Tag Archives: writer

Interview & Book Give-Away with Miriam Bradley–You Could Win A Free Book!

Miriam Bradley headshotI met  Miriam Bradley at the 2012 Carolina Christian Writers Conference and then got to know her even better at both the Christian Communicators Conference and the Christian Communicators ADVANCED Conference. I soon discovered we had a lot in common. But I never realized we were sisters separated at birth! Read on and you’ll see why. 🙂

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a free book!

Now, let’s get started. Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Miriam. I’ve read several of your books and I couldn’t wait to have you with us. So, here’s the first question: What inspirational influences led you to write?

First, I would say my grandparents and parents who actively used history—general and personal—to influence those who came behind them. For instance, Grandpa Jones wrote three books about his life. He was a real cowboy who at eight traveled by covered wagon with his family from Kansas to Nebraska in 1913. Reading those books about his life is amazing. He wrote how he talked and even today, when I read them I can hear him in my head. And he wasn’t alone. My other grandparents were quick to share stories.

Secondly, I would say the books I read changed me. I was a voracious reader and one of my favorite places was the library. I loved mysteries, specifically mystery series. I am very character driven and I don’t care so much about what is happening but to whom it is happening! I dreamed of writing the Christian Trixie Belden type series someday. Only, my characters would age. It made me crazy that they were always the same age but there were three different Christmas mysteries!Miriam Bradley cover Missing Watch

The third thing would be the items my elders chose to record and save. My mother died when I was ten. Many years later my aunt sent each of us a collection of all of the letters my mother had typed on carbon paper to her parents and sisters. They were weekly missives from 1959 until two weeks before her death in 1973. In those letters she wrote about the daily events, the funny things we did, the bad days, the good days. Those letters were so influential in my desire to record stories. I was also captivated by the photo albums and old things my parents and grandparents saved.

What a beautiful legacy you’ve received from your ancestors, Miriam! My grandparents were storytellers, too. I remember sitting for hours with my grandma in her porch swing as she told story after story about life and family. AND Trixie Belden was my favorite character, too! Everybody went on and on about Nancy Drew, but I never could identify with her. She was much too rich, too beautiful, and too proper. I, on the other hand, was quite a rascal. But enough about me. I’m curious to know what opportunities these influences have led you to become involved in?

After three of my grandparents died within six weeks I decided to record some of their stories in picture books for children. So, I joined a writers group and took a Writer’s Digest correspondence course. I quickly Miriam Bradley cover Torn Maprealized that picture books are hard. You only get a few words. I like lots of words. I also learned that I should write what I know. So, I wrote a children’s mystery book about cousins who visit their grandparent’s ranch and encounter a mystery. This was based heavily on personal experiences at our grandparent’s ranch in Nebraska with our—you guessed it—cousins. Sadly though, we never had a mystery in real life. The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Missing Watch was self-published in 2009. Since then, I found a publisher for two more in the Double Cousins Mystery Series, as well as a collection of pieces celebrating the legacy of godly and practical wisdom I received from my grandparents and parents. This non-fiction book, All I Have Needed–A Legacy for Life, has a section with practical ideas for recording history written by my husband, Bruce Bradley.

Promoting and marketing the books led to opportunities for speaking to students and adults. I love teaching on the writing process and encouraging people to celebrate and record their own legacy! I also have a passion for encouraging children and young people that they can be whoever God wants them to be.Miriam Bradley cover Rushmore Treasure

Okay, this is unreal. My first book was a mystery based on my cousin and me when my family visited Tybee Island AND I speak not only to adults about writing, but I also teach writing to kids in schools, libraries, and bookstores! I know you still work as a registered nurse. I’m curious to know how you balance those very different careers.

It’s hard to believe I have been a nurse for almost thirty years. Nursing has been a versatile career for me. I can control my schedule which allows for my writing-speaking life. In addition I find it hugely beneficial to have both ends of the age spectrum in my life. At work I care for people struggling with the effects of age. I love hearing their stories, when possible, and gaining from their wisdom. Then, on my “days off” I visit schools and rejuvenate by being around the energetic and enthusiastic children! It is the best of both worlds.

