A Writer’s Conference Connection

Writer’s Conferences are for me one of the keys to success as a writer. Author Kathy Collard Miller’s testimony echoes that truth. Welcome Kathy and thanks for sharing.

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I attended my first writers conference in 1980 when I’d only had one article and one short story published. I didn’t know another writer in the world and had no clue what to do about the book idea I had. I was shocked when the editors there treated me like someone important. I made writer friends and one gal only lived 15 minutes away from me. She mentored me and almost literally taught me to write. I returned to that writers conference year after year, grew in my writing skills, and connected with editors who opened doors. Now I have over 50 non-fiction books published and it all started at that writers conference in 1980. I’m so grateful the Lord led me there.

About Kathy:

Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and loves to write and speak. She has been married for 46 years to Larry, is the mom of 2 and grandmother of 2. She has over 50 books published and has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Her latest book is in her Daughters of the King Bible study series: Whispers of My Heart: a women’s Bible study book on prayer. www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Facebook: Kathy Collard Miller Author
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak

Newest book:
Whispers of My Heart: Daughters of the King Bible study series

http://amzn.to/2ksLALx Whispers of My Heart(1)

 

 

www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Facebook: Kathy Collard Miller Author
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak

Newest book:
Whispers of My Heart: Daughters of the King Bible study series

http://amzn.to/2ksLALx

 

 

 

What’s something you learned at a conference that has made a difference in your writing today?

A Conference Gem

Pegg Thomas is my guest today as I continue to post about the benefits of attending conferences.   I can so relate to her experience. Welcome Pegg.

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There’s nothing like a writers’ conference to open the new writer’s eyes. Wide open. In danger of plopping from their sockets. At least, that’s what happened to me.

 

Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference in Muskegon, Michigan, is where I got my start. Small numbers and an emphasis on getting published—that it’s in my home state was a plus—were what drew me to Maranatha. The first year, I waded through the week-long conference in an overwhelmed daze as all my preconceived notions of writing were ruthlessly torn apart. It took me the entire following year to digest everything I’d learned.

 

Convinced I was on the road to writing the next Great American Novel, I signed up for my second year at Maranatha. To my delight, Jerry Jenkins was Maranatha’s keynote speaker that year. Attendees were invited to send in the first page of their novels for a “Thick-Skinned Critique” session. Whoa! I couldn’t get my submission emailed off fast enough. How exciting to have Mr. Jenkins critique my first page.  This was the chance to strut my stuff and put my year-long learning to good use.

 

(I heard that sniggering.)

 

At some point, perhaps when I slowed down and read the fine print, I became aware that the “Thick-Skinned Critique” was to take place during the conference’s general session. In front of the whole conference body. Everyone. Every last one.

 

Confidence is a fickle companion.

 

By the time the conference arrived, I’d gone from strutting to, at best, a slouching shuffle into the conference room for the general session. The usual opening of worship music put a little stiff back into my spine. But once Mr. Jenkins pulled out the overhead projector. The one that lit up the huge screen swallowing the front of the room. The one upon which he laid an overlay with carefully typed words now emblazoned across the screen. My words.

 

The only saving grace was that my name did not appear anywhere on the overlay. The organizers, in their gentle wisdom, had deemed it best to expunge the writers’ names. Bless them.

 

Mr. Jenkins took a sadistically long time explaining how he did his “Thick-Skinned Critiques” while my words hung in front of every person there. Each moment corresponded with a half-inch glacier-like creep of my body toward the floor in front of my seat. What I mostly remember about this interminable wait was that if I concentrated on the tops of my shoes, the urge to relieve my stomach of its contents remained manageable. Barely.

 

And then he said these words, “I love this opening sentence.”

 

The glacier-like movement stopped. The rebellion of my breakfast stopped. My backbone coalesced to its solid form once again. All was right with my world. Better than right! It was write-right.

 

Mr. Jenkins withdrew another overlay which he placed on top of my carefully typed words. This overlay had red marks on it. That is to say, it may have been a graphic depiction of the blood patterns taken from a slasher murder scene.  That many red marks.

 

But I didn’t care. Jerry Jenkins had told me that he loved my opening sentence.  My confidence was back. I could do this thing called writing. I could.

