Tag Archives: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Let’s Celebrate Your Kudos & MoGo7000 Results!

Fireworks Pixabay 2It’s the 2nd Tuesday, and time to celebrate YOU!

Congratulations to these Christian Writer’s Den friends who have been working hard and finding success!

1.  Marilyn Nutter (SC): Marilyn’s article, “Holiday Gifts, Holiday Grief” appears in the November, 2016 issue of Reach Out Columbia; Marilyn’s article, “Keep Cool Over Yule,” appears in the November/December issue of The Mother’s Heart. Marilyn’s story, “Mom’s Red Cookie Tin,” appears in Additional Christmas Moments, by Grace Publishing.

2.  Tracy Crump (MS): 1) The last couple of months have been busy. My story, “A Holey Memory,” was a finalist in the Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest—a first achievement in fiction. 2) Two of my stories appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Joy of Christmas. 3) I presented three workshops at the Successful Writer Conference in OK. And I am so excited to have a new website, thanks to Rhonda Dragomir of the Dragomir Group!
3.  Bonita Bandaries (LA): Published Reflections: A Promise Kept Journal October 14 with Amazon’s
CreateSpace.

4.  Andrea Merrell (SC): Just signed a contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
for my book, Marriage: Make It or Break It. Tentative release date is June of 2017.

5. Verna Bowman (PA): New book – September release, Gathering . . . Seeds of Encouragement is a collection of inspirational writings taken from my blog (Encouraging Women One Story at a Time), created into a devotional-journal also featuring images to color. (Available at www.vernabowman.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Hackman’s Bible Bookstore).

Thanks to each of you for your hard work and allowing us to celebrate with you. You’re an encouragement to all of us!

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These CWD friends earned another entry into the MoGo7000 drawing for $100.

Let’s celebrate with these writers who wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in October:

#21: Hope Welborn – 15,756 words
#22: Susan Baganz – 8,004 words

Way to go, ladies! Won’t be long til you find out the winner!

And friends, don’t worry, the 2016 challenge has two more months to qualify! Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. And yes–your NaNoWriMo words can count toward your MoGo7000 words!

Need more info? Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules.

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Be sure to return next week to see a new list of writing opportunities, contests, and conferences collected just for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

 

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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

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How to Tell Your Amazing Life Story and Call-Outs for Kudos & MoGo7000

Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net

Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net

“I’ve had a hard life,” Eager New Writer says. “It’s an amazing story. All my friends say I need to write a book. I know it would be an encouragement to everybody who reads it.”

Just a few short years ago, I’d dread hearing those words because I knew the writer was most likely headed for a huge disappointment. Back then, publishers weren’t buying any personal stories or memoirs unless the author was a celebrity or already had a huge following.

Thankfully, that’s not the case these days. Please understand that doesn’t mean editors are rushing to buy every memoir and life story they can find, but at least now they may take a look at it.

It’s absolutely clear that personal stories can be powerful. They can touch hearts and make people think. They can even change lives. But they can still be a hard sell.

Does that mean Eager New Writer’s experiences don’t count or that Christian publishers don’t care about what she’s been through? No. It just means that even though Christian publishers want to point readers to Christ, they must make a profit in order to do so. And in many cases of personal stories, they just aren’t able to sell enough of those books to make a profit.

So what’s a writer to do? What if you do have an amazing story that would be an encouragement to others, but you’re unable to find a publisher who is willing to take a risk? The good news is, you have options.

But before we look at these other options, please, please, please make sure your book is professionally edited and truly ready for publication. Poorly-written books won’t sell, regardless of the route you go. So if your book has been repeatedly rejected by publishers, first make sure the rejection is because of a financial decision by the publisher, not because the book is poorly written.

Once you know the lack of publication isn’t based on the quality of the writing, then consider these other options.

1.  Self publish your book. If your primary goal is to document your story for your family and friends, self-publishing is definitely a viable option. Whether you choose print on demand (POD) or regular press technique, self publishing can create a lasting document of your story, allowing you to leave your message for those who come behind you.

Are you a speaker who frequently addresses large audiences? Self publishing might also be a good choice if you’re associated with a large organization that has a built-in audience and the means for delivering your message. And even if you don’t address large audiences, if you simply want to make your story available to those who hear you speak, self-publishing may be the way to go.Be creative computer Pixabay

But if you decide to go the self-publishing route, you must choose your publisher carefully. There are great publishers out there who produce high quality books that look as good–and sometimes better–than many traditionally published books. But there are also publishers who create sloppy products that label your book unprofessional. And in general, self-published books have a harder time getting distribution in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

So do your research! Don’t take anything at face value. A wise writer will search the internet for warnings or complaints, will have all contracts evaluated by someone knowledgeable about literary contracts, and will personally contact authors who’ve published with the house. Don’t go through the publisher or ask for references–that may not give you a true picture. Instead, find the names of authors, visit their websites, and contact them directly, preferably long after publication. There are many sites that report warnings about publishers. One is located here and has links to many more warnings.

