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I’ve always been a super-achiever, or at least I’ve tried to be.

I earned more badges as a Girl Scout than fit on the front of my sash that I proudly wore. But I failed at one thing I was expected to do every year. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sell those cookies! Eventually the frustration and shame I felt caused me to quit Girl Scouts.

Some people have the gift of being able to sell anything. They never lack for ideas and even have fun implementing them. I’m NOT one of them! But I’ve learned and am continuing to learn how to sell what I believe in.

Today being a good writer isn’t enough. Writers need to be equally good at marketing. Without that “platform” that causes most writers to cringe, landing a traditional publisher is likely not to happen. We can choose to go indie, but without a platform the sales record of far too many indie authors is dismal. Sadly, the message God has entrusted to them does not reach the audience that needs to read their book.

But there is hope!

Do you need proven methods to make your next book launch more successful? Then I want to tell you about a webinar I’m co-hosting with marketing guru, Thomas Umstattd Jr. In the webinar, you’ll learn proven principles and methods to help your next book launch go off with a bang. Then, at the end of the webinar, Thomas Umstattd Jr. and I will answer your book launch questions. 

Webinar Details

Topic: Book Launch Secrets

Hosted By: Marlene Bagnull and Thomas Umstattd Jr. 

When: Monday, March 28, 5 pm ET (4 CT, 3 MT, 2 PT)

Registration Link: Click here

Cost: Free!

Replay? Yes, but only if you register. 

I’ve known Thomas for many years and have been blessed to have him serve on the faculty of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Thomas has helped authors successfully launch books for over a decade. He hosts Novel Marketing, the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world.

I want to encourage you not to miss the March 28 seminar. If you can’t make it to the live seminar, you can watch the replay but, again, only if you register.

Father, thank You for Thomas. Thank You for gifting him to teach us the skills we need to effectively launch the books You have called us to write.

Book Launch Secrets with Thomas Umstaddt Jr.
March 28, 5 pm ET, 4 CT, 3 MT, 2 PT

And check out 
Book Launch Blueprint – 28 Days to a Custom Book Launch Plan.
Registration closes April 8 for this course that is offered only once a year.
Amanda Tero says, “My sales rose 542% after taking the course.”

If my high school graduating class had an award for “The Most Likely NOT to Succeed,” for many years I believed I would have received it. Sadly, my family reinforced that belief.

I felt God calling me to become a missionary, but my parents scoffed when I told them I wanted to go to college. “What makes you think you’re college material?” they said. They refused to provide any financial support.

Wheaton College, my first choice school, did not accept me, but I kept applying other places. Finally, a Bible college in Georgia accepted me.

I had been dating a sailor I met at the USO, but when I thought he was ready to “pop the question,” he broke up with me instead. I was heartbroken, but I clung to a tiny shred of hope. I told the Lord I would go to college unless he brought Paul back into my life. He did! Choosing to marry Paul 58 years ago was the best decision I’ve ever made except for my decision to follow Christ.

For many years the call to full-time Christian ministry was forgotten as I focused on raising three children. When I was asked to assume a leadership role in my church, I was stunned. Who, me? Didn’t they know I wasn’t qualified?

Even after I was regularly selling manuscripts to Christian periodicals and my first two books were published, I still struggled with feeling inferior and inadequate because I lacked a college education. I felt ashamed that I was just a high school graduate.

I never did go to college, but in the spring of 1999 my son graduated from college, my daughter graduated from medical school, and I received an honorary Litt.D. Even better than the Litt.D. was how the Lord had set me free years earlier from the shame I had carried far too long for not having a college degree. (That’s another story!)

I still need to be on guard against the evil one’s accusations that I’m not smart enough – that my failure to go to college limits what I’m able to do. But as someone once told me, “I’ve been homeschooled by the Father, and only special kids are homeschooled.”

On those days when I feel overwhelmed and vulnerable, Father brings to mind Scriptures like the one below.
Whose voice do you listen to?

