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More than Thankful

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 118:29 TLB

Yes, Father, I am more than thankful. Indeed, words can’t begin to express my gratitude for all You have done, are doing, and will do.

Thank You for my family and friends, for my home and health, for freedom to worship and serve You . . .

Thank You for 34 years of ministry and for providing a new vision and new home for the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. And thank You for the added blessing that Dock Mennonite Academy is only ten minutes from my home!

2018 GP Banner

Thank You for the wonderful staff at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado. Bless John, Brenda, Lori and their teams for how they go the extra mile, and then some. Thank You for the thousands of  writers You have enabled us to encourage and equip in our 20 years of ministry there. 2018 CO banner.png

Thank You for the opportunity to direct the new “Write to Impact Lives Conference” with The Munce Group in Lancaster, PA, February 9-10. (The Munce Group offers numerous marketing programs and services to help bookstores target their customers and to simplify their job as independent Christian retailers. Conferees have the option of staying for one or more days of the Munce Christian Product Expo February 11-13.)

Munce logo

Thank You for the critique groups that meet in my home and for the joy of editing Becky Toews’, Between the Lamp Posts, 365-day devotional, and Louise Looney’s, The Best of Days for The Rest of Your Days. 

Father, keep us mindful of Your blessings not just at Thanksgiving but throughout the year. And “make us a blessing.”

not facebooking

Just as writers whine about finding a publisher, we’re guilty – at least I know I am – of whining about the need to build a platform. How am I supposed to even get my book written if I’m required to spend tons of time growing my presence – my platform – on social media?

While, of course, we want to reach people with the message we believe God has entrusted to us, it is critically important that we not get caught up in the world’s way and leave Him out of the process.

In my workshop, “Discovering God’s Plan for Your Ministry,” (one of four workshops I’ll teach Saturday, September 23, from 9 am to 4 pm at the Stay Focused Christian Writers Retreat in Cherry Hill, NJ), I’ll talk about building your platform God’s way. Click here for more info and to register.

Whether or not you’re able to come, I hope you’ll read the message below from D.J. Williams who served on the faculty of this year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I know it will encourage you so I’m sharing it here with his permission.

Keep writing and living His answer!

Platform Building Versus Storytelling

D.J. Williams

For months I’ve been working on my next novel while balancing the demand to expand my platform so my novels gain greater exposure. I’m fortunate to have a rockstar publicist, who helps me navigate through the mysterious road of platform building.

Platform Building is the buzz word in today’s world of publishing and the gatekeeper to pitching your next book. How many hits do you get each month on your website or blog? How many followers do you have on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? How many clicks from your Facebook and Amazon ads? But the question most neglect to ask is if all of the effort in building your platform through social media results in more books sold. Sure, we hear about the success stories, but they’re few and far between, unless we’re listening to the platform building guru who tells us how easy it is to do in ten simple steps.

For those who feel overwhelmed by it all, take a step back and remind yourself of why you write. What inspires you to dig deeper into your characters? What wakes you up early in the morning or keeps you up late at night as the story pours out of your imagination onto the page? Answering these questions is where your storytelling journey begins because it’s the cornerstone. Building a platform through social media is an extension, but it isn’t the magical solution to success.

My latest post on my website shares about where my writing journey began on the Zambezi River when a spark of a story was rooted in my soul. Social media. Platform building. None of that was part of the equation. Instead, I was compelled to tell a story that haunted me until I was able to take it from my imagination and write it on the page. That’s why I feel compelled to write. That’s why I’m a storyteller. That may not be what an agent or publisher wants to hear because we’re in a day and age where even if you sign a publishing deal, you’ll end up doing the lion’s share of marketing and promotion. And you could have a great following on social media, but that doesn’t mean your book will become a bestseller.

I’ve met with writers, agents, and publishers who prioritize platform over storytelling. The belief is that if you don’t have a big enough platform, then no matter how great of a story you write, you’ll never get anyone interested. But is that really true? Perhaps a great story builds the platform instead of the other way around.

