Archive for the ‘Publishing journey’ Category

We are pressed on every side by troubles,
but not crushed and broken.
We are perplexed because we don’t know why
things happen as they do,
but we don’t give up and quit.
2 Corinthians 4:8 TLB

What the apostle Paul and other early followers of Christ endured – what they endure today in nations where there is no freedom of religion – certainly wouldn’t make for an appealing help wanted ad.

We have been beaten, put in jail,
faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion,
stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching,
and gone without food.
2 Corinthians 6:5 TLB

Can you imagine being with him in an inner dungeon, sitting in filth, your feet clamped in stocks, rats nibbling at your toes, and your body in agony because of the beating you just received? Would you, would I, be singing hymns to the Lord? (See Acts 16:23-26.)

What if Paul had said, “I’ve had enough! I quit!” Who would blame him?

But he didn’t quit! And we must not either.

There is a way over, through, around the obstacles if we will

P R A Y 


and K E E P   O U R   E Y E S   O N   J E S U S who for the joy set before Him endured the cross  (Heb. 12:2).

I am convinced that Father is allowing obstacles in order to strengthen our faith muscles for the difficult days that are ahead as our nation slips farther and farther away from Him.

I have faced one obstacle after another preparing for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I am praising God that one of the biggest obstacles has been overcome. I will be able to provide meals and lodging for late registrants and walk-ins. This is H U G E. With 47 to 71 conferees registering in the last two weeks, I’ve not known how we would feed them and find a bed for their head. But PTL that obstacle has been overcome!

So you can still register and purchase meals and lodging on campus. Although the price has increased, I am happy to offer you free of charge MP3s of my “Grow your Writing Ministry” seminar that I taught this March. The workshops include:

Grow Writing Ministry flyer without order form.pg.jpg

I am so excited about this seminar and about the new direction Father is taking GPCWC. Although the conference format is ending this year (a good reason not to miss coming), I believe the more affordable and focused events throughout the year will continue to encourage you to “write His answer.” The bottom line –


I’m NOT quitting or retiring!

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Barb Haley Apr 2016A Message from Barb Haley

CCWC & GPCWC Registrar &
Appointments Coordinator

Have you ever felt like giving up on your writing ministry?

Perhaps that’s why you didn’t register for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in May (well 3 FEET of snow definitely impacted registrations) or why you haven’t yet registered for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference or decided to go to any writers conference this year.

Or maybe you are SO majorly busy that you can’t imagine taking several days from your schedule for a conference—especially if you’ve attended one in the past and you’re still not published. Or maybe you just can’t justify spending the money to support a hobby you love, but that—face it—doesn’t promise any financial returns.

I’ve definitely felt the same way a LOT of times. I go to workshops and conferences, get all excited, and … nothing. Either I don’t hear from the faculty member who asked me to send my writing, or I receive a note that says I’m a strong writer, but the piece just doesn’t meet the publishing house’s needs at this moment. Oh, and P.S. (they add) Please don’t give up. I’m sure there’s another publishing house out there who will want to give your manuscript a home.

Ha. So reassuring. Right?


Well, I was there last fall when I was spending hunks of time on my first novel. What I once loved had turned to a burden. Getting published seemed to rest on my shoulders. Twitter, Facebook, website, blog, etc. Daily deadlines that did nothing to inspire me to keep writing my book.

But what was worse was realizing that if my writing was never published, I was wasting time that could be better spent in some sort of ministry related activity. So I talked to God about it.

“I don’t know what to do, Lord,” I prayed. “I thought You called me to write. The words come easy. Ideas flood my mind. But I don’t want to waste time if I’m not in Your will.”

The answer was immediate. God spoke to my spirit. “Barbie, if the novel you are working on ministers to just one person, will that be enough for all the time you’ve spent working on it?”

Tears flooded my eyes. My Father understood me. Loved me. Heard even the unspoken words of my heart.

“Of course, it would,” I answered. “But it’s not my time I’m concerned about. I love writing. I’m concerned that what I’m doing isn’t what You want me to be doing.”

Again: “If what you are doing ministers to one person, do you think that could be My plan?”

“Oh, yes, Father.”

I thought about the beta copies I’d just sent out to a dozen friends when I finally finished my novel (for the zillionth time-ha!). Many had responded with how the words had touched their hearts. How they could relate to the character’s issues and struggles in her Christian walk. How the answers God gave her spoke to them, the readers.

