Chicken Soup for the Soul

Growing up in New York, I learned at an early age that chicken soup is good for what ails you.

  • Cold, wintry day? Warm up with a bowl of chicken soup.
  • Sore throat? Sooth it with a bowl of chicken soup.
  • Upset stomach? Yup…chicken soup is easy to digest.

But chicken soup isn’t only associated with the body anymore.

In 1993, the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise was born. Today, with more than 250 different books and 110 million copies sold, Chicken Soup for the Soul is a household term. It even has its own week. The 4th week in October has been designated Chicken Soup for the Soul Week.

The first time I was paid for my writing was for a Chicken Soup entry. I submitted a story to Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, published in 2003. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve now contributed to 23 Chicken Soup books, the most recent of which released last week. That first published story helped me begin thinking of myself as a real writer.

Some have questioned my association with this franchise. After all, they sometimes publish books and stories that are decidedly not Christian. But these concerns remind me of the question the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 9:10-12 (NIV):

As Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of ChristmasIf my stories can provide salt and light, bring encouragement or motivate introspection, then why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of the opportunity? Jesus met people where they were. Why wouldn’t I want to do the same?

Besides, I enjoy taking a fresh look at my experiences to identify life lessons and times of joy that might bless someone else.

So check out their newest release, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas. Read “The Gift of Time”—a story that reminds me of special times with special people.

Who knows? Perhaps the next story I submit will include an experience I shared with…you!


 
Writer’s World Blog Tour

My friend and fellow board member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), Karen Whiting, asked me to participate in the Writer’s World Blog Tour. She participated last week. I want to thank her for the invitation and suggest you check out Karen and her newest books. She has a heart for families and it shows in her books, whether she’s writing for children or adults.

Here is her information and links:
KarenWhitingKaren Whiting is an international speaker and award-winning author of seventeen books. She’s the former television host of Puppets On Parade. Her newest books are Nature Girl: a guide to caring for God’s creation and The One Year My Princess Devotions. Her upcoming releases are The One Year Devotions for Active Boys and Hope From His Heart (a devotional for women). Karen loves to let creativity splash across the pages of her writing as she encourages families to thrive, treasure one another, and connect to God. I hope you’ll connect with her at:

Blog: http://karenwhiting.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KarenHWhiting
Website: www.karenwhiting.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KarenHWhiting
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/KarenHWhiting


As part of the tour I’ve been asked to answer the same four questions all the authors have been answering:

1. What am I working on?

I’m juggling a few projects at the moment, including a book about spiritual lessons from our rescue boxers, a children’s devotional on the names of God (as a companion to Daily Reflections on the Names of God), and another children’s book on God’s incredible creation.

I also teach a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class from September through May, so between teaching and writing, I spend most of my time doing what I love!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The phrase “A passion for God’s Word and a compassion for His people” is used by BSF, and I truly resonate with it. Whether I’m writing for children or adults, I try to incorporate even the hard teachings of Scripture, but in a way that delivers hope and encourages transformation and restoration.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I have grown so much as I walk with the Lord and teach His Word. Sometimes it feels as if I would burst if I didn’t share what I’m learning. My hope is that readers might learn the easy way what I’ve learned the hard way!

4. How does my writing process work?

I maintain an idea file for future projects. Each time I come across a resource, quote, illustration, and relevant Bible passage, I file it away in the appropriate file until I’m ready to work on the book.


Now that I’ve shared a little about myself, I’d like to introduce two friends and authors who will follow me in this tour. Next week Dave Fessenden and Marjorie Vawter will answer these same four questions on their own blogs. I hope you’ll check them out! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at their information:

 
Dave FessendenDavid E. Fessenden is a literary agent for WordWise Media Services and an independent publishing consultant with 20 years’ experience in editorial management for Christian publishers. In previous positions Dave served on the communications staff of Elim Bible Institute and was editor of a regional edition of the largest Protestant weekly newspaper in the country.

Dave has published six books, produced study guides for two titles by A.W. Tozer (published in the back of the books), written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and edited numerous books. His two latest nonfiction books, Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract and A Christian Writer’s Guide to the Book Proposal, published by SonFire Media in 2011 and 2014, grew out of his years in acquisitions for Christian publishers. Dave enjoys speaking on various topics at Christian writers’ conferences and other venues. He also conducts Sunday school teaching workshops based on his book, Teaching with All Your Heart.

Dave’s first novel, The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy, teams up Sherlock Holmes’ smarter brother, Mycroft, with Dr. Watson’s son, Thomas, to solve the murder of a speakeasy owner and his card-playing cronies in 1920s Philadelphia. It was published in November 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His blog on writing is www.fromconcepttocontract.com.

