Tag Archives: Edie Melson

Interview & Book Give-Away with Marilyn Turk

Marilyn Turk headshot 2Friends, you’re in for a special treat today as we talk with Marilyn Turk, author of Lighthouse Devotions. Marilyn and I met about 10 years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Interestingly, her first book is about lighthouses and my first book had a lighthouse prominently featured in the story line!

Remember to leave a comment for Marilyn and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book, Lighthouse Devotions.

So, welcome, Marilyn. Let’s get started with an easy question: Have you always wanted to write a book?

No, I never even considered it until I attended writers’ conferences. I had planned to just write devotions, or maybe some magazine articles, but not a whole book! So when I attended Blue Ridge CWC several years ago, I took Susan King’s course on writing devotions, which was a wonderful course! As a result of that conference, I had some devotions published in The Upper Room. I also pitched a story idea to Jesse Florea of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, and he liked it! That story was published also.

Yes, you’re another success story that shows how to get published: Go to writing conferences and follow through by doing what you’re taught! So if you started with devotions and articles, how did you end up writing books?

Once again, the idea took root at Blue Ridge. It seemed like everyone was talking about a book they were writing and when they asked me about mine, I was stumped. Was I supposed to be writing a book? Then the genre question came up and I had no idea what that meant. But I had been doing some research about the history of my area and somehow the “What if” question came to mind and a story began to take root, which grew into a book.

And this is the first book you had published?

No, it turned into a series and I’m not finished with that yet. Meanwhile I wrote another novel, The Gilded Curse, that will be published in March by Heritage Beacon of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The first book to be published (other than some anthologies I’ve been in) was the collection of devotions called Lighthouse Devotions.Marilyn Turks Lighthouse Devotions cover

Congratulations your newest book, The Gilded Curse! I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out in March. But since we’re talking about Lighthouse Devotions today, would you tell us how it came about?

Blame it on Edie (Melson). Actually, it was Edie and others who encouraged writers to blog to develop their platform. And again, it was at Blue Ridge – where would I be without Blue Ridge? Anyway, at the time, I found many blogs I read to be boring unless they were about writing. Well I didn’t know enough about writing to write about, so I prayed and asked God what I should write about. My interest in lighthouses was growing and I read about them quite a bit. So God told me to write stories about lighthouses. So that’s what I did. But a funny thing happened. Each time I wrote a story, a Bible verse that related to the story came to mind. I wasn’t sure if I just put the verse in the story because I wasn’t sure if my audience would all be believers, but then I felt God say, “Why do you think I’m giving you those verses?” Since God uses the word “light” 263 times in the Bible, He must see a connection to lighthouses. So the stories became weekly devotionals. Some of the readers asked me when I was going to put them in a book, and finally I did in Lighthouse Devotions.

Sounds like you think conferences are worthwhile.

Did you notice? For me, they’ve been invaluable. Although I went to college and graduated with a degree in journalism, I never intended to have a writing career. I went on to a career in sales and marketing, but always felt I could write if I had time. But when I retired and had time, I felt very rusty and wanted to refresh my skills. Attending writers conferences introduced me to a different world, one I didn’t know existed, and one which I needed to learn a lot about. I highly recommend attending writers conferences if writers want to develop their skills, not to mention network with other writers, another very important aspect of writing. I only attend ChristiaPastor’s Shrimp and Corn Bisquen conferences now. When I first started on this journey, I attended a couple of ABA conferences also and found that I belonged in Christian publishing, where people are honest, supportive, and believers.

In fact, I feel so strongly about conferences that I wanted to expose the writers in my geographic area to their benefits, so I’m hosting one April 20-23! I’m very excited about the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat. We have a wonderful faculty of award-winning authors and publishing professionals. The setting is a quiet conference center in a national forest, not as grand as Blue Ridge or some of the larger conferences, but the quality of the teaching will be first-rate. I hope that writers in the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Georgia can take advantage of its proximity. For more details and registration, check out the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat website.

So which are you writing now, novels or devotions?

I’m writing both! After five and a half years and almost 300 posts, I still write my lighthouse blog, which is mainly nonfiction, so I still do a lot of research for it. It’s funny that I’ve been asked if I might run out of stories for it, since it’s based on real lighthouse stories. My answer is that there are hundreds of lighthouses and even more Bible verses, so I don’t think I’ll run out any time soon. And the blessings that have come from it are amazing. I’ve connected with people all over the world who are lighthouse lovers and read my blog, my devotional blog!

However, the editing and publication of The Gilded Curse has re-energized my fiction brain cells. I can’t wait to get back to my works in progress, but I also have a couple of other book ideas simmering on the backburner of my brain waiting to be developed.Marilyn Turk Guilded Curse cover

Have I told you how much I love the cover of The Gilded Curse? It’s beautiful! We only have time for one more question, so I want to know if you still write for magazines.

Only one – and a very important one near and dear to me – Guideposts magazine. I’ve been a reader and fan of the publication for many, many years, and it was a dream come true to win the 2010 Guideposts Writers contest. As a result, I’ve been writing for them ever since. And another dream came true recently. I signed a contract to write some devotions for Daily Guideposts 2017, an annual devotional book that I’ve used daily for many years and always wanted to be in.

