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Barb Haley apr 2016 cropped

Guest Blogger
Barbara Haley
Registrar &
Appointment Coordinator
Colorado & Greater Philly
Christian Writers Conference

I was ten years old when I asked God to show me if He was real. The next day my sixteen-year-old sister was killed in an automobile accident. God was real. I shouldn’t have asked.

Of course, I didn’t tell anyone. Instead, I stuffed the guilt and the excruciating pain when my parents said things to me like, “You may look like her, but you’ll never be as good as her.” Or, “Comb your hair a different way; I can’t stand to look at you.”

Thirty-five years later, I finally opened up to a therapist. He sent me home to write a letter to my big sister from the point of view of a ten-year-old child.

After just a few sentences, my heart connected with the hurting little girl inside, and she began to voice her pain. Begging forgiveness from her precious older sister for causing her death. Suggesting that everyone would have been better off if only she could have died in her sister’s place that day. And finally, admitting how very much she hated God for what He’d done.

My next letter was to that sweet child—explaining to her that she didn’t cause her sister’s death and that God was not angry with her for her honest feelings and reactions. I released that child to be exactly that. A broken and confused child who desperately needed to know she was loved by God and family.

That writing changed my life and instilled in me a desire to learn how to use my life experiences to minister to others through the written word.

But I needed to learn how to write tight. To eliminate wordiness. To organize my thoughts. To connect emotionally with the reader. To stick to one point of view. To create a setting that captures the reader’s imagination and transfers them from their everyday life to an exciting new story world.

Writing conferences. This is where I’m learning the craft. Where I connect with other writers to encourage and be encouraged. Where I receive one-on-one feedback with paid critiques. And where God speaks clearly to my heart through inspiring worship and keynote speakers, informative workshops and continuing sessions, life-changing editor appointments, and most of all—the day to day rapport with fellow writers while sharing meals, waiting in line at the book table, or joining together for intimate prayer and Bible study.

Sure, you can buy books about the craft of writing. My shelves are loaded with them. But only when I began to consistently attend conferences did I really improve as a writer. I needed the immediate feedback and the hands-on practice provided in small groups led by experienced teachers. I grew in leaps and bounds as I jotted down strategies mentioned by other writers and began implementing them in my own writing. And, as I stood amazed, listening to big-name authors share their overwhelmingly deep love for God and His people, I realized just how sacred the ministry of writing is.

Let me encourage you to come and grow in your ministry as a writer at the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers’ Conference. The friendships you’ll form will develop into a network of love and support in all areas of your life, and your writing friends will truly become your family. I promise.

______________

Biz AmazonThanks, Barbie, for sharing your heart and for serving as the registrar and appointments coordinator at both the Colorado and the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. You are a HUGE blessing! And I love your latest book! (Available on Amazon – click here.)

NOTE: The Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference is celebrating our 35th year of ministry. We’ve moved to a new location, Dock Mennonite Academy just off the Lansdale Exit of the North/South PA Turnpike (I-476). The registration fee increases July 8 so don’t delay. And reserve your room at the Holiday Inn (also by July 8) before our block is released and the price increases.

You know you need to grow your platform but . . .

pexels-photo-2 women 2 men1162964

you’re not smiling as you hold up that BLANK page of your book proposal. Yes, you could add your willingness to go on a nationwide book signing tour, but who would pay for it? The publisher? Not likely. And if you’re going indie, well unless you have a rich uncle, you’ve probably used all your available funds for an editor and cover designer.

pexels-photo-online marketing 266176Then you remember the promises from the marketing experts that frequently turn up in your inbox. Success is within your reach! Online marketing is the key.

You need a website with keywords that will draw readers.

You need to be active on social media, not just posting but responding to comments.

Of course, you need to blog and not just on your own site.

And then there’s the need for everything to be search engine optimized (S.E.O.) plus the need to outsmart the constantly changing algorithms.

All this and you still need to find time to write!

Sarah Bolme, director of CSPA, the Christian Small Publishers Association, and the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, is teaching a 3-1/2 Learning Lab from 1:00 – 4:30 on Thursday, July 26, at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. She will teach you six manageable steps to building and growing your online author platform through CONTENT MARKETING. To find out more, click here for Sarah’s blog, and click here for info on all three of our learning labs. Best-selling author Dan Walsh will teach the ”Focus on Fiction” Learning Lab, and literary agent, Diana Flegal, will teach “The Making of a Nonfiction Book.”

