Tag Archives: writers conferences

Interview & Book Give-Away with Andy Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Lori Roeleveld

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How have you seen this play out in your life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Here’s your October list of opportunities and contests!

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

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

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

4.  The American Gardener is looking for articles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here’s an updated list of conferences…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests & Conferences

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

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

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And for writing contests…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Sattva

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

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

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

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

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

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Susan Baganz & Please Pray For My Mom

Baganz 0524 Edited colorSweet friends, first of all, I need to ask for your prayers. My 83yo mother took a nasty fall on Sunday and is still in ICU. Praise God, nothing is life-threatening right now, but she had a deep gash to her forehead, which was repaired Sunday in the ER. But the bad part is she has broken multiple bones, including her arm, shoulder, multiple ribs, and her kneecap. She’s in a lot of pain and has surgery scheduled (again–this is the 4th date we’ve been given!) for Wednesday. Christian Communicators Conference begins tomorrow and I’m not going to be able to be there, at least not now. I’m praying I’ll be able to get up there later in the week.

Please pray for relief of pain, successful surgery, and that she’ll be able to get into a good rehab facility. She’s expected to be in rehab 3 months. Praise God, none of this has taken our Lord by surprise and He’s still in control! Now let’s get to this exciting interview with author and editor Susan Baganz!

Friends, if you’ve ever wondered how anyone can write a gazillion words a month and create multiple books a year, well, here’s your chance to find out. Prolific writer, Susan Baganz, is with us today to share her story about writing stories!

And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Susan’s latest book, Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan here and you’ll be in the drawing!

Let’s get started! Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Susan. We’ve all seen you post significant word counts over the past few years on this blog for the MoGo7000 Challenge. So inquiring minds want to know, how much and how often do you really write?

I’m an author but I’m also an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group so I juggle my writing with my editing for others. I can’t write every day but when I do, I do it quickly and obsessively. I’m a panster. I start with a concept and inciting incident and my characters take me on a journey. On a rare day I can pen 5,000-10,000 words (the next might be 161!). I write every year in November for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org), and “won” seven years in a row.  I’ve written two to three novels/novellas a year for some time now, completing 16 manuscripts in six years. As of this date five have been published and eight more are contracted.

That’s unbelievable! Don’t you ever get writer’s block?

I don’t call it writer’s block. I call it a wall of fear. With every novel I hit a point in the story where I think the story is crap and I’ve written myself into a corner. I pray. I go to bed. The next morning, I force myself to write. I cannot remember where that spot was in any of my stories. Fear is a writer’s biggest enemy.

I totally agree! What’s been your biggest surprise in writing?

I love my stories and characters but when revisions come I’m always amazed at the mistakes I made. Editing is a humbling process. I write romances but what surprised me most is that men love my stories. I’m grateful for the unexpected audience.

You’ve written a series of contemporary romance novels of which Feta & Freeways is the third book. What ties these novels together?

I wrote the first book, Pesto & Potholes, to show not only the story but the importance of being involved in a church. The opportunity to worship, be taught, engage in fellowship with other believers along with encouragement and accountability—is a key part of our faith in Christ.

All stories are set against the backdrop of a fictional church, Orchard Hill.FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1 Renata and Tony were the subject of Pesto & Potholes and Stephanie was Renata’s roommate and became the subject of Salsa & Speed Bumps. At the end of that novel we meet Tia who becomes a friend of Stephanie’s. Tia appears in book 3, Feta & Freeways. Niko and Tia feature there along with Niko’s cousin Johnny who then becomes the feature of book 4, Root Beer & Road Blocks. There are several more fun titles and great characters in the series to come!

Those are fun titles, how did you come up with them?

I originally wanted to show, in Pesto & Potholes, the concept of potholes. The difficulty of overcoming challenges through perseverance. That even with faith, emotional growth is often a rocky trajectory. Pesto had Antonio, a single Italian chef, and it’s a favorite sauce in our family. A funny combo of food with a road-related theme became a fun way to set the stories apart.

When someone dared me to write book two and title it Salsa & Speed Bumps the challenge was on to continue to use road themes to illustrate growth through emotional challenges but in the context of a body of believers.

