In my keynote at the Super Saturday sponsored by Lancaster Christian Writers Fellowship last Saturday I quoted Chuck Colson’s sobering words in Against the Night, Living in the New Dark Ages.


“‘Dark Age’ is a strong term. I recognize that. Yet in recent years I’ve had a growing sense of storm clouds gathering on the horizon . . .  The forecast is foreboding . . . We scan the horizon with unease.

     “We sense that things are winding down, that somehow freedom, justice, and order are slipping away. Our great civilization may not yet lie in smoldering ruins, but the enemy is within the gates.

     “The times seem to smell of sunset. Encroaching darkness casts long shadows across every institution in our land. . . . We do face a crisis in Western culture, and it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome.”

I feel such a strong sense of urgency to “write His answer” – now. I believe the day is fast approaching when we will not have the freedom to print or distribute Christian literature or to share our faith on the Internet. Father, please open our eyes to the “signs of the time” and help us to “Make the most of every chance [we] get. These are desperate times!” (Eph. 5:16 MSG).

Today, April 15, is the last day to register for the May  14-17 Colorado Christian Writers Conference before the price increases.  Because I believe Father will use this conference powerfully, I am praying you will seriously consider coming.

Michael Gantt, a pastor from Vermont who keynoted some years back, said something I’ve never forgotten when he captured the heart of the conference in the video I just uploaded to the conference website. “It is very critical that you believe what God has to say is relevant to this generation,” he said. “It is very critical that you believe, that you believe, that God will use you to bring His message to the world.”

Please take 3-1/2 minutes to view the video at http://youtu.be/-qfhH5NH7XE.

Father, please help everyone who reads these words not to doubt You or the gift of words You have entrusted to them. Move mountains to get them to the mountain in Colorado May 14-17. I know You will meet us there.

Keep writing and living His answer!

eagle 3Please Lord, help us to find you once again and heal this once great nation.

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of keynoting at the Lancaster Christian Writers Fellowship Super Saturday. In “Get the Word Out” I talked about the urgency I feel to “write His answer” – now, while we still have the freedom to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot, we must not, compromise the fact that Jesus said “I am the Way – yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of me” (John 14:6 TLB).

Today we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yet less than a week later they shouted “Crucify him!”

None of this caught Jesus by surprise. Indeed, we’re told in Hebrews 12:2 (TLB) that “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards.”

Have you stopped to consider that you are the reason for His joy?

Years ago my pastor’s wife told me that if I was the only person on this earth, Jesus still would have come and died just for me.

We know that He is coming again but that He tarries because He does not want even one to be lost. And so He is calling you, He is calling me, to “Get His Word Out.” An outline of my message – really a Bible study – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider these passages as you ask how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

Updates: May 14-17  Colorado Christian Writers Conference

Clinics – There is still room in the Fiction Intensive, Speakers’ Clinic, and Get Them Coming to Your Blog/Website Clinic so we’ve extended the deadline until the clinics are filled. My friend, Sue Cameron, a gifted speaker, took Roy Hanschke’s Speakers’ Clinic a couple of years ago. She says,

It’s often said that writing and speaking go hand in hand.
That’s why I’m grateful that CCWC offered Roy’s Speakers’ Clinic.
Roy is a dynamic example of “show don’t tell” as he actually demonstrates
different methods of effective communication.
Each participant had the opportunity to try out Roy’s suggestions
in a safe and encouraging atmosphere.
We learned from each other
and went home with a notebook full of useful instructions
on how to become a more skillful communicator.
Sue Cameron

One-on-One Appointments – CCWC gives conferees registered from Thursday through Saturday the opportunity to schedule four free 15-minute appointments with the faculty of their choice based on availability when you submit your requests. Those who have already registered will receive preference based on the date they registered as long as they submit their appointment request form by April 16. After that date appointments will be booked in the order we receive your form. All requests must be received by May 2. Nervous about show your work to an editor or agent? Check out the suggestions on how to get the most out of your appointment.


Updates: July 30 – August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

Brochures – Our 16-page brochure is off press and should be in your hands early this coming week if we have your USPS address. It can also be accessed online.