Thursday’s Learning Labs, catered dinner, first-timer’s orientation, and opening keynote, “Declaring God’s Truth in a Digital Age of Half Truths” is just the beginning of this year’s 2-1/2 day conference – our 35th! But keep in mind:

The cost of lodging at the Holiday Inn (5 minutes from the conference at Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale) increases July 7.

— The conference registration fee increases July 8.

Meals – Thursday’s chicken dinner, Friday’s Italian Buffet, and Friday and Saturday’s box lunches – must be ordered by July 15.

If you need some scholarship help or time payments, click here. If you’d like our 16-page brochure, please email me at mbagnull@aol.com. It’s also available online at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

Page 16 cover

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

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.

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

 

Memorial Day

 Memorial day

Father, there are so many grieving this weekend for loved ones who gave their lives for our country. Others are struggling with “what if” fears as their loved one serves in a country far from home. And still others daily face the pain of seeing a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother cope with a physical disability or PTSD.

Thank You, Father, for the assurance that You will not forget them or their families – or us.

 I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)

 

This morning the Bible program that is always open on my computer crashed. I could have gone inside to get a Bible, but what if they had all been confiscated by the government because of the “hate language” they contained? What if it was a crime, punishable by death, to share my faith in Jesus Christ?

 

ostrich 2
Sounds far-fetched? Not really unless we’ve buried our head in the sand and refused to recognize the growing hostility toward Christians in our nation. Not unless we’ve chosen to ignore how our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.

 

I got home at 1:00 am Wednesday morning from directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for the 22nd year. As I left the YMCA of the Rockies, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the last year for the conference even though I’ve already paid the deposit for 2019 and 2020.

 

I’m NOT quitting and I’m NOT retiring even though I am 73. But I can’t assume that next year Christians will be free to gather or that our nation will even exist. When, not if, our economy collapses, we’ll have anarchy on our streets. If an EMT destroys our electrical grid, we’ll be back in the middle ages. Or if enemies intent on destroying America and Israel unleash another 911 . . . But as my friend Michael Gantt says, it is Almighty God we need to fear.

 

The sad fact for America is that
our sin has made God our enemy.
Because of the rejection of God and His Word
and because we have exchanged
the God of Life for the gods of death
and perversion,
America is already under
the Hand of God’s judgment.

If there is no national confession of sin
and if we cannot find a heart of repentance,
a Holy God will complete his judgment;
either by the complete annihilation
or subjugation of what was once a great
and godly people or by rendering it
completely irrelevant on the world stage.

 

And so with a growing urgency each year the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference strives to “encourage and equip Christians to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” Whether through fiction or nonfiction, articles, poetry, or screenplays, we must “Write His Answer.”

 

Yes, I trust You have heard that the Philly conference is continuing in a new location (Dock Mennonite Academy in Lansdale,PA) and a slightly different format. GPCWC is now 2.5 days instead of 3.5 making it more affordable and not as challenging to get time off work or find needed childcare. We still have a faculty of more than 40 agents, editors, authors, and other professionals. You can find out who is coming at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

 

Online registration is open and I’m working this holiday weekend to finish our 16-page brochure. Serious issues with my new laptop computer made it impossible to complete it before I left May 14 to direct the Colorado conference.

 

Outlook crashed ten days before I left for Colorado. Seven hours on the phone with Microsoft technical support intensified the problems rather than resolved them. My nephew, Peter Burek, who is a brilliant computer consultant, worked two days to try and recover thousands of critical emails that were lost including the itineraries for 29 faculty members flying into Colorado and over 150 emails in “must answer” folders. He said he’s worked on a lot of bad computer problems, but mine was one of the worst he has seen.

 

As you probably know, the stress landed me in the hospital overnight with symptoms of a heart attack. It’s the first time I’ve been hospitalized except to deliver my three babies. I’m so grateful that all the tests confirmed it was stress and not a heart attack, but I’m appalled that the cost was over $17,000! I’m not yet certain how much our insurance will cover.

 

I’m sorry this blog has gotten so long. To recap:

 

  • If you emailed me and I have not responded, please resend. Your email may be among those that were deleted when Outlook crashed or it may be buried in the more than 2,400 emails presently in my inbox. Please put CCWC or GPCWC in your subject line to catch my attention.