Wow–another thing to celebrate! Thank you for being with us today and sharing your writing journey. I think we all can see that your hard work is showing!

Readers, remember to leave a comment for Marilyn and you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of her book, Lighthouse Devotions. And be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Bio: Marilyn Turk is director of the brand new writers conference, Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, to be held April 20-23, 2016 in Andalusia, AL– a perfect location for writers in southern Alabama and the Gulf Coast. She has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books – A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. Her Coastal Lights Legacy series features stories set around lighthouses. Her book, Lighthouse Devotions was published in 2015, and in March 2016, The Gilded Curse, a historical suspense novel, will be released by Heritage Beacon, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Her weekly lighthouse blog can be found at http://pathwayheart.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys boating, fishing, tennis, and gardening when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her grandsons.

Happy writing, everyone!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

The Fastest Route to Publication–It’s as Easy as 1-2-3! Plus Let’s Celebrate These Writers!

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhoto

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhoto

Well, it’s the 2nd Tuesday, so that means we’ll start with some tips for writers!

Some of you have heard my story of writing a poem in first grade. You know that in high school I worked on the newspaper staff and was editor of the literary journal. Some have heard me say that by the time I was in college I knew that one day I would write a book…and the next thing I knew, I was forty.

At that point, I figured my life was half over. If I was going to write a book, I’d better get started!

But do you know the rest of the story?

I sat down and wrote a book. It only took me about three months to dash from start to finish, but I was confident it would be the next great American novel for kids. I remember the day I dropped the first batch of ten envelopes in the mailbox. “Oh my. What am I going to do when five publishers want my book at the same time? Oh, my!” (I’m dead serious. That’s exactly what I thought.)

But instead of a bidding war, the submissions received 10 rejections before the stamps were dry. (Yes, those were the days when you had to actually lick the stamps, too!)

The years came and went and I continued to recycle that book over and over and over, confident that I’d eventually find an editor who had sense enough to see what a gold mine my book would be for his or her publishing house. I did this for at least 5 years, never considering that perhaps, just maybe, I needed to learn something about writing.

In my rush to see my name in print, it took me 7 years, lots of conferences, and lots of rejections to dash across the publication finish line. And it took 10 years to have a published book!

I had a simple 1-2-3- plan for publication: 1)feel the urge, 2)write the book, and 3)collect a big fat advance.

Oh, if only it were that easy! For most of us, successful writing is a tortoise event, not a hare one. A cross-country event, not a sprint.

If you want to write a book and then spend 10 years trying to get it published, that’s fine. After all, it’s your book, you can do whatever you want. But if you really want to cross the finish line as a writer, here are the 1-2-3′s to help you get there faster.

1.  Take the time to learn the craft. If you don’t get anything from this post, I hope you get this: There are no shortcuts. I once heard bestselling author, T. Davis Bunn, say something like, “Would someone decide he wants to be a concert pianist, learn to bang out Chopsticks, and then expect to play Carnegie Hall? Would someone decide to be an artist, slap a little paint on a canvas, and then expect a buyer to pay her for it? Of course not! But that’s exactly what we do when we simply sit down, write a book, and think it’s going to be sold.”

So, instead of jumping straight into a book, start at the beginning. Find a local writer’s group, take a class at the community college, and attend writing conferences. Read instructional books and follow instructional writing blogs like this one. (You could sit and read the archives and have your own writer’s conference right in the comfort of your own home!) Learn the techniques of good writing, apply them to your work, and get valid feedback from others who know what to look for. This doesn’t mean you can’t be working on your book from the beginning, but you need to be learning the craft in the process.

2.  Start with short pieces. Many of us start out with a big dream to write and sell a book. And it could happen. Possibly. But your chances for publication may actually increase if you start out small by submitting articles and stories. And for some editors, agents, and publishing houses, the chances of publishing a book are greater if you’ve already proven you can write publishable short pieces. And the good news is, I post writing opportunities right here on The Christian Writer’s Den every third Tuesday of the month, listing places that are looking for writers.

3.  Write a blog. Yes, writing a blog can help you in your race to the writing finish line. Good blogging requires discipline, writing skills, and promotion. All this will help you build a platform while building your writing paper trail. A blog rarely leads to a book contract, although it could happen. But the better goal is to use that time to make connections while learning to write well. Visit Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation, for great posts about blogging and social media.

So there you have it, the 1-2-3 of writing for publication. The steps are simple, but they certainly aren’t easy. The dash to the finish line not be a sprint, but follow these steps and you’re more likely to win your cross-country goal of publication.

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

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let’s celebrate your kudos!

Congratulations to these Christian Writer’s Den friends who are working hard and reaching their goals!

1. Nancy Foss (NC): My first book, Lord, Change Him; He’s Such a Jerk: Finding Hope for an Unhappy Marriage, was just published. I’m looking forward to seeing where God will take me this year.

2. Ellen Andersen (SC): I had a devotion, Forgive Them? Why Should I?, published at the end of January by Christian Devotions.

