Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication

By Martin Wiles

Every writer wants their name in the publication light—and better yet, to get paid for it. I was no different.

Prior to 2009, I had written little, and published even less. Just a few poems here and there, and only one that I remember getting paid for. Then my father unexpectedly died, and things changed. What connection his death had to my seriousness about writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I only know my attitude changed. The genre I chose was devotions. Not as popular as fiction, but read by many just the same. And I had enough experiences under my belt to write them.

But merely writing them wasn’t enough. If no one else read them, what was the purpose of doing what I felt God leading me to do? I began looking for places to submit my devotions, hoping to get a few published. If I got paid a little along the way, that would be great too.

Of course, I began with what I call the little g, Google. One of the first hits was a place named Christian Devotions. They didn’t pay, but pay didn’t concern me so much. I just wanted to do what God told me to do—and see my name in print somewhere as an added bonus.

Cindy Sproles was the executive editor of Christian Devotions, and, at the time, the ministry was small and she was helping writers develop their skills. Like most inexperienced writers, I thought my devotion was perfect as written the first time. She thought differently. I recall the gist of her response: “Martin, the heart of your devotion is good, but it needs work before it’s ready for publication.”

The work entailed more than I imagined. For one, I had to stop preaching. (At the time, I was a preacher.) I also had to avoid the “that” trap and stop using so much passive voice. After several revisions—revisions I thought I’d never finish—she finally accepted my devotion.

I continued to write for Christian Devotions and also to search for other places to submit my devotions. I had a few published along the way, and was even paid for some. I also became a member of the five o’clock club—the a.m. one. Six days each week, I wrote a devotion. Before I knew it, I had several years’ worth of devotions.

I need to write a book of devotions, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew little about the publishing industry or about the scams that circulate within it. I suppose the company I settled with for three books—two devotionals and one commentary—was close to what I now know as a vanity press. Although they didn’t charge me anything to publish my books—and they did design my covers and list my books on Amazon—they didn’t edit my work or do any marketing for me. I later discovered they accept almost any manuscript sent to them and publish it as is. Since the books were so large, the price was prohibitive. Apart from those I sold to individuals, only a couple were sold on Amazon. I needed another avenue.

Shortly after this fiasco, I attended Writer’s Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference), directed by Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones, co-founders of Christian Devotions website. Eddie had also begun a new adventure: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His heart’s desire was to help authors get started and to produce quality books from a small publishing house.

Having met Eddie at the conferences a couple of times, I decided to send him a manuscript—365 days’ worth of devotions. By this time, my writing had improved, and, amazingly, he accepted my manuscript … with limitations. A years’ worth of devotions was too much, the book would be too large and costly, and very few would buy it. He suggested we split it up into smaller portions, perhaps as many as three books. Then, he proffered a Southern theme that became Grits, Grace, and God in 2013 and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church in 2016.

I was excited, to say the least, because I knew he didn’t accept every manuscript sent his way. I also knew they assigned each contracted writer an editor to work with, that they designed nice covers, and that they performed a fair amount of marketing at no cost to the author.

My editor, and now a good friend, was ruthless, but kind. Together, we produced two books I was proud to put on the market.

While I’m proud of my list of publication credits—and thank God for each one—not everything I’ve written has been accepted. My rejection scroll rolls out much longer than my acceptance one does. Such as the historical novel I spent months writing and rewriting. No publisher will touch it. It now rests lovingly on one of my book shelves where it may never see the light of the publishing world.

I recently signed another devotional book contract with Ambassador International. I look forward to what God will do through this book and to the long process that will precede publication. One thing publication has taught me is patience.

Because I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, I now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey.

And that editor who bled all over the first devotion I sent her? I’m now her Managing Editor and helping other writers the same way she once helped me. And the CEO of the publishing company who published my first book? I’m now one of his assistant editors also. God surely works in mysterious ways.

Click to tweet: I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, and now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey. #devotions #amwriting


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications.