I thought about the seven devotionals I write each year for piddly-little money. But it’s not about the money. It’s about spreading the gospel.

And I thought about my blog. Every time I post, God seems to use the words to minister to someone. Usually just someone I already know. Not like my readership has blossomed.

But could it be that this is the very audience God desires for me to minister to? Could it be I got so excited about being called to write that I quickly assumed that meant to be in print? In the bookstores?

Or could God be calling me to reach the ones I already know with His love and encouragement? Would that be enough for me? For God?

Okay. I can’t tell you what a release I felt when the truth sank in. God had called me to write. I just needed to take the future results out of the box I’d filed them in and allow God to shape my writing future in any way He deems best. He didn’t call me to publish. He called me to write.

Then God spoke one more time to my heart. He confirmed His call so strongly I will never doubt it again.

But first, let me ask about you. Has God called you to write? Has a lack of “success” blocked you from moving forward? From attending a conference?

Fifteen years I’ve been coming, and you know, I strongly believe all these years of preparation and learning the craft of writing have enabled me to be used by God. To put His words and thoughts on paper. To share what He’s done for me, and what He wants to do for readers.

Lord Get Your NeedleSo I continue. And last year I self-published my first non-fiction book, a set of devotionals: Lord, Get Your Needle—I’m Falling Apart at the Seams. Subtitle: The Emotional Strain of Chronic Pain.

Huge sales? Nope. But many, many confirmations of God using the words to minister to His hurting children. Worth my time and effort? Definitely.

Today, the fact that we can self-publish is HUGE.  In fact, many big-name authors are going this route. Does it take work? Yes. But how exciting to know that we now have an avenue to put our words out there for others.

What did God say to me that cemented His call in my heart?

After I assured Him I was willing to write my whole life for just one person and that I knew He would be pleased, He said, “Good, because that one person is you.”

Oh, my. The love of God overpowered me. For me.

I knew my main character in the novel was much like me. In fact I’d hoped that I could share the lessons God had taught me through the character.

But what I didn’t realize was that in writing—in asking God constantly what He wanted to say to the character next—I was allowing God to speak to my life. The conflict and situations that seemed to spontaneously come to my mind for my character came from the Holy Spirit, and as I worked through them, on my character’s behalf, I worked through them for me. Deep, hidden questions. Wounds. Self-doubts. Painful honesty and surrender.

I’m a new creation because of what I experienced as I wrote. The truth I searched for on behalf of my main character has set me free on so many levels. Glory be to God!

So, before this email becomes a book, I want to encourage you to register for the July 26-29 Philly conference. Marlene says there is a small amount of scholarship money still available and she is MORE than willing to work with you on time payments. We don’t want you to miss out.

Come spend time in the presence of God. Hear His voice and allow Him to rekindle the flame under your writing ministry and passion. Join with other writers and discover that friendship and support we all crave and need. Listen and improve your writing skills. Allow God to prepare you for what He has in mind for your future. For your world of influence.

Love in Christ!

Barb Haley
2017 GPCWC Registrar/Appointments Coordinator

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

P.S. from Marlene – Thank You, Father, for speaking so powerfully to Barb and giving her the gift of words to share her story with us.

Of course, we’d love for you to register for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I’ve extended the early registration date through JUNE 30. Plus, you’ll receive an additional free 15-minute appointment. That’s a total of five if you register for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But if the date and location don’t work for you (the conference is in a Philly suburb and near the east/west PA Turnpike and I95), check out the other summer conferences on the Christian Manuscript Submissions website.

And if you have a book manuscript you’ve been unable to place with a traditional publisher, do pray about indie publishing. Sarah Bolme, director of the Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), is teaching the continuing session, “You Can Indie Publish and Market Your Book,” at the Philly conference. You’ll gain the knowledge and tools you need to publish and market your own book affordably. Topics will include: three things to do before you publish your book; preparing your manuscript; DIY publishing; obtaining book reviews; and marketing, the essential ingredient. CDs of when Sarah taught this in May at the Colorado conference are available. You’ll find the link to order them at http://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

The most important thing you need to do? Pray! And invite several friends to become part of a prayer team and to hold you accountable to do what Father is calling you to do.

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Grumbling face cropped

Have you – really? Have you suffered enough to be a really good writer?

Surprise – I’m not talking about rejection slips!

Someone has said it takes 1,000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND) rejection slips to become a writer. Been there. Done that! I’ve received over 3,000 rejection slips,  but I’ve also experienced the joy of over 1,000 acceptances.

