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What is the biggest obstacle you face in accomplishing what God has called you to do?

For me, it’s faith – or rather, to be honest, lack of faith.

Despite all the amazing things I have seen Him do, when faced with a new challenge, I still struggle to trust Him. Some mountains seem too big, too steep, too treacherous. It’s easier to question His call, to explain why I’m not the best person for the assignment, to suggest He choose someone else who is more qualified.

But then, I remember,

 You can never please God without faith, without depending on him.
Hebrews 11:6 (TLB)

I think of the exciting adventures I would have missed if I’d said no. More than that, I would have missed the lessons learned through needing to depend on Him. Most of all, I would have grieved the One who has been and is so faithful.

What mountain are you facing? How can I pray for you?

I know it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. I’ve wanted to, but to be honest I’ve felt empty.

There haven’t been words to express my grief over the lives that have been lost from covid-19 and my concern for the financial nightmare it has caused others.

At our daughter’s insistence, Paul and I have stayed isolated and safe. But life is anything but normal for anyone and perhaps will never be what it once was.

It was hard to postpone both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference until next year. I’ve kept busy editing books for other writers, working in my garden, and even cleaning my garage.

And, of course, I’ve been deeply troubled over the turmoil our nation is experiencing because of racial injustice. I have many black friends who I treasure. I hurt for them and for us all as our nation struggles to survive.

I’m reminded of the writing seminar I gave in a black church in July 2016 shortly after a policeman shot and killed a black man. I admit I felt anxious about how I would be received. I sought the Lord for what I should say to the black men and women who waited for me to begin speaking.

If ever the Lord has given me a word, I know He did that morning. I acknowledged the injustice of what had happened and its source. “Friends,” I said, “we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood but against principalities and powers that seek to destroy us.”  

Heads nodded. God’s presence was very real as I prayed that somehow we, His people, could live and write His answer.    

The love I felt for my black brothers and sisters and that they showed me was powerful. We were “one in the Spirit” as the hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” proclaims. Oh, how we need to live out that truth today.

Father, help us to not be afraid to confront the issues that are dividing us. Help us to listen to one another – really listen and seek to understand the anger, the hurt, and the fear behind the words. And help us to write wise words that open the door to honest dialogue that will bring understanding, healing, and peace. Bring us together at the foot of the Cross.

Make me truly happy by loving each other
and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,
working together with one heart and mind and purpose.
Philippians 2:2 (TLB)

We are all parts of one body, we have the same Spirit,
and we have all been called to the same glorious future.
Ephesians 4:4 (TLB)

If one member suffers, all suffer together.
1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)

I encourage you to prayerfully consider what three friends I greatly respect have written. All three have keynoted at my conferences.

Patricia Raybonhttps://www.patriciaraybon.com/finding-the-way-forward/

Jim Watkinshttps://mailchi.mp/5b54493fd8d1/imitation-of-christ-is-risen-today-james-n-watkins-5160069?e=58fcb76afe

Michael Gantthttps://mkgantt.com/snakes-do-what-snakes-do/

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.
James 3:17 (TLB)

Father, help us not forget those who have given their lives for our country and those who are presently serving in places near and far. You know the sacrifices they and their families make as well as how difficult it is to see a son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father cope with physical disability or PTSD.

Others are grieving the loss of a loved one from covid-19. When will this end, Father?

And then there are countless others who are battling cancer and other frightening conditions or are overwhelmed caring for a family member or close friend.

It’s not easy, Lord, but then You never promised life would be easy. But thank You that You have promised always to be with us.

Jesus said: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 TLB

If someone you love has cancer, or if you know of a caregiver who needs comfort and encouragement, this gift book will provide spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles. My good friend, Cec Murphey, who cared for his wife as she battled cancer, has given Write His Answer Ministries a box of these beautiful full-color gift books. Only $7. Click here to order.

Let him have all your worries and cares,
for he is always thinking about you
and watching everything that concerns you.

1 Peter 5:7 (TLB)

Ten and a half years ago we moved to Lansdale, Pennsylvania. As someone has said, “I could write a book” about all ways I saw God at work. The blessing of being within walking distance of our three grandkids on half an acre of land where I can play in the dirt is a dream come true. Sadly my arthritic knees no longer allow me to do much walking, and it’s getting harder to keep 23 garden plots weeded. Yes, I really do have 23 gardens!

Because the coronavirus forced me to cancel the Colorado Christian Writers Conference that would have been held last week, I’ve been able to get my vegetable gardens planted early. Now if only the bunnies and deer do not eat everything . . .