Self-publishing can be a wonderful way to get your story out, but you have to choose wisely and be sure you know you’re dealing with a reputable company. Here’s a post by Eddie Jones, acquisitions editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, as he shares his Top Ten Mistakes Every Author Needs to Know Before Clicking “Self-Publish.

2.  Create an eBook. This is the route many self-publishers are going these days. For one reason, it’s much cheaper. For another, it’s much easier to do completely on your own. I’m not personally knowledgeable about e-Books and haven’t had any personal experience with it…yet. I do plan to use that route sometime in the future.

So here’s a post I found online that should be helpful for the steps of actually creating the eBook: How to Create an Ebook From Start to Finish (+18 Ebook Templates), by Anum Hussain.

bitsy3bookphoto3.  Fictionalize your story. Did you know you could create a novel drawing from the emotion, lessons, and scenes you experienced in your struggle? You can use fiction writing techniques to create compelling characters who travel your journey. Readers often connect with well-written fictional characters as easily as–and sometimes better than–they connect with real people. It’s all in the writing and delivery of the story. And a well-written novel that taps into your experiences and emotion has a much better chance of publication than the actual story of your life.

Although my Bitsy books aren’t based on horrible experiences of life, I do use a lot of real life events in my children’s mysteries. Many of the scenes, conflicts, and emotions Bitsy and her friends and family go through are taken directly from my own life. But please understand, if you translate your experiences for fiction, you don’t have to stick to the truth.

As I tell students when I teach writer’s workshops in schools, take your story or event and make it bigger, badder, meaner, and sadder. Make it funnier, happier, and scarier. Take clips from your entire life and compact them into a short time span. The lessons are still there, the testimony can still affect others, but rather than presented as truth, it’s delivered through the vehicle of fiction. And sometimes that’s the vehicle that increases your chance of publication and allows you to share your lessons of life with others.

So there’s the bad news and the good news about publishing the story of your life. Whether traditionally or self-published, Ebook or hard copy, written as real life or fiction, our stories can make a difference in the lives of others.

And if you’re writing, you need to be part of the MoGo7000 Challenge. You could win $100 just for writing your book! (See info below)

Thanks for Tweeting!

How to Tell Your Amazing Life Story @VondaSkelton via #ChristianWriters Den #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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It’s Time to Hear About YOUR Successes!

Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!

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

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

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

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mogoWho MoGo’d in August?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in August, 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 August results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in August. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

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

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 4 months and you’ll have 4 entries!

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

(Woman and computer photo courtesy of DavidCastilloDominici/www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Interview and Book Give-Away with Donn Taylor & We’re Celebrating Kudos!

Donn Taylor portraits 12/7/07First, let me introduce Donn Taylor…

I can’t remember the year, but I’ll never forget the sight. I was at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, walking through the lobby, when I saw Donn and Mildred Taylor for the first time. They walked toward me, holding hands like high school sweethearts. It didn’t take long to realize that I would rarely see them when they weren’t holding hands!. Once I even walked into my classroom to discover Donn at the piano, Mildred listening intently in a chair, eyes closed. They were both enjoying the music and each other. It was beautiful.

I wondered if Gary and I would still be holding hands when we’ve been married that long. So far we are!

So today I’m thrilled to Donn Taylor to you today. You’ll learn about his writing and achievements as you read his interview, but I want to go on record as saying Donn Taylor is truly a gentleman and a scholar. He’s also a mentor, an encourager, and he loves his Mildred and his Lord.

Be sure to leave a comment for Donn and you’ll be in the drawing for next week’s give-away of his book. Now, let’s get started!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Donn. Would you first tell us something about your writing journey?Lightning Cover - 300dpi

Thanks for having me! My writing journey followed more twists and turns than a snake on a mountain railroad. In my college years I wrote some fairly good poems and considered a Western novel titled Lightning on a Quiet Night. The Korean War killed that project before it got past the precipitating incident. So the next two decades of Army brought only bare-facts tech writing, and after that came graduate school and the painful switch to bloviated academic writing—and in both situations no time for creative writing. Two decades after grad school I retired from college teaching (English lit) and decided to see if I could write the kind of poetry I enjoyed teaching. That point proved, I returned to the old ambition of publishing a novel. It took longer than I expected to convert from literary thinking to commercial-fiction thinking. That first novel—The Lazarus File—took a couple of years to finish. It was published in 2002, and it’s still selling as an e-book.

