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It was a solemn moment over 30 years ago when I made a commitment at the close of Lee Roddy’s continuing session at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference to complete my book in a year.

There was no question in my mind that this is what God was calling me to do. There were, however, lots of questions of whether or not I could do it – questions (and doubts) that intensified as the year wore on.

I found myself (yes I was “lost”) avoiding work on the book and instead writing short devotionals and Christian education teaching articles that I’d always been able to sell. But not now! Rejection slips landed in my mailbox seemingly before the editors even had time to read my submissions.

God bless my writing papa, Lee Roddy. “Has it occurred to you that you’re getting rejected because you’re not doing what you promised to do,” he wrote back in response to one of my “poor me” letters. Ouch!

Lee is now home with the Lord. I miss him and his stern yet necessary admonishment that kept me on track when I wanted to give up. I’m grateful he didn’t allow me to use the excuse that “a year in the Lord’s sight . . .”

About two months before the one year was up I was still a long way from finishing and still battling self-doubts. One spring day I grabbed my Bible and headed to Ridley Creek State Park. I sat down by a stream and opened my Bible. A sudden breeze tickled the pages of my Bible and then just as suddenly stopped. I felt my eyes drawn to

I want to suggest that you finish what you started to do a year ago . . . Having started the ball rolling so enthusiastically, you should carry this project through to completion just as gladly . . . Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equalled by your realistic action now.  (2 Corinthians 8:10-11 TLB)

A year to the day I placed my completed manuscript in an envelope and mailed it to an editor who had requested to see it when it was finished.

I’d love to be able to tell you that the Lord “rewarded” me for keeping my commitment with a contact by return mail. Instead, I waited a year only to have the manuscript returned with a rejection slip. Many of you know it was 41 publishers and 6 years later when finally I met an editor at the St. David’s conference who offered me a contract two months later.

What if I had not finished the manuscript? What if I had not persevered for 6 long and discouraging years?

What if you, dear reader, are among the many writers who attend a conference where an editor requests a manuscript that you never finish or submit? (Sadly, those stats are amazingly high.)

And that brings me to the point of this blog – to what I’ve finally finished despite a ridiculous amount of obstacles. Drum roll, please.

The bios for all 40 editors, agents, authors, and other professionals at the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference are finally online! It’s always a huge job but especially so this conference because of the thousands of emails that somehow got deleted  when Outlook crashed a week before I left for the Colorado conference.

Needed emails that I had filed in folders no longer exist! In fact, emails from the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Philly and Colorado conference all disappeared while thousands of non-conference emails in other folders are still there.

It’s been exasperating, frustrating, overwhelming, discouraging . . .

But then I’m reminded that Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him. Instead, I believe He allows us to experience all the above in order to build our faith muscles.

What about you? Have your faith muscles grow weak and flabby? Are you willing to allow Him to strengthen them by your deliberate choice to “finish what you start”?

And will you prayerfully consider coming to the Philly conference? It’s a day shorter (now Thursday afternoon/evening, all day Friday, and ending at 5:30 Saturday) making it less costly in time and money. We’ve moved to a new location (Dock Mennonite Academy) just off the Lansdale exit of the North/South PA Turnpike (I-476). Lodging at the Holiday Inn five minutes away can cost as little as $40-60 a night if you request one or two roommates. And meals at the conference are going to be outstanding.

Our 16-page brochure is also finally finished and off press. I’ll be glad to mail you one if you’ll send me (mbagnull@aol.com) your USPS address.

Page 16 cover

page 1 markets

I confess! I hate research. As a result, almost all of my 1,000 plus sales to Christian periodicals are based on personal experience. You’ll rarely find me including statistics or quoting a bunch of “experts.”

Well, I hate most kinds of research, but I love digging deep into God’s Word to “write His answer.”

Study GOD and his strength, seek his presence day and night.

1 Chronicles 16:11 MSG

Early on in the 45 years I’ve written for publication I discovered the importance of studying (researching) the markets. I took seriously what an editor said at one of the first writers’ conferences I attended. I don’t remember her name, but I’ve never forgotten what she said: “An incorrectly targeted article is nothing but a source of irritation to a busy editor.”

Each edition of the Christian Writers Market Guide that Sally Stuart compiled for 24  years was well worn and much appreciated. From it, and the guidelines for writers that I always requested from publishers, I developed Market Analysis Charts. As part of my Ministry/Marketing Packet that I sold for many years they were used by well over 1,000 writers.

Barb Haley apr 2016 croppedToday I’m so grateful for my dear friend, Barb Haley, who serves as the registrar and appointment coordinator for the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. The charts of agent interests, editorial needs, and areas of expertise that she prepares for both conferences are an incredibly valuable research tool.

