A Writerly Blog
Just a few days ago, I was awarded the Leibster Award. Well, that’s not quite true. I was offered it. By a young poet and friend from the UK! Hannah is a budding writer and blogger who delights in using her God-given gifts to encourage and inspire others. You can check out her blog, The Way of Delight here. Thanks, Hannah!
Since I had no other plans for this week’s post (I’m heading to the SoCal Christian Writer’s Conference tomorrow — can’t wait!) I decided to take her up on the offer. The award has been around for a number of years, morphing as it time went by. If you want the full story, you can read it at wordingwell.com I went online to find a few images for the award, which you see above.
As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blogpost or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.
Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?
There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. We authors have families, other jobs, people and pets we must care for, and places we'd like to go, just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??
Can I make a suggestion?
We don't need to!
As far as I'm concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .
Ten days ago I returned exhausted from three whirlwind days of our regional SCBWI Conference. Wow. I couldn't take it all in -- there was so much to absorb! There were workshops and keynote addresses by seasoned authors, a bookstore to shop to our wallet's delight, and of course, a county fair to top all county fairs.
Topics from how to garner invites for author visits to social media marketing and what to look for in an agent. And the customary craft courses on voice, editing and character.
If you've been to a writer's conference, you know how daunting it can be. So what are the 5 things to remember? Let me outline them simply here:
1. BE COMFORTABLE
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing (with a sweater or jacket to ward off a chill in case the rooms are freezing). Bring snacks, a method to take notes, and a tote, small suitcase or large purse to hold all the conference goodies and handouts.
2. BE WILLING
If you live in the area, (but even if you don't) volunteer to help set up registration, drive speakers to and from the airport, or attend to the needs of the host for a workshop. I offered to pick up a well-known author after her flight, and ended up having a friendly and insightful conversation. I realized she has some of the same issues as we debut authors do!
3. BE FRIENDLY
Network with attendees, authors, agents and editors. Sit with them at a meal, chat in the lounge, or catch them at the end of a workshop. They are humans like you and me. No need to be intimidated! If you don't try, you'll never feel comfortable around them. And don't underestimate the importance of conversing with fellow writers, even if they haven't published yet. We all have valuable things to share. Bring business cards to pass out, and be sure to follow them on social media. Who knows where that will lead!
4. BE REALISTIC
Don't expect to land an agent or sign a contract at your very first conference. Yes, it has happened, but chances are slim. It doesn't mean you or the conference was a failure. It does mean you have accumulated tips and tricks for your writer's journey that will eventually lead to a contract. Put into practice all the things you are learning, and move forward. Good news may be around the next corner, whether that is next month or next year!
Remember those notes you took? Hopefully, while in the workshops, you highlighted or circled the items you needed to work on first. Maybe it's editing your latest manuscript, or submitting to that awesome agent you talked with -- just make sure you've perused their wishlist before submitting. Get to work immediately on those tasks. As I write this, I'm reminding myself I have not followed through on my own advice. Believe me, I will miss out if I don't move ahead. Don't be like me!
This is the first time I've attended a conference as a debut author. So I was honored to see my little MG historical fiction nestled among the great kid lit authors of the Midwest. Well, maybe a bit intimidating, too. And although I sold only one, I discovered another author had sold none. So, I didn't worry. We all need to begin somewhere. And I am firmly traveling down the path of marketing, writing and submitting.
Here I am below, ready to sign the one book purchased. But no one showed up. No worries, because two-thirds of the attendee authors didn't show, and the few that sat at their assigned place faithfully and waited, had no books to sign. But, we took photos of each other, then exchanged and signed our books. Win-win. Just not in the usual sense.
Can you think of other points to remember when attending a writer's conference? Which conferences have helped you the most on your writer's journey? Tell me in the comments below. . .
Speaking of debut authors -- The Heart Changer has 12 reviews right now. Can you help me reach 20? If you have read my story, please give me an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Bookbub. You can copy and paste the same review to all the online sites. Easy-peasy!
I'd sure appreciate it!
