Gearing up for another conference…

Well, here we go again…I’m gearing up for another conference. Another pitch to an agent, another round of classes about marketing and craft and publishing, another round of presenters and panels, a whole new set of authors to network with…a whole new batch of things on my to do list…

bob mayer's bookRead Bob Mayer’s “Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most Out of Your Time and Money” Now, this will be my third conference. So, why am I needing a book about making the most out of a conference? Shouldn’t I know that by now? Well, I thought it would be good to see if I could learn something from an expert. Bob Mayer has been to many, many conference both as an attendee and as a presenter. He has seen it from both sides. There are definitely things I can learn from him. And I did learn as I read the book. I feel much more prepared and better organized going in. I would recommend this book to anyone. I mean, you’re paying quite a bit in some cases to go to a conference, I would spend the $2 on the kindle version of this book to get the most out of that higher price tag conference. And this one coming up is MUCH bigger than the previous two I went to.

Preparing Synopses. I plan to have synopses for my remaining un-contracted, un-published pieces so that if I run across an interested agent/editor, I can hand them one. But they can always use polishing. So that’s something I need to get to. A synopsis is basically a summary of the main storyline of your novel. And, yes, in most cases it is a spoiler in that it gives away the whole storyline including the ending. You need to be willing to give away all your secrets when you meet with an agent/editor. I have heard authors/others in the publishing industry refer to a long blurb of your book as a synopsis, but usually synopsis (or FULL synopsis) refers to this full-length, all of the story given away kind of thing.

A baseball player pitching with spin on the ball. (motion blur on ball)

Getting My Pitch Ready. I have had very successful pitching experiences thus far. And have learned a lot from them. So, not only am I applying what I learned from those agents, I am learning from the “First Timers Loop”. I’m actually going to the ACFW Conference. A really big conference. And because it is so big (read “intimidating”), they have a e-mail group called “First Timers Loop” where they share all kinds of helpful information on writing synopses, packing, pitching and whatnot. There’s even been someone willing to look at our elevator pitches and critique them. (For the non-writers or newbie writers out there, an “elevator pitch” is a 1-3 sentence pitch you can ideally deliver as you ride an elevator three floors.)

Writing a Cover Letter. This is not my strong suit. I hate cover letters. But a couple of the agents I requested appointments with require them. So, I’ll gear up and smile and trudge on, learning as I go. A cover letter goes in front of your query or writing sample when you submit to an agent either through the mail or via e-mail or, apparently, in person even. It contains information such as a pitch for your book, word count, genre, target audience, info about you (the author), and the like. Of course, with all the niceties you learned in business class – “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Whoever, Thank you for your time….Sincerely….”

packingPutting my packing list together. I am the definition of an over-packer. Seriously. Ask anyone. I’m really trying not to do that as I will be flying to Dallas and don’t want to overload my suitcase. But there is so much I have to take for the conference…like an evening dress for the Gala, a dress for the Genre dinner (dress like you stepped out of one of your books…that’s right, folks, I’m dressing in a Medieval dress, just like I stepped out of “The Lady Bornekova”).

So, what are you pitching? I am pitching “Trail of Fears” again. It is my most recent work and so the one I am most in the right head space for. Still, I plan to reread it again before the conference as I haven’t read it for some time. So, I’ll make sure to take all my stuff on “Trail of Fears”, a smile, and my winning personality 🙂

All in all, I’m pretty excited about the conference. I just need to get through the bulk of the work to get ready while still being mindful to work on “The General’s Wife” as it’s being slated for publication and I don’t want that date to slide at all. I’m in pre-edits for that book right now. So, I need to keep up. Wish me luck!!

BIG News!!!

pyramidsHey, all! Thanks for dropping in today to hear my BIG news! Well, you may remember (if you’ve been following the blog) that I queried (sent in) a manuscript to be reviewed for possible publication. And the great news is…my publisher (Clean Reads) has offered me a contract on “THE GENERAL’S WIFE”. You may have noticed over in the left hand side of the screen that “The General’s Wife” has been changed from “Seeking Publication” to “Publication in Process”.

THE GENERAL’S WIFE. This was actually the first novel I wrote. The very first scene was written back when I was in college and the manuscript was shelved not long after. I would take it out ever so often and write more, tweak it here and there and whatnot. Finally, a couple of years after graduating, I got serious about finishing the novel.

ptolemaic queen (cleopatra vii)SO WHAT’S THIS BOOK ABOUT ANYWAY? You can certainly read my blurb about the book here. I became fascinated by the Ptolemaic Period during a history class at some point in my youth. It was a seed that was planted that I never really thought much about until much later when the main characters came into being. Placing them in this period in history just made sense to me.

WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO READ THIS BOOK? It takes about 6-8 months with this publisher to go from signed contract to eBook release. So, you can hope to see the book come out sometime February-April 2016. This is still a fairly short time window for contract to debut. As I understand it, with the larger, more traditional publishers, it can take 18 months-2 years.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll be in pre-edits for the next week or so. I look forward to it and dread it at the same time. Editing…not my best friend, but such a crucial part of the process. I’m looking forward to sharing more as we go along!

Spotlight on “The Brightest and Best” by Olivia Newport

Hello, Readers! Today I am hosting author Olivia Newport on my blog! She and I have a couple of things in common – our love of Historical Fiction and our membership in the ACFW. Speaking of which, the ACFW Conference is coming up mid-September. I will be there…so excited!! So, without further ado, here’s Olivia:

Olivia NewportMeet Olivia! Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. She lives in stunning Colorado, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her past work includes the Avenue of Dreams series set in 1890s Chicago; the Valley of Choice series of intertwining contemporary and historical Amish stories; Hidden Falls, a digital-first contemporary small-town series; and the Amish Turns of Time series exploring real historical moments of Amish values.