Did you ever return to the Western you thought of in college?

Yes and no. After Lazarus, I learned there was a Christian market. So I resurrected the title Lightning on a Quiet Night and its precipitating incident. But I set this novel in Northeast Mississippi soon after WW II. The focus changed to examine a small town too proud of its virtues having to come to grips with its first murder. That theme alone could get pretty dull, but it mostly hovers in the background while the story follows a romance, the sheriff’s search for the murderer, and teenagers playing various pranks. In the process, though, the novel covers a fairly wide variety of Christian experience. Begun earlier, it’s just now published. Thanks to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for accepting a novel that combines several genres.

The-Lazarus-File_cover-300x400Describe some of the techniques that make your writing distinctive. How did you learn them?

I learned capsulization the hard way. I wasted a whole day writing a painstaking description of an upper-class Colombian home. The next day I captured it in one sentence: “The Rocas received Mark in a room whose graceful décor spoke equally of solemn tradition and spontaneous laughter.” Since then I try to find the capsule first. From Shakespeare I learned to take the reader quickly from comedy into pathos. From Robert Heinlein and classic movies I learned to lighten suspense with momentary comic elements. Heinlein mentioned, in passing, a zoologist named Tiergarten (German for zoo); in my WIP I mention an oncologist named J. Carson Oma. And some of my minor characters speak in clichés but never get them right: “The grass is greener when you are not straddling the fence.” Well, that’s what I try to do. I guess the readers receive it okay because they haven’t yet thrown tomatoes.

I love the combination of pathos and comedy. I’m working hard on that in my current WIP. You’re writing for the Christian market, so you need to stay connected with God. How do you do that?

Honestly, I don’t always make it. Mildred, my wife, taught me to set aside a time for prayer and reading scripture, usually before starting any serious work. But off and on during the day I do quick prayers, often for people with problems, and I always conclude with prayer at night. Joanne Hillman’s Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear the Shepherd’s Voice added a new dimension to my prayer life.1964 Mildred & Donn Taylor

Besides your day of salvation, what is the happiest day in your life?

No contest on that. It was the day Mildred and I married (August 21, 1952). We never wanted anything more on this earth than just to be together. John Milton says it best: “The world was all before them, where to choose/ Their place of rest, and Providence their guide . . .”

You always speak of Mildred with such love and respect. A great tip for all of us. So what is the best tip you can give someone just beginning to write fiction?

Two important items. The first is patience: It always takes longer than you think it’s going to. Second, learn the craft: Don’t be too proud to learn basic rules of grammar and punctuation. (I was stubborn, but students sent me to the grammar books so often that I finally learned.)

Thank you, Donn! I know I’m not the only one who enjoyed your insight and stories. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment, then check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Thanks for Tweeting!

Author & poet DonnTaylor3 shares tips for writers at VondaSkelton’s Christian Writer’s Den. You could win a free book! (Click to Tweet)

Bio: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD degree and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. He has published four novels and a book of poetry, and is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics. You can find Donn on the Web: www.donntaylor.com (includes contact info) www.facebook.com/donntaylor; www.facebook.com/authordonntaylor; www.twitter.com/donntaylor3.

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celebration - MorguefileAnd now let’s celebrate with these Christian Writer’s Den friends!

Congratulations are in order for some of our writers and speakers.

1.  Cherrilyn Bisbano (RI): Cheryl has two great things to share! First of all, she started a new blog  January 1, 2015. Check out her Pelican Promise blog at http://pelicanpromise.blogspot.com  Also, Cherrilynn gives God the glory for three upcoming speaking engagements. She’ll be at: Cape Cod March 27-28 and at Singing Hills Campground April 24-26 & November 12-15.
2.  Tammy Blackburn (NC): Tammy has a new children’s book. How Do I Know? is a picture book and is available on Amazon. You can find out more about Tammy at her website, www.TammyBlackburn.com.

3.  Azuka Chinonso Igwegbe: Please celebrate with me for the success of my first book
titled, Crushed But Not Destroyed. It’s a book worth reading at this season.

Congratulations, Cherrilynn, Tammy, and Chinonso! And if you didn’t have a new success to share, be sure to come back next week when I’ll have a new collection of writing opportunities and contests for you!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Ane Mulligan and Kudos & MoGo7000 Totals

Ane Mulligan headshotWe have a full, fun day ahead! First, I can’t wait to tell you about Ane Mulligan’s new book, just released yesterday, Chapel Springs Revival

What a joy to introduce my sweet friend, Ane Mulligan! While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Be sure to leave a comment for Ane and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Just check back next week to see if you’re the winner. 

