you see what she has available for you and the children in your family!

Are you like me and hesitant to add another secular focus to the Christmas season? Then you’re exactly the kind of person who needs to meet Angie Martin and get to know her materials! Be sure to read her bio below, but for now, just trust me that this is something you want for kids in your realm of influence.

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

Okay, let’s get started. Angie, I’m going to state the obvious. It’s September, not December. Why are we talking about a children’s Christmas storybook now?

Operation Birthday Celebration—A Journey to the Manger is a storybook with interactive features. Jesse, a shepherd-drummer boy, and his feisty lamb, Bongo, are part of a drummer squad whisked away by the desert wind from Bethlehem on a special Christmas adventure—leading families to the manger andAngie Martin book photo the true meaning of the season. These adorable characters must be hand-crafted to “come to life” in time for their visit in December. Now is the perfect time to order! The storybook comes with instructions for crafting the character dolls (which could be as easy as repurposing dolls already available). An “Assignment Manual” suggests activities and teaching moments for twenty-five days, ending with a birthday celebration for baby Jesus. Because each book is personalized with the child’s (or children’s) name, city and state, deadline for ordering books is November 16 to ensure delivery by December 1.

This is such a great idea! What inspired you to write such a book?

The idea for Operation Birthday Celebration came during a conversation with my daughter. She and her husband had decided not to facilitate the Santa fantasy in their home, rather focusing on the birth of Jesus. Many of her mommy-friends posted on social media about family fun involving a popular secular children’s book and activities featuring a magical elf. Feeling sad that her two young sons were missing out, she said, “Mom, it’s just not fair!” She vented a frustration of many Christians living in a media-saturated world with strong secular influences. They’ve bought into the misconception that the “world” has captured the corner market on entertainment and believers are missing out. I wanted my grandsons to enjoy the holiday fun, but my main motivation for the book was to affirm our identity as children of God. He’s the Master Creator and since we’re created in His image, He endows us with the gift of creativity. We should be setting the standard for entertainment! I felt commissioned to create a faith-based alternative to that popular elf. What a surprise that God allowed me not only to write the story but also to illustrate the book!

Angie Martin book pageWhy do you think Operation Birthday Celebration is a better choice for Christian families?

Christian parents want creative resources that capture a child’s imagination and fuel curiosity while staying true to biblical teaching. Operation Birthday Celebration is entertaining while supporting Christian values and doctrine. Children enjoy the characters Jesse and Bongo as they learn about the birth of Jesus. Crafts and service projects help grow their faith and love for God’s Word. Although the book is designed for ages three to nine, older siblings can join the fun by crafting the Jesse and Bongo dolls and leading the daily adventures for the younger ones. Grandparents also love participating.

What’s in store for Jesse and Bongo in the future?

Initially, I conceived the story and characters as a gift to my grandsons. But writing colleagues believed Jesse and Bongo would be welcome in many more homes and encouraged me to consider a wider Angie Martin photo OBCaudience. I introduced the book and characters to a dozen test families, whose enthusiasm confirmed the book’s appeal and purpose. Through social media they connected and shared holiday excitement and fun. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine—and Operation Birthday Celebration is making its public debut! Besides enriching family life during the Christmas season, this innovative educational tool is useful for children’s ministry leaders, Sunday School teachers, Christian pre-school and elementary school teachers, childcare providers, and the Christian home-school community. Anyone involved with the developmental growth of young children will appreciate this creative approach that brings Scripture to life and presents on a child’s level such concepts as sin, a need for a Savior, God’s grace, and the perfect gift of His Son Jesus. Wondering what’s next for Jesse and Bongo? New adventures are on the drawing board!

Angie Martin Jesse&BongoThis is exciting, Angie! Where can we get Operation Birthday Celebration?

Please visit www.JesseAndBongo.com. A little drummer boy and his spirited lamb are eager to make friends with you!

Oh, Angie, what a joy to hear more about your interactive book and products. And although my grandkids are teenagers and have outgrown such a gift, I know of other little ones who would love to have their own adventures with Jesse and Bongo! Thank you for working so hard to help parents teach their little ones the true meaning of Christmas!

And friends, remember to leave a comment and then come back next week to see if you’re the winner. What an awesome gift for the kids on your Christmas list this year!

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Susan Baganz & Please Pray For My Mom

Baganz 0524 Edited colorSweet friends, first of all, I need to ask for your prayers. My 83yo mother took a nasty fall on Sunday and is still in ICU. Praise God, nothing is life-threatening right now, but she had a deep gash to her forehead, which was repaired Sunday in the ER. But the bad part is she has broken multiple bones, including her arm, shoulder, multiple ribs, and her kneecap. She’s in a lot of pain and has surgery scheduled (again–this is the 4th date we’ve been given!) for Wednesday. Christian Communicators Conference begins tomorrow and I’m not going to be able to be there, at least not now. I’m praying I’ll be able to get up there later in the week.

