Tag Archives: Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

Interview & Book Give-Away with Andy Lee

Andy Lee 2016Dear friends, thank you for your grace as my blog posts aren’t on a consistent schedule right now. And thank you, too, for your kind notes, emails, and prayers as my mother continues to heal. Today she will see her new room at the assisted living and tomorrow she officially moves in. She’s so excited!

I’m excited, too, and it’s not only because of Mother’s progress. I’m also excited to share Andy Lee’s new book with you! Andy and I met years ago, I believe it was at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It’s been a joy to watch her put in the time and attention it takes to be a serious writer, and it’s been a joy to watch her career grow! Today we’re going to focus on her new book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called. Don’t you love that title?

Be sure to leave a message for Andy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Welcome, Andy. I know you wrote this book in part to inspire and empower women who have been called to ministry. What are some of the inner obstacles women may have to overcome when choosing to answer God’s call for their lives? What obstacles have you had to overcome?

Oh my, so many obstacles! The enemy of our lives is threatened by us, and loves to discourage us in our calling. A huge obstacle is comparison. That’s why I wrote this book. If I compare my speaking, teaching, writing, mothering, cooking (which I’m not a fan), decorating, gardening (which I don’t do), cleaning (which I don’t want to do), etc. to my friends’ and virtual friends’ cooking, writing, speaking, mothering, etc. I’m sunk. Comparison throws a blanket of discouragement over my soul, and I want to quit. I fight comparison by admitting my imperfectness and thanking God for the opportunities He puts in front of me everyday, and I ask for grace to do my best for Him, not for Pinterest or Facebook or the writer of the year award.

For women called to preach and teach and perhaps pastor, there will be many obstacles. All I can say is, “Trust God.” Trust that He will open and close the doors. Go where He leads. Know that He is creative with His calling. It may not, and probably won’t, look like you envisioned when you first knew He was calling you into full time ministry.

Finally, don’t despise small beginnings, the hidden places. God’s economy is not ours, nor is His timing. Live and serve right where you are with the people He has put in your life. They may be smearing jelly all over your television with chubby fingers. Pray for grace. Kiss those fingers. Thank God for today, and use the hidden places, the small beginnings to grow deeper into Him. Practice His Presence. And practice your calling right where you are now.

Powerful truths, Andy! We tend to read Bible characters as flat, unrelatable characters, distant from us because of time and cultural differences. How do you hope your book helps modern women to better connect with the Marys of the Bible?

Oh . . . this is such my heart. Yes, they were from a different culture and spoke a different language, and they lived so long ago, but I am convinced that all of the biblical characters, men and women, dealt with the very same heart issues we do today. We see it easily with Peter and Paul, but for some reason, the “good girl” biblical characters have a holy glow when we read their stories. This detaches them from us which distances God from us in our hearts because we don’t think we could ever serve Jesus as they did. It’s that comparison thing again. But when we find someone who can relate to our struggles, we are no longer threatened by them. Camaraderie encourages us and draws us closer. I also think that once we connect with the Marys’ human hearts, the thousands of years, language, and cultural barriers disappear, and the Bible becomes more real and applicable for today.

I love the way you incorporate the Bible’s original languages, Greek and Hebrew and even Aramaic, into your study of these women. Your book gives great pointers on simple, non-intimidating ways anyone can add this kind of study to our own Bible reading, even without a Bible degree. What does it add to our Bible study when we explore the original languages?A Mary Like Me image

Oh my goodness, it adds LIFE to our Bible study when we study this way. It is incredible. My husband says that my goal is to turn everyone into a Bible nerd. It’s true, but only because digging under our translation has brought so much excitement and joy and life into my walk with God. Nuances have been lost in translation that can be discovered by word-studies, and exploring the ancient language also brings a fresh understanding into familiar scripture. If the Bible seems dull or hard to understand, you’ve got to try studying this way. You’ll never read the Bible the same, and you’ll find the truth of Hebrews 4:12, “The Bible is alive and active . . . .”

You use the Marys’ experiences to address deep topics like grief and mental illness, with stories from your own life and ministry. How can an encounter with the Marys in the Bible help Christian women who are grieving a loss, or wrestling with mental illness?

