Final Day at the Writers’ Conference

9-18-14 8 BookstorePeople made a final visit to the bookstore this morning because it closed at noon. The topic of the conference today was “Craft and Creativity”. There was a panel discussion on Creativity which was interesting and very fun. We also saw first hand how an editor critiques a manuscript.

9-18-14 14 lunchLunch ( our final meal at the conference) was a salad bar and build your own tacos. Delicious! I hate to step on the scale. We were fed too well this week.

This afternoon I attended three workshops. At the closing of the conference I won a free book. Also, one of the authors there gave everyone free copies of three of her books. Plus I bought 2 books. I have plenty to read for quite a while. Now it’s time to get to work and start improving my writing.

As I was leaving the conference I discovered I had a flat tire on my car. Luckily, two young guys who work at Maranatha just got out of work and they changed the tire for me. By the time I got home I was exhausted. It is going to feel so good sleeping in my own bed tonight. The conference was fantastic! I am already planning to attend next year and I hope I can have enough money to stay on site again like I did this year.

People from several other states, as far away as Colorado, attended this conference. If you have the opportunity to attend a writers’ conference in your area take advantage of it.  It is well worth your time if you are serious about writing.

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Day Three of Writers’ Conference

9-17-14 8 Panel discussion Publishing optionsToday the focus was on publishing. There was a panel made up of agents and publishers who discussed the various publishing options from traditional to independent to hybrid forms of publishing. this afternoon I attended only two of the three workshops. The first one was “Top Ten Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make” led by author/publisher Eddie Jones. The second one was “Growing Your Writing Resume Through Articles, Blogs, and Devotions” led by literary agent Ann Byle. Later in the afternoon I met one-on-one with Ann and we talked about the way I should go to continue building my platform and getting some of my devotionals published. I’ve known Ann for a few years and trust her information. Instead of trying to get a devotional book published Ann suggested I work towards being published in magazines and to definitely continue my blog.

9-17-14 13 cheesecake dessertTonight was a banquet for dinner with yummy cheesecake for dessert. This was followed by our evening speaker Cliff Graham. He is a former Marine and also served in the Army military police. He is a novelist and filmmaker. His Lion of War series is about King David and his mighty men. It is in the process of being made into a movie trilogy. He discussed his writing journey. He also discussed the work he and others are doing in other countries to fight the sex trafficking of children. It was a very interesting presentation. I bought his book “Day of War”. 9-17-14 15 Chris Graham

After all this we had the option of going to the beach for a bonfire and S’mores. I chose not to go and hopefully I will get to bed earlier tonight than I did last night. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I can’t believe it’s almost over. The days have gone by so fast. I have learned so much. Stay tuned for more coverage of the conference tomorrow.

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Writers’ Conference – Day Two

9-16-14 6 Panel discussionThe day was packed full of information. Following morning worship there was a General Session on Reaching Readers and a panel discussion on Marketing and Social Media. This was followed by a Social Media show ‘n tell.

9-16-14 12 LunchThey are really feeding us well. All the meals are buffet style and the food is delicious. After lunch the afternoon was spent attending workshops. We could choose 3 different workshops to attend. I choose: 1. Writing and Speaking to Change Lives; 2. Your Part in the Marketing Plan; and 3. Building an Author Page on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Everyone of them was immensely informative.

9-16-14 27 Lake MichBefore dinner I took a walk down to Lake Michigan. It was beautiful. Sunshine, sea gulls on the beach, waves rolling in – such a relaxing sight.

The speakers for our evening session were Newell and Colleen Cerak, authors of the book “Mistaken Identity”. You might remember the story. In 2006 their daughter, along with several other students from Taylor University, was in a horrible car accident. The Cerak’s were told their daughter had died. Another girl had survived and was severely injured. Five weeks after the accident the Cerak’s found out their daughter was the one in the hospital, not the one they had buried. They gave us details of what happened and how they dealt with the media after the book came out.

The final event of the evening was small critique groups hosted by Word Weavers writing group and Redbud writing group. Nine or ten members of the West Michigan Word Weavers came for the evening. We conducted critique sessions so people could see how helpful critique groups can be for improving their writing. The day finally ended at 10 PM.

It was a long day, but a fun, educational day. I am meeting so many new people. I am excited to see what tomorrow will bring. But for now I’m exhausted and the bed looks very inviting. (To be continued).