Please pray for relief of pain, successful surgery, and that she’ll be able to get into a good rehab facility. She’s expected to be in rehab 3 months. Praise God, none of this has taken our Lord by surprise and He’s still in control! Now let’s get to this exciting interview with author and editor Susan Baganz!

Friends, if you’ve ever wondered how anyone can write a gazillion words a month and create multiple books a year, well, here’s your chance to find out. Prolific writer, Susan Baganz, is with us today to share her story about writing stories!

And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Susan’s latest book, Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan here and you’ll be in the drawing!

Let’s get started! Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Susan. We’ve all seen you post significant word counts over the past few years on this blog for the MoGo7000 Challenge. So inquiring minds want to know, how much and how often do you really write?

I’m an author but I’m also an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group so I juggle my writing with my editing for others. I can’t write every day but when I do, I do it quickly and obsessively. I’m a panster. I start with a concept and inciting incident and my characters take me on a journey. On a rare day I can pen 5,000-10,000 words (the next might be 161!). I write every year in November for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org), and “won” seven years in a row.  I’ve written two to three novels/novellas a year for some time now, completing 16 manuscripts in six years. As of this date five have been published and eight more are contracted.

That’s unbelievable! Don’t you ever get writer’s block?

I don’t call it writer’s block. I call it a wall of fear. With every novel I hit a point in the story where I think the story is crap and I’ve written myself into a corner. I pray. I go to bed. The next morning, I force myself to write. I cannot remember where that spot was in any of my stories. Fear is a writer’s biggest enemy.

I totally agree! What’s been your biggest surprise in writing?

I love my stories and characters but when revisions come I’m always amazed at the mistakes I made. Editing is a humbling process. I write romances but what surprised me most is that men love my stories. I’m grateful for the unexpected audience.

You’ve written a series of contemporary romance novels of which Feta & Freeways is the third book. What ties these novels together?

I wrote the first book, Pesto & Potholes, to show not only the story but the importance of being involved in a church. The opportunity to worship, be taught, engage in fellowship with other believers along with encouragement and accountability—is a key part of our faith in Christ.

All stories are set against the backdrop of a fictional church, Orchard Hill.FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1 Renata and Tony were the subject of Pesto & Potholes and Stephanie was Renata’s roommate and became the subject of Salsa & Speed Bumps. At the end of that novel we meet Tia who becomes a friend of Stephanie’s. Tia appears in book 3, Feta & Freeways. Niko and Tia feature there along with Niko’s cousin Johnny who then becomes the feature of book 4, Root Beer & Road Blocks. There are several more fun titles and great characters in the series to come!

Those are fun titles, how did you come up with them?

I originally wanted to show, in Pesto & Potholes, the concept of potholes. The difficulty of overcoming challenges through perseverance. That even with faith, emotional growth is often a rocky trajectory. Pesto had Antonio, a single Italian chef, and it’s a favorite sauce in our family. A funny combo of food with a road-related theme became a fun way to set the stories apart.

When someone dared me to write book two and title it Salsa & Speed Bumps the challenge was on to continue to use road themes to illustrate growth through emotional challenges but in the context of a body of believers.

When I got my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I never dreamed I would be using my education and training to illustrate God’s love and the power evidenced in the Body of Christ, through fiction. The reality is that our faith is dynamic and thrives in community. We cannot grow spiritually without also growing emotionally. Personally I can’t imagine facing the trials of this life without God and the support of a community of believers. My characters live those truths.

Yes, I can attest to the fact that characters can help us and others face lies and live truth. What an honor to create evidence of the Lord and His Light! 

Thank you for being here with us today, Susan. And CWD friends, thank you for stopping by. If you’d like to have a chance to win a free copy of Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan and you’ll be in the drawing. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and serves on the board of the southeast chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz. Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/silygoos

 

 

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opps, Contests, & Conferences

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday, so it’s time to share some writing opportunities and contests with you!

1.  Today’s Christian Living writer’s guidelines.

2.  Charleston Style & Design submission guidelines.

3.  Call for anthology submissions: The Binge-Watching Cure. Word counts vary from 100-25,000. Deadline December December 31, 2016.

4.  Cricket Media submission guidelines for their 11 magazines for kids!

5.  Real Simple Magazine’s 9th Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Deadline September 19, 2016.

6.  Bethany House Life Changing Miracles guidelines. Deadline “a couple more weeks” per editor. You can follow Jim Bell Compilations on Facebook for announcements and call-outs.

7.  Call Out for Chistian Quotes from Your Books

8.  Connecticut Magazine submission guidelines

9.  Guide Christian Story Magazine for 10-14yo guidelines here

10. Small Farm Today magazine is dedicated to preserving and promoting small farming, rural living, community and agri-preneurship. Writing guidelines here.

