Tag Archives: Vonda Skelton

Parting Words From The WORD…Follow the Light

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

A friend and I were talking recently and she asked my motivation for writing my children’s mystery, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island. It was an easy question to answer.

I had gone to Hilton Head because I was considering setting the 3rd of my Bitsy mysteries on that island. As usual, my research included visiting the local museum. I was immediately drawn to the loggerhead turtles and their innate knowledge as newly-hatched babies to turn toward the light of the moon and walk toward it as it reflects off the ocean…leading the fragile baby turtles to safety.

My mind was racing as my heart considered the many spiritual applications of such a powerful truth. After all, it’s His Light that saves us all! But when the curator saw my eyes light up, he said something like, “Isn’t it amazing that evolution has allowed these creatures to know how to get to safety?”

I smiled and said, “Oh, but it’s not by evolution, it’s by the hand of God. He created them that way!”

The curator gave me “the look.” You know the one. The look that says, “You poor, ignorant child. How can you believe such nonsense? Don’t you read?”

But my confidence wasn’t swayed then and it will never be. After all, I know the Truth. I read the Book. I not only read it, but believe it and hold it securely in my heart.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses…
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Psalm 33:6-7, 9 (NIV)

The Lord is not only the Creator of the world and all that is in it, but He is the creator of our salvation. Following His Light is the only way to safety.

I had to tell the children.

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Amber Massey – From Rider to Writer

Amber Massey Headshot-with-Signature-199x300Hello, Christian Writer’s Den friends! I’m thrilled to have author and horsewoman Amber Massey as my guest today. Amber and I met years ago when our critique group was meeting at the restaurant she and her husband own. She overheard our conversation and before we knew it, we were all writing friends. She ended up sharing some of her writing with us (and we were blown away by her words!), then followed us to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and got her first contract!

Amber says the purpose of For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle is to share the Gospel with horse lovers from all walks of life. She says, “As I share my story bit by bit, you will consistently see the spiritual truths I’ve learned along the way. You’ll laugh with me, cry and sometimes ask, ‘Why?’ but more than anything, I pray you get to know the heart of Christ better through the work He has done in this book.”

I know you’ll enjoy this interview, so be sure to leave a comment for Amber and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Welcome, Amber! Let’s jump right in and get started. First, I’d love to hear about your history with horses. When did you start riding and when did you get your first horse?

I was that little girl who always wanted a horse, so I rode any chance I got…which was very seldom. In high school I took some lessons and showed a little, but once time for college came around, I was forced drop the reins. At 28 years old and married with a career, I rolled coins until I had enough cash in hand to drive to Tennessee and buy Marquise, my first horse.

I love your book about what you learned from horses. If you didn’t ride, do you think you would haveFor the Love of Horses-Compressed ever started writing?

No way. I’ve never been one to journal or write down my thoughts and feelings, so it wasn’t until God started filling my life with stories and inspiration that the ink hit the paper.

Why did you start writing?

When I was in college, my English professors encouraged me to write and consider it as a profession. At that point in my life I was dead-set on doing something I thought was more glamorous, so I never gave it a second thought. It took a treacherous fall with Marquise at the top of a waterfall for God to convince me His plans were greater than my own.

(Okay, readers, you have to pay attention to the wording of the next two questions!)

How has riding influenced your writing?

Not only did riding inspire my stories, but it also taught me how much joy can come from something that is so hard. I have a lot of stories about rough times Marquise and I have faced, but the joy that I’ve found on the other side of them makes it worth the struggle.

Marquise with his book3How has writing influenced your riding?

Now that I’ve started writing, I’m constantly looking for “horse lessons.” Sometimes I learn something that makes a great story, and sometimes I get a lesson that I dare not share. ;)

How do you stay motivated to ride and to write?

It’s easy to stay motivated to ride. It’s been a passion from the first My Little Pony I held in my tiny hands, but writing–that’s a different story. I love it, but it’s hard. Really hard. However, once I get to a quiet place and get into a zone, the words start pouring out faster than I can type. That experience alone is enough to keep me writing.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Finding the place where I can really lock into my characters and sort out their stories. We are all guilty of being too busy, and getting quiet is almost an impossibility in today’s fast-paced society. I have to be very intentional with my time and limit distractions in order to be productive.