Taylor Caldwell, the author of over 50 novels, including Tender Victory that I read as a teenager and that changed my life, said:

Rejection slips are what separate the men from the boys.  If they spur him on, and make him more determined to write acceptably and force him to learn more, then he can be sure he is a writer.  It is only a matter of time and increasing wisdom and patience.  I myself wrote for 30 years before I had a single thing published.

Yes, becoming a writer takes time, increasing wisdom, and patience. But if we want to write words that will impact lives for eternity, it takes more than just persevering through rejection slips – even 1,000 rejection slips. Far more important it takes a commitment to go and grow through the trials that are part of life.

These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. 1 Peter 1:7 TLB

March 25 I am teaching a day-long Christian Writers Workshop in Philippsburg, NJ.

The opening session is “Go & Grow, Write & Speak through the Hurts” because I truly believe our most powerful writing will result from our greatest struggles and deepest heartaches. The fact is Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. I’ll share biblical principles (click here for the free handout) for those times that test and stretch our faith and later become the focus of our writing and speaking ministry.

Other workshops include:

Discover God’s Plan for Your Ministry
Is God calling you to write an article, story, or book? Who is your audience? What are their needs? How will you reach them? Should you look for a publisher or go indie? What are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and indie publishing? Q & A

Public Speaking – Presenter Jewell Utt
Public speaking is a common fear for many writers. Learn how to prepare yourself, your talk, and the room to deliver a presentation with confidence and relevance. Techniques will include appearance, oration, content, and style.

You Can Do It!
How to indie publish affordably yet professionally. Q & A.

Think Big Because You Serve a Big God
How to cut the old tapes, stop listening to the wrong voices, and accomplish what God is calling you to do.

Although the workshops will be recorded and available for purchase through the Write His Answer bookstore, if you live in NJ or eastern PA, I want to encourage you to come March 25 for the fellowship you’ll share with other Christians who are called to write. (Yes, we have a snow date just in case. It’s April 1.) For more info and to register go to http://www.jewellutt.com/events/writersworkshop/. If you’re interested in the possibility of me teaching this day-long workshop in your area, please email me at mbagnull@aol.com.

And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.
Philippians 1:6 TLB

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Fact or fantasy?

All you have to do to be a successful writer is to sit down and write.

Well, yes, certainly you’ll never be a writer (successful or not) if you don’t write. But the days when all a writer needed to do was to write are history.

In today’s world it is essential that we master technology. Okay, we won’t master technology, but it is critical that we know the basics of how to use a computer. And that doesn’t mean just learning how to use Microsoft Word to create a professional looking manuscript that is properly formatted and has headers and page numbers. The wise and brave will learn how to use Scrivener. (Debbie Allen is teaching a 4.5 Wednesday afternoon early bird workshop on “Scrivener from 0-60: Get Comfortable, Get Writing” May 17 at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the actual writing and learning how to use the great tools we now have is just part of what we need to do. I began writing on an old manual typewriter. Well I’m not as old as this antique typewriter although I do remember my grandfather had one in the basement. My first manuscripts for publication were created on a blue Royal with keys that got tangled when I typed too fast.

Selectric type ballThe introduction of the Selectric typewriter and that marvelous spinning ball greatly increased my productivity. And to be honest, when computers were introduced, I was not at all interested in giving up my trusted Selectric and learning something new. (I really didn’t think I was smart enough!)

Even today, when my computer is causing me grief, I admit I almost long for the good old days of a yellow legal pad and pencil!

The greatest struggle though is all the other stuff that has become essential. Yep! I mean the “building a platform” stuff. While it’s exciting to be able to write something and publish it ourselves as a blog or ebook, the challenge of finding readers is daunting.

Both the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will provide help with


     Creating a Brand

                    Marketing Plans

           Public Speaking

                       Social Media How-to

     Website Evaluation

Below is a chart of Colorado faculty members who are available for one-on-one appointments to help you grow your platform and thus your writing ministry.


Important: For a PDF of the above chart click here.
The links are live in the PDF version.

Father, help us to embrace today’s opportunities to reach the world with the words You’ve entrusted to us. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by all we need to learn and to do, help us to trust You. Thank You for Your promise:

Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB


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I met Lee Roddy in 1980 at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference. I don’t remember if it was my first or second writers’ conference. What I do remember is how overwhelmed (okay, scared) I felt. What made me think I had what it would take to write a book, much less to get it published? I felt ashamed that I was only a high school graduate. Yet there was that sense of call I couldn’t shake.