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Day One of the Conference

9-15-14 17 Welcome sign in lodgeThe first day at the conference began at 2 PM. The theme for the conference is EVERY WRITER NEEDS A TEAM. The theme verses are Romans 12:5-8. Today was basically an overview of what the rest of the week will be about. The speakers today mentioned the different types of publishing available to writers: such as traditional publishers, e-publishing, independent presses, and self-publishing. These will be discussed in more detail during the various workshops and speakers this week. We learned that we need to understand our readers and know what our marketing strategy will be. We need an editor to review our work. We must be persistent, roll with the punches, and remember that the master over it all is God.

9-15-14 24It was fun talking with people I had met at this conference last year and meeting new people from Michigan and other states. Dinner was delicious. After the evening speaker we had an ice cream social.  Tomorrow we really start digging into the craft of writing and the publishing scene.

9-15-14 15 lower lobbyThe lodge where I am staying is beautiful. We are only 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. I hope to walk down there sometime this week. Today it was too rainy and chilly. I have a room to myself which is very nice. This is going to be a great week. It’s only the beginning. Stay tuned for more to come.

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Getting Ready To Attend A Writers’ Conference

Main signMy blog is going to be a little different this week. Instead of the usual devotional I am going to write about attending a writers’ conference. This week I will be attending the Christian Writers’ Conference at Maranatha Conference Center in Muskegon, MI. I’ve been waiting for this week all year. When I get my income tax return each year I always set aside money for this conference.

The conference is four days and the setting is beautiful. Lake Michigan is just a very short walk down the road. It is an intense four days with speakers and several workshops. Author, publishers, agents and editors come from around the country to share information. We even have time to meet one-on-one with the ones we choose to briefly discuss our writing. Lake MI 3

The days start at 8 AM with devotions and music, followed by a speaker or panel discussion. The rest of the day (until supper) is the time we attend the workshops. After supper is another speaker and then something fun, like a campfire and making s’mores.

Descriptions of the workshops were posted about 6 weeks ago. I spent a great deal of time reading about each one and choosing the ones I will attend. Throughout the conference there are nine time slots for workshops with 3-4 to choose from in each slot. That’s nine different topics on writing to learn about, from the basics of writing a story to setting up an author page on social media sites to learning which form of publishing is right for you.

There is also plenty of time to network with other writers, to encourage each other and to find out what’s worked or not worked for them in their writing journey. People from several states and even from some foreign countries attend this conference. I can’t wait for tomorrow when it begins.

If you have a passion for writing I strongly encourage you to attend at least one writers’ conference a year. You can just goggle “writers’ conferences” and you’ll find there are many to choose from all over the country and various times during the year. Once you attend a conference you will want to go again and again. The excitement for writing at these conferences is contagious. You will leave inspired and motivated to continue writing. Whether you are a beginner or a published author writers’ conferences are beneficial and very fun.

Over the next four days I will share my experience at the Maranatha conference and post some pictures. By conference end on Thursday I hope you, too, will be inspired to find a conference to attend in the near future.

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Equipped

IM000252.JPG“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”    Hebrews 13:20-21

No matter what activity we pursue we need to be equipped. When we work in the garden we have gloves on and use a spade or rake. If we’re running a race our equipment is a healthy strong body and good running shoes. Road construction requires heavy machinery. For everything we do the prayer above is prevalent.

I especially like this prayer for Christian writers. We have been given a mission to work on for God. Our writing is our work. God gave us the job of spreading His word. How does He equip us for this work?

1.  He gives us the passion to write. Something inside us keeps pushing us to write. (The Holy Spirit is telling us we must to this).

2.  He gives us ideas to write about. How many times have ideas popped into your head and you can’t wait to start writing? (The Holy Spirit is at work).

3.  At times we get stuck on the words. God leads us to the words to write. Suddenly we start writing and are amazed at what shows up on the paper. (Yep, it’s the Holy Spirit again.).

4.  God provides the audience for our writing. It may be one person or a hundred. There are people He is preparing to read what we write. (The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of others).

With all the help we receive from God, through the Holy Spirit, we have no excuse not to write.

If you are having “writer’s block” pray this prayer from Hebrews and let God Almighty take over and equip you for the job ahead.

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Mercy

IM000342.JPG“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  Ephesians 2:4-5

Recently at work I messed up, I missed a key point of information when setting things up for a client. As soon as I realized it I notified my boss. She could have easily gotten upset and reprimanded me, and she would’ve been right in doing so. Instead she said, “We have a tough job and we are not always going to catch everything. We just do the best we can.” She showed me mercy.

On a much larger scale God has shown us mercy. We are sinners. There is no getting around that fact. No matter how had we try we will never be perfect. Even though we know how God wants us to live we are going to mess up. We are not immune to temptations and we will sin. Based on our actions we have no way of being accepted into heaven.

However, God is not the angry boss who says, “You blew it. Too bad for you. You’re out!” Instead God is merciful and says, “Keep trying to do your best. I have provided a way for you.”