3. Barbara Parentini (NC): It’s been a while since I’ve shared with you about my inspirational greeting cards, Soaring Hearts. In the last six months there have been wonderful developments. First: The desire of my heart was to see the cards perch in a hospital gift shop. There is now a large selection in my hometown, Springfield, Ohio, at The Gardenview Gift Shop in Springfield Regional Medical Center. My nursing school is rooted in the new hospital, so God answered my prayer in such a lovely way! Second: Soaring Hearts and the entire “Sea Glass Collection” is in Yoder’s Gift Shop. Yoder’s is the most well-known Amish restaurant in Sarasota, Florida. My family and I have been frequent customers for decades! They are known for their amazing pies, delicious food, and beautiful gift shop. Yoder’s now stocks a wide assortment of Soaring Hearts. Third: I was approached over a year ago about this, and I’ve been chosen as the card vendor for The Garden Club of North Carolina’s 91st Annual Event. Several vendors and I will have our booths set up at the Sheraton Imperial (Emperor Blvd by RDU Airport) in Durham, NC, for the statewide event, April 17-19, 2016. The ladies of the garden club have been welcoming and enthusiastic about the cards. I will feature my Garden Grace Collection which I intend to grow this year. And to note, I’m in the process of editing my long-awaited book, SEA GLASS, a journal/devotional for those who love the sea, filled with Scripture, devotions, poetry, and inspiring prose. I plan to paint pages with sea glass colors and design. I’ve been compiling this over several years, and am excited this will be finished in 2016. Thank you, Vonda, for always being so supportive about my writing and creative endeavors. Blessings!

4. Tracy Crump (MS): I am honored to announce that Chicken Soup for the Soul chose my story “A Glorious Ride,” previously published in their Inspiration for the Young at Heart, to be included in the upcoming For Mom, with Love, which will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Way to go, writers! And friends, if you didn’t see your name on this list, be sure to check back next week where I’ll have a new list of writing opportunities just for you!

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

Who MoGo’d in January?

These friends wrote at least 7000 words on a book project in January and earned an entry in the 2016 drawing for $100 at the end of the year!

#1: Diana Leagh Matthews – 32,765 words
#2: Susan Baganz – 14,703 words
#3: Tim Suddeth – 20,248 words
#4: Amanda Everett – 7,466 words

Woo-hoo! We’re off to a great start, gang! And readers, if you want to join in the fun and have a bunch of chances to win $100 at the end of the year, check out the MoGo7000 Challenge. It’s free!

Well that does it for the 2nd Tuesday of February. Be sure to check back next week when we’ll take a look at writing opportunities and conferences.

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

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

To NaNo or Not? NaNoWriMo Decoded, Call-Outs & Book Give Away

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareVonda here: Writers, are you wondering what all this NaNoWriMo talk is about? Trying to decide if it’s something you should consider? Thanks Edie Melson, here are the answers to your questions! (I’m participating for the first time this year!)

To NaNo or Not? NaNoWriMo Decoded, by Edie Melson

Among those whose heart’s desire is to write a novel, November thoughts turn to the dilemma of NaNoWriMo. For the uneducated, November has long become known as National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an idea that has exploded in popularity. The idea is that you write the first draft (minimum of 50,000 words) of a novel in one month. At first this may sound ridiculous, but many writing instructors advocate writing your first draft quickly, without editing. James Scott Bell encourages this in his book, The Art of War for Writers. I highly recommend this book, by the way and it was the very first book reviewed on this blog. Curious to learn more? Click here to read the review.
So how do you get involved with NaNoWriMo?
  • First, visit the website and set up an account.
  • Second, familiarize yourself with the site and the many things they offer.
  • Third, start brainstorming ideas.

Yep, I’ve found it helps me to have an idea of where I’m going with my novel. I don’t want to get into the whole plotter or pantster debate, but I highly recommend at least a glimmer of an idea before you start.

Still unconvinced it’s for you? Consider this, people participate in NaNo for many reasons—many of them good—here are just a few to consider.

  • For Fun: maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel. Here’s your time to give it a try.
  • To Jumpstart Your Next Book: if you write professionally, the work of writing can sometimes get in the way of actual writing. NaNo can help you get back on track.
  • An Accountability Group: Some of us just do better when we have to report on our progress. NaNoWriMo actually requires that.
  • A Deadline and Goal: I don’t know about you, but I can do almost anything for a month—give up chocolate, start an exercise program, get familiar with a new routine. Why not try writing a novel?
  • Company in a Lonely Endeavor: writing is a solitary pursuit and can often be intimidating and discouraging. Aligning with a group that has a shared goal and purpose helps alleviate the loneliness and helps keep us motivated.
  • To Win: yes, I admit it. I’m highly competitive and just thinking about NaNoWriMo gets my adrenaline pumping.

Vonda here: Edie and I would love to see who’s participating in NaNoWriMo, so be sure to leave a comment and let us know your NaNoWriMo name (you choose it when you register). Ours are easy to remember: emelson and vondaskelton.

Also, if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo previously, please share your suggestions and comments based on your experience. Thanks!

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

I want to hear about your successes! celebration - Morguefile

Okay, friends, now it’s time to hear from you! 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)

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

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

mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in October?

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

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

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules.

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 2 months and you’ll have 2 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. Participating in NaNoWriMo? Those words can also count as your Mogo7000 words. And it doesn’t cost you a cent!Broken Butterfly Cover (1)

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

Who won Cindy Patterson’s book?