Let’s look at two examples of books within the last few years that seemed to explode out of nowhere — Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) and The Martian (Andy Weir), as well as a veteran bestseller who’s been around since before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — John Grisham.

Here is their social media reach:

Gillian Flynn – Facebook – 101,625 | Twitter – 1,649 | Instagram – 4,233
Andy Weir – Facebook – 62,887 | Twitter – 30.1K | Instagram – Zero
John Grisham – Facebook – 1.5 Million | Twitter – 19.2K | Instagram – 6,665

While some of these numbers look good, the real truth is these books and authors became bestsellers because of good old fashioned word of mouth. That’s how you sell books! Social media is an extension, not the foundation. So, instead of spending countless hours worrying about building your platform, why not write a story that grabs a reader and doesn’t let go?

Storytelling must always be the priority. If we write stories that resonate with people, then the word of mouth will spread. And you don’t have to build your platform on every single social media outlet. Pick one or two and make it fun instead of stressful. Recently, I listened to a podcast with John Grisham and Harlan Coben (70 million books in print) as they discussed the publishing world. Harlan flat out said that social media doesn’t sell books. I’m inclined to believe him, well, because he’s a bestselling author!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

To find out more about D.J. and his powerful novels, go to https://djwilliamsbooks.com. And click here to check out his Writers Circle where he provides lots of helpful info and writing challenges.

 

Discouraged face
Yes, this is not a typo! I didn’t ask if you are a  winning writer.

Of course, what writer doesn’t long to be a winner? Seriously, haven’t you dreamed of becoming a best-selling author with a HUGE following on social media and readers clamoring for your next book?

But I’ve got to be honest with you. The reality is that few writers will become best-selling authors. In fact, a large percentage will become discouraged and quit before they land a book contract.

And yes, we will whine! I know I have. I’ve argued with the Lord. “I’m simply trying to serve You with my writing,” I’ve reminded Him. “And I’ve tried really, really hard to find a publisher. I believe I’m doing what You called me to do. So why aren’t You opening the door to publication?”

During the six year period of trying to find a home for my first book the Lord frequently heard my complaints, my whining. I’m so grateful He enabled me not to give up and for the small publisher who finally took the risk and printed 1,000 copies that eventually all sold.

Back then self-publishing wasn’t an option. It was viewed as vanity publishing. Even if it had been an acceptable way to get into print, it was an option I couldn’t afford.

I believe the Lord has heard the whining and seen the tears of discouraged writers. “For such a time as this” He has provided the technology to make indie publishing possible, affordable, and respectable. No longer does it brand an author as not being good enough to find a real publisher. Instead, going indie is something even best-selling authors are choosing.

Today authors can literally reach the world through the Internet and eBooks. And now, with POD (print on demand) they no longer need to print thousands of copies (at the cost of thousands of dollars) to make the price per book affordable.

While there are reputable companies you can pay to publish your book, the cost is still more than many can afford. That’s why I’ve always advocated the “build a team” and “do-it-yourself” approach.

I am so excited about the opportunities that exist today to get our books into print and about the seminar I’m teaching this coming Saturday, September 23, in Cherry Hill, NJ, as part of the annual Stay Focused Christian Writers Retreat. It’s packed with encouragement and practical info and includes 18 pages of handouts. I’ll be teaching:

Go & Grow, Write & Speak through the Hurts – Our most powerful writing, both nonfiction and fiction, will grow out of our life experiences. I’ll share biblical principles for those times that test and stretch our faith and later become the focus of our writing and speaking ministry.

Discover God’s Plan for Your Ministry – Is God calling you to write an article, story, or book? Who is your audience? What are their needs? How will you reach them? Should you look for a publisher or go indie? What are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and indie publishing?

