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Archive for the ‘Writer’s Life’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 16 cover

page 1 markets

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

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

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

1 Chronicles 16:11 MSG

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

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

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

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

Agent p2 WEBSITE CHARTS 6.7.18

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

HART Agent

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

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

Galatians 6:9 TLB

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

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

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

I got discouraged and gave up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m reminded of Jesus’ words:

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

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

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

Page 16 cover

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe God can use you?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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beth-patch-900x750 2018

Guest post
Beth Patch
Senior Producer
Internet Acquisitions Editor
CBN.com

In my daily content production for CBN.com, I am grateful for writers who take their craft seriously enough to go to a writers conference. Usually, their approach to getting published and the submissions I receive from them have an edge of professionalism. They get plugged in to good writing practices and with other writers whose shared experiences help them. It’s a win-win situation and worth every penny.

I particularly enjoy it when a writer brings an example or two of their writing for me to read while we meet in a 15-minute editor appointment. I love being able to give feedback and encouragement. I’m only allowed to choose “accept” or “reject” when I receive submissions at the office, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to elaborate.

No academic track will expose a person to the heart of the writing industry like a writer’s conference. Not only do you get educational workshops to help you become a better writer, you get a chance to meet editors, agents, and publishers who you’d only meet through an impersonal email exchange at best. These professionals come to the conference with the same goal as the conferees: publish quality writing.


Beth is on faculty at the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and available for one-on-one appointments.

She is teaching a Wednesday early bird workshop, “Devoted to You.” In this entry-level devotion-writing workshop you’ll learn the four basic elements needed for writing an inspirational devotion and tips on self-editing, story development, focus, and following guidelines.

On Saturday afternoon Beth is teaching a workshop on “Writing for CBN.com.” Each week over 2 million pages are opened on the site. Learn what types of content CBN.com accepts for each section of the online magazine and your rights regarding content shared with CBN. For info on their editorial needs, visit Beth’s bio by clicking here. You’ll need to scroll down to the “Periodicals and Online Markets.”

Whether you’re going to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference May 16-19, the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference July 26-28 (I’m beginning to update the website in preparation for opening online registration May 1), or another conference, if you’re nervous about meeting with an editor you’re in good company. Most writers find that their hands get sweaty and their hearts begin to pound at the thought of meeting an editor face to face. But as with anything else, it gets easier through the doing—and through going into the experience prepared to “put your best foot forward.” How?

The Colorado website offers encouragement and practical help under the Appointments tab in the menu. You’ll find info on:

Appointment Procedures
Making the Best Appointment Choices
Preparing for Your Appointments

Trust in the LORD with all your heart.
Never rely on what you think you know.
Remember the LORD in everything you do,
and he will show you the right way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (TEV)

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reading newspaper pexels-photo-404976

Yes, I believe our writing is a ministry! But if we want to reach the most people possible with the message Father has entrusted to us, we can’t ignore the business aspect of our ministry. Especially when it comes to social media, we need to learn the most effective ways of connecting with our audience and with influencers.

So . . . below is some “news you can use” that will hopefully help you to expand your ministry. But one word of caution. Be careful to guard against getting so caught up with numbers and the world’s way of doing things that you leave the Lord out of the equation. He is able to make things happen that you could never do on your own.

God can pour on the blessings
in astonishing ways
so that you’re ready for anything and everything,
more than just ready to do what needs to be done.
2 Corinthians 9:8 MSG

The Ultimate Book Marketing Plan

Rob Eagar, www.startawildfire.com, announced: “I’m giving away an incredible new 10-part email course called the Ultimate Book Marketing Plan for FREE at Reedsy.com. Reedsy is a new global online marketplace for authors that I encourage you to visit. It’s like AirBnB or Angie’s List for the needs that authors face, such as finding a book cover designer, editor, or a marketer like me.

“This new email course officially launched January 26. You get to be one of the first authors to access it for free. It’s a perfect complement to the Ultimate Book Marketing Template that many of you have downloaded. Click here to take the free email course at Reedsy.”

A Writer’s Best Friend 

A helpful and humorous blog by author and literary agent Bob Hostetler about a tool every writer needs to use. I won’t tell you what it is. 🙂 You need to read Bob’s blog. Click the link above.

Connect with Influencers in Three Sentences

If you need to secure endorsements for your book, you need to read this helpful blog post from Mike Loomis who has served on the faculty of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors  

This blog post from Thomas Umstattd Jr. (another former CCWC faculty member) explains Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. One important change: “Reactions (like laugh, heart, and crying face) are now weighted more than likes. So if somebody gives you a heart emoji, that’s more than if they just give you a regular thumbs up.” Let’s remember to do this when responding to posts of those who need our support.

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Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
when my heart is in turmoil,
quiet me and give me
renewed hope and cheer.
Psalm 94:19 TLB

You try, really try to be positive, to not doubt your ability or your call.

You affirm His promises. “He is able to do far more . . .”

But you may be feeling stuck – blocked. Words are not flowing. You may fear that your creativity has dried up.

And you feel alone. Friends and family who are not writers don’t “get” you. Why do you keep banging your head against a blank computer screen or tossing it (the screen, not your head!) out the window?

computer airbag 781

(Used with permission.)

Yes, writing is a lonely task. And yes, disappointments, doubts, discouragement (the “Deadly Ds”) will nip at your heels. But I’ve searched the Scriptures. Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him. And it is definitely not easy to “write His answer” to those who are lost and so wounded by life they want to give up.

