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ACFW in St. Louis/Was It Worth It?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I experienced the wonder of another American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this past week. I'm exhausted, broke, behind on my writing schedule, and very happy. No I haven't completely gone bonkers, although as anyone that's ever attended an ACFW Conference can tell you it may seem that way at moments.

We all need to take time out now and then and invest in ourselves. That investment can take many different forms: a new website, a new computer, craft books, spending time with crit partners, and sometimes attending a conference among many other things.


Don't go to conference expecting to sign with an agent or be offered a contract. These things can happen, but you're letting yourself in for huge disillusionment and disappointment if that's why you plan to attend.

Do plan to meet with editors and agents and pitch your stories. You never know what will come of a meeting, but go to grow. Ask the experts questions that will help you get better at your craft and gain confidence among those who have been helping writers for a long time.


Don't be shy. Or don't let your shyness prevent you from taking risks. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Make friends and make the most of it.

Do take advantage of the many opportunities that present themselves. Schedule appointments that are important to you, attend workshops you think will help you grow, do something totally unplanned. By that, I mean you may have planned one thing, but a little voice whispers to you that you need to go do that something you didn't consider earlier. That may be one of your divine appointments.


I learned a long time ago that even if I attend conference it's worth getting the MP3 because of what I've discussed above. You just can't do everything and be alert to learning all the time. Sometimes you have to go take a nap, go outside and walk and get some fresh air, do something unexpected and fun with friends, talk to someone over coffee instead of going to a workshop. Then you can listen to the MP3 another time and pace your learning so you can have more time to think about a subject and review.

  1. I attended as a published author and got to wear my Author ribbon.
  2. I met with my agent (Rachelle Gardner) for the first time since my book published.
  3. I saw my book selling in the bookstore.
  4. Went out to dinner with my agent and fellow agency mates.
  5. Video-taped interview for Christian Retailing and also completed video-tape for sales department at Realms/Charisma.
  6. My agent received the Agent of the Year Award and I was there to witness it. :)
  7. I took breaks and took naps.
  8. God had grown me over many years.
  9. I'd presevered and I'd presevered some more.
  10. I listened and watched for God moments.

Was it worth it? Yep.

Did you go? Have you gone in the past? What made it worth it for you?

Need Some Encouragement?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'll be attending the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW Conference) this week in St. Louis. If you are going I might see you there. If you're not going this year for whatever reason don't forget that you can order the conference CD's and MP3 and have the conference with you all year long.

If you've been struggling lately you might want to read Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On by Stormie Omartian.

If you are experiencing a difficult time in your life, or you know someone who is, this is a great book to use while you work your way through painful situations. I don’t say that casually. I’m employed as a full-time counselor for nursing students and have a master’s degree in social work, and I believe this book is a valuable tool for anyone.

Stormie O’Martian discusses how we learn to walk with our heavenly father. This hasn’t always been easy for me because I didn’t grow up having a father in the house, so it was hard to learn to trust God when my earthly father had abandoned me. Perhaps some of you have faced the same experience. Once in awhile I still need a reminder that God is there, and providing just enough light so I don’t get overwhelmed.

I love the image of just enough light because it helps me focus on what I can do today and encourages me not to look too far ahead. It reminds me of the scripture: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:33-34.

The Prayer Light in each chapter is a prayer related to the chapter. For instance, on page 36 following the chapter on, Refusing to be Afraid of the Dark, the prayer begins with “Lord thank you that because I walk with you I don’t have to fear the dark.”

Footlights provide a list of several scriptures that shine light on the chapter subject, i.e., Isaiah 50:10.

Stormie offers a study guide at the end of each chapter which is very helpful for further study and insight.

The Bottom Line: If you’re walking in a dark place, a little light will help you find your way.
Have a great week!