One-on-One Appointments - GPCWC also offers four free 15-minute appointments with faculty of their choice – five appointments for the first 75 to register for Thursday through Saturday. Faculty bios and editorial needs will be posted to the website in the next couple of weeks.

News You Can Use

Building Your Platform - Check out Cec Murphey’s blog on this critical topic. Thanks, Cec for your helpful advice. (Note: Cec will be keynoting and teaching a continuing session at the Philly conference.)

Don’t Just Do It – Literary agent, Dan Balow, with the Steve Laube Agency provides some important food for thought in this blog.

Keep writing and living His answer!

Blessed is He!

Palm branch“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowd cheered and sang praises.
They waved palm branches.
and threw their cloaks before Him.
But Jesus was solemn as He traveled that road -
that road to the cross.

As God incarnate He knew all that was to come.
He saw not just His own death on the cross,
but the persecution of His followers
and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He saw nation rising against nation -
the madness of yet-to-be-born rulers.
And Jesus wept.

He would be wounded and bruised for our sins,
chastised that we might have peace,
lashed that we might be healed;
yet few would accept His gift of life.
The darkness of evil would continue to reign,
but the light of His love
would not be extinguished.

Entrusted to us,
His light will grow brighter.
A cloud of witnesses are cheering us on,
to daily take up our own cross
and follow Him closely.

Blessed is He who is coming – again!

Rob Cook

 “His love has the first and last word
in everything we do.”      2 Cor. 5:14 MSG

Let me introduce you to my friend, Rob Cook, one of the keynoters at both the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Rob is an author and the founder, pastor, and director of 252 Underground Youth Ministry. God’s love fuels Rob’s passion to reach tough kids – kids who hang out on the streets, get in trouble, and sadly would not be welcome in many churches.

Rob says, “Let’s stop asking what would Jesus do. We already know what Jesus did. It’s not enough to just know; knowledge without action is useless. Let our call to action be DWJD – Do What Jesus Did.”

Updates – July 30 – August 2
Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

Registration is open . . . and two weeks earlier than last year. Thank You, Father. There is still much to be added to the website, but the 16-page brochure is online. Check it out! Remember, the earlier you register, the better opportunity you have to get your choices for your one-on-one appointments.

Updates – May 14-17
Colorado Christian Writers Conference

– The deadline for applications was April 1. The nonfiction clinic is full, but because there is still room in the other clinics we’re continuing to accept applications on a first-come basis.



Speaker’s Clinic with Roy Hanschke

Every writer needs to be a speaker, too. If you’ve been avoiding the challenge to begin the speaking part of your ministry or need to improve what you’re already doing, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Roy has trained and coached beginning and seasoned speakers for over 15 years. He is also a 20-year (plus) veteran in Christian radio in Denver, Colorado. His morning show is heard at 910AM and worldwide on streaming audio at www.AM91.org.

Fiction Intensive with Jim and Tracie PetersonTracies latest book
Tracie’s 100th book, A Sensible Arrangement, has just been released. Congratulations, Tracie!

This clinic is designed for writers who feel they have great stories to tell, but who want to dig just a little deeper to actually put them to paper in a dynamic way.

What makes a good story?
How do you give life to paper characters?
Why is setting so critical?
What’s research got to do with fiction?
What is my reason for writing this book?
How can you avoid the most popular mistakes

Get Them Coming to Your Blog / Website with Megan Breedlove
– Learn what kind of web presence you need and where to go to get it, determine exactly who your target audience is and  what they need, receive individual instruction to ensure your site does the best possible job of meeting your audience’s needs, discover how to promote your site and increase your Google ranking, expand your author platform so you can get your message out to the nations and develop a presence that will be attractive to publishers, and more.

News You Can Use

How To Build A Writer Platform With No Time, No Credentials And No BookHelpful blog by  Kimberley Grabas.

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas   LPC
“Working hard to make His truth shine.”
Check out their growing line of books including how-to books for writers. This is the 5th year LPC and ChristianDevotions.us will be represented at the Colorado and Greater Philly conference. Father, thank You for Eddie Jones and his team and for the Ephesians 3:20 things You have done and are doing.

