Writing Ministry

50,000 Blessings

The free offer has ended and I’m blessed to announce that there were over 50,000 free downloads of Awakening Mercy.  That’s a lot of books and means a lot to me for several reasons.  Following David Letterman’s model, I’ve listed the Top 10 Reasons I’m Blessed by 50,000 Free Downloads of Awakening Mercy.

10.  No trees had to die.

9. I didn’t have to store the books in my house.

8.  No postage was required.

7. 50,000 people can no longer say that I’ve never given them anything.

6. Awakening Mercy has over 90 reviews on Barnes and Noble, the most reviews any of my books have garnered.

5. Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope now sit prominently on the Multicultural and Christian Romance Bestsellers Lists on Barnes and Noble.  Both books also go on and off the Multicultural Romance Bestseller List on Amazon regularly.

4. Sales for both books have increased.

3. People who have never read an Angela Benson book had a no-cost chance to sample one.

2. I was able to show appreciation to my longtime friends and readers by giving them a free book to read or to share with a friend or loved one.

1.  People have been blessed by reading the books.  Many people have told me via twitter, Facebook, e-mail and reviews how Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope have blessed them and made a difference in their lives.  There’s no higher compliment I could get on my work. This is the best blessing from those free downloads and why it’s #1 on my list.

I’d like to share a few of the blessings I’ve gotten:

E-mail:  I truly just want to say thank you 10 times over for such great,wonderful and inspirational works. It was such a blessing for me to stumble across these books at a time in my life where life and its circumstances can make you question what and who God is.

E-mail: I just wanted to email you and let you know how amazing and life changing your books are. I have read two of them at this point and plan on reading everything you write. The first book I read was awakening mercy, it touched so many places close to my heart. I am a single mother who has been searching for love in all the wrong places. This book gave me hope that there [are] still guys out there that follow in gods direction.

E-mail: I think God guided me into reading your book, so that I too can let go of past hurt and pain. It is not easy forgiving the person you love who have wrongfully hurt you. My prayer is that God gives me the strength to move forward in this new year with the forgiveness in my heart for the person who have hurt, humiliated and used me.

BN Review: Its more than just a book…I am a 15 year old girl dealing with somewhat stereotypical issues in a not so stereotypical way. My boyfriend and i recently had a rough spell and in the past 3 or 4 years ive grown away from essentially all of my good friends, and in the process, my faith. But after reading this book i have been able to change my outlook on life. This book changed me for the better, i believe it could do so to anyone who read it. It simply an amazing book.

BN Review: This story seemed to come at just the right time for me in my life. There were so many things that the main character CeCe was going through that I was also so our thoughts were the same. This book opened my heart and mind more to God and gives me the faith that I need to continue to work through my problems.

BN Review: This book gives insight on the importance of being led by God’s spirit and truly forgiving people when they hurt you. Often times the enemy has us trapped in our own circumstances we are blinded in the fact the others around us are hurting as well, possibly concerning the same situation just a different point of view. This was truly a grreat read!

These readers tell me they were blessed, but I was blessed most of all.  Thanks to each and everyone who downloaded a free copy of Awakening Mercy.  May reading it encourage your heart and empower you to continue your faith journey just as your kind words have done for me.


The World of Vanessa Davis Griggs

Inspirational author Vanessa Davis Griggs is with us today. Her 13th novel, FOREVER SOUL TIES, releases on December 27, 2011.  Before you run over to pre-order her new title, let’s see what else she’s been up to.

Welcome, Vanessa! Tell us about your most recent work.

My latest release is REDEEMING WATERS. It’s a contemporary novel based on the story of Bathsheba and David with Brianna Waters and mega gospel recording artist King d.Avid. December 27, 2011, my novel FOREVER SOUL TIES releases. It’s about a woman caught in the act of adultery. FOREVER SOUL TIES is a powerful novel that will definitely challenge readers where and no matter who they are.

What message do you want readers to take away from the story?

In FOREVER SOUL TIES, as with all of my novels, I want people to see the humanness we all possess. To know that there well may be times when we miss it, mess up, or others mess up with us. That we might not always get it right…be or do things perfect. But God loves us, He’ll forgive us, and He truly wants the best for us and from us.

There are a lot of names going around for the type of fiction you write—Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, gospel fiction, you name it. How do you characterize your writing and why?

Generally I just say I write fiction. I am a Christian who writes what I know, and what I know is that Jesus is the Christ and Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I know that Christ can help you through whatever you might be going through. I always say that what’s in you is what will come out. Christ is in my heart and that’s what comes out in my writing. So I don’t mind people labeling my work Christian fiction. I often say that you can’t even spell Christian without Christ. So for me, Christian fiction highlights Christ.

How and why did you start writing Christian fiction?

I’ve loved to read since I was a little girl. When I was in the sixth grade, I read several books (one being THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN), that caused me to say I would love to write books that make people feel the way I felt reading those books. When I began to write on a serious note, I wanted to write stories that reflected the world I knew: one with black men who absolutely loved God, their families, their wives, and did what they could to take care of their family. I also wanted to see a story with a minister who loved God and not only wanted to, but uncompromisingly, did God’s will.