Okay. I know this sounds like I’m making it up, but I promise I’m not. I was an RN for almost 30 years AND I wrote my first book when I was working three days a week in ICU. Did you realize we had so much in common? I love it! Okay, I think that’s the end of my blabbering, so please share with us how readers can find your books and learn more about your speaking opportunities…and I’ll Miriam Bradley cover Legacybe quiet this time…I promise. 

I would love for them to visit my website at www.MiriamJonesBradley.com. My books are available online as well by ordering them through local bookstores.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Miriam. And for putting up with my gushing over our similar stories. Don’t you just love seeing how the Lord brings like-minded people together?

Friends, you’ll want to be sure and check out Miriam’s books for children and for adults. And if you need a speaker for children or adults, you’ll want to get in touch with Miriam.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Miriam and you could win a FREE book! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

BIO: Miriam Jones Bradley has lived “from sea to shining sea”, but spent most of her life in the Great Plains.  She has worked as a nurse for the past 29 years. She enjoys speaking about the writing process and recording memories. In addition to the Double Cousins Mystery Series, she is the author of All I Have Needed—A Legacy for Life. She and her husband, Dr. Bruce Bradley, make their home in Hendersonville, North Carolina.



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Interview & Book Give-Away with Norma Gail, and Writing Opps for YOU!

Norma Gail - headshotWhat a joy to celebrate with Norma Gail as her debut novel, Land of My Dreams, releases TODAY from Lighthouse of the Carolinas! Be sure to leave a comment for Norma Gail and you’ll be in the drawing for a signed copy of her book!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Norma Gail. First of all, please tell us how you started writing.

I have always had a vivid imagination, and wrote stories from childhood and all through college. My degree is in nursing, and with marriage, a job, and children, I didn’t write much for about 20 years.

When I broke my right foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I needed something to keep me occupied. Land of My Dreams is the result. I began attending writer’s conferences which helped me learn and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

I have always felt compelled to write: poetry, letters to the editor, devotionals to open the Bible study I lead, and stories for my kids about their adoptions. I wanted to see my name on a book. Never give up on your dream.

This may come as a surprise to new writers, but you and I know the writing life isn’t easy. What was the greatest problem you faced in writing this book?

It was challenging to write about a country I had only visited for two weeks and couldn’t return to for more research. It didn’t matter when I was just making up a story, but when I became serious, I needed to be accurate.

I spent hours researching, read everything I could find, watched movies and documentaries, listened to music, and made a screen-saver with over 400 photos, and a Scottish-Gaelic dictionary on-line, and also sites with slang and common terms. I found a wonderful writer and editor, through the ACFW romance loop. Amy Drown lived in Scotland and was willing to read my book for accuracy.

It must have worked because it convinced one editor I must have lived there!

Well, that’s a confirmation for sure! What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

Of course I want to entertain. As a Bible study leader and devotional writer, I have seen a lot of peopleNorma Gil cover struggle with trusting God when hard times come, and I have struggled myself. It is helpful to use real-life situations to illustrate biblical principles.

Good fiction can teach valuable spiritual lessons. People who would never attend a Bible study will read a novel, and they can learn how to live the Christian life. A novel is a very non-threatening way to introduce someone to the gospel or get a spiritual message across. It might open someone open up to talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.

I totally agree, Norma Gail. And I believe it applies to every area of creativity. So, how did you come up with the idea for Land of My Dreams?

Scotland has intrigued me since I discovered that one of my great grandmothers was from Scotland. My husband and I spend two weeks there for our 30th anniversary and I felt at home from the moment our plane landed in Edinburgh.

We met a woman from Phoenix who married a Scot while in the Peace Corps. It made me wonder what it would be like to transplant your life to another country. My husband’s family immigrated to the US from The Netherlands, so I knew a little about it.

I loved the green fields with their sheep and dry-stone walls. One night I dreamed about a sheep farm, and the idea began to come together.

Tell us something about the book.

Land of My Dreams is a sweet romance about two people who have been hurt by life and no longer trust in God.

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.

Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny returns to New Mexico for her best friend’s wedding, her former fiancé reenters her life. Four thousand miles away, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to an attractive former student.

How will Bonny decide between her two rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future?

Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

My goodness, this sounds like a book we’d all love! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Norma Gail!

And readers, remember, if you’d like to be in the drawing for a free copy of Land of My Dreams, simply leave a comment for Norma Gail and you could be the winner! But you must be sure to come back next week to find out. 🙂

And for those who want to go ahead and get your own copy of Norma Gail’s book, here’s the Amazon link to Land of My Dreams. Happy reading!

BIO: I live in the mountains of New Mexico with my husband of 37 years. We have two adult children and a lovely daughter-in-law. I love mountains, and enjoy tackling 4×4 trails in my Jeep. I am a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who loves family research, history, and Scotland. My passion is leading women’s Bible studies, and I have done so for eighteen years. My devotionals, poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the newly formed New Mexico Christian Novelists. My website, www.normagail.com, includes a weekly devotional blog, daily scriptures, poetry, and will soon have a writer’s blog.

To connect with Norma and find out more about her writings and ministry, you can email her at NormaGailwrites@gmail.com. She also has a Pinterest board for Land of My Dreams where readers can find photos that helped inspire the book: http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards.
Website: http://www.normagail.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Norma-GailAuthor/725237467493500.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQbZIoC_JSE


newspapersAnd Here Are Some Writing Opportunities I’ve Found Just For YOU!

Thanks to Edie Melson for sharing many of these opportunities with us today. Be sure to check out Edie’s award-winning writing blog, The Write Conversation!

1.  Inspire a Fire is always looking for articles. Here are Inspire a Fire submission guidelines. 

2.  Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest: You must hurry–deadline is May 1, 2014!

3.  THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2014. How to enter, visit: http://www.dreamquestone.com

4.  Adirondack Life: Writers’ guidelines for Adirondack Life

5.  Ladies’ Home Journal: How to write for Ladies’ Home Journal.

6.  Highlights Magazine–They’re always looking for submissions!

7.  Educational Markets for Children’s Writers: LOTS of markets listed here for children’s writers!

8.  Parents Magazine is always looking for writers

9.  Free Spirit Publishing: Their mission is to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world. They publish high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children and teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people.

10. Reader’s Digest: “If you are a writer and would like to submit a great article proposal, email us at articleproposals@rd.com.”

11. Go Galavanting, a magazine for women travelers. Read Submission guidelines for Go Galavanting here.

12. In Site Magazine: InSite, the bimonthly flagship publication of Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA), seeks to inform and inspire professionals serving in the Christian camp and conference community. InSite Magazine writers guidelines here.

So…now that you have these guidelines before you, what are you going to do about it? 🙂


Well, that does it for another day at the Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the joy of writing with me!

Happy writing!


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Writers Headlines: Writing Opportunities

Yep, it’s the 3rd Thursday, so that means it’s time to share a collection of writing opportunities with you!

As promised on Tuesday’s blog, we’re starting with TWO drama-writing opportunities!

1.  Eldridge Christian Plays and Musicals submission guidelines.

2.  Contemporary Drama Service guidelines.

3.  Alive Now Magazine is always looking for

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When Are You Going to Finish That Book?

If you’ve been working on a book for any length of time, you’ve probably heard something like, “Are you STILL working on that book? Good grief! When are you going to finish it?”

Yes, normal people think writers do just that . . . they just sit down and write a book.



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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities

Yes, it’s the 3rd Thursday, so time for writing opportunities selected just for you!

And if you don’t have time to write right now with the holidays, this will give you a head start on submissions for the New Year!

1.  Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Blog: Director Alton Gansky is looking for guest bloggers from who have attended past conferences. Could that be you? Guidelines here.

2.  Alive Now Magazine is always looking for writers. Currently looking for pieces on Justice and Peace. Alive Now Guidelines here. Downloadable theme list at bottom of page on right.

3.  The Writer’s Chronicle, Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Accepts submissions February 1 through August 31 each year, so you have time to do your research and get it in! The Writer’s Chronicle submission guidelines here.

4.  You & Me: The World’s Medical Magazine: Prefers 1st person stories of dealing with the human aspects of illness. Guidelines here.