So let’s get started, Ane. Did you always know you would be a writer?

No way did I ever think the stories I told as a kid (back then they called it lying) and played out for weeks with my dolls, would someday become books.

As Creative Arts director for my church, I wrote my first script in 1996, and after we performed it, I sent it to a publisher. They bought that one and everything I sent them afterwards.

How did you start writing novels?Ane Mulligan play

The hubs said I spent a lot on books, I ought to write one. I realized that was God’s call, because as soon as Hubs said those words, an idea dropped into my otherwise empty mind.

But as a playwright myself, I know that plays are a far cry from novels. How did you go from play-writing to novel-writing?

First, I found an online Christian critique group and a few mentors, who told me plainly I had a lot to learn. What an understatement.

POV? Never heard the term.

Omniscient? That’s what God was.

Show don’t tell? How do I tell a story without telling?

Yikes! Yet, with each critique, I absorbed a new concept. I bought every writing craft book they recommended, read them, and absorbed more.

Ane Mulligan crit groupI would never have made it without my original critique partners, either! Who are your critique partners?

In 2005, four other writers and I formed a critique group, and being serious about publishing, we were tough on one another. So tough, we all earned nicknames: Attila the Holmes, Hannibal Dotta, Genghis Griep, and Ludwig von Frankenpen, and Ane of Mean Gables.

Hahahahaha! I love that! Okay, so with your awesome critique group, it must have been easy to get published, right?

Not even. One editor took my manuscript to committee. While I waited for the answer, I got an agent. However … sigh …the editorial committee said no. Then, God called my agent into ministry.

A few months later, I signed with my second agent. Soon, she called, saying my manuscript had passed editorial committee and was going to pub board! This was it! Whoopee! Pub board loved it, but their slate was filled, so the editor was going to hold it for their next quarter. Only she retired before the next quarter, and her computer hard drive was wiped clean.

I was lost in cyber oblivion. Then my agent retired. Do you see a pattern here? I did and it looked like a maze. Once again, I whined, “Lord, what is going on?”

And He said, “Wait. Trust me.” He didn’t offer me another choice, so I chose to trust. Ane Mulligan signing contract

I’m glad I did. In 2012, I signed with Sandra Bishop, and ten years after I began this journey, she called me to tell me we had an offer from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

And my heart quickened. All right, God! This was it. This time, He said, “Yes.”

I believe people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. Through fiction, I can entertain readers. Through fiction, I can present seeds of God’s truth. Then when they least expect it, the story can reach out, touch their hearts, and change them. And isn’t that why we write?

Ane Mulligan book coverOkay, friends, here’s the scoop on Ane’s new book, Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages as much in need of restoration as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

Ane, thank you for joining us today and sharing your delightful journey. Friends, I know you’re gonna want to be in the drawing for a free copy of Ane’s book, so be sure to leave a comment for her. Then check back next week to see if you’re the winner! And if you’re ready to go ahead and grab your own copy, here’s a direct Amazon link to Chapel Springs Revival.

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Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now, whose successes can we celebrate this month? Oh, and see if you notice a pattern this month. :-)

1.  Edie Melson (SC): I’m excited to share that I’m one of 12 winners in the Guideposts TELL US YOUR STORY contest. Here’s the link to the contest page: http://www.guideposts.org/other/tell-us-your-story

2.  Beth Fortune (SC): Beth has two great things to share: 1)Another article was published in the wonderful publication “Reach Out Columbia” – September Edition. 2) My posts are beginning to show up on In Touch Ministries website in their new daily blog section.

3.  Andrea Merrell (SC):  www.thewriteediting.blogspot.com My new short story, The Gift, will be the first installment in the Christmases Past Series by HHP. The release date is September 25th, and the Kindle version The Gift is now available on Amazon for pre-order for $.99.

So, did you see the thread throughout this month’s kudos? All three successes are from South Carolina writers! Way to go, sweet friends!

Didn’t see your name on the list? Be sure to return next week when I’ll post my monthly list of writing opportunities!

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mogo7000 logoWho received entries into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cold, hard cash?

These CWD writers have earned an August entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100 in cash!

#18: Tim Suddeth – 15,805 words
#19: Susan Banganz – 41,671 words

Woo-hoo! Congrats, Tim and Susan! Keep up the good work and you’ll earn even more entries into the drawing.

Writers, want to know how you can qualify for the $100 challenge? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge here. It’s free and open to everyone all year long!

