Newsletter, December 21, 2017
Thursday, December 21, 2017 by Cindy Sproles

Conference time is approaching!
***DISCLAIMER - I'm writing this after 2 brain surgeries and an update on my computer. Any typos are purely the fault of 1) autocorrect (who hates me) and 2) a brain that is not quite connected yet. Grace please. 

So here we are - CHRISTMAS! Can you believe it? I can't. It seems like yesterday it was January. Now here we are a few days from Christmas. That means I have to start this letter with MERRY CHRISTMAS. I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays. Remember who the season really belongs to. Enjoy your friends and family but take time to pray. Be thankful in a time of plenty. I can't wait to see you in February.

What's happening on this end?
Well, a lot. Many of you may remember my sweet sister-in-law, Sheila, playing the piano for us some last conference. I've twisted her arm to attend the conference again and this time she's working hard. Sheila has produced the 2018 Asheville Christian Writers Conference Manual and she's in the process of doing the roster. All I can say is, she is an answered prayer. I love her dearly and she is the most amazing woman you will ever meet. Talent drips out of her. So please welcome Sheila aboard as staff this year. It's double good for me...I get time with my sister-in-law and she pulls some of the weight of work off of me. Win. Win for Cindy. (Yeah)  When you see her at the conference, please thank her. AND...when you see Cindy Saab...thank her. She has been the amazing woman behind the last two conference rosters. I am grateful for her assistance over the last few years.

SO, the manual is off to the interior designer, and the cover is made and ready to be added. This thrills me to pieces because for once, I'm ahead on this project. (Thank you Sheila!)

Now this manual you keep hearing about is filled with all your class handouts. Everyone will receive one at check-in. We do this manual for a reason. (You know I'm gonna tell ya, right?) Of course you know! :)  

The manual houses all your handouts and the class schedule at-a-glance. It will be your guide through the conference. BUT BETTER YET, you can purchase the conference mp3s and have ALL THE CLASSES AND HANDOUTS to take home with you. Plan on purchasing the mp3s. This along with the manual will give you year round learning and reference material. I can't stress to you enough, the value of this manual and the purchase of the mp3s.  The cost of the mp3s is $25 this year. For every mp3 purchase, the money in full goes into our scholarship fund for 2019. This year we were able to help 10 folks attend the conference. Again, a win-win. You get the entire conference - classes and keynotes (not worship - it's copyrighted and we can't record that), and you are helping us provide scholarships for next year.  See! Win! Win!

Plan now to purchase the mp3s. You'll be glad you did. There is nothing better than having these face-time classes at your fingertips year round.  I've told you before, I get them at every conference I teach at so I can continue to study and learn.

CONTESTS -  Pay close attention to the contest deadlines. They are quickly approaching. Our  Badge of Honor Contest is for book manuscripts. Fiction or Non-Fiction and the prize is an opportunity for your manuscript to go before the board of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for possible publication. This is such an opportunity. You never know what will come of the effort to enter. Some may win, others not. . . at least not an award, but what you do get - win or lose - is experience. You need the experience. Step out. Enter. You win for yourself just stepping out on the journey. Go to our and read the guidelines, then ENTER. There is a link there for you to pay. 

Our devotion contest is open. There are tons of ways to write devotions, but if you need guidance - go to then click on the tab that says WRITE FOR US. You can download our guidelines and even see an example of how to write a devotion the Christian Devotions way. You ask - why do you not give us the link to the download? Well, for a reason. Part of entering contests is learning to follow the instructions and guidelines. This is a learning process we want you to walk away from our conference having mastered. You will need this skill EVERY TIME you submit your work anywhere.  (Same link, just scroll to the bottom of the page.

We have a waiting list. Which is amazing. Every year God hears our prayers and answers. I don't know of a lot of conference that sell completely out. So this speaks highly of our little conference. We've been the number one small conference by Writers Digest once. Isn't that wonderful? This is what happens when you say yes to God.

I recently sent out invoice via Pay Pal. Remember you will see the Christian Devotions Logo on the invoice. That's because it's the ministry that funds this conference. 

