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Archive for the ‘Writer’s Life’ Category

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

 

 

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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

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helmet-of-salvation

Guest post from my dear friend, Laura. I encourage you to subscribe to her blog at dailyBibleprayer.com. To read about her journey click here. Laura will be serving on the staff of the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Dear Father, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” It seems some days are harder than others. If even one negative thought comes into my head, it can bring me down. I glumly mull it over and the thought generates an emotional response. Very easily other negative thoughts join in and pile up on each other till I am feeling discouraged

Quickly enough, discouragement heaps on even more ‘should have, would have, could haves’ until I am feeling out of control, overwhelmed and depressed and join with the psalmist in saying “Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death”. In my own words, ‘Help me or I’ll just die.’

It is surprising how quickly simple thoughts can lead to anger, fear, frustration, until I am not only emotionally upset, but also experience a physical response which can leave me with a headache or feeling sick to my stomach. It impairs my judgment and my ability to function efficiently, whether at work or at home. I can’t even relate to people normally in my agitated condition.

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”   You have already given me a wonderful solution to this problem. If only I would remember to use it!   The battle begins in my mind. And You have given me a piece of armor to protect my mind – the Helmet of Salvation.   It guards my thoughts and gives me the ability to take them captive and hold them up to Your truth. It also gives me the ability to understand and memorize Your truth so I have it at the ready when I need it.

Your truth can help me stop the flow of wrong and negative thoughts. The evil one uses these, preferring that I remain sidelined in discouragement and depression, unable to defend myself. He will use these kinds of half-truths and deceiving lies to mislead and condemn me. But when held up to the truth, they are shattered and scattered.

One way I can know if a thought comes from You, is that You convict whereas satan condemns. He would make me feel like a hopeless, dirty, rotten, sinner. You may correct me, but Your words lift me up, motivate and empower me to make the needed corrections. Your words generate hopefulness. His produce hopelessness.

Lord, remind me, to use this amazing gift! When a negative thought comes, prompt me to hold it up to Your truth immediately. Help me build into my memory an arsenal of truth from Your scriptures. When I memorize scripture I can use it to combat the lies seeking to discourage me and control my thinking. Then I can confidently deal with whatever truth You show me. “I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me!” Amen

Psalm 13:1-6

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We are pressed on every side by troubles,
but not crushed and broken.
We are perplexed because we don’t know why
things happen as they do,
but we don’t give up and quit.
2 Corinthians 4:8 TLB

What the apostle Paul and other early followers of Christ endured – what they endure today in nations where there is no freedom of religion – certainly wouldn’t make for an appealing help wanted ad.

We have been beaten, put in jail,
faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion,
stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching,
and gone without food.
2 Corinthians 6:5 TLB

Can you imagine being with him in an inner dungeon, sitting in filth, your feet clamped in stocks, rats nibbling at your toes, and your body in agony because of the beating you just received? Would you, would I, be singing hymns to the Lord? (See Acts 16:23-26.)

What if Paul had said, “I’ve had enough! I quit!” Who would blame him?

But he didn’t quit! And we must not either.

There is a way over, through, around the obstacles if we will

P R A Y 

P E R S E V E R E

and K E E P   O U R   E Y E S   O N   J E S U S who for the joy set before Him endured the cross  (Heb. 12:2).

I am convinced that Father is allowing obstacles in order to strengthen our faith muscles for the difficult days that are ahead as our nation slips farther and farther away from Him.

I have faced one obstacle after another preparing for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I am praising God that one of the biggest obstacles has been overcome. I will be able to provide meals and lodging for late registrants and walk-ins. This is H U G E. With 47 to 71 conferees registering in the last two weeks, I’ve not known how we would feed them and find a bed for their head. But PTL that obstacle has been overcome!

So you can still register and purchase meals and lodging on campus. Although the price has increased, I am happy to offer you free of charge MP3s of my “Grow your Writing Ministry” seminar that I taught this March. The workshops include:

Grow Writing Ministry flyer without order form.pg.jpg

I am so excited about this seminar and about the new direction Father is taking GPCWC. Although the conference format is ending this year (a good reason not to miss coming), I believe the more affordable and focused events throughout the year will continue to encourage you to “write His answer.” The bottom line –

 

I’m NOT quitting or retiring!

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Barb Haley Apr 2016A Message from Barb Haley

CCWC & GPCWC Registrar &
Appointments Coordinator

Have you ever felt like giving up on your writing ministry?

Perhaps that’s why you didn’t register for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in May (well 3 FEET of snow definitely impacted registrations) or why you haven’t yet registered for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference or decided to go to any writers conference this year.

Or maybe you are SO majorly busy that you can’t imagine taking several days from your schedule for a conference—especially if you’ve attended one in the past and you’re still not published. Or maybe you just can’t justify spending the money to support a hobby you love, but that—face it—doesn’t promise any financial returns.

