Archive for the ‘Overcoming distractions’ Category

Let’s be real. Have the pressures of life ever made you feel like running away?

Maybe non-stop problems have worn you to a frazzle. And the thing with problems is that they are groupies. Seriously, have you ever had to cope with just one problem at a time?

My writing mentor used to tell me that problems were great grist for my writing  mill. Right! Maybe if I’d get a break long enough to see the Lord in them so I could write about them and give hope to my readers; it certainly won’t help them or me to whine!

I confess this has been one of those weeks when I would have liked to run away. It’s hard enough to be on deadlines for both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference when my laptop is working. But when I’m forced to spend hours on the phone with technicians who don’t speak clear English and who end up making things worse rather than better, running away is a tempting option. But . . .

He who believes need never run away again.
Isaiah 28:16 TLB

Father knows I do believe and that I desperately need him to help my unbelief.

Despite seemingly impossible obstacles, I am making progress on the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Lest I get knocked off the Internet again, here’s the link for the 35 workshops I’ve packed into Friday and Saturday – http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/workshops2018. The page has not yet been proofread and is, therefore, not accessible from the menu. Trusting that somehow I’ll be able to open online registration May 1, I’m eager for you to see some of what we’re offering.

We also have an exciting line-up of 3 Learning Labs on Thursday afternoon along with early bird workshops, 7 continuing sessions, keynotes, panels, and an outstanding faculty of 38 agents, editors, and authors.

So . . . the bottom line is I’m NOT going to run away. Instead, will you commit along with me to:

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through.
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:2-3 MSG

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Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

Although the snow has finally melted, it still feels like winter here in Pennsylvania. The good thing is the ground (mud) in the backyard is frozen – at least in the morning. But it doesn’t take long for the mud to thaw and to end up on our labradoodle’s paws and from there onto our rugs.

I have 100 strawberry plants that arrived the day we got 6″ of snow. I need to get them planted but it’s still too cold and too wet and muddy.

Important papers in my office again are in the land of the missing. Seriously, how can the bills that I need to pay this morning, and that were on the top of my desk last night, have disappeared? I know they weren’t paid by a bill fairy.

Somehow my email address got hacked. I’ve received and deleted over 7,000 “thank you for subscribing” emails from around the world. Finally, after a  four day battle, I’m only getting a couple every hour. I’m grateful most of them ended up in my spam, but legit emails I need to answer also turn up in my spam folder. I hope I haven’t deleted anything important.

To add to all this and more, I’m in the conference crunch zone and need to finalize the faculty and program for the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, redesign the brochure, and update the website. Meanwhile, countless details for the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference need my attention – now!

And the ants are back . . .  Yep! Every  spring, even though it doesn’t feel like spring, they know it’s spring and they invade my office. At least they are tiny little black ants and not giant size. Still, it’s distracting to have an ant run across my computer screen. But what if those ants are a reminder to turn my attention to the Lord? What if I choose to

Give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is always good.
He is always loving and kind,
and his faithfulness goes on and on . . .
Psalm 100:4-5 TLB


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Possible And Impossible Keys Show Optimism And Positivity“With God everything is possible.” Mark 10:27 TLB

I’ve been part of Christian publishing for about thirty-five years. In the early days I used a Selectric typewriter and submitted (and resubmitted) my manuscripts via the USPS. It took six to eighteen months for accepted manuscripts to get in print. (I’ve sold over 1,0o0 articles, stories, poems, and devotionals and have had nine books published.)

Today it sometimes still takes many long months and even years to get our work in print, but computers and the Internet have definitely speeded up the rest of  the process – God’s provision, I believe, because of the critical need to write and publish His answer while there is still time. Now we literally can reach the world from our desktop through blogs and websites and the publication of our work in online magazines or as eBooks or POD books.

It’s an awesome time to be a writer, but one thing has not changed. In order to impact the lives of our readers, we need to write with excellence.

I have given my Write His Answer Seminar over 50 times, coast to coast. God has used it to launch hundreds of writing ministries and to grow the ministries of those who are already writing for publication.

Friday evening, June 6, and Saturday, June 7 from 8:30 – 5:00 I will present this seminar at Faith Discovery Church, 33 Brass castle Road, Washington, NJ. If you’re planning to come to the July 29 – August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, the Write His Answer Seminar is great preparation for meeting with agents and editors. If distance or your schedule prohibits you from coming, the seminar is available on CD. You can order the entire seminar or portions from my online bookstore for writers at http://writehisanswer.com/bookstore.

