Category Archives: Acting

Scriptwriting: Biblical Truth From the Stage and Let’s Celebrate Kudos & MoGo7000 Successes

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

I love drama. I love how it visually projects truth in a non-confrontational way. I love how it can have us laughing one moment and contemplating the complex issues of life the next.

Jesus loved drama, too. His parables are truth presented in a visual, non-confrontational way. They have us laughing one moment (I mean, a camel going through the eye of a needle? Someone carrying around a log in his eye?) and contemplating the weight of sin the next.

Here are some things to consider if you feel called to write drama, whether for your church or for publication:

  1. What message do you want to get across? Just as with other kinds of writing, there must be a take-away. Do you want your audience to consider their choices? See Christ in a different way? See themselves as others see them?
  2. Use common events, actions, thoughts the audience can identify with. Jesus used equipment, people, careers, and needs common to the time and place.
  3. Create believable dialog. One of the biggest mistakes I see is addressing characters by name too often. Think about your own conversations. Do you repeat the other person’s name over and over in real conversation? No. And you shouldn’t in a script, either.
  4. Consider stage limitations. Consider stage space, mics, props, costumes, and casting. The more complex the needs, the less opportunity for others to use your script.
  5. Be sure to include a “Wow factor.” I often read scripts that are simply a retelling of events: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. That’s fine if you’re simply demonstrating a Bible story, but it’s not going to be enough if you’re creating a new story. There needs to be something that takes the common situation and creates an uncommon turn of events. Humor, absurdity, or shock; an unusual character or story development; and a surprise twist are all compelling “Wow factors” that can take your script from interesting to memorable.

Do you desire to write compelling drama that will draw others to Him? If so, I hope these guidelines will help you take the first steps to writing biblical truth that can be shared from the stage.


Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Let’s celebrate with our friends!

Congratulations to the following Christian Writer’s Den friends who’ve been doing the work and finding success!

1. Kristi Woods (OK): Chicken Soup for the Soul highlighted my story, Tested, Not Arrested, on a recent Motivational Monday. To God be all the glory

2. Bonita Bandaries (LA): I have a feature article, Refresh Your Heart, Wellness Self-care Tips for Family Caregivers in The Minute Magazine, March-April edition

3. Susan M. Baganz (WI): Released my second novel at the end of January, Salsa & Speed Bumps, a romantic suspense. I have a novella due out in August and another novel (book #3 in this series) due out in September. Praying I might squeak a third in by the end of the year!

4. Gail Cartee (SC): I had a devo poem and two ideas for kids published last month. The poem was published by Refresh Bible Study Magazine. The kids ideas were published by DevoKids.

Congrats, writers!

And friends, if you didn’t have anything to share in our Kudos this month, be sure to check out the writing opportunities next week!


Who MoGo’d in March?

#8: Diana Leagh Matthews – 8,504 words
#9: Amanda Everett – 8,496 words

Way to go, Diana and Amanda! And readers, if you want to join in the fun and have a bunch of chances to win $100 at the end of the year, check out the MoGo7000 Challenge. It’s free!


Well, that does it for the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Be sure to return next week for another list of writing opportunities and conferences!

Happy writing,



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Writer’s Headlines: Writing and Speaking Conferences & MoGo7000

It’s the 4th Thursday and time to look at upcoming conferences!

If you’re serious about writing, speaking, filmmaking, or creative arts, you need to be serious about learning your craft. Conferences are a great place to learn, regardless of your experience. Be sure to check them all out and find the ones that best fit your needs.

