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Overcoming

Overcoming my disappointment in needing to postpone this year’s Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference because of the pandemic has been difficult. I had such exciting plans for our 37th year of ministry.

In case you missed my Facebook posts this week, I’ve offered several MP3s from last year free of charge. You can download them at https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2019Mp3s. While there, I hope you’ll decide to purchase the entire conference at a savings of 37%. Individual workshops can also be downloaded at 37% off.

Debbie Maxwell Allen taught a Thursday afternoon early bird workshop (T1) on Practical Productivity. She says, “If the lure of laundry, the fear of the blank page, or the siren song of social media stops you from writing, learn ten ways to write more, write better, and quash your inner editor.”

Last year Michael Gantt gave the opening keynote. Cry Mercy is a powerful message as is his book with the same title. It is also available for you to listen to free of charge. I encourage you to visit his website at https://mkgantt.com. Michael is speaking and writing His answer.

Last year Peter Lundell keynoted Saturday morning on Your Voice in a Hostile Climate. His message is needed even more today. Peter said, “In a society that is increasingly deceived and divided, our calling is to write in the opposite spirit. What does this mean, and how do we effectively and consistently do it?”

The need to overcome disappointments and problems big and small isn’t new to the pandemic. Below is a column I wrote for the October 1982 Christian Writer.

~*~*~*~

As I write [wrote] this month’s column, I’m waiting for the ophthalmologist to call. My little boy has an infection around his eye that’s already depleted half our savings for vacation. My two older children are less than sympathetic. It’s a blistering July day and they want to go swimming. I have a bad cold and sinus headache. My husband’s overtime has been cut. My best friend is angry with me.

The list could go on and on. I’m grateful that none of these current problems is serious. I’ve also experienced more threatening problems in various forms – health, financial, family, inter-personal. I am learning, however, that God is faithful and that He does work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

I believe one of the ways God works problems for good is His enabling me to write about them so others may be helped and encouraged. This process begins by my writing my way through the problem. I do this in the form of a prayer diary. When I’m anxious or upset, its often difficult for me to pray. My thoughts keep wandering. I’ve discovered I can pray more effectively on paper. I also find that my prayer diary is invaluable later when I’m ready to write for publication and need to get back in touch with my feelings.

The readiness factor is important when it comes to writing personal experience pieces for publication. Writing through problems may be personally helpful as therapy, but rarely does it produce a salable manuscript. It’s only as I stand back and allow God to work in my life that I have the insights needed to make my experience helpful others. It is imperative that I remember I’m writing for them – not for myself. Their needs must be kept uppermost in my mind.

A ministry of writing from personal experience is not easy. I can’t go to the library one day and write my article or story the next. Instead I must stay close to God and look for the truths He reveals through both the minor irritations and serious problems of day-to-day living. Often they are discovered only in retrosect. Regardless, I must face life with the question, “How can I be an overcomer?”

Choosing to be an overcomer means I cannot ignore or suppress my feelings. I can’t tell myself or others that I’m fine when I really don’t feel fine. I must face my feeings and the probems that bring them about.

Being an overcoming also means I can’t become so introspective that I constantly dwell on my problems. If I do, I’m apt to convince myself I can’t cope. Sadly, those thoughts tend to become reality.

Instead, being an overcomer means recognizing, working through, and rising above my problems. It sounds good, but how do I do it? I don’t claim to have “arrived,” but I have found the following to be helpful.

Keep a balanced perspective.
The best way to do this is to heed the biblical principle that says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8 TLB). It takes self-discipline to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, which is the first step toward helping yourself and others get a handle on problems. Life is never all black. You can always find something to be thankful for, even if it’s just remembering that someone else’s problems are worse than your own.

Turn your eyes on Jesus.
If you’ll look to His cross and see the victory He won there for you, you’ll know that nothing need defeat you.

Tell the Lord your honest feelings and share your needs with Him.
It is only as I am completely honest before the Lord that I am able to find and share His answers.