I’m always interested in what inspires authors…so tell us, Olivia, what was your inspiration for your book, Brightest and Best?  This book comes out under the banner of Amish Turns of Time. I’ve had a blast in these stories exploring events in Amish history that illustrate points in time when the Amish made significant decisions that affected the development of their churches. In this case, the question was emerging laws that required the Amish to educate their children in a way that conflicted with their central values. This journey started almost a hundred years ago and endured until they took their case to the Supreme Court in 1972. Brightest and Best intentionally conflates some events to bring the driving themes together in one story.

Interesting. What are some of the more historically significant events behind your story? My research turned up some articulate, impassioned arguments by Amish writers about why they could not separate education of their children from the practice of their faith. While the non-Amish world was pressing for more standardized education, including keeping kids in school longer,  the Amish believed that true education cultivates humility, simple living, and living according to the will of God. They were preparing children not for success in this life but for eternity. For many decades, Amish children attended school with non-Amish children. It was only when public schools became larger, offered more varied curriculum, and required students to remain in school past the eighth grade that the conflicts began.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share? I’m putting the finishing touches on a manuscript called Hope in the Land, a Depression-era story that highlights the pivotal role Amish women played in the stability of their households in an economic time when so many people across the country were losing their grasp on hope. Hope in the Land will come out in the spring of 2016.

Brightest and Best coverBrightest and Best by Olivia Newport:

Ella Hilty’s deepest desire is to marry Gideon Wittmer and be a mother to his three children. But before the betrothal and ceremony take place, Ella’s 1918 Ohio Amish community gets caught in a storm of controversy when English government authorities dictate that Amish children must attend consolidated public schools rather than their one-room schoolhouse. 

English schoolteacher Margaret Simpson had given up thoughts of marriage years ago, and she’s content with her peaceful life. But a budding romance and conflict with the neighboring Amish community lead Margaret down a path that she never expected.

Citing freedom of religion rights, Amish parents stand their ground against progressive English laws that threaten to erode their culture and beliefs beyond recognition, but their stance doesn’t come without consequences. Where is the balance between submission to God and submission to a God-ordained government that endangers the church?

Soon Margaret puts her last chance for romance at risk for the only choice her conscience can abide, and all eyes turn to Ella to bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.

Find Olivia: http://www.olivianewport.com/

When Your Day Job Takes Over

So…it’s be a little while since I posted. That’s because my day job…yeah, that whole mom/wife thing…has taken over for a while. This has been one stressful week of getting back from vacation and gearing up for school. Can anyone relate? How do you keep

Stressed Mom at Home

your writing going when your “day job” starts demanding more and more from you? Especially those of you who have a clock to punch in addition to the mom/dad/spouse thing and then your writing on top of that? There just simply aren’t enough hours in the day it seems! Or there haven’t been for me at least.

But it’s just for a season…this is what I have to constantly remind myself. This craziness of transitioning from summer to school year is just for a season and it will pass. There will be a return to normalcy (or some semblance of what we call “normalcy”) and routine. Then I can begin to once again find time for these things that are of utmost importance to me (like writing and blogging), that seem to get put by the wayside sometimes in the business of the mom thing which, I’m just going to say it, has to come first sometimes. I cannot tell my children to take a backseat to my writing. That is not a choice I am willing to make. And if my writing career suffers for it, so be it.

There is a time and place and season for everything. And the writing will have it’s own time. While my kids are small and so dependent on me is not it. So, it will have to take it’s rightful place in my priorities. Sometimes that means I can dedicate 20+ hours a week to writing, sometimes not even 5. It all depends. And I have to be okay with that. Especially if I’m going to have the priorities that I have (namely, children before writing). There’s just no sense in beating myself up over something I can’t control (the lack of hours in a day). I can’t be all things to all people…least of all to myself. I can only be me. I can only stretch myself so far and still be sane.

So, after all that rambling, here’s what I’m left with – priorities. Have them, use them, don’t let anything or anyone judge you (including yourself) for how you prioritize your life. Just commit to it and live them out.

Taking a Breather

I have blogged before about the necessity of a schedule to maintain with your daily word count as a writer. And I have talked about determination to write daily as a general rule. But now, I’m going to go against all of that and say that sometimes, what you need is a break, a breather.

balanceFinding balance. Why a breather? Sometimes it just becomes overwhelming. And sometimes, as a writer, I can become so wrapped up in the stories I write and in learning the craft of writing that I forget that I am also a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and so many other things. Yes, this is my chosen career path, but it is not the sum total of who I am. There is value to stepping back and remembering the other parts of me and how important they are. Finding balance can be tricky, but it is also very important.

Gas-Pump-blue-generic+flipped“Refilling” the tank. Taking a breather can also be good for perspective. I am pumping the creative well until it’s almost dry every day. It’s not a bad idea to give it a rest and let it become refreshed. Setting my manuscript(s) to the side for a few days or weeks to gain some distance from them will only help give myself fresh eyes on them in order to better edit and revise.

beachVacation. Plain and simple – everyone needs a vacation from their job. I have come to believe that writers, among other professions, really struggle with this. We tend to be writing or thinking about writing. I find that the more I take a break from writing, the better I am at separating myself from the work of it and enjoying my vacation time. It has also helped me translate that to my daily life and better separate my “work time” (writing time) from the time designated for my house and family. I can be more mentally present with them.

So, while I do believe firmly in a daily routine of writing and having goals (such as word counts) each day, I also feel it’s important to step back every so often and just breathe.