What has writing allowed you to do that you may never have done otherwise?

I never would have had the bravery to share my faith with other horse lovers. If God can use a horse, a trail, and a tack room, He can use anything to show His love, and I’m thrilled He’s letting me be a part of His plan.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring rider or writer?Walking Under Tree-2

For the aspiring rider–find a good trainer or friend who will teach you the art of listening to your horse. So many horse “problems” can be fixed when we take time to understand and respect these magnificent animals.

For the aspiring writer—again, listen to those around you. If you are a gifted writer, or just enjoy putting your thoughts on paper, take time to learn the craft. Don’t discount what your writing may be used for.

I know that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle will be donated to Brown Family Ministries. Who is the Brown Family and how will this money be used?

The Browns have been friends of ours for years, and when they were called into full-time ministry in 2009 as Brown Family Ministries, Inc. (501-c3), we came alongside them as supporters. Mark, Angie, Erin, Meagan, and Caleb travel near and far following the mission statement of BFM which is “Loving People to Christ.” Their musical talent has allowed them to lead worship at conferences for well-known speakers such as Jim Cymbala, Richard Blackaby, and Ken Ham, but true to their Mississippi roots, they haven’t forgotten the guys and girls of the cowboy culture. Their cowboy ministry has allowed them to serve within avenues such as the Professional Bucking Bull Association and most recently the Professional Bulls Riders. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of For the Love of Horses will be donated to BFM to encourage them as they continue to reach the people of the rural culture we love so much.

Press Kit 1Amber, thank you for being with us today and sharing your story of going to Rider to Writer. I know many have been touched by your words.

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

Bio: Amber H. Massey is a passionate equestrian and author with an innate gift of storytelling. The clarity of her voice draws readers into her world and is a pleasant surprise for anyone who comes in contact with her personal stories. In her first book For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons from Life in the Saddle, Amber shares the spiritual truths she’s learned through loving horses and life on a farm. When Amber isn’t riding or writing, she works alongside her husband, Jeff, in their family-owned restaurant in Greenville, SC. Home is a five-acre farm, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information about Amber and her writing and riding, visit her website at www.AmberHMassey.com or by email at amber (@) amberhmassey (dot) com

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From Rider to Writer – For the Love of #Horses – #FreeBook @AmberHMassey via @VondaSkelton (Click to Tweet)

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Whispers

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(I’m in Texas visiting with friends, but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to encourage you this Friday morning. So I pulled out this oldie but goodie. It encouraged me then, and I hope it encourages you today.)

We all hear them–whispers. God’s word tells us that two sides whisper in our ears:

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts… Psalm 36:1 (NLT)

Then, Jesus says in the New Testament:

What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Matthew 10:27 (NLT)

Two sides. Good and evil.

Which are we listening to today?

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences; and Who Won Aleta You’s Book?

newspapersI LOVE the 3rd Tuesday of every month! Let’s start with writing opportunities I’ve collected just for you.

My goal on this day of each month is to make your writing life easier! Take advantage of these and we could soon be celebrating YOUR kudos, just like we did with Gail Cartee last week. :-) Don’t forget to study the magazine/publisher and follow guidelines carefully.

1.  Pelican Book Group is looking for book proposals for several imprints. Here are their guideline links:

2.  Adirondack Life Writers’ Guidelines

3.  Sasee Magazine Guidelines - It’s all about women

4.  Free Spirit Publishing GuidelinesMeeting kids’ social and emotional needs

5.  Toastmasters Magazine GuidelinesI know some of you are involved in Toastmasters. This could be your opportunity!

6.  Living a Better Life, Free Money-Saving Tips e-Zine Writer’s Guidelines

7.  Writer’s Guidelines for Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill Magazines

8.  Eating Well Magazine Writers’ Guidelines

9.  The Chronicle of the Horse Writers Guidelines

10. The Banner Writers’ Guidelines

11. Reach Out, Columbia magazine, a Christian magazine celebrating the life and work of Christ in ordinary people, is accepting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year-themed articles and devotions as well as evergreen (all-season) Christian living articles and devotions. Articles are approximately 1,000 words, devotions are 600-700 words. Submission guidelines are at www.ReachOutColumbia.com or contact Lori Hatcher, editor, at Lori@ReachOutColumbia.com.

