Do’s and Don’t of Book Reviews

 

woman reading book

Write a review it takes only a few minutes.

I last posted a how-to article on submitting book reviews on Amazon. Today I thought I’d do a refresher on the concept of a review—specifically reviews on Amazon and other book sale sites. In these reviews, don’t think you must retell the story. The book ad has a blurb describing the content. So, our job as the reviewer is to express to potential readers what we liked or didn’t like about a book.

Our review can be as simple as one line.

“I could not put this book down.”

“I read it in one day.”

“Not my cup of tea.”

None of these one-liners mention the story’s content. But, it’s their honest review. A friend asks you, “Did you see such and such a movie?” Your response might be. “It was cool.” Now if you know this person and you have similar tastes you’ll go see it.

A book review needs a bit more information because many strangers will be reading your comments. Two of the one-liners above tell me the book kept the reader’s attention and the third it didn’t. Add a line or two telling why.

Describe what you loved about it. “I loved not figuring out who done it before it was revealed at the end of the book.” If I am looking for a mystery this is a comment that gets my interest.

“Not sappy. Strong female characters. Interesting twists. More than a simple romance.” I love a romance with more than two people making eyes at each other.  So, this review has my interest.

“I learned so much about life during the Civil War. Well-researched.” I like historicals that are fact filled. I’d consider reading this novel.

Some reviewers copy exact quotes from the book. That is so cool. Tells me the writer is a great wordsmith if the reader is captured by the words enough to quote them.

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What not to review

I read a review of a thriller that I found odd. “Too creepy.” She said. The reviewer added she didn’t like being scared. Not sure why she read a thriller when the whole point is to scare the reader at least a little.

Don’t bother to review a book you haven’t finished. If you do, admit you couldn’t finish it and say why.

Don’t review a book from genre you never read unless you loved it. It’s not fair to the writer. You can’t give an honest review of a genre you don’t like. There are specific ingredients that make up each genre. If you only like pie then cake may never satisfy you even if it has won a blue ribbon.

There are rare occasions when I’m asked to review a book way out of my wheelhouse. And if I am surprised that the content interested me, I mention that in the review. But often, I’ll suggest the author find someone who loves their genre to review it.

Please don’t review a book you have never read because your friend told you it was terrible and ask you to help get the word out. The flip side is true too. Don’t give a 5-star rating to a book your friend loved but you never read it. Honestly, I’ve meant people who are lemmings when it comes to reviews. This is not fair to prospective readers.

Longer reviews

There are those who write wonderful long reviews that compare the book to others in the genre or other titles the author has written. This is helpful to many who follow a specific author.  These longer reviews can often capture the attention of a new readers. If the review of an up and coming Romance novelist is compared to Nicholas Sparks or Debbie Macomber their fans will probably buy the book.

Be kind

But you don’t have to wax poet or long. Just be honest. While you’re at it, be kind. Snarky lines only give you grief. I did that only once. The feedback from the irate author and his fake friends (he wrote more criticisms of me under various names.) was not worth the time it took me to be snarky. We are not Sisko and Ebert getting big bucks to be brash, so keep your criticism mellow.

Misspelling and confusion

Be sure if you mention a character that you have the name right. Someone praised my heroine using the wrong name. It’s easy to do. We get involved in the story and then the names get jumbled in our heads later. Try to have no typos, especially the authors name. Yes, I’ve done that too. I’ve caught myself misspelling a name. Yay for the edit button.

Recap

Be honest.

Be clear.

Be kind.

Be accurate.

Don’t give a bad review for a genre you don’t read.

Don’t review a book you’ve never read.

Don’t retell the story.

Final thought

Please, please, please don’t give spoilers. As much as you want to, don’t tell me the twist details.  Save those comments for your book club.

What are you favorite kinds of reviews when you are considering buying a book?

If you’ve read Secrets & Charades I hope you’ve posted a review. If you haven’t read it yet check it out. There’s a buy link below.

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Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage

Click here to order

Connect with Cindy:

Facebook Author Page: https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cindyervinhuff

Pinterest: yes

Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/117599590227912410637

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8029703-cindy-ervin-huff

Twitter: https:// twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff

How Do I Place A Review On Amazon?

