Tag Archives: writing

Important Update: Christian Writer’s Den Auction Details

I’m happy to announce that an offer has been accepted for the complete package and the Christian Writer’s Den auction is over. Thank you to all who had planned to participate and contacted me with questions and clarifications. You’re the most encouraging bunch of friends and I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life! I pray God’s richest blessings as you continue to serve him through your writing and speaking ministry!

 

Wow! Oh, how you have blessed me with your words of encouragement and validation at the news of my retirement. You make me feel so loved! I’ve been reminded again why it was so difficult to announce the move into my new season of life.

But as many of you have said, seasons do change, and those orders to stop and rest are as much a part of His plan as are the original marching orders to go and do. Your words have brought me a new level of peace and confirmation. Thank you.

And thank you to those who have already shared the auction with others. I’m confident there are writers and speakers out there who could benefit from this opportunity. I appreciate you taking the time to help them hear about it.

When you share, would you please use this updated page instead of the original one?

Auction Update: (The complete instructions are located below this update. Be sure to read the instructions so you’ll understand the bidding process.)

As I mentioned in the initial post, I expected there would be some necessary clarifications after announcing the auction. And there are. First of all, in order to make the offered items easier to locate, today I’m reposting the available items/packages here on this page, along with any current bids on them.

Also, as questions came up yesterday, I added a few explanations into the original post. For that reason, I’ve reposted all the instructions at the bottom of this post. But if you’d rather just read the clarifications, here is a summary of the explanations/added info:

1. To make it easier to follow the auction, this update post will now become the current auction site. I will continue to monitor the original site and will move any bids over to this post if they’re placed on the original page.

2. A question has come up about a longer payment window for the larger packages. That is certainly something that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Simply email me at vondaskelton (@) gmail (dot) com and we can discuss possible options.

3. All items will be transferred with a simple contract.

4. I’ve added more detail to some of the item descriptions. They are listed in the items offered in the comments.

5. Please note that items/comments with longer descriptions may be abbreviated with a clickable SEE MORE note at the bottom. Be sure to look for the note on longer posts and click in order to see all the information.

6. There are 10 auction offerings, but with so many comments, you may not see all of them if you don’t watch for and click the LOAD MORE COMMENTS bar as you scroll down. Be sure to click on that note or you will miss out on items that are included in the auction.

7. To place a bid, you must hit REPLY to the specific item I’ve posted. Follow up questions must also stay in the thread under each item.

8. When you place a bid and I respond with APPROVED, that simply means your bid is noted and recorded. Others may continue placing bids on those items until the posted deadline.

9. Please note that there are three separate deadlines. This is necessary because some of the items are listed both individually and in the larger packages. This allows the purchase of a package to be complete as advertised and associated items will then be removed from the auction.

10. If a package is not sold by its deadline, the package will be removed from the auction and all associated items and their bids will then be active.

11. Bidding is open for all items until their deadline, whether a single item, small package, or large package. You do not have to wait to see if a package sells before bidding on items that are also part of a package. (Clear as mud?)

12. The deadline for the Complete Package of all items listed in the auction is Monday, December 4 at midnight ET. 

13.  The deadline for the Writing is Fun Workshops Package and the Christian Writer’s Den Package is Tuesday, December 5 at midnight ET. 

14. The deadline for all other items is Thursday, December 7 at 5pm ET.

And if you haven’t read the full instructions below, please do so before bidding. It’ll make the process much easier.

Complete Instructions

General instructions:
1. The auction is open to all writers and speakers. It’s always more fun with more participation, so please feel free to share the Auction post with any writers, speakers, and groups you know.
2. Remember that while some items are appropriate for writers of any level, others are best suited for experienced, published writers and speakers. Be sure to read recommendations before bidding. If nothing specific is mentioned, the item or package is appropriate for anyone.
3. The auction will be online only and will be held here at the Christian Writer’s Den blog.  It will close December 7 at 5pmET.
4. If you’re not already a registered commenter at the Christian Writer’s Den, you’ll need to register. There is no charge to participate and you will not be automatically added as a follower.

