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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
Interviews
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?”

“No.”

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

No answer.

“Did it work yesterday?”

“No.”

“Did it work the day before?”

“No.”

“Did you wear your headphones at work anyway?”

“Yes.”

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.

 

StarrAyers

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 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

ASKS:

“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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mjb Dec 2014Are Your Words Bearing Fruit?

Today is bitter cold – a day to think warm thoughts about the bulbs I planted in the fall. If spring isn’t late, in about six weeks they will begin to push through the soil that is now frozen. Really, that isn’t very long except when you’re waiting. 🙂

Before I share an excerpt from my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, here’s a great opportunity for those of you who live in Colorado. My friend, Cec Murphey, has borne much fruit through his writing and speaking.

 Cec Murphey will be in the Colorado Springs area for an interview on Wednesday, March 11. He’ll also speak for the Denver ACFW chapter on Monday night, March 9. Cec would like to fill the gaps in his schedule with speaking opportunities. He’s willing to be in the area for several days. Do you know of a church that might like to invite him in to preach and teach? Are you part of a recovery group/college/or other organization that might be interested in hearing from him? Cec’s years as a pastor, hospital chaplain, missionary, educator, caregiver, and professional writer, along with his life experiences, qualify him to speak on many topics and to diverse audiences. He has plenty of energy and enjoys meeting and ministering to people. Audience size is not an issue. For more info about Cec, visit www.cecilmurphey.com. Contact Twila Belk (twilabelk@mchsi.com) with questions.

Now . . .  here’s Chapter 17, “Bearing Fruit.”

It is a bitter cold February day. As I sit at my computer and look out the window, I can’t help but daydream. A winter storm has encrusted the trees and bushes with a thick layer of ice that glistens in the bright sunshine. Spring seems a long way off. Wistfully I dream of golden daffodils and fragrant lilacs.

My thoughts wander to the vegetable seeds I planted yesterday in window boxes on my toasty radiator. Although they are weeks from sprouting, I’m already thinking how good it will be to have fresh, homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and cauliflower. The ringing of the phone brings me back to the present and, after a brief conversation, back to this blank screen. “Lord, what do you want to say through me?” I ask.

“Bear fruit,” I feel Him speak to my heart.

I sigh. For all my hard work this past month, I don’t feel I have borne much fruit. January’s mail was slow to bring acceptances or checks.

 “I feel as if I’ve plowed and planted my garden, but nothing is growing,” I complain. “It’s not that I mind the hard work, Lord. But when am I going to see the fruit of my labors?”

“Have you forgotten what I taught you about abiding?”

I open my Bible to John 15:4 and read: “Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me.”

I think back over the past weeks and the many excuses I’ve made to shortchange my quiet time with the Lord. It’s no wonder my writing is not bearing fruit. I have been trying to do it in my strength instead of His. Again the Lord reminds me that my relationship with Him is more important than anything I can do for Him. Then, in a new way, I also see the kind of fruit He longs for me to bear. Far more important than powerful prose or beautiful poetry is the fruit of Christlikeness.

“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” I read from Galatians 5:22-23 (TLB). I have to admit that sometimes this fruit is sadly lacking in my life.

Love for the Lord and my readers is not always my motivating force. Too often I am caught up in the ego trip of seeing my name in bigger and better magazines. When editors do not accept my work, I do not feel very loving towards them.

My joy is lost when I push myself to get manuscripts in the mail and measure my fruitfulness by the number of acceptances I receive in return. My peace is destroyed when I take my focus off the Lord and put it on myself -on my goals, my needs, my feelings.

My patience wears thin when things don’t happen as quickly as I want and feel they should. Instead of waiting on God and his perfect timing, I become discouraged and irritable. I say unkind things to the people I love, especially to my children, when they interrupt me when I’m trying to write.

Goodness makes me think of Paul’s words about Jesus: “He went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). Am I “doing good” through what I write? Using Lee Roddy’s acrostic, BERT, do my words really Benefit my readers? Do they Enrich them? Are they Relevant and Timely?

Faithfulness. The Bible assures me that “the one who calls [me] is faithful” (1 Thess. 5:24, NIV). Therefore, I do not have to become consumed by the dollars and hours part of my writing-by the little I earn for the long hours I work. Instead, I can choose to trust His promise to supply all my needs (Phil. 4:19) and to remain faithful to my call to write His answer.

Gentleness, I learn as I look at the original Greek meaning of the word, is not just the way I treat others. The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates it as “meekness.”Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “It consists not in a person’s ‘outward’ behaviour only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men. . . . It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” In other words, instead of almost demanding that God “bless” my ministry, I must surrender my desires to Him. I need to follow Jesus’ example and remember how He took on “the very nature of a servant, . . . humbled himself and became obedient to death” (Phil. 2:7-8, NIV).