I would have gotten home from Colorado very early this morning. As I’ve often said, I would have hit the ground running because the Philly conference would be just a little over two months away. But not this year! 🙁

After directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference for 36 years, I’ve had to make the very difficult decision to also postpone the Philly conference to 2021. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where I live and where the conference is held, is in lockdown until June 4. Even after (if) that is lifted, my daughter who is a doctor says we will still need to stay at home because my husband and I are high risk. And sadly, some of our faculty and conferees who come each year are also high risk. The bottom line – I don’t see how several hundred people can safely distance.

I probably won’t have a date for 2021 until January. My first choice date is July 28-31. Other options are July 21-24 or August 4-7. I hope you’ll pencil them in on your calendar as I have asked the faculty who were planning to come this year to do.

I hope to offer some online clinics this summer. Meanwhile, I want to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to increase your writing and marketing skills through this HALF-PRICE SPECIAL for MP3s of the 2019 Philly conference.

Download the entire conference(75 sessions)
$262 value!

GPCWC alumni from any year
Only $77 now $38

Non-conferees – $107 now $53

OR

One to six sessions – $4.00 now $2.00 each
Seven or more sessions – $3.50 now $1.75 each

Offer good through May 30

PA residents add 6% sales tax
Price includes handouts if faculty provided them

Available immediately for download https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2019mp3s

Send check payable to GPCWC to
951 Anders Road
Lansdale, PA 19446
OR
Send payment via PayPal to mbagnull@aol.com

Father, You know the heartache so many are experiencing because of this pandemic that has taken the lives of loved ones and has resulted in the loss of so many jobs. Please give us words to comfort, encourage, and turn hearts to You. Help us not to miss the ways You are “blessing our nest.”

Whether you’ve come to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in the past or had hoped to come this year, please join me in experiencing CCWC through the photos below. I also want to encourage you to take advantage of the half price special for last year’s CDs available through this coming Sunday, May 17. You’ll find the order form on the home page of our website, https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Last year at this time I sat on the deck of the Ruesch Auditorium at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center, rejoicing in the majesty of Father’s creation and praising Him for the hundreds of writers gathering for the 23rd Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

His presence was very real as we worshiped Him . . .

and learned how to more effectively “write His answer” from an outstanding faculty of over 50 authors, editors, and agents.

Outdoors we were awed by the presence of magnificent elk.

We celebrated with one another during our Author’s Night.

Father, thank You for the wonderful memories of all the ways You have met us on the mountain at CCWC. Bring an end to this pandemic so we can again meet May 12-15, 2021. Please comfort and strengthen all who have lost loved ones from covid-19. Meet the needs of the unemployed. And, Father, help us all to use the gift of words You have entrusted to us to write Your answer.

Guest Blog by Karen Bouchard, Coach at Word Ninjas and Acquisitions Editor at Illumify Media

You love writing.

Marketing? Branding? Tribe-building? Not so much.

So how in the world do you get ahead in your writing career?

I’m going to give you three tips in just a moment. First, though, I want you to consider signing up for two resources that are going to help you tremendously. I promise to explain more about these resources at the end of this post, but here they are:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

and then…

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

Now back to our dilemma.

Last week a writer approached me with this very problem. She wrote, “In order to move forward in my writing, it seems like I’m going to have leave my strengths (writing) and move into my weaknesses (marketing, branding). How should I handle this?”

Now, unless you consider yourself a “marketer” first and a “writer” second, you may be asking this question, too.

NAVIGATING TODAY’S PUBLISHING WORLD

As we’ve all experienced, the changes in book publishing over the past decade have been significant. The responsibility for connecting with potential readers has fallen squarely on the shoulders of authors, and it doesn’t matter what publishing avenue—traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing—we pursue.

While the shift in book publishing has created a lot of amazing and unprecedented opportunities, we are also in danger of losing the voices of less marketing-minded writers with equally important messages.

So what’s a writer to do? Especially if you don’t consider “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” to be one of your key strengths?

I have three suggestions for you, and here they are:

1. Reframe how you think of marketing.

If we define “marketing” as trying to convince someone to help us (by subscribing to our email list, following us on Facebook, buying our books), it feels yucky. For them and for us, too.

And if we think of building a platform—or growing a following—in terms of amassing numbers, well, that doesn’t feel great either.

No wonder we want to run screaming from the room.

But when we reframe our motivation for building our platforms—and become driven by love—we may discover that the process is not distasteful at all. In fact, it can become life-giving, to us as well as to our readers.

When we stop asking “How do I get people to sign up?”—and start asking “How can I help, serve, and love people to whom my message will bring life and hope?”—everything changes.