And I did.

Bio:

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” An avid reader and writer, she enjoys fiction stories threaded through historical events and around historical figures. Civil War and Colonial are her favorite eras. Pegg is a regular blogger at both QuidProQuills.com and ColonialQuills.com. When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, at her spinning wheel, tending her sheep, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper. See more at PeggThomas.com.

The Pony Express Romance Collection

Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials?

There are nine stories in this collection.

Embattled Hearts by Pegg Thomas
Alannah Fagan escaped from a battle she wouldn’t survive. Stewart McCann left behind a battle he couldn’t face. Thrown together at Horseshoe Station, can they find something worth fighting for?

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Click to order this novella collection of delightful stories.

Have you ever been in a critique group at a conference? What did you learn?

 

 

 

Why Serious Writers Attend Conferences

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Lunch with Steve Barclift from Kregel Publishing

It’s conference season. And for any serious writer, it’s time to compose those proposals and get those pitches ready. If a yearly writer’s conference isn’t in your budget it should be. Conference expenses are tax-deductible and are a more economical education than a college degree.

Face to Face

There are opportunities to meet other writers and share information and wisdom. This is one place you can have a face to face with a publisher who would not bother to look at your proposal unless you have an agent. And it is also the place to acquire an agent.

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Bob Hostetler was both a general session speaker and a workshop leader for the 2013 WTP Conference. He was on my must attend list of workshop choices that year.

Classes

The classes are varied and there is something for everyone. The publishing world is constantly changing so there is always something new to learn. Each year there are different speakers and class focuses giving writers a chance to expand their writing knowledge.

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Arthur Cynthia Ruchti often leads a critique session. She is always kind and inspiring.

Critiques

Manuscript critiques and appoints with published writers are available. You don’t know what you don’t know or where your writing is weak until you’ve had your pages marked up by a professional.

Grow your network

The conference experience and the continuing education you attain can help you grow your platform and writing credits faster than going it alone.

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Editor Susan Baganz, is a great one to connect with if you are an introvert.

Introverts connecting

I’m told most writers are introverts. (Except for me. 😊 ) Introverts come out of their shell when they are around others who understand them. Fiction writers find kindred spirits who love to talk to their characters. Non-fiction writers interact with others passionate to get the word out regarding things they feel called to write.

Writing is a solitary task. It requires hours alone creating each day. Conferences force us to spend time with like-minded people to refuel and refresh.

Rowena Kuo, Acquistion Editor of Light House Publishing of the Carolinas and I developed a great friendshipover the years that eventual lead to my current contract.always looks casual but classy.

Rowena Kuo is an editor I developed a friendship with over my years of attending conferences eventually leading to my novel publication.

Best reasons

The best connection for future book sales and freelance opportunities are at these events. And the bookstore is jammed full of craft books and CDS. You’ll find the speaker’s books and other conferences work for sale.

Fun, fellowship and education all rolled into one.

Whether you attend a large or small conference the value gained as a writer is priceless.

More to come

Next week I’ll begin a series of post from other writers sharing their best, humorous and ah-ha moments in their conference experiences. You won’t want to miss them.

My favorite conference is Write To Publish click her for more details.

Tell me why you love to attend conferences.

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Click here to purchase

Be Prepared to Make the Sale

DSC_1194I’m in the throes of beginning book sales. While the internet sales go forward I recall what it was like to sell product when I was in an MLM.  I failed to follow through on some of the marketing ideas offered. But the key ones were always having your product and catalogs with you. Adopting that mindset I have a few questions for anyone who’s got a book on the market.

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Do you keep a box of books in your car? How about a bag of books at work? A basket of books on vacation? You should. If you have your books with you and someone asked what you do and express an interest you’re ready to close the deal.

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Are you comfortable asking to have a book table anytime you are asked to speak?  Step out of your comfort zone and do it.

Have you looked for places to sell your books? Craft shows, festivals, art fairs, anywhere vendors sell their wares. Your books should be there. If you don’t believe in you who will.

Looking for and creating open doors is another way to get your name out there as you sell books. Don’t rely on online sales only. Diversify your opportunities. There are still lots of people who love paperback books and often when they meet an author will buy their books. I just arrange a book signing and a mini-workshop about writing at my local library.

