Monday, December 13, 2010

Hi, Christmas Miracles family!

 It's been a year since most of you have heard from me, so I thought I'd send a little FaLaLa note and wish you a Merry Christmas.

Yes, there's another reason for this note. Tuesday night, December 14, at 7 CT/8 ET, Cec and I will talk about Christmas miracles on the Cec and Me show. We'll invite listeners to call in and share their own Christmas miracle stories.

The Cec and Me show is online at Toginet radio ( The call-in number is 877-864-4869. We'd love to hear from you.

BTW--The show is live on Tuesday nights, but it's also available by podcast and downloadable from iTunes. Do you know what that means for you if you call in with a story? It means you'll have access to audio you can use for personal promotion later. Woohoo!

Let me know if you have questions.

I pray your Christmas season is blessed with joy, peace, hope, and sweet surprises.

Twila Belk, the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal

About The Cec and Me Show

What do you get when you combine bestselling author Cecil Murphey with Twila Belk, the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal? Cec and Me, that's what!

Here's more of what you'll get:

The inside scoop on what makes Cec tick and stories behind the more than one hundred books he's written. You'll also discover why he's considered a patriarch in the publishing industry.

Special guests who've been impacted by Cec in some way-people who in turn impact others-authors, speakers, pastors, ministry leaders, and maybe even a man who spent 90 minutes in heaven.

A wide range of topics--tough issues, practical helps, encouragement, inspiration, hope, and some fun thrown in for good measure.

The opportunity to call in with your questions and comments.

Tune in to Cec and Me every Tuesday evening, 7-8 CT/8-9 ET.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Miracles Transformed!

Last year Christmas Miracles was released to a very warm reception.  Today it is currently number 92 on Amazon's list of top inspirational books.  Readers loved this book and wrote about it.

All those great reviews and sales have not gone unnoticed.  This year Christmas Miracles returns in two new forms as an ebook and as a gift book.

In this "Season of Miracles" Hallmark is putting out an abridged version of Christmas Miracles as an inspirational gift book this year.  It has a new cover (see photo) and will be available in Hallmark stores all over the country.  How fun to see CM in your local mall and card stores.

In addition to Hallmark's gift book version, St. Martin's Press has announced the release of Christmas Miracles in ebook form for your Kindle or other electronic reading device.  This version will be complete and unabridged.  The good news is the price--only $2.99 to download your favorite Christmas book.  What a great way to take CM with you wherever you travel this holiday season. 
You can purchase it for Kindle from Amazon or from St. Martin's Press @

Congratulations to all the contributing authors on the continuing success of Christmas Miracles.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Latest on "The Christmas Spirit"

If you are one of the authors who submitted a story to "The Christmas Spirit" you can find out the latest information by checking on their web site.

From the web site:
Thanks to everyone who sent in an entry for this project. We're overwhelmed by the responses we received. We will now review more than 300 entries and decide which stories we would like to put into the book. Of course, our editor has the final word.

We'll make our decision around September 15, and notify all entrants by email.

During the submission process, each entry was acknowledged and placed into our database. If you didn't receive an email of acknowledgment, that means we didn't receive your submission.

Please don't email to check on the status of your submission. We're busy reading, reading, reading.
We appreciate your participation and will be in contact with you soon.

All the best,

Cec and Marley

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't forget to say "Thank you"

Remember the first thing out of your mom's mouth after opening your presents on Christmas morning? For most of us it was "Tell Uncle Clyde, Grandma, Daddy thank you!" Sometimes we did it joyfully, sometimes with resignation, but saying thanks was the expected reaction after viewing your Christmas loot.

Then there were the "thank you" notes to write for all those great presents that came from family and friends far away. I had a rule for my kids. After Christmas day, no playing with/using the new gift until the "thank you" note was written. It was painful, but my kids learned that a simple "thank you" meant a lot to the person who "gifted" them making the giver feel appreciated and loved. In fact, one of my kids used her stellar ability to pen "thank you" notes in a job for a Hollywood TV show and later at a major university.
Telling people you appreciate them--it's a good thing, as Martha Stewart used to remind us.

