Tag Archives: Vonda Skelton

Interview & Book Give-Away with Felicia Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch up with Felicia’s adventures at:

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

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Jesus Says Some Choice Words About Satan

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Last Sunday, my pastor said something has stayed with me this week. He said, “No matter what the enemy does, our God is faithful.”

That statement was nothing new to me. It’s a known, simple truth among us Christians, and yet, I have to admit that sometimes I act as if my life depends on what the evil one does or says, rather than what our Father promises.

It’s as if I trust the words of the evil one over the words of God.

Satan says we’re unimportant . . . God says we’re so important that He sent His own Son to die in our place.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

 

Satan says no one cares . . . God says to give our cares to Him.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7 NLT

 

Satan says we’re not worthy of salvation . . . God says even though we’re not worthy, eternal life is His gift to us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NIV

 

Satan goes to and fro looking for people to devour . . . God says Jesus came to save us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. Luke 19:10 NIV

 

Satan says we have to look out for number one . . . God says we must serve others.

Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 NIV

 

Jesus shares a few choice words about Satan in the New Testament. He calls him the evil one (Matthew 13:38), the enemy (Matthew 13:39), the prince of this world (John 12:31), and a thief (John 10:10). In John 8:44 Jesus says there is no truth in Satan, that he’s a liar, the father of lies, and a murderer.

But at least seventy-five times throughout those same pages, Jesus Himself says these words: “I tell you the truth . . . ”

Yes, Jesus tells us the truth. And the truth is, Satan is a liar.

Jesus came to seek and to save. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy.

When times are hard and we feel alone, who do we believe? The choice is ours. I pray we choose to know and believe the words of Jesus, because knowing and believing the truth is the only way to recognize a lie.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

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

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

1.  Guardian Angel Kids is looking for submissions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.  Chicken Soup is always looking for stories!

9.  American Snowmobiler welcomes stories and photos!

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

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

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

Upcoming writing and speakers training conferences…

What conference will you be attending next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . I Could Sing of His Love Forever

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I love to sing worship. I love the music and the words. But most of all, I love getting to that place where it’s just Jesus and me as I sing my praise to Him.

Sometimes I envision Jesus on the throne and I’m a tiny speck in the throng of worshipers surrounding Him, and yet He makes eye contact with me…and smiles. I see myself and millions of others dancing before Him, celebrating that we’re in His presence.

Other times I’m bowing at His feet with a heart of confession, singing the words of repentance from a contrite heart.

And still other times I can’t sing at all. I’m simply in awe, speechless in the confidence of His presence in my life. Of His grace, mercy, and love…in spite of my sin.

As the song says, “I could sing of Your love forever.”

Quite different from the services I grew up with. Four hymns, three verses each–the first, second, and fourth, of course. We stood for the first three songs, sat for the last.

Always.

Nobody dared change or challenge the tradition.

Nobody dared get emotional or feel the words or shutter over conviction. And the service had better end on time, or else. That’s the way it was done. Period.

And yet in John’s vision of the Revelation, he reported:

Day and night they never stop singing: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.” Revelation 4:8b (Good News Translation)

I have a feeling that when we’re there before Him, we’ll be singing more than four songs, three verses. I have a feeling we won’t be standing for three songs and sitting for one.

Instead, I have a feeling we’ll be on our faces one second…and dancing the next, mere specks in the crowd of worshipers. And through it all, Jesus will be making eye contact with each of us…individually…

And smiling.

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos to YOU and MoGo7000 Totals

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings on all your projects!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Thanking God for a Dead Computer

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you’ve heard the stories of Jesus’ miracles from the time you were a little tyke. Perhaps that means you’ve been hearing the stories for many years, too. Yep, we know our Jesus stories.

Or do we?

It wasn’t until I was truly saved that I realized the power of His written Word. Stories were no longer just stories, they were lessons on life, on how to relate to one another as the Body of Christ, and on how to reflect His Light in this lost and dying world. They were messages from God.

This week the message came through the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. And the story of my dead computer.

My Christian Communicators partner and co-director, Carolyn Knefely, and I were headed to a meeting with our conference coordinator, Cynthia Owens. I was telling Carolyn how years ago God had shown me that in the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men (not counting all the women and children) with only five loaves and two fish, He never asked God to multiply the food. He only gave thanks for it.

That insight had rocked my world way back then. After all, I’d heard the story all my life, but I’d never heard anybody share that little detail. Jesus didn’t ask God to multiply the food. He didn’t cry out on behalf of the people. He simply gave thanks.

Several hours later our meeting was over and Carolyn was unexpectedly taking me and my dead computer to the Apple Store. During the meeting I had–not once, but TWICE–dropped my computer on the hard tile floor. Carolyn drove while I whined about my computer and how difficult everything was going to be if the geniuses at the Genius Bar couldn’t get it restarted. I fretted over the expense of getting this very old, no-longer-under-warranty computer repaired, or worse–having to buy a new one.

In the middle of my whining, God spoke to my spirit, reminding me of the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000; of how Jesus didn’t complain about the situation or whine about how difficult things were going to be if they didn’t have any food for all those people. He simply gave thanks.

I stopped my whining and–out loud–thanked God for how He was going to handle this computer issue. His peace came over me.

A few hours later, I walked out of the Apple store, my old computer back to her usual self. And they didn’t charge me a cent.

Thank you, Lord . . . again.

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. Matthew 14:19 (NIV)

I pray His blessings on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Random.org has selected the winner:

Julie Garmon!

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

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

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It’s Time to Share Kudos of YOUR Successes!