Lee’s Sunday night keynote felt like it was aimed directly at me. I had not signed up to take his continuing class because I wasn’t writing fiction and didn’t even read fiction. But without a doubt I know God sat me down in Lee’s class. What I learned coupled with Lee’s encouragement to put a commitment in writing to finish my book in a year so that “eternity would be different” changed my life.

Lee kept in touch with me the next year (I did finish my book in a year to the day) and in the five years that followed as I struggled to find a publisher. He always knew how to mix encouragement with the admonishment not to give up. Largely because of Lee I didn’t give up and the rest, as they say, is history.

Father, thank You for the gift of Lee’s friendship through the years. I’m so grateful to be one of his “kids.” You gave me an incredible writing papa.

Rather than telling you about Lee, let me share some of what he wrote in his foreword to Write His Answer: 

I met Marlene at a 1980 writers’ conference where I was speaking and teaching. Marlene, like many, felt God’s call on her life to write for him.

At that time, I wrote a notation in Marlene’s Bible about one of my own motivational passages, Habakkuk 2:2 and 3. There God says to “write the vision.” In the margin of Marlene’s Bible, alongside those verses, I wrote, “This was God’s promise to me as an
author. Maybe yours, too?”

Marlene was sure God had called her to write a book, so she set down her vision. That’s not uncommon. Many writers, filled with inspiration, start off strong. Then they get discouraged and quit. When they do, God’s vision for them is lost. How sad!

If it’s God’s will to write, then it’s logical that publication should eventually follow. After all, an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives. Even a finished one cannot minister in a drawer or  filing cabinet. Only in published form can a book go where you and I will never go, to people we will never meet. Only in published form can a book make a difference in eternity.

So why do many writers, feeling called to write, fall short? I believe it’s because they neglect to note the way God says he will bring the vision to pass. That involves his time element, not the writer’s. Read the Lord’s clear words: “But these things I [God] plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Hab. 2:3).

I don’t know of a single successful author in the inspirational field who hasn’t experienced doubts and discouragement. The unsuccessful are the ones who quit.

I’m praying you will not quit! Trust Father’s timing, and allow Him to use your disappointments, doubts, and discouragement to draw you closer to Him.

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

Lissa Halls Johnson said in her February 7, 2017 Facebook post:There are many writers who owe part of their successful writing career to a man named Lee Roddy, author of 60+ books. For many years he traveled to schools and the writers conference circuit teaching the art of writing fiction to eager students of all ages. He encouraged writers in his adult classes to consider signing a document of commitment to complete their book. He took that commitment very seriously and did not want anyone signing if they were not willing to put everything they had to fulfill that commitment.” Click here to read the rest of her tribute to Lee.

Lee lived the commitment he challenged others to make. From his August 28, 2016 Facebook post: “I celebrated my 95th birthday two days after being released from the hospital where I had been for two more weeks before that. . . . Out of the recent hours of long lonliness I felt led to finish two novels now in progress, plus other projects. Retirement is not in sight.”

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Ava PenningtonGuest post
by Ava Pennington
Co-captain, Appointment Desk

Banner 2015 GPCWC

The first time I attended a Christian writers’ conference, I was reminded of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not just any buffet, but one whose tables overflowed with lobster and filet mignon.

That four-day conference was packed with continuing classes, workshops, resources available for purchase, and free resources, too. What amazed me most were the opportunities for appointments with acquisition editors, agents, and successful, multi-published authors.

Although I was grateful for those meetings, I was also terrified. Would I say the wrong thing and be branded as a hopeless novice? Or would I be able to make the most of each opportunity?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from those experiences as well as from my experiences on the other side of the table…

  1. Be prepared

Research the people you will meet. Learn their editorial needs or areas of expertise. Check the Faculty-at-a-Glance page or the summary spread sheet for details about the 53 authors, editors, and agents serving on the faculty of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Preparation also includes ensuring your writing sample is the best it can be. Edit for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Remember, your written work represents you!

  1. Follow directions

Follow directions regarding what and how to submit. Did you review the guidelines regarding length and format? Did the agents and editors say they were interested in your genre?

Following directions in advance of your meeting is also good practice for submissions after the conference.

  1. Don’t be surprised by differing responses.

Opinions will be as varied as the people you meet. One agent might not be interested in your work, while another will be enthusiastic. The first agent might already be representing a similar manuscript. The second agent might have recently spoken with an editor seeking books similar to yours. Don’t be surprised—or discouraged—if your appointments offer differing responses to the same manuscript.