 Self-control makes me think of discipline and my need to take control of the hours in each day, as well as my thoughts, feelings, and actions which often defeat me. I can choose to dwell on the positives and not procrastinate. Most of all, I can choose to relinquish control of my life to the Lord every day and trust Him to work in me and through me.

 “Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches,” I feel Him speak to me again through his Word. “Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit” (John 15:5). He doesn’t say when, but He also doesn’t say maybe. Instead, He gives me the conditions. I must deliberately choose to abide in Him and submit wholeheartedly to His pruning of my motives and goals. I must take care to stay close to Him-to let Him live in me. Only then will my life and my words bear fruit.

Responding to God’s Call to Write

 Prayerfully consider whether or not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are evident in your life. Then read Jeremiah 17:7-8; John 15:1-8; and Galatians 5:22-23, asking the Lord to show you how He wants you to grow in Him. Write His answer in the space below.


Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull
is a “must-have” resource for any writer.
It offers the perfect balance of practical tools,
personal honesty, and insightful passages
of Scripture. 
I was inspired by her wisdom
and challenged to answer 
God’s call
to write in authentic, life-changing ways.
Write His Answer will help you solidify your calling
and get to the 
root of insecurities may writers face.

Angela Donadio
Recording Artist, Blogger, and Upcoming Author
www.angeladonadio.com

For 24 years
Write His Answer has encouraged writers.
This new edition of 176 pages includes updated resources.
Autographed copy available for only $10.
Click here.
E-book available on Amazon.

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Rhyner Adoption Book

 

Connecting the Dots
From Wannabe to Published Author

by Christine Rhyner

How many of us remember as children taking our yellow wooden pencils to paper and playing “Connect the Dots?”

We began with a single line, then another that might take us in a different direction, then a third that could be quite long, and a fourth, just a tiny inch. We would zig-zag our way across the page until we found ourselves staring at a kite or a butterfly and think, “Cool.”

I have discovered that a walk with the Lord is much like this. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 it is written, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Though we cannot see the bigger picture God does when we set out on a journey, we must take that first step of faith, that first pencil stroke to move along a path that we believe will lead us to something “cool.”

In print & ebook

In print and ebook

I never realized that finding a blurb about the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in a trade magazine would lead me to becoming a published author. That ad led me to Founder, Marlene Bagnull’s website where I found “Write His Answer.” What a treasure! While publishing magazine and website articles as a fairly new Christian I had struggled to understand the passion God had placed within me to write, how to approach this calling on my life and how to move forward in my desire to do so for Him and from Him. I immediately bought the book and found just what I needed—a Bible study for Christian writers. I never knew such a resource existed!

Right away I registered for the next GPCWC. There I found the blessing of hundreds of others just like me, with the same focus, passion and calling–to connect with and learn from. I had never felt such a sense of belonging, acceptance and encouragement. I was at home!

I knew that I wanted to write a book sharing my testimony about my
God who had determined to make me a mother through international Adoptedadoption. It was during perhaps the third summer I attended the conference that God decided the timing for such a book was right. I had learned a lot, grown as a writer and explored various ways of communicating my story. Then, it just happened. While on the ride home back to NY, my entire book outline just poured out of me onto paper while my husband drove. I saw the dots starting to connect!

After returning home, I set to work sharpening my book’s theme and message. As I wrote chapters I also worked on a proposal. After I sent off this proposal to an editor who had taught at the conference and graciously offered to review it for me (an amazing benefit of the GPCWC in that professionals will actually offer to follow up with you on projects), it was clear that my proposal was a mess. But I had already purchased W. Terry Whalin’s “Book Proposals That Sell” at the conference. Why wasn’t I using it?

After carefully following Terry’s direction and advice, my pencil took a detour and I re-wrote a proposal that garnered three positive responses and a contract within a few months!

But the picture, as any author will tell you, wasn’t quite complete. I now needed an editor to help me polish my first manuscript submission to a publisher. Back to Marlene’s website I went. What I thought was a random pick of an editor to hire was actually God’s way of connecting another dot. This editor was a staff member of my publisher’s, able to give me insight into their expectations and navigate my way through the process! Additionally, she is a godly, professional, faithful woman, always quick to respond to my many questions and concerns.

After a few more months of hard work and re-writes the dots were finally connected! In fact, I saw a butterfly. One that had finally emerged from its long night captive in a cocoon, now beautiful and free to fly forth with a message of a mighty God’s blessing, grace and forgiveness before and after an adoption journey.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 goes on to say, I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.”