Okay, that does it for a fun-filled day at The Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me. I look forward to seeing you Friday as we open to His Word to hear His voice.

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Norma Gail, and Writing Opps for YOU!

Norma Gail - headshotWhat a joy to celebrate with Norma Gail as her debut novel, Land of My Dreams, releases TODAY from Lighthouse of the Carolinas! Be sure to leave a comment for Norma Gail and you’ll be in the drawing for a signed copy of her book!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Norma Gail. First of all, please tell us how you started writing.

I have always had a vivid imagination, and wrote stories from childhood and all through college. My degree is in nursing, and with marriage, a job, and children, I didn’t write much for about 20 years.

When I broke my right foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I needed something to keep me occupied. Land of My Dreams is the result. I began attending writer’s conferences which helped me learn and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

I have always felt compelled to write: poetry, letters to the editor, devotionals to open the Bible study I lead, and stories for my kids about their adoptions. I wanted to see my name on a book. Never give up on your dream.

This may come as a surprise to new writers, but you and I know the writing life isn’t easy. What was the greatest problem you faced in writing this book?

It was challenging to write about a country I had only visited for two weeks and couldn’t return to for more research. It didn’t matter when I was just making up a story, but when I became serious, I needed to be accurate.

I spent hours researching, read everything I could find, watched movies and documentaries, listened to music, and made a screen-saver with over 400 photos, and a Scottish-Gaelic dictionary on-line, and also sites with slang and common terms. I found a wonderful writer and editor, through the ACFW romance loop. Amy Drown lived in Scotland and was willing to read my book for accuracy.

It must have worked because it convinced one editor I must have lived there!

Well, that’s a confirmation for sure! What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

Of course I want to entertain. As a Bible study leader and devotional writer, I have seen a lot of peopleNorma Gil cover struggle with trusting God when hard times come, and I have struggled myself. It is helpful to use real-life situations to illustrate biblical principles.

Good fiction can teach valuable spiritual lessons. People who would never attend a Bible study will read a novel, and they can learn how to live the Christian life. A novel is a very non-threatening way to introduce someone to the gospel or get a spiritual message across. It might open someone open up to talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.

I totally agree, Norma Gail. And I believe it applies to every area of creativity. So, how did you come up with the idea for Land of My Dreams?

Scotland has intrigued me since I discovered that one of my great grandmothers was from Scotland. My husband and I spend two weeks there for our 30th anniversary and I felt at home from the moment our plane landed in Edinburgh.

We met a woman from Phoenix who married a Scot while in the Peace Corps. It made me wonder what it would be like to transplant your life to another country. My husband’s family immigrated to the US from The Netherlands, so I knew a little about it.

I loved the green fields with their sheep and dry-stone walls. One night I dreamed about a sheep farm, and the idea began to come together.

Tell us something about the book.

Land of My Dreams is a sweet romance about two people who have been hurt by life and no longer trust in God.

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.

Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny returns to New Mexico for her best friend’s wedding, her former fiancé reenters her life. Four thousand miles away, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to an attractive former student.

How will Bonny decide between her two rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future?

Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

My goodness, this sounds like a book we’d all love! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Norma Gail!

And readers, remember, if you’d like to be in the drawing for a free copy of Land of My Dreams, simply leave a comment for Norma Gail and you could be the winner! But you must be sure to come back next week to find out. :-)

And for those who want to go ahead and get your own copy of Norma Gail’s book, here’s the Amazon link to Land of My Dreams. Happy reading!

BIO: I live in the mountains of New Mexico with my husband of 37 years. We have two adult children and a lovely daughter-in-law. I love mountains, and enjoy tackling 4×4 trails in my Jeep. I am a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who loves family research, history, and Scotland. My passion is leading women’s Bible studies, and I have done so for eighteen years. My devotionals, poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the newly formed New Mexico Christian Novelists. My website, www.normagail.com, includes a weekly devotional blog, daily scriptures, poetry, and will soon have a writer’s blog.

To connect with Norma and find out more about her writings and ministry, you can email her at NormaGailwrites@gmail.com. She also has a Pinterest board for Land of My Dreams where readers can find photos that helped inspire the book: http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards.
Website: http://www.normagail.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Norma-GailAuthor/725237467493500.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQbZIoC_JSE

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newspapersAnd Here Are Some Writing Opportunities I’ve Found Just For YOU!

Thanks to Edie Melson for sharing many of these opportunities with us today. Be sure to check out Edie’s award-winning writing blog, The Write Conversation!

1.  Inspire a Fire is always looking for articles. Here are Inspire a Fire submission guidelines

2.  Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest: You must hurry–deadline is May 1, 2014!

3THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2014. How to enter, visit: http://www.dreamquestone.com

4.  Adirondack Life: Writers’ guidelines for Adirondack Life

5.  Ladies’ Home Journal: How to write for Ladies’ Home Journal.

6.  Highlights MagazineThey’re always looking for submissions!

7.  Educational Markets for Children’s Writers: LOTS of markets listed here for children’s writers!

8.  Parents Magazine is always looking for writers

9.  Free Spirit PublishingTheir mission is to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world. They publish high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children and teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people.

10. Reader’s Digest: “If you are a writer and would like to submit a great article proposal, email us at articleproposals@rd.com.”

11. Go Galavanting, a magazine for women travelers. Read Submission guidelines for Go Galavanting here.

12. In Site Magazine: InSite, the bimonthly flagship publication of Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA), seeks to inform and inspire professionals serving in the Christian camp and conference community. InSite Magazine writers guidelines here.

So…now that you have these guidelines before you, what are you going to do about it? :-)

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Well, that does it for another day at the Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the joy of writing with me!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Dead Man’s Hand: Interview with Author Eddie Jones & Book Give-Away

I hope you’ll give grace today from my usual posting schedule and join me today in celebrating the release of Eddie Jones’ new book with Zonderkidz, Dead Man’s Hand. Eddie is a longtime friend of mine and author of eleven books and over 100 articles. He also serves as Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is also a writing instructor and co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries. His He Said, She Said devotional column appears on ChristianDevotions.US. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Christian Writers’ Conference, and his YA novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult Fiction. His humorous romantic suspense, Bahama Breeze remains a “blessed seller.” When he’s not writing or teaching at writers’ conferences, Eddie can be found surfing in Costa Rica or some other tropical locale.

Be sure to leave a comment for Eddie and you could win a free book!

Okay, let’s get started. Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Eddie. First of all, Tell us about your upcoming release, Dead Man’s Hand, with Zondervan.

First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys, but we’re also getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.

Zonderkidz is a Christian publisher, so the paranormal aspect is surprising to me.

I added the paranormal aspect because I want parents and youth to struggle with eternal questions. We’ve created such a culture of blood-letting through books and movies involving vampires, zombies and survival contests, that the reality of death doesn’t carry the sting it once did. In high school my youngest son lost several friends to driving accidents. When another friend recently died, we asked how he felt and he replied, “I’m numb to it.” I fear that’s what we’re doing with our youth: desensitizing them to the horrors of death. In Dead Man’s Hand, Nick and his family discuss spirits and ghosts and the afterlife because I think it’s important for teens to wrestle with these questions before they’re tossed from a car and found dead on a slab of wet pavement.

You’ve spent the last few years dedicating yourself to helping others get published. Tell us a little about your publishing company and what motivated you to take on such a huge endeavor.

We started the publishing arm to publish devotional compilations for Christian Devotions Ministries. We wanted to give some of our devotional writers their own byline in print. Part of mission is to launch new careers for first time authors. We wanted to create a publishing house where writers who were happy selling from 2,000, to 5,000 copies of their devotional book. There is a big jump from unpublished author to “three-book contract” author and we wanted to serve as a stepping-stone for those writers.

My problem is I hate telling people no, especially when they have a solid project. When it comes time to reject a manuscript, it pains me because I’ve been and continue to be on the other end of rejection. I will delay saying no as long as I can in order to rework the e-mail. I try to give authors good advice for how they can improve their writing. The problem is, if I’m too nice, then they keep coming back and asking to resubmit the same project. My advice to those authors is, improve your writing and send me something new.

We currently have forty authors under contract, have published over thirty books and distribute around four thousand dollars a month in royalty checks. We pay our authors monthly, not quarterly, because we want them to feel like writing is a real job. In fact, I teach a class on how, if an author will write five books a year, they can make over twenty-five thousand dollars. And these are large books. Most are under thirty thousand words. The goal is to have five books that sell 125 copies, (print and ebook combined). a month.

I get jazzed when one of our books launches or sells well. I know what it would feels like to see your book growing legs and garnering positive reviews so I get excited for our authors. Sometimes I think that’s how God feels when we’re doing the thing He’s called us to do. When we’re in our zone, doing the thing we love, we feel His joy. That’s what is great about working for God: sometimes you get paid for playing. J

But the only reason I’m able to publish books and write full time is because four years ago I told God I’d work for Him full time. I figure if I was working for God I’d never be out of work. I may not make a lot of money, but he says there’s plenty of work and not enough labors so to me, that meant job security. I took a blank sheet of paper and signed it one day during my devotions and said, ‘Okay, God, I’ll do whatever it is you ask me to do, because I’m tired of working for other people. I want to work for You.’ Making up stories for boys, writing devotions, creating humorous romantic novels for adults, I get to do all this plus make dreams come true for other authors all because I agreed to work for God full time.