What does writing as ministry mean to you?

It means serving those who will read/hear the book I’ve penned in a way that inspires and encourages them to keep going. It means not always doing what’s popular or expedient in garnering the most money, but being obedient to what God is telling me to write, the way He’s telling me to write it. Before I ever write a word, I pray for God to lead me and direct me which way I should go. By definition: to minister (which should be part of any ministry) means to serve. And I am serving God and serving people with hope, faith, and love (along with entertainment and some drama) in what I am called to do.

What has been the greatest reward of your writing career?

My greatest reward is hearing from people who tell me how much what I wrote changed their lives and in some cases, some having said my writing saved their lives. Knowing that in what I do, my labor is not in vain, and that I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life. That’s the greatest reward I’ve received.

What has been the greatest challenge of your writing career?

The greatest challenge has and is even now getting the word out on a large scale that a book is available. I often say: If a book is written and no one knows, does it make any difference? Yes, many people know about my books (the reach has become worldwide), but the challenge is getting more people to know these books exist. And that requires figuring out ways to get the word to the people wherever they are.

I know you do a lot of speaking engagements.  Can you tell us the kinds of groups you speak to and your topics?  How would readers get you to speak to their groups and do you have a standard fee?

I speak to all types of groups as I fashion my presentations toward the group I’m speaking. I do lots of workshops for writing and relationships. I speak at churches for seminars and main speaker bringing the Word. I’ve spoken at schools, colleges and universities as well as businesses on topics such as success and dreams. As for my fee: it has a lot to do with what I’m having to do, with what group, and the amount of time required/requested. But I’m great with working with folks.

Where can readers find you on the web?

My Web site is: www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com.  On Facebook: www.Facebook.com/vanessadavisgriggs On Twitter: www.Twitter.com/vanessagriggs

Give us some last words.

Thank you so much for this Angela! I would like to encourage people to dream a dream bigger than yourself, then follow that dream until it has manifested. In the Bible, Joseph the Dreamer dreamed a dream. Just know that not everyone is going to support you or be happy for you (including family sometimes). You may go through something on your way to what God has promised you. But if you’ll keep the right attitude and continue on, what God promised, WILL come to pass! The race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong; but to that person who endures until the end. Never give up; stay in faith!

Thanks for spending time with us, Vanessa.  Now we’re going to head over and pre-order our copies of FOREVER SOUL TIES.

Lyn Cote and La Belle Christiane

Award-winning inspirational author Lyn Cote is with us today to talk about her first original self-published novel, La Belle Christiane, the first novel she wrote and the 37th she’s released.

La Belle Christiane

Can the beautiful daughter of a French courtesan find a love that lasts for a lifetime?

In the early 1770’s, Christiane Pelletier, an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, is next in a line of courtesans who have been favorites at the French court during the reigns of two monarchs. Yet she longs to be the beloved wife of one man, not a lovely piece of human art passed from one noble to another. And the winds of change are sweeping Europe.  After her mother’s violent murder, Christiane flees France with her renegade father. In the Canadian wilderness, she survives the shock of leaving a life of wealth and privilege. To escape frontier violence, she moves southward only to become involved in the burgeoning American Revolution. Daughter of a French courtesan to frontier wife to companion of Lady Washington, Christiane moves into the heart of the American rebel elite. But one man in her life can never be forgotten. Once he was her friend. Now he has become her enemy. Will he become her destiny? Only God knows.

Welcome, Lyn.  Thanks for visiting with us today.  I have to say that I love the cover of La Belle Christiane. How did you come up with the design concept?

I went online and found Getty Images and their category of costume photos. When I saw this photo of this lovely girl –I felt as if I’d seen my heroine’s face at last. I hired Author-Artist Kimberly Van Meter who added the title and the flag background at the top. Kimberly did a lovely job of taking an image and making it a COVER.

What do you want your readers to think when they see it?

I want them to fall in love with a beautiful and wistful heroine and want to read her story of triumph.

What made you decide to self-publish La Belle Christiane?

When I began writing my first manuscript, I literally ran after my two toddlers with a clipboard in my hand and wrote whenever they paused! I wrote that story without knowing anything about writing or marketing fiction. In fact, I told myself just to write the book and then I’d think about polishing and marketing it. The thought of that was overwhelming at that time. It took me three years of writing to finish my first manuscript-1,000 handwritten pages. Whew!

I found out that while it garnered interest from agents and editors, it never found a publisher. I think that’s because there are “unwritten” rules for inspirational fiction and I didn’t know them or follow them. I still think it’s a good story and I’ve revised it and improved it once more. And now it’s FINALLY available in digital and print. I did this because I didn’t want it to sit ignored in my files forever. So now I’ll let the readers decide whether it deserved to be published or not. I hope you agree with me and let others know about it.

Will we be seeing more self-published books from you?

I will be putting up scenes from this book’s sequel on my blog in 2012 and I hope to bring the second book out sometime in the near future.

There are a lot of names going around for the type of fiction you write—Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, gospel fiction, you name it. How do you characterize your writing and why?