As authors, we need that sense of purpose God has intended for our work. We can delight in it if we remember that God has called us to do it, that the fruit of our labor is a gift from Him and that this is how we serve Him. Understanding and focusing our purpose and calling is what Marlene brings to authors with “Write His Answer” and her tireless efforts at running the GPCWC for decades. The dedicated, godly and professional people I’ve mentioned above are the kind she offers year after year for our benefit and instruction.

Were it not for a blurb in a writing magazine for the GPCWC I may not have seen How much did you pay for her? Forgiving the Words That Hurt Adoptive Families come to fruition.

How is God connecting your dots on your journey?

For more about my book, view my trailer at:

http://youtu.be/WhoehU5wH0E

Available now through www.clcpublications.com, www.amazon.com, www.christianbookdistributors.com and soon to be available in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Interested in adoption? Check out my website at www.christinerhyner.com, or drop by my Facebook author page at www.Facebook.com/ChristineRhynerauthor

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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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I love the fall! Well, not the crisp mornings and evenings when it’s too cold to sit on my back porch. But still I do love this season of harvest, the roadside stands bursting with apples and pumpkins, and the beauty of the falling leaves that my grandkids rake into piles and then scatter as they jump into them.

What I don’t love is the times when my creativity feels as dry as the leaves that crunch under my feet.

Father, thank You for reminding me of this chapter from Write His Answer that I wrote years ago. Help me and all who read this to follow Your drought emergency instructions.

Next weekend, September 27-28, I’ll be teaching my Write His Answer Seminar in Cheshire, CT. I know it will be a time of refreshment and renewal for all of us. Please come if you can or order the CDs.

Write His Answer cover

But O my soul, don’t be discouraged.
Don’t be upset. Expect God to act!
For I know that I shall again
have plenty of reason
to praise him for all that he will do.
Psalm 42:11

“I’ll never run out of ideas,” I’ve often said. With a file drawer full of notes and manuscripts in various stages of completion, I felt certain that periods of dryness, or writer’s block, which I heard other writers complain about, would not affect me. But then something happened that was far worse. I felt empty inside!

The Evil One began to fill me with doubts. “You so often fail to live as a Christian,” he whispered in my ear. “How can you expect to help others? You’re nothing but a hypocrite. You have no business trying to be a writer.”

Every time I sat down at my desk, I got a tension headache. Increas­ingly I began to dread facing the work I had always loved to do. “Maybe it is time to quit,” I said to my husband one evening. “I’m willing to work hard and to face rejection, but if I don’t have anything to share . . .”

Paul put his arms around me. “You’ll feel inspired again. I know you will.”

“But what if God doesn’t want me to write anymore?”

The phone rang. It was an editor asking me to write a series of devotionals. My heart pounded with excitement. An assignment on a Sunday evening from an editor, right after I had questioned my call.  It couldn’t be a coincidence! I thanked God for showing me that my writing ministry wasn’t over.

With new enthusiasm I sat down at my typewriter the next morning, but still I felt empty. Ideas wouldn’t flow. I turned to the discouraging task of resubmitting manuscripts. As I plodded along, the whispers grew more intense. “You’re a failure. You don’t have what it takes. God can’t use you.”

I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I tried praying, but God seemed distant. Suddenly I remembered something Lee Roddy told me when I was struggling to complete my first book. “You’re listening to the wrong voice, Marlene,” he said.

The burden began to lift as I thought of Lee’s words and the Scriptures that point to Satan as the father of lies. He is the Christian writer’s great adversary. He is intent on destroying our writing ministries, our homes, our lives.

“But God,” I prayed, “it’s sometimes so hard to discern your voice. The enemy’s whispers seem so true. I do fail to respond to situations in Christlike ways—to practice what I preach. It’s easy to believe those failures make me unworthy to share your Word.”

“Condemnation is the work of the Evil One,” God reminded me. “My Spirit brings conviction of sin and the strength to overcome him. I know you’re not perfect. None of the people I use are perfect. They are willing people. Are you still willing, Child?”

“Oh yes, Lord,” I said as I fervently prayed that I would again expe­rience the anointing of his Spirit. “Please speak to me so that I can write the words you want me to write.”

The next day my writer’s block lifted. Sentences began to flow—not in perfect form or structure—but then that never has been my experience. I always spend a lot of time rewriting and editing. But, praise God, I again had words to rewrite and edit!