11. I Love Cats Magazine writers and photographers guidelines.

12. Relate Magazine: To inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Topics include design, entertainment, the future in terms of college and jobs, beauty, faith, life, quizzes. Average article is between 300-450 words in length. Sidebar information is also encouraged, as well as graphics, including illustrations, and photographs. Online. See Relevant Magazine writer’s guidelines at bottom of the page here.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while!

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Which conference are you or conferences are you planning to attend in the next year? This list should help you decide!

1.  Atlanta Christian Writers Conference: August 18-20, 2016, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall2.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 24-28, 2016 The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC.

3.  American Christian Fiction Writers: August 25-28, 2016, Nashville, TN

4.  Maranatha Christian Writers Conference: September 29-October 1, 2016, Norton Shores, MI

5.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 7-8, 2016, Grand Rapids, MI

6.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist RetreatOctober 16-20, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC

7.  Heart of American Christian Writers Network Conference: October 20-22, 2016, Kansas City

8.  Classeminars Writers Contreat: November 10-12, 2016, Albuquerque, NM

9.  Asheville Christian Writers Conference (AKA Writers Advance Boot Camp): February 17-19, 2017, The Cove, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

10. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 10-11, 2017, Spartanburg, SC

11. Blue Lake Christian Writers Conference: March 22-25, 2017, Andalusia, AL

12. Write2Ignite Conference for Writers of Children’s Literature: March 24-25, 2017, Tigerville, SC

13. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: April 7-11, 2017, Mount Hermon, CA

14. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC

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So there you are, opportunities, contests, and conferences for writers. What’s stopping you from succeeding?

Happy writing!

Vonda

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All the World is a Writer’s Stage, Call-Outs, and Who Won Cheryl Barker’s Book?

Cole and Mallory in CherokeeWow–how did it get to be the 1st Tuesday in August already? Today we’ll announce call-outs and see who won a free book, but first, let’s talk about a writer’s stage . . .

Several years ago, I had a one-day job at the Cherokee Indian Museum where I also took the time to learn about my own Cherokee heritage. After that visit, I knew I wanted to go back, take our younger grandchildren, and learn more together. A few weeks later, we did. It was an amazing experience.

But on my way home that day, I realized I did more than simply learn dates and historical events. I began to write about it, at least in my mind.

Isn’t that the way we writers are? We go on a simple vacation or go shopping or read a current event and before we know it, we’re contemplating characters, mapping out plots, scouting locations, capturing events, and creating a world inside our heads.

In As You Like It, William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players . . . .” Today I realize how true that statement is.

Little did I know those events in life would prepare a stage for my characters–-real or imagined–-to enter and exit. After all, I didn’t set out to find locations for children’s books. I simply found myself there . . . and the characters and their stories began.

Now I’m already looking forward to doing something with these nuggets of Cherokee ideas, even though it won’t be right now. After all, I went to Tybee Island in 1961, but it was well over 30 years later that I began to write about it.

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this phenomenon. What about you? Have you experienced anything similar? If so, would you share it with us here at The Christian Writers Den? It could be fun to see where our stories–-whether published or not, whether written or not–-originated.celebration - Morguefile

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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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mogoWho 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 2016 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 2016 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. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Cheryl Barker book cover

And the winner of Cheryl Barker’s Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride is . . .

Kristi Woods!

Congratulations, Kristi! To claim your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Cheryl will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, you can get your own copy of Mother of the Bride with this direct Amazon link.

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Well, that does it for another Tuesday. Don’t forget to share your insights about finding your stories from life!

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy writing…

Vonda

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Interview and Book Give-Away with Author Cheryl Barker

Cheryl Barker headshotWhat a delightful friend and her book to share with you today! Cheryl and I first met online and then finally met in person when I was teaching at the North Texas Christian Writers Conference many years ago, where I heard about this idea for a book! She has to be one of Blue Mountain Arts‘ favorite writers with publications in their greeting cards, gift books, and calendar lines and has also contributed to compilations and had many magazine articles published. But her most exciting publication is her new book, Mother of the Bride–Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride, a book I certainly could have used when my own daughters were getting married many years ago.

If you’d like the opportunity to win a copy of Cheryl’s book, simply leave a comment for Cheryl and your name will be in the drawing. Be sure to return next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner. Now let’s get started!

Welcome, Cheryl! First of all, would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My husband and I have lived in Kansas our entire lives. We have two beautiful daughters who gave us two terrific sons-in-law. Last year our older daughter and her husband became parents, making us grandparents for the first time—to twins! But it gets even better. Our other daughter is having twins this year! We feel so incredibly blessed because both sets of babies are miracle stories. I will definitely need my vitamins while trying to market my first book and help with all these grandbabies!

