2017 Writer Development Conference

YOU Writer Conference Promo 2017

Just sharing a conference announcement for all of my Christian writer friends… I first attended the Writer Development Track at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference in 2014. I’ve been contracted to write for LifeWay’s YOU curriculum several times since then. Folks who are serious about investing in themselves and their writing careers should consider this amazing opportunity.

The Writer’s Conference: A Wise Investment

ACWC Program BookletEven with freshly inked documents to declare their legitimacy as LLCs or S-Corps, new businesses can still fail to deliver on their promises. Although well-meaning, they sometimes experience one pitfall after another: overcommitting, growing too quickly, insufficient cash flow, a hastily designed product or botched service, and other tell-tale signs that scream, “Newbie!” Obviously, good intentions don’t guarantee success; we must hone our craft.

That’s why about two weeks ago, I was happy to see several writers alongside me at the Atlanta Christian Writers Conference (ACWC).  Attendees at all experience levels were present, especially since the faculty taught classes on everything from identifying the elements of a good story and writing for magazines to building a platform and writing a book proposal. There were even sessions on making podcasts and finding markets for children’s non-fiction. The personal appointments with agents and editors were invaluable, to boot. Surely, the conferees understood how their personal growth and success required such a wise investment—in this case, nearly three days of their time and a couple hundred dollars out-of-pocket.

Whether we’ve started a grassroots organization, mom and pop eatery, home daycare, or web design company, we thrive when we see training as an investment and not merely a time-sucker or an unnecessary expense.  When writers have this perception, everyone wins. The result: More folks will write devotionals that teach without being preachy. Authors will create novels with well-crafted, relatable characters. And, freelancers will pen articles that grab—and keep—readers’ attention. After all, what good is a published piece (whether it’s an indie book, blog post, or content on a professional web site) if it’s constructed so poorly no one wants to read it?

How do you invest in yourself? What rewards have you (or others) reaped as a result?

Christian Writers: Apply for LifeWay’s Writer Development Conference

BCLFC YOU Writer Development Conference 2016If you’re a lover of God’s Word and want to know what it takes to write curriculum for LifeWay, check out this opportunity. Back in 2014, I completed the first ever YOU Writer Development Conference. Then, in 2015, I was invited back as a faculty member for the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference (BCLFC). Since then, I’ve been contracted to write three feature articles and four units of Bible study for LifeWay’s YOU curriculum. What a wonderful experience! I absolutely love what I do.

Click here to learn more about the YOU curriculum. Serious inquiries may be directed to the LifeWay contact shown above. Don’t delay; apply now.

A Godsend: Bible Study for Urban and Multicultural Believers

For a small business owner, new contracts are almost always welcome. I’ve been grateful for the ones I’ve received. For me, that means I get to do what I love: storytelling, writing, and telling others about Jesus. I even earn a few bucks in the process! However, my biggest joy is knowing that I’m equipping others with tools for godly living.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, I did some freelance writing for LifeWay’s quarterly Bible study, YOU: Connect, Grow, Serve, Go. While completing the work for this contract, I researched and studied the Bible, experienced aha moments at 2 a.m., and prayed intensely—for myself as I plugged through the writing process and for those who would read the words I’d penned.

Designed for urban and multicultural adults, LifeWay’s YOU Bible study reaches believers in a profound way. Its writers work hard to help 21st century Christians realize the Bible’s relevancy. Preview the video above for additional details. Then, get a free sample lesson and leader guide here. Even better, purchase the current issue (winter 2014/2015) for a nominal price ($3.50). In doing so, you’ll be able to read my article on page 23, “Reaching Alabama’s Black Belt with the Love of Christ.”

To start the next quarter off with LifeWay’s YOU Bible study, purchase the 2015 spring edition. Inside, you’ll find a unit on service; I wrote the learner/leader/object lessons for unit 3. Check them out and let me know how the lessons have encouraged you to examine your service efforts.

This summer, whether we make plans to visit the beach, splash in the pool, or simply cool off with a homemade smoothie, remember to stay connected to a small group (Sunday school) and study God’s word. To help you to do just that, consider pre-ordering the summer edition of LifeWay’s YOU Bible study. I recently finished writing its learner/leader/object lessons and commentaries for unit 1. It focuses on prayer—a staple in the believer’s life.

Whether I write a piece for LifeWay or some other Christian periodical, I consider all of my writing contracts a godsend. Really. God has shown me that He provides and promotes; He even supports my progress. What has He shown you, recently?

Q & A with Vanessa Fortenberry, Children’s Book Author

Christian Children's Author, Vanessa FortenberryQ:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A:  Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, I wrote plays, poetry, and short stories as a young girl. Presently, as a teacher-librarian, I enjoy story time with my students.  I savor the moments I spend with my family and friends, as well as baking delicious desserts for my loved ones.

Q:  What made you want to become a Christian writer?

A:  God! I had plans to write the great American romance novel. I never intended to write children’s books or Christian books. But, as we know God had other plans for me. Psalm 78:4 states, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” (NIV). That’s my mission from God and I’m doing it!

Q:  What inspired you to write Mama, I Want to See God?Vanessa Fortenberry, Mama, I Want to See God

A:  My grandson, Anthony inspired me to write Mama, I Want to See God. About three years ago, when he was six years old, he actually said to his mother those exact words. Since birth, Anthony has had a bad case of eczema (a skin disease). My daughter-in-law thought Anthony wanted to die so that he would be relieved of his intense pain and discomfort. I assured her this wasn’t the case, in that children are naturally curious about God. The next morning I sat at my computer and wrote this story.

Q:  Why do you believe it’s important for children to read this book?