Have you cut the tapes of hurtful things
people said about you in the past?

What Scriptures have you buried in your heart
that encourage you to not give up?

Click here if you missed my mini-zoom workshop last night on the blueprint for our writing found in Habakkuk 2:2. At 16 minutes I encountered glitches. But keep watching and listening. Father is able to use all things to teach us more about Him. I think you’ll be encouraged to press on when you encounter obstacles and need to reach out to others for help.

“We don’t know what to do,
but we are looking to you.”

2 Chronicles 20:12 TLB

It’s an understatement to say we are living in perilous days. True, America has not been invaded by an army as the people of Ukraine are facing. But no one can know what is coming next.

The very real prospect of a cyberattack that would create chaos certainly exists. Supply chain issues could threaten our food supply. (Experts have been warning of a worldwide famine.) Even more terrifying is the threat of a nuclear attack or disaster. (Why has Russia attacked and taken control of the largest nuclear reactor in all of Europe?)

And then there is the deep division in our nation. The anger spills over not just onto our streets but into our churches and families. People are anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, fearful . . .

So, yes, echoing the words of King Jehoshaphat centuries ago, “We don’t know what do.” Hearing the news that a vast army was approaching, he asked the people of Judah to “go without food for a time, in penitence and intercession before God” (2 Chron. 20:3 TLB). They gathered before him at the temple in Jerusalem as he prayed, “We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you” (v 12).

As Christians God has called and gifted to write,

  • will you be part of the army of writers God will use to bring our nation back to Him?
  • While we still can, will you use social media and blogs to point people to His answer?
  • Will you seek His anointing to incorporate biblical truth in what you are writing whether it be a novel, nonfiction book, article, personal experience story, devotional, poem, song?

The May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference is going virtual. Not only will you save the cost of travel and lodging, you will have three months after the conference to watch over 100 hours of videos. Our faculty of 60 agents, authors, editors, and other professionals will provide more than a college course in writing at a fraction of the cost.

Friends, I’m praying you won’t miss what I know will be a life-changing conference. And Father, in the midst of the turmoil in our world help us to do what Jehosophat did. Help us to look to You and to write Your answer.

Feeling Stuck

I’ve said it often, “Writing for the Lord isn’t easy!” Seriously, just because He has called you and given you a gift with words doesn’t mean your words will always flow quickly and easily. The same as other gifts (think athlete or woodworker, singer or actor) writing is a gift that needs to be developed and requires much practice.

The May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference offers labs and early bird workshops on Wednesday followed by three days of workshops and continuing sessions to help you grow your writing and marketing skills.

But CCWC doesn’t focus on just the practical, as important as that is. Through our six keynotes (including two by Liz Curtis Higgs) you can expect to be encouraged and inspired. And if you’re stuck, I highly recommend you invest five and a half hours with Ava Pennington in this continuing session that I know will be life-changing.


Your Writing Life
Dig Deep, Build High

Set a Solid Foundation and
Fan the Flames of Your Passion!

with Ava Pennington
Author, Bible Teacher
Writing Coach, Freelance Editor
www.AvaPennington.com
Ava has a heart for God’s Word and God’s people. She is passionate about encouraging writers to use their gifts for His glory. Ava began writing for publication after a 20+ year career as a corporate executive in NYC. As she transitioned to writing and teaching, she learned, first-hand, the importance of establishing a solid foundation as she pursued writing. Her publication credits include articles in numerous magazines as well as short stories in 30+ anthologies. Her one-year devotional, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is being released by Revell Books this year in a gift book edition that includes content from the original devotional. For more information about Ava’s books, speaking, and writers’ services, visit her website.

The taller the building, the deeper the foundation. You may have just begun your writing journey. Or you may be multi-published, but you’re feeling stuck. Either way, what are you building on?

Learning the technical skills to write in our chosen genre is important. But we won’t finish well if we don’t have the foundation in place to fulfill God’s call on our life.

