Sunday, September 30, 2007

Recuperating While Deep Editing

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The ACFW conference was great. Unfortunately, I haven't recuperated yet. I told a friend I might be getting a little too old for four-day slumber parties. The good thing is that I've taken all I learned from the Early Bird session--Margie Lawson's Empowering Characters' Emotions with the EDITS System--and making one more pass through my manuscript.

If you missed the EB session, or think you don't need it, I'd advise you to think again. We never know everything. We can always benefit from more classes, more conferences, other writers. If we quit learning, we're in big trouble. :)

Margie Lawson, a counseling psychologist, has developed innovative psychologically-anchored editing systems and techniques that will teach you how to write a page turner. Check out Margie Lawson for more information.

I promise you won't regret it. Her course was an eye-opener for me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ACFW Conference - My Take

Funny how ten people can attend the same conference and come away with ten different opinions of just how good that conference was. A little like contest judges, heh? What it boils down to is this: a conference is what you make it. If you're attending with a chip on your shoulder, angry because you've received nothing but rejections since the last conference, then I venture to say you'll leave with a chip on your shoulder unless God knocks it off with a blessing or some insight. If you're attending to network, make friends, learn and share time with your crit partners, then I promise you'll have a great time.

I learned much at this 2007 ACFW conference. As I examined my WIP with colored markers, I learned to recognize missed opportunities where I can/should show intense fear, sorrow, anger (and other emotions). This is the second time I've taken Margie Lawson's class and I will be taking it again. That Early Bird session was worth the price of the conference for me.

Here are a few things I learned this year:
1) Get there early so you can visit, wind down, have a little fun before the work begins.
2) If you have more than two roomies, take your wash cloth to bed with you. Hide it under your pillow. This ensures that you'll have one the next morning. :)
3) Prepare one-sheets before you get to conference.
4) It's not a catastrophe if you don't have a one-sheet or business cards.
5) Take snacks.
6) Diet cokes are at the Marriott, you just have to know who to ask for one. :)
7) Buy all the extra stuff.
8) Pick up all the free stuff.
9) Hang out in the bookstore.
10)Hang out at the autograph party.
11)Don't hang out in your room.
12)Introduce yourself to strangers.
13)We all know each other from the loop; we just need to connect face to face.
14)Talk to the male writers; they aren't that scary.
15)Give hugs and tell those people who help you online how special they are. It's a blessings to get hugs back.

Okay, so I'm being a little funny, but I can't begin to tell you how much I learned from Deb Raney and Gayle Roper. I suppose the most important thing I learned from Deb is that out of all my wips, only one is women's fiction. Finally, the definition of Women's Fiction clicked inside my brain. From Gayle I learned that I'm learning in layers. I wish I'd hurry and get to where I need to be. :(

Thank God for my crit partners. Being the observer that I am, I never fail to learn more about them, notice funny little traits they have that make them who they are. Being with them over and over again a few times each year is akin to getting to know my fictional characters: Not in one big characterization dump, but in layers. Here's a picture of us at the banquet. Don't we look fine? :) Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Standing from left to right: Marcia Gruver, Elizabeth Ludwig, Virginia Smith (she used to crit with us). Seated from left to right: me, Sandra Robbins and Janelle Mowery.

I also learned that dreams do come true. What a thrill to see Marcia receive a three-book contract from Barbour. Here's what she looked like when she realized the editors were talking about her book series: Texas Fortunes. Janelle snapped this pic at just the right moment. ;) Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

God has blessed me with these special ladies. I learn a lot from them. Hopefully, I'm able to share and teach them a little something too. We're each so very different, yet we have much in common: we love our families, writing, books, other writers and Jesus--not necessarily in that order. That's enough to keep us together for a very long time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Editors - What They Had To Say

The editors offered tips and advice. Read it and use it to your advantage. Read between the lines. Don't be naive when it comes to writing, selling and marketing your work. Don't wait around to be spoon-fed by an agent or an organization. Educate yourself. It has been said by one editor that the industry has a very long memory. You can take that bit of wisdom to the bank, as a favorite old detective used to say. Be a smart writer.

Sue Bower
Looking for terrific stories that entertain and change lives from 90,000 - 100,000 words. Contemporary and suspense.

Rebecca Germany
Looking for full length romance 85,000 and up.
Tip: Write passionately.

Susan Downs
Barbour Publishing, Heartsong Present, Mysteries!
Looking for cozies only from 55,000 to 60,000 words.
Tip: Study the guidelines.

Anne Goldsmith
Hatchette Book Group USA, Faith Words
Women's Fiction, big stories, dramas 75,000 - 100,000 words.
Tip: Read and write.

Natalie Hanemann
Thomas Nelson Fiction - Seeking historical and Romance - 75,000 + words.
Tip: It's all about the story.

My Note: Someone said, and I think it was Natalie Hanemann, It's important for writers to know who they are and what their brand will be. Have a sense of who you are.

Shannon Hill
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Looking for? I like being surprised.
Tip: Don't just think out of the box, blow it up.

Andrew Meisenheimer
Zondervan - nonfiction, fiction. Contemporary and suspense.
Tip: He agrees that it's all about story and says, Your proposal is a story.

Kim Moore
Harvest House - looking for great writing, soft historicals, good characters and plots. 90,000 to 100,000 words.
Tip: WOW me with a great opening.

Rebekah Nesbitt
Tyndale House - No westerns or scifi. 75,000 and up.
Tip: Write the whole book.