It goes back to camaraderie. You aren’t alone. We find comfort when someone shares what we’re going through. It also takes out some of the power of the grief or depression when we realize someone else knows our pain. But what I really hope the reader sees in these stories is how Jesus interacted with these grieving, mentally ill women. He was loving, caring, and desired to heal them. He cried with them, and He understood their human heart. What kind of God does that?

You write about dreams and callings and how important they both are as well as how to distinguish between the two. What advice do you give the writer whose dream for his or her book to be published hasn’t happened yet?

Keep being faithful to what He has called you to today. Again, don’t despise the hidden places, the small beginnings. Minister, tell your story, right where you are—on your blog, in the live Facebook video you feel the nudge to do, or over coffee with a neighbor. Seek God’s face daily—that means worship Him intentionally whether you feel like it or not. If there is an ache with the dream to be published, it is a calling from the Lord. Trust His timing. Seek His will for your writing. Go to conferences, blog, and attend critique groups. Be open to all projects He has for you. You may have to set the first book aside to pitch the second and see it in print first. That’s what happened to me. My second book was published before the first, but I view this as a double portion blessing from the Lord. He loves faith. Remember, His economy is not ours, nor His timing. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. Don’t give up.

Thank you for being with us today, Andy. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next!

And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Andy. You could be next week’s winner!

Bio: Andy Lee loves to teach about Jesus, and she loves to help people dig deep into the Biblical languages. She is a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, blogger, mom to three grown children and a kitty named Hank, and wife to Mike. She’s the author of two books: The Book of Ruth Key Word Bible Study: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG 2015) and A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (Leafwood 2016). Andy broadcasts the Bite of Bread on Facebook every morning Monday through Friday at 8:20 ET, and she encourages faith and study on her blog Daily Grace found on her site www.WordsByAndyLee.com. Join Andy on her blog and daily broadcasts to learn how to dig deep to live fully.

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/andy.lee.1069

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015Friends, I’m so thrilled to have my friend, award-winning author Lori Roeleveld, back at The Christian Writer’s Den. This time she’s sharing her new book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. Lori and I met at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference many years ago and it has been a joy to watch her career skyrocket. Now sit back and enjoy another entertaining interview with Lori Roeleveld . . . if you dare!

And don’t forget to leave a comment for Lori and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Be sure to come back next week to see if you’re the winner. Now let’s get started!

Lori, your book opens with the line, “We live in a land populated by giants.” Tell us what you mean.

God’s Word tells us there are persistent forces of evil at work in the world. This translates into giant problems of every type that we battle individually, as a church, and as a society. Giants are challenges that leave us feeling small and inadequate. We all face them but biblically, it’s always been the people who believed God over the giants who triumph.

How does the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale relate to 2 Peter 1:1-10?

People who don’t share our faith often think Christians have traded in everything of worth for a handful of useless beans, much as Jack’s mother felt about his trade. When we view our faith through their eyes, it can affect our attitude toward our own faith. In the fairytale, Jack clung to the beanstalk and discovered his giant-killing potential. As Christians cling to the vine that is Jesus, we, too, discover that we are giant-killers. 2 Peter 1:1-10 lists eight qualities that the world sees as boring (and probably useless) but Peter tells us having these qualities in increasing measure will “keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you but that makes me want to plant those beans in my life and prepare for spiritual growth!

Is that why you call those qualities the “eight boring beans of our faith?”

That’s right. Of course, they’re not boring but in the eyes of those who don’t share our faith, they can appear to be. It’s unpopular these days to talk about the value of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, but Peter promises these hold important keys to effective living. It’s been exciting for me to unpack these qualities and explore how cultivating them, within a relationship with Jesus, increases our ability to defeat countless giants.

You talk a lot about how God loves our smallness and works through it. What do you mean?

One key to facing giants is understanding that God revels in using small people, places, tribes, and churches because through them, He reveals even more of His glory. Isn’t that the point? Not to draw attention to great men, women, tribes, and nations but to draw attention to the Creator God and His plan of redemption.

Where do you get your passion for small churches or people who feel small?Jesus and the Beanstalk

I grew up in a small town in the smallest state, Hope Valley, Rhode Island. There was nothing I wanted more than to be on the adventure with Jesus and I figured it had to be happening somewhere much bigger. What He’s spent a lifetime teaching me is that small places, churches, or ministries can have great impact when people in them obey Jesus.