This continuing class will include:

* Nurturing your first love (or returning to it!) on a biblical foundation
* Finding God’s will for your writing
* Growing your writing prayer life
* Balancing “real” life with your writing life
* Guarding your heart against the enemy’s lies
* Overcoming obstacles and frustrations
* Persevering through dry times
* Time management vs. time stewardship
* Stepping out in faith to fulfill your calling
* Trusting God’s timing

Regardless of where you are in your writing journey, this class will serve as a mini-retreat for you to recharge, refocus, reconnect, and rejoice in what God is doing in and through you and your writing!
*~*~*

I’m praising God. All eight continuing sessions are now in place plus four learning labs on Wednesday, and four clinics. I’m still tweaking our 46 workshops. Be watching for more info coming soon.

Registration opens February 1. Plan to be among the first to register. You’ll save $50. And good news! There is no price increase from our 2019 conference for those who register through March 1.

"I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.
"They are plans for good and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
In those days when you pray, I will listen.
You will find me when you seek me,
if you look for me in earnest."
Jeremiah 29:11-13 TLB

Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness. Last year wasn’t easy, but then You never promised us a problem-free life. What You have promised is always to be with us.


Last year was more than challenging for me and my husband. Yet despite scary health issues, the ministry of Write His Answer continued. Through going virtual (that was scary too!) the Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conference reached people who otherwise would not have been able to come. Thank You, Father, for the technology and for the team who made it work.

I confess there were days when I was tempted to give up – days when the evil one tried to convince me that I’m too old to keep on keeping on. The ongoing pandemic has made me fearful to begin planning to meet on the mountain for the May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. (The August 4-6 Philly conference will be virtual.) The financial risk and workload is daunting. Yet now, more than ever, I know God is calling me to encourage and equip His people to “Write His Answer.”

And so, during last night’s House of Worship* with Marty and Jenny Goetz and Misha and her family, I again told the Lord, “Hineni, Here Am I.” I’m praying you will join me in saying “Hineni” in this new year. Click here for the link to the song.

Together, let’s trust Father’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-13 and worship Him as Marty and Misha sing “The Plans I Have for You.” For the story behind the creation of this song click here.

*The House of Worship has been meeting since March 2020 most Tuesday’s and Friday’s at 8 pm EST on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
It’s been almost 40 years since the traumatic Christmas Eve I wrote about below. Thank You, Father, for bringing Your peace to these strained relationships and for the assurance that my mother and stepfather are now home with You. Please bring Your peace – Your shalom – to families in conflict. Restore estranged relationships and help us to love others as You love us.
~ * ~ * ~

How fast the year has flown, I reflected as I took the photographs off the mantle to decorate it for Christmas. A charred mark on the paneling behind one of the photos instantly reminded me of a Christmas when our home had been anything but peaceful.

My mother and stepfather were visiting. The relationship was strained, but we had been trying to keep the peace. On Christmas Eve the tension erupted into a bitter argument. The smell of burning wood stopped me from saying things I would have later regretted. A candle had tipped over on the mantle causing the paneling right near the thermostat to smolder. Trembling with fear of what might have been, I soaked the wall with water and later hid the damage with a photo. The damage in the relationship with my parents was not so easily hid.

Painful memories have a way of refusing to stay camouflaged. At Christmas we are forced to face the fact that all is not always “calm” and “bright” in our relationships with a brother or sister, a parent or child, an in-law or cousin. This season of joy can turn into one of misery as we have no choice but to spend time with people who go out of their way to avoid us the rest of the year.

When our homes are filled with conflict, what can we do to have “peace on earth, good will to men”?

1. Keep our eyes on the One whose birth we celebrate. The Gospel of John opens with the poignant words: “His life is the light that shines through the darkness–and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John l:5 TLB). The reality of that first Christmas was not just the angels’ song, but Herod’s decree that every baby boy two years old and under be slaughtered (see Matthew 2:16). The shadow of the cross was already hanging over the Holy Family as they fled to Egypt.

