God sightings, Writing life

Philly Conference Recap: Better Than Deserved


I’m back from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers conference, and have narrowed my current state of mind down to two adjectives: exhausted but exhilarated.

Going to a conference (especially one that lasts several day, like Philly) will wear you out – body, mind, and soul. You’re probably sleep deprived from the get-go after spending hours to polish and prepare everything you hope to share with editors or agents during appointments. Your mind works full-tilt during the entire conference because of all the information you’re trying to absorb during keynotes and workshops. Your emotions can soar during praise and worship time, bottom out after an appointment that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, then soar again when a different editor offers you a contract on the spot (it never hurts to dream, right?).

But a conference also gives you the tools you need to become a better writer and make your story the best it can be. It introduces you to people who “get you” – because, let’s face it, not everyone understands that all the voices in your head don’t mean you’re crazy, or that a cemetery visit really can be a fascinating research trip, or that you really do need to get up in the middle of the night to write that idea down because it’ll be gone with the sunrise.

I saw some friends from other conferences, traveled with two friends from my local writers group, and met new friends along the way. I had really encouraging appointments with some faculty and learned great things in workshops. I met God during worship times. And, as always, He was better to me than I deserved through those scheduled appointments and “divine” appointments that continued until we were at the airport Sunday morning. This isn’t the time or place to go into details, but I’ll sum it up by saying He just blows my mind.

How has He been good to you lately?

Fun Friday, Writing life

Friday Celebrations

It’s Friday, it’s summer, and it’s the perfect time for celebrations. Here are some things I’m tickled about today …

  • My writing friend Lynda Schab got word that her first novel will be published by Oak Tara Publishing. Woo-hoo! The book is Mind Over Madi and I had the chance to read a lot of it when Lynda and I were in an online critique group together a couple of years ago. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Lynda is the kind of writer who makes me laugh out loud, and that’s always a good thing in my book (um, no pun intended). I’m so happy for her and can hardly wait to get a copy of my own. Check out her story about “the call” at her blog.
  • I’m officially registered for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August. I went last year and had a great experience — learned so much in the classes, made some great new writing friends, and felt God everywhere I went. I registered early enough that I’ll automatically have appointments with 5 (!) of the faculty members. Those can be a bit nerve wracking, but they’re the best way to get your work in front of people who can really help you move to the next level. I won’t know who my appointments will be with until I’m there, but I’ve sent in my requests. Now it’s time to buckle down and get lots of work done on some projects so I can talk about them! 🙂
  • I’ve changed a few things on my website and added the book trailer for Divas in Disguise so you can see it right there instead of clicking over to YouTube (you can watch it here). I must admit, I was pretty proud of myself for figuring that one out.
  • I’ve just joined a new critique group through ACFW that focuses on middle grade writers. That’s where most of my focus is these days, so I’m excited about connecting with some other authors who “get” writing for kids in that age group. We officially kicked off things this week and I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe this will be the incentive I need to work on my stories on a regular basis instead of being so hit and miss with it all. And maybe they can help me brainstorm some ideas to get me past the “stuck” point in a new book I’m mapping out. I always learn so much about my own writing just by reading things from others — it’s a win/win.
  • And, last but definitely not least, I’m excited that vacation time is approaching! It’s never too soon to sink your toes in the sand …

OK, so what about you? What has you feeling good on this Friday?

 

Writing life

Roaches and Writing

Yes, you read that title right — it’s about roaches and writing. Never thought they had anything in common, did you? Neither did I, until I read the post over at JD’s Writer’s Blog today. Those roaches can infest our dreams as writers, but can also scurry around making us steer clear of other things we want to do in life, too, because we don’t want to get too close to those nasty little creatures.

Check out the analogy at JD Holiday’s blog, and keep reading to the bottom for a glimpse into the writing life of Dr. Robert McGinnis. Dr. McGinnis writes for the young adult market; his latest book is Paradise Is Where You Find It. Isn’t that a lesson a lot of us need to learn even as adults? 🙂

Writing life

Blog Tour for John 3:16 Marketing Network

Writing a book isn’t easy. You spend hours, months, maybe even years culling through and refining ideas, researching information, and writing draft after draft after draft. Many people tend to think that the author’s job is finished once she signs a contract with a publisher – that editors at the publishing house make every sentence sparkle, marketers plan and implement national publicity campaigns, and book store managers automatically purchase multiple copies to feature in their front window display.

Granted, some of those things can come true to a certain degree. But for the average author – especially one who isn’t a household name – handing off the manuscript to her editor is just the first step on a whole new leg of the journey.

One of the biggest jobs that falls to an author these days is marketing. Literary agents, editors, and publishing houses want to know up front what kind of marketing plan or potential reach an author has. Yes, they’ll still help with marketing to a certain extent. But they want to know who the author knows or who the author has access to that can help spread the word about a book. They want to know how many people follow the author’s blog, how many hits her website gets each month, how many friends or contacts she has on social networks, how people she knows through organizations or groups can help create a following for her.

In other words, they want to know how the author plans to create buzz for her book and help get it noticed. And the better potential she has to reach her target audience, the better her chances at getting attention.

I mentioned in my post a few days ago that I was a new member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network. J316 is a network of Christian authors who help increase awareness of each other’s books and create some of that momentum an author needs to get noticed. An author in the network schedules a release date for her book and invites others in the network to participate in the launch. She helps them prepare by providing information on the book, potential interview questions, photos, etc. I don’t know that I’ll be able to participate in everyone’s launches, but I hope to help however I can. And the cool thing is, with so many authors coming together on the same day, the author with the launch can offer some pretty nifty prizes on that specific day. I’ll have all the details here on those days.

The network is still fairly new and we’re still letting people know about it and trying to connect with other authors who want to participate. We actually kicked off a promotional campaign yesterday and have several of our authors hosting a blog tour over the next few days.

Click here to learn more about the blog tour and where each day’s stop will be. You might even be able to stock up on some free e-books or other gifts from the authors who are participating. I hope you’ll check it out!