I believe it all has to do with the “heart” of the story and the person who writes it. I am a child of God so whatever I write will have God in it because God lives in me. I think something a couple of writer friends said to me recently puts this into focus. Both write secular romance and both of them said-“When we read your books, we feel that there is still hope in this world.” And yes, as long as there is God, there is hope.

What has been the greatest reward of your writing career?

The greatest reward has been letters and emails from readers telling me that my writing has made a difference in their lives. Often what they find of value in my stories never crossed my mind when I was writing. Once a lady in Nigeria emailed me that she’d decided to marry a man who had been courting her because of reading one of my stories! I quickly wrote back that if he was a good God-fearing man, she should proceed but I was not a matchmaker!

What has been the greatest challenge of your writing career?

Confidence and pride. In order to write down words and then put them out into public is akin to undressing and walking through town in my bra and panties. So I need confidence or courage and enough belief in my writing to do this. However, that confidence can transform into pride. So I try to focus on writing as a ministry, not just the way I make my living or as a popularity contest. It’s a delicate balance between confidence and pride, depending on myself or depending on God.

Where can readers find you on the web?

My blog is on my homepage, http://www.LynCote.net, and its theme is Strong Women, Brave Stories.

Where can we purchase copies of La Belle Christiane?

For print editions, go to https://www.createspace.com/3669135
For a discount code for $3 off $15.99 print edition, go to http://LynCote.net and click Contact and email Lyn.

For digital editions, Kindle owners should go to http://amzn.to/neGyOP and owners of all other Ereaders should go to

Thanks for visiting with us, Lyn.  I can’t wait to read La Belle Christiane.

Lyn will be dropping by the blog throughout the day so please say hello to her and ask any questions that you have.

Ready for an Anthology?

This is old news since my agent has posted it to Publishers Lunch, but I thought I’d let you know anyway.

Angela Benson’s SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS, in which an assistant pastor becomes a compulsive gambler and after winning a large sum, uses it to seed a church — but soon falls into temptation to gamble again, loses the money and everything else, ending up back where he started to Selena James at Dafina, by Natasha Kern at Natasha Kern Literary Agency (World).

Marilynn Griffith and Tia McCollors are the other two authors in the anthology. It’ll be out sometime next Spring. I’ll keep you posted.

While I’m excited about this opportunity, I’m also challenged. This is the first anthology I’ve been in since Holiday Cheer (Arabesque) was published in 1995! That’s a long time ago. Thanks to author Farrah Rochon and her tips on writing the novella, I was able to come up with a story idea that’s perfect for the short format.

The news behind the news. . .My agent approached Selena a couple of years ago when we were looking for a home for Up Pops the Devil, but the deal didn’t happen. At the time, Selena expressed interest in working with me in the future. True to her word, she contacted my agent about a month ago and asked if I was interested in doing an anthology with her. The takeaways from this story: 1) good agents keep the lines of communication open with editors, and 2) making a good impression on an editor on one submission can lead to a future sale even if the initial submission doesn’t pan out.

Do you like reading anthologies? What are your favorites? What about writing anthologies? Do you think they’re easier or more difficult than writing a full-length novel?

I’ll tell you why

I must say that when it comes to making fun of Christians it’s open season. It has been that way for a long time. Why are people allowed to get away with making fun of the Christian faith?

I found this quote on another blog. I won’t bother to link to it because it has to do with politics and I don’t want this to be a political discussion. Can you answer the question?

I think the answer is that people aren’t really making fun of the Christian faith. They’re making fun of folks who call themselves Christians. Unfortunately, all some folks know of the Christian faith is what they see in our lives, and let’s be frank here, sometimes it ain’t pretty.

I also think outsiders like to pounce on us because we pounce on them. It’s like we’ve drawn this line that makes sin among sinners REALLY bad while sin among saints is “well, nobody’s perfect.” Then we want to come back at folks with “sin ain’t what you do, it’s about the relationship.” Yeah, right. I’m sure they get that and the word they use to describe it is “hypocrite.”

At the core of the issue, I think, is the way Christians dole out compassion. I sometimes feel that our compassion is reserved for other Christians, usually Christians we know personally, and we have very little for the world-at-large.

So I don’t really get bummed out when people mock Christians because sometimes we deserve to be mocked. Many times it’s not them defaming the name of Christ, it’s them calling us out because we’re defaming His name.

I think this relates to our writing as well. How we draw our characters, the situations we put them in, and the way they resolve their issues all speak to how perceive Christian life. I think that’s why there’s such a diversity is what folks call “Christian fiction.” If I call myself a Christian and a book speaks to me where I am in my faith, then to me it’s Christian fiction. You’ll notice the definition is built around the person, not the book.

Anyway. That’s my nickel. What’s yours?


I’ve been doing a few booksignings. This past weekend I had a couple.  I want to thank all the readers of this blog who showed up to spend some time with me–Sherri and Rhonda, especially folks I had only met online.   That’s you, Jennifer! 

I’ll blog later about the booksignings (and give more shout-outs) but I wanted to share something with you that was made clear to me again this weekend.

Booksignings are about people, not about books. 

If you know what I mean, give me a shout-out.  If you think I’m wrong, let me know why.