 


Grits, Grace, and God

Grace & Grits & God offers personal insights and practical tips for dealing with life’s challenges, loses, and setbacks. As a pastor, Martin Wiles knows about tough times. He’s seen it in the faces of his parishioners—and his own. Find God’s spiritual truths in your daily challenges. Turn loses and setbacks into step-ups. Dish out blessings to others from your scraps. Show grit, love with grace, and trust God through the hard times and at all times.

Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church

If you’re struggling with the real meaning of going to church and following Christ, then Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church is for you. Martin Wiles has been in the pew or the pulpit his whole life. He has experienced the best and the worst in the church. He knows it can be a place of pain or a place of blessing.

Memories of “Canes” Football

By Steve Connolly

Having spent my early years in Miami, I have many fond memories of the city. I found Miami  an ideal city for a boy to grow up in. We lived on the edge of the Everglades, in a then small suburb, only a short bike ride to the wilds of the Everglades.

They were filled with dense trees and inviting canals. It was years before the exotic snakes and other wild things began to encroach on the landscape. Gator populations were lower, too.  Occasionally, we would come across a snapping turtle. Having no fear at that age, we would sneak up on them, touch their backside with our foot, and watch them jump into the canal. We would spend hours exploring, climbing trees and digging under rocks. To a kid, it was like heaven. I hated that we soon left Miami and moved to northern New Hampshire.

Before I knew it, I was grown and in college. Seeking a less expensive way to pay for college, I left New Hampshire briefly and was living back in Miami. Being a student, there was always a shortage of funds for gas and entertainment for a young fella. I found myself working a part-time job at a large bank in South Miami. Because they had a drive-in facility with extended hours, I found it worked perfectly for students.

During this time, I bonded with my coworkers, also students.  What I soon learned was that everyone was “into” football games at the University of Miami.  I had always been a Dolphins fan and had not paid much attention to college ball.  But the enthusiasm among everyone was at such a high pitch it soon rubbed off on me.

Everyone planned to attend the Saturday afternoon games at the Orange Bowl to watch the Hurricanes challenge their weekly teams. At first, I did not want to think about driving west of downtown to see the games, not the best part of the city.

And parking? I remember going to Dolphin games. Besides the dolphin tanks at the end of the field, one thing that stuck in my mind was the nightmare of parking. Hey, at the time I owned a classic Mustang and I was quite fussy about it getting banged up. You know how the priorities of a young teenage male run.

However, with a bit of prodding, I soon gave in and found myself volunteered to drive a bunch of us to a Saturday afternoon game. I found a spot in the surrounding neighborhood where I could safely park my car. I was never much on parallel parking and the spot I’d chosen would require skills in driving I had not yet obtained. It would have been easier to slide my car in sideways if that were even possible. But after a lot of biting my tongue to keep from cursing I got the car parked.

It didn’t take long for the infectious atmosphere to catch me. Everywhere I turned there were hordes of laughing students all hyped up and ready for the game to begin. Climbing into the stands, our gang became just like the rest of the fanatical fans. Yelling Go Canes! Soon I was filing the names of the players in my memory banks so it would seem I was totally engaged in this game. And you know what happened? I got bit by the college football bug. All these years later you’ll find me on a Saturday looking at schedules to see who’s playing and what time the games begin.

What further ingrained this fanatical love of the college football was our move to Alabama a few years back.  I tell all my out-of-state friends that before you can officially become a citizen of Alabama, you must sign a declaration of what team you will support, Alabama or Auburn. I have often thought of making up such a document to further emphasize this point to my friends. Of course, I declared my support to the Alabama Crimson Tide. My son, however, declared his loyalty to the Auburn Tigers. But that’s another story!

Last year, I went to my first Alabama Crimson Tide game in Tuscaloosa. As I stood in the crowd waiting for the players to take the field I was overcome with excitement. I guess the infectious cheers of the crowd took me back to those days at the Orange Bowl. Except for sitting in the nose bleed seats (which I did not budge from), I had a great time.

