Devotional Essentials, Part 1

Sharing this great info for devotionals writers with our StoryWritingStudio Studio readers. Thanks, Paul (Kent) Muckley and WordServeWater Cooler.

WordServe Water Cooler


A well-written devotional can remind readers of key truths of the Christian faith, spur thinking that leads to a positive life change, actually draw people closer to God. A poorly-written devotional? Well, God can use anything for His purposes . . . but let’s consider some ways to “do devotionals right.”

Just think how popular devotionals are—they comprise some of the best-selling and longest-lasting books in the Christian realm (for example, Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling), and they represent entire ministries (like Our Daily Bread, The Upper Room, and Living Faith). It’s no exaggeration to say that new devotional material releases every single day, in books and magazines, on-line, and in outlets like church bulletins. How can we best meet the needs of this hungry readership?

I’d like to propose a TEST for you—that’s Topic, Example, S

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What is Beautiful?

I wanted to share this beautiful post with our friends in the StoryWriting Studio. I know you’ll enjoy “Chasing Beautiful” with Kathy Graves!

Kathryn Graves

Name Change. I changed the title of my blog to Chasing Beautiful because I want it to reflect what I think we’re about as human beings. Don’t we surround ourselves with things we think are beautiful? We decorate our homes with colors and furnishings that please our eyes. We plant flowers, trees and shrubs to enhance our yards and outdoors spaces. When we go on vacation we like to go places where the scenery is breathtaking. Our closets are filled with clothes that we bought because we thought they looked good. We fix our hair and put on make-up to make ourselves appear more attractive. Reaching for beauty infuses a huge part of our lives.

Why Now? Five years ago my life was fantastic. I had a loving family, nice house, we all enjoyed good health, and we were financially stable. As empty-nesters, my husband and I could – and…

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Pressing On in God’s Grace

Today, Nancy Kay Graceauthor and speaker, shares about her new devotional/Bible study book, The Grace Impactin the StoryWriting Studio. Nancy’s biblical teachings revolve around seeing God’s grace in everyday life.

BookCover/GraceImpactMy writing journey began in 2007, when my stories were published in a couple of devotionals and Chicken Soul for the Soul books. This encouraged me to forge ahead in the unfamiliar territory of writing.

GraceNotes. Wanting to share my publishing news with friends, I wrote a short devotional in an email, adding my good news at the end. This was the first issue of GraceNotes, my email devotional, which became the seed for a book. GraceNotes has been sent each month since then, even through some very difficult seasons of life. My collection of devotions increased, and I learned more about grace. Eventually, I hoped to have enough devotionals to compile them into a book.

The Grace Impact. In 2012, I started on a different book project, but it abruptly ended. I was depressed and discouraged with writing. Needing to hear from the Lord about my next step, I attended a Christian writer’s conference. I hadn’t planned on talking with any agents, but God had a different plan.

A small Christian publisher had an open appointment; I timidly showed up. I pitched the idea for this book to CrossRiver Media for a compilation of my devotions called GraceNotes: Thirty Days of Grace. The publisher was interested and asked for a proposal.

I left the conference with a new assignment from the Lord. Writing the proposal forced me to think through my project. The Lord brought to mind a theme scripture as the foundation of the book, helped me choose which devotions to include, and motivated me to complete it by the deadline six weeks later. The proposal and the manuscript were later accepted.

At the beginning the editing process, the publisher suggested I consider retitling my project, as several other books had similarities. I prayed and researched; The Grace Impact was chosen.

The book went from being a devotional about God’s grace to becoming a book teaching about God’s grace that happens to be a devotional. This change challenged me to do deeper in writing, researching, and showing God’s grace. The Grace Impact released in April 2015.

Any writing journey detours from what we as authors expect, as the Lord reveals His plan for each of us through the process. Wherever you are at in your writing journey, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Be faithful to your call to share God’s word of hope.
  2. When you get discouraged on the journey, pray. God is with you.
  3. Release any fears to the Lord before they grow larger,
  4. When delays occur, learn to trust the Lord in a deeper way. God’s timing is best.
  5. Take the next step. Persevere.

Remember the promise of Philippians 1:6: “ … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We are challenged to go forward on our writing journeys instead of becoming discouraged or yielding to fears. Press on in God’s grace.