How have you seen this play out in your life?

Since 2008, I’ve written a blog that for years had a faithful but small following. Still, posts I’ve written have had an impact on writers with larger audiences such as Ann Voskamp and Jim Rubart. Twice I’ve had posts go viral. One has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. In 2015, one week after the murder of nine Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, I was able to mobilize over one thousand believers on three continents to pray for their families, all from my small corner of the world. By my daily numbers, I’m a small-time blogger but God can use me to have a bigger impact than I can even imagine.

In Jesus and the Beanstalk, you tackle the subject of spiritual growth. What do you think are the challenges involved in discussing growing up as a Christian?

When discussing spiritual growth, we have to make frequent callbacks to the truth that we’re all saved by grace and not by works. That being said, God expects us to mature in our faith just as parents expect their children to grow up. We sometime hesitate to discuss spiritual growth because it can lead to comparisons or to a sense that some Christians are “ahead” of others. I address these challenges in Jesus and the Beanstalk and suggest an approach that helps churches and individuals navigate those challenges.

Jesus and the Beanstalk has a unique structure. Can you talk about that?

I wrote the book for individual readers but wanted it to be easy to study in small groups, too. The chapters are short and all have a closing section that includes questions I call “Small Steps toward Slaying Giants.” The first eight chapters explore spiritual growth using Jack and the Beanstalk and 2 Peter 1:1-10. The last eight chapters explore each of the eight qualities that Peter promises will make us effective and fruitful. Those are designed to meditate on one quality a week using five daily readings, one day with suggestions for ways to practice that quality, and one day with no assignment to allow for a day of rest.

Your chapter titles are intriguing: Jurassic Jesus, Why God Loves Empty Prayers, and Thou Shalt Pray like Sheldon Cooper.

I’ve been a Christian since I was a child and am a serious student of Scripture. I also came of age in the seventies and grew up watching sitcoms and late night TV so my quirky perspective comes through in the titles and in the humor of this book. I’ve wrapped my love of the Lord, my passion for His church, and my desire to inspire spiritual growth in an unconventional package. I like putting a fresh perspective on ancient truth.

That leads us to your tagline. You’re known as the “Disturber of Hobbits.” What is a hobbit and why do you want to disturb them?

Hobbits are the primary characters in Tolkiens’ Lord of the Ring series. They are creatures who love home, routine, comforts, and meals on time. Adventures are suspect to hobbits because they “make one late for dinner.” I can relate to that. I like to be comfortable and safe. Jesus adventures upset my applecart in that respect but I’ve come to love being on the adventure with Him despite my hobbit tendencies. My passion is to invite and incite other comfortable Christians into the Jesus adventure.

Al and Lori with AwardThank you, Lori. I always look forward to reading your books! Friends, that does it for another great interview. Be sure to leave a message and come back next week to see if you’re the winner of Lori’s book!

Bio: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Since then, two more books have been released: The Red Pen Redemption and her latest, Jesus and the Beanstalk. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.LoriRoeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.

 

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

newspapersHere it is–your monthly writer’s opportunities, contests, & conferences. Nothing can hold you back now!

Here’s your October list of opportunities and contests!

1.  Write2Ignite Writing Contest for writers of children’s and YA literature is open for submissions. Deadline is November 30, 2016!

2.  Brain Teen is looking for personal essays on parenting teens or being a teen. Deadline is December 30, 2016.

3.  Chicken Soup for the Soul is always looking for stories. Current needs include cats, dogs, dreams, military, and teachers.

4.  The American Gardener is looking for articles.

5.  Babble Magazine (by Disney) is a parenting website looking for articles on parenting, relationships, entertainment, beauty, food, and more!

6.  FundsForWriters.com has a huge list of writing contests here!

7.  Blue Mountain Arts Greeting Cards seeks contemporary prose or poetry written from personal experience. Does not need rhymed poetry, religious verse, one-liners or humor. Pays well for all rights.

8.  Oklahoma Today focuses on the best of Oklahoma’s people, places, events, and culture.

9.  New Mobility Magazine focuses on the active wheelchair lifestyle, covering relationships, recreation, travel, people, health, and more!

