Christmas Love Letters from God Giveaway!

I know you’ve only just put your shorts and summer tops away; I know the trees are only just starting to turn orange; I know your Christmas tree is still tucked away in that big box in the attic… but the publication date of Christmas Love Letters from God is almost here! Six short days from now, in fact!

So, to celebrate, we’re giving away two brand-new, hot-off-the-press copies. It’s your chance to cross a gift off your Christmas shopping list.

If you live in the USA and don’t have a PO box, you can enter. Just fill in the contact form below and tell me which of these seven stories contained in the book might be your favorite.

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My favorite is the one you’ll hear me read, right here…..

Pre-order Here

Enter the giveaway by completing the form below. (And if you want your name to be entered twice, share this post on Facebook or email to a friend, and just let me know in your comment.) I hope you win!

5 Not-to-Miss Tips to Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile

Congratulations! So you took the plunge, as I did, and registered for a great Writers’ Conference, like Maranatha.

Now what?

Now you prepare, as thoroughly as you can. Here’s my top five tips to help make your Writers’ Conference worthwhile:

  1. Pray. Prayer should be the foundation of everything you do, as a writer, and a Christian. From the first words on your page, to the last step inside that conference door, PRAY. I love what Mark Batterson says about the role prayer played in the journey to publication of his first book:

I don’t just write books; I circle them in prayer. To me, writing is praying with a keyboard….I didn’t write that book; I prayed that book.

Pray: about the right conference to attend; the right people to see; the right words to say.

2. Research. Once you have chosen the right conference, do your research thoroughly. Research the faculty and staff in attendance. What publishers or agents might be interested in your genre? If they are offering one-on-one consultations (as Maranatha does), make sure you are booked in with them. If you can only attend for one day, choose the day when they will be there. Research the workshops offered. Sign up for all that interest you.

3. Prepare. If you have paid to attend a conference, you need to be wise about your investment. The last thing you want is to return from that conference saying, I wish I’d taken this, or, if only I’d done that…

Carefully prepare your book proposal to share with publishers and agents. For my book, I used a template from Michael Hyatt:

Write a Book Proposal That Leaves Publishers Begging to Publish You

This free nonfiction book proposal template by Karen Porter is also very useful. Once you’ve written your proposal, consider having it edited by a professional. Children’s book author Crystal Bowman  edited my proposal and offers a great editing service to children’s writers.

Once you’re satisfied that your proposal is the very best it can be, print off several copies on good quality paper and be sure to attach your business card, preferably one containing your photograph. (Publishers and agents are meeting with many people. You want yours to be the face they remember).

Finally, practice, practice, practice your pitch to the professionals. You don’t want to be stumbling over your words. You only get one chance to make a first impression… make it a good one.

4. Network. Once you’re at the conference, take advantage of every opportunity to network with other attendees and professionals. Swap business cards. Learn from others. Mix and mingle. Make connections. These folks will become invaluable contacts who will support and encourage you in your publishing journey, as you do the same for them.

5. Take Notes. You are a writer…. write everything down, whether on your phone, iPad, or whatever works best for you. I personally am one of those old-fashioned writers who use those two ancient tools beginning with p. Whatever you use, take notes on what you hear. You will quickly forget all that information once you return home.

And one final piece of advice… if you do manage to get your proposal in the hands of someone who’s interested, be sure to enquire (politely) when and how you can expect to hear from them. If they tell you to contact them after a certain period of time, make sure you have their contact details. ( I didn’t do that…and it was an agonizing wait).

I just registered for Maranatha. It’s not too late… perhaps I’ll see you there! And you never know, that one book offer might just turn into five, because after all, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  Ephesians 3:20

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What other advice would you give to aspiring authors? What tips have worked well for you? 

The Best Piece of Advice I Could Give to Aspiring Authors..

I’m often asked, by aspiring authors:

What’s the best piece of advice you could offer as we try to break into the publishing world?

I’m usually tempted to say, learn to speak in a British accent, (since it’s done wonders for me). But instead, my singular piece of advice for those who don’t have an agent is:

Attend a Writers’ Conference.

I personally never wanted to.

I’d heard about writers’ conferences before, but I didn’t need to go to one. I decided I could do this myself. The thought of attending a writers’ conference intimidated and overwhelmed me. I’d seen the photographs of packed stadiums, brimming with people and bustling with activity. I was shy. I didn’t need, or want, to network with lots of agents, publishers, or other writers.

But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that there were only two ways to get my manuscript into the hands of Zondervan ( which was my goal). I either needed an agent, or I had to attend a conference.

That’s when I felt God nudging me to look at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, taking place in Muskegon, on the picturesque shore of Lake Michigan.

