Author, Collaborative Writer, Editor - Learn More

READ: Review, When Someone You Love No Longer Remembers by Cecil Murphey

It’s hard to find a family untouched by Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your neighbor’s forgotten how to feed himself. Your co-worker’s wife becomes agitated when she can’t recall the word she needs. And the man at church slips further into silence every day.   With firm yet compassionate words, author Cecil Murphey comes alongside caregivers to offer empathy, understanding, and advice borne of experience. When Someone You Love No Longer Remembers presents a treasure chest of caregiver wisdom in gift book format. Tender illustrations, true stories, and real-life examples end in the aphorisms that have become Murphey’s trademark. A brief section about laying aside our dreams ends with the bolded statement “I didn’t ask for this assignment. But as I serve my loved one, I’m also serving my loving God.” Any of the books I’ve featured this month would make excellent gifts. I’ll share today’s review copy with a friend who’s struggling to balance work, church responsibilities, and caring for her mother. Bless the caregiver in your life this Christmas or New Year’s with the gift of this tender, touching, and to-the-point publication.  Do you know someone who could use this book? Have you been or are you a caregiver for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia? Leave a comment below or  on any of this week’s other posts and receive one entry in a drawing for my CHRISTMAS PRIZE PACK. This book selection includes Christmas Miracles (another Cec Murphey title); They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti, an award-winning novel I reviewed earlier this year; and two of my own projects: Rite of Passage Parenting by Walker Moore and I Would Die for You by Brent and Deanna Higgins. I’ll choose a winner at random on December 26 and mail the package out before 2012! Merry Christmas! (FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

Read More

READ: Review, Knowing God, Knowing Myself by Cecil Murphey

Sometimes less is more. And in the case of Cecil Murphey’s Knowing God, Knowing Myself: An Invitation to Daily Discovery (Regal, 2010), fewer words mean abundant wisdom. Murphey, who has served authors such as Dr. Ben Carson (Gifted Hands) and Don Piper (90 Minutes in Heaven) as ghost- and collaborative writer, uses his writing skill and passion for spiritual exploration to present this poignant, personal offering. His dual commitment to know God and know himself underlies this sensitive collection of meditations. Each moves toward an aphorism (pithy statement of truth) gleaned from the wisdom of years as a Christ-follower. The author’s distinctive voice shines through each brief (two to four pages) chapter. He uses only the most essential word-gems, polished until they gleam with truth. And his transparency about his spiritual shortcomings made it easier for me to contemplate my own. Murphey’s aphorisms both pricked my spirit and pulled me closer to God. Statements such as “I am seldom angry about what I think I’m angry about” and “Many things grab our attention; fewer things grab our heart” left me nodding my head in agreement as tears rolled down my cheeks. I thank God—and Cecil Murphey—for this insightful book.  Have you read this book or another by Cecil Murphey? Or has Cec, who ministers to many in the writing community, touched your life in some way? Please share your...

Read More

WRITE: Cec Murphey Appreciation Month

Little decisions can make a big difference. In 2007, as I pressed through the challenges of ghostwriting a memoir, I whined to an editor friend that I needed a “Ghostwriters’ Support Group.” “You should get in touch with Cec Murphey,” she responded. After she provided his contact information, I made a small decision and reached out to the man whose name is synonymous with ghostwriting. I sent an email and received a polite, personal response. I also subscribed to his newsletter so I could learn more about the man and his message. Cec Murphey, as he once told me, is “used to being ignored.” God—and Cec’s tremendous talent—is changing that with the success of projects that include the best-selling 90 Minutes in Heaven, written for Don Piper, and Gifted Hands, written for Ben Carson. This week, I read and enjoyed Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cec Murphey and Liz Allison. And Cec takes particular pride in his most recent release, When a Man You Love Was Abused.Today, Cec Murphey writes many books that bear his name as author, but as a ghost- and collaborative writer, he does what I do. To be more accurate, I do what Cec does—on a smaller, less-experienced scale. My little decision led to a bigger one when in 2008, I had the opportunity to attend a One-Day Intensive Writers Workshop in Cec’s Atlanta-area home. Because of the rapid way God moved me from writing magazine articles to books, I hadn’t spent much time around other writers. Until that weekend, I’d never attended a writers’ conference or workshop. I went—and fell in love. I fell in love first with the writing community. I’d never known others who cared as much about words and the way they are put together as I did. Here—at last—I found people who spoke my language. As Cec shared his wisdom with the five of us, I realized: I know what he means. I understand why he’s saying this. It all makes sense. That weekend, I began a connection with other writers that’s an integral part of my present-day life and ministry. I also fell in love with the man I’m blessed today to honor today. I watched the gentle, direct way he interacted with our small group. I heard his passion for God as he spoke of his dual commitment to keep learning about the craft of writing and to do as much as he could to help other writers. And I felt a strong sense of empowerment as—after multiple revisions—he praised not only my writing but my willingness to improve. I attended the workshop to learn more about the craft of writing. I came away with...