As a new author I often asked those who purchase my novel to please post a review on Amazon. Many will say I don’t know how. And if they are like me they need a visual. This post is for all of us who need very specific instruction to complete a task. In this case post a review.

  1. Write your review in Word. Spell check it then save it. The save part is in case something happens after you write it and before you post it and you lose your review.
  2. Copy review.
  3. Go to amazon.com and type the title of the book you want to review in the search panel.    InkedSecrets Charades Cindy Ervin Huff 9781946016140 Amazon.com Books(1)_LI
  4. Click on the title so you are on the order page.
  5. Scroll to the review area. InkedSecrets Charades Cindy Ervin Huff 9781946016140 Amazon.com Books_LI
  6. Near the review stars you will see a write customer review button.
  7. Click write a customer review and paste your review in the box provided
  8. Choose star rating
  9. Add a snappy title and click submit button.
  10. Tell all your friends on FB that you posted a review.

Now you know. 😊 The next time someone asks you to do a review you can do so with confidence.

Where is your favorite place to post reviews?

Hey, if you’ve read Secrets & Charades and haven’t posted a review please do. If you haven’t read it yet here is the link.secret-charades-front-cover

 

 

 

Two Kinds of Fire at Christian Writer’s Conferences

Today I’m sharing another conference story. A male conference attendee. Male writer’s do attend conferences but they are in the minority. I hope you find Timothy Fountain’s story as inspiring as I did.

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Marlene Bagnull’s Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) is inseparable from the publication of my first book, Raising a Child With Autism.

I attended the conference twice and liken the experiences to two kinds of fire: inspiring (Acts 2:3) and refining (Psalm 12:6).

The inspiring fire came via GPCWC’s guiding mission, “Write His (God’s) answer” (Habakkuk 2:2).  The conference encourages and challenges writers to identify their particular proclamation of Christ and the genre of writing by which to convey it.  All of the writers who lead workshops reinforce this approach.

As the parent of a child with autism, I was in touch with family caregivers’ need for Christ’s comfort, encouragement and hope.  This was the inspiration for my book.

Prayer and worship are organic to the conference, and it wraps up with a service in which the participants write down a commitment of what they are being led to write.  In this way I came away from the conference with more than an idea; I gained an inspired offering to God.

A second trip to the conference brought refining fire, burning away stuff that had more to do with my ego than with God’s purpose for the book.  There were stylistic critiques, of course, but larger than these were two refinements of my vision for the book as a whole.

First, because the conference afforded opportunities to talk with other Christian writers, I was able to express my worry that I couldn’t write the book because I was still in the middle of care giving.  “Maybe I should wait until my son is grown up and placed in residential care, so I can write from completed experience.”

The more seasoned writer’s response burned away that misconception.  “No, no, no,” was her reply, “you’re not writing as ‘the expert.’  You’re writing as a witness to the Lord who is helping you in the middle of this.”

The second refining blaze came when I met Eddie Jones and others from my eventual publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC).  The writing samples I provided them were in memoir form, a factually bland and emotionally overwrought telling of my experiences.  Eddie and his team challenged me to write something more creative, to seek a central metaphor on which to hang the message.

This sent me huffing off to rewrite. The result was sample chapters using amateur gardening misadventures with my wife as symbols of caring for our son with special needs.  I sent these in to LPC and was stunned to open my email one morning to find their offer to publish my book.

The coaching, connections and spiritual component at the conferences were the difference between another ego soaked memoir sitting in a rejection pile and a published book of reflections offering Christ’s care to family caregivers.

More about Timothy Fountain

Timothy Fountain grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California despite having no football skills. After a stint running a jackhammer and then three years in the Army, he abandoned thoughts of a legal career, attended a seminary in New York City, and devoted almost thirty years to Christian preaching. He and his wife, Melissa, and their two sons, one a lad with autism, moved to South Dakota in 2004. Tim continues a life of trial and error as a husband, dad, family care giver, preacher and writer.