I’ve definitely felt the same way a LOT of times. I go to workshops and conferences, get all excited, and … nothing. Either I don’t hear from the faculty member who asked me to send my writing, or I receive a note that says I’m a strong writer, but the piece just doesn’t meet the publishing house’s needs at this moment. Oh, and P.S. (they add) Please don’t give up. I’m sure there’s another publishing house out there who will want to give your manuscript a home.

Ha. So reassuring. Right?

Not.

Well, I was there last fall when I was spending hunks of time on my first novel. What I once loved had turned to a burden. Getting published seemed to rest on my shoulders. Twitter, Facebook, website, blog, etc. Daily deadlines that did nothing to inspire me to keep writing my book.

But what was worse was realizing that if my writing was never published, I was wasting time that could be better spent in some sort of ministry related activity. So I talked to God about it.

“I don’t know what to do, Lord,” I prayed. “I thought You called me to write. The words come easy. Ideas flood my mind. But I don’t want to waste time if I’m not in Your will.”

The answer was immediate. God spoke to my spirit. “Barbie, if the novel you are working on ministers to just one person, will that be enough for all the time you’ve spent working on it?”

Tears flooded my eyes. My Father understood me. Loved me. Heard even the unspoken words of my heart.

“Of course, it would,” I answered. “But it’s not my time I’m concerned about. I love writing. I’m concerned that what I’m doing isn’t what You want me to be doing.”

Again: “If what you are doing ministers to one person, do you think that could be My plan?”

“Oh, yes, Father.”

I thought about the beta copies I’d just sent out to a dozen friends when I finally finished my novel (for the zillionth time-ha!). Many had responded with how the words had touched their hearts. How they could relate to the character’s issues and struggles in her Christian walk. How the answers God gave her spoke to them, the readers.

I thought about the seven devotionals I write each year for piddly-little money. But it’s not about the money. It’s about spreading the gospel.

And I thought about my blog. Every time I post, God seems to use the words to minister to someone. Usually just someone I already know. Not like my readership has blossomed.

But could it be that this is the very audience God desires for me to minister to? Could it be I got so excited about being called to write that I quickly assumed that meant to be in print? In the bookstores?

Or could God be calling me to reach the ones I already know with His love and encouragement? Would that be enough for me? For God?

Okay. I can’t tell you what a release I felt when the truth sank in. God had called me to write. I just needed to take the future results out of the box I’d filed them in and allow God to shape my writing future in any way He deems best. He didn’t call me to publish. He called me to write.

Then God spoke one more time to my heart. He confirmed His call so strongly I will never doubt it again.

But first, let me ask about you. Has God called you to write? Has a lack of “success” blocked you from moving forward? From attending a conference?

Fifteen years I’ve been coming, and you know, I strongly believe all these years of preparation and learning the craft of writing have enabled me to be used by God. To put His words and thoughts on paper. To share what He’s done for me, and what He wants to do for readers.

Lord Get Your NeedleSo I continue. And last year I self-published my first non-fiction book, a set of devotionals: Lord, Get Your Needle—I’m Falling Apart at the Seams. Subtitle: The Emotional Strain of Chronic Pain.

Huge sales? Nope. But many, many confirmations of God using the words to minister to His hurting children. Worth my time and effort? Definitely.

Today, the fact that we can self-publish is HUGE.  In fact, many big-name authors are going this route. Does it take work? Yes. But how exciting to know that we now have an avenue to put our words out there for others.

What did God say to me that cemented His call in my heart?

After I assured Him I was willing to write my whole life for just one person and that I knew He would be pleased, He said, “Good, because that one person is you.”

Oh, my. The love of God overpowered me. For me.

I knew my main character in the novel was much like me. In fact I’d hoped that I could share the lessons God had taught me through the character.

But what I didn’t realize was that in writing—in asking God constantly what He wanted to say to the character next—I was allowing God to speak to my life. The conflict and situations that seemed to spontaneously come to my mind for my character came from the Holy Spirit, and as I worked through them, on my character’s behalf, I worked through them for me. Deep, hidden questions. Wounds. Self-doubts. Painful honesty and surrender.

I’m a new creation because of what I experienced as I wrote. The truth I searched for on behalf of my main character has set me free on so many levels. Glory be to God!

So, before this email becomes a book, I want to encourage you to register for the July 26-29 Philly conference. Marlene says there is a small amount of scholarship money still available and she is MORE than willing to work with you on time payments. We don’t want you to miss out.

Come spend time in the presence of God. Hear His voice and allow Him to rekindle the flame under your writing ministry and passion. Join with other writers and discover that friendship and support we all crave and need. Listen and improve your writing skills. Allow God to prepare you for what He has in mind for your future. For your world of influence.

Love in Christ!