Keep writing His answer and doing what Jesus would do!

Larry Lawton2


    Taxes, Bookkeeping, and More

     Donna Brennan interviews

     CCWC faculty member, Larry Lawton


With a BA in Business Administration, over 25 years of experience as a corporate controller, and his own Accounting and Tax Services business preparing financial statements and income taxes for individuals, partnerships, and corporations, Larry Lawton knows what’s required to run a business. He can tell anyone, in any field, what they must do to be considered a business in the US. For writers, this is probably most important at tax time. If authors don’t treat their writing career like a business, it will be considered a hobby by the IRS, and they won’t be entitled to any writing-related tax deductions.

Larry is the director of finance, warehousing, and fulfillment at Cladach Publishing, so he has an intricate understanding of what’s needed for a successful writing business. He uses his extensive knowledge of business, taxes, and publishing to teach writers about the “Business Side of Writing.” In fact, the workshop he will teach at the May 14-17 Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference is on that very topic.

I caught up with Larry to ask him about his workshop and the benefits of learning the business side of writing.

Q: If I’m not self-publishing my work, do I really need to worry about treating my writing like a business?

A: You may receive other income besides royalties, such as revenue from the personal sale of your work, speaking stipends, seminars, and secondary rights. If you do not want to claim expenses that would offset the revenue, these income streams would be reported as miscellaneous taxable income. Find out more at the workshop.

Q: Writers like to be creative, and business can be so boring and complicated. Can’t I just push that aside and worry about it later?

A: Perhaps, but you won’t be worrying if you keep receipts for your writing related expenses and income in a log to hand over to your tax preparer or accountant at year end. If you don’t write them down, the possibility is greater that you may not remember.

Q: But what if I’m not published yet? Shouldn’t I wait until I actually earn something from my writing before I consider it a business?

A: Yes, however, you should keep track of actual out-of-pocket expenses that could be considered “start-up” costs that can be amortized (expensed over a period of time) once a business is established. There are, however, net income requirements to be obtained in order to be a business and not be classified as a “hobby.”

Q: To be considered a business, would I have to incorporate? What are my options? Will you explain those options to us at the conference?

A: There are various business entities which you will learn about at the workshop. We will be focusing on the Proprietorship.

Q: Will you spend a lot of time talking about taxes? Is there anything else involved in being a business?

A: We will be highlighting what would be considered allowable expenses to reduce taxable income. If you use a fictitious name for the business, there are certain Federal and State registration requirements that must be applied for. Find out at the workshop.

Q: What’s a business plan? How long or detailed does it have to be? Will you give us advice on how to write one?

A: There are four good reasons to have a business plan of some sort which we will discuss at the workshop.

Q: Do I really need to keep track of all my hours and all the places where I send my writing? Will you tell us ways to do this and fill us in on what details we should track?

A: As a matter of self-discipline, time management, and follow-up, you should track your submissions for various reasons and account for the related out-of-pocket expenses. Tax codes do not allow you to charge your time as an expense unless you are being paid for your time as earnings through payroll. The workshop will inform you of what written documentation is required to substantiate a tax expense.

Q: Are there additional benefits of tracking how much time we’re spending on different aspects of writing?

A: If you’re like most writers who are passionate about their subject matter, you spend a great deal of time on research, writing, re-writing, editing, obtaining references, sending queries and proposals, etc. Using time-management principles will allow you to be more efficient and effective in planning each day so you will have less stress in keeping personal, family, work, and social issues in line. You will be able to accomplish much more and see where you may need to adjust your priorities. Come to the workshop and receive a time management daily planning sheet and learn how to use it.

Q: What kind of bookkeeping records are needed for a business?

A: Record keeping can be kept on sheets of paper or in a booklet with single line written entries listing revenues and expenses. Some writers may have knowledge in using business software that uses double entry transactions. The software can generate income statements, balance sheets, invoices, etc. Come to the workshop to see examples of record keeping documentation.

