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Archive for the ‘Writer’s Life’ Category

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!”

Jesus entering Jerusalem

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 this message – really a Bible study that I’ve given several times as a keynote – is available online. I hope you’ll download it and make time to prayerfully consider the passages. This week as you focus on Jesus’ passion, ask Him how He wants to use you to share His love with those who do not yet know He loved them enough to go to the cross.

Our story – One of the most powerful ways to reach those who do not yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord is through stories of our encounter with Him. If you live in the Lancaster, PA, area I encourage you to come this Tuesday morning to the workshop I’m teaching on “Writing the Personal Experience Story.” It’s also available on CD.

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Reminder 
– The price for the May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference increases April 16. I know the Lord will meet us on the mountain and encourage and equip us to “write His answer.”

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Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, July 26-29
 – 
I am rejoicing for the 52 agents, editors, and authors that Father has called to serve on the faculty. I’m beginning the process of updating the website and hope to open online registration April 17.

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Grumbling face cropped

Have you – really? Have you suffered enough to be a really good writer?

Surprise – I’m not talking about rejection slips!

Someone has said it takes 1,000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND) rejection slips to become a writer. Been there. Done that! I’ve received over 3,000 rejection slips,  but I’ve also experienced the joy of over 1,000 acceptances.

Taylor Caldwell, the author of over 50 novels, including Tender Victory that I read as a teenager and that changed my life, said:

Rejection slips are what separate the men from the boys.  If they spur him on, and make him more determined to write acceptably and force him to learn more, then he can be sure he is a writer.  It is only a matter of time and increasing wisdom and patience.  I myself wrote for 30 years before I had a single thing published.

Yes, becoming a writer takes time, increasing wisdom, and patience. But if we want to write words that will impact lives for eternity, it takes more than just persevering through rejection slips – even 1,000 rejection slips. Far more important it takes a commitment to go and grow through the trials that are part of life.

These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. 1 Peter 1:7 TLB

March 25 I am teaching a day-long Christian Writers Workshop in Philippsburg, NJ.

The opening session is “Go & Grow, Write & Speak through the Hurts” because I truly believe our most powerful writing will result from our greatest struggles and deepest heartaches. The fact is Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. I’ll share biblical principles (click here for the free handout) for those times that test and stretch our faith and later become the focus of our writing and speaking ministry.

Other workshops include:

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? Q & A

Public Speaking – Presenter Jewell Utt
Public speaking is a common fear for many writers. Learn how to prepare yourself, your talk, and the room to deliver a presentation with confidence and relevance. Techniques will include appearance, oration, content, and style.

You Can Do It!
How to indie publish affordably yet professionally. 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.

Although the workshops will be recorded and available for purchase through the Write His Answer bookstore, if you live in NJ or eastern PA, I want to encourage you to come March 25 for the fellowship you’ll share with other Christians who are called to write. (Yes, we have a snow date just in case. It’s April 1.) For more info and to register go to http://www.jewellutt.com/events/writersworkshop/. If you’re interested in the possibility of me teaching this day-long workshop in your area, please email me at mbagnull@aol.com.

And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.
Philippians 1:6 TLB

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Spring

crocusToday is the third day we’ve had temperatures in the 70s. I’m so excited to discover flowers blooming in my garden and so tempted to begin uncovering the blanket of leaves surrounding them.

But March can be bitter cold and snowy even if the weatherman predicts it will be mild. It seems pointless to check the long-range forecast since weather is something no one can control and there’s no guarantee the forecast will be accurate. Besides, I’d rather believe we’re going to have an early spring.

I confess – I’m impatient. I have a hard time waiting and not just for spring. Forgive me, Father, when I fail to trust Your perfect timing. Help me to joyfully submit to Your work in my life for surely You are . . .

The Master Gardener

He planted the seed in the ground.
Ever so slowly it changed –
actually it died –
that it might be born into something new.

It began to push through the soil.
First one, then another leaf appeared.
From a spindly little seedling
it kept growing – and changing –
until it became a sturdy, bushy plant.
Buds formed and then beautiful flowers unfolded.

In our Christian walk,
we too must first die to ourselves,
surrendering our wills to that of our Maker.
The newness of His life within us
begins to germinate and take root.
We begin to push through problems and obstacles.
As we continue to draw up nourishment from Him –
to become strong and vigorous in His truth –
fruit that we could never produce by ourselves
begins to first bud, and then bloom.
And it is all the work of the Master Gardener.

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starts-with-one-word
I’ve often written about the three Deadly Ds.

Disappointment

Doubt

Discouragement

Anyone seeking to serve the Lord through the ministry of writing, or any ministry, is likely to encounter these Deadly Ds.