Pencil and trophy contest FDP digitalarts

Image courtesy of digitalarts/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Okay, that should be enough to keep you busy for a while. Don’t forget to report your successes for our monthly Kudos celebration!

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And here are some writing contests I found. Who will take the plunge?

1.  Cyle Young has started a new writing site, Almost An Author (A3), and he offers A3 writing contests!

2.  Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards for Short Stories But you must hurry! Deadline September 15, 2015!

3. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story ContestDeadline November 16, 2015

4. Writer’s Digest Poetry AwardsDeadline October 1, 2015

5.  WOWWomen on Writing Summer Flash Fiction Contest Deadline August 31, 2015

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If you’re serious about writing or speaking, you need to be serious about conferences!

1.  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: July 29-August 1, 2015, Langhorne, PA

2.  Atlanta’s Christian Writing Conference: August 20-22, 2015, Marietta, GA

ccclogosmall3. Christian Communicators Conference: August 26-30, 2015, Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC. We are currently full, but the waiting list is open. Every year ladies on the waiting list have been able to attend. Maybe this could be your year! 

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

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

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

7.  Blue Ridge Christian Novelist Retreat: October 18-22, 2015, Ridgecrest, NC

8.  Next Step Writers Contreat (Yes, the spelling is correct. :-) : November 12-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM

9.  Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 19-21, 2016, Asheville, NC (I’ll see you there!)

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

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

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Writing opportunities, contests, & conferences from @VondaSkelton & Christian Writer’s Den! #amwriting #pubtips (Click to Tweet)

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And last, but not least, who won the free copy of Aleta You’s book?

The winner is…

Nan Jones!

Congratulations, Nan. Contact me with your snail mail address and Aleta will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here is a direct Amazon link to Biblical Solutions for Daily Living.

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Word Fitly Spoken

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As I was studying this week, I came across a verse I’d heard since I was a teenager, but had never really meditated on as an adult.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)

“A word fitly spoken….”

I immediately thought of the many…many…MANY words I’ve spoken that could not be labeled fitly or aptly spoken. And for some of them, I’m still paying for that failure.

Back when God first took me on this journey of obedience with Him, I read and studied a variety of passages that talked about the power of the tongue. I realized then that even though the tongue is a little thing, it can be a tool for good or for evil. It can heal or hurt…build up or tear down…encourage or discourage.

The tongue can carry the power of life, especially in relationships.

I’ve had relationships saved and mended with the use of good words, quality words, aptly spoken words. And I praise God for them.

But I’ve also had relationships damaged–sometimes beyond human repair–all because of my hurtful, unmonitored words. For those, I’ve asked forgiveness and pray God will heal where my words have hurt.

So my challenge to each of us today, especially as speakers and writers, is that we will be committed to spreading The Word, His Word, through aptly spoken words of love.

After all, those are the words He speaks to us day after day–life-giving words.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Kudos to these Christian Writer’s Den friends…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Will one of these MoGo7000 Qualifiers win $100?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…It’s Summertime, the Livin’ Isn’t Easy, But Have No Fear

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I remember the carefree childhood days of summer in the ’50s and ’60s. Nothing to do but sleep late, ride bikes, and play in the creek. No deadlines. No schedules. No emails or phone calls or text messages reminding me to do this or plan that or show up for the other.

No worries of life or death or the future. But it’s not the ’50s and ’60s anymore, and what we face today certainly isn’t child’s play.

It’s serious stuff.

It only takes is a quick look at recent headlines to see the current condition of our world. It’s disheartening, to say the least. As a matter of fact, I originally began itemizing the issues here, but quickly realized that the simple act of listing them provided a route of sadness straight to my heart.

The truth is that left unguarded, our hearts can be consumed with fear.

But praise God, just as we had no fears of life or death or the future when we were kids, God’s Word makes it clear that as believers we have no reason to be sad or fearful today.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:39 (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:14-15 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

I especially love the last verse, spoken by our Savior, Jesus Christ: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In other words, yes, He tells us there will be hardships, struggles, conflicts, and hate, but praise Him, He has already overcome it all! Yes, the the struggles of being a Christian in this world may be difficult and sometimes scary, but we can have confidence that there’s no reason to fear.

Amen and amen!

As Rabbi Jonathan Cahn recently said, “Outside of Him, there is no safety. Inside of Him, there is no fear.”