Amazon Author Page  https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Fountain/e/B01N1LVF17

Book link https://smile.amazon.com/Raising-Child-Autism-Timothy-Fountain/dp/1938499387/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477353199&sr=8-1&keywords=raising+a+child+with+autism

Book Cover(1)

Blog  https://caregivingstinks.wordpress.com/

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/tfountain1

Twitter @NPASDK

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/fountain0179

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3408348-tim-fountain

 

 

 

Interview with Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Catherine BrakefieldToday I’m excited to welcome Catherine Ulrich Brakefield to Jubilee Writer. She has a new novel I had the opportunity to preview. Swept into Destiny is a wonderful Civil War era novel. It releases May 16th.  I loved the Irish immigrant hero Ben so much because of my own Irish immigrant ancestors. Cathy did some wonderful research to bring this story to life. So, I asked her to come and share about her story.

Cathy, thanks for coming.

My first question is why the Irish? It’s not often we see them in forefront of Civil War fiction.

Swept into Destiny is a work of fiction; however, the story was inspired by my grandmother and mother.

My grandmother was of Irish, English decent with a little of Scottish peppered in for good measure and a hint of Cherokee Indian. Through my grandmother I learned about what the Irish immigrant endured. My grandmother’s ancestors were slave owners way back when, but it was my mother who told me that the Irish did the life-threatening work so the slaves’ lives would not be sacrificed.

Thinking about it, this is understandable. Slaves were expensive and Irish immigrants were a dime a dozen during the 1840s and ’50s!

How much research did you do before writing your novel?

I really began my research in 2005, after my children went off to school and Gran went to live with Jesus. Gran lived with our family for twelve years. I had written down tablets of information and at that time just for my children.  I then asked my mother about certain events, and she encouraged me to write a book.  I decided to write a historical romance and that’s when I began my book research.

You had a few historical characters interact with Ben and Maggie. Tell us why you chose each one and how it added to your story.

Lincoln is my favorite. His dogmatic pursuit for the common man, and not caring what the color of his skin wasn’t popular during the 1850s. But Lincoln stood his ground.  Of course, there was John Brown who had his method of helping the Negro. General Grant, my respect grew the more I researched him. I realized his determination to keep the United States together was his sole objective. And he showed so much of the caring side of his character in his actions at Appomattox. I had to put in George Armstrong Custer, he being from Michigan and the fact that he laid claim to an Irish marching song for his cavalry regiment. Sherman never got better with research in my estimation, but worse. Dr. Isaac Anderson, or Mr. Greatheart as he was often called, had just gone to be with Jesus when Swept into Destiny opens; however, I did find ways of showing his influence on the people of Maryville.

God moves in mysterious ways. I met my husband on a 747 going on a vacation to Hawaii, he was stationed in Oahu in Naval Intelligence and was originally from Birmingham, Alabama. Well, to make a long story short, we ended up marrying.

Through my husband, I learned more about the South that you can’t find in history books. Their southern hospitality, charm, Christian values, and loyalties. Some people didn’t have a true perspective about Lincoln or Grant. I learned that not all southerners wanted to secede from the Union, but joined the Confederacy because of loyalty to the southern cause.

I loved the addition of singing to the Union camp scenes. Where did you find the lyrics for your Irish songs?

My grandmother knew a few songs and in 2000 my husband and I went to Ireland for foxhunting. I gleaned a lot of information about these fun-loving and fearless people. Wow! They can really foxhunt. I have a picture of one Irishman jumping over a stone wall right onto a road! I bought books, and asked questions, and did a whole lot of listening and writing.

Then I accompanied my father with the remnants of his World War II regiment to Gettysburg. Well, what did I see, but a Celtic Cross that stood 19’ dedicated to the Irish Brigade. In my author’s note in the back of Swept into Destiny I explain more about the cross.

Can you share a bit about your story?

One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. But the manor’s serenity is soon threatened by abolitionist John Brown. A new republic looms on the horizon and with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, her countrymen’s anger escalates as secession spreads across the southern states. With the fires of civil war glowing on the horizon, Maggie is swept into its embers realizing she is in love with the manor’s hardworking, handsome Irishman Ben McConnell. Ben joins the Union Army and Maggie is forced to call him her enemy. An unexpected chain of events leads her into choosing where her loyalties lie. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? As the battle between North and South rages, Maggie is torn. Was Ben right? Had this Irish immigrant perceived the truth of what God had predestined for America?