Not only was this conference in a beautiful setting, but it appealed to me because of its size. Although described as the largest writers’ conference in West Michigan, it was ‘small enough to be personable,’ promised excellent faculty in attendance, and was able to offer individual attention to writers through consultations with agents and editors. I plucked up courage, prayed, and registered. It was a decision I would never, ever regret.

Maranatha really did have an impressive faculty list. As I prepared for the conference, I scanned through the names, and saw that a well-known children’s author would be attending, to offer workshops, and meet one on one with writers.

I checked out her website and noticed she also offered editing and critique services. So I contacted her and before we’d even met at Maranatha, she had critiqued and edited both my proposal and the entire manuscript. I signed up to attend her workshops, registered for individual consultations with several faculty, and printed off my newly edited proposal. God had been with me every step of the way.

I was ready to attend my first writers’ conference.

My experience at Maranatha was everything it promised to be. Not once did I feel intimidated or overwhelmed. I was welcomed with genuine warmth; found fellowship with new friends; attended life-changing, informative workshops; heard inspirational testimonies; walked barefoot on the beach; and prayed with a small group of writers on a wooden balcony overlooking Lake Michigan, as God’s voice whispered through the wind and the waves.

The children’s author who had edited my work agreed to endorse my book, and most importantly, I was able to meet one on one with an editor from Zonderkidz- a ten minute consultation that would forever change my life.

She went back to Zondervan carrying my proposal. I went back home carrying my dream—a dream that was about to become reality.

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Little did I know that on a beautiful fall day, in that quiet, friendly, charming atmosphere of the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, a new chapter of my life would begin. Little did I know….but God knows it all.

God – the giver of the writing gift; the creator of dreams; the planter of seeds; God knows it all. Writers… pick up your pens, open yourselves to the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and register.

Next week on the blog: 5 Not-to-Miss Tips To Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile.

Where’s God?

So my husband said something from the pulpit that bothered me. Don’t get me wrong…. his sermons are great (okay, I’m a little biased).

He was talking about where we find God and how, with the advent of Facebook, we’re able to share our precious God-given moments with the world.

Our sweet granddaughter in Portland, Oregon, just started walking. He said. She’s adorable! Her parents post pictures all the time, and when I look at her, I think I see the face of God.

Of course he does. So do I. Just look at her….who couldn’t see God in those blue eyes and that big, toothy smile?

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But last week on Facebook, I saw another child’s face.  I didn’t want to see it. (That’s the trouble with Facebook…you end up seeing things you never wanted to).

It wasn’t my sweet smiling granddaughter. It was the boy everyone’s talking about, the boy everyone’s writing blog posts about, the Syrian boy covered in dust and blood, sitting motionless with haunting eyes. The boy who didn’t look like a boy at all.

When I first saw that image as I scrolled through my news feed, I just quickly zoomed right along. What on earth was that? I thought, in shock. Was that a doll? That couldn’t possibly have been real. I pushed it to the back of my mind. I didn’t want my thoughts filled with horror like that, I didn’t want my mind seeing those images. I didn’t want my nice, joy-filled day interrupted like that. So I didn’t even read the headline.

His name is Omran. The image of him, bloodied and covered with dust, sitting silently in an ambulance awaiting help, is another stark reminder of the toll of the war in Syria.

Whatever that was, it must be someone’s idea of a sick joke. I thought, and continued scrolling until I came to my smiling granddaughter again.

But it wasn’t a joke was it? It was real. This little boy is real! His name is Omran Daqneesh. He was pulled out from under the rubble of his home in Syria. He is five years old, the same age as my eldest grandson, the one who just moved to a beautiful new neighborhood surrounded by trees where he rides his bike with his brother.

Omran’s brother died yesterday from his injuries.

And even though I’m a strong believer I just can’t help asking….. where’s God in all of that?

Why do some children die and some children live?

Why is it that my grandchildren can ride their bikes in safety while other children are blown to bits in Syria?

It’s so easy for me to see God in the happy, smiling face of my granddaughter, but where’s God in the haunted face of Omran?

If I believe that God is in every child, (which I do), then God can’t just be in the face of the happy – God has to be in the face of the hopeless, and the haunted, and the hurt. God IS there… in the face of little Omran.

God is there, crying in silent agony for what was meant to be a beautiful world where babies die and children are bombed.

I don’t know the answers to all my questions. But I do know that I can help.

I don’t understand God. But I understand my responsibility.

I cannot turn away. I am called, ALL believers are called, to be part of the healing in whatever way they can.

Only healing can take away the hurt.

*****

Sign this British PETITION to help 300 refugee children who are stranded in Calais.

Sign the petition or donate to the WHITE HELMETS.

 

Happy Birthday to Snuggle Time Psalms…and Who Won the Giveaway?