  1. Develop a thick skin.

One of the most difficult things writers learn to do is pour themselves into their work, then listen to someone else’s critique without taking it personally.

As writers, we can be our own worst enemy if we become argumentative and defensive about our work. Remember, you don’t have to implement everything that’s suggested. But at least consider what you hear, pray about it, and compare the comments to what other objective people say (not including your mom).

One thing not to say is “God told me to write this.” The editor might be tempted to answer “God did not tell me to publish it!”

  1. Be open to God’s detours

Your heart may be set on writing a book, but an editor may tell you the content is better suited for a magazine article—or a series of articles—instead. Or maybe you wrote a picture book, only to be told that it would make a terrific story for a children’s magazine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you must change your project. But consider and pray about what they say. Keep in mind the average book now sells 250 copies, while the circulation of some magazines can number in the tens of thousands. It’s easy to see which one will give you a greater audience.

One other thing I’ve learned in staffing the appointment desk is that God’s detours sometimes include having you meet with someone other than who you requested. Don’t despair—you may very well be pleasantly surprised. Last year at the GPCWC, one conferee was unable to meet with her first choice, but the appointment we scheduled for her turned out to be the person she needed to meet. Trust God’s sovereignty over your writing…and your meetings. He’s in control and He loves you. There’s no better combination.

  1. Follow through

You may find this next point difficult to believe. After the conference, conferees frequently fail to send manuscripts requested during an appointment. If the agent or editor asks you to send your work, do it!

During the conference, keep a list of what agents and editors ask you to send. Did they request a query? A full proposal? A complete manuscript? Send it!

Last, but not least…

  1. Enjoy your meetings!

The editors, agents, and authors you’ll meet at GPCWC are looking forward to meeting you. They’re friendly and yes, they’re human—just like you. We all have the same goal—to use our abilities to glorify God and bless His people. So enjoy your appointments!

For more information on preparing for your appointments, check out the

Appointment Preparation page of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference website. Conference Director Marlene Bagnull has included lots of helps to assist you in having successful appointments.

While you’re at the conference, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at the Appointment Desk and will be happy to meet you and answer your questions!

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Allen Arnold Nov 2013Donna Brennan
Allen Arnold

God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him.

As founder and former Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, Allen Arnold was a strong advocate not just for story, but for the storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of authors and published more than 500 novels in his 20 years in Christian publishing.

Allen’s personal ministry is now to nurture the heart and spirituality of the storyteller. More recently, as Director of Content and Resources at Ransomed Heart Ministry, he has been able to expand his reach to help many others—besides just authors—get closer to God and live the story of their life with an awakened heart.

But he still has a special place in his own heart for the storyteller. That’s why he’s such a popular presenter at Christian writing conferences, and part of the reason he received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Allen will be presenting a five-part continuing session at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on “The Heart of the Storyteller” as well as a keynote Friday evening, July 31, “Awakening the Writer’s Heart.” I caught up with him to ask him some questions about this session and about his passion for nurturing the hearts of others.

Question: Isn’t it easy to lose track of God in the hustle and bustle of trying to do everything we are told we need to do? Is your session going to help us understand how to keep from getting burnout and still find time to spend with God?

An author recently told me, “It’s easy to sometimes forget why I’m writing in the first place.” And that is so true. We lose ourselves in the blur of deadlines, social media, and daily word counts. We turn to productivity while God longs for our presence. We put our heads down and focus on getting things done for God…instead of realizing we are on a creative playground with God. We ask God to bless our time writing instead of asking what His plans are for our day. We get busy doing rather than being. And when we look up, we find ourselves in a desert. In my sessions, I’ll identify the main “creative deserts” and offer tangible ways to avoid or escape them.

Question: Do you think it’s the enemy that distracts us so much with the busyness of writing and marketing? Or do you think we do it to ourselves?

The answer is both. We have an enemy of the story we are writing AND the story we are living. His goal is not distraction as much as destruction. I believe the enemy has a unique hatred for creative…and will spend time taking readers into why this is and how to overcome his very specific plans to destroy our creativity and our calling. The second element is our own motives. It is easy to make our stories and our success an idol. If that sounds a bit strong, realize this. Whatever we turn to for life is what we worship. So if your validation hinges on success as a writer…you may be more focused on your calling than the One who called you into it. During my sessions, I’ll share how to make your writing an offering – and how to resist the enemy. It’s a two-fold approach.