When I got my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I never dreamed I would be using my education and training to illustrate God’s love and the power evidenced in the Body of Christ, through fiction. The reality is that our faith is dynamic and thrives in community. We cannot grow spiritually without also growing emotionally. Personally I can’t imagine facing the trials of this life without God and the support of a community of believers. My characters live those truths.

Yes, I can attest to the fact that characters can help us and others face lies and live truth. What an honor to create evidence of the Lord and His Light! 

Thank you for being here with us today, Susan. And CWD friends, thank you for stopping by. If you’d like to have a chance to win a free copy of Feta & Freeways, simply leave a comment for Susan and you’ll be in the drawing. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and serves on the board of the southeast chapter. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz. Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/silygoos

 

 

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

newspapersIt’s the 3rd Tuesday, so it’s time to share some writing opportunities and contests with you!

1.  Today’s Christian Living writer’s guidelines.

2.  Charleston Style & Design submission guidelines.

3.  Call for anthology submissions: The Binge-Watching Cure. Word counts vary from 100-25,000. Deadline December December 31, 2016.

4.  Cricket Media submission guidelines for their 11 magazines for kids!

5.  Real Simple Magazine’s 9th Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest. Deadline September 19, 2016.

6.  Bethany House Life Changing Miracles guidelines. Deadline “a couple more weeks” per editor. You can follow Jim Bell Compilations on Facebook for announcements and call-outs.

7.  Call Out for Chistian Quotes from Your Books

8.  Connecticut Magazine submission guidelines

9.  Guide Christian Story Magazine for 10-14yo guidelines here

10. Small Farm Today magazine is dedicated to preserving and promoting small farming, rural living, community and agri-preneurship. Writing guidelines here.

11. I Love Cats Magazine writers and photographers guidelines.

12. Relate Magazine: To inspire teen girls to pursue their dreams with confidence and to teach them to be an example for others in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Topics include design, entertainment, the future in terms of college and jobs, beauty, faith, life, quizzes. Average article is between 300-450 words in length. Sidebar information is also encouraged, as well as graphics, including illustrations, and photographs. Online. See Relevant Magazine writer’s guidelines at bottom of the page here.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while!

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Which conference are you or conferences are you planning to attend in the next year? This list should help you decide!

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

ccclogosmall2.  Christian Communicators Conference: August 24-28, 2016 The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 21-15, 2017, Ridgecrest, NC

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So there you are, opportunities, contests, and conferences for writers. What’s stopping you from succeeding?

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Interview and Book Give-Away with Author Cheryl Barker

Cheryl Barker headshotWhat a delightful friend and her book to share with you today! Cheryl and I first met online and then finally met in person when I was teaching at the North Texas Christian Writers Conference many years ago, where I heard about this idea for a book! She has to be one of Blue Mountain Arts‘ favorite writers with publications in their greeting cards, gift books, and calendar lines and has also contributed to compilations and had many magazine articles published. But her most exciting publication is her new book, Mother of the Bride–Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride, a book I certainly could have used when my own daughters were getting married many years ago.

If you’d like the opportunity to win a copy of Cheryl’s book, simply leave a comment for Cheryl and your name will be in the drawing. Be sure to return next Tuesday to see if you’re the winner. Now let’s get started!

Welcome, Cheryl! First of all, would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My husband and I have lived in Kansas our entire lives. We have two beautiful daughters who gave us two terrific sons-in-law. Last year our older daughter and her husband became parents, making us grandparents for the first time—to twins! But it gets even better. Our other daughter is having twins this year! We feel so incredibly blessed because both sets of babies are miracle stories. I will definitely need my vitamins while trying to market my first book and help with all these grandbabies!

Two sets of twin grandbabies? Wow, you’ll certainly have lots to write about! I know you’ve been writing for many years, but have you always been a writer? 

No, but in school I seemed to have a natural aptitude for writing and ended up becoming an English teacher for a short time before starting our family. After that, my writing consisted of an annual poem in our Christmas cards, but about twenty years ago I decided to pursue writing for publication and have been writing ever since on a part-time basis.