Recently, I decided that I needed to go back to my roots and support the team of my younger years, the Miami Hurricanes. Part of my justification is that it would drive my friends crazy, and would separate me from the never-ending feud between Tide and Tiger fans. By supporting the Canes, I can harass them all. It is all in good fun.

What about the professional teams? Yes, I still enjoy them as much as the college teams. And love to see the college players who get booted up to the Pros do a great job. What team do I support you may ask?

Go New England Patriots! Go figure… 

Click to tweet: I now support the team of my younger years, the Miami Hurricanes. #ncaaFootball #NFL 

Writing Prompt: I ran to the middle of the football field, clutching my Miami flag, when suddenly…

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Memorial Day-A Time for Remembrance

By Steve Connolly – Alabama Metal Art

Marked as the official start of Summer, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. It is, however, the day we all should remember and honor all Americans who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Growing up in a small New England town, I vividly remember marching in the Memorial Day Parade. We would line up at the cemetery just outside of town. Many of the town’s residents stood around the gravestones waiting for the program to start. Soon, a lone trumpeter would begin playing taps. It always gave me chills to hear. After a brief word and a prayer, the band would come alive with a patriotic march. Our march into town, although several miles, was always fun. It was good to see people waving flags, and clapping as we marched by.

Looking Back a Ways

For our family, Memorial Day held a tradition for us in the way of planting our summer vegetable garden. We kept our fingers crossed that the Northern New England weather would cooperate and we would not have to worry about any rogue frosts. Mom and I would be out in the dirt on our hands and knees carefully measuring the depth and spacing of each seed. Being amateur farmers at best, we needed all the luck we could muster when it came to gardening. Planting took us hours to get it all done, but once it was finished, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. Surprisingly, we had great success with our vegetable gardens.

New Traditions with a Young Family

As I got older and had a family of my own, new traditions were started. Moving to a new town now made me an onlooker of parades instead of a participant. Our family would stand along the parade route waving and clapping as floats and bands went by. The kids loved parades as many of the float riders would throw candy to all standing on the roadside. Being in a small town when the parade was finished, we would walk home up the hill laughing and chasing each other. Our kids always loved these family times. Later that afternoon, the grill would be fired up for a small family feast in the back yard. Hot dogs, chips, cold watermelon and ice-cream were carried out to the picnic table. Often, I would look at that ole picnic table and think, someday I have got to paint this thing. 🙂

Fireworks at the Lake

Throughout the day, the excitement would build in anticipation of the evening fireworks show. Every Memorial Day, the town would present an extraordinary light show for all who gathered around the lake in the center of town. Watching fireworks set off from the middle of the lake was always exciting. Not only did the sky light up with many colors but the lake water did as well. Some years we would watch from a park across the lake. I laugh now when I think of a friend who would give us a bang by bang commentary on the fireworks. In the later years when the kids had grown and moved out of the house, I would sit in our upstairs window and watch the fireworks. I would guess it is an advantage of living in a small town where everything is close together.

A Big Change in Location

Moving to Alabama in 1989 gave me another perspective on how people celebrate Memorial Day.  “Alabama Jubilee” was the phrase that kept crossing my path. Hearing it so often, I had to find out what it meant. Research pointed to the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic held at Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama over the Memorial Day weekend.

In fact, this year’s celebration will be its 40th year. Thinking back to our first visit to the Jubilee, I was taken back by the number of balloons and how beautiful they were. It was dreamlike seeing these large balloons inflate and slowly ascend into the morning sky. If my memory is correct, there must have been over 50 balloons participating in the Jubilee that day.

These days we find ourselves gravitating toward a quieter celebration with family and friends. It is fun to sit out on the back deck watching the young ones running around the yard. Having fun with water balloons, checking out the latest addition to the farm animals, or running circles around the yard in the go-cart. It gives us a chance to sit back and ponder our many blessings. It is a time for us to realize that the freedom to have these blessings is because of the many who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives. May we never forget or take them for granted.

Click to tweet: May we never forget the sacrifices made by our military.