How to bid:
5. Each item/package will be listed separately in the comment section of the Auction Blog post. You may place a bid by hitting REPLY directly under the specific item/package you want to bid on. Please do not try to bid by placing a general comment or by replying to other bids or other comments.
6. A bid is only approved if it is written as a REPLY under a specific item/package.
7. I will reply to your bid by stating APPROVED. That simply means I see your bid and have noted it in my records. It does not mean you have won the item. The winner will be the highest bidder at the deadline.
8. Bids will be accepted in the order of posting.
9. General questions that will be of interest to all participants may be posted in the general comments.
10. If you don’t mind using your name to bid publicly, simply post your bid as a REPLY to the specific item or package you’re bidding on.
11. I’ll be at the computer continuously from 9amET to 12midnightET each day except Sunday. You’re free to bid on Sunday if you would like, but bids will not be marked as APPROVED until Monday morning.

Anonymous bids:
12. If you’d rather make an anonymous bid, simply email me at vondaskelton (@) gmail (dot) com with your real name, your preferred bidding name, the item you’re bidding on, and the amount of your bid. I’ll post it for you publicly using your bidding name and the time of your email. Please note that other bids may come in between the time you email your bid and when I note it and post it for you.
13. If you must make an anonymous bid during the night hours, it will be added when I get back to the computer the next morning.

Packages vs individual items:
14. IMPORTANT NOTE: Some items are also offered as part of a package. The packages will be offered for a limited time, as noted in the post. You may go ahead and bid on individual items while the package bidding is still active.
15. You may bid on individual items and packages from the beginning; however, an acceptable package sale will eliminate the possibility of individual sales of items included in the package.

Reserve minimum bid:
16. ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: A reserve is placed on the three major packages: The Complete Package of all items in the auction; The Writing is Fun Workshop Package; and The Christian Writer’s Den Package. This means that if the highest bid doesn’t meet the undisclosed minimum amount set prior to the auction, the package will be withdrawn from the auction and will not be sold as a package. Any bidder who has placed a bid on these larger packages but does not meet the reserve will be contacted with more information prior the deadline.
17. If the package isn’t sold, the bids for individual items will be put into effect at that time and bidding will continue until the end of the auction. If the package sells, the associated individual items will be withdrawn and those bids will be cancelled.

Payments:
18. If you place a bid, you are verifying that you are prepared to fulfill the commitment of your bid, should you win it.
19. At the end of the auction, the winner of each item/package will receive a Request for Payment through PayPal and will be responsible for completing the sale at the bid price within 24 hours. With PayPal, you can pay by credit card or through a PayPal account. (See added item, #20 below.)
20. A question has come up about the option of a longer payment window for the bigger packages. That is certainly something that can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Simply email me at vondaskelton@gmail.com and we can discuss it. Thank you.

Contracts:
21. All items/packages will be transferred with a simple contract.

Ready to join the fun?

Thank you again for your interest in this auction. I hope my years of work will bring a financial blessing to those who participate, making your writing journey more productive and easier to navigate.

After all, the goal of the Christian Writer’s Den has always been to encourage and celebrate writers and speakers!

With love and appreciation,
Vonda

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New Year. New Goals. New Purpose?

Goals 2017 PixabayHappy New Year, dear Christian Writer’s Den friends!

I can’t believe I just said that. It seems only a few months ago that I wrote last year’s greeting and yet, 2017 is here. How did that happen?

Let’s face it, in reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new one, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to focus on all the things we didn’t get done that we had planned. Some of those unfulfilled plans are because of our own failures or distractions. Others are the result of changing seasons in life. But regardless of the reason, when another year dawns and we haven’t reached the previous year’s goals, it’s easy to feel like a failure. The focus is on what we didn’t get done.

That’s not what God wants us to focus on. If we’ve given our lives to Him and are seeking to serve and obey Him, He has a plan for our lives, our ministries, and our businesses. Sometimes it’s the same plan we have. Sometimes it isn’t.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

His plan is the right plan for us . . . every year.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts in 2017.

Vonda

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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

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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I Hate Outlines! And Kudos & MoGo7000 Successes

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Welcome to the 2nd Tuesday at the Christian Writer’s Den! Today we’re celebrating our friends’ successes, but first, let me tell you that I hate outlines!

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I Hate Outlines!