10. Bible Advocate Magazine focuses on the authority of the Scriptures and the Lordship of Christ.

So what will you be doing over this next month to move forward in your writing? Be sure to let us celebrate your successes with our kudos!

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And here’s an updated list of conferences…

I hope you find one in your neck of the woods!

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

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

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

4.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 22-26, 2017, Leesburg, FL

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

6.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 18, 2017, Collierville, TN

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

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

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

10. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll be there as a conferee this time, and I can’t wait to take a bunch of classes!)

11. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 21-25, 2017, Grove City, PA

Remember, if you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about getting to a writing conference.

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Thank you for praying for my mother after her very serious fall. She has made a lot of progress, but she still has a long road ahead. Please continue to pray for healing, comfort, and peace for her and for us as we care for her. I praise God that none of this has taken our Father by surprise and we’re confident that something good will come from this for His honor and glory. After all, He promises us that in His Word!

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests & Conferences

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday and time for Writing Opportunities, Contests, and Conferences. Let’s start with a database full of writing opportunities!

It’s been a crazy few weeks, so today, I’m sending you to the Freelance Writing Writer’s Guidelines Database, where you’ll find writing guidelines from A to Z!

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And for writing contests…

Here’s a link to 27 Free Writing Contests: Legitimate Competitions With Cash Prizes, published on The Write Life blog.

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As I always say, If you’re serious about writing, you’ll be serious about writing conferences.

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

2.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 7-8, 2016, Grand Rapids, MIworkshop sign Pixabay

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

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

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

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

7.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 22-26, 2017, Leesburg, FL

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

9.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 18, 2017, Collierville, TN

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

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

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

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

13. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll be there as a conferee this time, and I can’t wait to take a bunch of classes!)

14. St. David’s Christian Writers’ Conference: June 21-25, 2017, Grove City, PA

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I hope each of you find lots of good stuff here. Be sure to let me know when you land something great. We want to celebrate your successes with you!

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

Vonda

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Ask the Agent: What 10 Editorial Mistakes Do Most Novice Authors Make? And Kudos!

This is Chip.

This is Chip.

If you’re not following agent Chip MacGregor’s blog, I have three words for you: You need to. Chip is a 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 every 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.

From Chip: Hint for the humor impaired: There are intentional errors in that list. If you see one, don’t send me a 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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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Kudos must have taken a vacation!

It’s definitely summer. We writers are too hot, too busy, too far away to worry about writing or reporting successes. For that reason, I’m especially thankful that Sandy Quandt and Kristi Woods had a lot to celebrate this month!

1.  Sandy Quandt (TX):  1)Won the 1st place award in the unpublished Children’s Literature category at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. 2)Contracted to write 20 devotions for Worthy Inspire’s Seeing God in Nature devotional. 3)Article, “How to Write a Devotion in 300 Words or Less,” was published on WOW! Women on Writing*.

*(Vonda here: I’m so sorry, but Sandy notified me today that I had already run her kudos last month. Please know this was my mistake, not Sandy’s! But I have to admit, she has enough good stuff going on that it SHOULD be repeated! 🙂

2.  Kristi Woods (OK): In July, Kristi Woods was published on Proverbs 31’s Encouragement for
Today devotions and Crosswalk.com. Additionally, she became a contributing writer for Life Letter Cafe and Blessed Transgressions. It was a busy, fruitful month full of thanksgiving to God.

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Well, that does it for another 2nd Tuesday. I hope you’ll come back next week when I’ll have a collection of writing opportunities, contests, and conference collected just for you!

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

Vonda

 

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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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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opps, Contests, and Conferences Just for YOU!

newspapersYes, it’s the 3rd Tuesday and that means I have a gift of opportunities collected just for you, my friends at the Christian Writer’s Den. Let’s start with this month’s writing opps and contests!

1.  Guardian Angel Kids is looking for submissions.

2.  Warner Press, the publishing house of the Church of God, has a variety of writing needs, from greeting cards to coloring books and devotions to resource books.

3.  The Rising blog is open to submissions for their faith, culture, and stories categories. Our own Amanda Everett recently had her first article published there. Thanks for sharing it with us, Amanda!