Of course, you will still need to learn some time-proven platform-building strategies—and some of those strategies function similarly whether you’re looking for numbers to help yourself, or whether you’re looking to serve others.

But don’t let that fool you. When you stop being driven by dread—and start being led by love—your experience, the experience of your audience, and the connections you forge and nurture will be far more amazing and fulfilling than straight-up “marketing” will ever be.

2. Connect with your audience in ways that resonate with your personality.

When we think of “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” we tend to think in terms of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These are great tools, and I encourage you to explore all the possibilities these platforms present.

That said, don’t limit yourself. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there are myriad ways to connect with your audience both online and offline.

You don’t have to do everything I’ve listed below (in fact, please don’t even try!). But do identify two or three avenues you find enjoyable to serve your audience, and use those avenues regularly to engage with your peeps.

Here are a few Facebook-free ways to find and grow your audience:

  • Events: Book clubs. Book signings. Expos. Meet-up groups. School Visits. Workshops. Church and community events. (In fact, take a clipboard to collect email addresses and grow your email list while you are at it).
  • Media and PR: Become an expert in your field and seek opportunities as a guest blogger, or a guest on podcasts or local radio. Submit articles to newspapers and magazines.
  • Start a podcast or YouTube channel.
  • Offer great content to someone who uses social media to connect with folks in your target audience. People who use social media a lot are always on the lookout for helpful resources they can share with their audiences. Create that kind of content and allow other people to bless their audiences with it. You’ll be blessed in return.

3. Hire help.

You can’t do and learn everything. Besides, time is money, right? So focus on what you love, and hire out what you don’t:

  • Hire a virtual (or non-virtual) assistant for a few hours each week.
  • Hire help creating and managing your social media presence.
  • Trade services, such as offering editing or writing services to someone who can help you with your website.
  • Hire someone to produce and publish your book while you invest your time and energy into connecting with future readers.  

The point is, don’t learn “all the things” yourself. I love learning, so I struggle with this. But if you and I want to have time to function in our strengths and passions, we have to learn how to free ourselves (at least a little) from the tyranny of tasks we don’t know how to do, and/or don’t particularly like.

I’m not saying never learn anything new. We are writers, after all. We are curious by nature, and learning keeps the brain young, right?

But pick and choose. Spend time learning how to do things that interest you, not things you hate (but will tolerate to save a buck).

By picking and choosing what you invest time learning, you might spend dollars but save sanity.

To keep yourself from getting lost in the weeds, stop asking “How” questions and start asking “Who” questions. In other words, instead of asking “How can I learn how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my own book,” start asking, “Who can I hire who knows how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my book.”

Where can you find modestly-priced help? Learn how to evaluate and hire freelancers on sites like www.fiverr.com. You might be surprised how reasonable some services can be.

NOW, ABOUT THOSE FREE RESOURCES I MENTIONED EARLIER…

Illumify Media and Word Ninjas are hosting a six-week FREE webinar series for writers. The webinar taking place on Wednesday, May 13th is on “Navigating Today’s 3 Best Publishing Options.”

Here are the other webinars in the series:

1. How to Create Your e-Newsletter in MailChimp
2. How to Create Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List
3. How to Get Your Book into Bookstores
4. The Internet Has Changed How People Read–Here’s What You Need to Know (and Do)
5. How to Navigate Today’s Three Best Publishing Options
6. Bonus: “Ask Me Anything” Session (with Writing/Publishing/Marketing Pros)

When you register for even one of the webinars, after the series is over you’ll receive an email with links to all six recorded webinars. It’s a power-packed series of FREE trainings for writers that will help you no matter where you are in your publishing/writing/platform-building journey.

To register for the May 13th webinar, click on the link below:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

And if you’re reading this after the series is over—and would like to receive links to all six trainings absolutely free—click here.

ONE LAST PLATFORM BUILDING TOOL…

There’s one last platform-building resource I want to make available to you.

Word Ninjas is an online coaching community where I help writers improve their writing and learn tools and strategies to build their platforms. To learn more about how Word Ninjas can help you—and try it out for two weeks completely free—click on the link:

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

The bad news is successful writers need to nurture relationships with current and future readers. The good news is that successful writers get to nurture relationships with current and future readers—and it can be a lot more enjoyable than you might think.

The “new normal” has given me time to compile this volume of psalms that were published thirty to forty years ago. It should be available on Amazon in several days. Father, please use them to encourage many moms during the challenging days of this pandemic.

A Mother’s Day Psalm

Lord, You know how much I love my children

and how I long for my words and actions

to show it, especially when

I do not like what they are doing.