Look for the good things God can teach you through the problem you’re enduring.
This is a crucial point for us as writers. We must learn to be constantly asking the question, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?” The lessons learned in life’s crucible produce the most powerful writing.

Be still.
We’re often like little children, angry and frustrated because we can’t make something work, but unwilling to be quiet for even a minute to listen to our Father’s instructions. God doesn’t hit us over the head with His promises, any more than we should preach at our readers. God waits for us to be still and listen. We capture our reader’s attention by the credibility and sensitivity of our words.

Choose to use problems as opportunities to experience and display God’s power.
“Why does God comfort and strengthen us in our hardships and trials?” the apostle Paul asked. It is “so that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1: 4 TLB).

Develop an expectant, faith-filled attitude
as you learn to wait on God and praise Him before as well as after He answers. One of the best personal experience stories I’ve written was open-ended (although I don’t recommend this approach). It was about a serious financial crisis we were still in. It concluded with the words, “There is something about the inner peace – even joy – that I’m experiencing that is worth it all.”

Today, tomorrow, next week – life is going to confront us with problems, but we can learn to be overcomers. Like the apostle Paul, we can write living letters that will show, from our personal experience, the difference Jesus Christ makes.

~*~*~*~

I encourage you to ask Father is there is a personal experience He wants you to write about. My latest book (see below) is available through the end of July at 37% off because this would have been the 37th year of ministry for GPCWC. Click here to order an autographed copy from me or order from Amazon.com.

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?

My Testimony

Two huge silver maples towered over the house in Chicago where I grew up. I remember sitting on my front porch looking up into those enormous trees and thinking about God. Instinctively, I knew He created everything, including me. I sensed He had a plan for my life, and I longed to discover what it might be. But He seemed far away and unapproachable. With a mixture of fear and awe I would pray to Him. Sometimes, when the breeze rustled through the leaves of my trees, I’d imagine He was whispering to me. If only I knew what He was saying – if only I knew Him.

My mother took me to Sunday school and church every week. My father wouldn’t go. He said he didn’t believe in God. That made me sad and frightened me, too. Although there was a lot I didn’t understand in the sermons our pastor preached, I knew my father couldn’t ignore God and hope to go to heaven.

The night my father died was terrifying. I felt as if he had been swallowed by a deep black hole. That blackness threatened to engulf me, too. I dreaded going to bed at night and facing the nightmares that always came. But the days weren’t much easier, especially when my mother remarried and we moved away from the home where I had always lived and from my two special trees.

“Your sister would like you to come for a visit,” Mother said one day. I hadn’t seen my half sister in years, but Mother was insistent. “She has another baby coming and needs your help.” And so the summer of my fourteenth year I spent in St. Louis. In ways I could never have anticipated, God’s plan for my life began to unfold.

Diane and Joe were devout Catholics. Every night they said bedtime prayers with their children. They prayed before each meal and attended mass several times a week. In my church the emphasis had always been on the empty cross and the risen Lord, but in their home and church Jesus was nailed to the cross.

One night, reading one of their children’s catechism books, I fell face down on the floor sobbing. I thanked Jesus for dying for me and asked Him to forgive me for my sins and to come into my heart.

When I returned home, I began reading the New Testament and attending my church’s youth group. The more I learned about Jesus, the more I wanted to tell others about Him. So I decided I would become a missionary evangelist. But something was wrong. I could picture myself proclaiming the Gospel to people in faraway lands, but I didn’t have the courage to witness to my schoolmates.

If only I could be like Billy Graham, I thought. I admired him so much and was thrilled when my youth group decided to go to the crusade he was holding at Wheaton College in the early 1960s. His message was compelling – and convicting. I knew I needed to go forward and publicly proclaim my faith in Jesus. But what would the kids I had come with think? I didn’t leap out of my seat and run down the aisle. But I did go forward, and that decision changed my life.