Q: If I’m self-published and I don’t treat my writing like a business, what’s the worst that can happen to me?

A: As long as you report all your income from writing on your tax return, the worst is that you will pay Uncle Sam a portion of your income at your tax rate with no deduction for expenses. If you fail to report your income, you will be subject to tax plus penalties and interest.

Q: If I’m published through a traditional publisher and I don’t treat my writing like a business, what’s the worst that can happen to me?

A: You will receive a form 1099 for the royalties paid during the year. As long as you report all your income on your tax return, the worst is that you will pay Uncle Sam a portion of your income at your tax rate with no deduction for expenses. If you fail to report your income, you will be subject to tax plus penalties and interest.

Q: Are there any special business considerations for hybrid authors–those who choose both traditional and self-publishing?

A:  An author receiving income from a traditional publisher will be including that income with the self-publishing income. Thus, I see no advantage in keeping two revenue streams as separate businesses. The business consideration is that the writer should have a business in which to claim the expense deductions. These business deduction expenses will be discussed at the workshop.

Thanks so much Larry and Donna. Writers, I encourage you to give priority to attending Larry’s workshop. Not only will you likely save some money, you’ll rest easier knowing you’re doing things the right way. One word of advice from my experience claiming my writing as a business for 35 years: Set up a separate checking account for your earnings and expenses. It will make doing taxes much easier. And if you’re selling your published books, be sure to get a sales tax license. The conference has a Colorado sales tax license and collects and pays the tax on sales at CCWC.

Are you facing what seems to be an impossible situation?

A friend emailed me this morning asking for prayer. She is facing “financial ruin” if her two apartments and former home are not rented quickly.

Another friend is asking for prayer for a Godmom who is fighting to hang on until she has serious heart surgery scheduled for April 3. She is having difficulty breathing. She caught a cold that delayed surgery.

And there are so many others I know, and that I’m sure you know, too, who need prayer for desperate situations. Perhaps you also need prayer for an impossible in your life. It might be a health problem, a financial crisis, a fractured relationship … Or perhaps, like me this past week, it’s a workload that feels impossible, a computer with “issues,” or words that aren’t coming despite an approaching deadline.

   “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God,” [Jesus told His disciples].
    The disciples were incredulous! “Then who in the world can be saved, if not a rich man?” they asked.
    Jesus looked at them intently, then said, “Without God, it is utterly impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Mark 10:24-27 TLB)

Father, help us to give You the impossibles in our lives that are weighing us down and robbing us of the peace and joy that are Your gifts to us. Thank You for Your promise that “I can do everything [You] ask me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (Phil. 4:13 TLB).

Update – May 14-17 Colorado Christian Writers Conference

Fiction Intensive – The deadline to apply for the Fiction Intensive with Jim and Tracie Peterson is April 1. Tracie just recently had her 100th book published. If you’ve been on the conference Facebook page, you saw her September 2013 release, A Home for My Heart, was free on Kindle. It’s now $9.99. Good reason to follow the conference Facebook page!

And your reason is? – See faculty member, Marti Pieper’s, “Top Ten Reasons Not to Attend.” http://martipieper.com/write-top-ten-reasons-not-to-attend-the-colorado-christian-writers-conference/

Update – July 30 – August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

Workshops Scheduled – Even though this is my 31st year directing, I confess I felt overwhelmed as I finally began the process of choosing 60 workshops from the couple hundred available from our faculty of 55 authors, editors, and agents. It really did feel like an impossible task, but that’s a good thing for it meant I needed to rely on the Lord. The 18 early bird workshops are now posted on the website – minus the descriptions that I’ll add next week. You’ll find the schedule posted, too. I hope to have the grid of the 42 Thursday through Saturday workshops posted tonight. I’ll put an announcement on the conference Facebook page when they’re uploaded.

“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself.
Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”
Mark 10:27 MSG

Registration Opens April 1 – No fooling! Thank You, Father. This, too, looked impossible. Thank You for enabling me to do what I could have never done in my own strength.