Two sets of twin grandbabies? Wow, you’ll certainly have lots to write about! I know you’ve been writing for many years, but have you always been a writer? 

No, but in school I seemed to have a natural aptitude for writing and ended up becoming an English teacher for a short time before starting our family. After that, my writing consisted of an annual poem in our Christmas cards, but about twenty years ago I decided to pursue writing for publication and have been writing ever since on a part-time basis.

Why did you write Mother of the Bride—Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride?

After being a mother of the bride myself, I realized how much mothers of the bride need refreshment and help and that they could benefit from a nurturing voice in their lives. Not only did I want to encourage and help other women taking on this role, but I knew the approach I had in mind would fit in perfectly with my Refreshing Spirits, Nourishing Souls brand.

I’m hoping and praying this book will make its way into the hands of mothers of the bride for years to come. And hopefully as people discover my book, they’ll make it their go-to gift for MOBs they know!

How will mothers of the bride benefit from your book?

They’ll be refreshed and nurtured as they take time for themselves—time to be encouraged, to gain helpful insight and practical tips, and to enjoy the feminine beauty of a book designed just for them. In the book I share relevant quotes and Scriptures, personal stories, nuggets of wisdom, simple suggestions for personal pampering, journaling opportunities, communication aids, and also practical tips for wedding planning.

What have you learned on a spiritual level through your book publication journey?Cheryl Barker book cover

I’ve learned to trust that God’s plan for me and my writing is best. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap and wish that I’d started writing sooner or worked at everything faster. Instead, I have to trust that I’m exactly where God wants me to be right now and that my earlier years unfolded according to his plan, too.

My trust-in-God muscles got a major workout when my first contract for this book fell through a couple of years ago. The publisher had to withdraw their new contract offers because of a financial crisis, and mine was among them. You can imagine how disappointed I was. I really had to put feet to my faith and continue trusting God. Of course, He proved totally trustworthy. The publisher God eventually provided—BroadStreet Publishing—has been able to fulfill the vision for my book in ways that the other publisher could not. Yes, God’s plan and timing are always best.

If you could start your writing career over, what’s one thing you’d do differently?

I’d connect with other writers much sooner. Since there isn’t a serious writers group in my small town, I was a lone ranger writer for over ten years. When I realized how important writers groups could be, I started traveling seventy-five miles one-way to attend the monthly Fellowship of Christian Writers meetings in Tulsa, OK. The instruction, inspiration, and camaraderie I’ve found there have been invaluable. I’d also start attending writers conferences sooner.

What could you say to encourage other writers hoping for book publication?

Go after the dream God has given you, regardless of your age or personal situation. But remember, seeking book publication is not for the faint of heart. My advice is to put on your work boots and just keep taking one step after another. With unwavering perseverance and God’s help, it can happen!

Thank you for being with us today, Cheryl. I know our friends are going to be encouraged by your words! And friends, be sure to leave a comment for Cheryl and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Bio: Cheryl Barker is the author of Mother of the Bride—Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. She’s also written for compilation books, magazines, other publications, and for Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards, gift books, and calendars. Her heart’s desire is to refresh spirits and nourish souls. Cheryl loves to spend time with her family, enjoy friends, take photos, and indulge in daily doses of chocolate.

Here’s where you can connect with Cheryl:

Cheryl’s website – cherylbarker.net
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CherylBarkerWriter/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/cherylkbarker/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cherylkbarker/
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylbarker/

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8 Tips for Writing a Synopsis: Short & Sweet and Kudos & MoGo7000 Results

Writer morguefileToday I’ll start by sharing 8 Tips for Writing a Synopsis – Short and Sweet

You’ve just completed the Great American Novel. You’ve done everything you’ve been told to do. You’ve created compelling characters and plopped them right smack in the middle of emotional/physical conflict. You’ve engaged the reader with your perfectly executed plot and subplots. You’ve edited and proofed and allowed your baby to be critiqued by your writer’s group.

Now it’s time to share the pictures and see if anyone wants to hold her. So you register for another writers conference where editors, agents, critiquers, and contest judges may ask for a synopsis.

A what?

Although you’ll find varying guidelines depending on the organization, here are 8 tips to creating a great synopsis:

1.    The synopsis is a summary of the plot of your book that gives the reader a chance to see if it warrants a closer look.

2.    It’s often limited to 1-3 pages, but in a few cases, the page limit is much higher. Be sure to follow the guidelines of the organization you’re submitting to.

3.    It’s usually single-spaced with an extra space between paragraphs and 1-inch margins on all sides.

4.    Print it in black ink, on white paper, using a standard font (Times New Roman is most often used).

5.    It is written in present tense, third person.

6.    The synopsis must tell the ending of the story, even if the book is a mystery, thriller, or suspense novel. This is not the time to leave the editor/agent/judge/critiquer hanging and hope he or she will beg you to tell the ending. I’ve actually read a synopsis where the writer said something like, “I can’t give away the ending because it’s so unusual, but believe me, it’s a real twist!” Hmmm. Not a good idea.