Here are some of the topics I cover:

  • How to get started in the ministry of writing. Personal and spiritual preparation.
  • An overview of the Christian market and the best opportunities.
  • The ministry potential of self-publishing and writing for the secular market.
  • How to turn your personal experiences into print. Seven essential elements of a personal experience story and pitfalls to avoid.
  • How to find, capture, organize, evaluate, and sharpen your ideas.
  • Using a Writer’s Check-off List.
  • Making a good impression on an editor.
  • Writing effective query and cover letters.
  • Knowing your rights and the editor’s rights.
  • An overview of the needs of the Christian market and best opportunities.
  • How to write devotionals, articles, fiction, profiles, fillers, humor, and poetry that will sell and touch lives.
  • How to pass the “So what?” test.
  • How to effectively market your work and use a market analysis chart.
  • How to overcome procrastination.
  • How to deal with the D’s (disappointment, doubt, and discouragement) and rise above rejection.
  • The importance of prayerfully setting specific and measurable goals.

Each session has a biblical focus and is hemmed in by prayer. Friday evening includes a critique session where portions of as many manuscripts as possible will be read. Even if you do not have a manuscript to be critiqued, you will learn principles you can apply to your own writing.

It’s not too late to register. Go to www.jewellutt.com and click on “Events: Calling All Writers” for more information.

Father, for such a time as this I know You are calling and equipping an army of writers to “write Your answer.” I praise You that you are able to do “far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Eph. 3:20 TLB).

Thank you for your outstanding seminar!
The feedback has been tremendous in terms of your expertise,
your helpfulness, and your love for our Lord.
People especially enjoyed the frequent times of prayer.
You are a blessing wherever you go.

Dr. Mary Ann L. Diorio, Founder
The New Jersey Society of Christian Writers


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10-1113tm-vector2-3103Do you put off doing things because you don’t believe you can do them? Do you have half-written manuscripts waiting to be finished? What about ideas that you’ve tucked away – somewhere? Are you putting off registering for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference or the  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference because you’re uncertain that you have what it takes to get in print?

Yes, procrastination is a very real foe, but I am convinced the real reason we procrastinate is because we don’t believe we can do something. And actually, that’s true! We need God’s enabling to do the work He calls us to do. The key is knowing what He is calling us to do. The Living Bible paraphrase of Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”

It comes down to faith – to believing in the One who calls us and choosing to say “yes, Lord, here am I.”Dream%20With%20Me_album%20cover

I want to encourage you to read aloud the “Writer’s Statement of Faith” below. You may need to read it aloud several times a day. I know I do! I also want to encourage you to watch this video of pre-teen Jackie Evancho singing “To Believe.” Yes, Father, help us to believe that we really can make a difference and bring peace – Your peace – to our troubled world.

A Writer’s Statement of Faith

I have strength for all things in Christ Who Empowers me-I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength in me, [that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. Phil. 4:13 AMP

Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies, so that God will be glorified. 1 Pet. 4:11 TLB

[Not in my own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in me – energizing and creating in me the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Phil. 2:13 AMP

My strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power at work within me. Eph. 6:10 TLB

In Him in every respect I am enriched, in full power and readiness of speech (to speak of my faith), and complete knowledge and illumination (to give me full insight into its meaning). 1 Cor. 1:5 AMP

Now I have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing His will are mine during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 1:7 TLB

I actually do have within me a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ. 1 Cor. 2:16 TLB

I can be a mirror that brightly reflects the glory of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18 TLB

I will commit everything I do to the Lord. I will trust Him to help me do it and He will. Ps. 37:5 TLB

I will lean on, trust and be confident in the Lord with all my heart and mind, and choose not to rely on my own insight or understanding. Prov. 3:5 AMP

I will commit my work to the Lord, then it will succeed. Prov. 16:3 TLB

Sharing Christ is my work, and I can do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me. Col. 1:29 TLB

I will be strong and courageous and get to work. I will not be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with me; He will not forsake me. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly. 1 Chron. 28:20 TLB

I need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if I want Him to do for me all He promised. Heb. 10:36 TLB

I m convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in me will continue until the day of Jesus Christ – right up to the time of His return – developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in me. Phil. 1:6 AMP

His mighty power at work within me is able to do far more than I would every dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes. Eph. 3:20 TLB

From Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers. For more excerpts, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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Procrastination is a sin;
it brings me endless sorrow.
I know I should stop doing it.
I think I’ll start tomorrow!

No doubt you’ve seen this poem or something similar. I checked the Internet to attribute it and found 4,390 entries! Obviously procrastination is a hot topic that, like the old game of hot potato, we quickly toss (pass the blame) to someone or something else. Really, isn’t it easier to blame someone else for causing us to procrastinate or to move to another task to avoid doing the thing(s) we know we need to do?

While no one is immune from procrastination, I think writers are especially prone. I’m not pointing an accusing finger at you – I’m pointing it at myself. Despite the chapter on “Overcoming Procrastination” that I wrote for my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, I struggle with procrastination as much or perhaps more than others. How else could I have written that chapter? I’m an expert! If you’re curious about what I’m learning (but sadly not always applying), click here to read the chapter online.