Truly, “his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB). Although I never became a missionary or even went on to college after the disappointment of not being accepted when I applied to Wheaton College, thirty years later I walked past that stadium on Wheaton’s campus where I publicly said yes to Christ’s Lordship over my life. The next day I had the privilege of teaching a workshop on writing inspirational articles for the Christian Writers Institute being held on the college campus.

God has indeed called me to be a missionary – a literature missionary! My work has appeared in hundreds of periodicals and even has been read on the radio in India. I’ve published twelve books and experienced the joy of publishing books for other writers through my small house, Ampelos Press.

For 36 years I’ve directed the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference that I founded. And since 1997 I’ve been directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

Although this year the coronavirus has made it impossible to hold the conferences, I am committed to keep on keeping on with the work He has called me to do of encouraging and equipping you to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives. May He bless you and your writing and keep you safe.

~ * ~ *~

Because of the heat wave, I worked inside today and cleaned files. I found a version of the above testimony that I wrote about 25 years ago. I’m disappointed I didn’t find it before I published my latest book, How to Write His Answer – Testimonies and Personal Experience Stories, several days ago. The book includes links to 4 hours of audio workshops and can be ordered through my website, https://www.writehisanswer.com, or Amazon.com. I know it will encourage you to write not only your salvation testimony but powerful stories that will impact your readers in life-changing ways.

Because next week would have been the 37th year of ministry for the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, I’ve reduced the price 37% through the end of July. (The reduced price is now available on Amazon.)

There are a few things wrong with the above photo.

  1. I do NOT like to run.
  2. My arthritic knees would send me sprawling on my face if I even tried to run.
  3. I am not and never have been this thin.
  4. There are many who run [write] faster than I do.

But . . .

In 1983 Father called me to launch the Greater Philly Christian Writers Fellowship and direct our first event. Back then it was a one-day seminar with one speaker. Never did I imagine it would grow to be a 3.5 day conference with a faculty each year of over 50 authors, editors, agents, and other professionals.

And never did I imagine it and the Colorado Christian Writers Conference that I began directing in 1997 would both have to be postponed this year because of a pandemic.

Oh yes, I stressed over the time pressures in getting ready each spring and summer. And yes, I felt like I was constantly running (racing) from one task to the next with hardly enough time to catch my breath.

But each year when I stood to welcome everyone in the opening session, you would have seen me jumping for joy (if my knees allowed) and praising God for enabling me to persevere. Despite the huge obstacles I encountered with each conference, Father brought His scribes from the east and the west, the north and the south.

This spring and summer have felt so strange with no conference deadlines pressing in on me. Yes, I think I’ve finally caught my breath although I have kept busy. For the first time in many years I have vegetables growing in my garden although I’ve been fighting with the bunnies to not eat everything I’ve planted. The deer have been chomping on my lilies, and the squirrels have dug up almost all the bulbs I planted.

I’ve also kept busy editing over six books for others since the pandemic and finally (drum roll please) I have uploaded my latest book to kdp.amazon. I had hoped to have it ready the beginning of July but glitches with both Word and Quark slowed the process and tested my determination to persevere.

Who would have thought that adding one space after the title on Amazon’s book detail page would create the need for two phone calls to Amazon’s support (PTL they answer right away) and one to the ISBN folks at Bowker? Quark has again been quarky with menus disappearing, and I haven’t a clue why it created a first line indent that I didn’t request and couldn’t delete. Ah, yes, Father, another lesson in perseverance – and patience!

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

With the disappointment I’ve been feeling over missing the joy-filled fellowship on the mountain at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in May and knowing I won’t be seeing dear friends at the Philly conference that was scheduled for next week, I’ve wanted to do something special to encourage you to keep persevering as you strive to “write His answer.” (Oops – long sentence. Would anyone like to diagram it?)

So . . . two surprise gifts!

Liz Curtis Higgs was scheduled to keynote at this year’s Philly conference. She graciously recorded a short video to encourage you, and she is planning to be with us next year. Click here to view her message. Thank You, Father, for how Liz has persevered in serving You through the ministry of writing and speaking.