That way is Jesus Christ. Everyone of us deserve punishment for our sinful lives. We don’t deserve eternal life. Yet Jesus was willing to bear the punishment for us by suffering and dying on the cross. This action was God’s grace and mercy being freely given to us. All we have to do is believe in what Jesus did for us and accept God’s gift of eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

What are we to do in response? We cannot earn our way into heaven, but we can live our lives the best way possible as demonstration of our love to God for what He gave us. We will sin from time to time, however, we have a loving God, who is full of mercy, to turn to. We confess our sins to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and then try our best not to repeat the sin. In His loving mercy God hears us, loves us, and will help us along the way.

Have you experienced God’s mercy and grace? He is waiting for you to open your heart to Him and accept His gift through Jesus Christ.

 

Dear Merciful God, I am a sinner and there is no reason You should listen to me. I come before You on bended knee confessing my sin and asking for Your forgiveness. I don’t deserve Your mercy, but I believe in the promise of eternal life You freely give through Your Son, Jesus. Please accept my confession and help me turn away from my sin. Thank you for Your mercy, grace and love.    In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.

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Book Review – The Presence, Experiencing More of God

978-1-4143-8724-6
It is time for us to get our focus back on God where it belongs. Alec Rowlands shows us where we are falling short in our relationship with God. He presents ways in which we can begin to experience God the way God intended our relationship with Him to be. Yes, we need the knowledge provided by Scripture, but we also need to FEEL His presence, to experience God at a personal level, and to have our hearts changed by Him.

  “The Presence, Experiencing More of God” is easy to read and full of practical information regarding how to enhance our relationship with God. Christians who experience the presence of God but may have lost the feeling of being close to Him, this book is for you. People who know God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit intellectually but not personally, this book is definitely for you. Read it with an open mind and open heart. This book could be the beginning to the change in your whole perspective of life with God.

(A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Tyndale House Publishing for review purposes)

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/9399691-lorraine”>View all my reviews</a>

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Not Meant To Be Alone

IM000750.JPG“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”   Ecclesiastes  4:9-10

We’ve heard the phrase “no man is an island”. God made us to be social beings. We have family members, friends, work associates who care about us and we care about them. People help each other out when there is a need. We laugh together, cry together, have fun together, worship together. God wants us to have relationships with other people.

Then along comes the writer. Writing is a solitary activity. We don’t want other people around wanting to interact with us when we are trying to write. We like peace and quiet with no distractions to let our thoughts materialize and flow onto the paper.

But even writers need other people at times. We need accountability partners to keep motivating us to write. We need caring peers who will critique our work and be honest about what they read. We need a shoulder to cry on and encouragement from others when we receive those dreaded rejection letters.

Even though we write alone, we are not meant to always be alone in regards to our writing.

Now for the push – no matter where you are in your writing journey – novice or published author – if you do not already belong to a writers’ group find one. It’s important that the group critiques each other’s work. Just goggle “writing groups in (your location). Don’t try to go it alone. That is not God’s plan for us. We all need support and caring from other people.

 

Dear Lord, Please help me find a writing group that is right for me. Push me to get involved. Give me the courage to let others critique my writing. Deep down I want this, but I’m scared. Please give me the motivation to seek out caring writers who will assist me on my writing journey.       In Jesus’ Name,    Amen

 

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A Friend Forever

file0001602209938[1]“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”     John 15:13-15  (these are the words of Jesus)

Do you have a life-long friend? Maybe it is someone from your neighborhood when you were growing up or a friendship that began in school and is still going strong. This special person is someone you can tell your secrets to. You know he/she will always stand by you and be there if you need them.

What about putting your life on the line for a friend? We see this happening in war where a soldier will risk his life running into the battle to save a fellow soldier who is down. Another example is when a person donates a kidney to someone else. That person has no clue if their remaining kidney will stay healthy, but they don’t care.

We may not all have friends who are that close to us here on earth, but there is someone who was willing to die for us. In fact, he did suffer a very painful death so we could live. That person is Jesus Christ. He was willing to be crucified on a cross and pay the price for our sins so we won’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 6:23

If we accept Christ as our Savior believing He died for us and then conquered death by rising again He will call us friends. Imagine being friends with Jesus Christ. He longs to have that relationship with each of us. We can be assured of a friend who will do anything for us, even die in our place.

Are you friends with Jesus? He is a friend forever.

 

Dear Jesus, I want to experience a growing friendship with You. I ask You to enter my heart and my life as Lord and Savior. I believe You paid the ultimate price for my sin and then rose again to freely give me eternal life. Thank you.     Amen

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