1.  Blue Ridge Writing Retreat with Agent Sally Apokedak: October 24-27, 2013, Blue Ridge, GA.

2.  Mini Fiction Workshop: November 16, 2013, Anderson, SC (Contact Elva Martin for details:

3.  Writing for the Soul: February 13-15, 2014, Colorado Springs, CO

4.  Writers Advance Boot Camp: February 21-23, 2014, Asheville, NC

5.  Florida Christian Writers Conference: February 26-March 2, 2014, Leesburg, FL (Hope to see you there!)

6.  Mid-South Christian Writers Conference: March 8, 2014, Memphis, TN

7.  Carolina Christian Writers Conference: March 13-15, 2014, Spartanburg, SC (Registration opens soon!)

8.  Write2Ignite: March 28-29, 2014, Tigerville, SC

9.  FAM Fest Film Festival: March 29, 2014, York, SC

10. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 19-23, 2014, Ridgecrest, NC

11. Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival: July 11-15, 2014, Orlando, FL

12. Christian Communicators Conference: Hold the date! August 27-31, 2014, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville, NC



Only 8 more days to MoGo in October!

Have you been working on your MoGo7000 this month? If so, you have 8 more days to count toward this month’s total, so keep working!

Don’t know what in the world I’m talking about? Head on over to the MoGo7000 Challenge page and check it out. You could finish a book this year AND win $100 in cold, hard cash!

So what are you waiting for?

Write on!


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Are You a Roaring Lamb?

The term “life-changing” is overused in today’s world. But today I have to say it: I’m in the middle of reading a life-changing book. For real.

A few weeks ago I received a gift from my friend, Janelle Woodyard. It’s a copy of the book, Roaring Lambs, by the late Bob Briner. I was in the middle of a deadline at the time and couldn’t start reading right then. But last week, I finally got a chance to pick it up…and now it’s hard to put it down!

Published in 1993 by Zondervan, Briner’s Roaring Lambs challenges all Christians, but especially those in the arts, to get out of the Christian world and get into the secular one. He says that we do a good job in our churches, in Christian schools and colleges, in Christian publishing, in Christian bookstores, and Christian television.

But then he goes on to say:

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos, MoGo7000 Results, & Christian Communicators Conference

It’s the 2nd Thursday, and time to celebrate your successes!

Congratulations to all these Christian Writer’s Den writers. You’re doing what it takes!

1.  Linda Thomas (IN): Recently published my first Bible Study, In Step with the Spirit.

2.  Colleen Luntzel (OR): Colleen has a new blog, Bring Bread. In Isaiah 29:8, the Scripture says, “…an hungry man dreams, and behold, he eats; but he awakes, and his soul is empty.” Hunger is powerful and demands to be satisfied, whether it’s physical or spiritual. It’s easy to satisfy physical hunger, but when it’s the soul that knots tight in hunger pangs, only The BREAD of Life, Jesus Christ, can satisfy.

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Laughter is Serious Business

Photo courtesy of Tina Phillips/

I’ve always had an innate sense of humor. From the time I was a little girl, I loved making people laugh, even if it meant making a fool of myself in the process. My dad educated me in the gentle art of humor through his Miss Carolina Bowler beauty award and his practical joking.

As a kid, it was only natural that I would participate in talent shows. It didn’t matter if I was singing and dancing with a construction-paper-faced broom or playing the part of a down-on-her-luck Queen for a Day contestant, my goal was always to win the audience with humor. And most of the time it worked.

So when I began my speaking ministry in 1998, it was only natural that I would entertain the audience by standing on my head during the introduction. After all, I reasoned, if I could make them laugh, they would be more likely to really hear the truth in my message.* And even though my techniques have changed (Believe me, I haven’t stood on my head in years!), the use of humor has been a constant ingredient throughout my ministry.

But when I decided to write a women’s book, I discovered what had worked well from the stage didn’t make the transition to paper. Brent Diggs in his post, The Secret to Writing Humor, says, “Nearly every tool of comedy is denied to the writer.” How true that is! The tools that had worked so well from the stage–timing, facial expressions, tones and inflections–weren’t available in written words.

That struggle led me to the study of humor writing. And even though I can’t share everything with you in this short blog time, here are some techniques to help you engage your reader through laughter.