7.    You can’t cover all the points of the book, but you’ll want to include the major plots points that move the story along to a satisfactory ending.

8.    Give enough detail that the reader is engaged, but–with a limit of 2-3 pages–you’ll have to carefully decide what earns a place in the synopsis.

So, there you have it–8 tips to writing a synopsis. Remember, it’s the short and the sweet of your story!

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And kudos to these talented Christian Writer’s Den friends!

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere www.FreeDigitalPhotos.com

These CWD writers are doing the work, and finding success. Let’s celebrate with them!

1.  Cheryl Barker (KS): My book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride was officially released by BroadStreet Publishing on July 1st.

2.  Sandy Quandt (TX): Sandy has THREE things to share this month! 1)1st place award in the unpublished Children’s Lit at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference; 2)Contracted to write 20 devotions for Worthy Inspire’s Seeing God in Nature devotional; and 3)Article on “How to Write a Devotion” published on WOW! Women on Writing.

Books and articles and awards, oh my! Congrats, Cheryl and Sandy. We’re proud of you!

And friends, if you didn’t find your name on this list, be sure to check back next week where I’ll have a collection of opportunities just for you!

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mogoNext up…Who earned another entry into the MoGo7000 drawing for $100?

#15: Susan Baganz – 11,114 words
#16: Amanda Everett – 7,019 words

Congratulations, Susan and Amanda! And friends, if you’d like an opportunity to win $100, just check out the MoGo700 Challenge guidelines here. It’s all free!

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Well, that’s does it for today. I hope you’ve learned something and been inspired to keep writing. After all, writing isn’t a race to the finish line. The finish line is whenever we pass into glory. And the only way to lose at writing is to quit.

Keep writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Felicia Bridges

Felicia Bridges headshotHello, CWD friends, I’m thrilled to have my long-time friend, author Felicia Bridges, with us today. As I tried to remember how we first met, I decided it was at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference years ago. We met and instantly connected as friends. And then, when I had the privilege of reading an early draft of this book, I knew I would one day ask her to be on my blog. And here we are!

Felicia has graciously offered to give away a free copy of her new book, CzechMate. Leave a comment for Felicia and you’ll be in the drawing. Just be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Felicia! Let’s start with an easy question that readers are often interested in. When did you first fall in love with writing?

I started writing as an angsty pre-teen half a world away from my friends in a culture that I didn’t understand. My dad was stationed in Taegu, South Korea and I was midway through sixth grade when we moved overseas. Having moved about every 18 months to two years, it took me about six months to settle into a new place, find some friends I could relate to and feel like I wasn’t an alien newly relocated from Mars. Writing became a way of escaping the loneliness of those long months and coping with the new culture and even learning about it.

Wow, it’s hard to move and change schools frequently when it’s simply across town. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be when you’re moving around the world! What made you decide to turn your talent back over to God?

For most of my adult years, writing was something I did for myself. It was a way of processing life, journaling about my life including following God, raising my kids, working through the challenges of married life. But after my oldest daughter and I returned from our first foreign mission trip, she wanted to learn about what it was like for kids her age (12) who live abroad. We searched the Christian bookstores and even the secular stores but there were simply no young adult stories about kids living on the mission field.

About the same time, the Young Indiana Jones series had come out on television and I thought, “What could make a greater adventure series than the stories of young people living all over the world, sharing their faith, facing danger and persecution, and witnessing God work in miraculous ways?” So I started writing my first novel, CzechMate, set in Prague where we had just been on a mission trip. We had learned so much about the culture and I wanted to incorporate history and culture, landmarks and politics – I wanted the story to be a virtual field trip to this country, but one that was wrapped up in an adventure that would make readers want to finish reading it! I worked on the book for years, writing little scenes and then setting it aside for months at a time. It took even more years to work up the courage to follow through on requests I’d received at writers’ conferences and actually send my “baby” out into the world to face the rejections I knew had to come as part of the process. But God, who had planted the idea so many years before, had gone before me. All those years of writing and re-writing, editing and scrapping whole plotlines to make the story as tight as possible, served as watering and tending, and God brought the increase in his time by allowing the first publisher to see the full proposal to offer a contract on it.

The first publisher bought it? What a blessing that you didn’t have to go through a bunch of rejections! But, as you pointed out, during those years, you were writing, editing, rewriting and editing, and going to conferences. You were doing the work of a writer! Now that your book is out, what do you hope readers will gain from it?