But there is a 4th “D” that can transform the three Deadly Ds into something positive.

Dependence

Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me.
Isaiah 26:4 MSG

As long as we’re trying to make something happen in our own strength, we’re likely not only to encounter the Deadly Ds but to miss the ever-deepening dependent relationship the Lord wants us to have with Him.

Jesus put it this way:

Live in me, and I will live in you.
A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself.
It has to stay attached to the vine.
In the same way, you cannot produce fruit
unless you live in me.
John 15:4 GW

The 4th D is what keeps me going and, I trust, growing through the now 21 years of directing the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and 34 years of directing the Philly conference. The past week has been challenging to say the least, but finally the brochure is off press and the bios of all 56 faculty members are now online.

It’s dependence on God that is what Pastor Andrew Brunson, wrongly imprisoned in Turkey, is clinging to. See his words that CCWC faculty member, Catherine Lawton, shared in her blog. (Click here.) Please pray for him.

It’s dependence on God that is enabling my friend, Kelly Fordyce Martindale, to compile a book of stories to encourage and offer hope to readers who, like her, have lost a child or a young person near to them or have supported someone who has. Click here for more information. Stories of 1,000-3,000  words are due by March 10, but please let Kelly know by February 21 if you intend to submit a story.

Father, help us to look to You when we’re facing the Deadly Ds and to choose to depend on You.

Depend on GOD and keep at it
because in the LORD GOD you have a sure thing.
Isaiah 26:4 MSG

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I met Lee Roddy in 1980 at the St. David’s Christian Writers Conference. I don’t remember if it was my first or second writers’ conference. What I do remember is how overwhelmed (okay, scared) I felt. What made me think I had what it would take to write a book, much less to get it published? I felt ashamed that I was only a high school graduate. Yet there was that sense of call I couldn’t shake.

Lee’s Sunday night keynote felt like it was aimed directly at me. I had not signed up to take his continuing class because I wasn’t writing fiction and didn’t even read fiction. But without a doubt I know God sat me down in Lee’s class. What I learned coupled with Lee’s encouragement to put a commitment in writing to finish my book in a year so that “eternity would be different” changed my life.

Lee kept in touch with me the next year (I did finish my book in a year to the day) and in the five years that followed as I struggled to find a publisher. He always knew how to mix encouragement with the admonishment not to give up. Largely because of Lee I didn’t give up and the rest, as they say, is history.

Father, thank You for the gift of Lee’s friendship through the years. I’m so grateful to be one of his “kids.” You gave me an incredible writing papa.

Rather than telling you about Lee, let me share some of what he wrote in his foreword to Write His Answer: 

I met Marlene at a 1980 writers’ conference where I was speaking and teaching. Marlene, like many, felt God’s call on her life to write for him.

At that time, I wrote a notation in Marlene’s Bible about one of my own motivational passages, Habakkuk 2:2 and 3. There God says to “write the vision.” In the margin of Marlene’s Bible, alongside those verses, I wrote, “This was God’s promise to me as an
author. Maybe yours, too?”

Marlene was sure God had called her to write a book, so she set down her vision. That’s not uncommon. Many writers, filled with inspiration, start off strong. Then they get discouraged and quit. When they do, God’s vision for them is lost. How sad!

If it’s God’s will to write, then it’s logical that publication should eventually follow. After all, an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives. Even a finished one cannot minister in a drawer or  filing cabinet. Only in published form can a book go where you and I will never go, to people we will never meet. Only in published form can a book make a difference in eternity.

So why do many writers, feeling called to write, fall short? I believe it’s because they neglect to note the way God says he will bring the vision to pass. That involves his time element, not the writer’s. Read the Lord’s clear words: “But these things I [God] plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Hab. 2:3).

I don’t know of a single successful author in the inspirational field who hasn’t experienced doubts and discouragement. The unsuccessful are the ones who quit.

I’m praying you will not quit! Trust Father’s timing, and allow Him to use your disappointments, doubts, and discouragement to draw you closer to Him.

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

Lissa Halls Johnson said in her February 7, 2017 Facebook post:There are many writers who owe part of their successful writing career to a man named Lee Roddy, author of 60+ books. For many years he traveled to schools and the writers conference circuit teaching the art of writing fiction to eager students of all ages. He encouraged writers in his adult classes to consider signing a document of commitment to complete their book. He took that commitment very seriously and did not want anyone signing if they were not willing to put everything they had to fulfill that commitment.” Click here to read the rest of her tribute to Lee.

Lee lived the commitment he challenged others to make. From his August 28, 2016 Facebook post: “I celebrated my 95th birthday two days after being released from the hospital where I had been for two more weeks before that. . . . Out of the recent hours of long lonliness I felt led to finish two novels now in progress, plus other projects. Retirement is not in sight.”