 

 

  • Please pray for me as I work this weekend to finish the 16-page brochure and to somehow get the faculty and bills paid for the Colorado conference. Please pray for His provision financially since the conference checking account is almost $20,000 lower than last year at this time. (Please, Father, help me not to be discouraged or to panic. I know there has got to be more money somewhere.)

 

  • And please pray for the staff of the Colorado conference who worked so hard. Barb Haley, Laura Shaffer, Eric Sprinkle, Tabatha Scheffler, and Roy and Chris Richards will also be at the Philly conference. Thank You, Father, for the great team You have provided and for Darcie Gudger, David Shaffer, and Marti & Tom Pieper who were also on staff in Colorado.

 

  • Since I’m over a month late finishing the Philly brochure, please help spread the word about the conference. Here’s a logo you can post on social media.

2018 GP Banner

As for my Bible program that crashed, here’s the Scripture Father reminded me of this morning:

Not by might, not by power, but by Spirit

somewhere in Zechariah

 

to register for the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

The price automatically increases tomorrow (May 10), BUT if you register online instead of just walking in (although we’d still welcome you), we’ll give you a bookstore credit for the $10 – $15 price increase. (I call it the “procrastinator’s fee.”)

I know some of you are not procrastinators. You’re just now hearing about the conference, and I want to do everything possible so you do not miss what I know will be a life-changing and ministry-enabling conference.

Time payments can be arranged if needed. And partial scholarships are even a possibility if there is no other way. Our Father is always able to make a way.

Lodging is still available although we’re filling up quickly. Click here for info and call Brenda at the YMCA (970-586-3341 ext 1349). I think we’re about out of single rooms, but I know she’s still got some conferees looking for a roommate. Not only will that reduce your cost, you’ll make a new writing friend or friends. Alpen Lodge has two queen beds and a sofabed to house 3 people comfortably. The cost, including dinner from the day of your arrival through lunch the day of your departure, is only $68 a night, and you’ll save the $15 YMCA daily fee.

Please pray about joining the 60 faculty and 200 plus beginning and professional writers on the mountain next week.

God bless you and your writing ministry!

Lodge at nt

YMCA Lodges at Night

 

“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!

 

Debbie Hardy for GP

Debbie Hardy

How would you like a chance to get 50% off the cost of registration for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference  Believe it or not, it’s simple.
Copy of Learn more!I learned this the hard way. I had heard that there was a contest I could enter and possibly win half off the next year’s conference. So, my first time at the CCWC, I entered. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the contest rules and I wrote on the wrong topic. Needless to say, I didn’t win.

 

The next time, I did exactly as the rules said and was shocked when I heard my name called as the winner for previously unpublished prose! That meant that I had not been published before – ever – but my writing was now award-winning.

You can do the same.

There are 4 contest categories: 2 for prose and 2 for poetry. Each genre has a separate contest for writers and poets who have been published and for those who have not. So you’re on even ground with others of the same experience level.

Be sure to follow the rules:

*       Write 500-800 words or a 12-30 line poem.

*       Consider the conference theme, “Write His Answer,” and share about the writing life or how you’re writing His answer.

*       Put your name and address in the body of your email, not on the manuscript.

*       Indicate on your MS which contest you are entering and if you’re a published or not-yet-published writer.

*       Include your MS as an attachment. (It’s easier to print up for the judges.)

*       There is a $10 fee for each entry.

*       Contest is for registered conferees only. And there’s still time to register, although after May 9 the $15 “procrastinator’s fee” will kick in unless you give us a really good excuse for being late. 🙂 Click here to register.

In submitting your entry you are offering the conference one-time rights to possibly publish your entry in a future (no date yet determined) devotional book. If your work is accepted for publication, you will receive one free copy and a discount on purchasing additional copies. Profits will go to the scholarship fund. Please note: You may submit your manuscript elsewhere before or after the conference. You own the rights!

The deadline for this year’s conference is May 14, the Monday before the conference starts. That will give me time to get your entry and print it to give to the appropriate judge on the first night.

You too could sit in the auditorium and hear your name called, giving you a 50% discount off next year’s conference. (BTW, you can enter more than once, to increase your chances!)

Please send your entry (or entries) to me at bdhardy@msn.com by May 14.

Debbie Hardy
CCWC Contest Coordinator