  1. Set the story up well. Take the time to lay out the groundwork in a logical way.
  2. Use exaggeration. This is one time you want to take literary license through the use of hyperbole. The story is still true, but you just make it more. As I tell the school students in my Writing is Fun Workshops, take real life and make it bigger, badder, meaner, sadder.
  3. Apply the rule of threes. Even though it’s not officially a rule, we know there is melody in the use of threes. And there’s humor in the use of threes, too.
  4. And whether you’re using the rule of threes or simply telling a story, try to place the funniest word at the end of the sentence.
  5. Punch words and/or punch lines often work well.
  6. Write tight. When I initially write out a story, it’s a rambling story with all the details I normally include when I tell it from the stage. But in writing, I discovered it was best told in no more than half the spoken words.
  7. Use words that begin with hard consonants, especially the K sound.
  8. Use short sentences for more emphasis.
  9. Even in humor writing, be sure to listen for the music or cadence of the words.
  10. Rewrite…rewrite…rewrite.

I hope this list helps you in your goal of writing humor. And just to prepare you as you work on humor, I’ll close with these words of truth from the well-known humorist, Dave Barry:

“It’s hard to think of an ending. The beginning is really hard, and the ending is always really hard, and the middle part is also very hard. It’s just hard, hard, hard.” Dave Barry

*Disclaimer: If you attend the Christian Communicators Conference to learn how to begin or expand your speaking ministry, I can assure you, I will not be teaching you how to stand on your head. I won’t even recommend it. As a matter of fact, I’d rather we didn’t even talk about it at all…

(Photo courtesy of TinaPhillips/


And since we’re talking about humor today, I just have to share one of my favorite funny videos, I Will Survive – Alien Song, by I was first introduced to this video by Alton Gansky when he taught a class at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, long before he was the director.

It’s only a minute. Go ahead. Enjoy!

Write on…and laugh!

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of

I just returned last night from the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, where I had the joy of learning from wise professionals as they talked about this creative-for-Christ ministry we feel called to. It’s an awesome, scary, difficult journey, a journey full of potholes and pitfalls.

You know what I’m talking about. “It’s all in who you know.” “You have to look out for number one.” “Use every opportunity to promote yourself.”

We heard some incredible speakers this week. Speakers who left us with not only words of wisdom for our careers, but words of caution for our hearts.

Torry Martin was one such speaker. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Torry speak many times, and he always makes me laugh. But this time…this time it wasn’t about laughing, it was about loving.

“Jesus is not a genre.”

“Are we leaving footprints on the backs of others?”

“Are we PRAYING FOR each other or are we PREYING ON each other?”


Friends, we have a wonderful calling and it sometimes requires us to step into the spotlight of books and events and blog posts and followers and auditions and screenings. It requires to us find those opportunities to share what we have.

But because of that very calling, Satan wants to fill our God-given spotlight with the motivation of self. It’s his way of turning good into evil.

God has a different plan.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.     Philippians 2:4

It’s a delicate dance. And one that depends on the motivations of our hearts.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


(Photo courtesy of

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Writer’s Headlines: Conferences & Opportunities for Creative People

It’s Thursday, so let’s check out some conferences and opportunities for YOU!


Don’t miss these upcoming conferences for teens, adults, and speakers.

If you haven’t figured it out already, conferences are the way for creative people to learn, grow, and connect with others. I can honestly say most of the good things that have happened in my career can be traced back to something or someone I met at a conference. Think of it as “getting your degree.” Yes, it takes time. Yes it takes an investment. But the return is worth it all!

1.  Upstate SC American Christian Writers Spring 2012 Workshop: May 12, 2012, Greenville, SC

2.  Colorado Christian Writers Conference: May 16-19, 2012, Estes Park, CO

3.  Orange County Christian Writers Conference: May 18-20, 2012, Newport Beach, CA

4.  Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: May 20-24, 2012, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

5.  St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference: June 19-23, 2012, Grove City, PA

6.  North Texas Christian Writers Conference: June 22-23, 2012, Keller, TX (I’ll see you there!)

7.  AnAuthor World/The Writers’ Plot Conference: July 21, 2012, Furman University, Greenville, SC (I’ll see you there!)

8.  Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference: August 1-4, 2012, Langhorne, PA

9.  Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival: August 11-16, 2012, Ridgecrest, NC (I’ll see you there!)