And the winner is…

Tammy Whitehurst!

Congratulations, Tammy! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Cindy will get your book right out to you! And friends, I know you’re gonna want Cindy’s book, so here’s a direct Amazon link to Broken Butterfly.

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

Well, that does it for our first November meeting. Now get to work and write!

Blessings,

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

5 Reasons to Take Your Time with Self-Publishing, Kudos & MoGo7000 Qualifiers

books pixabayLet’s start with 5 Reasons to Take Your Time with Self-Publishing

If you’ve been writing a while, you’ve probably been there . . . at the crossroads of excitement and frustration. You know your concept is salable. Your story is good. Your topic is timely. But you just received another rejection letter. What’s wrong with these people? Why can’t they see the value of your project? Don’t they know this book needs to be out NOW?

Self-publishing is looking better by the day.

I’m the first to tell you there are lots of great reasons to self-publish, and I’ve talked about the subject several times here at the Christian Writer’s Den. If you’d like to take a look, check out these links to Three Points to Consider if You’re Considering Self-Publishing, How to Tell Your Amazing Life Story, and Do I Really Need an Agent?

But I’m also the first to admit that there are some particularly good reasons NOT to jump into self-publishing. Time is one of them.

In this on-demand world of instant gratification, self-publication can be seen as a quick way to get your book out and in the hands of excited readers. That could be the case; however, successful self-publishing usually takes time. Before you self-publish, you need to consider these five truths about writing.

  1. Good writing takes time. It’s sad to think back on the many writers I know who sat down, wrote a book, and self-published it because they had to get it out now. Years later, many of them wish they had taken the time to do the real work of a good writer. I’ve admitted in several posts that I wrote my first children’s novel in a matter of 2-3 months, edited it as I went along, and immediately sent it out to editors and agents. After all, I knew I was a good writer, and it wasn’t only my mother who confirmed it. My high school teachers and college professors did, too. But I was wrong. After years of rejection, I finally learned that for most professional writers, good writing takes multiple rewrites, critiques by other writers, and some time between writing and publishing.
  2. Good editing takes time. Proper editing involves much more than proofreading and requires more skill than a read-through. Quality editing is a volleying experience between you and your editor. After you do your own writing and rewriting, you submit the project to the editor for his input, and he bounces the project back to you. You then do more corrections, sometimes large chunks of rewrites, and send the project back to the editor for more input and conversations regarding differing opinions. This could happen multiple times over multiple days and weeks, perhaps even months. A good editor is worth paying for.
  3. Good covers take time. If we’re honest, it’s often easy to pick out a self-published book by simply looking at the cover. Like the editing process, a good cover requires a back-and-forth effort with a graphic artist or cover designer. Several options should be offered, with input and feedback from both the author and the designer. Remember, the first think a potential buyer will see is the cover. To give your book the best chance at success, take the time required to have an eye-catching, quality cover.
  4. Good marketing strategy takes time. Don’t wait until you have your book to plan your marketing strategy. My bestselling author friends, Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills, have developed an excellent class on this very topic. “An Author Roadmap to Find Your Superhighway for Marketing and Branding” will be coming to writers conferences around the country beginning this month, and you don’t want to miss it. These successful authors will teach a timeline of when to do what, and believe me, it starts long before your book is out.
  5. Good publishing takes time. It’s not unusual for traditional publishing to take 1-2 years from contract to release while self-publishing can allow you to get your book written and published within weeks. But as you can see from this list, speed is not the best indicator of success. Some may argue that traditionally published books have come out quickly and been very successful, such as those related to current events and headline news. But remember, those publishers have a full staff of experts working around the clock to create that successful, quickly published book. Most of us don’t have such staff at our disposal.

Although self-published books can release on a shorter timeline than traditionally published ones, most successful books are the results of good writing, good editing, good covers, good marketing strategy, and a good investment of time.

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

Kudos to YOU!celebration - Morguefile

These Christian Writer’s Den friends have been working hard and congratulations are in order!

1.  Andrea Merrell (SC): I had a two-page article about prodigals in the September issue of
Reach Out Columbia magazine.

2.  Dee Dee Parker (NC): Dee Dee won the first place award in the Southern Living Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest and is featured in the October issue!

3.  Susan Baganz (WI): Susan has finished another contracted book in a series!

Congratulations, writers! I’m proud of you. :-)

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

mogoWho MoGo’d in September?

We only had one MoGo-er for September, but she blew it out of the water!

#12: Susan Baganz – 27,871 words

Congrats, Susan!

Writers, you have three more months in 2015 to earn entries into the drawing for $100. MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines are here. It’s free!

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

That does it for today. Writers, don’t forget to help another writer today. :-)

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Interview & Book Give-Away with Yvonne Ortega, and Who Won Kathy Carlton Willis’ Book?

Yvonne Ortega headshotWelcome to the Christian Writer’s Den 5th Tuesday as we welcome author and speaker, Yvonne Ortega!

Yvonne and I go way back to 2005 or so when we first met through the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). In 2011 she attended the NCompass Writing Retreats that Edie Melson and I were leading at the time (before life got so crazy that we had to discontinue it). Then in 2012, she attended Christian Communicators Conference. During that time, she was cranking out books and blog posts, while also providing counseling in many areas of need.

