Archive for the ‘Writer’s Life’ Category

I began this blog post on a bitter cold day in February. Now it’s mid-March. Still cold, but no snow. Keep reading and you’ll discover why it’s taken so long to post this.

Below is an excerpt from my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, that was first published in 1990 and is still in print in an expanded edition.

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” (TLB).

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 TLB). 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 TLB). 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.

Click here for a free Bible study, “Bear Fruit.”

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, Author

For 30 years Write His Answer has encouraged writers. An autographed copy is available for only $10 plus shipping. Click here. You can save the cost of shipping by ordering $35 from the Write His Answer bookstore where you’ll find over 120 writing how-to books as well as the 2021 Christian Writers Market Guide – ALL DISCOUNTED!

Now, to share why it’s taken so long to post. I’ve been working on the 2021 Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conference! Due to the continuing pandemic, out of an abundance of caution we’re going virtual, but both conferences will be highly interactive and virtually amazing. The faculty is almost in place for both conferences. See who is coming by visiting https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com and https://colorado.writehisanswer.com. And save the date!

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The 2020 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference was scheduled to begin this evening with a keynote by Liz Curtis Higgs. But then the coronavirus locked down our nation. It didn’t take God by surprise, and He does have a plan.

For seven weeks I struggled with whether or not to postpone the conference until next year. Should I trust the Lord and move ahead with finalizing the program, updating the website, and printing the brochure? But I didn’t have peace. Still, the thought of cancelling what would be GPCWC’s 37th year of ministry, especially after the pain of cancelling the Colorado conference, was more than I could face.

Finally, on May 20 I knew Father did not want me to risk the lives of faculty and conferees, many who would no doubt be high risk. And so the decision was made, and finally I experienced His peace that passes understanding.

Since then I have felt such an emptiness and sadness. Yes, I’ve been grieving. I have kept busy with editing books for other writers, but I didn’t even blog for a month. Never before in the 40 plus years I’ve been writing have I been at a loss for words.

I’m so grateful for the couple at church who prayed for me two weeks ago. Their prayer and mine broke through the block.

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”
Jeremiah 29:12-14 (MSG)

I finally had words to share and blogged about the conflict that is tearing our nation apart in Bring Us Together. I finished and published How to Write His Answer – Testimonies & Personal Experience Stories and blogged about it in Persevere – and TWO surprise gifts.

What joy to again feel His presence and to know that He knows the plans He has for me and is leading me.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

For over a week I’ve been searching through my files for the columns I wrote for three years for what was then The Christian Writer. It’s not hard for things to get lost in the three filing cabinets, five carts of drawers, and three other carts of hanging files with two drawers each that are packed into my office that my husband calls “the black hole.”

I even searched in the basement but with no success. “Father, please show me where else to look.” Then I remembered the filing cabinet in our garage. The drawers are so stuffed I could hardly get them open. But finally, in the third drawer I found what I was looking for and something else. I’m certain God was NOT surprised!

Thirty-seven years ago I began work on Grace and Weight – Devotions for Dieters. I found an outline for 17 devotions along with Scriptures for each, the introduction, and the first devotion. But thirty-seven years ago was the year I launched the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship and directed our first seminar. I had no idea it would grow to a 3.5 day conference with a faculty of over 50, or that 24 years ago God would also lead me to begin directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

Thirty-seven years ago – and this year’s GPCWC would have been our 37th year!

I remember Gayle Roper telling me that directing a conference would cut into the time needed for my own writing. That’s true, but I have no regrets. I’ve always known I can make a much greater impact for His Kingdom through encouraging and equipping others to “write His answer” than just through my own writing. And as I told someone this morning, the conferences will continue next year if not live, then virtual. The YMCA of the Rockies is already reserved and the deposit paid for the May 12-15, 2021 and May 11-14, 2022 Colorado conference. I won’t have a date for next year’s Philly conference until the end of the year, but Liz Curtis Higgs is saving the three possible dates (July 21-24, July 28-31, or August 4-7).

