Lauren Crews, a Proverbs 31 writer

Although I write fiction I love sharing the blog with those who write non-fiction. Lauren Crews is my guest today. Not only is her genre different than mine, but also her journey to publication. I think those of faith who follow Jubilee Writer will be inspired. Lauren, start by telling us how you began your writing journey.

Becoming an author was never a big dream. I wanted to be a teacher and a speaker, but I soon learned it is helpful to have my own material from which to teach. A friend introduced me to the concept of Proverbs 31 is an acrostic poem of the Hebrew alphabet and the imagery of the Hebrew letters.

My word nerd juices took over from there and I began researching the topic. The more I discovered, the more I felt others needed to hear about this perspective of the passage and I began writing a Bible study.

After a year of research and writing, I attended my first Christian writer’s conference. I went hoping I would receive confirmation from God that I had not wasted a year of my life and that I was handling what I was learning correctly. God did not disappoint. I left the conference with a first-place win in their Bible study category, first-place overall in their nonfiction category and invitations to submit my manuscript to all fifteen people I pitched at the conference. My head was spinning!

Wow! That is amazing.  What is the name of your latest published project?

I have recently released two books, Strength of a Woman: Why You Are Proverbs 31 and an accompanying devotional Strength of a Woman: 31 Days to Celebrate Your Place in Proverbs 31

You mentioned you did a lot of research for this project. I understand the process of researching for a historical novel. Tell us how you went about researching for a Bible study?

I love the research process. I start with various versions of the Bible. From there I do word studies on almost every word in the verse. I study the history and context of the culture and the last thing I do is read commentaries, journal articles, published papers, etc.

What inspired you to write your book?

I knew I wanted to write a Bible study but during the research process, I came across a quote in a Christian commentary about the Proverbs 31 passage that washed over me like ice water and gave me a new focus. The commentary acknowledged that Proverbs 31 is often read on Mother’s Day an opportunity to honor mothers. However, there are many mothers not worthy of the tribute given on Mother’s Day. I thought to myself, “sure there are some women who probably should not have had children. But to read a statement like that, from a Christian source? This man was piling on the judgment so many women already feel from this passage. You’re telling me even the worst mother can not be redeemed? That God loves her less and nothing in her life can be honored? What about the divorced woman? The single woman with children? The widow? Aren’t they deserving of honor too?” These thoughts set my perspective in stone. They helped me define my target audience; everyday women who are worn down from life to the point that they feel unworthy and not usable by God. They need to experience the strength of Christ and hear their heroic hymn sung over them.

Excellent! I’m inspired by your quest. The commentator’s words really spurred you on.

I think this is when I was struck by how difficult the Proverbs 31 passage might be for women. As I researched, I began to understand how the Jewish woman receives these verses. The passage is referred to as a heroic hymn which is a song in the Bible sung over warriors returning from battle. Jewish men sing this passage over the women of the home on Friday nights during their Sabbat celebrations. Christian women need to experience that kind of honor and I had a blessed opportunity to help them receive it.

How wonderful.

Lauren, do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Yes.

Joshua 1:7-9  Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

I believe this verse was instrumental in my calling to teach the Bible. It encourages me to be courageous but tethered to God’s word. Only then will I have success.

Amen!

Knowing what you know now if you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Hang in there, this is going to be a long journey. You will second guess every decision but keep turning to God for His confirmation.

You write Bible studies and devotionals, what’s your favorite genre to read for fun?

Mystery and historical fiction

Where is your favorite place to write?

At my office desk. I need a quiet place to think, I can’t even have background music playing. It’s too distracting. I’ll light a candle, grab some M&M’s, sit at my desk, and look out the window. When I’m in the writing zone, I feel like I’m entering another dimension. I call it entering the Holy. It’s time well spent with God.

Lauren, thanks for answering my questions and giving us some insight into your heart.

Now I’ll share the back cover copy from Strength of a Woman: Why you are Proverbs 31 click here to buy

The Proverbs 31 Woman seems perfect and is held up as a role model for Christian women everywhere. Would you believe she is a portrait of how God already sees you? You are that amazing woman God sings a song of blessing over.

Based on a word study of the Hebrew alphabet, Strength of a Woman will inspire you to celebrate as you understand the blessings already available to you. Dive deep into the Proverbs 31 Scripture passage and begin to understand the Jewish teachings and the true meaning of the passage. Through this study of the passage, you will:

  • Discover the hidden beauty in the imagery of the Hebrew alphabet through word study.
  • Understand the challenges you face now in comparison to those in biblical times.
  • Embrace God’s purposes versus society’s expectations.
  • Enjoy insights into a strong woman’s day-to-day life.