Second, the book I just uploaded to kdp.amazon, How to Write His Answer – Testimonies and Personal Experience Stories, I wrote for you. This 78 page book along with its links to FOUR audio workshops (237 minutes of instruction) will inspire you and give you practical tools to write stories that Father will use in Ephesians 3:20 ways. As Lee Roddy prayed for me and the class he taught at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference over 35 years ago, “Heaven will be different because of the words you write.”

Here’s just one of the nine endorsements it has received:

Few have the experience of Marlene Bagnull to teach writers and to give writers the tools they need to Write His Answer and to do it so well. These are practical items even experienced writers need reminding of, such as: have a clear focus, stay close to the Lord, search for truth, reflect (and journal) on your life experiences, stay humble, know your audiences—all of this to remind us that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus, are called to write His answer to those with so many questions. Written conversationally, this book invites you to take part in the work with a ready pen.

Eva Marie Everson
Bestselling & multiple award-winning author & speaker
President, Word Weavers International

With the conferences not happening this year, we’re facing financial challenges, so I’m sorry I can’t give you How to Write His Answer. But because this would have been the 37th Philly conference, for the month of July I’m reducing the $20.99 regular price by 37%. That makes the cost for the book plus the links to four audio workshops only $13.22. If you’re math challenged as I am, that’s a savings of $7.77. Wow! I hadn’t pre-calculated that, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Four 7’s – the number of days the Bible tells us God spent creating our world. While I can’t guarantee you’ll write your story or testimony in seven days, I fully expect Father will multiply many times over the number of people whose lives will be touched if you’ll persevere and get it in print. Click here to order an autographed copy from me or order from Amazon.com. Hopefully the reduced price will be available on Amazon tomorrow.

Father, thank You for the number of years You have blessed me with directing CCWC and GPCWC. Thank You for all the lives that have been changed by the words that have been written and published as a result of these 59 conferences. Help us not to miss the lessons You are seeking to teach us through these difficult days or fail to share them. By Your Spirit help us to deepen our commitment to “write Your answer” and to persevere.

What is the biggest obstacle you face in accomplishing what God has called you to do?

For me, it’s faith – or rather, to be honest, lack of faith.

Despite all the amazing things I have seen Him do, when faced with a new challenge, I still struggle to trust Him. Some mountains seem too big, too steep, too treacherous. It’s easier to question His call, to explain why I’m not the best person for the assignment, to suggest He choose someone else who is more qualified.

But then, I remember,

 You can never please God without faith, without depending on him.
Hebrews 11:6 (TLB)

I think of the exciting adventures I would have missed if I’d said no. More than that, I would have missed the lessons learned through needing to depend on Him. Most of all, I would have grieved the One who has been and is so faithful.

What mountain are you facing? How can I pray for you?

I know it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. I’ve wanted to, but to be honest I’ve felt empty.

There haven’t been words to express my grief over the lives that have been lost from covid-19 and my concern for the financial nightmare it has caused others.

At our daughter’s insistence, Paul and I have stayed isolated and safe. But life is anything but normal for anyone and perhaps will never be what it once was.

It was hard to postpone both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference until next year. I’ve kept busy editing books for other writers, working in my garden, and even cleaning my garage.

And, of course, I’ve been deeply troubled over the turmoil our nation is experiencing because of racial injustice. I have many black friends who I treasure. I hurt for them and for us all as our nation struggles to survive.

I’m reminded of the writing seminar I gave in a black church in July 2016 shortly after a policeman shot and killed a black man. I admit I felt anxious about how I would be received. I sought the Lord for what I should say to the black men and women who waited for me to begin speaking.

If ever the Lord has given me a word, I know He did that morning. I acknowledged the injustice of what had happened and its source. “Friends,” I said, “we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood but against principalities and powers that seek to destroy us.”  

Heads nodded. God’s presence was very real as I prayed that somehow we, His people, could live and write His answer.    