I know we are right here at Christmas, but we have to finalize the funds and payment to the Cove. I've extended the payment deadline to January on the faith that all the invoices will pay prior to that. I have subtracted away your deposits, so the only thing you are getting is the final amounts due. I encourage you to pay this quickly. We need all registrations paid by Jan 12.  If you have a larger amount, please email me and we will try to work something out. Funds must be paid by Jan 12 or your will lose your spot at the conference and your deposits. We have to pay the Cove Jan. 3. I cannot refund delinquent payments. This money will pay the Cove directly, so I encourage you to complete these payments as quickly as possible. Like I said, I'm stepping in faith, that all funds will be paid prior to Jan 12.  If you have questions please feel free to contact me a [email protected]

Our conferees are wonderful to pay. We have never left a conference in debt. As a small ministry we step out on faith that provision will come and the bills will be paid. Help us by paying your final registrations promptly. Just so you know what kind of bill we are talking about and why it is so vital, I write a check to the Cove for $25K plus. So hopefully you see the necessity of this need.

So here's what's coming down.
This is why it is so important for us to have the right email. Beginning January 1, you will receive one teaching blog per week for SIX WEEKS.  This is material we want you to have but can't squeeze in to the conference schedule. I don't know of ANY OTHER CONFERENCE who sends additional learning like this. Many have blogs, but no others, to my knowledge, send you this teaching with an assignment. We want you to get the best bang for your buck. So make sure you are getting the emails or at least checking the website regularly. You don't want to miss this additional work.

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS - This year we welcome something new. To help you in your professional writing career, you will need headshots. Nice photographs to submit with your bios and work. Professional photographer and writer, Mary Denman, will be with us to offer your the opportunity to have your pictures made. Her pricing is as follows and payments will be made directly to Mary, not our conference. 
The conference special is:
$50 for 2 poses (Chose either indoor or outdoor photos - weather pending)
$100 for 5 poses. (Includes both indoor and outdoor photos).
Mary will have studio lighting available and the photos made will be delivered digitally to you with copyright permissions granted.

If you need a good photo, now is the time.

MP3's - oh! I mentioned them once already. . .but . . .
You're going to hear this a lot for the next few weeks. BUY THE MP3's. Again, I can't stress the importance of this - to have this teaching year round to refer's a wonderful tool and a wise business decision. Each year our wonderful radio host, Scott McCausey, records our conference. We've been fortunate to have Scott do this for us. Our conference MP3's will be $25 this year. Every class and keynote is recorded. EVERYTHING EXCEPT WORSHIP. We cannot record the worship music due to copyright laws and we are simply to small to afford to pay the royalties. If you want to take home worship music, LaTan will have her cd's you can purchase. Plan now to purchase the MP3s. It's business smart. It's career smart. It's continued learning smart. If you plan now, you'll be prepared to purchase the MP3's as soon as you see Renee.

Please, please do not reply to this newsletter with your questions or even answers to questions I have asked. I cannot find all the responses.  If you need to respond please email me at [email protected].

Remember, everything you need to know will be posted on the website, even these newsletters. We have a tab called CONFERENCE UPDATES. When you click updates you'll find information on registration, checking in at the hotels, contests as they progress. Any kind of update. Currently this page houses last year's information, but honestly, it won't change much. So read through it.  Under Conference Updates you will also find NEWSLETTERS. You will be able to read every newsletter, so I encourage you to check in on this page and make sure you are getting all the upcoming news, needs, and happenings. 

YEP - I'M STILL HARPING ON THIS ONE.  The roster provides you a future networking tool. If you've never attended a conference, it allows you the opportunity to see who else is attending. It breaks the ice. Not only that, but it provides our conference care representatives, Dee Dee Parker, Beth Fortune, and Cathy Baker, the opportunity to know you by name and FACE. It's vital for our little family to be strengthened as a family. And that's what we want you to think of this conference  - your family. We're here for lasting relationships with you, not just a weekend. So be a part of the family.

We need a new photo and a short (50 word bio).  Even if we had it last year, RESEND IT THIS YEAR. Things change through the year and honestly, I can't go back and hunt through hundreds of emails and roster photos and neither can my amazing sister-in-law, Sheila, who is taking on this project for me. Send us new information. Please send those to [email protected].  You may put your bio in the body of the email, but attach your photo as an attachment.  Please label your email in the subject line BIO, so we know to send it to me.  I need a 50 word bio, written in 3rd person, and a photo of yourself. Please make your photo of you and not your entire family. We just don't have the space in our roster for large photos. Please keep your bio down to 50 words. Add your email address. This will be your networking tool. To my knowledge, we are the only conference that provides this networking tool. Help us make it successful.

And then...
Pray for this conference, for our faculty and for the conferees God will send. This is so important to us. Like I said, we began praying for you the day the 2017 conference ended. Begin to prepare your hearts. 