I especially struggle with procrastination when it comes to planning the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. I know Father has entrusted these conferences to me. Watching Him work and do Ephesians 3:20 things each year (it’s now 31 years for Philly and 17 for Colorado) is one of my greatest joys. It’s just the getting started that’s hard. Well, okay, the entire process is hard! I know I’ll face computer challenges and overwhelming to-do lists and time pressures that will stretch me far beyond my abilities, my limited IQ (it’s amazing how stupid my computer can make me feel), my wisdom, my strength . . .

And that’s the problem! I procrastinate when I focus on me – on my self-doubts and feelings of inadequacy rather than trusting the Lord to enable me to do what I can never do on my own. Although the world says dependency on anyone or anything but ourselves is weakness, like the apostle Paul I’d rather embrace my weaknesses knowing that “when I am weak, then I am strong – the less I have, the more I depend on him” (2 Cor. 12:10 TLB). God-confidence is far better than self-confidence!

Will you ask the Lord what He wants you to do – to write – this year? And will you then commit to do it in His strength and for His glory?

P.S. The website for the May 14-17 Colorado Christian Writers Conference  is now updated with the 2014 faculty and continuing sessions. Lots more info coming soon. The website for the July 30-August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference still has 2013 info but I can tell you that Cec Muphey will be on faculty. I hope you’ll visit again, pass the URL on to friends, and save the date! There’s still lots of work to do but as Aristotle said, “Well begun is half done.” I’m excited and hope you will be too.

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Deadlines! When I worked in an editorial office years ago, the race to meet deadlines was exciting. Of course, no sooner had one deadline been met then there were others looming, but I found that exhilarating rather than stressful. Oh to be young again and to be able to “leap tall buildings” (and meet deadlines) “in a single bound.”

Today I’m older (no kidding!) and hopefully wiser. Deadlines are no longer exciting even though I have a computer (actually two) to supposedly make me more productive and efficient. Sadly, I often find that working with computers adds more stress to the work Father has called me to do. I don’t have patience for the learning curve that comes with new software or the unexpected challenges of installing a new computer with a different operating system.

Like me you probably have a love/hate relationship with your computer. You wonder why, especially when you’re pressed for time, your computer crashes along with the latest unsaved copy of what you were working on.

What do you do when time pressures keep building and you have no control over the obstacles that keep slowing you down?

That’s where I’ve been for the last two weeks with trying to convert my old FrontPage conference website to Expression Web. I’ve written but am unable to upload the Teens Write and Lightbox Method Retreat info. The clinic and scholarship applications are also ready to go but can’t be uploaded. Other pages have a bunch of navigation buttons across the top but the pages appear blank. They aren’t. Scroll down. To say the least, I am frustrated! And daily I’m falling behind where I need to be with work not just for the Colorado conference but for the Greater Philly conference August 1-4.

I’m reminded of PBPWMGIFWMY from Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar. “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t yet answered, please be patient. If you’ve tried to access conference info online, please be patient. If you’ve registered and are worried about signing up for your appointments, relax. Appointments are booked in the order that you register for the conference – not in the order that you send us your requests on the form that is not yet available. And if you’ve not yet registered for the conference, the good news is that there still are 26 more openings for a free fifth appointment if you register for all three days.

But the best good news in the midst of the deadlines we all face is that Immanuel, God is with us. “Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us” (2 Tim. 2:13 TLB). He calls us, He calls me, to come to Him and He will give us rest (Matt 11:28).

Father, thank You that You are with us and that we can trust You to give us Your peace that passes understanding when deadlines press in on us that we feel helpless to meet. Thank You for Your promise that the joy of the Lord will be our strength!

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“Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly” (1 Chron. 28:20 TLB).

These words that King David spoke to his son, Solomon, when he commissioned him to build the Temple have again convicted and encouraged me. Even though I’ve been directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference since I founded it in 1983 and the Colorado Christian Writers Conference since 1997, I still struggle with feeling fearful and overwhelmed when it’s time to begin work on the conference websites. I admit it’s easier to procrastinate than to “get to work,” especially this year as I face the daunting task of learning Expression Web 4.

I am praising God for reminding me that He is with me and for the progress He enabled me to make today. Although I’ve still got tons to learn, I am trusting “He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.”