Writing Prompt: Consider adding a Memorial Day celebration to your novel or short story.


Steve Connolly works for Alabama Metal Art and would like to share a little about the company.

Who is Alabama Metal Art? We are a small business located in the Shoals Area of Alabama in the city of Florence. We are a close-knit group of employees, who work together to provide a unique product for our customers.  Each one of our metal art products are individually crafted for you.

Our product line includes but not limited to:

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Joy in Adversity

We are so happy to have my friend, Edie Melson, share her beautiful story about family…

By Edie Melson

I’ve come to realize that the seeds of faith begin their journey to the light, in the dark. As the mother of a former Marine, I’ve been through the painful process of blooming in adversity.

Neither I nor my husband come from a military family, so our son’s decision to enlist straight after high school caught us off guard. We weren’t ashamed or disappointed in him, although we were worried about where this decision could take him. But we could see his sincere desire to follow God’s leading in his life and knew that where ever this road led, God would see him through.

But the week I said goodbye to him as he got ready to leave for his first deployment in Iraq, all those thoughts of faith and how God would take care of him fled. I found myself engulfed in a terror so deep it colored every corner of my world a murky gray.

Throughout the last couple days I had with him, I was overcome with fear and uncertainty. As we sat down to eat, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time I’d share a meal with him. As he posed for a picture with his brothers, in the back of my mind was the fear that this would be the last picture I’d ever have of him. All through that time, the what-ifs continued to crowd out the faith I thought I had.

Then he was gone—half a world away—fighting an enemy whose main focus was on killing him. It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him, I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I couldn’t. So I did the one thing I could do. It became my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength.

I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

I learned to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. Often times they weren’t even words. They truly were the groanings we read about it in Scripture (Romans 8:26-27).

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew lay just beyond the darkness.

And my course of last resort became my strength, It became the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. When the fears threatened to overwhelm me, I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself.

The final harvest of that time of darkness came to fruition May 12, 2015,  just after Mother’s Day. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. How I longed for just such a book during that dark time. Now God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war.

I can say with confidence, never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now.

Click to tweet: Prayer: my course of last resort became my strength.

I’d love to know how you get through the dark times and find a way to bloom. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


While My Soldier Serves

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

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Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or other writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her passion to help those who are struggling find the strength they need to triumph is reflected in the characters she creates and the insight she shares. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find her books on Amazon.com.

3 Questions Wednesday Needs You!

April has arrived in a hurry and we’re still excited about our plans for the blog for the rest of 2017.We’ve been talking about YOU! We still have several interview spots and also some guest post spots to fill. One of the ways we can help you is through the online presence and publicity you gain when you’re a part of our blog.

Th Writing Prompts blog has scattered places open for Wednesday interviews from May through December. And also spots where you take our monthly topic and write a guest post. That’s good for all of you writers, bloggers, and authors. Why?

  • Visibility
  • Free publicity
  • Expanded reach
  • Book releases
  • Books & WIPs on virtual display
  • Advertise with buy links
  • New readers via book giveaways
  • Readers getting to know you
  • Makes it easy for potential readers to find and connect with you

Would any of these marketing strategies help you? Well, we offer these for a very low price. Absolutely FREE. All you have to do is contact us through a comment below, or use our contact tab [Click Here]. Let us know you’re interested in participating in 3 Questions Wednesday or write a guest post.

A few facts about 3 Questions Wednesday interviews:

There are only three questions, so it’s quick and easy. We’ll need the following: publicity photo, short bio, book cover, book blurb, buy links, and links to you (your social media, author page, etc.).

Contact us today. Spaces fill quickly.

And let’s not forget our readers! If you’re not a published writer, you are a reader. Many of our authors give away free books. All you have to do is leave a comment on their 3 Questions Wednesday post to be entered in the giveaway. It’s that easy. And the authors respond to your comments. We encourage you to ask questions about their work. This is your opportunity to get to know them even better. Then follow them on their author page, and check out their other books, or works-in-progress.


Thank you!