5.  Vibrant Life Magazine: Lifestyle magazine from a Christian perspective. Guidelines here.

6. Stone Soup Magazine accepts works from kids 8-13yo. Talented kids in your family? Submission guidelines here.

7.  Scholastic Professional Books is open to manuscripts and teaching ideas. Guidelines here.

8.  Back Home Magazine: Guide to sustainable living. Submission guidelines here.

9.  Country Woman Country Lifestyle Magazine: Guidelines here.

10. EFCA Today: Evangelical Free Church of Amercia writer’s guidelines.

11. High Country News: For Those Who Care About the West. Guidelines here.

12. Pentecostal Evangel: Submission guidelines here.

13. Photo Life submission guidelines.

14. Outreach Magazine. Magazine to help churches in outreach. Guidelines here.

15. Chicken Soup for the Soul upcoming books. Guidelines here.

16. Bev Nelson, California Mother of the Year, 2012, is collecting stories of inspiration, wisdom, advice and encouragement from mothers about motherhood to be published in an anthology. The original deadline was Nov. 1 but was extended to “the end of December.” Information about what she’s looking for is at http://delmarvawriters.com/app/download/6645523004/Voices+of+American+Mothers.pdf The e-mail address for submission is Mom2Mom12@yahoo.com. The facebook page for American Mothers is https://www.facebook.com/AmericanMothers. (Thanks for sending this along, Jean Davis!)

Well, that should keep you busy for a month or so! A new year is coming. What are YOU going to do for you and your writing?

Christmas blessings!


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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities for YOU!

Welcome to the 4th Thursday’s Writer’s Headlines

A huge thank you to Marilyn Shipe for offering this collection of writing opportunities and contests. Thanks, Marilyn! Enjoy, friends!

1.  HILLERMAN MYSTERY SHORT STORY CONTEST-$20 ENTRY FEE. Winner receives $800 and two tickets to the awards dinner, part of the annual Tony Hillerman Writers Conference. Also publication in New Mexico Magazine. Submit mystery short stories that are 2,500 words or less, written in English, set primarily in New Mexico. Deadline August 15, 2012. Critiques are $100 extra.


3.  CREATING KEEPSAKES MAGAZINE–We’re always looking for fresh, never-before-published scrapbook pages and tips. If you’ve always wanted to be published, e-mail your pages and ideas to editorial@creatingkeepsakes.com. Seeks original and creative ideas for scrapbooking enthusiasts. Pays $350 to $600 for articles up to 1,200 words. 50 percent kill fee.


  • Chicken Soup for the Soul has an ongoing need for uplifting stories for their anthologies (pays $200.00, plus 10 free copies)
  • Thrive in Life (online publication) publishes stories on “how people thrive” (pays $75)
  • God Makes Lemonade publishes stories of how “something unexpectedly good happens that never would have happened without something painful happening first” (pays $250 plus 10 free copies)
  • Thin Threads publishes stories of “moments, events or decisions, each showing how the course of our lives can be redirected for the better” (pays $100)

5.  EARLY AMERICAN LIFE–Since 1970 Early American Life has been the source for information on early American style, decorating, and traditions. In addition, we cover both antiques and reproductions made by crafters working in period styles with traditional tools. We do it with our own style–we aim to entertain as well as educate. We also feature stories on gardening with a focus on early America. A one-page story in Early American Life, such as Worth Seeing, runs about 750 words. A typical feature may run 2,500 words. We would estimate $500 for a first feature from a new writer, more if you are an experienced, skillful writer. If we assign a story to you, we will negotiate the rate before you begin work.

6.  DELICIOUS LIVING–Educates readers on nutrition, disease prevention, integrative medicine, healthy cooking, personal care, and ecofriendly products. Up-to-date information in a clear manner. Only wants fresh new angles. Features 1,000 to 1,200 words. Departments vary widely from fillers of 50 words to columns of 800 words. Send queries and clips to deliciousliving@newhope.com

7.  YOGA JOURNAL–Pays up to $2,000 for features. As little as $50 for fillers. Articles are up to 3,000 words. The magazine explores yoga in its form and practice. It involves integrating yoga in all aspects of life as well as on the health, nutrition, exercise and concepts that broaden its understanding. Big
publisher of freelance articles.