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Not Good Enough

puppy-cropped“Not good enough.” I heard those words frequently when I was growing up. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I was not good enough.

I remember my mother telling me, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Not true. Words can and do hurt and, sadly, I carried many of them into my adult life. Perhaps you, too?

I was almost 40 when I finally learned the difference between the condemnation of the evil one and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 TLB

What joy to know that God loves me, really loves me, even when I mess up.

Still, even today, the old “not good enough” tape can begin to play if I’m not vigilant.

And there’s some truth in the lie. I know I’m not good enough, not smart enough, and yes, not patient enough especially when it comes to mastering technology. But then, do any of us ever master what is constantly changing?

Yesterday and today I spent over three hours each day on the phone with the printer and in Quark trying to fix the line-up of pages 8 and 9 of the brochure for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Yes, as one friend urged, I could have paid the printer’s art department to do it. But then I’d have to pay them to do the same for the Philly brochure. The only way to finally solve the loss of time and money that happens twice a year when it’s brochure time is for me to fix the file myself in Quark so I have a template for future brochures.

I confess – I’ve not been patient the past two days. (See my “Pray for Patience?” post.) I’ve grown increasing impatient, and not just with myself but also with the six different techs I talked with.

After six time-consuming revisions, I’ve finally gotten the columns on pages 8-9 to line up as closely as I’m able. They’re still a hairline off, but I’m refusing to accept the “not good enough” lie. Why? Because wisdom (I believe) says it’s more important to move on to the rest of what needs to be done rather than be controlled by an ego that tells me I must be perfect.

My point in all this? I know there are many of you who will never submit the manuscript you’re working so hard on because you’re listening to the lie that it’s “not good enough.” Friends, let’s all learn to do our best and leave the rest to the Lord. It’s a far healthier and happier place than allowing ourselves to be in bondage to a perfectionist spirit that will always insist that we’re “not good enough.”

Thank You, Father, for Your grace, mercy, and love.

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Discouraged faceSomeone has said you’re not a professional writer until you’ve received one thousand rejection slips. One thousand! That’s a lot of disappointments, especially if, like me, you’ve struggled all your life with feeling rejected.

“Why, God? Why aren’t you opening the doors?” It’s a legitimate question; but if we listen closely, we may find the tone of our voice bordering on a whine.

Diagnosis? Disappointments have made us vulnerable to discouragement. Left unchecked, doubts will get a stranglehold on us next. Then despair will follow as the Deadly Ds disable us. I know. I’ve been there. [Yes, I’ve gotten over one thousand rejection slips, but I’ve also made over one thousand sales and have published nine books.]

The Evil One knows where you’re most vulnerable. The more he sees you as a threat, the more fiercely he will attack. Can we recover from the Deadly Ds? Of course, as long as we submit ourselves to the care of the Great Physician. But we must remember that the virus will always be latent. We need to faithfully follow the Doctor’s orders:

Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord.
1 Peter 5:8-9 TLB

New WHA coverThe above excerpts from chapter 26 of my book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, ring as true today as when first published 25 years ago. Click here to read the entire chapter, “Conquering the Deadly Ds.”

Far too often I see gifted writers give up –  writers who I truly believe are called by God to write His answer. That’s why I keep on keep on directing two Christian writers conferences. May 17-20 is the 21st year for the Colorado conference; July 26-29 the 34th year for the Philly conference.

About half of the faculty for Philly is chosen, but I’ve not yet begun updating the Philly website. The faculty of 55 agents, authors, and editors is in place for the Colorado conference. Click here to see who is coming.

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I’m still choosing the 57 workshops we’ll offer in Colorado, but the 8 continuing sessions are in place. Click here for descriptions of each as well as the bio of the instructor.

 The Chase (for novelists & screenwriters)
D.J. Williams – Executive Producer, Director, Author

You Can Indie Publish & Market Your Book
Sarah Bolme
Director, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), Author

Writing Powerful Narrative Nonfiction
Sherri Langton
Associate Editor, Bible Advocate Now What? ezine
Freelance Writer

Writing that Changes Lives
Bill Watkins
Author; Senior Editor, BroadStreet Publishing Group

Develop and Market Your Nonfiction Book
Mike Loomis
Book Developer, Editor, Ghostwriter, Literary Agent

Reaching Women through Writing & More
Linda Evans Shepherd
Author, Speaker, Publisher
Founder/Director, Advanced Writers & Speakers Assc. (AWSA)

Market Your Message without Selling Your Soul
Eryn Lynum
Author, Marketing Specialist

The Courage to Write
Judith Couchman
Author, Speaker, Writing Coach

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

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