But I believe, really believe, that God can use the words you write to impact lives now and for eternity. That’s why, despite the disappointments, doubts, and discouragement I also face, I choose to affirm my call

to encourage and equip you
to write about a God who is real,
who is reachable,
and who changes lives.

It’s why I said yes to direct the Write to Impact Lives Conference February 9-10 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and why I didn’t cancel the conference when the sponsoring organization had to back out. The workload has been daunting in the midst of also planning the May 16-19 Colorado and July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers ConferenceBut I’m praising God that the 16-page brochure for the Colorado conference is at the printer a week earlier than last year! Amazing, but then we serve an amazing God!

I know it’s been a cold winter, and it’s tempting to stay warm in your cozy home rather than venture out to a February conference. And I know budgets are tight, and it may seem wiser to save your money for a conference where you can pitch your ideas and manuscripts to editors and agents.

But the Write to Impact Lives Conference is about sharpening your writing and marketing skills so you will be better prepared to create interest in your work at future conferences. And it’s about fellowship with other writers and the encouragement we need to receive and to give.

I believe Father is asking me to “sweeten the deal” and give you “more bang for your buck.” My words, not His! And so, for new registrants and those who have already registered, I’m including three books that support the purpose of this conference.

New WHA cover

 

My Bible study for writers that addresses the struggles we face and must overcome.

Communicate Change Lives

 

Jim Watkins’ book that I believe every Christian writer needs to read.

CWMG 2018
The info you need to find markets for your work as well as literary agents, writers conferences and seminars, writers groups, editorial services, publicity and marketing services, and contests.

The three books sell for $44.97 on Amazon ($37.99 through the Write His Answer Bookstore), but if you register for the entire conference, you will receive them free of charge (or the equivalent value in other books we’ll have for sale).

The price increases February 1 so don’t delay. Again, please do not let the cost prevent you from coming. Ask Father to make the way possible. If friends, family, or your church are unable to help, email me (mbagnull@aol.com) or call me (484-991-8581) to request scholarship help or time payments.

Click here for more information and to register for a conference that will help you not to feel alone, strengthen your call, and equip you to write to impact lives.

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Faith rocks no backgroundSo don’t lose a minute in building
on what you’ve been given,
complementing your basic faith with
good character,
spiritual understanding,
alert discipline,
passionate patience,
reverent wonder,
warm friendliness,
and generous love,
each dimension fitting into
and developing the others.

2 Peter 1:5-7 MSG

Where are you at in your faith walk? Are you on a growing edge spiritually, or just kind of going through the motions?

 See that you go on growing in the Lord,
and become strong and vigorous
in the truth you were taught.
Colossians 2:7 TLB

Scripture also says, “Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? Do you feel Christ’s presence and power more and more within you?” (2 Cor. 13:5 TLB)

These are tough questions. Important questions, especially if you have been called to “write His answer.”

I’m praying you will take a day and a half apart from your normal routine to gather with other Christian writers at the new Write to Impact Lives Conference, February 9-10 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. You’ll learn tons and make new friends. Most important of all, together we will be encouraged to go deeper in our walk with the Lord. Then, and only then, can we expect to “write so that eternity will be different.”

Those were the words my writing paper, Lee Roddy, used to challenge me and countless others through his many years of ministry. He’s now home with the Lord, but I know He is cheering me and you on.

Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
Hosea 6:3 TLB

The price for the conference increases February 1, but please do not let the cost prevent you from coming. Ask Father to make the way possible. If friends, family, or your church are unable to help, ask me for scholarship help or time payments. Click here for more information and to register.

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Barb Haley apr 2016 croppedGuest blog from Barb Haley

Have you EVER done something impulsive and been SO GLAD afterward?

Years ago, I decided, on the spur of the moment, to attend a 3-day Christian writers’ conference.

I had nothing ready. I just wanted to learn how to write.

I wanted to run my ideas past seasoned authors and editors. I wanted someone to recommend the best books on the craft.  I wanted to meet writing friends I could stay in touch with between conferences. And, most of all, I wanted to know, for sure, that God was calling me to write.

Did I have to scrape to find enough money to cover my expenses? Sure. We had two kids in college at the time and normal family expenses. But my husband encouraged me to take a leap of faith, and I’ve never regretted it!

My first surprise was that every conference day began with worship and praise. In fact, that’s when I relaxed and realized I was at home with other believers. We were all at various levels of our writing journey, but it never mattered. The subject rarely even came up. And my meeting with faculty members? Wow. I learned SO much and headed home excited to apply all the information I’d gleaned.

Now, I want to encourage you to follow my lead! Click below to sign up for Write to Impact Lives Conference in Lansdale, PA, on Friday and Saturday, February 9-10.

http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/writetoimpactlivesnewconference

This shorter conference with a smaller faculty offers all the things I looked for at my first conference, but at a reduced price. Teaching tracks include Indie Publishing, Fiction, Nonfiction and Marketing. You also have the opportunity to meet individually with faculty members for twenty-minute sessions. Plenty of praise and worship. Fellowship with other writers. A great assortment of craft books and books written by faculty and conferees. Oh, and a lot of laughs!

God has given us each a specific message to carry to our world.

Will you do it? Trust me, you’ll never regret it. I’ll be there, and I hope to meet you, hug your neck, and support you in every way possible!

Blessings!

Barb Haley
Registrar – Write to Impact Lives Conference
haleybarb@yahoo.com

P.S. Please feel free to write if you have any questions.

And a P.S. from Marlene:

Barb continues to learn the craft of writing and I am so proud of her. Her latest books:

Lord Get Your Needle

 

Barb Christmas devotional

 

 

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