I do. I hate them with a passion. The dislike (And yes, I would click the thumb down button here if there was one!) begins with the very premise of an outline.

You want me to put things in order? Line them up correctly? Stick to a pattern? FOLLOW THE RULES?

What about creativity? What about the muse?

Arrgghhhhh! (Did I tell you I don’t like outlines?)

When I sat down to write my first novel, I tried to make an outline. I really did. After all, that’s what writers do, right? I gathered all my writerly stuff, including a dictionary, a thesaurus, and my college English textbook (this was before the development of online resources), put a sheet of paper into my electric typewriter, and pecked out a few words. Then I stared. A long time. Apparently it wasn’t a good outline.

I ripped out that paper, threw it in the trash and tried again with a fresh, clean sheet. I wrote a few words . . . and stared. A long time. Ripped out the paper and started again. Over and over the process repeated. Paper. Trash. Paper. Trash.

Finally I admitted defeat. Outlining just didn’t work for me. I must be a seat-of-the-pants writer, reasoned. I just needed freedom!

I rolled a new piece of paper into the typewriter and wrote a brilliant first line—14 times. I’d heard that getting published was really hard work, so I knew that first line had to be perfect. And after 14 tries, it was!

I hit the return, twice. (Remember this was before word processing.) After all, I had read an issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine from cover to cover. I knew the manuscript was supposed to be double-spaced. I stared at the brilliant first line, and then down to the blank one. And stared. A long time.

Three days later, I had one just-about-as-perfect-as-you-can-get-it double-spaced page of setting, dialogue, and plot.

But hard as I tried, I couldn’t move ahead. I had no idea what was happening next—and on top of that, it had to be perfect!

This was never going to work! Enter: the narrative outline. But not just any kind of narrative outline—the Vonda Skelton style of narrative outline.

I simply started writing plot points, stuff I knew about the characters, and what happened next—all single spaced with no dialogue, no setting, no paragraphs, no spell check, no grammar correction. On and on it went, page after page after page.  I realized that for me, the key was to trick myself into thinking I wasn’t writing a book at this point. I had to give myself permission to make it sloppy and ugly, and in order to do that, I had to single space, leave out dialogue, and forget any rules. Here’s a sample from the Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island narrative outline:

Bitsy goes to Hilton Head Island w/her baseball team (she’s the only girl). I’m not sure why they’re going, maybe they’re in a baseball tournament. I’m not sure what kind of league they’re in, but it can’t be an official league because the rules won’t work. Since she’s the only girl, she can only go because the coach’s wife and daughter are going. But while they’re traveling something happens—car trouble? Sickness? Lost? but the mom and daughter have to go back home and B has to stay with another team at their house since there won’t be a woman with her team. She begs coach to let her stay with them but he won’t. their team is poor—no matching uniforms/in dilapidated van, but the team she has to stay with is rich. Her team is staying in an old dirty beach house but the team B’s with stays in a fancy house. Somewhere along the way—I don’t know what’ll happen to make it happen, but she’s gonna start telling lies in order to try to fit in and act like she’s rich. The Paris Mountain lie. Daddy in oilebusiness. She’s a good baseball player and they need her. There are 5 good players and 5 bad ones. The team has to be outside late at night—I don’t know what they’ll do, but they have to be out late at night so they can find a dead loggerhead turtle. Maybe she blames Ian or maybe somebody else does, but somebody thinks he did it.

And on and on it goes to the end. That’s my personal version of the Narrative Outline, and that outline has worked for me through all three of my published novels and my women’s non-fiction.

The key for is that I have to trick myself into seeing it as a long, fragmented note, NOT a book or an outline. That’s the only way I can be creative and I can turn off the internal editor at the same time!

So, are you having trouble moving ahead with your outline or your first draft? Then maybe you’ll want to consider a Skelton Narrative Outline for your book!

And the best part is, it’s FREE!

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Let’s Celebrate Kudos With Our Christian Writer’s Den Friends!

What a joy to see writers working hard and being successful. Here’s the good news for this month:

1.  Marilyn Nutter (SC): My article, “Rock Collecting,” was published on A Widow’s Might/A New Season on August 27, 2016.