Here’s the chart of fiction genres the six agents at the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference are interested in representing. Two additional charts detail nonfiction, children and youth, and other interests. Click here.

Agent p2 WEBSITE CHARTS 6.7.18

In addition, with the bio for each of our faculty members you’ll find the chart they completed along with their photo and bio. So far, only the page for our six agents is finished. I hope to have the bios and charts for our 34 other faculty online in the next several days.

HART Agent

Father, thank You for Barb and for Steve Laube who is continuing the work Sally Stuart began with the Christian Writers Market Guide. Thank You for the Internet that puts information at our fingertips. Help us not to be lazy when it comes to obtaining info we need. And especially, Father, remind us daily to be students of Your Word.

And let us not get tired of doing what is right,
for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing
if we don’t get discouraged and give up.

Galatians 6:9 TLB

It would be interesting to take a poll of the thousands of writers who have attended the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Actually after 22 years directing the Colorado conference and 35 years directing Philly, the number would be in the tens of thousands.

“Why did you only come once or twice?” I’d ask them.

Overshadowing the typical answers of time and money, the response I’m certain I would most frequently hear is

I got discouraged and gave up!

Back in the early days of my struggle to find a publisher for my first book, I recall someone saying, “It takes ten years to build a career.”

That was definitely NOT what I wanted to hear. I mean, seriously, since I knew God had called me to write this book, wouldn’t He open the door for its publication? (This was before indie publishing was an affordable and respectable alternative.)

But the fact is, as many of you know, it took six years and 42 rejection slips before finally I was offered a contract from a publisher I met at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference.

Had I given up, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers would never have been written, much less published and in print for 28 years!

The publication of eight other books and over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals, serving on the faculty of over 70 Christian writers conferences, giving my one and two-day writing seminars around the nation over 50 times, and the Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conferences would be just a pipe dream had I given in to discouragement and quit.

But I get it! Discouragement is a very real adversary. I continue to battle it almost daily. In this season, it’s taken the form of over-the-top problems with my new laptop computer. Turns out I didn’t just lose the past two months of emails when Outlook crashed a little over a week before leaving to direct the Colorado conference. I’ve since discovered the folders from the 2016 and 2017 conferences are empty while hundreds of other non-conference folders are intact. Strange, really strange!

And that is just the beginning of my computer woes that have put me almost a month behind getting the brochure for the July 26-28 Greater Philly conference to the printer.

Discouraged? Absolutely! Ready to give up? No way because I know I am doing what God has called me to do.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ words:

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me,
you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.
In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.
But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.
John 16:33 MSG

And so, despite much frustration and many tears because of a laptop computer that refused to cooperate, the Philly brochure is finally at the printer. If you’re on our mailing list, you should receive it by June 8. Meanwhile, you can access it online by clicking here.

If you’re discouraged and ready to give up, know that  I am praying for you.

Page 16 cover

 

Memorial Day

 Memorial day

Father, there are so many grieving this weekend for loved ones who gave their lives for our country. Others are struggling with “what if” fears as their loved one serves in a country far from home. And still others daily face the pain of seeing a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother cope with a physical disability or PTSD.

Thank You, Father, for the assurance that You will not forget them or their families – or us.

 I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)

 

This morning the Bible program that is always open on my computer crashed. I could have gone inside to get a Bible, but what if they had all been confiscated by the government because of the “hate language” they contained? What if it was a crime, punishable by death, to share my faith in Jesus Christ?

 

ostrich 2
Sounds far-fetched? Not really unless we’ve buried our head in the sand and refused to recognize the growing hostility toward Christians in our nation. Not unless we’ve chosen to ignore how our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

 

I got home at 1:00 am Wednesday morning from directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the 22nd year. As I left the YMCA of the Rockies, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last year for the conference even though I’ve already paid the deposit for 2019 and 2020.

 

I’m NOT quitting and I’m NOT retiring even though I am 73. But I can’t assume that next year Christians will be free to gather or that our nation will even exist. When, not if, our economy collapses, we’ll have anarchy on our streets. If an EMT destroys our electrical grid, we’ll be back in the middle ages. Or if enemies intent on destroying America and Israel unleash another 911 . . . But as my friend Michael Gantt says, it is Almighty God we need to fear.

 

The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment.

If there is no national confession of sin
and if we cannot find a heart of repentance,
a Holy God will complete his judgment;
either by the complete annihilation
or subjugation of what was once a great
and godly people or by rendering it
completely irrelevant on the world stage.

 

And so with a growing urgency each year the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference strives to “encourage and equip Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” Whether through fiction or nonfiction, articles, poetry, or screenplays, we must “Write His Answer.”