4.  Real Simple’s Life Lessons Essay Contest has a $3000 prize!

5.  Splickety Publishing Group is running a contest right now on the subject of transportation. But be sure to check out the rules and subject because Splickety isn’t your grandma’s magazine. 🙂 But you must hurry–deadline is July 8, 2016!

6.  Splickety Publishing Magazine is called “Your flash fiction fix.” If that sounds like you, you’ll want to check out the submissions guidelines and upcoming themes.  

7.  Lane Jordan of Lane Jordan Ministries needs personal stories of anyone who has experienced deceit or just plain meanness (more than bulling) for her book, Bad, Mean and Deceitful People of the Bible and How Their Stories Can Give You Hope. You can get the guidelines for Call Out for Bad…. here.

8.  Chicken Soup is always looking for stories!

9.  American Snowmobiler welcomes stories and photos!

10. Faith Today: Canada’s Christian Magazine is open to submissions.

Well, that should keep you busy for this month. Be sure to let me know if you land a publication!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Success Pixabay

Upcoming writing and speakers training conferences…

What conference will you be attending next?

1.  St. David’s Christian Writers Conference: June 22-26, 2016, Grove City, PA

2.  Kentucky Christian Writers Conference: June 23-25, 2016, Elizabethtown, KY

3.  Romance Writers of America: July 13-16, 2016, San Diego, CA

4.  Greater Philly Christian Writer’s Conference: August 3-6, 2016, Langhorne, PA

5.  Taylor University’s Professional Writing Conference: August 5-6, 2016, Upland, IN (This is a brand new conference!)

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

ccclogosmall7.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 24-28, 2016 The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. (We’re full, but the waiting list is now open. Details for waiting list here: Conference & Registration Details. Waiting list is free.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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These opportunities, contests, and conferences are your tickets to publication! That doesn’t mean it’ll happen fast, but if you keep working, I know it’ll happen!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos to YOU and MoGo7000 Totals

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

Today’s a day to celebrate YOU! Let’s start with the successes of these Christian Writer’s Den friends…

1.  Amanda Everett (VA): My first article, “Me Before You and the Culture of Love,” was published on The Rising blog!

2.  Andrea Merrell (SC): My short story, “The Strange Visitor,” won third place at the BRMCWC last month. I was also a finalist for the Editor of the Year award and offered a contract on one of my novels. It was an exciting conference!

3.  Nan Jones (NC): My book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife, was a 2016 Selah finalist at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference! Also, I am a monthly contributor to Inspire a Fire inspirational
blog.

4.  Ellen Andersen (SC): I have two successes this month! I had a devotion accepted by Christian
Devotions that will be posted June 29. And I had a story accepted for the Loving Moments anthology, coming out in 2017. I’m so excited!

5.  Bonita Bandaries (LA): I celebrated Cinco de Mayo speaking to Cedar Hills Senior Living Book Club, reading excerpts on Prayer from my book, A Promise Kept and Una Promesa Cumplida, the Spanish translation.

6.  Marilyn Nutter (SC): My article, “The Puzzling Path of Grief,” was published in the June/July/August
issue of Reach Out Columbia.

Congratulations to all our Christian Writer’s Den friends who are working hard and seeing the results of their work! I know there were lots of CWD friends who won awards at Blue Ridge. I hope you’ll remember to share your award with us next month!

And if you weren’t able to send a success for the kudos, be sure to come back next week and I’ll have a whole new list of writing opportunities, conferences, and contests for you!

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

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

And congrats to these writers who wrote at least 7000 NEW words on a book-writing project during May:

#11 – Susan Baganz – 11,271 words
#12 – Nan Jones – 8,103 words
#13 – Diana Leagh Matthews – 8,695 words
#14 – Amanda Everett – 7,856 words

Awesome, friends! I can’t wait to see who wins in January! If you haven’t started on the MoGo7000 Challenge, don’t worry, there are still 7 months this year to reach 7000 new words in a month. Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge details. And don’t worry–it doesn’t cost you a cent!

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Well, that does it for a 2nd Tuesday. Be sure to return next Tuesday when I’ll have a new list of writing opportunities collected just for you!

Blessings on all your projects!

Vonda

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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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