Jesus never promised us problem-free relationships, but He has promised to give us the wisdom to know how to love those who may be anything but lovable. Difficult relationships do not have to spoil the joy of Christmas if we follow Jesus’ example and respond with love and forgiveness.

2. Try not to put unrealistic demands on ourselves. Christmas Eve I typically am still racing to complete my “to-do” list. I end up too tired to enjoy Christmas much less to cope with difficult family members. We need to learn when to make a good night’s sleep a priority so that we’re able to handle added emotional pressures.

3. Avoid having unrealistic expectations of others. It is unlikely that people who have been less than pleasant throughout the year will suddenly become nice just because it is Christmas. Yes, I believe God works miracles, but it is just as great a miracle to learn not to set ourselves up to be hurt through our unrealistic expectations.

I cannot remove that charred area of paneling without replacing the entire wall, but it can serve as a reminder that if I want peace in my family, it must begin with me. Truly, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19 NIV). Because Christ came, we can be reconciled to one another.
___________

The above article was first published in the December 1986 issue of Decision. It has been reprinted by Our Family, Messenger of St. Anthony, Christian Standard, Sunday Digest, Family Forum, The Gem, Live, and ASSISTnews.net.

We Thank You, O Lord

tg-bible

We Thank You, O Lord
To the tune “We Gather Together”

We thank You, O Lord, for Your mercy and blessings,
Your love that we never can merit or earn.
Our praises we’re bringing to You on this Thanksgiving.
We worship You, O Lord -, our hearts for You yearn.

We need You, O Lord, in our lives, in our nation.
Our land You will heal if Your people will pray.
If humbly we’ll seek You and turn away from evil,
There’s hope that our- nation will see brighter days.

And so, Lord, we give You our praise and thanksgiving,
Our worries and fears we surrender to You.
We choose to rejoice in Your promise, Your provision.
We will trust You, O Lord -, for Your Word is true.

 Marlene Bagnull


Invest only $157 (before August 1; $177 after) and “hit the ground running” in your writing life by experiencing three days at the COLORADO Christian Writers Conference described below!

UNBELIEVABLE!

Guest Blogger, Leona Choy

Your flight, hotel, food and total expenses are FREE! This super-conference is VIRTUAL–so you live and eat and sleep at your own home! Colorado is awesome and beautiful, but you don’t have to go there to “attend” this event.

All you have to do is sit in front of your computer or open your laptop and ZOOM along with a VIRTUAL gallery full of writers (well-published and beginners) and an outstanding faculty of agents, authors, editors, publishers, workshop leaders, and keynote inspirational speakers. You can schedule personal appointments with faculty and discuss your writing in “real time.”

AN INCREDIBLE BONUS!

Since no one is able to “attend” every one of these outstanding sessions in three days, as a perk because you registered, you’ll be able at your leisure to go back and sit in on all the recorded video sessions you missed or want to experience again. For how long? FOR TWO ENTIRE MONTHS after the conclusion of this conference. A mega-bargain for such a small investment!

A few weeks ago I VIRTUALLY participated in the “big sister” Christian Writers Conference in Philadelphia, but we were also  VIRTUAL so not located there. It was truly life-changing and unforgettable. The writing progress of some participants since attending has gone to a new level. In fact, some writers were so inspired that they are “attending” both conferences this year and doubling their learning opportunity.

If you are serious about writing and believe God has called you, learn all you can about the writing craft and current opportunities. Pray and consider “going” to this Colorado Conference–while staying at home. Let me know if you decide to register. I will pray for the Lord to arrange His ordained encounters for you during those life-changing three days in August and will hope to see you there!

Leona Choy,
Christian Writing Coach

Guest post by Chris Richards

I can go online, search for writers’ conferences, and get a huge list I could read in, ooohhh, let’s say, about 8 hours – if I wanted to spend my time that way. The things they have in common are classes teaching:

  • Writing
  • Marketing
  • Editing
  • Publishing

And they will provide:

  • Inspiration
  • Opportunities to meet fellow writers
  • Opportunities to make writing friends

And most will have opportunities to meet with agents and editors.