This week, while the frigid winds blow across Lake Michigan, I'm taking a writer's retreat in one of my favorite US cities - Charleston. Full of history from the early colonial period to the Civil War (and a Revolution in-between), this place has much to be proud of, especially if one is Scottish, Protestant, understands agriculture, and cherishes tradition. During the 18th and 19th centuries, French Huguenots and those of Jewish heritage fled here because it protected their freedom of religion. They still worship in impressive numbers right here in town.
I have a secret to spill!
For the last month, I've been part of a Street Team for Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers, who are launching their new writing book on February 19th. Because they are known for showing, not telling, they decided it would be fun to keep the thesaurus book's topic a secret until the book cover reveal...WHICH IS TODAY!
Have you ever assumed writers use their gift of words effortlessly? Are you a writer who is discouraged, or maybe in a rut? I want to challenge you to join Julie Hedlund and a host of picture book writers to make 2019 your best creative year yet. Click this link and c’mon over and join us — there’s still a couple of days left: http://www.juliehedlund.com/12days
It took all the strength we could muster to stand up straight against the wind as we walked along the Portuguese shore; Cape Roca - the farthest point west jutting out into the Atlantic. One never really understands the fierce elements that has made this ocean a menace for centuries until you’ve battled it.
That’s perseverance. It’s different from endurance. Which is why I chose the former as my word for 2019.
As leaves fall and autumn turns towards winter, we are reminded to give thanks. To have a heart of gratitude. It’s so easy to complain rather than say thank you. Why is that?
Grumbling comes more naturally to us. Sometimes it even brings a sense of satisfaction. But then, after a while, discontent seeps in. The only way I have found to turn those dark complaining thoughts around is to be grateful. There is always someone who is less fortunate than us. When we bring them to mind, our situation doesn’t seem as hopeless.
Last year I read The Brontë Sisters: the Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne by Catherine Reef. It was recommended by a fellow children's picture book writer, but, for the life of me, I can't remember whom. But, thank you. It was a good read. So, I thought I would share my writer's POV on this classic, along with quotes from Reef's book.
Although it is a YA book, the content is meaty enough to get a glimpse of the cloistered and dark lives of these three authors, and sense the similarity of their environment to their best-selling books as follows: "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" respectively.
I could feel the wind blowing across the moors, and sense the weight of their depressing lives. Since writing was not the proper vocation for women in those days, these girls took on pen names. Charlotte was Currier, Emily chose Ellis, and Anne, Acton. . . and all with the surname of Bell. Escaping their mundane existence, the three invented and imagined a host of characters and kingdoms. They lived and breathed life into them as they put pen to paper.
A couple of years back, like many, I was glued to my TV screen with a cuppa and a scone. As the credits rolled, so did the tears. I was a fairly new writer, and understood the power the written word posessed. I had just finished watching the last episode of Season Three in the saga of "Downton Abbey", the wildly popular BBC series focusing on the privileged and not-so-privileged.
What we learned throughout the ongoing story was this: when it comes to disasters, it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you make — they happen to everyone, regardless of status.
Even though we were reminded of that truth during each episode, it wasn't until I viewed the final scene that it hit me like a monsoon. It was almost too much to bear. Just when I was reveling in the "happily ever after" scene, it happened. I couldn't believe it! I felt cheated. And slightly depressed.
Those of you who have seen it know what I mean. Did the writer want to add a wicked twist to the plot? Did the actor want out? If so, could I have obliged? For whatever reason, the results did not sit well with me.
Then, almost immediately, I began to think of myself and my role as a writer. I, too, have that power. The power to write in or write out characters at will. I realized I would have found difficulty in writing a scene so tragic. So unpredictable. So unwanted.
But that is the beauty of being a writer. I don't have to write scenes that lead to despair. And if I did, one thing is for sure — they would lead eventually to good. There would be a reason. All would work out in the end. It would give my readers hope. Because we all need hope in these days of uncertainty. And I know that my hope is in God, who does work all things together for good.
Those of you who are avid fans, what do you think? Did all things work out for good in the final season of "Downton Abbey"? That was Julian Fellowes prerogative. He held the pen.
How would you have written the ending?
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuts Spring of 2019 with Ambassador International.