A bit more about Lauren Crews

Lauren is an award-winning author and holds an MDiv from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. With twenty years’ experience in women’s ministry, she dives deep into God’s word and is eager to share the many layers with women in all roles of life. She resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband and two brown labs who have their humans well trained.

Facebook: Lauren Monico-Crews

Instagram @LaurenCrewsA2Z

Twitter @LaurenCrewsA2Z

www.LaurenCrews.com

Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Strength-Woman-Why-You-Proverbs/dp/1563093375/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1588173876&sr=8-2

25 Common Sense Warnings to cross over the finish line of Indie Publishing

This week I welcome two Indie published non-fiction authors to share their experiences and tips. Today, my friend and accountability partner Darlene Larson shares insights she learned getting her first devotionalEnableme,Lord, to Shift in book form.

Thursday Morning-427-Edit (3)

25 Common Sense Warnings

To cross over the finish line of Indie publishing!

By Darlene Larson

Somewhere along the line in life, when an author feels that tug on their heart to write their first book, they step toward a writer’s conference. For me, it had been years since college and yes, I had thought of writing books but I buried my treasure, the writing craft. It would have made my life much easier in the last lap of indie publishing if I would have heard these warnings at a writer’s conference,

 

25 common sense warnings to wrap up your first book!

  1. Once your final manuscript is sent off to be published expect the final proof to take longer than you planned. You may need to see three proofs before you are pleased with the final copy!
  2. Did you include acknowledgments of people that you want to thank in your book?
  3. Did you add a dedication paragraph in your book?
  4. What about that copyright page, did you add everything that is needed on that page?
  5. Is your ISBN number on the copyright page?
  6. Is your book cover designer cited on your copyright page?
  7. Are your Bible translations cited on your copyright page?
  8. If you used quotes in your book are they cited with the author’s permission? If you do not know if you need the author’s permission, read author’s copyright page.
  9. Did you Goggle and check Amazon to see if other authors have the same name as you?
  10. Is your author name on the book binding?
  11. Enjoy reading proof one! It’s exciting!
  12. Have two to three people read over the proof or even look over the book covering.
  13. Make certain you only have one title page inside the book.
  14. Did you know page numbers begin with the front blank page? Count the blank page, but do not number them.
  15. It takes time for books to be shipped. Watch out for the holidays as that causes delays.
  16. Surrender to God’s timing when your book is to be released.
  17. Watch for tech issues. PDF’s and Word Docs can have issues during the final days of editing. It’s like they know you want to hurry up and get done!
  18. Watch for spacing on pages and images in the final proof.
  19. Did you know some images can get skewed and changed up in a book format?
  20. Margins can move too in a book format, so check that out in a PDF and in the final proof.
  21. Every author wants their book clean, but some spelling errors, missed letters, or even a word left out sneak by even the best editors. Do your best! Then let your baby go!
  22. Be on guard if your book deals with the Truth of God’s Word. You’re in spiritual warfare, Eph. 6:10-20
  23. While you wait for the first box of books to arrive to your home keep penning and or prepping for the book release.
  24. Gather folders, stamps, marketing material, and addresses to prepare for the book launch.
  25. Once that final product arrives, send out your free books to your influencers so they can rejoice with you, read your book, and push you out into their world.

 

Then do cartwheels, you did it!

Congratulations!

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Back Cover Copy for Enable me, Lord, to Shift

Has your smile faded? Are you doing a battle beneath your masked smile? Serving in the name of Jesus, yet you live with doubt, fear, and anxiety only multiples. Your life is not making sense and you have many questions that are not being answered. Where do you turn?

I know these feelings. I lived in a deceptive war zone and wrestled with many questions to God, Are you relevant to meet my needs today?” “Is it worth my time and effort to pick up a Bible?”  “Does Scripture speak to the pain I’m facing?” Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, is based on the principles I learned while living in an emotional abusive marriage. Doubt is a real weapon of the enemy still today. And I began to believe lies about myself and that I had no reason to live. But, I chose to turn to the Word of God daily to stay alive and to shift into Truth—to live!

In order to change, we must look at our life and evaluate it to the Word of God.

  • Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, is an inspirational coaching devotional to teach women how to sow the Word of God to their heart, one verse at a time to shift into truth and experience transformational living.
  • Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, teaches a model of healthy enabling. Jesus is the enabler for freedom living, teaching us how growth can occur from the inside out, and offering His followers real life.
  • Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, offers a daily inspirational story that teaches a woman how to apply the verse to her life.
  • Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, contains a self-assessment report card for each domain book. This offers the reader the opportunity to take an inventory of her life and then examine where she needs to grow.
  • Enable Me, Lord, to Shift, offers coaching questions in each daily devotional, which allows readers to expose their current method of doing life. Then they discover where the gap is and plan a step to shift into Truth—and live!

 

Darlene Alene Larson is a Professional Certified Life Coach and founder of Hearts with a Purpose, coaching and inspiring women to live out their life purpose. She holds certifications as a Life Purpose Coach®, Grief-Loss Coach, Recovery Coach, and a Life Coach Instructor. She is a speaker for women events. Her books, coaching material, and contact info can be found at www.Heartswithapurpose.com. She and her husband, Bill, reside in mid-Michigan.

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Sign up now – Hearts with a Purpose Newsletter

Connect with Darlene on FB at  Hearts with a Purpose

Author. Coach. Speaker. Teacher.

Coaching Speciality: Coaching women in toxicity to freedom to discover their life purpose.

Author of the Enable me, Lord, to Shift 31 day devotional series for Women.

Professional Certified Life Coach

Life Purpose Coach®, Recovery Coach, Grief-loss Coach

Strategic 2-Day LifePlan Coach

Instructor for LPCCI® Coaching Certification

616.824.1311(cell)

www.heartswithapurpose.com

All you Indie published authors out there share some of your tips with us. Have you run into some these same problems?

 

Author Jenifer Jennings

Today I welcome another author Jenifer Jennings. My questions are the same as I asked Gail last week her answers are quite different.  Although she is not a jubilee writer  we do share our love for Word Weavers. A critique group that dramatically effected my writing. So, be inspired and check out the giveaway link at the bottom. Jenifer Jennings Head Shot

Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I always enjoyed English and Language Arts in school, but it wasn’t until High School that I enjoyed the creative process of writing for myself. Most of my senior year was spent writing poetry. It became the escape from reality I needed.
When I entered college, writing was put on the backburn. There were just too many psychology papers to write and too few hours in the day. After two years, I switched colleges and majors. Writing made its way back into my life through Creative Writing classes and studying the Bible. The more I studied God’s Word, the more it made me curious about the real people behind the stories. What were they like? How did their cultural shape their life style? Why did they make the choices that they made?

Soon after graduating, I joined my first writers group. There, I learned about sharing my ideas and building a strong support network of other writers. The leader introduced me to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s a challenge to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. I had never written that much in such a short amount of time. My group leader suggested I start easy by writing short stories for my first challenge instead of focusing on an entire novel. I spent one month planning and researching each short story. When November came, I wrote 50,001 word in 13 days. That experience lit a fire in my soul. I wanted to make writing a priority in my life. I cleaned up those short stories and they became “The Hope Chest.” I never thought my writing would be good enough for a traditional publishing house, so I decided to start my self-publishing journey with that book. Jenifer Jennings The Hope Chest Cover

Sadly, that writers group was forced to disband. I still keep in contact with a few of them and I know they are always there for me. A few years ago, I found Word Weavers. We have local chapters that meet regularly for critique sessions. The organization also hosts retreats through the year where all the members can come together in one place to fellowship, encourage, critique, and be inspired.
As my life has roller-coastered up and down, I’ve found ways of making writing more of a priority. After a short absence from writing, I got the guts to submit a short story to a publishing house. To my shock and delight, they placed my story in an anthology. It was the motivation I needed to get back to writing.
Since publishing my first novel in 2011, I’ve self-published a collection of the poems I wrote in High School, a two-week devotional on the women in the Bible, and a Biblical Fiction novel about Rahab.
Writing has been a wonderful journey and I feel I’m only just beginning. It helps me feel closer to God because writing Biblical Fiction forces me to continually go back to the Bible for inspiration and research. I want to come alongside others on their journey of faith to encourage them and show them the God of the Bible

.What is your latest published project?
I released “Crimson Cord” in January of this year. It’s a Biblical Fiction novel about Rahab from the book of Joshua. Rehab’s story has always fascinated me. I really wanted to get into her sandals and find out why she made the choices she made.

Jenifer Jennings Real Women Cover

How do you research for your books?