10. Christian Authors Guild “Catch the Wave” Writers Conference: August 23-25, 2012, Norcross, GA

11. CLASS Christian Writers Conference: October 31-November 4, 2012, Ghost Ranch, NM


Do You Know Some Creative Teens?

The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Intern program is looking for teens 16-18yo who are interested in acting, directing, producing, screenwriting, songwriting, singing, television or radio. This is their opportunity to learn, grow, and connect with those who can help them in their goals. I’m honored to be a co-director, along with Sarah Sumpolec, of the Gideon/Clash Entertainment Intern Program for Christian teens.

But you must hurry! The application deadline is June 1st! Tell all the talented Christian teens you know!


Registrations are Filling Up for the August 2012 Christian Communicators Conference!

That’s right…the conference is in August, but with only 3 or 4 rooms left, space is already extremely limited.

Ladies, do you dream of having a speaking ministry? Do you already have a ministry, but want to grow as a speaker? The Christian Communicators Conference was created just for you!

The 3rd Christian Communicators Conference will be held at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina August 29-September 2, and Carolyn Knefely and I would love to have you join us!

But don’t take our word for it, here are some testimonials from the previous conferences:

“I’ve been to a lot of Christian conferences in my lifetime, yet CCC would prove to be the most rewarding and the most life changing.”
Glenda Mills, WV

“The Christian Communicators Conference was an in-depth weekend of speaker training that was filled with encouragement, deep friendship, and love. It helped move my speaking to the next level…I feel more polished and confident as a professional speaker.”
Patty Mason, TN
Liberty in Christ Ministries

“If you believe GOD is calling you into His service as a speaker, CCC is the very first thing you need to do. After PRAYING of course!”
Liz Cowen Furman, CO

Feel free to contact me with any questions. You don’t want to miss it!


Are You MoGoing?

You could write a book this year–AND win $100 in cold, hard cash!

That’s right! The MoGo7000 Challenge will help you complete a book and give you multiple chances to win money. For each month that you write 7000 new words on a book project, your name goes in the hat for the end-of-the-year drawing. Meet the goal three months this year and you get three entries. Meet it nine months and you get nine entries!

The good news is, you can join in any time…and it’s FREE!

Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page for all the details. And get to work! Next Thursday I’ll be asking for the April totals, which will be announced the next week. So what are you waiting for?

Write that book!

Write on!


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Don’t Be Apwaid to Take a Wisk!

Photo courtesy of cooldesign/

As some of you know, I do a little acting. Nothing big. I don’t have stars in my eyes and certainly don’t entertain visions of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But I do love acting. I love the opportunity to be somebody else, doing and saying and choosing things I might never do, say, or choose as Vonda. It’s simply another fun, creative way to enjoy life using the passions He placed in me.

Well, last week I had my first experience with video auditions. There’s a great film in the works in Asheville, one I’d love to be a part of. I submitted my resume and headshots and was thrilled to get an invitation to audition. But since I was going to be out of town on the appointed day, I was given the option of submitting a video audition. Something I’d never done before.

I’m blessed to be part of a community of actors who help and support one another, many of whom have already experienced video auditions and have the technical skills to pull it off. Two of them volunteered to help me.

I arrived confident of my choices about the characters I was auditioning for, confident of my ability to do a good job. But my confidence was soon deflated as my experienced friends critiqued my performance. I wasn’t invested enough in the character…I needed to dig deeper into the feelings she was experiencing…The scene was too slow, sucking the energy out of the character.

One of my friends said, “You’re playing too safe. Make strong choices. Commit to and believe your line that says, ‘Don’t be afraid to take a risk.’” The truth was, for a moment, I just wanted to walk away.

But I knew acting required me to take a risk.

So I did. With the camera off, we replayed the scene over and over, and each time they both encouraged me to go deeper, to feel the heart of the character and express it at a more realistic level.