 

Yes, I trust You have heard that the Philly conference is continuing in a new location (Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale,PA) and a slightly different format. GPCWC is now 2.5 days instead of 3.5 making it more affordable and not as challenging to get time off work or find needed childcare. We still have a faculty of more than 40 agents, editors, authors, and other professionals. You can find out who is coming at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

 

Online registration is open and I’m working this holiday weekend to finish our 16-page brochure. Serious issues with my new laptop computer made it impossible to complete it before I left May 14 to direct the Colorado conference.

 

Outlook crashed ten days before I left for Colorado. Seven hours on the phone with Microsoft technical support intensified the problems rather than resolved them. My nephew, Peter Burek, who is a brilliant computer consultant, worked two days to try and recover thousands of critical emails that were lost including the itineraries for 29 faculty members flying into Colorado and over 150 emails in “must answer” folders. He said he’s worked on a lot of bad computer problems, but mine was one of the worst he has seen.

 

As you probably know, the stress landed me in the hospital overnight with symptoms of a heart attack. It’s the first time I’ve been hospitalized except to deliver my three babies. I’m so grateful that all the tests confirmed it was stress and not a heart attack, but I’m appalled that the cost was over $17,000! I’m not yet certain how much our insurance will cover.

 

I’m sorry this blog has gotten so long. To recap:

 

  • If you emailed me and I have not responded, please resend. Your email may be among those that were deleted when Outlook crashed or it may be buried in the more than 2,400 emails presently in my inbox. Please put CCWC or GPCWC in your subject line to catch my attention.

 

 

  • Please pray for me as I work this weekend to finish the 16-page brochure and to somehow get the faculty and bills paid for the Colorado conference. Please pray for His provision financially since the conference checking account is almost $20,000 lower than last year at this time. (Please, Father, help me not to be discouraged or to panic. I know there has got to be more money somewhere.)

 

  • And please pray for the staff of the Colorado conference who worked so hard. Barb Haley, Laura Shaffer, Eric Sprinkle, Tabatha Scheffler, and Roy and Chris Richards will also be at the Philly conference. Thank You, Father, for the great team You have provided and for Darcie Gudger, David Shaffer, and Marti & Tom Pieper who were also on staff in Colorado.

 

  • Since I’m over a month late finishing the Philly brochure, please help spread the word about the conference. Here’s a logo you can post on social media.

2018 GP Banner

As for my Bible program that crashed, here’s the Scripture Father reminded me of this morning:

Not by might, not by power, but by Spirit

somewhere in Zechariah

 

to register for the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

The price automatically increases tomorrow (May 10), BUT if you register online instead of just walking in (although we’d still welcome you), we’ll give you a bookstore credit for the $10 – $15 price increase. (I call it the “procrastinator’s fee.”)

I know some of you are not procrastinators. You’re just now hearing about the conference, and I want to do everything possible so you do not miss what I know will be a life-changing and ministry-enabling conference.

Time payments can be arranged if needed. And partial scholarships are even a possibility if there is no other way. Our Father is always able to make a way.

Lodging is still available although we’re filling up quickly. Click here for info and call Brenda at the YMCA (970-586-3341 ext 1349). I think we’re about out of single rooms, but I know she’s still got some conferees looking for a roommate. Not only will that reduce your cost, you’ll make a new writing friend or friends. Alpen Lodge has two queen beds and a sofabed to house 3 people comfortably. The cost, including dinner from the day of your arrival through lunch the day of your departure, is only $68 a night, and you’ll save the $15 YMCA daily fee.

Please pray about joining the 60 faculty and 200 plus beginning and professional writers on the mountain next week.

God bless you and your writing ministry!

Lodge at nt

YMCA Lodges at Night

 

“Do you believe, do you really believe God can use you?”

When Michael Gantt spoke those words about ten years ago in a keynote at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the presence of the Lord was so powerful. I know lives were changed in that moment. Mine certainly was.

Even though I’d been directing the Colorado conference for about 12 years and the Philly conference (that I founded) for about 25 years (it’s now 35 years), the “deadly Ds” were a frequent companion.

If God has called you to “write His answer,” then if you’ve not yet encountered the deadly Ds of Disappointments, Doubts, Discouragement, and even Despair, the good news is that you will.

This is good news? Yes! First, it’s evidence that you are a threat to the evil one. And second, it will cause you to draw more and more close to the Lord and to depend on Him.

The journey to publication is not easy. Sadly, many give up.

For 22 years the Colorado Christian Writers Conferences has “encouraged and equipped Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.”

Every year He meets us on the mountain. He gives hope, courage, direction . . . He draws us into CCWC’s family of writers where deep, forever friendships are formed.

He may open the door to publication if you and your writing are ready. If not, you can be certain you’ll receive the instruction you need to keep growing your writing skills. In addition, you’ll receive valuable feedback in one-on-one appointments (more than at any other conference) with our faculty of 59 agents, editors, and authors.

Do you believe God can use you?