I pray these words encourage us all to remain inside of Him, where there is NO fear…

Vonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Calling all kudos!celebration - Morguefile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in June?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Sandy Quandt!

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

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

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Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

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

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

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

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Words of Jesus: Live Brave, Love Big

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

For many of us, this is a difficult season. In relationships, in the culture, in our families, in our churches, our schools, and throughout the world, we’re experiencing conflict, hardships, frustration, shock, despair, and heartbreak.

We’re told we should think this way or act that way or feel some other way. But regardless of what we think, act, or feel, one thing remains constant: The Truth is always true.

As I searched for Scripture to comfort and strengthen me, I realized many of Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples as He sent them out in Matthew 10, are fitting words for us as His disciples today.

(NOTE: Studies have shown that Christians are notorious for not reading long passages of Scripture printed in text. Once we start reading, we recognize the passage and think we already know it. PLEASE read this passage slowly, take it in, and then apply the verses to your life and our world today. I pray it will bring you the comfort, strength, and insight it gave me.)

Do you see yourself in these words from Jesus?

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:16-28 and 32-39

How does that sound when compared to the events of our world, relationships, and family today? It certainly reminds me that regardless of how things look, God is still in control.

I think His words for us today would be: “Live brave. Love big. I told you it would be this way.”

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Laurie Coombs: Letters From My Father’s Murderer, & Who Won Tammy Blackburn’s Book?

Laurie Coombs Round HeadshotToday is the 5th Tuesday, and that means that I’m free to do whatever I want on the Christian Writer’s Den blog. Well, today I want to introduce you to Laurie Coombs and her new book!

(I know this post is longer than usual, but this is a powerful message for all of us, so I pray you’ll stay with me as we work through this amazing testimony. You won’t be sorry.)

Laurie and I met in August 2014 when she attended the Christian Communicators Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, NC. I immediately fell in love with her contagious smile and engaging manner. Little did I know the horrendous heartache she had been through. And now I’ve asked her to share her journey with you. So sit back, open your heart and hear how–through the power of the Holy Spirit–one young woman changed not only her own heart, but a murderer’s heart as well.

And as always, be sure to leave a comment for our guest and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Laurie’s book.

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Laurie. Let’s start with this question: Why did you want to write Letters from My Father’s Murderer, which details such a tragic and painful part of your life?

To be honest, I didn’t initially want to write this book. I wanted to share my story, but I knew that writing it in a book would require me to bare all. I knew I’d have to share difficult things, and I didn’t want to. But greater than my resistance was my desire to see people experience freedom and redemption and healing as I had. I wanted God to be glorified for what He had done in and through my life.

I knew God was calling me to write this book. And I knew God well enough to know that if I answered that call I’d most assuredly see lives change as a result of the message He has given me. God allowed me to see that good could come out of the ashes of my past. That I could play a small part in the grand story He has been unfolding since the beginning of time. That I could participate in what He’s doing in the here and now, for the good of many. And so, I chose to say yes, and of course, I’m now completely on board.Laurie Coombs book cover

Tell us about the significance of the few interactions you had with your father just prior to his murder.

About one month before my dad died, he said, “Laurie, when I die, I want people to remember me for who I am. I don’t want anyone turning me into something I’m not.” The comment sort of stunned me at first. It came out of absolutely nowhere. My dad continued to tell me that people only want to talk about the good parts of a person after they die. “But that’s not who they really are,” he said. “There are good parts and bad parts to every one of us.”

For many years, I didn’t understand why my dad had said that to me––obviously, neither one of us knew he was going to die––but as I began to write this book, his words came to mind, and I knew, without a doubt, that God had him speak those words to me, over a decade before I needed them, to give me the freedom to share my story however God may lead.

You’re very honest in the book about the mistakes your father made and how that affected your teen years and even your choice to reject the faith you had been raised in. Was that difficult for you to do?

Absolutely. I had to do a lot of thinking and praying about how to write what God wanted me to write. But ultimately, I knew God was calling me to truth. My dad was an amazing man. A wonderful father. I really was a daddy’s girl. But he wasn’t perfect. And neither am I. It’s my hope that I conveyed my imperfections throughout the book as well.