Since then, God has continued to use her in powerful ways to reach those who need to hear the Good News of the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord. She has gone on to get even more training and as you’ll see, is now training others! But one of the things I love the most about Yvonne is her often-stated goal, “To reach millions for Jesus in my lifetime.” Wow. Can you see why I’m excited about sharing her latest book with you?

Be sure to leave a comment for Yvonne and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her latest book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward.

So let’s get started! Welcome, Yvonne. First of all, I’d like you to tell my friends a little about yourself.

I’m a small-town gal who enjoys the beach and music—everything from country western to classical music. Mention travel, and I’ll pack my bags right away. I watch comedies and laugh until my sides hurt.

As I’ve already mentioned, you’re a professional speaker and an author. How did you get interested in this line of work and ministry?

As a child, I gathered the neighborhood kids to play school. I was the teacher. Mama took me to the library weekly until I could go on my own. I would get lost in a book and forget to eat if it weren’t for Mama’s dinnertime call. I liked the smell and feel of paper and composition books and wrote stories. At thirteen, I submitted my first letter to the editor of the local newspaper.

After a diagnosis of breast cancer fourteen and a half years ago, I cried out to God through journaling. After lots of rewrites, I wrote my first book, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. I had to speak in order to market and publicize the book.

That led me to speaker training, and now I’m a World Class Certified Speaking Coach.

What led you to write your second book?

Prior to breast cancer, I had gone through a domestic violence marriage, divorce, and single parenting. After breast cancer, I had four car accidents in seven years. None were my fault, but I suffered injuries and damage to my car. Six years ago, my only child unexpectedly passed away following surgery. Each crisis forced me to my knees in prayer and to the Bible for answers. God showered me with his love, Yvonne Ortega book cover 2compassion, and faithfulness.

After the divorce, I became a Licensed Professional Counselor and became involved in Women’s Ministry. I met many hurting women who didn’t know they could move from broken to beautiful with God’s help. That’s how my latest book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, came about. Passion drives me to share the message of these life lessons with women worldwide. Hurting people don’t need to give up. They can move forward and lead a productive, joyful life beyond measure.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who want to write about their painful past?

  • Make sure you’re ready to write about your painful past without an emotional, physical, or spiritual collapse. Take your time to heal. Ask God to show you when you can tackle the trauma of your past. He will show you.
  • Have you forgiven those who hurt you? God says in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” I struggled to forgive my ex-husband. With God’s help, I’m no longer a prisoner of the past. Your readers want to know you aren’t either.
  • Acknowledge your pain and loss and admit you still grieve. I lost my mother before Mother’s Day and my only child three days after in the same year. Their birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mother’s Day trigger the pain. They’re in heaven, but I can’t call or visit them and can’t send them a card or a gift. They can’t call or visit me, or send me a card or gift either. That hurts.
  • If you present yourself as Wonder Woman, your readers can’t identify with you. And you can’t minister to them. Acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses.
  • In writing about your painful past, you answer a divine call. You minister to those you write and speak for. Your writing cannot be therapeutic journaling. There is a place for therapeutic journaling, but not for publication. For publication, include application, application, and more application. Have Scriptures, prayers, resources, links, quotations, etc. for the readers. Answer the question, “What’s in it for them?”

Your advice is right on target! Where can readers find your book?

Moving from Broken to Beautiful is available as a paperback and an ebook on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Do you have another book in progress?

I’m thrilled to say I’m halfway through writing a book on forgiveness.

Awesome, Yvonne! I didn’t know that! Thank you for joining us today. I pray God continues to bless you as you bless others.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Yvonne and you’ll be in the Random.org drawing for a free book. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner.

Yvonne Ortega book cover 1Readers, you can contact Yvonne through:

Her website: www.YvonneOrtega.com

Her blog: On the homepage of her website

Twitter: @yvonneortega1

Facebook: Yvonne Ortega

Facebook Community Page: Yvonne Ortega

To contact Yvonne about a speaking event, please visit her website or contact her directly at yvonne@yvonneortega.com

Bio: Yvonne Ortega is a World Class Certified Speaking Coach, an international speaker, author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer and a contributing author to two anthologies. She has taught at major Christian writing conferences in the USA. Yvonne has been interviewed on radio and TV programs including Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, the Harvest Show, 100 Huntley Street, and Marnie’s Friends. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has taught Precept Bible Studies and in Bible Study Fellowship. Yvonne currently serves on the Advisory Board for Christians in Recovery. She served as the Regional Speaker Trainer of Virginia for more than three years and on the board of Kairos Prison Ministry. Subscribe to her newsletter and free weekly devotion at www.YvonneOrtega.com

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

And who won Kathy Carlton Willis’ book, Grin with Grace?Grin-With-Grace_cover

The winner is:

Jean Wilund!

Congratulations, Jean! All you need to do is contact me with your snail mail address and Kathy will get your book right out to you!

And for you who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Grin with Grace. I know you want your own copy so you’ll be able to grin through the tough times, too!

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

Friends, I don’t know if you noticed, but both of these books are about how to get through those tough times in life. I didn’t plan this, but apparently God did! I hope you find that both of these books encourage you and lift you up through the human lessons and the supernatural love, grace, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Grace and peace be your in abundance,

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Interview & Book Give-Away with Kathy Carlton Willis and Who Won Edie Melson’s Book?