2.  Amanda Everett (VA): I was able to have a blog post, What I Wish I Knew in College published on The Rising!

3.  Tracy Crump (MS): 1)Chicken Soup for the Soul chose two of my stories to publish in their Joy of Christmas book that comes out in October. 2)My story, “Holey Memories,” was a finalist in Southern Writers Magazine’s Short Story Contest and published in their Best Short Stories 2016 issue. 3)And I have a new writer’s website! (No more pitiful homemade site.)

4.  Sandy Kirby Quandt (TX): My entry, Not All Heroes Come Back, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction category of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. (Vonda here: For those who aren’t familiar with Writer’s Digest Competitions, they receive thousands of entries for every competition they hold. Honorable Mention is highly honorable!)

Aren’t these inspiring reports? And I have a feeling that if you asked each of these writers how long it took to begin seeing results, they’ll tell you it was a long, hard journey that required lots of perseverance. So don’t give up. Success or failure isn’t measured by acceptances and rejections. I received 63 rejections before I ever had anything published! I often wonder how different my life would be if I had never submitted that 64th query.

As the late Gary Provost personally told me, “The only way to fail is to not write.” In other words,

The only way to fail is to quit.

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Who MoGo’d in August and Earned Another Chance for $100?

These writers wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in August:

#17:  Susan Baganz – 33,356 words
#18:  KathryneAnn – 13,357 words

Congratulations, Susan and KathryneAnn! So proud of your hard work and many words! I’m looking forward to Na-No-Wri-Mo in November. Hope to see lots of CWD writers there!

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Well, that does it for another 2nd Tuesday. Didn’t see your name in the list of successes? Don’t worry! Just be sure to return next week when I’ll be posting a list of writing opportunities, contests, and conferences just for you!

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

Vonda

Image courtesy of StuartMiles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Parting Words From The Word . . . I’m in Over My Head

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, my mother had a horrible fall 19 days ago that resulted in days in ICU, then on the trauma floor, then surgery, and eventually discharged to a rehab center to begin her long road to recovery. As is always the case with difficult situations, satan sees this as an opportunity to confuse and confound God’s people. And for a while, he was able to confuse and confound me. But not any more.

Most mornings, I listen to three or four worship songs on Pandora to prepare me for worship before I open His word, listen for His voice, and spend time in prayer. I had already listened to four songs and was ready to turn off the music when I saw the title of the next song, “In Over My Head.”

That was exactly how I felt at that moment: In over my head. I decided I’d listen to one more song. I’m glad I did.

The version I listened to was an 8-minute worship set and I listened to it for almost an hour, drawing closer to the Father with each repeat, claiming the words as my own.

What about you? Have you felt lately like you’re in over your head? Deadlines or debt got you down? Rejections and responsibilities weighing heavy on your heart? Or perhaps you’re like me and watching your parents or children struggle in life. It’s almost more than you can bear.

Would you join me and prayerfully listen to the words of the 5-minute version of this song by Jenn Johnson, offering them as a gift to Jesus, the Healer of all broken hearts?

After worshiping for quite a while–playing it over and over again–I felt the warmth and healing begin deep inside and work its way to my heart, mind, and spirit.

I realized that the evil one wanted me to dwell on the broken heart and the shock of all that had happened, but Jesus wants me to dwell only on Him, regardless of the circumstances. I gave it all to Him that morning. And every time that snake started replaying the what-ifs, I replayed the song for him . . . and praised God that He alone is in control.

I had to decide I was going to believe our Father who seeks and saves the lost rather than believe the father of lies who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our lives. Powerful revelation!

Then the Lord took me to Isaiah 43:1b-3a.

“. . . Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . .” Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT)

Powerful, powerful passage! The “a” and “b” are because He’s speaking to Israel, but since I’m adopted into the family, He’s speaking it to me–and you–when we fully trust Him, let go of the pain, and give it wholly to Him. I could not allow the evil one to win or confuse my heart and my mind any longer.

It’s a beautiful thing to be in over our heads, to lose control. That’s where, no matter whether we sink or swim, it makes no difference. Either way, when we allow Jesus to take over, we’re finally free.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . Writing Books is Endless

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s scripture is one of those that has stayed with me as a writer. It’s from the last chapter of Ecclesiastes. Solomon says:

But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

As I read that passage, I was struck by the words, “Be careful, for writing books is endless . . . ”

Uh, can I get an AMEN on that one?