Your book is not only your new baby it’s your new business. Treat it like one.

What have you done to prepare to make the sale?

 

 

 

Don’t Leave Money On the Book Table

bank-2029480_640Today I’m going to share a simple marketing tip. It’s sort of a no-brainer. Yet, many writers struggle with it. Last week when I had my book launch I’d read a discussion on Facebook which brought the topic to mind. And as a former MLM sales person I remembered the phrase. “Don’t leave any money on the table.”

My fellow authors were discussing the use of the Square vs the PayPal App on their phones to take debit and credit cards. The idea can be a bit scary if you’ve never done any banking on your phone. You younger writer probably do it without a thought. But for those of us who prefer to see the check deposited at the bank, this is a definite step out of our comfort zone.

The nice thing about the Square or PayPal there is no monthly fee. It’s pay as you go. You use the app and there is a small fee. I have a PayPal account. But I didn’t want to add it to my phone. Why? No idea. I purchased a square. Which is actually free. You get you $10 back after the first use. The phone store I purchased it from explained they had to have a price on it for inventory purposes.

 

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Why did I choose the square? My hair stylist uses it along with a few authors I respect. The recommendations of others is everything.

It is easy to install and easy to use. Be sure to get the Wi-Fi password of the location you’re at before you begin selling books. Or have a hotspot app on your phone for the same thing. This would be true using PayPal app as well.

These apps hold your money and transfer it to your bank after a few days. So, no one can steal any info or your funds.

Keep in mind you’re not only an author but a business owner. Don’t leave money on the table. Once a potential buyer has your book in their hands they need to purchase it. If you don’t take cards and they leave your table, even with a bookmark reminder, they may not ever buy your book.

The reason I recommend either the Square or PayPal is the no monthly fees. Some of you may have found another way. Back in the day when I had a mail-order book business and went to homeschool conventions to sell books I had one of those manual credit card machines. A big hassle. And the automated ones you see in stores and some vendors at craft shows use them have larger fees than these two simple phone apps.

You may be more comfortable with the older technology or the manual method. Either way be sure you give your perspective reader every option to purchase your book.

And I’d like to address one final argument for those of you who refuse to take cards because you don’t want to pay fees. Would you rather sell five books at full price or 20 and pay a small fee?

What device do you use when you have book signings and other events?

 

What I Learned From My Live Book Launch

DSC_1202Last night was my live book launch. Not all authors do them. But for me, it was an opportunity to celebrate with friends, family, and co-workers. I wanted to share with you what I did. There are some basics everyone follows. The biggest of course, selling autograph copies. I’d read that book launches are more successful if they are not in a bookstore. So, I chose the fireplace room at my church. It had more of a living room feel.

S&C - invite postcard for social media(1)I post an invitation on FB multiple times. And passed out invitations to friends and co-workers. My hubby placed them on various bulletin boards in restaurants so perspective readers would be aware.

For the event, I decorated with a few flowers, table cloths that match my book cover. I served cookies and other finger foods along with coffee, lemonade, and water. I kept it simple and avoided crumblier fare like cupcakes.DSC_1208

My hubby set my book trailer to play on a loop. It showed on the big screen in the room during the whole event. That garnered more interest in the story.

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I share a few minute about my writing journey. Had a drawing for items that represented my story. I talked about the significance of each one in relationship to the story. (Each entry provided an email which gave me new names for my mailing list.) I read the first two pages of my book to the attendees.  Then we had a Q & A. The questions were interesting and a few silly. (My grandson who is 18 asked when his name was going to be in my book.)DSC_1196

Then I sat at a table and autographed books. My son took care of the money. I used a square so as not to miss any sales.

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Now I feel more confident about doing signings and other events in the future.

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What I could I have done better?

Advertised sooner and in more places. Mailed out some invitations.

Double check each item before I left. My husband had to run back for a few things before we started. Know the internet password. Fortunately, my son has a phone he can create an internet hotspot so we were saved when it came to square sales. It probably would be wise to look for that option for my phone when I’m out and about selling my paperback copies.