8.  ADOPTIVE FAMILIES–Adoptive Families is the leading information resource for families before, during, and after adoption. The award-winning national bimonthly magazine provides independent, authoritative adoption information in an accessible and reader-friendly format.

1st $500
2nd $100
3rd $100
Deadline: September 18, 2012. Length: No minimum. Maximum 5,000 words. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older, but there are no geographical restrictions. The contest is open to anyone writing in English. Stories can be in any genre and address any theme. All entries must be previously unpublished. Authors retain all copyright to their work. However, Be-a-Better-Writer.com will have first publication rights to the winning stories, which will be published in Page 47 online anthology.

10. FAITH AND FAMILY–At Faith & Family Magazine and Faith & Family Live! our goal is to be a source of support for Catholic women seeking information, inspiration, resources, and encouragement as they embrace their vocations to marriage and motherhood. Our aim is to share personal struggles and triumphs, challenges and joys, and also the lighter side of Catholic living.

Children’s books: $400 (1,000 words)
Features (Home, Adult Relationships, Raising Kids, Spirituality,
Marriage Matters): $400 each, (1,800-2,500 words)
What’s Cooking: $450 (intro 300 words + minimum 6 recipes and
1-3 sidebars)
My Faith & Family: $400 (1,000 words)
The Quiz $150 (700 words)


12. FAMILY DOG MAGAZINE–From hands-on training techniques to solving common behavior problems to inspiring and entertaining stories about our canine pals, the experts at the AKC will help you provide the best care for your best friend. Our helpful tips, how-to’s, and feature articles are written in an engaging and reader-friendly format. Regular columns include information on natural therapies, nutrition, health-care, and much more. Articles are 1,000 to 2,000 words. Pays up to $500. Columns are staff written. Email address at bottom of page for editorial staff.

13. CHILDREN’S WRITER–A 12-page monthly newsletter in two sections reporting on the marketplace for children’s writing—books, articles, stories, plays, activities, and more. Current news, trends, tips, how to write to publish. Aimed at beginning to well-established professional writers interested in learning more and keeping up-to-date on writing for children, selling their writing, and the juvenile publishing industry. Informs subscribers about, and analyzes, current markets in articles, columns, and reporting of editorial needs. Helps writers of all levels of expertise to strengthen their writing with markets in mind. Features 1,700-2,000 words. Submit a detailed query, listing potential interview sources, proposed length, and proposed submission date. Payment on acceptance, $300. Columns are each 750 words, with a sidebar of approximately 125-words. Submit a detailed query. Payment, on acceptance, $200.

14. GAMES MAGAZINE–GAMES, founded in 1977, is a consumer magazine featuring a wide variety of verbal and visual puzzles, brainteasers, trivia quizzes, and many other features, as well as reviews of new board games and electronic games. Email query to wschmittberger@kappapublishing.com . Articles 1,500 to 3,000 words. Columns and puzzles/games available as well. Pays up to $1,000 for articles. Columns pay up to $250.

15. GEMINI FLASH FICTION CONTEST–ENTRY FEE $4 ($3 for each additional entry). Grand prize: $1,000. Second place wins $100, and we’ve added a third place prize of $50. There will also be three honorable mentions. All six finalists will be published online in the October 2012 issue of Gemini. Maximum length: 1,000 words. Deadline: August 31, 2012. Absolutely no restrictions on content, style or genre. Both new and established writers are welcome.

16. GRASSIC SHORT NOVEL PRIZE–$25 ENTRY FEE. Our idea is to emphasize the power, skill and enduring value of the short novel form: limit 30,000-70,000 words. $500 and publication by the Evening Street Press will be awarded for the best short novel manuscript. The contest is open to writers who have already published books as well as those for whom this is a first book. The winning writer will receive 25 copies from a press run of 250. Submissions deadline December 1, 2012. Fee includes a one-issue subscription to the Evening Street Review.

17. VALHALLA PRESS LITERARY FICTION AND CREATIVE NONFICTION CONTEST–$15 ENTRY FEE. First prize: $500, eReader of your choice and inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Second prize: eReader of your choice and inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Honorable Mention: Inclusion in Ragnarok, the Valhalla Press 2013 Anthology
Limit your work to 5,000 words. Deadline August 30, 2012.