Many of the readers of this blog are familiar with their co-author Cecil Murphey. His generosity with his time, talent and resources have touched the lives of many readers and writers, both professionally and personally.

Has Cecil Murphey been a source of help to you in your writing journey? Maybe he encouraged you along the way, provided a scholarship to a writing conference or even used your story in a compilation book.

Perhaps, like me, you're a reader and you've found just what you needed to hear one day while reading a book Cecil wrote or co-wrote. A word of truth encouraging you to keep looking up, God is watching and loving and understanding you just where you are. And maybe it's time to say "Thank You".

June is "Cecil Murphey Appreciation Month". I once read a quote once that said it's not the things we do that we regret the most, but the things we leave undone, the words we leave unsaid. If Cec has touched your life, this would be a great month to tell him so.
Why not take a moment drop Cec a note via his web site or through his assistant,Twila Belk, and tell him what his ministry has meant you? It's a chance to give back a bit of the blessing you've receieved.

Cec's contact page is

Finally, just let me say to Cecil Murphey, author extraordinaire:

"Thanks Cec, for letting God use you to bless my life and the lives of so many.

Thank you for not telling God "No" when He changed your directions and put you on new paths.

Thank you for keeping the faith when things turned painful, in the face of physical illness, the loss of your home and so many other hurts no one else will ever no about. You kept trusting and obeying. I'm grateful to God that you did.

Your life and your writing have blessed me, helped me and brought me closer to God.

May God grant that each day you continue your walk and each day you are closer to Him. May your best days be still to come."

To read more about Cecil Murphey Appreciation Month

Monday, March 8, 2010

How One Ripped Page Changed a Life By James Pence

I did not write my post today. It is used by permission and is the amazing true story of how God used a page from a novel to reach the heart of a man broken over the murder of his family. Even more heart wrenching is the fact that it is the true story of a man, Terry Caffey, who lost his wife, 2 sons, and his house - all at the hands of his teenage daughter.

The story of this horrific crime and the struggle of a father to forgive the unthinkable is available in the new book Terror By Night by Terry Caffey (the father) and James Pence.

James Pence, the author of the novel and of this article, is one of the keynote speakers for the 2010 Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference, April 9-10 in Eldridge, Iowa. For more information about the conference, check out our website

How One Ripped Page Changed a Life By James Pence

Recently, I heard an amazing story of how God used my novel, Blind Sight, to turn someone's life around. After hearing this story, even if I never sell another book, I'll feel fulfilled as a writer.

At about 3 a.m. on March 1st of last year, two young men broke into Terry Caffey's home in Emory, Texas. They shot Terry and killed his wife, Penney, and then went upstairs and murdered the Caffey's two young sons, Bubba and Tyler. They then set fire to the house and left the family for dead. Although he had been shot twelve times, Terry escaped through the bathroom window and crawled three hundred yards to a neighbor's house. To make matters worse, Terry's daughter Erin was implicated in the crime. Overnight, Terry Caffey lost his entire family.

A month or so later, Terry went back to his property. The remains of the house had been bulldozed and little was left. Torn with grief, Terry was contemplating suicide. Unable to understand why God had taken his family and allowed him to survive, Terry cried out to God, "Why did you take my family? Why didn't you take me, too? I don't understand."

As he stood there, Terry noticed a burned scrap of paper standing up against the trunk of a nearby tree. He went over and picked it up. The paper was part of a page from my novel, Blind Sight. The edges of the page were scorched and it was difficult to read. But the words were like a direct message to Terry from God.

Here's the portion of text that Terry found:

[The viewpoint character in these paragraphs is Thomas Kent, a man who lost his wife and children in an automobile accident that he survived. In this scene, Thomas is praying.]
"I couldn't understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don't totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You're sovereign; You're in control."

Justine's voice reverberated through his thoughts: Maybe God knew we needed you.