 

Marjorie VawterMarjorie Vawter is a professional freelance editor who proofreads and edits for CBA publishers, edits for individual clients, and writes. An avid reader, she also judges for several prestigious awards in the inspirational marketplace, and she serves as conference director’s assistant and appointments coordinator for the Colorado and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conferences.

A graduate of Bob Jones University with a bachelor’s degree, she has taught elementary school (1st and 4th grade) and high school English and Spanish. In 2005, she “retired” to edit and write full-time. She has published several articles and numerous devotionals, including Discipleship Journal and several devotional anthologies published by Barbour Publishing. Her first fiction book, A Shelter from the Storm in Sundays in Fredericksburg (TX), released in April 2013 from Barbour. She has also indie published with her online critique group (aka The Posse), another novella in Threads of Time, available at the Amazon Kindle store.

Calming the Storm Within, published by OakTara, is Marjorie’s first nonfiction book. Marjorie speaks at conferences and writers groups on topics relating to editing and writing and to church ladies groups and retreats on depression/anxiety, and grounding in biblical truth. Readers can contact her through her website:  www.MarjorieVawter.com


 
Open Doors and New Opportunities

I recently returned from another writers’ conference: the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference (CCWC). It was a wonderful time of networking with others in Christian publishing, reconnecting with old friends, and meeting new colleagues.

Writer’s conferences usually offer an abundance of workshops and continuing classes. There are also numerous opportunities to meet with editors, agents, and multi-published authors.

During my meetings with new, unpublished writers who were attending their first conference, their deer-in-the-headlights looks reminded me of my own first-time experience. I remember wanting to attend every workshop offered. I certainly needed every workshop! As I listened to the authors on faculty, I wondered if I would ever achieve that level of accomplishment.

Eight years after my first conference, I have to resist the urge to pinch myself to ensure I’m not dreaming. God has used this time to open many doors of opportunity – doors I never could have opened on my own. I’m doing what I love as a multi-published author, Bible teacher, and speaker.

Now, I’m certainly not doing it for monetary reward – published authors know there isn’t much money (if any!) unless you’re a NY Times mega-seller. No, this isn’t about financial accomplishments. This is a ministry, a calling on my life. It’s part of who I am, and I’m able to do it because others have invested in me.

Now it’s my turn to pass it on. So when I met with a new group of first-timers in Colorado, I had the blessing of being able to encourage and teach, even as I have been encouraged and taught.

Open DoorDuring this most recent conference, God once again opened doors of opportunity for writing and teaching. But as I reflect on these doors, I’m reminded that each one opens in His perfect time. Forcing doors open before God wants me to walk through them will ultimately work against me. Even worse, it will detract from His glory in my life and work.

Are you standing in front of a locked door? Yes, it may lead to the fulfillment of God’s promises for you. But if you try to force it open before His time, the outcome will be like a half-baked cake: inedible and a waste of time and ingredients. Don’t waste your season of waiting by cutting it short. Wait on God’s perfect timing – I promise you, He delights in doing “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

What doors has God opened for you?
What doors are you waiting for Him to open?


 
Success or Failure?

Success and failure used to be easy to measure. In school, you either passed or failed based on clearly established grading standards. In manufacturing, success is determined by output. Even in finance, successful deals are measured by profit.

But when you write for the Christian market, measures of success become a little more difficult to pin down.

Consider a new writer trying to establish himself in Christian publishing. He may spend years writing devotions or articles for non-paying markets. Is he then a failure because he has never been paid for his work?

Or what about the blogger who faithfully posts encouraging material. Readers are inspired, refreshed, or edified, but she doesn’t know it because few people leave comments. Or perhaps, despite the fact that a particular post attracted a mere handful of readers, one lone person was encouraged to persevere through a difficult time. Is the blogger a success or a failure?

Of course, publishers expect their books to turn a profit. Still, if a financially unprofitable book draws even one person to a vibrant relationship with God through faith in Christ, is it still a failure?

I began thinking about success and failure in writing for the Christian market when author and friend Renee Fisher recently blogged her reflections on this subject.

It boils down to expectations. We writers are a sensitive lot. In the absence of positive feedback, we wonder if our written work – whether books or blogs, devotions or articles – is good enough.  People may simply be too busy to say anything, but we tend to take it personally. Am I not good enough? Why didn’t anyone notice? Do I not have a big enough audience?

Who is my audience, anyway? Who decides if I’ve succeeded or failed? It goes without saying that writers need readers. But if I’m doing what God has called me to do, to the best of the abilities He has given me, shouldn’t that be enough? I constantly need to remind myself that it is enough.

Who is my audience? My first audience is the Lord.

Numbers are important. Readers are important. Publishers are important. Profits are important. But none of them are as important as fulfilling the call placed on my life by the One whom I most want to please. For the rest, I’ll do my absolute best to glorify the Lord and trust Him for the results…success or failure.

P.S. Renee – I may not leave comments…but please know your blog posts are a blessing!


 
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