Why did you write Mother of the Bride—Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride?

After being a mother of the bride myself, I realized how much mothers of the bride need refreshment and help and that they could benefit from a nurturing voice in their lives. Not only did I want to encourage and help other women taking on this role, but I knew the approach I had in mind would fit in perfectly with my Refreshing Spirits, Nourishing Souls brand.

I’m hoping and praying this book will make its way into the hands of mothers of the bride for years to come. And hopefully as people discover my book, they’ll make it their go-to gift for MOBs they know!

How will mothers of the bride benefit from your book?

They’ll be refreshed and nurtured as they take time for themselves—time to be encouraged, to gain helpful insight and practical tips, and to enjoy the feminine beauty of a book designed just for them. In the book I share relevant quotes and Scriptures, personal stories, nuggets of wisdom, simple suggestions for personal pampering, journaling opportunities, communication aids, and also practical tips for wedding planning.

What have you learned on a spiritual level through your book publication journey?Cheryl Barker book cover

I’ve learned to trust that God’s plan for me and my writing is best. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap and wish that I’d started writing sooner or worked at everything faster. Instead, I have to trust that I’m exactly where God wants me to be right now and that my earlier years unfolded according to his plan, too.

My trust-in-God muscles got a major workout when my first contract for this book fell through a couple of years ago. The publisher had to withdraw their new contract offers because of a financial crisis, and mine was among them. You can imagine how disappointed I was. I really had to put feet to my faith and continue trusting God. Of course, He proved totally trustworthy. The publisher God eventually provided—BroadStreet Publishing—has been able to fulfill the vision for my book in ways that the other publisher could not. Yes, God’s plan and timing are always best.

If you could start your writing career over, what’s one thing you’d do differently?

I’d connect with other writers much sooner. Since there isn’t a serious writers group in my small town, I was a lone ranger writer for over ten years. When I realized how important writers groups could be, I started traveling seventy-five miles one-way to attend the monthly Fellowship of Christian Writers meetings in Tulsa, OK. The instruction, inspiration, and camaraderie I’ve found there have been invaluable. I’d also start attending writers conferences sooner.

What could you say to encourage other writers hoping for book publication?

Go after the dream God has given you, regardless of your age or personal situation. But remember, seeking book publication is not for the faint of heart. My advice is to put on your work boots and just keep taking one step after another. With unwavering perseverance and God’s help, it can happen!

Thank you for being with us today, Cheryl. I know our friends are going to be encouraged by your words! And friends, be sure to leave a comment for Cheryl and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book!

Bio: Cheryl Barker is the author of Mother of the Bride—Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. She’s also written for compilation books, magazines, other publications, and for Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards, gift books, and calendars. Her heart’s desire is to refresh spirits and nourish souls. Cheryl loves to spend time with her family, enjoy friends, take photos, and indulge in daily doses of chocolate.

Here’s where you can connect with Cheryl:

Cheryl’s website – cherylbarker.net
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CherylBarkerWriter/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/cherylkbarker/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cherylkbarker/
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylbarker/

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

newspapersToday’s the 3rd Tuesday, so it’s a day of opportunities collected just for you! Let’s start with writing opportunities and contests…

1.  Coast & Kayak Magazine submission guidelines hereThey want to hear from people involved in paddlesports, including the kayak industry.

2.  Library Journal Indie eBook Awards contest. You must hurry–deadline is July 31st!

3.  Smoky Mountain Living submission guidelines. Celebrates southern Appalachians and brings the area to life.

4.  Gather Magazine guidelines here. Readership is primarily Lutheran women, but also offered to other evangelical churches.

5.  History Magazine is accepting queries. Looking for interesting and thought-provoking (not academic) pieces on major historic events.

6.  Parent.co is a digital magazine for parents who are committed to raising great kids.

7.  Good Housekeeping writing guidelines here.

8.  Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine guidelines here.