I can also find conferences lasting from one day to all summer. There are conferences online, in-person, and both. They are close to home and far away. They focus on all genres, or only one. They come from different points of view – secular, spiritual, Buddhist, communist, ecological, etc. And some are Christian.

So, why should I choose GPCWC over all the others?

Heart.

The heart of the conference. The heart of the staff and faculty. The heart of the conferees. The heart of the world.

First, I am Christian, so I prefer Christian conferences. The list is still long.

Next, I review speakers and select conferences with those I want to learn from. Finally, I look at where they are and how much they cost.

What makes GPCWC different? What makes GPCWC stand out?

In addition to the above list they build me up as a Christian and help me as I evangelize through my writing. All Christians are called by Jesus to evangelize (Mark 16:15).

We all know this world and this country have turned away from our first love, Jesus (Rev. 2:4).

It requires only a few moments watching the television or reading the news or listening to our neighbors fight or walking along a downtown street in any major city and you know this world and country are sliding off a cliff into the depths of evil.

Our desire is to turn off the TV news reports, stop reading the news, hide in our homes behind the pretty white picket fence where everything is beautiful and there are no lions who wander the streets seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Or is that just what we desire to believe regardless of the truth?

At GPCWC (June 24-26) one of the keynotes and a seven-hour continuing session will focus on the issues facing our nation – on those things we desire to ignore, but ones that God wants us to see and where He wants us to shine His redemptive Love.

I will attend these presentations at GPCWC and listen to what the Lord wants me to do and where He wants me to be.

For more information go to the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, https://Philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

Trust…given or earned?

As Officer Logan Taul’s nightstick plummets toward the teen’s arm, he sees the monster he has become reflected in the warped storefront window.

Thus begins his journey, back to the officer, man, and father he wants to be. Logan must face his own nature and insecurities and defy those who do not want him to succeed. His quest for redemption leads him to search for the family he deserted. Despite physical attacks on both himself and those he loves, and attempts to frame him, can he bring his family back together? Will he once more wear the badge in a position of trust?

Do you know a teen who loves to write?

Because of going virtual this year, we have decided not to offer Teens Write. But teens are the future, and it’s important to support and encourage them. So please see the email below from one of our team members, Darcie Gudger, and pass it on to a teen who is interested in writing or to your church secretary. With going virtual, teens from all over the country can participate. And at $59, it’s one-third the price of an adult registration.    


Hey aspiring teen writers,  

Things are a bit different this year… well, they have been different for the past year and a half.   

Anyway, since there is no Teens Write with the virtual June 24-26 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, your friendly neighborhood Teen’s Write expert (me!) has curated a list of continuing sessions and workshops to help boost your novel-writing aspirations.   

Before I share the list, lean in. Closer. I have a secret. Don’t tell the adults because they don’t get this deal.

For you guys who are in 6th – 12th grade, we will reduce the cost of the conference to only $59 dollars.  

SHHHHH! I know you’re excited and the shrieks are bursting from your lips. Because you teens are my FAVORITE people, the conference director decided to give your MORE than 50% off. Actually, my calculator tells me it’s one-third off! How cool is that? It’s the cost of a Switch game.   

I hope I can connect with you all over a lunch or dinner break during the conference so we can chat about writing. And remember, this deal is for teens ONLY! Because you are awesome and I want to see a lot of you!  

From the desk of the Mad Scribbler,

Darcie
Editor, Instructor
Author of SPIN, TOSS, and CATCH  

P.S. Here’s the list:
The Novelist’s Toolbox – a 7.5 hour continuing session spread over 3 days

Deep, deep, deeper POV – taught by a literary agent

Researching your novel – with best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs

Grammar – what you really need to know – a class taught to college students

Be Bold – edgy Christian Fiction

Show and Tell Time – How to KNOW if you SHOW!   

Go to https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com
to find out more and to register.