A:  It’s difficult for children to understand that God actually exists when they can’t see Him. I believe children should read this book because it will give them a vision of who God is through the blessings and love He bestows upon us. I feel that children reading this book will come to understand that they are unique and special in the eyes of God.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’ve purchased and read my copy of Mama, I Want to See God.  To read my review, click here. In the meantime, check out Vanessa’s website (http://www.vanessafortenberry.com/) or visit one of the links below to purchase her book or connect with her via social media.

 Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon page | Amazon eBook

Children’s Book Review: Mama, I Want to See God

Herndon Home MuseumI recently went to see one of my author friends, Vanessa Fortenberry, during an author showcase at the Herndon Home, a National Historic Landmark and America’s only private Black mansion museum. Vanessa and I initially met while we were members of the Christian Authors Guild.  We share some of the same passions:  books, reading, research, and desserts.  (She enjoys baking sweet treats; I enjoy eating them.)

At the Herndon Home’s author event, Vanessa, in her soft-spoken manner, shared the inspiration for her children’s story, Mama, I Want to See God.  After she read an excerpt, I had to purchase a copy.

Mama, I Want to See God is a heartwarming conversation between a patient mother Author Event:  Vanessa Fortenberry and Cherise Bopapeand her inquisitive child who wants to know more about God. The mother’s answers help young readers to realize God in relatable ways, whether they’re admiring His creations, experiencing His love, or studying His Word.  This book helps children to understand that God cares about little things (and little people).  It encourages youngsters to believe that God indeed is real, even though they can not physically see him.

With beautiful illustrations representing everyday scenarios and families of different ethnicities, this book allows kids to “see” themselves within its pages.  Written in a rhyming verse, Vanessa’s new title offers reassuring content for little ears and growing minds.

After finishing the book, I felt as warm and smiley-faced as I did when I read another “Mama” masterpiece:  Mama, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joosse.  Consequently, my advice to parents and children thumbing through the pages of Mama, I Want to See God is simple: Read. Enjoy. Repeat.

Order your copy of Mama, I Want to See God today.  Or, enter the book giveaway through BQB Publishing for a chance to win a copy.  Hurry though, the giveaway will occur in just a few days!  In the meantime, check out my post: Q & A with Vanessa.

Relief Notes … A New Book with 52 Letters of Encouragement

Relief Notes:  Encouraging Letters for Tough Times by Christian Authors Guild, Compiled by Cherise BopapeDrum roll please.…

I’m back!  After a month long hiatus to wrap up a book, I have some great blog posts planned for you. For example, on Monday, March 24, I’ll be hosting a children’s author, Vanessa Fortenberry.  Stop by early next week to read her Q & A.   That same day, I’ll also be reviewing her new book:  Mama, I Want to See God.

Today, however,  I’d like to introduce you to the new book I compiled for the Christian Authors Guild:  Relief Notes:  Encouraging Letters for Tough TimesWith contributions from nearly two dozen authors, this book includes 52 inspirational letters.  The notes are crafted especially for folks who are experiencing the joys and pains of caregiving, the humbling reality of financial challenges, and the highs and lows of overindulgence.  Inside you’ll find stories of folks who were once in the throes of life’s battles, but now, offer hope to others from a place of victory.   Peppered with a fair amount of humor and sobriety, these short, relatable letters are great pick-me-ups for readers who are on the go.

With letters addressed to Clearance Rack Raiders (the chapter I wrote), Penniless Perfectionists, Worker Bees, Stashers, Tapped-Out Parents, Sons Serving Fathers, Jezebel Brides, and others, you’re certain to find a scenario with which you connect. To purchase your copy (paperback or Kindle eBook), visit my Amazon.com author page.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2013: Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

DVAM 2013 - Forgive vs. ReconcileIn her Bible study, Renewing the Heart…for Women: Life Principles from the Beatitudes, Barbara Henry writes, “Women in abusive relationships must often separate themselves from the men they love. Forgiving does not mean putting yourself in a place of being hurt again. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Forgiveness must be unconditional, but reconciliation depends on humility, repentance, and change in the attitudes and spiritual directions of both parties.”

How appropriate that I happened to read this content in my quiet time during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I agree with the author wholeheartedly. What’s your take?

Work Cited

Barbara Henry, Renewing the Heart…for Women: Life Principles from the Beatitudes (Chattanooga, TN:  AMG Publishers, 2005), 80.


Tips to Empower Single Moms

Empowering Single Mothers

In 2008, (before I began to effectively integrate my work and personal life), my days and nights meshed into a homogeneous blur.  I wondered if I had unconsciously gotten the words perpetual volunteer tattooed on my forehead.  My terse replies and loud sighs were telltale signs I was frazzled.

So, when a friend called to remind me of “Deeper Still:  The Event,” a huge Christian women’s conference we would attend that weekend, I pressed on with anticipation.  At the event, three renowned Bible scholars—Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and Kay Arthur—shared their knowledge with nearly 19,000 conferees.

A panel discussion between these Bible-quoting hotshots led to the topic of single motherhood.  The insight they shared was invaluable:


  • Priscilla Shirer suggested that single mothers pray over their kids.  In families where generational single parenthood seems to run rampant, she encouraged mothers to pray in order to break these cycles.
  • Kay Arthur incited women to spend time playing with their kids and physically showing them affection.  She urged single moms to teach their kids the Word of God and to use encouraging language toward them.  With over seven decades of wisdom to share, Kay advised unwed mothers to avoid talking badly about their children’s father.
  • Beth Moore urged single mothers to gather enough strength and empowerment for today—not worrying about the years ahead.  She said that single moms should ask Christ to do the impossible, and then, believe.

What actions have you taken to integrate your career and personal life?  Share steps you’ve taken to ensure spiritual growth in your household.  What additional insight can you share with single moms?