You’re passionate about getting boys interested in books. Why do you feel it’s so important to get boys reading fiction at an early age?

I fear we’re on the verge of losing the male reader. I don’t mean men and boys won’t learn to read: they will. But the percentage male who read for leisure continues to shrink and this could be devastating for our country. We can’t lose half our population and expect America to compete on a global level. Reading forces the mind to create. With video the scene and characters are received passively by the brain. There is very little interaction; it’s all virtual stimulation, which is different from creation. When you read, you add your furniture to the scene, dress the characters, add elements not mentioned by the author. This is why readers so often complain, “the movie was nothing like the book.” It’s not, because the book is your book. The author crafted the outline of the set but each reader brings their emotions and expectations to that book, changing it forever.

In general, boys would rather get their information and entertainment visually. This is one reason books have such a tough time competing for male readers. It can take weeks to read a book, even one as short as Dead Man’s Hand. Meantime, that same story can be shown as a movie in under two hours. So in one sense the allure of visual gratification is robbing future generations of our ability to solve problems. I believe Americans only posses one true gift, creativity, and it’s a gift from God. Other nations build things cheaper and with fewer flaws. They work longer hours for less pay. But the thing that has always set America apart is our Yankee ingenuity. We have always been able to solve our way out of problems. That comes directly from our ability to create solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate. If we lose male readers and fail to develop that creative connections necessary for the brain to conceive of alternatives, then we will lose our position as the world’s leader.

What advice would you offer to parents to get their children interested in reading at a young age?

Watch for clues. If your child shows any interest in reading, reward the activity with trips to book fairs. I remember in grade school how excited I got when we were allowed to order books. All we had to do was check a box, (or so I thought), and wham! A few weeks later boxes of books showed up and the teacher began dealing them to the students. I didn’t learn until later my parents had mailed the school money for those books. I still have most of them.

But not all children like reading and you can create an anti-reading environment if you push too hard. An alternative for boys are comic books, graphic novels, or simply cartoon books. I read a lot of Charlie Brown cartoon books and still remember the plot: Lucy has the football. Charlie wants to kick the ball. Lucy promises she will hold the ball in place but at the last moment… We know this story because it’s repeated, not in a novel, but in a cartoon.

Okay, we’re going to be really nosey now, you’ve been married a long time. Tells us a little about your family, how you and your wife met and your family.

I met my wife at a stoplight in West Palm Beach, Florida. She was in the backseat of the car behind us. The driver honked and I crawled out the passenger window, a brown Pinto. The door didn’t work so it looked like I was a NASCAR driver getting out on pit road. The car behind us was full of girls from Meredith College. They asked where I went to college and I told them I went to Meredith, too. “It’s a girl’s school, you dork,” one of them said. I told them I was taking Old Testament that semester, can’t remember the professor’s name, now, and one of the girls yelled, “Hey! You’re in my class!” I explained when been surfing all day and didn’t have a place to stay and needed to hose off and asked if we could borrow their showers. They led us back to their hotel, my buddy and I washed off and left. Driving home a week later we came upon the same car in the slow lane of I-95. The girls were afraid we’d fall asleep driving home, my buddy couldn’t drive at night, so they agreed to put one girl in the car to keep us company. She’d get in, tell her life story and at the end of the hour, another would get in the car. Our last passenger was this cute girl wearing a funny Gilligan hat. She never said a word, not for the whole hour. We put her out, the girls drove off and I finally got home, exhausted. The next week I invited that shy girl to a Warren Zevon concert. Four years later, I married her.

You’ve freelanced writing newspaper columns for the last few decades on boating. Do you have an interesting boating story you can share?

All my boating stories are interesting. I collected the columns into two books, Hard Aground and Hard Aground… Again. The column began in the late eighties when an editor read a couple of essays I’d written about trying sail a boat with my wife. He seemed genuinely amused someone of my limited boating experience would think a woman of my wife’s refined nature would enjoy peeing in a bucket in the cockpit of small sailboat. He informed me that I had correctly spelled the minimum number of words to meet his editorial standards and since someone on the staff had mistakenly sold one ad too many for the next issue, the publication was in need of some copy to balance out that page. I didn’t know this at the time. I thought he was genuinely impressed with my writing abilities. I’ve been told I still suffer from this delusion.”