9.  WOW: Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. Cash awards! Deadline August 31, 2016.

10. Country Woman contributor guidelines.

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

12. Christian Devotions is always looking for new devotions writers. And they love working with new, teachable writers.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while. Be sure to let us know if you get a publication from our Writing Opportunities. We want to celebrate with you! workshop sign Pixabay

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Now, let’s take a look at upcoming writing conferences…

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably have gotten the message that I believe writing conferences are the best way to publication!

1.  Word Weavers Christian Writers Summer Seminar: July 23, 2016, Lexington, SC

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

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

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

ccclogosmall5.  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.)

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

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

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

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

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

11. Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 9-10, 2017, Spartanburg, SC (Watch for the website update soon!)

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

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Sharing is sweet! Please share these opportunities with other writers…

Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities, Contests, & Conferences #amwriting @vondaskelton (Click to Tweet)

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

Happy writing!

Vonda

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8 Tips for Writing a Synopsis: Short & Sweet and Kudos & MoGo7000 Results

Writer morguefileToday I’ll start by sharing 8 Tips for Writing a Synopsis – Short and Sweet

You’ve just completed the Great American Novel. You’ve done everything you’ve been told to do. You’ve created compelling characters and plopped them right smack in the middle of emotional/physical conflict. You’ve engaged the reader with your perfectly executed plot and subplots. You’ve edited and proofed and allowed your baby to be critiqued by your writer’s group.

Now it’s time to share the pictures and see if anyone wants to hold her. So you register for another writers conference where editors, agents, critiquers, and contest judges may ask for a synopsis.

A what?

Although you’ll find varying guidelines depending on the organization, here are 8 tips to creating a great synopsis:

1.    The synopsis is a summary of the plot of your book that gives the reader a chance to see if it warrants a closer look.

2.    It’s often limited to 1-3 pages, but in a few cases, the page limit is much higher. Be sure to follow the guidelines of the organization you’re submitting to.

3.    It’s usually single-spaced with an extra space between paragraphs and 1-inch margins on all sides.

4.    Print it in black ink, on white paper, using a standard font (Times New Roman is most often used).

5.    It is written in present tense, third person.

6.    The synopsis must tell the ending of the story, even if the book is a mystery, thriller, or suspense novel. This is not the time to leave the editor/agent/judge/critiquer hanging and hope he or she will beg you to tell the ending. I’ve actually read a synopsis where the writer said something like, “I can’t give away the ending because it’s so unusual, but believe me, it’s a real twist!” Hmmm. Not a good idea.

7.    You can’t cover all the points of the book, but you’ll want to include the major plots points that move the story along to a satisfactory ending.

8.    Give enough detail that the reader is engaged, but–with a limit of 2-3 pages–you’ll have to carefully decide what earns a place in the synopsis.

So, there you have it–8 tips to writing a synopsis. Remember, it’s the short and the sweet of your story!

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And kudos to these talented Christian Writer’s Den friends!

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere

FreeDigitalPhotos/Iosphere www.FreeDigitalPhotos.com

These CWD writers are doing the work, and finding success. Let’s celebrate with them!

1.  Cheryl Barker (KS): My book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride was officially released by BroadStreet Publishing on July 1st.

2.  Sandy Quandt (TX): Sandy has THREE things to share this month! 1)1st place award in the unpublished Children’s Lit at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference; 2)Contracted to write 20 devotions for Worthy Inspire’s Seeing God in Nature devotional; and 3)Article on “How to Write a Devotion” published on WOW! Women on Writing.

Books and articles and awards, oh my! Congrats, Cheryl and Sandy. We’re proud of you!

And friends, if you didn’t find your name on this list, be sure to check back next week where I’ll have a collection of opportunities just for you!

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

#15: Susan Baganz – 11,114 words
#16: Amanda Everett – 7,019 words

Congratulations, Susan and Amanda! And friends, if you’d like an opportunity to win $100, just check out the MoGo700 Challenge guidelines here. It’s all free!

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Well, that’s does it for today. I hope you’ve learned something and been inspired to keep writing. After all, writing isn’t a race to the finish line. The finish line is whenever we pass into glory. And the only way to lose at writing is to quit.

Keep writing!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Felicia Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch up with Felicia’s adventures at:

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

 

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