For “Crimson Cord”, and my other Biblical Fiction novels, I always start with the Biblical account itself. I read the passage, study commentaries, and draw out event timelines. I want it to feel real to the reader and for it to be familiar enough to really draw them into the story. My goal is to stay as close to the original story as possible with historical and fictional details added for enhancement. I do love it when someone finishes one of my books and then says, “It made me go back and read the Biblical story.” Getting people to go searching for God in His Word makes my heart happy.

What inspired you to write your book?

“Crimson Cord” came from studying the book of Joshua. Many times, preachers and teachers gloss over Rahab’s story. The focus is on Joshua and the Israelites and she gets swept up in their story. I wanted to give her a story. I wanted readers to see the world from Rahab’s perspective and give a possible backstory to her life. The very first chapter I wrote came when I was listening to the song “Whom Shall I Fear?” by Chris Tomlin. There is this moment when Rahab sees the angel army that is standing guard at Jericho before the Israelites arrive. Every time I hear the line, “The God of angel armies is always by my side,” I can feel Rahab looking down on the sand and seeing the army of God coming to fight for her. It gives me goosebumps.    Jenifer Jennings Crimson Cord Cover

 When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

It’s only been the last few years that I’ve really realized my calling to write. When I sit down to write, I can feel everything in my being shouting, “Yes! This is what you are supposed to be doing.” Honestly, I believe when God knits us together, He puts something in each person that is their absolute passion. When you find it, it feels like everything else falls into place. Writing is that for me.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

My favorite verse is Hebrews 11:6 which says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” In Bible College, one of my favorite classes was studying the book of Hebrews. I love some many of the lessons I learned in that class, but when I came to this verse it really resonated with me. My writing goal is to encourage people in their walk of faith. I want to inspire them to diligently seek after God.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

If I could tell my younger self something about writing, it would be, “Keep writing, even when life gets hard. Writing is part of who God made you and you need to keep doing it.”

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My biggest support system is a combination of my husband and my local Word Weavers chapter. My husband has always been a big supporter of my writing. Before we got married, he only finished one book in his life, “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper. Since being married, he has read everything I’ve ever written. He is the first eyes on any of my projects and he is a great grammar editor. My fellow Word Weavers are great at critiquing my work and letting me bounce ideas off them. Knowing that I’ve got a meeting coming up in which they expect to see what I’m working on is a great motivator.

Jenifer Jennings Soul Sparks Cover

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

When I get to read for relaxation, I read Christian Fiction. I also read a lot of commentaries. They are great for research, but I enjoy reading them for fun too. Call me quirky. Likewise, I’m constantly reading the Bible for encouragement, inspiration, and to grow in my personal walk with God.

Where is your favorite place to write?

When we moved into our new house, there was an empty alcove in the living room that my husband asked the builders to leave bare. Months later, he surprised me with plans to build a writer’s desk. He tailored it entirely for me. It has everything I need to create my novels. When I sit at the desk, I get into writing mode. It’s become my favorite place to write.

Bio:
Jenifer Jennings is a Christian author. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Ministry from Trinity Baptist College and is a member of Word Weavers International. Jenifer uses her writing to grow closer to her Lord. She desires that, through her work, God would bring others into a deeper relationship with Himself. Between studying and writing, she is a dedicated wife, loving mother of two children, and lives in North Florida.

Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeniferjenningsauthor

Twitter: @authorjenifer

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkNIF7y1dIbBzzEZjov5i8Q/playlists (I make playlists for each of my books.)

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenifer_jenning/

Personal Website: www.jeniferjennings.com

Order Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jenifer-Jennings/e/B006M2NSUE

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Jenifer+Jennings?_requestid=1303833

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Jenifer%20Jennings&fcsearchfield=Author

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/jenifer-jennings/id1146332011?mt=11

Sign up for Jenifer’s reader list: http://www.jeniferjennings.com/reader-list-sign-up

Jenifer is  participating in a large giveaway May 29th -June 2nd through LitRing.com.  Here is the information:

Unicorns vs. Dragons: May 26th-June 2nd

How to Enter: The website page shows all the available ways to earn points. Pick a team and earn points. Unicorns vs. Dragons. Jenifer Jennings is on #TeamUnicorn !!!

Prizes: At the end of the week, one winner from the team with the most points will be randomly chosen and gets to choose between a Kindle Fire or a 5-month subscription to Bookish Box (valued at $200). One person from the other team will get the prize that is left. Win-Win. Plus, one author from the winning team gets a promo package from LitRing. Win-Win-Win!

What part of Jenifer’s interview did you find the most inspiring?