Write on!

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Author & Speaker Mary Englund Murphy

Happy 4th Tuesday! Today I hope you’ll help me welcome my friend, Mary Englund Murphy. Mary is an award winning author who communicates with enthusiasm, humor, and passion, and speaks to the listener’s heart. Her extraordinary life experiences have equipped her to grasp the unique needs of women of all ages.

Her newest release Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors won the 2012 SELAH award for best Bible study.

Mary speaks for retreats, conferences and other special events, and is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She and her husband Bill reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have three grown children and two grandchildren. You can reach Mary Englund Murphy through her website or by phone at 918-254-2410.

And readers, be sure to leave a comment for Mary and you’ll be in the drawing for a free autographed copy of her book!

Welcome, Mary! Okay, let’s jump right in. Joseph is such a well known figure from the Bible, there must be numerous books and Bible studies on him. I’ve gotta ask, what prompted you to write Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors?

Yes, there are a many books written on Joseph, but very few Bible studies that are devoted entirely to his story. Several authors include a chapter about him, but that’s all. I found only two Bible studies entirely about Joseph.

Your title is intriguing Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors. What do you mean by the phrase “beyond the coat of many colors”?

Many of us who were raised in church have what I call a Sunday school view of Joseph and therefore we miss many of the treasures that are found in a deeper study of his life. We tend to think of him as a little boy dressed in something like a multi-colored striped bathrobe, being thrown into a pit, sold as a slave and then ending up as prime minister of Egypt. This Bible study goes way beyond all your preconceived notions about Joseph.

Can you give us a brief overview of Joseph’s story for those who may not be familiar with the Bible?

Joseph’s story is found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. He was the eleventh, and favorite, of the twelve sons of Jacob and was literally despised and hated by his brothers. When Joseph was seventeen years old, his father gave him the famous coat. The brothers plotted to murder Joseph but ended up selling him to slave traders. He spent thirteen years as a slave and a prisoner until Pharaoh heard that Joseph could interpret dreams. When Joseph gave Pharaoh God’s interpretation he was promoted to second in command of Egypt. Joseph saved the country from famine and eventually was reunited with his family and brought them to Egypt.

Okay, so Joseph had a few very trying years, but look how it all turned out for him – wealth, prestige, honor, a wife and children, and he was restored to his family. Anyone could make it through difficulties with all that in their future.

That’s exactly what I was referring to previously. We tend to view Joseph from an overall perspective – the favored child, the coat of many colors, conflict with his brothers, a few rough years in Egypt, then promotion to wealth and prosperity. Sometimes we think he persevered with virtually no problems, but the Scriptures indicate that he did he have challenges with the same things we struggle with like depression. Joseph was a great man but he had feelings and emotions just like the rest of us.

The term “blended family” is used to describe families that have step-children and step-parents or half-siblings or step-siblings. How do you see Joseph fitting into those categories?

Joseph’s father Jacob had two wives and two concubines all at the same time and all four women produced children. Even though that was culturally acceptable there were jealousies and conflict galore. Joseph’s family gives new meaning to the blended and dysfunctional family.

I know that you can relate to Joseph in this area. Would you mind telling us a little about your family background?

I was born into a broken/blended home. My parents were married a total of 10 times. I’ve had 3 stepfathers, two stepmothers, and 21 step, half and adopted brothers and sisters. In fact, my own family background is one of the primary reasons I decided to write about Joseph; I can relate to him in so many areas.

Many of the books and studies about Joseph focus on grace and forgiveness. Can you talk about some of the other things we can learn from his life?

His story is a wealth of information on life. Raising children, dealing with jealousy and disappointments, sexual purity, employee/employer relationships, what to do when you feel like God isn’t there.

Well, we’re almost done, but for the last question: What is the primary message you want people to take away from this study?

I want people to understand that God knows the end of their story just as He knew the end of Joseph’s. Don’t give up, and know that God is working in your life with purpose just as He did with Joseph. God knows the end of your story just as He knew the end of Joseph’s story. God isn’t finished with you yet.