Barb Haley
2017 GPCWC Registrar/Appointments Coordinator

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

P.S. from Marlene – Thank You, Father, for speaking so powerfully to Barb and giving her the gift of words to share her story with us.

Of course, we’d love for you to register for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I’ve extended the early registration date through JUNE 30. Plus, you’ll receive an additional free 15-minute appointment. That’s a total of five if you register for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But if the date and location don’t work for you (the conference is in a Philly suburb and near the east/west PA Turnpike and I95), check out the other summer conferences on the Christian Manuscript Submissions website.

And if you have a book manuscript you’ve been unable to place with a traditional publisher, do pray about indie publishing. Sarah Bolme, director of the Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), is teaching the continuing session, “You Can Indie Publish and Market Your Book,” at the Philly conference. You’ll gain the knowledge and tools you need to publish and market your own book affordably. Topics will include: three things to do before you publish your book; preparing your manuscript; DIY publishing; obtaining book reviews; and marketing, the essential ingredient. CDs of when Sarah taught this in May at the Colorado conference are available. You’ll find the link to order them at http://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

The most important thing you need to do? Pray! And invite several friends to become part of a prayer team and to hold you accountable to do what Father is calling you to do.

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Get to Work

 

Solomons temple

Be strong and courageous
and get to work.

Don’t be frightened
by the size of the task,

for the Lord my God is with you;
he will not forsake you.
He will see to it that everything
is finished correctly.

1 Chronicles 28:20 (TLB)

 

Okay, I get it! I’m not King Solomon. I certainly do not have his wisdom, and I’m grateful God has not asked me to build a temple. But the work He is calling me to do can seem just as overwhelming. Impossible, really, if I don’t stay focused on the Lord and on His promises.

What about you? Do you have an idea for a book that you’ve safely tucked away into your “someday” file? Or maybe you began writing it, but then you allowed doubts to creep in. Perhaps you actually finished a couple of chapters only to be crushed by the less than enthusiastic response of an editor, agent, or your critique group.

I can’t guarantee that investing in the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will open the door to publication. But I can assure you that you’ll learn tons, make new forever friends, and hear from the Lord if you’re listening.

The bios of our 56 faculty members are finally online along with their editorial needs, areas of expertise (they really want to help you), and the services they offer. It took me almost a week of solid work – work that wasn’t any easier just because I’ve been doing it for 33 years. I added the amazing charts that Barb Haley, our Appointments Coordinator, prepared to help you determine who to request for your free one-on-one appointments.

Remember, at the Philly conference you get FOUR free 15-minute appointments if you attend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Even better, if you’re among the next 20 to register, you’ll receive an additional BONUS appointment.

Father, please help us to believe, to really believe, that You can use the words You are calling us to write to make a difference in our hurting world. Help us to focus on the needs of our readers and Your promises instead of our self-doubts. 

He who believes need never run away again.

Isaiah 28:16 TLB

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The following, shared with permission, is from Laura Shaffer’s Daily Bible Prayer. Laura is a powerful prayer warrior and on staff at the Greater Philly and Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I encourage you to subscribe to her blog.

With the time pressures of all that must be done before I leave May 15 for the Colorado conference and getting the brochure – finally – to the printer for the July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference (PTL the brochure is also now online), I need to constantly seek Father for wisdom to know what is the next thing He wants me to do. Only He can enable me – and you – to handle the time pressures that would otherwise leave us overwhelmed and ineffective. Thank You, Father, that no request is too big or too small.

Let him have all your worries and cares for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.
1 Peter 5:7 TLB

Time Management
Laura Shaffer

O Father, You have always been my God. Even before I knew who You were, I saw the beauty of Your creation. You put the mountains in place, You created the seas and all that is in them. Yet even before there was earth and sky, You were there. You are “from everlasting to everlasting.”

to do listYou tell me “a thousand years is like a day in Your sight.” Your sense of time is far different from mine. I cannot even imagine it. So I ask You, who knows time and all things, to teach me to live each day to the fullest. Teach me how to measure out my energy for what is important. Do not let me fall victim to the “tyranny of the urgent.” Help me put thought into setting my priorities for spending my time and my energy. Many things of value are not urgent, but are significant. If I only deal with the urgent, the important things slip by.

I desire to live intentionally, not let my life pass by without doing all I can to honor and glorify You.   But already, days slip by, weeks, seasons and even years; and I wonder where the time went.   Father, do not let one more day pass that I do not consider what You want me to accomplish. And show me how to make time for it.

Give me a revelation, a vision for the next part of my life. Show me how to get from here to there in steps I can see. Help me to know when something interrupts, whether it is a distraction or a divine opportunity.

I lay my life before You, Lord. Guide me. Show me.   Thank You for the years I’ve already lived. And let me live each new one for You. Amen

Psalm 90:1-12

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