My vision for this series is to inspire future missionaries. That is a God-sized task, but if God is able to give voice to a donkey, as He did in Numbers 22, I believe He can provide the words for me, too. In order to capture the imagination of my readers, I hope the International Mission Force series is both entertaining and educational. I find learning about a new culture fascinating. The stories that are part of their heritage almost always include a touchpoint to God, whether it is a story that reveals mankind’s desperate need for a savior or our attempts to reach God on our own. These common threads of our humanity not only demonstrate God’s revelation of Himself to all people, but illustrate how we have much more in common than that which is different.

What plans do you have for this series in the future?

CzechMate is only the first in a series that I hope will one day include stories from every place that missionaries serve. I was thrilled that Vinspire Publishing offered a contract on the second novel in the series as well. BoliviaKnight’s protagonist is 17-year-old Peter Parkinson. Peter’s been a missionary in Bolivia since he was born, but when he uncovers a smuggling ring, will his secondhand faith be enough to defeat a cartel and free the girl who has hijacked his heart? The greatest enemy we face lurks in our own heart. BoliviaKnight is scheduled for release December 2016. I’m currently working on the third book in the series, which will be set in Kenya.CzechMate Cover Felicia Bridges

What an exciting and educational mystery/adventure series! I’m looking forward to reading the other books, too! Thanks for being my guest today and sharing your International Mission Force series with us, Felicia. I hope you’ll join us again!

And friends, if you’d like a chance to win a free book, simply leave a comment for Felicia and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Felicia Bridges began writing as an Army BRAT learning to enjoy life overseas. Her nomadic childhood created a passion for missions and travel that permeates her writing. She is a contributing author for Then Along Came an Angel: Messengers of Deliverance and God’s Provision in Tough Times, a finalist for the 2014 Selah Awards. Serving in ministry for over twenty years alongside her husband and the mother of four children, Felicia’s vision is to inspire the next generation to carry the gospel to all nations. Her young adult series, International Mission Force, debuts in May 2016 with Book 1: CzechMate. Book 2: BoliviaKnight is expected later this year. Her blog, www.AdventuresThatInspireAction.wordpress.com, focuses on living on mission wherever life’s adventure leads.

Felicia graduated with highest honors from North Carolina State University with a B.A. in Psychology and a concentration in Human Resources Development. Her ten years’ experience as an HR Manager sharpened her understanding of people, while providing some very interesting stories. Having studied public speaking in college and as a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Course, she is equally comfortable speaking to the stranger in the checkout line or an auditorium full of people.

Catch up with Felicia’s adventures at:

www.AdventuresThatInspireAction.Wordpress.com
Facebook: Felicia Bowen Bridges – Writer
Twitter: @fbridges272
Pinterest: Felicia Bridges
Instagram: fbridges2
Email: feliciabowenbridges@gmail.com

 

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How to Write for Kids: It’s NOT Easier Than Writing for Adults! Call-Outs & Who Won Greg & Julie Gorman’s Book?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

When I first decided to write a book, I didn’t have a lot of time to invest, so I looked for the quick and easy route to writing success. Of course, that meant I would write for kids. Right?

After all, kids don’t know the rules of writing. They don’t care about character development. They don’t need a lot of words. And they certainly don’t expect big words, lots of description, or a complex plot. I was on a fast track to success!

Seven years and 50-something rejections later I still didn’t have a published book.

The truth is, writing for children is NOT easier than writing for adults. Here are seven things you need to know if you want to write kids’ books that will get published…and get read.

1.  Good writing is good writing, regardless of the target age group. A poorly-written manuscript will never get past the first reader. If you want to see your book in print, you need to learn the rules of writing.

2.  Well-developed characters are necessary to obtain and maintain the short attention span of kids. Children are discriminating readers who expect interesting, compelling characters . . . and you have to present them quickly. A page or two is a lot of material for kids to read, so you’ll need interesting characters they can care about and form a relationship with, from the beginning.

3.  It’s harder to write with a few words than it is to write with a lot. You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Write tight.” That’s never truer than with writing for kids. Picture books are usually only 500-1000 words. Have you ever tried to tell a well-developed story with good characters in 500 words? Now that takes skill! And even though word counts go up as the readers age, kids’ novels are generally less than half the length of those written for adults.

4.  Children can spot a fake voice as soon as you open your characters’ mouths. The vernacular of today’s children changes quickly. Words that were cool last year are now so . . . well . . . last year! Let’s face it, about the time we adults adopt a term, it’s old stuff. So I have a group of kids who help me translate my language into theirs before I send it off to the publisher. I recommend you grab a group, too.

5.  Just like adults, young readers want a sense of place, setting, and mood. That doesn’t mean you have the time and space to write pages of eloquent description, but choose your words wisely and your readers will enthusiastically join you on your fictional journey.