The publication day for Snuggle Time Psalms has finally arrived! It’s like holding a brand new baby! 2016-08-09 10.44.04

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. And the winners are, (drum roll please)…

Liz, who is going to snuggle with:

My five kiddos. But especially my 5, 4 and 2-year-old.

And Annette, who said:

I would love to snuggle up with my (hopefully) future grandchildren with Snuggle Time Psalms. Until that day I will share God’s love with the children at our church’s daycare and church school through Glenys’s wonderful books like Snuggle Time Psalms.

If you didn’t win, don’t despair! Just enter this giveaway which is open until tomorrow.

May God, the real author of Snuggle Time Psalms, and the One who never leaves us, bless, watch over and hold the hands of all who will turn its pages.

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Snuggle Time Psalms Giveaway!

With just one week to go before Snuggle Time Psalms is released, (did you know it’s at the number one spot on Amazon’s Children’s Inspirational list), we thought we’d celebrate by giving away two copies!

The giveaway will be open for the next seven days.  As long as you live in the USA and you don’t have a PO box, you can enter. All you have to do is fill in your contact details below and tell me who you would snuggle with as you read the book.

And in case you wanted to peek inside first, here’s a sneaky preview. This is my favorite page, because it reminds me of my little grandson…

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE:

The Inspiration Behind Snuggle Time Psalms

I’m only about six or seven years old, but already I know that I love to write. I love to read too.

My brother and I, we sneak into my dad’s study and pull the big heavy book from the shelf. We huddle together and turn the pages. Already we’re giggling.

It doesn’t take long to find what we’re looking for… a photograph of a fat bird with a huge, puffed out red chest protruding from under its chin like a ball. The Apple Bird we used to call it. It seemed to us that this strange bird must have swallowed an apple and the gigantic fruit had somehow made its way outside the bird’s skin. We couldn’t believe that such an exotic creature existed… it was so unlike the tiny red-breasted English robin who hopped around our front garden, waiting for my dad to feed it.

This big book of wonder was only one treasure in a room containing many. The shelves in my dad’s study were bulging with encyclopedias and classics and poetry books and bibles.

And something else….

In a tiny corner, in the smallest of spaces, sat a little desk… containing notebooks and paper and pencils. And a chair. It was my desk. And it was all I needed.

I think it may have been at this desk, surrounded by my father’s books and bibles, that I began to write poems. And even though I inherited my dad’s passion for poetry and his love for God’s Word, I never, ever would have thought that fifty years later, I might be able to combine the two in Snuggle Time Psalms.

Snuggle Time Psalms Cover

And all I can think, when I leaf through its pages, is how much my dad would chuckle to see it, and how much he would love it so.

And maybe one day, there’ll be two little children, who will lift it from the shelf, and giggle over it together, and wonder at our great God, who made Apple Birds and English robins, and brothers and sisters, and all things good.

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Pre order Snuggle Time Psalms

Enter for a chance to win one of five copies!

Our Ridiculous God

It was this time last year, when the sun shone hot over the water and the family of geese floated by. That’s when it happened.. something so ridiculous that only God could have done it.

We’re standing in the back yard, my husband and I. We’re not alone. There are others here too, perusing the papers passed to them by the realtor. They’re doing what we’re doing – trying to imagine themselves living in this home, this little home on the lake. But it is little. Cute… but would we have room for our family when they come to visit from England?

I blame the Fletters. It was that family, among others, who made us fall in love with the ridiculous idea of lake-living when we came to live in the United States. Fifteen long years ago it was when they took us to that lovely lake home where we were first introduced to the fun of tubing, and the crazy idea of swimming in a lake.

No-one in England swims in a lake. I can remember saying incredulously. They’re freezing!

But not in Michigan. In Michigan they are warm, and welcoming. And people live on them.

But not us. I remember thinking. We’ll never live on a lake, because we live in parsonages. We go where God sends, and that means a home I’ll never get to choose myself.

But who knows what God has in store? Not me.

So this time last year, the unimaginable is about to happen. And we’re thinking about this little home. We’re standing on the grass that looks and feels like a luxurious sponge, and we’re looking out over the water to where kayakers float effortlessly and two white swans drift by. And my husband turns around to look at the neighbor’s house. It’s much bigger. It has a lovely deck. And a cute little beach. And for some ridiculous reason, there’s an ‘Open House’ sign hanging there too.

Now that’s a lake home Glenys. He says. Look at next door! Look at that lovely deck! That’s a home big enough to share with our family from England. Let’s go and peek inside.

I remember saying it clearly:

Don’t be ridiculous. 

And twelve months later, when those same white swans are drifting by, and the sun is sinking in a pool of red over the lake, that lovely deck is the one from which I write. That lovely home is the one we’re sharing right now with our family from England.