The editor told me the column needed a catchy name. I purchased a few sailing publications and knew all boating columnists were subject matter experts. The only thing I was an expert on was running off the boat ramp, running aground on clearly marked shoals and running into the dock. I decided I would become an expert on making the best of tough times. When you run aground in a boat – in life – you have two choices. You can cuss and complain or you can grab a good book, kick back and wait for the tide to float you off. It’s all a matter of perspective and pennies and I’m cheap so I usually wait for the tide.

Tell us about your ministry, Christian Devotions. How it got started, what you all are up to these days and what your plans are for the future.

Cindy Sproles and I started the ministry years ago to help authors publish their devotions. We’d go to writers’ conferences and on the last day find all these writers in tears because no one wanted their work. I had a web business and knew how to build web sites so I put up a home page and invited contributing writers. We figured we could at least give new writers a byline, even if it was only on the web. Cindy had been writing devotions every day for two years, partly because of something Alton Gansky said at a Blue Ridge Conference and partly as a commitment to God. The odd thing was, Cindy I didn’t know each other at that first conference but we both wrote down Al’s words. It was like God spoke to each of us separately to work together. Weeks after that conference I was under my willow tree doing my devotion when I heard God whisper: ChristianDevotions.com. I meant to register the domain but by the time I got to my upstairs office, I forgot. A few weeks later God spoke again. Once more, I forgot. Few more weeks past and this time I wrote it down in my journal and marched upstairs only to find that ChristianDevotions.com was taken. I registered ChristianDevotions.US, instead. The dot com domain is worth over ten thousand dollars, now. Procrastination has a price. (Vonda here: This is a photo of Eddie at Writers Advance Boot Camp, where I’ll be on faculty in February. I’d love to see you there!)

For months Cindy and I were the only writers on the site, then slowly God grew the readership. Now we have thousands of readers, a ton of subscribers who get the devotions daily in their email and Kindle subscribers who receive the daily devotion on their Kindle eReader (99 cents a month). We have a teen’s ministry, iBeGat.com, kid’s web site, DevoKids.com and last year we purchased InspireAFire.com. That’s our mission-oriented web site. We have a radio ministry, prayer team, finances ministry and of course the book publishing. We didn’t set out with a marketing plan to do what we’re doing. We simply responded to a need in the marketplace, walked the mountain with God and asked how we could help. Find a need and fill it.

What’s one thing you wish I wouldn’t ask you and pretend I asked you that question. :-)

How I became a writer. I started my sophomore year of high school when he told my English teacher I wanted to write for Cat Talk, Millbrook High School’s newspaper. Mrs. Hough said, “Eddie, you can’t spell and you’re a terrible grammarian.” But I wrote a couple of articles, and she seemed to like the way I could put words together, so I won a spot on staff. My senior year Mrs. Pollard begged not to major in English. In fact, she was shocked I would even consider going to college because I’d never be accepted. She was right. NC State rejected my application. A few days later I made an appointment with the admissions office. The day of my interview I wore a pair of red and white checkered polyester pants my mom made me, white shirt and a red tie. State admitted me into Industrial Arts, which I thought would be pretty cool since I though Industrial Arts meant I’d get to paint buildings. I flunked English 101 twice before passing with a D. I graduated from N.C. State four years later with a degree in English/Journalism and four years of writing experience for the Technician. I’m still a lousy proof-editor but I learned long ago storytelling trumps grammar.

You’re writing for children right now with Zondervan. Besides the upcoming Cadence Chronicles Series, what are your dreams for your writing future?

Each day I walk around my yard reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This is my conversational time with God. Part of that prayer time is me putting on the armor of God. When I’m about halfway fitted out I say, “Lord place across my chest your breastplate of righteousness that my thought may be pure, honorable and good and my dreams secure: my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, writing a best selling novel and surfing reef breaks.” Beyond that I don’t have any grand writing goals.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write devotions, don’t focus on the praise, book sales and reviews. Forget about trying to find an agent and editor. Once you’re successful, they’ll find you. Explore the wounds in your life and minister to others through your writing. If God allowed you to be hurt, you can speak to that with authority. The rest of us, cannot. Ask yourself where your passions lie. I love surfing. If I could do anything, be anywhere, I’d be in a hut on a beach surfing a point break alone. I love playing and hate work. This is reflected in the types of books I write. I love pulling for the underdog, this comes out in the ministry God gave me. Only you can write the stories God dropped in your lap and if you do not, they will die.

Where can we find out more about you?

Please come find me on www.Eddiejones.org

Thanks for being with us today, Eddie! And readers, I have a book for someone out there. All you have to do is leave a comment for Eddie and you’ll be in the drawing. But be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Blessings,
Vonda

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