"And I know that You've brought Justine and those children into my life. And they need me. Lord, You could have taken my life that day, but You spared it. And You've gone on sparing it. It doesn't matter what happens to me now, but if I can help them, please let me do it."

Thomas closed the drapes and stood alone in the dark room. For the first time in two years, he was at peace with God and with himself. He knew what he had to do. Justine and her children would be safe, even if he had to die to make sure of it.

Those paragraphs turned Terry's life around. He found the strength to go on, and is now sharing his testimony in churches around the country. When he speaks, he brings the page from my novel, now preserved in a frame, and shows it to the congregation.

Because the page was only partially preserved, Terry didn't know what book it had come from until a few weeks ago. He spoke one Sunday morning at Greenville Bible Church, and my daughter, Charlene, was present in the congregation. [She and Terry's daughter, Erin, are good friends.] Charlene and Terry both had lunch at pastor Jim Corbet's house, and Terry told them that he'd love to find out which book the page had come from. The pastor and his wife had both read Blind Sight and they thought they recognized the passage. Charlene agreed that it sounded like it had come from my novel. Pastor Corbet took his copy of Blind Sight down and they eventually found the page.

That same afternoon, Terry called and shared the story with me. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to a story that is nothing short of a miracle of God's providence. Not only had the house burned, but the site had been long since cleaned up and the debris bulldozed and hauled off. What little material was left had been exposed to the weather for at least a month. And out of a nearly 400-page book, the only scrap that remained was a brief passage where a man who had lost a wife and two children came to grips with the sovereign goodness of God, submitted to His will, and decided to move forward.

That scrap of paper lay there against a tree trunk as if waiting for Terry Caffey: a man who had lost his wife and two sons, a man who was in deep despair and who was contemplating suicide, a man who desperately needed to come to grips with the sovereign goodness and mercy of God.
Needless to say, I am deeply humbled to have been the one who wrote the words that God chose to use. What an incredible, awesome God we serve!

--Is that amazing or what?

James H. Pence is the founder of Tuppence Creative Ministries, an outreach that encourages excellence in the arts for the glory of God. In addition to being the author of six books, James is a performance chalk artist and vocalist.

Terry Caffey's website is at:

About the author

James H. Pence is a full-time professional writer and editor living near Dallas, Texas. James is a multi-talented writer who has been published in both fiction and nonfiction. His publishers include Tyndale House, Kregel, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. James holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in creative writing and journalism from Dallas Theological Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Dallas Bible College. James is also a vocalist and gospel chalk artist, and he regularly uses his talents to share the gospel in prisons.

James is the author of Blind Sight, a gripping novel about mind-control cults and coauthor (along with Terry Caffey) of the new book: Terror by Night: The True Story of the Brutal Texas Murder that Destroyed a Family, Restored One Man’s Faith, and Shocked a Nation.

Used by permission

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

YIKES! Deadlines are looming!

It's Christmas (Spirit) in March! Got this note in my email last week:

"The deadline for submissions to The Christmas Spirit, Cec’s next Christmas book, is May 1. Do you have a true story that emphasizes the spirit of the Christmas season? Visit for guidelines and submission details.
Just wanted to send you a little reminder about the deadline for submitting YOUR story to "The Christmas Spirit".
Can it be that time already? We all live such busy lives, working as well as having fun celebrating the Ides of March, St Paddy's day, Palm Sunday and Easter, not to mention the agony of "Tax Day" April, 15th. With all that's going on it's far too easy to let time slip by and miss sending in YOUR story.

So I'm here to encourage you to take a moment and start writing your story TODAY.If you're like me, it's much harder to ignore something I've already started. So just sit down at that computer right now (if you're reading this, I'm betting you're already there) and write that first paragraph. If you have a laptop, you can probably get it started during commercial breaks on American Idol.
As Mary Poppins would say, "Well begun is half done!"

And think how swell you'll feel when that box of books arrives at your front door (in 2011) with YOUR story published inside!

Speaking of holidays--Today (March 2) is Read Across America DayA national campaign to celebrate Dr. Suess’ Birthday (Mar. 02) by reading a book today.