The 2021 Colorado conference is already planned with the faculty and program in place. Go to https://colorado.writehisanswer.com. Even my taxes are done! (For years I’ve been requesting an extension until the fall because there’s no time to do them during conference season.) So . . . I can’t use the excuse of not having enough time. I do have time to work on this new book! And it’s something I need to do for me. For years I’ve battled (not always successfully) being overweight. It’s taken a toll on my knees that both need to be replaced. Doctors say “losing just 10 pounds would relieve 40 pounds of pressure from my knees,” and I have a lot more than 10 pounds to lose!

Would you please pray for me? Pray I’ll apply the same energy and determination I’ve had directing 59 conferences into finishing Grace and Weight – A Bible Study for Those Who Weigh Too Much. Pray for Father’s anointing of my words and for His strength to “live the answer” I’ll be writing. If like me you need to lose weight, I hope you’ll visit my new Grace and Weight Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Grace-and-Weight-107196014414185. In today’s post you’ll find a link to the first short chapter.

Meanwhile, let me know how I can be praying for you. What writing project is Father calling you to begin and to finish during these days that have not taken Him by surprise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s hard to believe that the story below was first published almost 36 years ago by Christian Standard. It went on to be reprinted by The Mennonite in 1983, Pentecostal Messenger in 1984, Advocate in 1985, and Vision (below) in 1989. But it feels appropriate that the Lord brought it to my attention today as I prayerfully consider stepping out in a new ministry to His scribes during the “new normal” we are experiencing.

Of course, I long to return to the old normal, but sadly the days of gathering on the mountain for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference are over – at least for this year. I already had the YMCA of the Rockies reserved for May 12-15, 2021, and most all this year’s faculty are saving the date. I do not yet know if it will be safe to hold the July 22-25, 2020, Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

What I do know is the need is greater than ever for us to “Write His Answer.” And I believe that’s why Father called my attention to the story below. Although I’m having a “Crisis of Confidence” over learning new technology, I’m going to take a baby step on Friday and video my “Hook ‘Em from the Get-Go” workshop. Please pray for me and be watching for the announcement that it’s online.

Father, please encourage everyone reading this blog to seek You during this time when our lives have been so disrupted – really turned upside down – by this pandemic. For many the “new normal” has created great financial hardship. Still others are experiencing the much greater pain of losing loved ones. Please be their comfort and strength. Please lead medical science to find a cure and vaccine. And please help us to write words that will turn hearts to You and to Your love that has not and will not fail.


I also needed to re-read Chapter 23, “Crisis of Confidence,” in my book Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers. Click here to download the chapter. Even if you’ve done this study before, now would be a good time to do it again and to journal your thoughts at the end of each chapter in “Responding to God’s Call to Write.” It’s been in print for 28 years, and almost weekly I hear from someone it has blessed. It sells for $10 on my website, but I’m cutting the price to $7 (half of the $13.99 Amazon price) plus $3 shipping. Click here to order.

Write His Answer is not just a book to read and put down . . . I keep my copy close to my manuscript and journals, dog-eared and tattered from use. I purchased the original version years ago at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference when I had no idea how to begin a writing ministry. Although I’m excited about getting the new edition, my first copy filled with personal notes is simply irreplaceable. More than a devotional or a “how-to-and-continue-on” manual, Write His Answer is written by a woman who knows the heart of God and the heart of a writer. This has been a rich resource to encourage and challenge me to respond and remain faithful to God’s call and use His Word as my guidance for every page.
This is a classic . . . for keeps. ~ Verna Bowman

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groundhog 1 mo free trial AdobeStock_89990419.jpeg
Brian E. Kushner / stock.adobe.com

I don’t remember whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow two weeks ago. It really doesn’t matter since he doesn’t have a strong track record of being accurate. Still, I can hope spring is on the way even though right now half of the U.S. is gripped in an Arctic blast. A Google search says the spring equinox that marks the astronomical first day of spring doesn’t happen until March 19. I just have to wait, but at least I have a date!