6.  Don’t talk down to your readers. I read a lot of children’s material, and I see a repeated pattern in many first-time writers—talking down to the kids. As I said earlier, kids are smart and discerning readers. They don’t need us to explain what just happened in a scene. Give them enough information through the action, the nuance of the voice, and the physical expression, and they’ll get it. In other words, don’t say what you’re going to say and don’t say what you just said.

7.  Include a simple plot for picture books and well-developed plots and subplots for chapter books and novels. This is where show-don’t-tell comes into play. You’ll never gain committed followers if your book is simply a list of “This happened, then this happened, then this happened.” Even young kids want to know the reason, the motivation, the reward. They want to cheer for the good guy and watch the bad guy get his due. And yes, they want things to end up fair at the end of the book. Include more than the surface story—especially for older kids—and they’ll love you for it.

So there you have it, seven truths you need to know in order to write publishable children’s material. Anything less, and you won’t get the attention of editors…or kids.Red Sale Bag pixabay

And if you’d like help learning how to write for kids, don’t miss my BUY One, GET One Sale for my Downloadable Writing Workshops! Buy one downloadable workshop and get another one absolutely free!

PLEASE NOTE: To get this special pricing, visit my Store and select the two classes you’d like, BUT ONLY PAY FOR ONE–either one. Then contact me with the 2nd class you’d like and I’ll send it out to you!

Please don’t order both classes online, or PayPal will charge you for both!

 

This special pricing applies to Write a Novel Children Will Love, Teaching Children Biblical Truth Through Secular Fiction, How to Have Magazine Editors Calling YOU! and Opportunities for Christian Writers. Even if you order the Writing for Children Double Package, only one free class will be given.

But you’ll have to hurry—the sale ends June 18, 2016. So head on over to the store, decide which classes you want, order and pay for one of them, and then contact me with your choice of the free class. It’s easy-peasy!

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FINAL cover for Two are better than oneAnd who won Greg & Julie Gorman’s new book, Two Are Better Than One?

Random.org has selected the winner:

Julie Garmon!

Congratulations, Julie! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Greg and Julie will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s a direct Amazon link to Two Are Better Than One: God Has a Purpose for Your Marriage. Enjoy!

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It’s Time to Share Kudos of YOUR Successes!

Hey there, writing friends. We 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!

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)

PLEASE let me hear from you. We want to celebrate your successes!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~mogo

Who MoGo’d in May?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in May, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2016 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 on a book project 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 Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2016 challenge has lots of opportunities left for you. 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.

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

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Well, that does it for another 1st Tuesday. Thanks for joining me today. Without you, there’d be no reason for The Christian Writer’s Den!

Happy writing, my friends…

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles)

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Procrastinator or Determinator?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Vonda here. As some of you know, I was teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last week. But what you probably didn’t know is that Gary and I are also away this week–for our 47th anniversary! So I pulled out another oldie but goodie from past Parting Words for you. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me years ago. And yes, I needed to hear it again!) 

Hello. My name is Vonda, and I am a procrastinator.

But even though I admit to being a procrastinator, being terribly unorganized, and having difficulty staying focused, that doesn’t mean I’m lazy or that I don’t get anything done.

The truth is I’ve tried goal setting, pep talks, berating myself, making schedules, setting timers, and turning off social media. But still, at the end of the day I often have little to show for all the great plans I had at the beginning of it.

I have to admit, the repeated frustration with all the real life interruptions has now encased me in procrastinator mode. I mean, why should I even try to work on that book-of-my-heart? My plans will just be interrupted anyway.

Besides, I’ve always said I couldn’t write in short segments. I’m a block-out-a-big-chunk-of-focused-time kind of writer.

But this past week God jerked that excuse rug right out from under my feet when He showed me a verse I’d never seen before.

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Ecclesiastes 11:4 (TLB)

Said another way:

Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NIV)

Ouch.

What about you? What about me? Are we waiting for perfect conditions? Watching the wind? Distracted by the clouds? God’s Word tells us that we won’t get anything done. At least not those book-of-our-hearts projects.

Hello. My name is Vonda, and I’m a recovering procrastinator.

What about you?

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

Vonda

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Interview & Gift Set Give-Away with Judy Bone & Debra Paulk and While My Soldier Serves Book Give-Away

Cookie ladiesChristian Writer’s Den friends, do I have an exciting post for you today! I had the joy of meeting Judy Bone and Debra Paulk when I spoke at First Baptist Church of Macclenny, FL this spring, and my goodness, did I fall in love with these ladies and the precious women of their church! Then when I read their delightful book, Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar, I just knew I had to share it–and them–with you. If you want to peek at the funny craziness of these sweet friends, just check out their Facebook page and their website. These are the kind of girls you want to hang around and go to the beach with. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re good cooks, too. 🙂

And listen to this, these dear ladies are giving away a gift set of both Stir Up Some Sweet Life and a cookie cookbook! To get your name in the drawing, simply leave a comment for Judy and Debra and you’ll automatically be in the drawing. Be sure to return next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner.