Give me joy in the everyday tasks

that are an essential part of mothering.

Help me to have Your peace

when the direction my children seem

to be heading in causes me anxiety and grief.

Teach me patience

when they don’t pick up their dirty socks,

and when they track mud all over

my clean floors.

Help me to be kind when I need to discipline them

for being naughty,

or I need to stand my ground on a heated issue.

Fill me with Your goodness

that I might be a worthy example for them to follow.

Enable me to be faithful to You

and to them by properly ordering my priorities.

Sensitize me to be gentle

when they are hurting and they come to me

for comfort and reassurance.

And finally, Lord, help me to be self-controlled—

to never, in a moment of frustration or anger,

do or say anything

that would cause my children to doubt

my deep love for them.

https://bit.ly/2xqWSIb

It’s been more than twenty years since Terri Gillespie (who I “just happened” to meet the first time I visited Beth Yeshua) encouraged me not to miss a concert Marty Goetz was giving. I’m so glad I listened. That evening was life-changing as I was drawn more deeply into God’s presence than I had ever experienced.

Since then I’ve had the joy of introducing Marty to hundreds of writers at the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I’ve never forgotten the first year Marty came to Colorado. After the conference was over, one evening the staff and I literally sat on a mountaintop for more than an hour worshiping with Marty as his CD played in the car deck.

During the past seven weeks (or is it now eight?) that I’ve “sheltered in place” I’m so grateful for how I have again been blessed by Marty every Tuesday and Friday evening (7 pm CST) through his live “House of Worship” on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/martygoetz).

Dozens of Marty’s songs have become favorites through the years, but the new song Marty and his daughter, Misha, shared on Friday has touched me even more deeply. Marty writes:

Our Newest Song is Here! ‘Historic’ is the word many have used to describe this worldwide pandemic we have all experienced. In times of crisis and uncertainty, such as these, history has a way of turning ordinary people into extraordinary heroes. Every one of us has been called upon to make difficult and costly sacrifices. Still, there are those who have been on the frontlines in this battle against our invisible enemy – doctors, nurses, first responders, and the many people who have gone to work daily on our behalf, providing our essential needs. We are releasing this new song in honor of them. It tells the story of a young girl named Esther, who, at her time in history, was called upon to be a hero – saving the lives of her Jewish people. In that spirit, and in gratitude to all of you who have done what needed to be done, we hope you enjoy and are inspired by, ‘For Such a Time as This (Esther’s Song).’ Please like and share this new song & video with the heroes in your life!

See below for a story I wrote about how Marty’s music has impacted me. It was included in Changed – True Stories of Finding God through Christian Music (Standard Publishing, 2005).

Waiting

Saturday was the first time I’ve driven my car in seven weeks. It felt really strange. At least I hadn’t forgotten how to drive! And I didn’t get lost finding the church where I was scheduled to pick up a box of food for my daughter. I wore a mask and was careful to social distance.

Although some states are beginning to reopen, it’s likely to be quite some time before the Philadelphia area where I live will return to normal. I’m growing impatient. I’ve never been very good at waiting, and I admit I’m anxious wondering what restrictions the new normal will require. Will I again be able to hug my grandkids? And will it be safe to hold the July 22-25 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference? I don’t know. I’m still waiting and praying for a clear answer.

Be still and rest in the Lord;
wait for Him and
patiently lean yourself upon Him.
Psalm 37:7 AMP

A good thing to do during any season of waiting is to learn from a master crafts- man. Cec shares valuable, bite-sized lessons such as:

* How to get beyond the amateur look;
* Why writing articles is a good place to start;
* The importance of showing and telling;
* Choosing the best words and tenses;
* Using dialog to move your story along;
* Writing from the right perspective;
* Keeping your reader happy;
* Working with publishers, editors, and agents;
* Making a living as a writer.

Special price $7. Click here to order.

“The most comprehensive and recommended resource on the market for finding a place to sell what you are writing or locating an agent, an editor, a designer, a podcast, or a writing coach.”

I purchased two boxes (40 books) for $590 for the Colorado conference. It has cost $102 to ship them back to Pennsylvania. I am unable to return them and, honestly, I can’t afford to lose what I invested. Please help me and yourself by purchasing a copy at $18 (only .75 cents more than my cost). Regular price is $24.99. Click here to order.


I highly recommend this book for everyone who writes fiction. Time-saving tips, revision-made-easy charts, short checklists, and more.

  • Create great characters
  • Maintain a compelling pace
  • Craft believing dialogue
  • Expand your creativity.

246 page hardback. Full color
Retail $19.95.
Half price special $9.97.
Click here to order.