Christians called to “Write His Answer” often feel stuck in a deep freeze with no date or assurance it will end. But instead of burrowing under the blanket of discouragement, we need to brave the cold. (Yes, these snowdrops really are blooming in my garden.) We need to keep writing and keep trusting that God will enable our work to get in print in His perfect timing.

As we wait, we also need to ponder what’s most important. Is it getting our name in print, especially on the cover of a book, or the journey of how we get there? Are our lives, not just our words, bearing fruit?

Bearing Fruit

A Bible Study Based on John 15:1-5; Colossians 2:7; 
Galatians 5:22-23; Jeremiah 17:7-8

Fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

LOVE – He loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

  • Do I love my readers?
  • Is love my motivating force?
  • How much of myself do I give them?
  • What about loving my editors, especially the ones who reject my manuscript?
  • Loving people who make demands on my time, who take me from my work?

JOY – For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

  • Is my joy dependent on acceptances, praise, success?
  • Do I rejoice in taking up my cross (Mark 8:34-35), or look for easier ways to serve the Lord?

PEACE –  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27 NIV).
We never see Jesus uptight even when demands on him were so great that “he couldn’t even find time to eat” (Mark 3:20 TLB). See also Colossians 3:15.

  • Do I have his peace when I’m interrupted?
  • When I’m facing a deadline or blank computer screen?
  • When doors do not open for my work?

PATIENCE – Think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him (Hebrews 12:3 TLB); his patience on the night he was betrayed when even his disciples  did not yet understand who he was (see John 14:4-11).

  • Am I learning to wait patiently on the Lord?
  • How patient am I with editors, family members, myself?

KINDNESS – Because of his kindness you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8 TLB).

  • Do people (editors, family, friends) see Christ in me?
  • Am I gracious?

GOODNESS – He went around doing good  (Acts 10:38 TLB).
Greek – agathos describes that which “being good in its character . . . is beneficial in its effect.”*

  • Is my writing benefiting my readers?
  • How can I “do good” with my writing?

FAITHFULNESS – He has enriched us, gifted us, strengthened us, called us, and is faithful (see 1 Corinthians 1:5-9).

  • Am I being faithful to him?
  • Am I using the gifts he has given me?

GENTLENESS – I am gentle and humble” (Matthew 11:29 TLB).
Greek – meekness, prautes: closely linked with humility, a fruit of power not weakness,not fighting against God, the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.*

  • Have I argued with the Lord lately?
  • Am I on an ego trip?

SELF CONTROL – Jesus responded. He did not react. He was always in control of his feelings, words, actions (see Mark 3).

  • How much self-control did I exercise the last time something or someone irritated me?
  • What about my self-discipline?
  • Do I daily relinquish control of my life to the Lord?

*From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

Online registration is open for the May 13-16 Colorado conference.

Over half of the faculty is in place for the July 22-25 Philly conference. Now a full three days plus an opening keynote Wednesday evening by Liz Curtis Higgs. Registration will open April 1.

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It’s been a challenging week! That’s not surprising when I’m working on the Colorado or Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

For more than 20 years I’ve been typesetting the 16-page conference brochures on Quark, a desktop publishing program similar to InDesign. Since I write the copy to fit, it’s not a job I can delegate. And really it’s a task I enjoy – that is, when I don’t encounter problems.

Perhaps my joy (okay, pride) in opening registration four days early for the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference was why typesetting the brochure was more difficult than usual.

I’ve got a laptop with a huge hard drive and lots of memory, but clicking on the over 50 text boxes in the two pages below was laborious. I clicked and clicked. When a box finally opened, I couldn’t find the cursor. It was taking forever just to typeset these two pages, and I still had another 14 pages to finish!

The above does not include our keynoters or continuing session and clinic instructors. You can see who they are at https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Finally ready to send to the printer

Wednesday afternoon, two days later than I had planned, I finally uploaded the brochure to the printer, or rather I tried to upload it. Can you imagine my dismay when I kept getting the message, “The file appears to be corrupted”?

Three hours and two calls to the printer later, I was assured they had the file and everything was fine. But the next day I got an email that they did not have the file. Would I “please upload it again.”