Now, let’s get started! Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Judy and Debra. Let’s begin with the question most writers are interested in: What inspired you to write your book, Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar?

Judy: Set your imagination to this scene: two women share an uncertain night in an after-surgery ICU. The patient, barely awake in a tangle of tubes and needle drips, is rolled into the room from recovery. Medical equipment beeps and hums. The mood is somber, right? Serious and grim? Well . . . it might read like that in a novel, but not in our real life experience! Minutes after Debra’s breathing tube was removed from the cancer surgery, we were giggling.

Debra: At one point I thought if the cancer didn’t kill me I would surely die of laughter. But in a matter of scant hours Judy and I realized that the Holy Spirit was rolling out a work for us, which eventually became crafted into Stir Up Some Sweet Life.

What an awesome story! So can you tell us how you got from that hospital room discussion actually coming up with the Sweet Life idea?Stir Up Some Sweet Life cover and ladies

Judy: During our hours in the hospital we talked about all kinds of things we love, like scriptures, and baking, and cookies, and Jesus. And it just clicked and we said, ‘We should write a book!’ So we did. As we brainstormed, our ideas developed into a cookie-themed set of Bible studies based on how we experience the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

Debra: The book is our testament to the sweet life moments believers can find in the worst circumstances. God gives us just what we need when the cookie crumbles. That’s the book in a quick mix. Each chapter represents what we like to call a “lesson from the cookie jar.” For example, the title of the Joy chapter is: Joy Is Like A Cookie . . . It’s the Sweet Reward.

So was this writing journey a new venture, or have you written books before?

Debra: This is our first joint book project. When Judy and I brought our experiences together, we snapped with a crazy kind of synergy. We both brought skills and experiences to the table, and that made the process less overwhelming. Judy is a pastor’s wife with 30 years experience as a Bible teacher. She is comfortable developing lessons. For most of my career years I was a jack-of-all-trades editor in a creative niche publishing company. I had written technical books and magazine articles, but nothing like this.

Judy: Writing a book like this and bringing it to market is new for both of us. We don’t always know what we’re doing so we rely on God’s continual help to keep this testimony growing.

Interest in self-publishing has grown tremendously the past few years. Since you self-published Sweet Life, do you have any advice on taking that route?

Judy Bone and Debra Paulk photoJudy: After getting encouragement but no bites from agents and publishers at a writers conference we decided to launch the book on our own. Life is short; we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. With that thought, it didn’t seem wise to wait on a publisher. We believe God has called us to deliver a message so that’s what we’re doing.

Debra: Self-publishing is tough, though. Even with my experience as a publisher, learning a new market is hard and expensive. This is a mission for us.

Yes, self-publishing certainly has its own set of learning curves, as does any worthwhile thing. I’m thankful you hung in there and brought this book to the public! So what’s next for you?

Judy: We’re walking through every door God opens, sharing lots of laughs along with our testimonies at events and workshops, and ministering to groups that cannot be served by major speakers.

Debra: Yes! We tell people, “Don’t worry if your group is small because we work for cookies!”

Oh, y’all make me laugh! I think know that’s why people fall in love with you just as I did! I’ve read Sweet Life, and I know my readers would enjoy it. How can people order your book or get in touch with you?

Judy: They can contact us through our website, www.stirupsomesweetlife.com, through Facebook, or visit our booth at some of the Christian conventions and events.

Thank you for bringing us Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar today, Judy and Debra! And thank you for your heart for others through sharing that life.

Friends, be sure to leave a comment for Judy and Debra and you’ll be in the drawing for that free gift set! This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss! (Don’t forget to come back next week to see if you’re the winner.)

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And who won Edie’s book, While My Solider Serves: Prayers for Those with WMSS, final, high resLoved Ones in the Military, in our Special Memorial Day drawing?

 

First of all, thanks to all of you who honored the military in your comments. They deserve it, and so much more, don’t they?

Deanna Stalnaker, you’re the winner! Congratulations! Simply contact me with your snail-mail address and I’ll get Edie’s book right out to you. I know you’ll enjoy it!

And readers, I want you to know that both Deanna and her husband served in our military during the Viet Nam era, so it’s a special joy to honor them with this book. Thank you and your family for your service, Deanna. We thank God for you.

Here’s the direct Amazon link to While My Solider Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. Would you please got one for that friend or family member who has a loved one serving our country? You could make their burden lighter by helping them pray. Thank you.

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Thank you, sweet friends, for joining me today. I’m sorry I was late getting this out, but I’m blessed to be teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this week and I’m running behind on everything else. But what a blessed time this week is year after year.

And we have the largest number of attendees this year than ever before! What a blessing. Hope you can join us next year!

Enjoy the sweet life of living for our Savior…

Vonda

 

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