Mentoring is something that we offer as a sideline. It's an opportunity for you to sit for one hour with a mentor working specifically on your needs as a writer. IT IS AMAZING and well worth the investment.
Our mentors: Yvonne Lehman - Yvonne will work with fiction writers. If you have a manuscript at least 5 chapters in, Yvonne can help you pinpoint issues, make adjustments, deepen characters. Well worth your time.
Larry Leech - Non-fiction (memoirs especially) and fiction. Larry is a ghostwriter who spends a great deal of time writing for others. He can help you be sure you are taking the right steps, to have your book moving ahead.
Linda Gilden - Speakers and non-fiction is Linda's forte. If you are a speaker or looking to add this to your tool box, spend time with Linda. She is the queen of non-fiction having a number of excellent  books under her belt and she's an amazing speaker.
Edie Melson  - Author and social media guru, Edie will help you with your social media and blog or webpage. With over a million hits on her webpage...I think Edie knows her stuff. Spend a little time and let her get you up to snuff on your site and social media. Click this link to read more about mentoring

Please read the site. I am still updating information weekly. These newsletters are all published on the site as well. 

Send your bio and photo to [email protected]
Talk us up
Pray for us

FINALLY, let me share where God is leading us this year . . .

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. - Luke 2:19 NIV

I cry at Christmas. Guess that is nothing new – I cry on the 4th of July too. 

There are just some things that bring my emotions to an all time high. Things like the National anthem, military men and women marching with color guard. Taps. Easter. Surprise welcome homes. I suppose, I’m a sap, but there are certain things that bring me to tears every time I see them.

But the thing that draws me to tears fastest, is the plight of Mary and Joseph. The thoughts of this poor couple searching for a place to stay, and Mary . . . nothing more than a child herself, laboring to give birth. It’s enough when you’re an adult woman giving birth – but a child. She couldn’t have been more than 14 years old. The custom in those days was marriage long before their 16th birthday. The whole ordeal just rips my one heart into two.

Add to that, Silent Night and an innocent child bundled and laid in the hay. Shish. It’s so sad.

Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Every single moment had great meaning to her. After all, it’s not everyday the angel of God approaches you with the news that you will bring God incarnate into the the world. Imagine the confusion, the fear . . . the burden of knowing your child would be the sacrificial lamb. Still, Mary pondered and treasured every breath Jesus took.

I’m so grateful for the life I have. It’s far from perfect, but it’s miles above that of Mary and Joseph – of Jesus.

There are days I feel my heart hardened simply because of the unrest we see in the world. My patience are less when I see an attitude of entitlement or flipant disrespect and lies. It makes me shake my head and turn my back, refusing to be a part of any of the chaos. 

Then I hear Silent Night or I see a child recite the story of Christ’s birth and my heart melts and pours out my eyes. 

Gifts have become increasingly less important to me. The desire to rush to the store and fight the crowds for special pricing and real deals, just isn’t there. Instead, I find myself mesmerized by the gentle turns of our Christmas tree as it rotates slowly. Everytime the ornament of the nativity passes by, I wrap my fingers around it and gently brush over the trio. That’s when it happens. Tears. 

This year, there are no gifts under our tree. They’re hidden away in an upstairs room to be brought out on Christmas eve. One small corner with a handful of gift bags. Mostly because we live in a world where adult children buy all they need or want long before the Christmas holiday. Asking what they desire for Christmas brings silence – they have no real needs or wants so there’s no joy in shopping anymore. 

Maybe our family is downsizing in more ways than one. We’re finding ourselves at the crossroads of tradition and the real meaning of Christmas where family, conversations, and one-on-one time is far more important than wrapped packages. We’re spending more time in prayer and less in the worldly traditions. 

This year, my Christmas tears are a touching rain of gratitude for the blessings, the true blessings, I have been given. My heart is a bit softer toward those who feel the world owes them. I’m taking them to the feet of that baby who gave up the splendor of heaven for short time to offer us all forgiveness and love.

I've set my writing career in the lap of Christ and asked only one thing - Lord may I be a writer for you. I hope you are assessing your own gifts - wonderful Christmas gifts given to you long before you were hidden in your mother's secret place. 
I hope your outlook of Christmas becomes far more focused than a temporary holiday. I hope your heart draws you to tears every time you see the needs of those who long for something more complete than what the world offers. 

Keep in mind how God must cry over us and how He longs to have us WANT Him in our lives. This Christmas, spend a little time shedding some tears. Tears of deep, deep love and gratitude for the ultimate gift given to us that dark lonely night -  when a young girl gave birth to pure love.

Merry Christmas.
Much Love,


Jennifer Henn From Atlanta, Ga At 12/22/2017 11:52:27 AM

Thank you Cindy for your beautiful perspective of Christmas.

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