You Can Do It! – How to indie publish affordably yet professionally.  Learn why thousands of authors are choosing to go indie to publish books of all genres. More importantly, learn how you can join them and do it too.

Think Big Because You Serve a Big God – How to cut the old tapes, stop listening to the wrong voices, and accomplish what God is calling you to do.

The retreat is being held at the Holiday Inn, 2175 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill, NJ, beginning Thursday evening, September 21. I’ll teach the above workshops from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, September 23. For more info and to register go to https://stayfocusedwritersretreat.com/keynote-speakers/.  I hope to see you there!

stay Focused retreat

 

 

Doll
I found her today at a country fair and couldn’t resist buying her. She’s just the kind of doll I would have loved to have when I was a child. And she was only ONE dollar!

Yep, I’m entering my second childhood!

And on Friday I would have plopped down on the grass to play with five adorable puppies, but my knees said that’s NOT a good idea! Still it was such fun to watch my three grandkids cuddle the pups and help us choose little Emmy to become part of our family.

Erin & Emmie 2
Yes, we purchased an adorable
six-week-old labradoodle.

Yes, I know puppies are a lot of work. We’ve been there; done that. But with our son and daughter-in-law moving into a home of their own in two weeks (and taking their two dogs with them), our nine-year-old Golden Retriever would be as lonely as us.

Yes, I know I already have more to do each day than I can accomplish. But someone has said “All work and no play makes Jack [and me] dull” [and no fun to be around].

I think Jesus taught His disciples to play as well as to pray. I’ve often imagined Him and the disciples in the Jordan River splashing and dunking each other. I’m sure He had a wonderful sense of humor and a contagious laugh. And His arms always opened wide for the little ones who scrambled onto His lap.

I’m reminded of His words:

“Truly I tell you,
anyone who will not receive
the kingdom of God like a little child
will never enter it.”
Mark 10:15 (NIV)

Father, help me to recapture a childlike spirit that delights in the amazing world You have created. Thank You for grandkids and puppies and reminding me to take time to play.

What did you do this week just for fun?

Emmie 1

I’ve often said, “Some of you haven’t suffered enough to be a  really good writer.” Ouch! I know that’s not what they, or you, want to hear, but I also know that it’s out of the crucible of suffering that our writing impacts our readers in ways that writing out of head knowledge, but not heart (and hard) experiences, is unable to do.

I’ve been writing since 1972. (Yikes, that’s 45 years!) Most all of my 1,000 plus sales to Christian periodicals and eight books have been based on personal experience. As my mentor, Anne Sirna, used to tell me, I’ve got great grist for my writing mill because of all the problems I’ve faced. I’d sigh and tell her I didn’t need more problems to write about – that I hadn’t yet written about the last set of problems. (Problems are groupies – yes? It seems we never are confronted with just one problem at a time.)

Romans 5:3-4 (TLB) says,

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.

I don’t welcome problems, and I don’t pray for patience knowing it will be tested! But I am grateful for all the ways God has proved He is faithful and for the opportunities He has given me to encourage others through writing about what He has taught me in the hard places. It is a joy and a privilege to “pass on to [others] this same help and comfort God has given [me]” (2 Cor. 1:4 TLB).

Stay focused title

I want to encourage you to make the September 21-23 Stay Focused Christian Writers Retreat in Cherry Hill, NJ, a priority. On Saturday I will teach the following workshops:

Go & Grow, Write & Speak through the Hurts
Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. Biblical principles for those times that test and stretch our faith and later become the focus of our writing and speaking ministry. Hands-on Q & A.

Discover God’s Plan for Your Ministry
Is God calling you to write an article, story, or book? Who is your audience? What are their needs? How will you reach them? Should you look for a publisher or go indie? What are the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and indie publishing? Hands-on Q & A.

You Can Do It!
How to indie publish affordably yet professionally. Learn why thousands of authors are choosing independent publishing, or indie publishing, to publish books of all genres. And more importantly learn how you can join them and do it too. Hands-on Q & A.