The continuing sessions, clinics, markets, cost, and lodging pages now have 2012 info. I’ve added four more editors to the faculty:

Robyn Burwell – Editor, Leafwood Publishing

Catherine Lawton – Publisher/Editor, Cladach Publishing

Nicola Martinez – Editor-in-Chief, Pelican Book Group (White Rose, Harbourlight)

Ginger Kolbaba – Editor, Kyria.com, Christianity Today

I’m also praising God for the exciting line-up of continuing sessions:

Surviving in the New Publishing World – Dave Lambert

Take Your Fiction to the Gym – Tim Shoemaker

Breakthrough Scriptwriting – Dr. Ted Baehr

Gift Books and Devotional Writing – Karen Moore

Narrative Nonfiction: Changing Culture Through the Power of True Stories – Craig von Buseck

Please, NO Pat Answers! – Lissa Halls Johnson, Sue Cameron, Liz Babbs

Marketing for the Promotionally-Challenged Author – Rob Eagar

Writing Suspense/Thrillers – Robert Liparulo

There’s still a huge amount of work to be done in order to open online registration February 1, but I’m trusting His promise that He will not forsake me.

Have you claimed a promise for your writing this year? Do you believe that He can use the words you will write to make a difference in the lives of your readers? Are you making it a priority to “get to work” or are you procrastinating?

Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, posted a helpful blog this week on 10 Practical Ways to Boost Your Energy Level.  His number one point was “Connect with God.” He wrote: “You were not created to function without a connection to God. He is the ultimate energy source. Trying to navigate life without Him is like trying to ride a motorcycle without starting the engine. You can do it, but it only works downhill. Unfortunately, a lot of life is uphill. The way I connect is by reading several passages from the Bible . . .”

James Duncan, a pastor who has attended the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, is challenging his congregation to read the Bible through more than once this year. His blog entry, “Reading the Bible – It Doesn’t Take Long” has some thought-provoking  facts I encourage you to consider and act on.

Father, thank You that I can choose to wallow in my self-doubts or to look to You and trust You to help me do what I could never do in my own strength. Thank You that the very best place to be is dependent on You.

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Has your week been like mine with exhausting mental gymnastics and information overload? I’ve been struggling to convert an InDesign file to Word of a book I’ve agreed to edit.  My email inbox continues to hover at around 800 messages (please forgive me if I’ve not yet answered an email you sent me), and I’ve spent tons of valuable time on a serious Facebook problem. Someone from Birmingham, United Kingdom, has stolen my Facebook profile – my photo and bio and some of my likes and interests. I’m very concerned, especially since a friend has alerted me to emails she’s received from bagnullmarlene @yahoo about a $25K government grant. If you’ve received an email message from bagnullmarlene @yahoo or a Facebook friend request seemingly from me, please let me know. If you have a Facebook account, I’d really appreciate it if you’d do a search for Marlene Bagnull and report my imposter by clicking on Block/Report on the bottom of her page.

Life does get complicated and overwhelming. Finding time to “write His answer” may seem impossible much less making time to first wait on Him for His answer (Hab. 2:1). In the midst of this challenging week Father is showing me the need to “be still, and know that he is God” (Psa. 46:10 NIV).

The fact is Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him. Indeed, the opposition will become more intense as the day of His return approaches. But He has promised always to be with us and offers us a place of quiet rest in the midst of all that threatens to overwhelm us.

I especially want to encourage you to seek that quiet place before you go to the polls this Tuesday. Make time to examine each candidate’s record and to ask, “How would You vote, Lord?”

Father, please help us to clearly hear from You and to write Your answer. And please have mercy on our nation and bring us back to You.

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Last weekend I was in Wisconsin teaching a two-day Write His Answer seminar. What a joy and privilege!

Throughout the seminar we sang  “Write the Answer.” My good friend, Becky Spencer, wrote the music and first verse. I added the second verse.  (See words below.)

Father, help us to make the most of our opportunities to share the good news, to be “bold enough to tell it freely and fully, and make it plain” (Col. 4:5 TLB). And Father, please help us take control of those things that can so easily consume the hours in each day such as “The Twenty-third Channel” and the Internet.

If you’ve never done the “Called to ‘Write His Answer'” Bible study, I hope you’ll go to http://writehisanswer.com/called_to_wha.htm for the free study sheet.

God bless you and your writing ministry.

The Twenty-third Channel

The TV is my shepherd,
I shall want more.
It makes me lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the Scriptures.
It destroys my soul.
It leads me in the path of sex and violence
for the sponsor’s sake.
Yea, though I walk in the shadow
of my Christian responsibilities,
there will be no interruption,
for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control – 
they comfort me.
It prepares a commercial before me
in the presence of my worldliness.
It anoints my head with humanism;
my coveting runneth over.
Surely laziness and ignorance shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house
watching TV forever.

—Author Unknown

Write the Answer

Write the answer;
make it clear.
Shout My message;
help them hear.
All who read it–
how they’ll run
to share the vision
that has come.

Live My answer;;
make it clear.
Love My people;
help them hear.
All who know You,
how they’ll run
to share the Good News
of Your Son.


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