Kathy Carlton Willis ImageIt’s a joy to introduce my friend, Kathy Carlton Willis, to you!

Kathy and I have been friends for many years and have seen many changes in the writing world. But one thing remains constant: The secret to getting your work published is to write well! And that’s exactly what Kathy did with her latest book, Grin with Grace. What a joy to share this new book with you!

Leave a comment for Kathy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Grin with Grace! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner. Now, let’s get started!

Welcome, Kathy! Let’s begin by letting you tell my friends a little bit about yourself.

I’m a flawed pastor’s wife on the search for grace. I’ve discovered a lot about God, others and myself along the way. I dote on my Boston Terrier, Jazzy, and love to find the humor in any given situation—even the trials. I’ve laughed. A lot. Grace (and Jazzy) have a lot to do with the ability to grin even when I’d rather groan or grit my teeth.

Will you share how you began your speaking and writing ministry?

I guess we can blame my profusion of words on my Mom. She says I pretty much came out of the womb talking, and soon after she helped me discover our public library. I’ve always been a words girl and started writing when I started writing—and haven’t looked back!

How did you come up with Grin with Grace?

All through my husband’s time in church ministry—over thirty years now—I’ve learned the importance of grinning with grace. So often, when I felt backed into a corner by a not-so-well-meaning church member, I found a way to bite my tongue: I told myself to grin with grace. It became my go-to phrase.

To organize the book, I searched for the word grace in Scripture and combined the results into different categories. I discovered how God blesses us with His grace, and the ways grace impacts our relationships with Him and others. Since life is more bearable with laughter, humorous transparency is woven into the fabric of this study. Hence—Grin with Grace.

I know from my own experience that God often qualifies us as authors by allowing us to gain life experience before we write on the topic. What happened to prepare you for writing Grin with Grace?

While writing this series, I dealt with multiple health issues, surgeries, cancer, and hospitalizations. At the same time, I moved to a different town and dove in to a new church ministry with my husband. Very little in life seemed familiar or comfortable. But God infused grace into each challenge and turned them into opportunities.

What will readers discover in Grin with Grace?Grin-With-Grace_cover

Grace isn’t meant to be hoarded. Once God blesses us with grace, we are then recruited to be instruments of His grace to others. Grin with Grace tells stories of real-life grace and gives suggestions for creating new grace moments for others. Learn how to become a Grace agent.

What are some of the events you have planned to go along with your Grin with Grace book? Event planners are welcome to contact me to find out more about these programs: Grace Gal Pal’s Night Out, Grin with Grace Banquet, Tea or Brunch, and the Grin with Grace Retreat.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

If you’re serious about obtaining the writing goals God’s given you, then you have to act like the CEO of your own company and do the work of writing. If you treat it as a hobbyist, you will get hobby-like results. But when you treat it like a business, the industry will take you seriously. Take the time to do it right the first time rather than getting in a hurry. Ask yourself: “Am I in love with the idea of being a writer, or am I in love with actually writing?”

(Vonda here: Kathy didn’t tell you, so I will. Kathy also has a writers group she coaches called WordGirls. It’s a group customized to the needs of the members, and involves a variety of services: webinars, private Facebook discussion group, one-on-one coaching, critiques, weekend getaways, downloadable tutorials, monthly newsletter and more. Their next event is in Kentucky later in October. Contact Kathy if you’d like to hear more about WordGirls.)

Where can readers find your book?

Grin with Grace is published by AMG Publishing and can be found or requested anywhere books are sold.

So what’s on the horizon? Do you have another book in progress?

The next book in the Grin With…Bible Study Series is Grin with Joy. It’s set to release around March, 2016. I also have a book for speakers that released this year titled Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion.

Thank you for being with us today, Kathy. You gave us all a lot to think about and work on.

And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Kathy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00025]Readers, you can contact Kathy through:
Her website:
www.KathyCarltonWillis.com
Her Grin with Kathy Blog: http://www1.cbn.com/blog-grin-and-grow-with-kathy
Twitter: @KCWComm
Facebook: Kathy Carlton Willis
Facebook Groups: Grin with Kathy and Speaker to Speaker
To contact Kathy, please email her at: kathy@kathycarltonwillis.com

Bio: Kathy Carlton Willis writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith—whimsy and wisdom. Not many funny girls also have Bible degrees! Kathy’s a pastor’s wife, which gives her plenty of opportunities to grin with grace. She shines the light on issues that hold women back and inspires their own lightbulb moments. Almost a thousand of Kathy’s articles have been published in books, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Kathy’s tagline describes her best: Light & Lively: His Reflection/Her Laughter. Kathy lives with her pastor/husband, Russ, in Rockdale, Texas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Connections cover

Who won Edie Melson’s book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers?

And the winner is…

Rene` Diane Aube!

Congratulations, Rene`! Just contact me with your mailing address and your book will be on it’s way!

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

Thanks for Tweeting!