Photo/NancyKayGraceNancy Kay Grace is speaker and author who is captivated by God’s grace and loves to share about embracing it in everyday life. She has contributed stories to several anthologies and published magazine articles. Nancy is married to her best friend, Rick, who is a senior pastor in northwest Arkansas. They have served the Lord for more that forty years, seeing His grace at work in many countries. Now they enjoy the stage of life with two married children and an increasing number of grandchildren. To learn more about her ministry, please visit

Nancy’s devotional/ Bible study study book, The Grace Impact, is published through CrossRiver Media released April 17, 2015

In a few months, Nancy will be hosting an online Bible study using The Grace Impact. If you are interested in more information about this opportunity, please sign up for her GraceNotes newsletter at

Twitter: @nancykaygrace

The Writing Sisters: Going All Out For God

The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers tell us about their new book, The Shepherd’s Song in our guest post today. These award-winning authors and speakers believe in the power of story, “When we hear stories or tell our own story we connect, heal, and grow. Each of us is part of a bigger story – the story of God’s love and work in the world.”

BookCover/TheShepherdsSongIt was early one Thursday morning at the Perk Avenue coffee shop. We had been meeting weekly, writing together for a year, and were praying about what to write next. We had each prayed earlier that morning and had written down three ideas each that we would consider.

Five of the ideas were similar to what we had been writing. We had been writing children’s books for twenty years, we knew how to reach that audience. The five ideas made perfect sense. We have contacts in the world of children’s books. It’s what God had equipped us to do…at least it seemed so.

The sixth idea was different. The Shepherd’s Song, a book for adults showing the power of scripture to change lives.

Writing for adults had always seemed way too intimidating. But as we sat and looked at the small sheet of paper we felt drawn to the idea. Were “big people” so different after all. And a larger question surfaced, was the Holy Spirit calling us into a new work? Something different? We had always written from a Christian perspective, but what would it look like to surrender the work? To go all out for God.

As we joined in this work with God we learned along the way. Here are some of our lessons:

What God uses he reduces first. A true call to write for God comes with an honest look at our own impotent humanity. The first sign that this calling might be of God came as we sat at the coffee shop looking at the ideas written on the paper. Evidence was against us. We had never written anything for adults.  We did not know the market, the publishers how it worked. We doubted our knowledge of theology and the Bible. In hindsight we were perfect vehicles for God to use! We could not do it on our own.

God gives us a passion for the work. Not writing the book was impossible. From the moment we said yes, God created in us such a passion for the 23rd Psalm that we never stopped writing long enough to wonder if we should be writing the book. God gives us a “burning” within us to share like Jeremiah. We were living and breathing Psalm 23 from that first moment.

God burdens our heart for our readers. As we worked and prayed and reflected on Psalm 23 we became burdened for the people that might need this word from God. In the book the psalm travels around the world and we began to pray that the book would travel around the world taking the psalm with it.

The Holy Spirit provides just enough for today. We had to stay so close to God during the writing a publishing because we had no idea where we were going. The book came together in about six months, amazing for us. We never quite knew where it was going. Every time we made an outline or a spreadsheet we ended up throwing it out as God directed the book in surprising ways.

Where God is at work there is opposition. Difficult times in our personal lives threatened to distract us and pull us off course. Medical challenges with our families took our attention away but we kept coming back. Over the course of writing the book we prayed for each other daily and enlisted a prayer team to pray for us.

Where God is at work there is joy. With all the hard work, the frustration, the questioning there was fun. We loved our weekly meetings at the coffee shop. The work was punctuated with laughter and excitement. Even in the difficult times the work was a gift and a pleasure for us.

Where the Holy Spirit is at work there is fruit. Already we can see the fruit in our own lives. God has grown our faith as we trusted Him and obeyed this call. The Shepherd’s Song has been translated into German and Bulgarian and was acquired by a publisher UK who took the book to New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Letter and reviews have come to us from around the world as readers have been changed by the words of the Psalm.

When we work for Him, God controls the results. One more lesson that we are learning every day. We show up. We work hard. God controls the results. This requires patience and discernment as we go forward and continue to write for Him.

Duffey:Myers300The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner, Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, is being released in paperback April 2015.

You can connect with Laurie and Betsy on their monthly newsletter where they send out updates and their popular free devotional books. Contact them at and find them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Grab your copy of The Shepherd’s Song here.

Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…”

Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”

Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.

With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s, The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.

4 Powerful Strategies for Claiming Your Promised Land

I hope my post from the WordServe Water Cooler encourages the readers of the StoryWriting Studio to step out and claim their own promised land. Blessings!