Question: The nature of writing usually makes it a solitary—and isolating—task. Why can this be dangerous, and what can we do to avoid any pitfalls?

We write in isolation – but we never have to write alone. Because our gifting came with an invitation from God. Not just to create. But to create together. God gave you this talent so you can spend it with Him…as a way to grow closer together. But something happens along the way. The gift overshadows the giver – and aloneness replaces fellowship. Remember this – God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him. When writers discover this truth and learn how to live it, they will never write alone again. That is the whole focus of being in Creative Fellowship with God.

Question: In the description of your continuing session, it talks about discovering “how to live free, write free.” What exactly does that mean?

This phrase is a short-hand way of reminding writers that Jesus came to set us free…and when we are living in His freedom, we can then create in total freedom. Imagine what better stories we can tell when we are writing from an awakened heart and walking with Him through the entire creative process. It is  transformational, but it starts with our lives before it can transform our writing.

Question: The novel I’m working on is fiction, but my life is real. How can getting in touch with my own story—my own life—improve the story that I want to write?

Here is the bottom line – you can’t write a better story than you are living. So to write really powerful stories, you first have to live a really powerful life. Knowing your personal story (it didn’t just begin last week or even last year) allows you to tell better stories. There’s got to be time built into your life for you to be aware of what’s really going on in your heart. Artists are gifted at “seeing the unseen” and then creating. Yet they often overlook their own spiritual health. Writers can focus more on imagined stories than the rhythms of their own life story. We’ll dive into this more – but it’s impossible to offer words with life when your own life is stressed out, dried up, and empty. The discovery is how to live and create from an awakened heart.

Question: Is it more than just a coincidence that you have such a passion for the writer’s heart and the ministry that you’ve been drawn to deals with restoring and nourishing the hearts of God’s people?

Great question! There are no coincidences for those who walk with God. He has invited me into a ministry in Colorado (Ransomed Heart) where the focus is healing broken hearts and setting people free. If that phrase sounds familiar, it is from a passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus quoted to start His ministry. Two years ago, God told me that my new ministry was going after the hearts of writers. I wish I had done that while I was in publishing for 20 years. I did my best as a publisher to help authors write the best stories and then get them to the broadest possible audience. But I didn’t know how to go after their hearts…probably because I didn’t even know fully how to pursue my own heart at that time. So while being a part of the Ransomed Heart ministry is my full-time role (and I love it!), I also speak and meet with hundreds of writers a year to help them write with God from an awakened heart. It brings me incredible joy to help writers find a way out of the creative desert and into the wildness of creating with God.

Question: What are some of the things you do to revitalize your own heart? How do you get in touch with who God created you to be?

If I don’t spend regular, intimate time with God – I quickly end up in a dry and dusty place. For too long, I thought productivity was the secret to my happiness – the more I got done, the happier I was. But I’ve discovered that God always longs for our presence before our productivity. So what revitalizes my heart is savoring God by just being with Him, reading (for pleasure), playing (with my kids), dreaming big with my wife, and time at the gym. Oh, and salsa. I love salsa.  ;  ).  

Allen, to be quite honest, I didn’t think I was “in need” of your session—I thought I was in touch with my heart and that I had most things pretty much in balance. But after reading a few things short things you’ve written and listening to two online interviews you gave, I realize how far I am from what you are talking about. Your passion for the writer’s spirituality made me realize how much my writing has been becoming a business, and not a calling. I wonder how many other writers, like me, don’t realize how much they need your message. I’m including a link to a PDF of the Keynote you gave at the Christy Awards in 2012.http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/images/stories/client_pdf/CAPTURED_BY_STORYed.pdf

I think it will inspire a lot of other writers to remember why they are writing, and to actively partner with the One who called them to write.

Thank you, Donna and Allen, for this thought-provoking interview. Allen welcomes your comments on this blog.

Allen’s Friday evening, July 31, keynote is open free of charge to the community. To register for the conference which includes your choice of 9 workshops from 58 offered and 1 continuing session from 8 offered including Allen’s “Heart of the Storyteller” go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/register. The price increases July 16.

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Faith rockTrust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Some of you know that it took five years and rejection slips from 42 editors before the first book I wrote was accepted for publication. Before that I struggled for several years to finish the manuscript. Self-doubts, and to be honest, God-doubts had me close to giving up many, many times.

The “deadly Ds” – disappointment, doubt, discouragement, even despair – were my frequent companions. What kept me keeping on?