Less is more. I had way to many cookies and brought too many books. But both were an act of faith. Not a bad reason. I’d rather have too much than not enough. 😊

The event was encouraging and the comments from attendees were precious. This is what a real author does. YAY! I am a real author.

Link to my trailer and on the last frame is the link to order on Amazon

Love to hear from you in the comment section about your own book launches. Or any questions you might have.

Suspense or Boring with Linda Glaz

The last post I asked Linda to tell us why she wrote suspense. Today I ask her to share how she does it. Welcome back, Linda. Inquiring minds needs to know.

 

I’d love to be able to tell someone how to get the crazies out of the head and into the story with some kind of structure. But I am…yes…a seat of the pantster.

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I’m a Pantster

And in my case, at least, that makes for one heckuva gigantic PLOT!

I do have a method, and I use it most of the time. When starting a new story, I write a fifty page or so summary. It’s all telling, very little dialogue, but has most of what I want to happen in it. Then I rewrite with dialogue, the five sense, description, and last but not least, character development. And this is where it gets interesting. In fact, the first time it happened, I thought I had completely lost my mind.

It was twenty years ago when I first wrote Blow Out the Candles and Say Good-Bye, my December 2017 release. I had written in a fairly unimportant secondary character who without warning became paramount to the story. He simply took over part of the book. It was satisfying, creepy, and wonderful. Then toward the end, he showed me how very evil he really was. I didn’t expect that for one second. The character I’d planned to fill that slot simply wasn’t crazy enough.

When a character lets me know they aren’t what I’m writing, it goes something like this:

“I’d never kill someone! Are you crazy?” And I think I’ve answered that well enough already.

“Hehehe, fooled even you, the writer. You never saw it coming, did you?” And I’ll discover that he or she is really the evil in the story. That is when that character’s development actually starts. He/she showed me their true personality.

Now, before you slap me in a straitjacket and haul me away, let me say this: writers have hundreds of voices and characters waiting their turn to get out of the writer’s mind and fill the pages. Sometimes, as authors, we simply let the wrong one out at the wrong time. Or, in this instance, at the right time. I had a fairly innocuous character who showed me his evil side, and the darkest malevolence was born, making the story much stronger. I hadn’t planned it, hadn’t intended for him to take such an active role in the story, but take it he did!

So my structure for writing suspense? Take the idea and simply start writing, then as the characters reveal their true inner selves, adjust and write some more. You might find after you’ve finished the entire story that the murderer you picked could never have done such a thing. Don’t try to force the character to fit your mold. GO BACK, and fit the character’s personality to the story, or find another character. One who is much more mad than you’d even planned!

I love plot driven stories. I know, I know. Deep POV and all that jazz. Yes, you need to make those characters sing with a lot of personality and with baggage that make them who they are, even if only alluded to. But for me, it’s the unexpected happening, both with character development and plot that make the reader keep turning pages.

Don’t limit yourself and your ideas, and especially, don’t limit your characters. Let them live their lives. Listen, and discover who they really are. You want your reader to tell you: “I NEVER saw that coming. Really?!?!?” You might surprise us all…

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More About Linda S. Glaz

Linda is an author and agent with Hartline Literary Agency.

She’s married with three children and three grandchildren.

Having served in the Air Force at a time when it wasn’t exactly politically correct for a woman, she blazed many firsts for women in the military. She has taught karate and self-defense for thirty years and was a National instructor and referee for the largest soccer youth group in the US for twenty-five years. She isn’t afraid to try something new.

Before joining Hartline, Linda was a reviewer for online romance sites, a final proofreader for a publisher, and organized and ran two separate writers’ groups. She worked for two years as an editorial assistant to Terry Burns at Hartline.

Linda has two novellas, six short novels, one romantic suspense published, and one to release in 2017. Five more are burning a hole in her hopeful pocket.

She’s a member of ACFW, AWSA, and numerous other writers’ groups. She presents nationally each year at conferences, teas, churches, workshops, and various other venues. She’s also active on social media.

Linda loves to laugh and make other people laugh. There is definitely healing and joy in laughter.

She’s forever on the lookout for ideas that will turn into a suspenseful novel, and as an agent, is always looking for that next great blockbuster novel.

Don’t forget to comment on this post for a chance to win Fear is Louder Than Words.