Unbelievably, Friday morning they called. Yes, same message! But now they admitted the problem was on their end. They said they would expedite the printing so I’d have the brochures in time for the February 22, Writers on the Rock conference. (If you live in Colorado or Wyoming, click here for info on this great one-day learning experience.)

I was more than ready to move on to the next thing I needed to get done that I hoped wouldn’t be another challenge. No such luck. (Well, luck has nothing to do with any of this. I am so beyond my own abilities and dependent on Father’s enabling.)

Facing another challenge

Again I faced not one but two challenges. I tried and tried to get the workshop grids posted on the website so they were readable. After hours of no success, exasperated, and at the “end of my rope,” I blogged “When you think you can’t . . .” promises from God’s Word. But I confess, I did give up (temporarily) and move on to the next thing on my never-ending to-do list.

Again, technology had me stumped and frustrated. After typesetting the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer below in Quark, I couldn’t create the needed PDF to send them to the printer. I tried to find answers in the 450+ page manual. I did multiple Google searches. Even got a Just Answer tech. He tried everything he knew and said, “You need to contact Quark.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Poster-and-TW-CO-2020-Teens-Write-CO-2018-2.png

I found a Quark tech online. Turns out my 2018 version of Quark is not compatible with the latest Windows 10 update. What? It was when I purchased it a year ago. The 2015 version that I typically use had created the needed PDF for the conference brochure. (The learning curve for the later version is so daunting that I rarely use it, but for some reason I couldn’t get the file I needed to update for the poster and Teens Write to load in 2015.) I couldn’t move the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer I created in the 2018 version to the 2015 program. I was stuck! (Yes, this is getting complicated. Stick with me, please.)

While I was relieved to know it wasn’t my lack of computer know-how, I wasn’t thrilled with the need to purchase an upgrade. And, of course, I encountered issues getting the upgrade to work! Again, I needed tech help, but PTL Quark included a full year of free support.

It was another long and exhausting day. I didn’t get near as much done as I had hoped to accomplish.

I’m so grateful Father helped me to persevere when the evil one tried to convince me that I had hit a brick wall
that I was not smart enough
or strong enough
or young enough to scale.

What about you?

While hopefully you’re not encountering the technical challenges that are so often a part of my experience, I know you face other challenges. The blank computer screen can be intimidating. Writing for the Lord isn’t easy. None of us will ever fully master the craft or understand all the intricacies of grammar and punctuation. And building a platform and finding a publisher are daunting tasks.

I’m often reminded of the challenges Solomon faced when his father commissioned him to build the Temple. I cling to the Lord and to the words He gave David to speak to his son – and to me and to you:

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

I know I’ll continue to face challenges, but God’s love and mercy never fail. PTL the new version of Quark is more user-friendly and isn’t hanging up. And now I’m able to create readable images directly from Quark. Hurrah!

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Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, but I confess it’s often sadly lacking in my life. Especially when it comes to learning new technology (or trying to), patience is not something I possess. Knowing that patience grows through testing, I admit that I avoid praying for patience. It’s easier to simply give up!

Hasn’t the technology that is part of day-to-day living gotten ridiculously complicated? I got a new smart phone, but it makes me feel dumb! I purchased a book (of course, since I’m a writer). But seriously, did I really think I would take the time to read 697 pages? iPhone the missing manual does have a good index and lots of illustrations, but I’m impatient. I don’t want to take time to study a manual. I want to immediately be able to use my iphone. After all, it’s supposed to be “intuitive.” Well, maybe for some.

Then there’s the daily challenge of wrestling with my computer. Instead of thanking God for all it enables me to do, I waste valuable time grumbling when I could and should be tackling the learning curve.

But today I made up my mind to stop moaning and groaning about HTML, HyperText Markup Language. It’s known as “the most basic building block of the Web.” Just the name makes me feel hyper, but it’s something I’ve known I need to learn to more effectively manage my four websites. So today I finally got started on a Udemy course, “HTML, CSS, Bootstrap.” It took some searching because I purchased it over a year ago. (Yes, I also struggle with procrastination!)