  • Promises such as Galatians 6:9: “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” (TLB).
  • The very first words I ever felt the Lord speak to my heart: “Child, I never said it would be easy to follow Me, but I have promised always to be with you.”
  • My husband who has never told me to go get a “real” job even during times when things were really rough financially.
  • My pastor who paid my way to my first writers’ conference and held me accountable afterwards to use what I learned.
  • Friends who year after year babysat my three children so I could go to the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference.
  • The network of writing friends who encouraged me, and Gayle Roper and Anne Sirna who mentored me.

Yes, it took many long, discouraging years but that first book did get in print. The rest – seven other books, the Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conferences that I direct, the 70 conference faculties I’ve been honored to serve on, and my day-long writing seminars that I’ve given around the country over 50 times – are the fruit of abiding in Him and trusting Him to do what I could never do in my own strength.

The key really is trust, especially when the deadly Ds threaten to derail me. I’m learning that I am free to trust or to doubt, but when I do not trust, I grieve the Lord.

I want to encourage you not to give up and to make registering for the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference a priority. The price increases May 9 so don’t delay. (Registration is also open for the July 29-August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. The 16-page brochure is off press. If you’re on our mailing list, you will receive your brochure this coming week.)

  • If the evil one is bombarding you with the deadly Ds, trust the Lord.
  • If the logistics of childcare for your kids seem impossible, trust Him.
  • If you can’t see how to fit the conference in during a spring packed with activity and demands on your time, trust Him.
  • If you need more encouragement to overcome your self-doubts, trust Him and click here.
  • If financially it seems impossible, trust Him. Be bold. Ask family, friends, or your church to help. Apply for a scholarship. Even though it’s past the deadline, I will still consider requests for partial scholarships as well as requests for time payments.

Father God, thank You that You know the plans You have for us and our writing – and that they are good plans. Help us to trust You when we face the deadly Ds. Thank You for all the incredible people You have brought into my life these past 19 years of directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 32 years directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Thank You for all You have done and all You will do as I trust You.

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lori and becky by fenceWe Had A Lot to Learn

Guest post by
Lori Wildenberg &
Becky Danielson, M.Ed.

We sat in the workshop, intently listening to Cecil Murphy list the attributes of a successful book proposal. Writing fast and furiously we recorded his suggestions. By the time there was a break, we had pages of notes. As other class participants ran for a quick cup of coffee, we reviewed our scribblings. We looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Our current proposal needed to be revised. A major overhaul would be a better description. We had done practically everything wrong, from font to a three-hole-punch notebook. Our laughter caught Cecil’s attention.  After hearing the reason for the chuckles, he asked if he could use our proposal as an example of what not to do.

That was our first Colorado Christian Writers Conference. We followed Cecil’s instructions and sent off our revised proposal. Three months later we signed a book contract. Cecil, Marlene, and the other pros we met all played a part in us getting our first book, Empowered Parents: Putting Faith First, into print. When we felt the Lord calling us to writing another book, we returned to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.
1 Cor 13 logo
We’ve honed our skills and expanded our ministry. We’ve acquired the knowledge on how to advance our writing careers, tackle social media, and market effectively. The 1 CORINTHIANS 13 PARENT SERIES: Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love is our latest endeavor. Both books plus their study guides have recently been published.

We have attended as novice writers and as a bit more seasoned professionals. The conference is always fresh and new; with something for the experienced author and offerings for the novice writer. Each keynote, panel discussion, and breakout session targets the varied aspects of writing, publishing, and speaking. We can directly link our success to the CCWC.

Marlene and her staff encourage and guide with faithfulness so the participants of the conference can be equipped and inspired to “Write His Answer” in order to bring others to Christ.

The setting is the added bonus to the conference. When you attend be sure to plan in some time to hike one of the many mountain trails available in Estes Park. You will be blessed by the nature that surrounds you and the nurture of the staff at the CWC.

Lori and Becky are moms, licensed Parent and Family educators, and co-founders of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. Lori and Tom have been married for over 30 years and have four children. Their home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Becky and her husband, Scott, have been married 25 years and are the parents of two teenage boys. They live in the Twin Cities.

Lori and Becky are authors of three parenting books:  EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First and the recently released 1 CORINTHIANS 13 PARENT SERIES: Raising Little Kids with Big Love (plus companion study guide) and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (also with an accompanying study guide). Contact Lori and Becky at www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com. You can find all three books (and study guides) over at Amazon.