And soon I was in the groove. I was fully invested in the scene, feeling each word as if it were my own. We were ready to turn on the camera.

My character took over. The camera rolled and I, Vonda, disappeared as “Mitzi” moved and spoke and challenged her young friend at the bakery counter.

“Proceeding with caution,” I/Mitzi said, nodding approval. “Very wise.” My heart pounded in my chest. I was there, feeling her emotion, dispensing her advice, thinking nothing of Vonda or who she was. I was Mitzi!

The moment I’d been building to was here…my signature line, to be spoken with wisdom and confidence and a touch of spice. It was the best taping yet—I was on right on target!

The sage in me leaned in, winked across the counter, and announced, “Don’t be apwaid to take a wisk.”

Bwwaaaaaahhhhhaaaaa!!!!!! Don’t be apwaid to take a wisk? Did I really say that?

Did that unexpected, unplanned, and undesired, second rate Elmer Fudd impersonation really come from MY mouth?

The next second my actress friend and I fell to the floor as our giggle boxes flipped end-over-end in laughter. (You girls know–the kind that will mean cleaning the mascara from your cheeks and completely redoing your make-up.)

Our poor video guy did the usual guy thing and laughed for a few minutes, then watched with a kind, wholly-male smile. Every time my friend and I thought we were getting it under control, we’d look at each other or one of us would repeat the line and it would all start over. For at least five minutes, maybe ten.

But you know what? That night I took a risk, invested everything I had in the moment, only to have it turn around and bite me in the funny bone. And although we tried several more times, I never quite got back to that deep groove level.

But at least I overcame the fear and took the risk.

I wonder if Noah and Moses and Joshua and Esther were ever afraid of taking a risk. What if they had been confident in their own ability, only to realize they didn’t measure up? What if they’d fought against God’s instruction to invest in their roles with all they had? What if they had refused to dig deep, down to the emotions and giftings God had placed in them for such a time as this?

The truth is, without their willingness to overcome fear and take a risk, history would have been a different story; this world would have been a different place.

You know what, dear friend? God has such a role for each of us. It may not mean He’ll separate a sea so we can lead others through it on dry land, but it could mean that friends, family, and acquaintances could come to know Him through our leading. Would we be willing to invest in that role, digging deep into all it would mean and require of us?

Would we be willing to make strong choices, overcome our fears, and take a risk?

If not, perhaps we’re not really committed to the role, but impersonating a second rate copy instead…meaning God will have to give the part to someone else.

Don’t be apwaid to take a wisk. 🙂

(PS: I just found out yesterday I did get one of the other parts! Yay!)

(Photo courtesy of cooldesign/


The Winner of Phoebe Leggett’s Book, My Time to Grieve, is…

Friends, you’re not going to believe it, but Phoebe Leggett has graciously offered to give away not one, but THREE copies of her book! Hoo-wee! Thank you, Phoebe!

Today’s three winners are Tammy Whitehurst, Marilyn Nutter, and Catherine Young. Congratulations, dear friends! Just contact me with your mailing addresses and your books will be on the way.

And for those who didn’t receive a free gift, you can visit Phoebe’s website to order your own copies.

Thank you, dear Phoebe, for your kindness to us and to those who will benefit from your words. I pray God blesses you and your ministry to our grieving brothers and sisters around the world.


And thank you, dear friends, for joining me week after week here at the Christian Writer’s Den. You bless me with your presence and your words. Without you, this Den would be a lonely place. 🙂

Blessings on all your projects!



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Are We Willing to Lay It on the Altar?

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Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

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Parting Words From The WORD…

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As writers and speakers and actors and filmmakers, we’re often faced with opportunities that don’t necessarily honor the Lord.

Many times people will defend their project by pointing to passages in the Bible as pictures of debauchery…and they certainly can be. But the Truth–the overarching goal of God’s Word–is to show His redemption in the midst of our sin. That’s a useful guide to use as we make our choices and walk this path of the creative arts.

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