WordServe Water Cooler

” … Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving …” (Joshua 1:1)

Photo/AnitaBrooks Photo/AnitaBrooks

Standing on the banks of the Jordan, I look across to the other side, gazing at my “promised land.”

Perhaps you’ve been here, too. You’ve been given a vision. And you’re waiting to see your dream become a reality.

I remember the years that I spent wandering through the wilderness on the road to publication, wrestling with my doubt, fear, and unbelief. I recall the first time that I considered writing a book. It seemed impossible, doubting that I would ever see my dream fulfilled. Now, I find myself on the shore, looking across to my promised land.

But wait! How can I navigate the rough waters in front of me? The manuscript deadline? The marketing? The on-going platform challenges? What other obstacles will I face as I try to ford…

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12 Reasons for Writers to Love Facebook

I wanted to re-blog this WordServe Water Cooler post by Becky Johnson to our Storywriting Studio readers because I think it will help you understand why a lot of writers like Facebook. I know it can become an addiction and keep us from writing, but so can reading novels and blogs. Yet social networks & reading are a vital part of the writing life. Thanks, Becky for a great post. See you on Facebook!

WordServe Water Cooler


True Confession: For me, Facebook was love at first post.

Apparently I am not alone. Facebook reigns as Social Media King, with 750 million active users. Here are a dozen reasons why Facebook is this writer’s Social Networking BFF.

1.Cure for Isolation: I am a relational gal and it is no secret that writing can be an isolating business. Facebook is a 24 Hour Kitchen Table “Come and Go” Conversation that never ends. I can connect to other writers who are also trapped at home on a deadline. In fact, Facebook is a virtual water cooler for thousands who work at home in their PJs but enjoy a little human connection with their coffee break.

2. Primes My Writing Pump: I read Facebook the way some read the morning paper (before newspapers all but disappeared). I like to peruse my friends’ thoughts while I sip my coffee. Writing a…

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Reflections from Sunrise


Sunrise over Lake Cortez

 Fear exhausted me, as I expanded my “to do” list.

How can I work on my book project with so many distractions?

When I asked this question in prayer, a familiar scripture came to mind, “Seek first the kingdom of God …” (Matt. 6:33 NKJV).

But how can I focus on God, when I have all this work to do?

REAL LIFE. I can’t concentrate on my writing projects at times with dishes in the sink or dirty laundry. And when the phone rings, I lose my ability to focus completely. Then, when I expand my worrying about all the details of my life, writer’s block paralyzes me.

A twinge of doubt hovered, as I wrestled with the impossibility of getting caught up with all of my daily tasks.

In my search for answers, I looked up Matthew 6:33 in several Bible translations. What does it really mean to “seek first the kingdom of God”?

I discovered a helpful translation of that promise in The Message: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions … You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met” (Mt. 6:33).

Does God’s Word really promise to give me the power I need to overcome my worries as I focus on Him—His presence, His purpose, and His provision? 

Still, I questioned my own ability to accomplish all that I needed to do. 

Lord, can I focus on You and still get all of these tasks completed?

RUNNING. I continued to think and pray about seeking God first about my worries. But I also decided to go for a walk down to the lake before I faced the rest of my projects. So, I tossed my cares aside, slipped into my walking shoes, and locked the door behind me. 

Before I even turned the corner toward, the sunrise took my breath away. I took a quick photo of my  view from the street, hoping to capture the moment. Then, I just stood there, in the middle of the road, mesmerized at the magnificent view in front of me. 

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, I felt energized and inspired. So, I decided to head for the walking trail before I headed back home.

When I put on my earphones to listen to some music, I couldn’t believe the timing of the the first song I heard. “Light Up the Sky” by The Afters lifted my spirits, especially after seeing such a inspiring sunrise, touching my heart and my mind with its truth.

REFLECTION. Later, I reflected on my earlier question, How can I focus on God, when I have all this work to do? And I realized that God had provided an answer to all of my questions even before I had asked.

He drew my attention to the majesty of His creation, as I observed the heavenly canopy of the sunrise reflected in the Lake Cortez, glowing through the trees near my home.

Did God light up the sky to show me that He was with me?

Yes, I could not deny that He was right there with me. He opened my eyes, and I could see evidence of His Presence all around me.

YouTube/theaftersvideos (“Light Up the Sky” by The Afters)

How has God revealed Himself to you lately?

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