Can you grin through the gook of life? Grace can’t be hoarded! #Free book #amwriting @KCWComm via @VondaSkelton http://ow.ly/Sve09 (Click to Tweet)

Happy writing!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Writers Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences & a Special Writing Give-Away

newspapersHappy 3rd Tuesday, friends! Let’s start with writing opportunities selected just for you! (Be sure to check out the brand new giveaway at the end of this post!)

Struggling to find places to submit your writing? Here are some suggestions:

1.  WITH: Why Is This Happening? is a site designed to encourage and lift those who are struggling. Even though this is not specifically a writing opportunity, I just had to include it. After all, many writers and speakers are compelled to write and speak because of an experience in their lives. This could be your chance to help others! Here’s the link for instructions on how to submit a video or written message. As always, remember to follow instructions carefully.

2.  Elk’s Magazine buys 20-30 preciously unpublished articles a year. Here are the Elk’s Magazine writers guidelines.

3.  Clubhouse Magazine for Kids guidelines   

4.  Faith Today: Canada’s Christian Magazine guidelines

5.  Georgia Family Magazine guidelines

6.  Adventure Kayak Magazine contributor guidelines

7.  Bead & Button Magazine submission guidelines

8.  Guide is a Christian story magazine for young people ages 10-14. The 32-page, four-color publication is published weekly by the Pacific Press Publishing Association. Our mission is to show readers, through stories that illustrate Bible truth, how to walk with God now and forever. Writing Guidelines for Guide Magazine here.

9.  Lerner Publishing Group works with many talented authors and illustrators to create its books for children and young adults. Here are our current submission guidelines.

10. Chicken Soup is always looking for stories!

11. Pockets Devotionals for Kids

12. Saturday Evening Post guidelines

Okay, that does it for this month’s opportunities. Be sure to let me know if you get a publication through this list. I’d love to celebrate with and brag on you!

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

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here are some awesome contest opportunities for you:

1.  Kathy Ide’s 4th Annual Promising Beginnings Christian Writers Contest. Winner receives a full scholarship to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March 2016 in CA. Deadline November 30, 2015.

2.  Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. Deadline September 21, 2015.

3.  Writer’s Digest Poetry Competition. Deadline October 1, 2015.

4.  Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition . Deadline November 16, 2015.

5.  Almost An Author will open the Fresh Voices Writing Contest for submission beginning October 1, 2015. Deadline December 1, 2015.

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

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Which conference or conferences are you attending within the next year?

1.  American Christian Fiction Writers Conference: September 17-20, 2015, Dallas, TX

2.  Writer-to-Writer: September 18-20, 2015, Murfreesboro, TN

3.  Breathe Christian Writers Conference: October 9-10, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

4.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist RetreatOctober 18-22, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

5. Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference: October 22-24, 2015, Greater Kansas City Area, KS

6.  WordGirls: October 22-24, 2015, Owensboro, KY

7.  Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference: October 22-25, 2015, Norton Shores, MI

8.  East Texas Christian Writers Conference: October 30-31, 2015, Marshall, TX

9.  Next Step Writers Contreat (Yes, the spelling is correct. :-) : November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM (Scholarships available, but today is the last day to apply, so hurry!)

10. Weekend with the Writers: January 29-30, 2016, Greenville, SCWritersBootcamp2016 logo

11. Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC Scholarship deadline October 31, 2015 (I’ll see you there!)

12.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 24-28, 2016, Leesburg, FL

13. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 11-12, 2016, Spartanburg, SC. Details coming soon!

14. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference: March 18-22, 2016, Mount Hermon, CA

15. Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 19, 2016, Colliersville, TN

16. Write2Ignite for Writers of Children’s Literature: April 1-2, 2016, Tigerville, SC

17. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 22-26, 2016, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there! Watch for details coming soon!)

18.  New England Christian Writers Retreat: June 17-19, 2016, Hamilton, MA

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

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

FREE PixabayWell, that does it for our regular announcements, but today we have a special give-away!

I’m thrilled to let you know that each person who Tweets or shares today’s post on Facebook or other social media will receive an entry into a drawing for a free copy of Edie Melson‘s best-selling book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers! Thanks, Edie, for sharing your book with my readers!

Simply Tweet or post and leave a comment that you’ve done it, and you’ll be in the drawing. The winner will be announced next week, so don’t forget to check back!

It’s easy to share with this Tweetable!

#Writing opps-contests-conferences & free socialmedia book by @EdieMelson via @VondaSkelton #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

Happy writing!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Interview & Book Give-Away with Nan Jones

Nan Jones new headshotFriends, it’s a joy to introduce my friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators speaker training graduate, Nan Jones, to you. Nan and I met many years ago when she attended one of the writing retreats Edie Melson and I used to lead in the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Since then we’ve watched her grow as a speaker and award-winning writer of The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife. We feel like proud mamas!

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

Welcome, Nan! Let’s start by letting you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in the mountains of North Carolina. My home is a farmhouse built in 1895 with a much loved wrap-around porch, complete with rocking chairs and porch swing. I have three adult children and one grandchild. I served as a pastor’s wife for 31 years—a great honor—but these years of ministry were some of the most painful and difficult in my life, thus my book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife. When I’m not writing or preparing messages for my speaking ministry, you’ll find me gardening, crocheting, reading or sharing a cup of coffee with a friend.

Will you share how you began your speaking and writing ministry?