When I finished the book, it felt like there should be a sequel. Is a sequel planned?

Yes! I am excited to say this is the first book of a four-book series, inspired by my grandmother and mother. We will follow the generations beginning in the Antebellum Era, into the Spanish-American War, onto World War I, the Great Depression and World War II.

What motivates you to write?

I write to spread the truth about our Christian-American heritage. I hope to write America’s story one truth at a time.  Americans need to know that this nation is founded upon Christian principles, values, and as the Battle Hymn of the Republic so bravely says, “His truth is marching on … Glory, glory, hallelujah!”

Share your favorite writing tip?

Pray for God’s guidance and for Him to be the orchestrater of your words. Then write, write, write, from your heart and give the glory to Jesus!

What writer has had the biggest influence on you?

As a young girl, Louise May Alcott began my love for books. Jane Austen’s books gave me my love for the poetic language of words. I know the readers now like easier reads with less poetic and less scenery description. However, these books had the greatest influence and my inspiration in my writing.

Thank you so much for dropping by. Before you go can you tell us a bit about upcoming novels?

My next novel is Into Destiny’s Whirlwind and you get a glimpse of the first chapter with your purchase of Swept into Destiny. Into Destiny’s Whirlwind begins in 1898, just before the Spanish American War begins. Each book will have Book Club Discussions Questions for more in-depth study into the historical significance of the times.

More about Catherine

Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing. She is the author of three faith-based historical romances; The Wind of Destiny, Wilted  Dandelions, and the first of a four book Destiny series, Swept into Destiny scheduled for release on May 16, 2017. She has also written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

She enjoys swimming and horseback riding and lives in Addison Township, Michigan, with her husband, Edward, and their Arabian horses. Now that her children are grown and married, she and Edward are the blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and a lovely granddaughter!

See www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com for more information

Her author Facebook page is www.facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield To purchase Wilted Dandelions and Swept into Destiny and for book promotions visit www.CrossRiverMedia.com

We are having a drawing for Swept into Destiny. One lucky reader will receive a paperback copy after it releases on May 18th. So I am running this giveaway until the 18th. That’s 7 days to allow more people  a chance to comment below. Tell us why you’d like a copy of Swept into Destiny. Share this blog on your social media for a second entry. Just leave another message that you spread the word.

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Click here to preorder on Amazon

Interview with Missionary Author Nancy Kelley Alveraz

Nancy Kelley Alveraz has stopped by for a visit today.  I am happy to have her here. She is serving as a missionary in the Philippines, a place near to my heart. Her novel The Butterfly Impact is set in the Philippines. I love the idea of giving American readers a sense of what the world is like outside our borders while sharing your heroine’s story.  

I’ve got sweet rice and Tang to commemorate the day. Two of the often-served treats when my hubby and I ministered there. So, let’s settle in and get on with our interview.

Nancy, tell us about yourself.

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Nancy Kelley Alveraz

 

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan but also lived in Wheaton, Illinois and Orlando, Florida. I came to know the Lord when I was a teenager crying out to God for purpose and love. He responded in a slow and steady way to bring me to the place where I could understand His love and purpose. The church I attended taught me much about mission work and my heart was drawn to helping others know Him.

After college, I was asked to go to the Philippines as a short-term missionary which stretched to 3 yrs. I fell in love with the people and my eyes were opened to how many people around the world live in poverty. I knew God was calling me to continue on this journey. After graduate school and 4 years in Japan I ended up back in the Philippines as a 39 yr old. I struggled as a single missionary but God had special plans for me. And that’s what the book is about.

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Nancy and her husband.

 

Tell us a bit about your novel.

Raina made a mess of her life. Now guilt and grief follow her everywhere. While picking up the pieces of her life God calls her to take His love and truth to others—in a distant land. Can she cope with a new culture, language, home and friends? Or will her insecurities drag her deeper into loneliness.