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And all the thanks and praise goes to God, who whispers crazy things like:

Just hold your staff over the water Moses, and see what happens. 

(Can’t you just hear Moses saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

Or: Just march around those massive walls Joshua, and see what happens. 

(Can’t you just hear Joshua saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

Or: Just wait three days Mary …you will see me again.

(Can’t you just hear Mary saying, Don’t be ridiculous!)

But that’s our ridiculous God… who does the impossible, who whispers the incredible, who resurrects fifteen year old dreams and breathes them back to life.

Yes God is good: in earth and sky,

From ocean’s depth and spreading wood,

Ten thousand voices seem to cry,

God made us all, and God is good.

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When You See Your Book Published in Korean…

A wonderful surprise plopped onto my doorstep recently. It was four copies of Love Letters from God….in Korean.

Korean Love Letters

I tore away the packaging and eagerly opened the book. Of course, I couldn’t understand a word. But on the other hand, I knew everything it said.

My Korean translator is called JongRak Hong. He diligently pored over this book and spent hours translating it into his native language.

Last year, I got an email from him. It was very polite. It went like this:

May I ask you a question? Don’t worry. It’s a very simple question.

In Acknowledgments, you say thanks to your brother Trevor.

Is he your elder brother or younger brother?

Because In Korean, there are different words for calling elder/younger brother and sister.

His message made me smile. Here was I, thinking that a computer would be translating my book, when all the while, JongRak was poring over its pages, working diligently to make sure every single word was translated correctly.

Trevor is my older brother, I told him.  (The one who first saw the potential in the pages of this book, the one who is a wonderful writer himself….but I didn’t tell JongRak that.)

It was several months later when that amazing package arrived at my door. I tried to find the name of my brother, Trevor. It’s hard, but I know it’s somewhere near the top of this page:

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My name looks like this:

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And this is the name of God:

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And while I’m turning the pages in the USA, struggling to make sense of the words, I know there’s someone on the other side of the world, perhaps a mom, or a dad, or a grandma, or a grandpa, cuddling their little Korean child on their lap, who’s also turning these pages and smiling as they read God’s love letters to them.  And every word makes complete sense.

Go into all the world, Jesus told his disciples, and preach the good news to all nations. Wow…perhaps I’m a tiny part of that, and so is JongRak Hong.

To the Newly Ordained Pastors….Why I’m Afraid For You.

It truly was an amazing Ordination Service.

Hundreds of United Methodists, a great cloud of witnesses, gathered together to honor and celebrate those who had bravely stepped forward to answer God’s call on their lives and enter ordained ministry.

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It was such a powerful and moving service that I wouldn’t have been surprised if a white dove had descended from the ceiling. Because the Holy Spirit was surely present… hovering, and filling, and moving, and working. Everyone there could feel it.

In the Bishop’s hands as she knelt to wash the feet of those newly ordained, the Holy Spirit was there.

In the songs we sang. and the music we heard, the Holy Spirit was there.

In the babies and children who clapped their hands, the Holy Spirit was there.

In those who watched from the balcony, who heard God calling them into ministry too, and who made their way up to the altar in tears, the Holy Spirit was there.

It was the same Holy Spirit who hovered over the chaos of creation; the same Holy Spirit who came down upon Jesus 2000 years ago in the River Jordan; the same Holy Spirit who showed up powerfully thirty years ago, when my husband was ordained.

Do you believe that God has called you to the life and work of ordained ministry? the Bishop asked.

I do so believe came the unanimous response.

I do so believe that too.

I believe that God called each of you.

I believe that each of you who knelt before the Bishop have already knelt before God’s throne.

I believe that each of you who had hands laid upon you in prayer already have God’s own hand powerfully laid upon your life.

I believe that for every person who hugged and clapped and cried for you, there are already a thousand angels singing for joy for you.

Because I know that you, like my husband, have been called, and set apart and sent for God’s Holy work, and you entered the ministry because you have a yearning to mend broken hearts, and bind up the wounded, and try to make a difference in this hurting world. I know this.

But I’m afraid for you.

I’m afraid lest you become one of the wounded. I’m afraid that as you rise to your feet and leave that spirit-filled sanctuary behind, the world and (dare I say it) your churches might steal your joy, and cause you to question your call.

And if that day should come, I pray that you can find your sanctuary again, that you will remember that it is Almighty God who has called you, that you will still be able to feel God’s Holy Spirit strengthening and sustaining and upholding you, and that when you hear words that discourage and deter, the truth of God’s words to you will be louder in your ear and stronger in your heart….

you are my child whom I dearly love; I find happiness in you.

It was a privilege to see you ordained. May God bless you every day and fill you with the Holy Spirit as you seek to make disciples, preach the Word, and answer that wonderful call on your life.

You are brave.

And you will make a difference in the world.

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