Think Big Because You Serve a Big God
How to cut the old tapes, stop listening to the wrong voices, and accomplish what God is calling you to do.

I hope to see you there!

stay Focused retreat

 

When Storms Come

hurricane

The devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the fear of the havoc Irma will cause in Florida is overwhelming.

But hurricanes are not the only things that have the power to destroy lives. Are you in the midst of a storm? You can be an overcomer.

  1. Keep a balanced perspective. Do not allow yourself to be swallowed up by nurturing negative thinking patterns, but look for the positive (Phil. 4:8).
  1. Turn your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2-4), knowing as you come to Him that He really does understand all that you are feeling (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16; 5:7-8).
  1. Tell the Lord your honest feelings (Ps. 13:1-3; 69:1-3) and your needs (Ps. 62:8; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7).
  1. Look for the “silver lining”—for the good things God can work through what you are enduring (Rom. 8:28). Ask, Lord, what are You trying to teach me?
  • To depend on Him power and not myself (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
  • To be a sensitive and credible witness (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
  • To build my faith and character (Rom. 5:3-5).
  1. Be still (Ps. 46:10). Listen to and claim God’s promises.
  • He is with me (Isa. 41:10,13; 43:2-3; Rom. 8:35-37).
  • Nothing can separate me from His love—feelings are not facts (Rom. 8:38-39).
  • His help is not dependent upon my faith but His faithfulness (2 Tim. 2:13).
  • He will meet all my needs (Phil. 4:19; Rom. 8:32).
  • Peace and the fruit of His Spirit, regardless of circumstances, are His gift to me (John 14:27; Isa. 26:3; Gal. 5:22-23).
  • His power is available to me (Isa. 40:28-31; Eph. 1:19).
  1. Choose to use problems as opportunities to experience and display God’s power  (2 Cor. 4:8-11).
  1. Develop an expectant faith-filled attitude as you learn to wait on Him (Ps. 37:7) and praise Him before, as well as after, He answers (Ps. 42:11; 71:14, 16).

 

Terry Brynan RN - CopyIf you were at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and attended the Wednesday evening general session, you heard my dear friend, Terry Bryan, share her burden about the upcoming elections in Kenya. Terry has spent a number of years sharing the Gospel and caring for the physical needs of “her people in the Far Places.” (Terry is a nurse and one of the most dynamic Christians I know.)

Please read Terry’s prayer request below and join us in asking Father to cover the elections in Kenya with His presence and peace.

 

Hi all, it’s Terry,

It has been quite some time since I have written.  I love you all, but since I have been waiting on the Lord, I have been quiet.  It has been a time of reflection and restoration of which I am grateful for. I am in US, however I have an urgent request for prayer for Kenya.

Please pray for peace before, during, and after the elections in Kenya. Although Tuesday, Aug 8 is their elections, the time difference makes it our Monday night that people will be lining up to vote. These are our brothers and sisters, and they need our fervent prayers in love.

Please pray for peace in every part of Kenya, among every tribe and every people group.

Even when the ballots are cast, there are petitions to the court contesting the results and that time can be volatile also so please continue to pray for peace.

Remember we do not fight against flesh and blood (people) but against principalities and powers of darkness (the enemy).

“In the name of Jesus, the enemy is bound, the angels are there. There will be peace on all sides.  Pour the blood of Jesus on it, the entire area and the people.  There would be no attacks on the police or people or by the police, army, home guard, terrorists, or people.  Send in your angels Lord to take care of the enemy.  There would be no trouble, no vengeance lived out.  Bind up the enemy. Release the Holy Spirit. Open the flood gates of heaven.  Let there be peace.  Let it spread like a consuming fire.  Let it bring life.  Rise up and live. Let there be no more deaths.  No more injuries.  No more crimes.”

Thank you for your continued prayer, praying for you too.

Love you,

Terry Brynan