As a child I was an avid reader and have always enjoyed the power of story. I am also an artist. Around age ten, I realized I could put my two passions together and paint with my words. It seemed to ooze out of me. When I was twelve I made a list of my life goals. Writing a book was number one.

Throughout my life writing was a hobby— something I did, not something I was. But a pen and paper was never far from me.

In 1992 we were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While attending a ladies’ conference I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. He quietly whispered deep in my spirit, Nan, look at these ladies surrounding you. Even as they lift their hands in praise to Me, many are hurting deep within. You will take My message of love to them. You will teach them of My faithfulness, especially during the struggles of life.Nan Jones Perils book cover

For eighteen years I waited. I used those years to develop my faith, to be available for anything the Lord asked of me albeit teaching Bible studies, leading women’s ministry, writing and sharing devotions … whatever He asked, I did while awaiting the appointed time.

About five years ago my husband and I went through an extensive period of unemployment. It was at that time that my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing and speaking full-time.

As a reader of your blog and book, I can totally confirm that you paint with words. I have to remind myself that coveting your gift of lyrical, beautiful writing is wrong!

What was the impetus of writing this book?

Pastors’ wives often live in silent pain. We have struggles, we experience enormous amounts of rejection, and our hearts are often ripped in two through the lonely fires of ministry. That sounds harsh, I’m sure, but most pastors’ wives will agree with me. My heart’s cry is that the pastor’s wife will realize she is not alone—that someone understands how she feels. I want her to walk away from this book with renewed confidence in her calling, with healing deep in her wounded spirit, and the realization that in her darkest moments God was with her—He is faithful.

Yes He is. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

The word that comes to mind is diligence. Be diligent in all things and write for an audience of One. Let it be an offering and leave the results up to Him, whether it reaches thousands or just a handful of people. God’s ways are not our ways. In that knowledge I can cease striving, but remain diligent.

Where can readers find your book?

The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

So what’s on the horizon? Do you have another book in progress?

Yes, I’m working on another non-fiction piece tentatively called SEEING BEYOND THE VEIL. It’s about learning to look for the evidence of God in our lives. When we’re going through a difficult time, it’s easy to think God has abandoned us, but I’ve learned that during our darkest moments, the Lord is closest—He is drawn to our pain. But we must open our eyes to see Him. I’m also working on a Bible study for small groups by the same title. In addition, I’ve created a Facebook community page with a similar purpose: Seeing Beyond the Veil.

Thank you for joining us today, Nan. I pray God’s continued blessing as you continue to bless others! And readers, don’t forget to leave a message for you. You could win a free book!

Nan Jones Perils endorsementReaders, you can contact Nan through:
Her website: www.NanJones.com
Her blog: Morning Glory
Twitter: @NanJonesAuthor
Facebook: Nan Trammell Jones
Facebook Community Page: Seeing Beyond the Veil (a place to find the nearness of God when you need Him most)
Pinterest: Nan Jones, Author
To contact Nan about a speaking event or prayer retreat, please visit her website or contact her directly at nan@jubilantlight.com

Bio: Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire. Nan has also had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, Bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: “Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord” as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God’s Presence.

Thanks for Tweeting!

Are you a #pastorswife? Have you struggled with #hurts from the #church? Perils of a Pastor’s Wife is for you! @NanJones knows & understands. (Click to Tweet)

Happy reading and writing!

Vonda

Read entire post »

 

Parting Words From The WORD…Entangled or Established?

Today I’m honored to have Edie Melson as a guest for our Parting Word From The WORD. It’s a lesson I needed to hear, and I think some of you might need it as well. Thank you for joining us, Edie.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Entangled or Established?

By Edie Melson

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

 

I tend to be just a bit ADD when it comes to life. (I’m like the dog in the movie UP…”Squirrel!”) The problem with me isn’t just purely distraction. Instead it stems from several things, not the least of which is the fact that I enjoy doing a lot of things.

I love to write, read, hang out with friends, knit, craft—the list goes on and on and on.

But the fact that I love so many things has often led me astray. I’m easily distracted and confused.

In the past I’ve gotten off-track because I’d mistaken doing something well with being called to do something.

To keep myself out of trouble and focused on what God has called me to do I’ve had to learn to walk closely with Him.

I’ve had to make certain my relationship with God is established, lest I risk getting entangled in something He hasn’t called me to do.

I’ve learned that the evil one loves nothing better than catching me unaware and entangling me in his worldly priorities.

This has proved the case for my spiritual life—whether or not a agree to do something at church or in ministry. It’s been true with my friends and family—I have to guard those relationships that God has given me as a priority. And it’s especially been important in my writing life—I’ve had to learn to say no to the good to make sure I have time for the best.

I’ve learned that the evil one loves nothing better than catching me unaware and entangling me in his worldly priorities.

The phrase that I have taped to the top of my desk is this:

Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

How about you? Am I the only one who’s easily distracted? What do you do to stay established and avoid becoming entangled?

Read entire post »

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you want readers to gain from your book?

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

Did you ever get discouraged and want to give up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is Sweet!

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

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

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

Random.org says the winner is…

Jeanne Doyon!

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

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

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

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is Sweet!

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

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

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

Vonda

Read entire post »