Since then I’ve experienced other times of dryness. They seem almost cyclical, like the droughts that periodically occur in nature. I know God allows these times in my life to teach me valuable lessons about the importance of letting my roots grow down into him (Col. 2:7). And so, I endeavor to follow his drought emergency instruc­tions in James 4:6-10:

1. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask him to remove any false pride (v. 6). Affirm anew that he is the Source of your creativity.

2. “Submit yourselves, then, to God” (v. 7 niv). The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament reads: “Be ye subject therefore to God.” The Greek word for “subject,” hupotasso, is “primarily a military term, to rank under” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. We need to remember that God is not our buddy or our errand boy. Rather, “all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:16-18 NIV).

3. “Resist the devil” (v. 7 NIV). Put on the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17) to protect your mind from the Evil One’s accusations. Pick up the shield of faith to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One” (Eph. 6:16 NIV).

4. “Come near to God” (v. 8 NIV). Whether you feel his presence or not, spend an increased amount of time in prayer and in his Word. To stop your mind from wandering, pray aloud or write down your prayers. You might also want to read Scripture aloud. Grab hold of the promise: “Forever, O Lord, your Word stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, like the earth you created; it endures by your decree, for everything serves your plans” (Ps. 119:89-91).

5. “Grieve, mourn and wail” (v. 9 NIV) over the ways you fail the Lord. Ask him to make you a cleansed vessel through which his power can flow.

6. “Realize your worthlessness before the Lord” and allow him to “lift you up, encourage and help you” (v. 10).

I praise God for the way “he lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him” (Ps. 40:2-3).


Responding to God’s Call to Write

Expand on the drought emergency instructions by using a concor­dance to find additional Scriptures for these key words and phrases:

Humility

Submission

Resist the Evil One

Draw near to God

Repentance

Forgiveness

__________________

Unless otherwise noted Scripture is from The Living Bible.

From Write His Answer—A Bible Study for Writers. Copyright © 1990, 1999 Marlene Bagnull. With space for journaling, Write His Answer will not only encourage you, it will become a record of your writing journey. Copies can be order from me securely online and at a discount. Click here for excerpts and ordering info.

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I goofed in yesterday’s blog. The West Branch Christian Writers Conference in Jersey Shore, PA (not far from Williamsport), is October 19 not October 9. This conference offers a lot at a very reasonable price.

I also failed to mention that the Vine and Vessels Christian Writers Conference where I’m keynoting on October 19 is in Seaford, DE.

And I’m sorry I forgot to add to the list:
October 18-20 – New England Christian Writers Retreat, Plainfield, NH. Click here for the brochure for this special event.

Free BookLori Hynson, GPCWC Writer of the Year and author of SuperGal vs. God is offering her book FREE on Kindle starting today and ENDING Sunday! It’s a great read! Go to www.amazon.com and type in SuperGal vs. God to download the book. If you don’t have a Kindle, there is an app on the same page that allows you to download to your smartphone or other device. PLEASE DOWNLOAD, even if you already have the print book. You would be doing my friend, Lori, and yourself, a HUGE favor! After reading, if you’d take a couple of minutes to write a review on Amazon it would be much appreciated.

GPCWC’s Pacesetter Award went to Vicki Chandler, author of Heart Eyes – Beth and the Bullies. This beautifully illustrated story shows children how they can make a difference. It includes follow-up questions adults can use to guide discussions about how to prevent bullying. Vicki has a burden for children who are ignored or bullied. She says, “I know that everyone wants to be included. Everyone has something they wish everyone knew about them. Maybe it’s the hurt they feel. Maybe it’s the talent they’d like to share. Everyone has feelings, hopes, and dreams. My big dream is that children across the nation will begin to choose their friends in different ways. Children will not be popular simply because they are pretty, rich, smart, or just the right size. Everyone will be included. Even those who look differently, speak different languages, have a disability…Their differences will be celebrated. Their hidden talents will be discovered. That will happen if more children see others with their heart eyes.” I HIGHLY recommend this book. For more info and a link to order either the paperback or ebook go to http://hearteyes.net.

Rise and Shine Movement – Carolyn Ruch is “an author, speaker, writer, and mom on a mission — to educate and encourage adults to talk to the children they love about sexual abuse. Because sometimes the only thing between you and protecting your kids from Childhood Sexual Abuse is a conversation.” Her website includes a wonderful FREE video of her picture book that every parent and grandparent needs to share along with help for “beginning the conversation.” Please join the movement. We can and must make a difference!

Father, thank You for Lori, Vicki, and Carolyn and so many others who have committed to “write Your Answer.” Keep us all on the growing edge spiritually and professionally through Your Word and through the opportunities to fellowship with and learn from other writers. Bless us as we seek to serve You every day this fall.

 

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