Amazingly I somehow had the patience to get through the first 14 lessons. (I didn’t pray for patience, but I did ask Father to “Please show me how to do this.) I’ve still got much to learn, but it was enough to enable me to copy, paste, and revise some bootstrap code (something else I need to learn) in the website for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

It took all afternoon, but I’ve now got bootstrap working to display two photos and text on the top of the Continuing Session page that will adjust to all different size screens. Thank You, Father!

Like a kid in a candy store or with a new toy, I’m revising the bootstrap code to add pictures throughout the website. Check out the Continuing Sessions page by clicking here. The eight sessions are all in place and I’m excited. (The link is not yet available through the menu at the top of the page. That’s a challenge for another day!)

The learning curve is not just something I need to grin and bear when I’m dealing with technology. It’s a key to my growth in all areas of my life – personally, professionally, and spiritually.

Study [learn and keep learning]
to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

For those who seek to serve the Lord through the ministry of writing there is also a learning curve. And it can feel really steep. That’s why we need to “encourage each other to build each other up” (1 Thess. 5:11 TLB). And it’s why I’m directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the 24th year and the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference for the 37th year. Someone has said they are the equivalent of a semester’s course in college. I doubt my first book would have ever gotten in print had my pastor not sent me to the St. Davids’ Christian Writers Conference over 40 years ago.

Father, You know how easy it is to get frustrated and discouraged by the learning curve. Forgive us, forgive me, when I grumble rather than trust You to help me do what feels impossible. You are so faithful!

What difficult task, that you’ve been putting off, do you need to tackle?

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I used to think deadlines were exciting! Seriously! I loved the five years I worked in an editorial office – including the deadlines. Of course, my co-workers thought I was strange.

I guess I’ve grown up (well, I’ve certainly aged) because today deadlines and their accompanying time pressures are anything but exciting. I needed to re-read (and re-apply) what I wrote 27 years ago in Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers.

to produce, to perform,
to be more and do more
than is realistic or possible.

demanding my attention,
pulling me in multiple directions,
creating guilt
as I fail to properly order them.

Yet praise
my God knows and understands.
He promises peace in the midst,
and teaches me how to rest in Him.

How about you? Are you tugged in so many directions you’re not sure what to do first. It’s a tactic the evil one uses to distract us from doing what is most important. If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to order the little booklet, Tyranny of the Urgent. You’ll find it on Amazon for only $1.99.

If time pressures are preventing you from registering for the August 8-10 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, I want to encourage you to ask Father how He wants to rearrange your schedule so you can come. I know it will be a life-changing conference. Although walk-ins are welcome, the price increases by $10 August 1 and meal tickets will no longer be available. So don’t procrastinate!

Here are the seven workshops you can choose from on Friday, August 9, from 5:00 – 6:00.

Michael Gantt did not have an ideal childhood. Anything but! Yet I have no doubt God used the heartaches he experienced to make him not just sensitive to the needs of others but determined to be used by God to make a difference. (His friends in Kenya and the students at the Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf will agree.) His workshop will challenge and equip you to write out of your broken heart.

Edwina Perkins came as a conferee to GPCWC many years ago. She is now the Managing Editor of Harambee Press, the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas imprint for ethnic voices. She is also an award-winning writer, speaker, freelance editor, and treasured friend. Her workshop will help you discover and develop your writer’s voice.

Susan Baganz Lodwick is an editor with Pelican Book Group specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. She is the author of 16 romance novels (contemporary and historical, and romantic suspense) and Ben Lodwick’s bride of seven months. You’ll meet the newlyweds at GPCWC. Needless to say, this is one of her favorite workshops to teach.

Catherine DeVries has been with us in the past. We’re delighted to have her back in her new position as Publisher, Kregel Publications. With 25 years of experience in the Christian publishing industry, and as the author of 25 books, Catherine knows the publishing world. Most important she knows the Lord. Her workshop, “Theological Accuracy in Nonfiction,” will provide examples of how errors can creep into publications due to lack of theological attention.