It seems our work is never done, doesn’t it? There’s always another book to write, another article to submit, another devotion to share. Let’s face it, we never finish. As a matter of fact, I told someone today that unless I have something specifically planned, if I’m awake, I’m working . . . because writing books and articles and blog posts and devotions is endless.

Is he saying we’re not supposed to write?

Of course not. Further study helped me see that Solomon was most likely saying something like, “Don’t add to this book. Somebody’s always got another idea. Don’t study a bunch of other people’s opinions. Books are a dime a dozen and everybody thinks he’s got the answer. Instead of wasting your time chasing after every new concept, remember that everything comes back to this: Fear God and obey His commands.”

So even though we often know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has given us something to say, we must always remember that the truth is still the truth. The whole story is this:

            Jesus is God’s Son.

            We are sinners.

            We can’t be good enough to get to heaven on our own.

            We need a Savior.

            That Savior is Jesus.

            He is the sacrifice for our sin.

            He took the punishment we deserve.

Studying and chasing after anything beyond His truth will only wear us out.

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

Vonda

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A Writer’s Health Dilemma by Tim Suddeth and Who Won Susan Baganz’s Book?

Tim Suddeth headshotA Writer’s Health Dilemma

By Tim Suddeth

I am learning, as I start this journey of a writer, that I have to careful to keep my life in balance. This became real to me earlier this year when I began to see higher numbers on the scale. Being in my fifties, I didn’t want my weight to keep increasing and I had to do something to get it back under control.

But here’s the problem for a writer. What’s the most important thing we can do for our health? Exercise, get up and get moving.

And as a writer, what are the two things I’m suppose to do the most?

  • Reading, otherwise known as cute hiney in recliner, and
  • Writing, or butt in chair.

Neither one’s conducive to good health.

And don’t tell me to try to do them standing. My brain doesn’t work like that.

So to help me make some lifestyle adjustments, I bought Jenna Wolfe’s Thinner In 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days. I wasn’t concerned about the 30 days as much as I wanted her tips to change my habits.

A few of the tips from the book that I’m doing:

  • Walk 10,000 steps a day. I bought a Fitbit for this and it’s going well. It really pushes me. A lot of evenings I’m walking in place to hit my number. It’s fun to go to bed knowing I achieved my goal.
  • Two to three days of exercise a week. This is in addition to the walking.
  • 20 sips of water when you wake up. I have to admit, I’m getting slack on this.
  • Start a food diary. It makes you question that extra snack when you have to write it down.
  • Rethink what you drink. I have coffee in the morning and water the rest of the time. No sodas except for special occasions.

For me, it’s a struggle to find time to get in my ten thousand steps. Here are my tips if you have a similar goal:

  • Get a good portion of your steps in the morning. I try to have four thousand by noon.
  • Take a break in your reading or writing or get up from your desk job every so often. I try to get up for ten minutes each hour and move around. You can make an exception if you’re in a flow. But don’t let this become an excuse to procrastinate or surf the net.
  • Walk your dog. It really adds to your numbers. Besides, can you possibly be a writer without a dog? Dog walking is great for plotting and working out your characters. And there’s nothing like watching for poo to help you iron out a scene.
  • And your cat. Well, don’t walk it. But enjoy it purring on your chest and feel your heart rate go down.
  • And sometimes, just chill. This is for you, you’re in charge. No competition unless you want it. You’re doing the walking for your heart, don’t get stressed about it.

So where am I now? I’m down ten pounds and staying steady. We’ll see what happens when Halloween comes. But then, I’ll adjust as necessary. After all, your health isn’t a thirty day sprint, it’s a marathon. With a divine celebration at the end.

Bio: Tim Suddeth attended Clemson University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He’s been married over twenty years and has a happy 18-year-old son with autism. You can reach him at timingreenville@gmail.com or www.TimInGreenville.com.

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FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1And who won Susan Baganz’s book, Feta & Freeways?

The winner is . . .

Glenda Mills!

Congratulations, Glenda! Simply contact me with your mailing address and Susan will send the book soon after it releases September 16.

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Feta & Freeways.

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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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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