And that is a great message! God knows the end of our stories and He isn’t finished with us yet. Thanks for the reminder!

Okay friends, remember to leave a message for Mary and you’ll be in the drawing for a free autographed copy of Mary’s book, Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors.

Thanks for joining me today, sweet friends. Be sure to check back on Thursday for some new opportunities!



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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities and Writing Contests for YOU!

Yep, it’s the 3rd Thursday, so that means you get lots of opportunities to follow up on. Could one or more of them be calling your name?


1.  Becky Jacoby is offering a contest for dog-rescue stories. Check out the details for A Writing Contest for Dog Lovers.

2.  Novel Rocket’s Launchpad Contest guidelines here.

3.  Stage of Life Writing Contests here.

4.  Chamberton Publishing is open to submissions. Chamberton Publishing Guidelines here.

5.  LIVE periodical has sent us a new update. LIVE Needs Update here.

6.  Warner Press submission guidelines here. Church of God Ministries.

7.  Writer’s guidelines for Alive Now. The Upper Room.

8.  Apogee Photo Internet Photographers Magazine guidelines here.

9.  Bride & Groom writer’s guidelines here.

10. Cadet Quest writing guidelines here.

11. Are you funny? Funny Times is looking for submissions.

12. Family Tree magazine writer’s guidelines.

13. HeartLand Boating writer’s guidelines.

14. I Love Cats Magazine writer’s guidelines.

15. The Quilter Magazine writer’s guidelines.

16. Becky Jacoby is also calling for submissions for two devotionals–one for dog rescuers/lovers and the other for creative people. You can read Becky Jacoby devotional call out here.

Well, I think that’s enough to keep you busy. Can’t wait to see what comes out of this list. 🙂

Write on!


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Teaching Biblical Truth Through Secular Fiction & Writing Contest Winner!

I’m traveling again this week, so I thought it would be a good time to re-post what I think is a good lesson.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching my Writing is Fun Workshop to over 22,000 kids across the country in public, private, Christian, and home schools, and I feel I have a pretty good grasp of how to connect in a positive way fiction.

As you can see, I’m focusing today on writing for children, but don’t think you adult writers don’t need to read it.

After all, truth is truth, regardless of the age or genre. And so is good writing.

Teaching Biblical Truth Through Secular Fiction

Today’s fictional children are invincible. They’re smart and calculating and wise beyond their years. They’re totally independent and answer to no one. They nab the bad guy and save the planet and solve the world’s problems through their ingenuity and insight. And where are today’s fictional adults while all this is going on? They’re standing in the corner, picking their noses–inept bystanders in the crises of life.

Truth is, real kids need us adults. They need us to listen and understand and offer guidance. Fictional kids need adults, too.

When I decided to write my first book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island, I wanted to create a story kids would love, one with adventure, danger, and mystery. But I wanted more than just a good story. I wanted to teach something in the process.

1.  I wanted kids to see cause and effect. As adults, we know there are consequences for poor choices in life. You choose to be tardy at work, and you get fired. You choose to eat the wrong kinds of foods, and your health suffers. But the truth of consequences is often missing in children’s fiction. Many children’s books have kids doing a variety of dangerous and unhealthy things, with no undesirable effects. I wanted kids to experience the consequences of poor choices through my characters. And remember, consequences don’t have to come at the hands of adults. Natural consequences may be punishment enough and are often more effective. Kidnapping, false accusations, and loss of trust are a few of results the characters suffer in the Bitsy series.

2.  I wanted to kids to see that adults are usually pretty smart people. Fictional adults are often portrayed as oblivious to danger, or if they are aware, they’re unable to do anything about the problem. Parents are stupid, teachers are idiots, and authority figures have their own wicked agendas. Sure, a good mystery must have good guys and bad guys, but I still wanted the majority of adults to be intelligent and have the kids’ best interest at heart. In each Bitsy mystery, the kids are the ones who ultimately solve the puzzle, but it’s done without sacrificing the primary adults’ integrity.

3.  I wanted kids to see that family is an important, desirable part of life. Bitsy has an intact family who, like all real families, has blemishes. They argue and fight, but there’s no doubt they love each other. Bitsy may resent her siblings’ intrusion in her life and may wish for freedom from family constraints, but in each book, she learns one more reason to appreciate them.