The love I felt for my black brothers and sisters and that they showed me was powerful. We were “one in the Spirit” as the hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” proclaims. Oh, how we need to live out that truth today.

Father, help us to not be afraid to confront the issues that are dividing us. Help us to listen to one another – really listen and seek to understand the anger, the hurt, and the fear behind the words. And help us to write wise words that open the door to honest dialogue that will bring understanding, healing, and peace. Bring us together at the foot of the Cross.

Make me truly happy by loving each other
and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,
working together with one heart and mind and purpose.
Philippians 2:2 (TLB)

We are all parts of one body, we have the same Spirit,
and we have all been called to the same glorious future.
Ephesians 4:4 (TLB)

If one member suffers, all suffer together.
1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)

I encourage you to prayerfully consider what three friends I greatly respect have written. All three have keynoted at my conferences.

Patricia Raybonhttps://www.patriciaraybon.com/finding-the-way-forward/

Jim Watkinshttps://mailchi.mp/5b54493fd8d1/imitation-of-christ-is-risen-today-james-n-watkins-5160069?e=58fcb76afe

Michael Gantthttps://mkgantt.com/snakes-do-what-snakes-do/

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.
James 3:17 (TLB)

Father, help us not forget those who have given their lives for our country and those who are presently serving in places near and far. You know the sacrifices they and their families make as well as how difficult it is to see a son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father cope with physical disability or PTSD.

Others are grieving the loss of a loved one from covid-19. When will this end, Father?

And then there are countless others who are battling cancer and other frightening conditions or are overwhelmed caring for a family member or close friend.

It’s not easy, Lord, but then You never promised life would be easy. But thank You that You have promised always to be with us.

Jesus said: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 TLB

If someone you love has cancer, or if you know of a caregiver who needs comfort and encouragement, this gift book will provide spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles. My good friend, Cec Murphey, who cared for his wife as she battled cancer, has given Write His Answer Ministries a box of these beautiful full-color gift books. Only $7. Click here to order.

Let him have all your worries and cares,
for he is always thinking about you
and watching everything that concerns you.

1 Peter 5:7 (TLB)

Ten and a half years ago we moved to Lansdale, Pennsylvania. As someone has said, “I could write a book” about all ways I saw God at work. The blessing of being within walking distance of our three grandkids on half an acre of land where I can play in the dirt is a dream come true. Sadly my arthritic knees no longer allow me to do much walking, and it’s getting harder to keep 23 garden plots weeded. Yes, I really do have 23 gardens!

Because the coronavirus forced me to cancel the Colorado Christian Writers Conference that would have been held last week, I’ve been able to get my vegetable gardens planted early. Now if only the bunnies and deer do not eat everything . . .

I would have gotten home from Colorado very early this morning. As I’ve often said, I would have hit the ground running because the Philly conference would be just a little over two months away. But not this year! 🙁

After directing the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference for 36 years, I’ve had to make the very difficult decision to also postpone the Philly conference to 2021. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where I live and where the conference is held, is in lockdown until June 4. Even after (if) that is lifted, my daughter who is a doctor says we will still need to stay at home because my husband and I are high risk. And sadly, some of our faculty and conferees who come each year are also high risk. The bottom line – I don’t see how several hundred people can safely distance.

I probably won’t have a date for 2021 until January. My first choice date is July 28-31. Other options are July 21-24 or August 4-7. I hope you’ll pencil them in on your calendar as I have asked the faculty who were planning to come this year to do.

I hope to offer some online clinics this summer. Meanwhile, I want to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to increase your writing and marketing skills through this HALF-PRICE SPECIAL for MP3s of the 2019 Philly conference.

Download the entire conference(75 sessions)
$262 value!

