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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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Blessed Is He!

blessed

“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!

My constant boast is God.
I can never thank you enough!”
Psalm 44:8 TLB

“How was your week?” a friend asked me at church last Sunday.

“Awful,” I said as I began sharing the details of my stressful week.

He interrupted me. “Well, did anything good happen? Isn’t there anything you’re thankful for?”

Ouch! It had been a tough week – a week where I’d been focused on the problems rather than on the Lord and the many, many reasons I had to be thankful. This week hasn’t been any easier. But then Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him. What He has promised is always to be with us.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalm 91:4 NLT

  • Thank You, Father, for Your promises.
  • Thank You for the problems (yes, I know it’s better to call them “challenges”) that cause me to need to rely upon You.
  • Help me to thank You for my computer especially when it exasperates me. It enables me to do so much more than the manual typewriter I used years ago.
  • Thank You for the opportunity to teach the “Grow Your Writing Ministry” day-long seminar in New Jersey March 25 even though the prep is taking far more time than I anticipated. Click here for more info and to register.

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  • Thank You that I live in a nation where I am still free to live and to write Your answer.

What about you, friends? Have you remembered to say “thank You”?

Hallelujah! Thank GOD! Pray to him by name!
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!”
Psalm 105:1 MSG

New WHA cover
    Are problems (challenges) discouraging you? Are you battling self-doubts, writer’s block, rejection slips, procrastination? My book, Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, has 33 chapters of answers I found during my journey of publishing 9 books and making over 1,000 sales to Christian periodicals. And to my amazement it’s been in print for 25 years! Click here for excerpts and ordering info.
    Yes, planning not one but two conferences is stressful, but thank You, Father, for all You are doing and will do.

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grist mill

Years ago my mentor, Anne Sirna, said, “Problems are wonderful grist for a writer’s mill.” Then she added, “And you have a wonderful life for a writer.”

Well, yes, there certainly has been no shortage of problems in my life. In fact, I often remind the Lord that I haven’t written my way through the last batch of problems.

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.
Romans 5:3 TLB

Patience! Sigh. There’s that word again – that character quality that we’re reluctant to add to our prayer list. Yet if God can work good from the problems and trials (and I know He can), and if I’m able to encourage even one person from the difficulties I’ve gone through and hopefully grown through, then the problems and trials aren’t wasted.

You grow more in the pit than on the pedestal.
Jim Watkins

April 11 I’ll be teaching one of my favorite workshops, “Writing the Personal Experience Story,” at Willow Valley Community in Lancaster County, PA.

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I’ll talk about the importance of journaling because we will forget the details and the intensity of our feelings. I’ll encourage participants to inventory and reflect on their life experiences, and then I’ll discuss the seven essentials and pitfalls of good PE story writing.

1.  Clear focus.
Pitfall – we want to tell too much.

2.  Create reader identification.
Pitfall – the story is important to you but not relevant to your readers’ needs.

3.  Be honest.
Pitfall – the temptation to make yourself look better than you are.

4.  Use the 4Cs of fiction

  • Characters – contrasting & strongly motivated
    Pitfall – don’t lose reader’s sympathy
  • Conflict – credible problems & obstacles
    Pitfall – can’t remember all the details; inconsequential or unbelievable event
  • Crisis – black hole
    Pitfall – too emotional or not emotional enough
  • Change/resolution – take-away
    Pitfall – “I came to realize” or “suddenly I realized”

5.  Strong scenes.
Pitfall – telling instead of showing

6.  Dialogue used effectively.
Pitfall – unnatural, stilted dialogue

7.  Strong take-away.
Pitfall – failure to give reader something he can apply to his own life.

For more information contact Marie Zakaluk at 717-464-6258. If you live too far away, a CD of this workshop or my entire 7.5 hour “Called to Write His Answer” seminar can be ordered through the Write His Answer bookstore.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
he brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.
2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG

Pray that the LORD our God will show us
the way we should go and what we should do.
Jeremiah 42:3 TEV

  • Please pray for CCWC conferees as they choose the faculty they want to meet with at the May 17-20 conference. Father, please help them to take advantage of the wealth of info we’ve provided and to not rush their decision.
  • Please ask Father to show me how He wants me to respond to the requests for scholarship help.
  • Pray for writers who are struggling to justify the cost of a conference because they haven’t yet been made much (or any) income from their writing. Father, please encourage them to believe in You and the gift of words You’ve entrusted to them.

If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer. – James 1:5-7 TLB

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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

Some days words are flowing and your characters seem so real you find yourself praying for them. Other days . . . Well suffice it to say that writing a novel isn’t easy.

The May 17-20 Colorado Christian Writers Conference can transform your story – and you!

Tracie & Jim Peterson Jan 2014Tracie Peterson, award-winning author of over 100 published books along with her husband, Jim, will offer a unique Fiction Clinic that will dissect a best-selling novel in order to help you write a best-seller. It is designed for both new and established writers who long to write quality fiction. Participants will submit a synopsis and the first 10 pages of their work in progress so that their classmates and teachers can dissect their work and discuss it. The clinic is limited to 10 participants. Click here for more information and the application that needs to be submitted by April 15.

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If you’d prefer choosing six one-hour workshops instead of a clinic, our fiction track offers six one-hour workshops:

Reaching Boys through Fiction
Credible characters
Using Your Past in Your Fiction
Dive Into Deep POV
It’s Show Time
Plot Skeleton

Maybe instead of workshops on the craft you need the encouragement workshops in our Writer’s Life track offer. If your novel is near-to-finished, one or more workshops in the Publishing or Marketing Track may be your best choice. You get to choose six workshops from the 42 offered. Click here for titles and blurbs.

 

DJ Disillusioned - CopyDJ Waking Lazurus - CopyI’m especially excited about the continuing session with  novelist D. J. Williams who is also a producer and director of more than 350 episodes of broadcast TV syndicated world-wide. In his six-hour class (you’re able to take it in addition to a clinic or six workshops) D. J. will help you create a roadmap to chase your cause-driven novel. This is an interactive workshop that dives into the structure that moves novelists and screenwriters to write stories that make a difference. I’ve read D. J.’s novels. They are powerful page-turners.

Finally, if you register for all three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) you are entitled to FOUR one-on-one appointments with the faculty of your choice based on their availability when you register. As of today, March 9, there are still ten more opportunities to receive a 5th appointment.

The chart below (1 of 3 pages – click here for a PDF) just includes editors and agents. Our authors and other professionals are also available to offer advice and encouragement. Click here for their Areas of Expertise chart.

Fiction p 1 editorial needs Mar 8

And one more thing . . . We’re also offering a 4-1/2 hour Wednesday afternoon Advanced Fiction Intensive with Kim Woodhouse. You’ll need to submit the application and a 3-page sample of your writing. Kim will dissect your characters, plot, setting, GMC, and voice and then you’ll analyze and discuss each other’s work.

Father, thank You for CCWC’s faculty and their willingness to take time from their work and families to give a hand up to other writers.

And God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work [and word].
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV2011)