Energize Your Marketing Strategies/Preparing for Conference

Monday, September 12, 2011

On August 1st I wrote a marketing blog, Marketing Can Be Fun, Really! to coincide with my agent Rachelle Gardner’s Blog, How To Market Your Book. What I want to do today this week is encourage you as you look for ways to market your product. Yes, our books are products and they are very important for our life’s work.

I'm blogging on this topic at the WordServe Water Cooler on Monday. Here's the link: Energize Your Marketing Strategies. Come on over and join the conversation.

I'm also preparing to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis. It will be a bit easier this year since I don't have to schedule an editor appointment and I'm blessed to have an awesome agent, Rachelle Gardner. Rachelle just happens to be one of the agents nominated for Agent of the Year. It will be so much fun to cheer her on.

So even though I don't have to worry about appointments I do have to think about what will help me as I attend workshops and the continuing education programs. Here's a look at what I'll be doing.

  • Getting in early to spend some time with friend and roomie, Vicki Cato.
  • Looking forward to visiting with my agent, WordServe authors, and other buddies.
  • Looking for other authors who might be able to endorse my next book, Chameleon.
  • Attending The Early Bird The Moral Premise
 I'm looking forward to workshops like:
  •  A Kiss Is NOT Just a Kiss presented by Julie Lessman and Ruth Axtell Morren
  • The Vise, the Rachet and the Hammer-Suspense so Good it Hurts presented by Kristen Heitzmann
  • Sometimes It’s Better to Tell than Show, Level: D, Presented by Erin Healy
I need a review of Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method but don't think I can fit it in. I may have to use my conference MP3 I've already paid for but I have a feeling I should probably see the presentation since I'm a visual learner.

I'm also looking forward to a Mentor Appointment. Don't know who I've been assigned to yet but I think it's a great way to grow.

Conference is always a growth experience. God sometimes plans things we would have never dreamed of and it's wise to be open to a change in plans. If you're going I suggest you be flexible, sleep when you get tired and take advantage of worship opportunities.

What are you looking forward to?

    Living Through Your Circumstances and Remembering 9/11

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Remembering 9/11 Dr. Charles Stanley and In Touch Ministries look back on the day that changed America.

    Gaining Wisdom

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    I started writing seriously about twelve years ago. I made the decision to become a writer after my first daughter was born in 1989. I'm not quite sure why having a baby made me think about becoming a writer. Maybe it was a way of recreating myself. I vaguely remember saying that maybe I'd be published by the time both kids went to college. That worked! No one is in college yet. Maybe it was because in the back of my mind I really wanted to write and having my first child at the age of 35 made me think I was running out of time and I'd better decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not really sure why I chose that time to make my decision. I'd been a social worker for ten years by then and love that aspect of my life, but I wanted more. I wanted to write.

    I faced many blank pages and didn't really know where to start. I joined RWA, eventually joined ACFW, attended many writer's conferences from one side of the country to the other and studied the craft until I thought I had some idea of what I was doing. Of course most of us who write know the best way to learn is to do it, just do it. I wrote a lot of words that didn't make great stories for awhile, but I did eventually learn. James Scott Bell is a firm believer that writers aren't necessarily born we can all learn how to do it. I think the main ingredient must be a mountain load of passion and a mustard seed of talent. Hey, if I can do it I know you can do it. Really!

    I have more craft books than you can imagine but two of my favorites are 1) Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein                                            
    You need to invest in your future writing career just like you would in any other career; this is how we gain wisdom. I spent years in college getting a Master's Degree in Social Work. I went to class, paid for those classes, completed internships, did a lot of writing. I can honestly say I spent more time learning the craft and business of writing, which never really ends, as I did getting my social work degree. Of course even with all that work there is never a guarantee of publication. But in today's economy unfortunately even with a college education there is no guarantee of getting the job you studied for in college, at least not right away. Hopefully, that will improve soon.

    What have you done to gain wisdom? How have you invested in yourself? What's the number one investment strategy you would recommend? What has worked best for you in whatever career you have chosen to follow?