GPCWC alumni from any year
Only $77 now $38

Non-conferees – $107 now $53

OR

One to six sessions – $4.00 now $2.00 each
Seven or more sessions – $3.50 now $1.75 each

Offer good through May 30

PA residents add 6% sales tax
Price includes handouts if faculty provided them

Available immediately for download https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2019mp3s

Send check payable to GPCWC to
951 Anders Road
Lansdale, PA 19446
OR
Send payment via PayPal to mbagnull@aol.com

Father, You know the heartache so many are experiencing because of this pandemic that has taken the lives of loved ones and has resulted in the loss of so many jobs. Please give us words to comfort, encourage, and turn hearts to You. Help us not to miss the ways You are “blessing our nest.”

Whether you’ve come to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in the past or had hoped to come this year, please join me in experiencing CCWC through the photos below. I also want to encourage you to take advantage of the half price special for last year’s CDs available through this coming Sunday, May 17. You’ll find the order form on the home page of our website, https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Last year at this time I sat on the deck of the Ruesch Auditorium at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center, rejoicing in the majesty of Father’s creation and praising Him for the hundreds of writers gathering for the 23rd Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

His presence was very real as we worshiped Him . . .

and learned how to more effectively “write His answer” from an outstanding faculty of over 50 authors, editors, and agents.

Outdoors we were awed by the presence of magnificent elk.

We celebrated with one another during our Author’s Night.

Father, thank You for the wonderful memories of all the ways You have met us on the mountain at CCWC. Bring an end to this pandemic so we can again meet May 12-15, 2021. Please comfort and strengthen all who have lost loved ones from covid-19. Meet the needs of the unemployed. And, Father, help us all to use the gift of words You have entrusted to us to write Your answer.

Guest Blog by Karen Bouchard, Coach at Word Ninjas and Acquisitions Editor at Illumify Media

You love writing.

Marketing? Branding? Tribe-building? Not so much.

So how in the world do you get ahead in your writing career?

I’m going to give you three tips in just a moment. First, though, I want you to consider signing up for two resources that are going to help you tremendously. I promise to explain more about these resources at the end of this post, but here they are:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

and then…

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

Now back to our dilemma.

Last week a writer approached me with this very problem. She wrote, “In order to move forward in my writing, it seems like I’m going to have leave my strengths (writing) and move into my weaknesses (marketing, branding). How should I handle this?”

Now, unless you consider yourself a “marketer” first and a “writer” second, you may be asking this question, too.

NAVIGATING TODAY’S PUBLISHING WORLD

As we’ve all experienced, the changes in book publishing over the past decade have been significant. The responsibility for connecting with potential readers has fallen squarely on the shoulders of authors, and it doesn’t matter what publishing avenue—traditional, hybrid, or self-publishing—we pursue.

While the shift in book publishing has created a lot of amazing and unprecedented opportunities, we are also in danger of losing the voices of less marketing-minded writers with equally important messages.

So what’s a writer to do? Especially if you don’t consider “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” to be one of your key strengths?

I have three suggestions for you, and here they are:

1. Reframe how you think of marketing.

If we define “marketing” as trying to convince someone to help us (by subscribing to our email list, following us on Facebook, buying our books), it feels yucky. For them and for us, too.

And if we think of building a platform—or growing a following—in terms of amassing numbers, well, that doesn’t feel great either.

No wonder we want to run screaming from the room.

But when we reframe our motivation for building our platforms—and become driven by love—we may discover that the process is not distasteful at all. In fact, it can become life-giving, to us as well as to our readers.

When we stop asking “How do I get people to sign up?”—and start asking “How can I help, serve, and love people to whom my message will bring life and hope?”—everything changes.

Of course, you will still need to learn some time-proven platform-building strategies—and some of those strategies function similarly whether you’re looking for numbers to help yourself, or whether you’re looking to serve others.

But don’t let that fool you. When you stop being driven by dread—and start being led by love—your experience, the experience of your audience, and the connections you forge and nurture will be far more amazing and fulfilling than straight-up “marketing” will ever be.

2. Connect with your audience in ways that resonate with your personality.

When we think of “building a platform” or “growing a tribe” we tend to think in terms of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These are great tools, and I encourage you to explore all the possibilities these platforms present.