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

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

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

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

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

Who MoGo’d in May?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in May, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2016 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

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

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2016 challenge has lots of opportunities left for you. Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

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

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

Happy writing, my friends…

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles)

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

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Said another way:

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

Ouch.

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

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

What about you?

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Greg & Julie Gorman, and Who Won The Sweet Life Gift Set?

Greg and Julie Gorman lovy photoFirst up, let’s hear from authors Greg & Julie Gorman as they share their newest book, Two Are Better Than One: God Has a Purpose for Your Marriage

What a joy to have Julie Gorman back with us here at The Christian Writer’s Den. Julie is a speaker, writer, life coach, and FYI radio personality. But even more important to her than those accomplishments is that she is the wife of co-author Greg Gorman, and together they’ve written a powerful new book, Two Are Better Than One: God Has a Purpose for Your Marriage. I’m thrilled to have Greg and Julie here today because today we get a sneak-peek of their book that releases TOMORROW! (But good news–you can still order it today and be among the first to get it!)

Be sure to leave a comment for Greg and Julie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of the book! Don’t forget to check back next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner!

Now let’s get started. Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Greg and Julie. To get things started, would you tell us a bit about yourselves? What inspired you to write this book?

First, thank you for sharing this message and allowing us to be part of your community. For nearly two decades we’ve helped thousands of couples develop healthier marriages. And, honestly, we were perplexed as to why some couples thrived while others barely survived in their relationship. After years of observation, what we knew subconsciously but struggled to articulate, presented itself. Since our discovery, we tested our newly found truth and analyzed decades of experience and observation. The more we reflected on our findings, the more God convinced us of His irrefutable insight—an insight that when fully embraced, by both husband and wife, will heal, restore, and deepen intimacy in every marriage. Yes, in every marriage, no matter the condition of the relationship. So what is that truth? Couples who live Purpose-focused, NOT Problem-focused, in their relationship, thrive!FINAL cover for Two are better than one

That sounds like an exciting discovery! I really enjoyed your “voice” in your previous book, What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Men. What is the style of Two Are Better Than One?

We love how Stephen Arterburn, host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show New Life Live describes it; “In Two Are Better than One, Greg and Julie present fun, fresh and frank truths to lead you on a journey of significant discovery that will elevate your expectations and provide direction for your most precious earthly relationship—your marriage.” Our passion is to provide pathways to sustainable growth and life transformation . . . so when we write . . . we commit to capture real truths, with real stories, to provide real hope. As a matter of fact, we’ve remained extremely zealous to only present truths we know make a difference in life and marriage. We don’t try to convince anyone of anything; we simply deliver the evidence compiled from working with hundreds of couples for over nearly two decades as well as scriptures and timeless wisdom from thought leaders to back it up. So, be ready to grow and be stretched and yet entertained. We think you’ll laugh at the twist we put on some of our favorite Bible heroes—you may never look at them the same. This book is fun!

It certainly sounds like fun. How did you master the craft of blending your voices and writing together?

When we first married we felt the need to compare and compete; today, we celebrate our unique differences. We had a BLAST writing together and spent so much time talking about what we really wanted to accomplish that by the time we completed the book, we couldn’t discern who shared what. We peppered our writing process with questions like: “How can we say this better, more concise, with more humor and, or, with more punch?” We each wrote to our strengths and then challenged one another’s thought, blended our voices, and continued the process again, and again, and again . . . so much so that we think we could recite the entire book by heart!

One of the things I love that you share in Two Are Better Than One is that “There is no such thing as a Christian without a calling, likewise there is no such thing as a marriage without a ministry.” Do you really believe every couple has a specific marriage purpose?

Greg and Julie Gorman 2 better than 1Absolutely! God designed each one of us with the desire to be part of something greater than ourselves. He commissioned us to be a light in our homes, to share the good news, and to bear lasting fruit. We are all made perfectly unique. When we marry, God intends for us to combine our unique strengths, our likenesses and our differences to accomplish a greater purpose. The great thing is, when we do this, we automatically find common ground and share a common goal/purpose to work toward together. We become focused, together, on being all He created us to be!  Our calling as a couple is as unique as God is creative.

If there is one piece of advice you can share with a couple who is on the verge of giving up on their marriage, what would it be?

Over 17 years ago, we nearly gave up on our relationship . . . but GOD healed and restored our marriage by teaching us how to live PURPOSE-focused NOT PROBLEM-focused. We are so grateful that in our surrender, He didn’t let us give up or give in. Delve into the process of this book, commit to each exercise, and invite the limitless power of God to heal your relationship. It usually takes time, but changing your TABTO-endorsementhabit of thought to being more Christ-like, more purposed focused, renders the marriage God intended for you.

Where can people purchase the book or learn more info?

For an autographed copy, go to: http://www.gormanleadership.com/two-are-better-than-one . Also, login to our site to gain special access to other FREE resources.

Thank you for being with us today, Greg and Julie. This is truly an exciting discovery for marriages!

Friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Greg and Julie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Two Are Better Than One. Be sure to check back next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner.

And if you can’t wait another week to get your copy, here’s your direct link to order Two Are Better Than One. It goes on sale tomorrow!

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Cookie ladiesAnd who won the Stir Up Some Sweet Life Gift Set from Debra Paulk and Judy Bone?

The winner is…

Ruth Allender!

Congratulations, Ruth! Simply contact me with your snail mail address and Judy and Debra will get your gift set right out to you!

And for those of you who didn’t win, here’s your direct link to order Stir Up Some Sweet Life: Lessons From the Cookie Jar. You know you want a copy!

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Friends, thank you for stopping by and spending a little time with us here at the Christian Writer’s Den. I pray God’s blessings on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the sweet life of living for our Savior…

Vonda

 

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