Laurie Coombs Not-My-Plan-269x404Almost immediately after learning about your father’s death, you say the hate for his killer began to fill your heart. How did that hatred affect you?

My hatred affected just about everything I thought and did at first. Anger consumed me. But then after several months, I chose to lay aside my anger and my grief. I knew my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to live like that, and so I deliberately chose to put the whole terrible thing behind me and move on.

I didn’t see the affects of anger on the surface after that, and I honestly thought I had worked through it, but in reality, I had simply buried it. For years, that anger festered in my heart and turned into bitterness without me even knowing it until the day God brought it to my attention nine years after the murder.

You began to build a lovely life with your family in the years following the trial, and appeared very strong. What happened that finally brought you to the point where you turned to the Lord?

I fell apart. God presented me with something I couldn’t fix. Anxiety and depression finally brought me to my knees, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps, so to speak, as I had many times before. I had fallen into such an incredibly dark place, and I was scared. I tried everything the world tells you to do, but nothing worked. So as a last resort, I found my way to church.

My family and I willingly walked through those church doors with an incredible sense of desperation. God was truly my last hope, but even though I desperately wanted Him to be the answer, I was highly skeptical that He would be. The concept of God speaking to man was so foreign to me, but having that pastor preach a message to my inner thoughts got my attention. It was enough to draw me back the next week and the week after that and the one after that, but each time, I fully expected the God-thing to be a fluke. But it wasn’t. Over and over again, God showed Himself to me in many ways, and I was given the proof that I needed to believe.

What made you decide to begin corresponding with your father’s killer? What did you hope would Laurie Coombs Would-I-obeycome from it?

God had freed me from the anxiety and depression after coming to Jesus, but then He began to show me that I was irritable pretty much all the time. He showed me that the root of my irritability was anger, which had ultimately turned into bitterness.

I prayed, asking God to remove the bitterness in my heart, and that’s when I heard His gentle whisper tell me, “It’s time to forgive.” But then He took it a step further with “Love your enemy.” God’s call to forgive and love my enemy resulted in the my correspondence with the man who murdered my dad. Initially, I wasn’t sure what would come out of our interaction, but I did know where God was taking me. I knew He was leading me toward forgiveness and healing. I didn’t know what that journey would look like, but I knew wherever I ended up would be a good place.

And you were finally able to forgive. Tell us about that.

Forgiveness came when I least expected it. My correspondence with the man had gotten heated. He was blame-shifting and justifying, and I was obviously not okay with that. All I wanted to do was rebuke him, and I almost did, but instead, God said to me, “Laurie, leave him to me. Now forgive.” And I did. But it wasn’t of me. God called me and enabled me to give that which I had already been given: grace and love and forgiveness.

After I forgave, God brought him to his knees. All the blame-shifting, all the justification stopped. He began taking complete responsibility for what he had done, and he was repentant. And ever since that time, I have witnessed this man share the gospel of Jesus Christ subtly, yet powerfully, with his fellow inmates. Lives are changing in there. He truly is living to the glory of God in that prison.

Laurie Coombs book signingWhat a powerful testimony! So what is at the heart of the message?

Hope is at the heart of my message. God truly has worked all things for good in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The first part of Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God brings good out of evil. Love out of hate. Peace out of despair. I believe it is His desire to do this for every one of us. You see, our pain won’t be wasted. We don’t have to sit in it. If we bring our pain, past and present, to God, He will redeem it.

Yes, He will. Thank you for being with us today, Laurie. But before we go, I want to tell our readers that your story was blessed to be part of Billy Graham’s latest film and evangelistic tool, Heaven. Friends, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch.

YouTube Preview Image

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

Bio: Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven. Laurie is a graduate of Christian Communicators Conference and a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Be sure to visit LaurieCoombs.org or connect with Laurie on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet…

Letters From My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of #Forgiveness – #FreeBook @LaurieCoombs via @VondaSkelton http://bit.ly/1U1tfOM (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tammy Blackburn book cover

Who won Tammy Blackburn’s children’s book, How Do I Know?

And Random.org says the winner is…

Julie Garmon!

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

And for those who didn’t win…I know you want a copy for the little ones in your life, so here’s a direct Amazon link to How Do I Know?

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Well, that does it for another 5th Tuesday here at the Christian Writer’s Den. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! So now, go write the words He gives YOU to write!

Vonda

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