Happy Reading & Writing!

The deadline for submissions to The Christmas Spirit, Cec’s next Christmas book, is May 1. Do you have a true story that emphasizes the spirit of the Christmas season? Visit for guidelines and submission details.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Paid Manuscript Critique Invitation

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Quad-Cities Christian Writers' Conference coming up this April 9-10 in Eldridge, Iowa. Today I wanted to share some exciting news to further tempt you to join us at the conference. Paid Manuscript Critique Invitation Please note: The manuscript submission deadline is March 13. Kathy Carlton Willis Communications will be awarding the Shine On! Award to a Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference attendee who is choosing to move his or her writing forward. To be considered for this award, registrants must submit a manuscript for critique for QCCWC. All conferees who participate in this year's critique services will automatically be entered in this KCWC drawing, and a name will be randomly selected to win the award. The winner will receive a $500 grant for services provided by KCWC. Kathy will perform a writer diagnostic with the winner to determine the best use of the grant, to customize it to fit the most pressing writing need of the recipient. The grant might be used for services such as: editing, coaching, query writing, article placement, platform building, branding, marketing plans, blog tour, etc. Be sure to get your manuscript submitted for critique to be considered for this advancement opportunity. Please visit for more information or to register.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Your Mama's Writing Conference

“I wrote, she wrote, we all wrote”. We also learned and laughed, talked and listened to great authors (some bestsellers), took notes and got critiqued. And then we ate and “coffee talked” and made some great life-long friends, all at the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

It's been a lot of fun writing about some wonderful books this year, but it's a lot more fun to see positive comments about your own writing. Just imagine a big cardboard box arriving at the door. You open it up and see the cover of your very first published book. If that is a dream of yours, please read on, my friend.

If you’re looking for insight into the publishing industry, have questions about getting published or marketing your finished work, or just need some plain old-fashioned encouragement on your writing journey, QCCWC is the conference for you.

From all over the country authors and participants gather to share ideas, to spend time together finding and giving help and encouragement in a conference unique because of its heart. Over and over again we've received feedback from people sharing comments like:
"There's a different Spirit at this conference".
"I didn't know the authors and teachers would be so accessible."
"I can't wait to try out what I've learned."
"Thank you for such a wonderful conference!"

We hope you'll take time to come and see for yourself the difference two short days can make in your writing and in your life.

From the website:
"The Quad-Cities Christian Writers' Conference is pleased to announce that some of the best writing instructors in the nation will join us in 2010 for two full days of breakout sessions, continuing sessions, keynote talks, one-on-one appointments, and inspiration.

In order to make an impact with your writing, it's important to LEARN THE CRAFT. That's what the Quad-Cities Christian Writers' Conference is all about. You won't find publishers, agents, and editors in attendance, but you will experience the care and coaching of a professional, knowledgeable staff. Our faculty will answer your questions, guide you, teach you, and show you how you can use your writing to change the world one word at a time."

Join us April 9-10 in Eldridge, Iowa.
It could be your first step toward the thrill of seeing your work in print.

For more information or to register go to

I'll be looking for you!

Check out the special early-bird rate for registrations postmarked or electronically submitted on or before Saturday, February 20! $$ off and a free book to boot!

(from Gail P Smith, Christmas Miracles administrator)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Writer to Writer--Cecil Murphey's New Blog

Cecil Murphey, well-known author and one of the compilers of "Christmas Miracles" has a new blog aimed at providing expert advice and instruction for writers at any level.

From "The Twila Zone", (via Cecil Murphey's January Newsletter)
"After much prodding, I’m happy to announce that Cec is finally bringing his wisdom gained from years of writing to the blogosphere. This week we launched

If you are a writer, you might want to follow Cec’s posts.

When Cec first started writing, he made a double commitment to God and to himself: 1) he would never stop learning, and 2) he would do whatever he could to help other writers. Writers will appreciate Cec's new blog."

Writers, bloggers, authors (published and unpublished), journalists or anyone with an interest in the craft of writing you owe it to yourself to take a look at this wonderful resource.