4.  I wanted kids to see a Christian family who isn’t perfect, but who believes in a God who is. In contemporary fiction, Christians are often presented in one of two ways–either as Bible-thumping idiots or as saccharine-sweet saints. The truth is, we’re just like everyone else. We struggle with right and wrong. We face difficult situations, and we can’t understand why some things happen in life. In the Bitsy series, Bitsy and her family struggle to do right when it would be so much easier to do wrong.

As writers of children’s fiction, I feel we have a responsibility to our readers and their parents. Can parents trust our writing? Can children trust the story we’ve created? Will they learn and grow and experience life by reading what we’ve written? I certainly hope so. If not, we’ve contributed to the idea that children are invincible and they don’t need us old people to help them along the way.

And we all know that’s a lie.

But what if you’re not writing for children? Do you think this instruction isn’t for you? Think again. Whether you’re writing for children or adults, the protagonist of every story must learn something. He or she must change and grow over the course of the book. So regardless of who you’re writing for, remember that you can teach Biblical truth through your secular fiction.

That first book has grown into a series of three: Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island, Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island, and Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island.

I hope you’ll check out Bitsy’s World for fun games for kids, summaries of the books, first chapters, and the link to getting Bitsy’s books for your own kids and grandkids!


Who Won the Movie of Words Writing Contest?

My goodness, what great writers you ALL are! There wasn’t a bad scene in the bunch! All of them were inviting, connected with the reader, and created a movie in my mind.

So I finally just reread them to see if one drew me in on a more personal level, and one did. As a grandmother of four with arthritis in my hands and feet, I could relate personally to Tim Knopp’s scene. So Tim, just visit the Store, take a look at the downloadable workshops, and let me know by email which one you prefer.

And a huge THANK YOU to all who participated. You’re an amazingly talented group, especially in such a short time frame!

Blessings on all your projects!


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A Movie of Words & A Quick Contest!

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What type of writer are you? Some, like my friend Edie Melson, hear the dialogue. Others, like me, see a movie. Here’s the way I see it.

Every book…every chapter…every scene…every page…every paragraph…every sentence…every word we write should transition into a movie onscreen. If we want to write compelling stories, the reader must be able to see the movements, hear the words, and feel the emotion, whether we’re writing mystery, romance, or historical fiction.

In order to make my writing real, I take the words on my paper and project them onto the screen of my mind and then ask, “What kind of movie do I see from only those words?” The problem is, as the writer of the words, my mind inserts lots of information I haven’t actually put on the paper. My mind can see a pretty good scene, complete with all the senses. But I need to see what the reader sees.

If I’ve done a good job, you should be able to see the setting, feel the emotion, and smell the air. The characters should come alive on the screen as you watch them stand, sit, and move around the set.

If I’ve not done a good job, I have plain black and white stills, stuck in a dusty, one-dimensional photo album.

Here’s an example of a boring photo:

An old black woman came into the room. She had a nice voice.

Here’s how Christa Parrish created a movie with words in her novel, Home Another Way.

She looked older than her one hundred years, if that was possible. Her skin, the color of cinnamon sticks hung loosely over her skull, as if she had borrowed it from someone much larger, or bought it off a clearance rack. Age spots clung to her cheeks like leeches. Filmy, sightless eyes peered out from between rheum-caked eyelids, and her earlobes hung nearly to her chin. But her voice was a lullaby of fireflies and snickerdoodles. My tense muscles relaxed under her words.

Oh my goodness! Can you see and hear this dear woman? Now that’s how it’s done! Thank you, Christa!

Okay, readers, how about a quick exercise? I’ve written some black and white stills below. Would you take a few minutes to rewrite them and make them into a movie of words? And then would you post one or more of them as comments?

The winning comment wins a downloadable workshop of your choice from my Store.  🙂

1.  I went across the street and went into the store.

2.  When my daddy came home, the dogs got excited.

3.  She sat down and got to work.

Now friends, time to work your magic. Let’s see you turn one or more of these boring black and whites into a passage worthy of an Academy Award! (You don’t have to do them all. You can do one, two, or all three!)


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