News You Can Use

How Many Words? – See Books and Such Literary agent Mary Keeley’s helpful info on “Word Count Confusion.” http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/word-count-confusion/

Looking Professional Online – Another helpful blog from a Books and Such Literary agent. I so agree with Rachael Kent’s advice, “Don’t try to get cute with your email address.” And I’d add, don’t assume I’ll know who you are from your email address. It’s very helpful (and professional!) to include an address block at the bottom of your email with your name and contact info. http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/looking-professional-online/

Encouraging Blog – Thanks, Marji Stevens, for your blogs that always encourage me. This post that I just rediscovered speaks to the impossibles. Marji writes, “Sometimes I spend the entire day frustrated and annoyed running in mad circles. Generally, it all stems from failing to start my day, or project, acknowledging the One who waits for me to figure out how much I need Him.” http://www.marjistevens.com/2014/03/17/figuring-out-how-much-i-need-him/

Keep writing His answer and trusting Him for the impossibles – Marlene

Compassion rocks fixed

Are you concerned
about human trafficking,
orphans, abortion, the poor,
racism, the handicapped,
the hungry, the oppressed,
and so much more that is close to
the heart and call of Jesus?

Maybe your concerns are closer to home -
a family member who doesn’t know the Lord,
relationships that are strained,
even estranged,
not enough money to meet urgent needs,
and not enough faith to tackle issues
that seem beyond us to resolve.

Today I want to challenge you, and to challenge myself
to believe that we can make a difference.


I’ve just watched – again – the video of pre-teen Jackie Evancho singing “I Believe” that now has 4,628,546 hits on youtube. Amazing voice – powerful message. I encourage you to watch it and to believe. God has a plan for you and for your writing. He can use you and use me to make a difference in our hurting world. And grab hold of His promises in “A Writer’s Statement of Faith.” Read them aloud. Choose to believe He means what He says. He who calls you will equip you to do “far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Eph. 3:20 MSG).

Updates – May 14-17 Colorado Christian Writers Conference

Steve Lawson2 Jan 2014Compassion, Justice, and Advocacy Seminar If God has given you a burden to be an advocate, to tell a story, or to make a cause or issue known,  this seminar will help you learn how to be more effective. If you’re coming to the conference, I encourage you to “tithe” your conference time by choosing this seminar in the place of the Friday 1:15 panel and 2:15 workshop. Pastors and concerned Christians from the community may register just for this seminar by  clicking here. The $35 seminar registration fee  will be split between the organizations making presentations in our Missions Moments throughout the conference.     Steven Lawson, a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and publishing consultant with more than 30 years of experience will lead this critically important seminar.  For 11 years he was senior editor at Regal Books. At Regal, he acquired, developed, and edited major titles by a wide array of authors, including A. W. Tozer, Shane Claiborne, Don Richardson, Eric Metaxas, Joni Eareckson-Tada, BarlowGirl, Jack Hayford, Cecil Murphey, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. He previously served as an editor at Charisma Magazine, publications director at Jews for Jesus, and a reporter for a major newspaper. As a freelancer he has teamed up with World Vision, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and others. He helps first-time authors, pastors, athletes, worship leaders, devotional writers, and missions-minded authors shape their vision and navigate the ever-changing world of publishing. Currently he is ghostwriting the memoirs of John M. Perkins.

Additional free appointment – Although I can’t extend the early price, I can offer everyone who registers this weekend (March 22-23), an additional free one-one-one appointment with a faculty member.

Updates – July 30 – August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

Have you seen who is on faculty?Click here and rejoice with me in the outstanding faculty God has provided.

News You Can Use

Lancaster (PA) Christian Writers’ Super Saturday 2014 - I hope to see you April 10. I’ll be keynoting and bringing the Write His Answer bookstore. A faculty of 7 will offer workshops you won’t want to miss. To learn more, click here.

Write His Answer Seminar – June 6-7 I will be in Washington, NJ  teaching five workshops and leading a critique session. For more info click here. CDs of this seminar that I taught in CT last fall can be purchased securely online by clicking here. Interested in a seminar in your area, click here.

Until next week, keep believing and writing His answer!


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