Karen Schurrer
Bethany House Publishers - historicals 90,000 - 110,000.
Tip: Good story, good characters. Let your characters tell me what they want to tell me.

Krista Stroever
Steeple Hill - Contemporary romance and historicals up to WWII.
Tip: The industry has a very long memory.

David Webb
B&H Publishing - David stated that he and Karen Ball have torn down and built up again B&H fiction. They're looking for contemporary women's fiction, suspense thrillers, historcial romance 80,000 words and up. It's a new day at B&H.
Tip: Find a hook.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Agents - What They Had to Say

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is what I learned from the agent panel. Read their comments. Check out their websites and blogs thoroughly. Most of them have detailed tips and guidelines that will help you prepare an impressive submission.

Janet Benrey about 20 -25 authors. She handls romantic suspense, cozies, romance and some thrillers.

Terry Burns wants good books. Check out Hartline Literary Agency for submmission guidelines.

Janet K. Grant has been an agent for about twelve years. Check out her submission guidelines and the fabulous authors she reps.

Joyce Hart has been in Christian publishing and marketing for 29 years. She's been an agent for 15 years. Her agency has over 100 clients and will look at adult fiction, all genres, non-fiction, YA, and some children's. Go to her website and familiarize yourself with her agents and her guidelines.

Beth Jusino reps from 20-25 novelist. She's with Alive Communications. You can spend hours on the Alive website ga-gaing over their big name authors. Be sure to read Rick Christian's Q&A. They also have some great examples of fiction and nonfiction proposals.

Natasha Kern works in CBA and ABA. She's looking for books that touch and inspire her. She's looking for storytellers. Natasha reps one of my favorite authors, Robin Lee Hatcher.

Steve Laube has been an agent for four years. He has a question for you to answer before you submit to him: Are your pages going to rivet my attention?

Wendy Lawton is with Books and Such and has been an agent for almost three years. She's looking for people who are writing with a heart for God. She also threw out the word eclectic.

Chip MacGregor is also a CBA/ABA agent. He says, "In fiction, I'm always looking for a read that changes me." Check out Chip's informative blog to be entertained and informed.

Kelly Mortimer is the owner of the Mortimer Literary Agency. That agency is growing fast. She's a relatively new agent with some big successes. She has no readers in her agency. Kelly reads every submnission for herself and handles unpublished writers. She works in ABA and CBA.

Les Stobbe has been and editor for twenty one years and an agent for fourteen years. He is known as a first book agent. He handles adult nonfiction and fiction and occasionally sells to the general market. Les has a heart for new authors.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

That Professional Look?

Preparing for conference this year, I gave up and sent everything to the cleaners. The last time I did that (yep, very same cleaners) I was preparing to travel to Longview, Texas to speak to The East Texas Writers Association, a writer's group I formed with my very own little heart and hands. I'd found a very flattering suit to wear: navy blue slacks and jacket with an attached white blouse. I don't know how to explain it any better than that. It was a two-piece but looked like three. Get the picture?

I'm always hitting the cleaners at the last minute, but that's beside the point. They're professionals. They should know not to clean/laundry/dry reds and whites together. Shouldn't they? I didn't notice until I arrived in Longview, shimmied into my professional attire and viewed myself in the floor-length mirror.
"Doesn't that white look a little tinted?" I asked.
Tinted? That's putting it mildly.

I stood before twenty-five plus people and tried to be the perfect example of success. In my smart navy blue suit, and faded, washed out, weird-looking pink blouse, I felt like I'd crawled out of a Goodwill grab bag. I think the lesson here might be 1) double check your clothing before you leave town. 2) Remove the plastic and take a magnifying glass to those whites. 3) Don't wait until the day before to take your things to the laundry. 4) Don't wear white? :-) 5) Always know that whatever can go wrong before a speaking engagement or book signing will go wrong. That's Murphy's Law.

Yesterday I took twelve items to the cleaners. If my white blouse comes back pink, then I can always fall back on the black one or the green one or the tan one. You know what I always say. . . be prepared. And suspect everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Conference Prepared!

There's more to getting ready for a conference than selecting what you're going to wear. I have to get mentally prepared. Last year that was easy. I was an active member of Toastmasters so I was getting up in front of my group on a weekly basis and speaking off the top of my head. This year I've been holed up trying to finish my novel so my social skills are lacking.

I try to visualize myself speaking to an editor about my book, and I just can't quite see it. I do have an appointment so whether I see it or not, it will happen.

The big thing this year--at least for me--is meeting my agent. I'll walk away from him with confidence, feeling encouraged and that it's just a matter of time before I see my book in print, or I'll come away feeling I've made a huge mistake: that I've written an unmarketable book, that I've signed with the wrong agent or perhaps I've signed too soon, that I made a big booboo switching (once again) from nonfiction to fiction. But, regardless of how I feel on Sunday afternoon when I leave the ACFW conference in Dallas, I need to remember:

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. Isaiah 3:10 NIV

Father God, you've blessed me tremendously. Give me patience, Lord, and the wisdom to wait for only your best. Oh, and Lord, please help my agent be an encourager. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Conference Beautiful!

What are you doing to get ready for the ACFW conference? Hope you're making more progress than I am!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Something to Think About

1. Whatever you're writing, is it being written with God's approval?

2. Whatever you're writing, is it being written in His authority?

3. Whatever you're writing, is it being written for God's acclaim?

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:7

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

If it doesn't glorify God, we shouldn't do it.
Think about it.