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pen & inkwellWhen Words Don’t Come

Guest post by
Starr Ayers

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3 NLT

Staying in tune with God can be difficult … especially when we don’t hear anything. As I drove my daughter, who has Down Syndrome, to an appointment, she listened to her favorite station through her headphones. Before long, she huffed and began thumping on her radio.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She gave no reply but continued to thump her radio in frustration.

“What’s wrong? Isn’t your radio working?”


“How long has it not been working?” I asked.

No answer.

“Did it work yesterday?”


“Did it work the day before?”


“Did you wear your headphones at work anyway?”


My heart broke. After my daughter’s appointment, I stopped at the store for batteries, replaced the old ones in her radio, and drove her back to work. When I left, she was wearing her headset and was working to the beat of the music once more. As I climbed into my car, God whispered, “She didn’t hear anything, but she kept on listening. You should too.”

Once again, my daughter was the teacher. I was the student. Sometimes, God is silent. During those times, the temptation to change the channel is great. We want to remedy the situation ourselves. Search in other directions. Fill the dead air with the sound of our own voice or the voices of others, or simply “thump” in frustration.

Although the words of today’s text may not be the words we want to hear, they do give us some much-needed insight. Listen. Keep watch. Remain steadfast. Live in expectancy. God will speak. He won’t remain silent forever. Although He may not rush in with His answer as quickly as I supplied the batteries for my daughter’s radio, His timing will be perfect.

Don’t grow weary and lose heart, my friend. Keep on listening. God’s words will come, and you’ll be dancing to the rhythm of His beat once more.



Starr Ayers is a third-generation artist, writer, and speaker. The mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, her heart is to encourage the acceptance of those with life-challenging disabilities and to inspire others to embrace their own uniqueness in Christ. Starr is a contributor to the book Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts and is published monthly in Thrive magazine. Connect with Starr at http://bringinglifeintofocus2.blogspot.com, or starrayers@triad.rr.com.

First appeared in www.christiandevotions.us. Used with permission of Christian Devotions Ministries.

Thank you, Starr, for this important reminder of the verse that comes before Habakkuk 2:2, the theme of the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. And thank you, Cindy Sproles, for your ministry through http://www.christiandevotions.us and giving me permission to reprint this. You can meet Cindy at the July 29-August 1 Greater Philly conference and the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries, Eddie Jones, at the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I want to encourage you to subscribe to these daily devotions and to check out their helpful guidelines for writers.


News You Can Use

Set of multicolored big buttons made of glass or plastic with metallic borders

Leading Hearts Magazine


“Is God Calling You to Write?”

Wish You Had Your Own Writing Coach?

Now that could make THE difference to help you answer your call. Right?

This is exactly is why authors Angela  Breidenbach and Linda Evans Shepherd are presenting a live webinar called Secrets to a Successful Writing Career. And the best news is that even if you can’t make it to the live class — if you sign up, you will automatically get a recording of the class.  To Register: Click HERE.

The class will cover:

The big picture – What you need to know – to embark on the journey to publishing and readership.

  • Which key tools do you need to help you in your journey?
  • How do you get, find, and keep an editor or agent?
  • Finding a publisher and other publishing ops.
  • What is ‘platform’ and how do you build one?
  • What do you need to be writing now?
  • How do you write like a pro anyway?  What do you need to do in order to create excellence in your work?

We will cover this and a lot more to help you not only get published, but build an audience and an enduring readership – so you can answer your call to write.

Webinar Details:

When:  Thursday, March 12

Time:  9:00 pm EST, 8:00 pm CST, 7:00 pm MST, 6:00 pm PST

Where:  Watch our live Webinar on your own computer; or sign up and you will automatically get the replay to watch at your convenience.

NOTE:  Students will receive handouts plus, Angie and Linda will be live, in person, to answer your questions.

To Register: Click HERE.

About our Presenters:Angela Breidenbach

Angela Breidenbach is a captivating speaker, coach, and author. Angela serves nationally as the Christian Author Network’s (CAN) president. With a volume of appearances online and on television, stage, and radio Angela loves to share her knowledge to build up others. (And yes, she’s Writer in the #Muse & Writer comedy duo.)

linda shepherd hi res 2 from we bLinda Evans Shepherd is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 30 books.  She’s the president of Right to the Heart, the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine, an international speaker as well as the director of Instant Writers Conference and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Linda will give a keynote, “Write, and Speak, His Answer . . . Prayerfully” at the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. She will also teach the continuing session, “Reaching Women through Writing and More.”

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