Please note: I’m finally updating the Write His Answer bookstore – something I’ve not had time to do until the pandemic has put both conferences on hold. I’ve got far too much tied up in books (I still have loads more to add) that are doing nothing to help the huge financial loss of postponing the Colorado conference. Knowing that financially things may also be difficult for you, I’ve greatly reduced prices. Quantities are limited.

Be sure to also check out the Other Titles that include 30 books I’ve edited in addition to the 14 Ampelos Press books I’ve edited and published. Amazing. Thank You, Father, for Your Ephesians 3:20 blessings.

Someday life will return to normal, although only Father knows when and what the “new normal” will be. Until then, I believe He want us not to waste this time but to use it to:

Make the most of every opportunity
you have for doing good.
Ephesians 5:16 (TLB)

Before I share how I’ve been using this new found time, here’s what my friends Karen Bouchard and Michael Klassen are doing.

On Wednesday evenings at 6:30 MT they are presenting free webinars for writers. We’ve missed #1, but #2 is coming up this Wednesday night (April 22) and then the four Wednesday nights after that. There’s no charge—you just need to register ahead of time and then you’ll receive a Zoom link to participate on the video call.

Here’s a list of the webinars coming up:

  1. How to create an e-newsletter in MailChimp (and other platforms)
  2. How to create lead magnets and grow your list
  3. Do these things to get your books into more bookstores
  4. Tips on writing to today’s internet-influenced readers
  5. How to navigate today’s three best publishing options
  6. Bonus: Get answers to FAQs about writing, publishing, and marketing

Now, for how I’m using the time that I would have been spending on preparing for the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference (I’m still not certain whether or not I’ll be able to hold the July 22-25 Philly conference), I’ve been working with authors Father has gifted with an important message. I urge you to use this time to read one or more of the following books that I have had the privilege of editing:

A book every parent needs to read
and every pastor needs to recommend.

I was blessed to edit, design the cover, and provide the following endorsement: “In Victory through Light: How to Overcome the Growing Cultural Darkness Victoria Dorshorn confronts the ‘darkness that is growing in our culture today’ through the light of God’s Word. This is not a quick and easy read. Rather, it is a book to thoughtfully and prayerfully study. I especially recommend it as a resource for small groups and Sunday school classes.”

A timely and gripping novel you won’t be able to put down that I’m grateful I had the opportunity to publish as an Ampelos Press book. From the back cover:

“Remember Scenario 5? Are you ready?” With these five words, Angela Norsworthy’s world turns upside down. Before seventy-two hours are up, Angie and her daughter, Rose, are plunged into an escalating spiral of fear and darkness. Her friend, a colonel and medical officer on a U.S. airbase in
Germany, is sending Angie desperate texts to warn her of the danger to come. A deadly terror, the like of which the world has never known, has been unleashed. This could happen today. Are you ready?

Father has given Susan Paulus a gift to write stories that make the Bible come alive. As you read these short stories, you will feel like you are there and be drawn closer to the Lord. Please, Sue, keep writing these wonderful stories!

Ebook available on Amazon:
https://amzn.to/34Ra1GG

And one more book that I finished editing in December before I knew how dramatically all our lives would change. Order from https://www.marjistevens.com/books

Thank you, Marji Stevens, for taking me deeper into God’s Word and revealing the amazing ways He speaks through trees. I highly recommend this unique Bible study for all who long to be “rooted and built up in Him” (Colossians 2:7 NKJV).

“I want you to learn to wait patiently, productively, and expectantly,” the Lord told me many years ago when I was griping and feeling sorry for myself because doors were not opening for the publication of my work.

The productive part sounded okay. But patience? Surely the Lord knew I had (and still have) a problem being patient. Yet I knew if I failed to learn the lesson of patience, I wouldn’t be prepared to persist during other dry spells. The challenge Lee Roddy once gave me, “write so heaven will be different,” would never happen if my lack of patience caused me to quit.

The bottom line that is as true today as it was then: If I fail to learn to wait patiently and expectantly I will be denying a Scripture I promised years ago to heed. “I will keep on expecting you to help me. I [will] praise you more and more. I [will] walk in the strength of the Lord God” (Ps. 71:14, 16).

Friends, let’s ask Father to help us make the most of the opportunities during these challenging days. Let’s trust Him to enable us to write and to live His answer.

What is the Lord saying to you during this waiting time? What lesson is He seeking to teach you?

Scriptures to encourage you: Psalm 27:14; 32:8; 42:11; 130:5; Isaiah 40:29-31; Hebrews 11:1.