Linda Glaz is an agent with Hartline Literary Agency and is with us for the first, but I’m certain not the last time. She understands writers because she IS a writer. Linda served in the Air Force at a time when it wasn’t exactly politically correct for a woman, blazing many firsts for women in the military. She has taught karate and self-defense for 30 years and was a national instructor and referee for the largest soccer youth group in the US for 25 years. You’re going to enjoy this lady who isn’t afraid to try something new.

Patricia Durgin hasn’t been with us for several years so I’m delighted to have her back. Cec Murphey introduced us many years ago, and I’m so glad he did. Patricia’s Marketers On A Mission is a Facebook Live program for Christian writers and speakers. To date she has done over 250 hour-long interviews. In this workshop you’ll discover if you have what it takes to host a FB Live program. You’ll also learn five elements of a successful program and leave with a FB Live Action Plan.

Michelle Lazurek is an Associate Literary Agent with WordWise Media Service. She is also a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and writing coach. When she’s not too busy juggling all her responsibilities, she also comes to the critique group that meets in my home. Michelle says, “Many people want to write for children. but how do you write engaging content that not only tells a story but also keeps a young audience engaged despite the instant gratification world in which we live?”

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Thank You, Father, that the answers we need are in Your Word. Help us not to believe the lies of the evil one but to live in faith and not fear because we know You love us and we know we can trust Your promises. And thank You, Father, that you do not edit my run-on and grammatically needy sentences!

Yes, this was published in 1983. And yes, I needed to read it again! Click here for a more readable PDF.

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Guest post
Stacy Lee Flury

Here we are, another year gone by and the August 8-10 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference is now upon us. So much has transpired since last year. My book was finally written and in the editing stages. I felt excited about what God was doing. I was inspired and encouraged. Then my life changed.

By the end of summer last year, my husband and I had to declare bankruptcy on our business and house. We had to pack up sixty years of generational memories and items within a month and move them into an apartment rental that accepted two dogs and two cats. Very hard to do.

Moving day included an unexpected snowstorm as well as a 26-foot truck hitting one of our cars and ripping the whole front bumper off. By the time settlement came for the sale of the house and what little we received from it, I was left stressed and wanting to give up on everything–including my book.

My heart to write was crushed. I had no energy, will, or passion to continue. I was, in fact, overwhelmed with boxes from the move; animals in high anxiety; and a daughter who struggled with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and was very pregnant. I don’t know who cried more in those difficult and tumultuous days.

Thinking our nightmare was over, we were informed that we were going to be sued over a payout sheet that was incorrect by the mortgage company. Mind you, we had already settled and been left with basically nothing from the sale/bankruptcy of our house.

My job was far away, and we had one car between three people. Then we had an infestation of ants in our new apartment, a broken tooth with no dental insurance, and so much more. Mind you, all the time I was going through this, God was using every emotion that I was feeling.

You see, I wrote a devotional book called Turn the Tide of Emotional Turbulence: Devotions for Parents with Teens in Crisis. Never did I realize that those same emotions I traveled through as a parent would be highlighted once again in my life.  

Sometimes we want to give up, but the Lord really wants us to give in. When I finally did, the ants went moving along, our kitties and doggies were calmer, I did less crying and more praying, and we were blessed with a donated car. We will most likely get more money back from the mortgage company, and the cost of publishing my book was paid for with not one penny out of my pocket. To top it all off, my chapters are more fine-tuned to what God wanted to say.

So, if you are in a place in which you want to throw in the towel in your writing, throw yourself on the floor instead and ask God what He wants to do. He is not finished with His story in you. He could be just adding another chapter.

I want to encourage you to register for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I guarantee you will find many other aspiring writers at the conference who also have encountered thoughts of giving up. Yet, they will be there, taking a step of faith that God will see them through their writing trials.

But as for you, be strong and do not give up,
for your work will be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

Stacy Lee Flury blogs at Anchor of Promise, a support and education blog for parents with hurting and troubled teens.

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