Read More

WRITE: Quad-Cities Christian Writers’ Conference–My Favorite Things

My blog followers may recall that I had the recent honor of teaching at my first writers’ conference. Twila Belk founded the Quad-Cities Writers’ Conference in Eldridge, Iowa a few years ago with the encouragement of author and writers’ benefactor Cecil Murphey. The QCCWC was a weekend to remember in many ways. We kicked off the conference with a stunning faculty rendition of “My Favorite Things,” parodied for publishing by Twila’s sweet assistant, wonderwoman Gail Smith. Here, I offer a less poetic version: #10. FANTASTIC FOOD: I heard this comment repeated often by students and faculty alike. Delicious homemade soup and desserts, a full salad bar, snacks—both healthy and not-so-healthy options abounded. #9. GREAT GIVEAWAYS: Conference sponsors allowed Twila to share multiple copies of both fiction and nonfiction books (not to mention the ubiquitous Christian Romance T-shirts and mugs) at every general session.#8. APPROPRIATE ATTENDANCE: As with many conferences, registrations were down this year. The venue, although reasonably sized, held a few hundred–not thousands. Smaller numbers helped produce a warm, intimate experience. #7. REMARKABLE RESOURCES: Twila asked faculty members to submit recommended resource lists and offered many of their choices in the conference bookstore. Faculty members and conferees also sold and signed their books. My ghostwriter status doesn’t allow me to market much of my work, but in this atmosphere, I could and did. #6. MARVELOUS MP3s: The conference registration fee included an MP3 of every speaker and seminar. This avoided dilemmas (“How can I choose between so many wonderful sessions?”) and allowed the blessings of professional instruction to extend beyond the weekend. #5. CONCENTRATION on CRAFT: Per Cecil Murphey’s recommendation, no agents or editors attended in an official (manuscript-reviewing) capacity. This freed conference participants to focus on improving their writing without the pressure of competition or self-promotion. They also had the opportunity to submit manuscripts ahead of time and, for a reasonable fee, receive a full critique and half-hour appointment with the critiquing faculty member.#4. SUPERB SPEAKERS: Each of the three keynoters (Cynthia Ruchti, Jim Pence, and Jim Rubart) shared messages that inspired and encouraged writers from beginning to professional levels. I’m in awe of their hearts, their talents, and their desire to help others grow and improve. #3. TERRIFIC TEACHERS: QCCWC may not be the biggest conference around, but the faculty was top-notch. In what other small conference could you learn story techniques from veteran mentor Frank Ball or marketing strategies from longtime pro (and breakout novelist) Jim Rubart? Conference participants also had opportunities to interact with faculty members at mealtimes, in personal appointments, and beyond. I was blessed to count myself the least of these among this group of top professionals. #2. SWEET SPIRIT: I’ve sometimes...

Read More

WRITE: The Accidental Ghostwriter, Part II

As promised (after a short break while I traveled and taught at the Quad-Cities Christian Writers’ Conference—more on that another time), I’ll answer some common questions about ghostwriting. I taught a ghostwriting seminar at the conference, in fact, so I should have more than enough questions and answers to share. How did you get started ghostwriting? For this answer, I’ll refer you to Part I of my “Accidental Ghostwriter” blogs. I call myself an “accidental” ghostwriter in the sense that I did not pursue this particular niche of my professional life. I also believe that God was intentional in this process and that there are no accidents as our lives are surrendered to him. Why would someone want to use a ghostwriter? I could answer this question in several ways, so I will. People use ghostwriters for a variety of reasons. Some don’t have time to write their books themselves. They have a busy speaking, ministry, and/or business schedule. They’ve learned that their time is best spent doing what they do well. So they pay me (or another ghostwriter like me) to do what I do well—write. Others have the desire or time to write but not the ability. Perhaps they can’t write or organize their thoughts at all. Perhaps they can write, but not at the level traditional publishing requires. In today’s competitive market, publication requires both a large platform (potential market/audience ready to buy your book) and excellent writing. The authors I serve usually have the first. And with my assistance, they can have the second as well. Isn’t ghostwriting dishonest? That’s probably the stickiest question of all. My answer would be that I see nothing dishonest about my side of it. The author contributes his or her work/story/message, and I provide the writing. Our contract states what (if anything) I can say about my contributions. If someone else wrote a book for me, I’d want to put his or her name on the cover (generally as a “with” or collaborative writer status). But the authors I serve don’t always have that choice. Many entities are involved in a book moving from Point A to Point B, and neither the author nor the ghostwriter is the ultimate decision-maker. I rest in God’s sovereignty and authority over all. My friend and mentor Cec Murphey’s reputation and experience now allow his name to appear on the cover of every book he ghostwrites. But that wasn’t always the case. For now, I’m content to know that the books I’ve written would not exist without the authors I serve and their message or ministry. I don’t want to take anything away from them. Ghostwriting has helped me grow spiritually as I’ve...

Read More

READ: Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison (Blog Tour–and Two Opportunities to Win!)

Harvest House PublishersRelease Date: 1/1/10ISBN: 978-0-7369-2429-0Retail: $10.99Hardcover: 6X6For every time you’ve wished for the right words to say… Today, I feature a new book by my friend and mentor Cec Murphey and his coauthor Liz Allison. Like most of you, I’m no stranger to loss. The first three funerals I heard my pastor husband preach were those of his father, grandfather, and our premature son. We learned that our times of grief prepared us to minister to others who hurt. In the same way, Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have allowed God to turn their pain into a source of healing and hope. BONUS: read to the end to learn how you can enter the Grand Prize Giveaway—and a special article on ways to deal with grief. About the Book: Through great personal loss, authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have gained insight to share with others who are going through uncertainty, depression, and loneliness after losing a loved one. They also offer advice for those comforting someone who is grieving. Among comforting paintings by artist Michal Sparks, brief stories, personal experiences, and prayers offer a meaningful path toward healing for readers when they: • feel alone and lost in their grief and want to reconnect with others and to life • seek to make sense of their loss alongside their sense of faith, purpose, and God • want to honor their loved one without clinging to the past in unhealthy ways Readers are given gentle permission to grapple with doubt, seek peace, and reflect on loss in their own way without judgment and with understanding and hope. A perfect gift for a loved one dealing with loss and grief. About the Authors: Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. Please visit Why We Write About Loss (personal letters to readers from the introduction to Words of Comfort for Times of Loss): On the morning of July 12, 1992, my husband, Davey, left home like any other morning—he...

Read More