It’s not too late to register for the May 16-19 CCWC. Time payments can be arranged if needed. God will make a way. Trust Him!

 

Debbie Hardy for GP

Debbie Hardy

How would you like a chance to get 50% off the cost of registration for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference  Believe it or not, it’s simple.
Copy of Learn more!I learned this the hard way. I had heard that there was a contest I could enter and possibly win half off the next year’s conference. So, my first time at the CCWC, I entered. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the contest rules and I wrote on the wrong topic. Needless to say, I didn’t win.

 

The next time, I did exactly as the rules said and was shocked when I heard my name called as the winner for previously unpublished prose! That meant that I had not been published before – ever – but my writing was now award-winning.

You can do the same.

There are 4 contest categories: 2 for prose and 2 for poetry. Each genre has a separate contest for writers and poets who have been published and for those who have not. So you’re on even ground with others of the same experience level.

Be sure to follow the rules:

*       Write 500-800 words or a 12-30 line poem.

*       Consider the conference theme, “Write His Answer,” and share about the writing life or how you’re writing His answer.

*       Put your name and address in the body of your email, not on the manuscript.

*       Indicate on your MS which contest you are entering and if you’re a published or not-yet-published writer.

*       Include your MS as an attachment. (It’s easier to print up for the judges.)

*       There is a $10 fee for each entry.

*       Contest is for registered conferees only. And there’s still time to register, although after May 9 the $15 “procrastinator’s fee” will kick in unless you give us a really good excuse for being late. 🙂 Click here to register.

In submitting your entry you are offering the conference one-time rights to possibly publish your entry in a future (no date yet determined) devotional book. If your work is accepted for publication, you will receive one free copy and a discount on purchasing additional copies. Profits will go to the scholarship fund. Please note: You may submit your manuscript elsewhere before or after the conference. You own the rights!

The deadline for this year’s conference is May 14, the Monday before the conference starts. That will give me time to get your entry and print it to give to the appropriate judge on the first night.

You too could sit in the auditorium and hear your name called, giving you a 50% discount off next year’s conference. (BTW, you can enter more than once, to increase your chances!)

Please send your entry (or entries) to me at bdhardy@msn.com by May 14.

Debbie Hardy
CCWC Contest Coordinator

Sherri Langton Jan 2017Guest post
Sherri LangtonAction price incr
Associate Editor
Bible Advocate and Now What?

I consider myself the fossil of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, having attended since January 1987. Back then, it was a one-day conference at my local church, Denver First Church of the Nazarene. Betty Robertson, a writer and Nazarene pastor’s wife, was the director.

In 1987, I wasn’t thinking about writing. I worked in the purchasing department of a large downtown bank — and hated it. I begged God to get me out of that stress-filled office, but He remained silent. I now think He was waiting for me to attend my first CCWC to discover what He would do.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Ruth Vaughn, a prolific writer. One thing she said that January day set the course of my writing: “God can make creative use out of your misery.” Ruth sparked an idea to write my own greeting cards. I called the line Godsend, and for several years sent cards to friends and church members who were hurting.

God didn’t stop at greeting cards. When I was laid off at the bank (mercifully), I wrote about my frustrations of job hunting, and my stories were accepted by Standard. Over the years, I’ve seen God make creative use out of depression, death, grief, cancer, and many other miseries. The stories and articles I wrote on these subjects were published in major and smaller Christian publications. I met many of those editors at CCWC.

Now as a magazine editor and faculty member, I “count it all joy” to give back to a conference that has given so much to me. What message will God give you at this year’s CCWC? He can set you on a new path, too!

 

mtns turkey-3048299_640 pixabay

“If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed
you could say to this mountain, ‘Move!’
and it would go far away.
Nothing would be impossible.”
Matthew 17:20 (TLB)

The 16-page brochure for the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference is a long way from being finished. And the website still needs a lot of work, BUT I’m praising the Lord that the faculty and program are in place and enough info is available online to make it possible to open registration tomorrow, May 1. It may not be until late evening, but what seemed impossible is going to happen. Thank You, Father!

Meanwhile, to hopefully get you as excited as I am, here’s a page from the brochure with four of our seven continuing sessions. You’ll find the other three online at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/continuingsessions2018. There’s a link on the website to view it as a PDF as this is too small even for young eyes. 🙂

Page 4 continuing sessions

Also online you’ll find a list of our 40 faculty members, the schedule for the two and a half days of the conference, titles and descriptions of 35 workshops, the cost, and info about scholarship help.

There’s lots more to come – faculty bios, photos, editorial needs, appointment info, and our new Thursday afternoon learning labs and early bird workshops. Oh, and I must not forget our keynotes.

Father, thank You for how Your hand has been on the GPCWC for the past 34 years – for all You have done, are doing, and will do.