That said, don’t limit yourself. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there are myriad ways to connect with your audience both online and offline.

You don’t have to do everything I’ve listed below (in fact, please don’t even try!). But do identify two or three avenues you find enjoyable to serve your audience, and use those avenues regularly to engage with your peeps.

Here are a few Facebook-free ways to find and grow your audience:

  • Events: Book clubs. Book signings. Expos. Meet-up groups. School Visits. Workshops. Church and community events. (In fact, take a clipboard to collect email addresses and grow your email list while you are at it).
  • Media and PR: Become an expert in your field and seek opportunities as a guest blogger, or a guest on podcasts or local radio. Submit articles to newspapers and magazines.
  • Start a podcast or YouTube channel.
  • Offer great content to someone who uses social media to connect with folks in your target audience. People who use social media a lot are always on the lookout for helpful resources they can share with their audiences. Create that kind of content and allow other people to bless their audiences with it. You’ll be blessed in return.

3. Hire help.

You can’t do and learn everything. Besides, time is money, right? So focus on what you love, and hire out what you don’t:

  • Hire a virtual (or non-virtual) assistant for a few hours each week.
  • Hire help creating and managing your social media presence.
  • Trade services, such as offering editing or writing services to someone who can help you with your website.
  • Hire someone to produce and publish your book while you invest your time and energy into connecting with future readers.  

The point is, don’t learn “all the things” yourself. I love learning, so I struggle with this. But if you and I want to have time to function in our strengths and passions, we have to learn how to free ourselves (at least a little) from the tyranny of tasks we don’t know how to do, and/or don’t particularly like.

I’m not saying never learn anything new. We are writers, after all. We are curious by nature, and learning keeps the brain young, right?

But pick and choose. Spend time learning how to do things that interest you, not things you hate (but will tolerate to save a buck).

By picking and choosing what you invest time learning, you might spend dollars but save sanity.

To keep yourself from getting lost in the weeds, stop asking “How” questions and start asking “Who” questions. In other words, instead of asking “How can I learn how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my own book,” start asking, “Who can I hire who knows how to edit videos / use Photoshop / compose the opening music for my podcast / typeset my book.”

Where can you find modestly-priced help? Learn how to evaluate and hire freelancers on sites like www.fiverr.com. You might be surprised how reasonable some services can be.

NOW, ABOUT THOSE FREE RESOURCES I MENTIONED EARLIER…

Illumify Media and Word Ninjas are hosting a six-week FREE webinar series for writers. The webinar taking place on Wednesday, May 13th is on “Navigating Today’s 3 Best Publishing Options.”

Here are the other webinars in the series:

1. How to Create Your e-Newsletter in MailChimp
2. How to Create Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List
3. How to Get Your Book into Bookstores
4. The Internet Has Changed How People Read–Here’s What You Need to Know (and Do)
5. How to Navigate Today’s Three Best Publishing Options
6. Bonus: “Ask Me Anything” Session (with Writing/Publishing/Marketing Pros)

When you register for even one of the webinars, after the series is over you’ll receive an email with links to all six recorded webinars. It’s a power-packed series of FREE trainings for writers that will help you no matter where you are in your publishing/writing/platform-building journey.

To register for the May 13th webinar, click on the link below:

Register for a FREE webinar Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30pm MT

And if you’re reading this after the series is over—and would like to receive links to all six trainings absolutely free—click here.

ONE LAST PLATFORM BUILDING TOOL…

There’s one last platform-building resource I want to make available to you.

Word Ninjas is an online coaching community where I help writers improve their writing and learn tools and strategies to build their platforms. To learn more about how Word Ninjas can help you—and try it out for two weeks completely free—click on the link:

Sign-up for a FREE 2-week trial in a platform-building coaching group  

The bad news is successful writers need to nurture relationships with current and future readers. The good news is that successful writers get to nurture relationships with current and future readers—and it can be a lot more enjoyable than you might think.