As a caterpillar goes through the metamorphosis from worm to delicate butterfly so is the journey from a shameful past to living in the freedom God intended. It can be a tortuous process . . . but for Raina, it’s worth it!

Laugh, cry and rejoice with Raina as God’s healing love gives her courage to do more than she ever dreamed possible.

This fictionalized story is based on real life events

 

What prompted you to write Butterfly Impact?

I wanted to give God the glory for the wonderful things He did in my life. I also want people to see how God can take a shy, ordinary girl with weaknesses and failures and use her for His purposes. This is my story, a fictionalized version.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

When we fall we should not lose hope. Difficulties are God’s opportunity for growth and unexpected outcomes. Don’t be afraid to take risks if God is leading you.

 

Do you have other books or WIP you’d like to mention?

My husband and I are involved in an Oral Bible Story ministry with Cru International (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) called Story Runners and we bring Bible stories to people of different cultures in Southeast Asia and train nationals to reach out to unreached people groups through this oral culture method. I also have a huge passion for those oppressed through human trafficking and all its ugliness. So I’ve combined the two and compiled stories from the Bible and modern-day stories into a Bible study booklet called Life Hope.

Give my reader’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found invaluable.

Don’t lose the magic of writing by worrying about all the technical do’s and don’ts.

More about Nancy Kelley Alvarez:

Nancy Kelley Alvarez refuses to let her introverted personality keep her from sharing with others God’s stories of love and truth. Starting in college she stepped out in faith to go where God called her and she hasn’t stopped yet.

She serves with Cru International in a ministry called Story Runners, telling God’s amazing stories and training others to share them with those who would otherwise have no access to His Word. Her passion for women, especially those touched by human trafficking, drives her to find creative ways to reach out. She and her husband Al, live in Quezon City, Philippines with their sweet little dog Bingo. Look for the next book in this series, coming soon.

 

I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you. How can my readers find you?

Facebook: Nancy Kelley Alvarez

Email: pnalvarez@yahoo.com

If you’d like to order Butterfly Impact click on the link below.

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https://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Impact-Unexpected-Courage-Transformation-ebook/

If you’d like to receive Jubilee Writer in your email please register. Thanks so much for coming along with me. My readers mean a lot to me.

 

 

 

Navigating Submission Guideline

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Submitting to publications is daunting. And if done wrong discouraging. Some of the biggest mistakes for novices are not following basic submission guidelines. Whether you are submitting to a magazine, periodical, blog, book publisher or agent there are basic guidelines everyone needs to know and follow.

We’ve all heard over and over read the submission guidelines before querying a publication. For my purposes today, I am assuming you are doing that.

Sometimes the instructions can be confusing and we wonder if we can do things differently. The answer is a resounding NO! NO! NO!

Your words will get delegated to the bottom of a very large slush pile or deleted.

Attachments

Send your manuscript as an attachment. This means do not put your manuscript in the body of the email. There is usually a paperclip icon or an attach button somewhere in your email template. Click that. Your computer files will pop up. Pick the file you which to attach. Once it is in the box for sending click to open button and it will transfer your file as an attachment to your email.

This also goes for bios and photos.  If it says attach don’t place them in the body of the email. Once they are in the body it is hard to extract them and place them where they are needed on a web page or magazine page. Jpegs for photos and book covers are the easiest to work with. Unless the contact asks for a press release, one sheet or other document that has the photos and bios on the same page send each item separately as an attachment.

Links

If the publisher wants links to your work or social media find the web address for your links and place them where the publisher has requested. Send your URL. Make sure the links work. If you have samples of your writing not on a website. Send samples as attachments.

Correctly title attachments

I may have an article title CC V2. If I send it to a publisher with this title it will never see the light of day. Because that title means nothing to them. But if I rename that file Coffee Caper by Cindy Huff or Flash Fiction Coffee Caper or Cindy Huff Coffee Caper FF it makes it a lot easier for the editor to find my submission in the sea of other manuscripts.

Often publisher’s guidelines state exactly how they want your attached manuscript labeled. Be sure you rename to before attaching and pressing the send button.

Photo sizes

If you are attaching photos, book covers or head shots be sure to check the size requested. Do your best to provide exactly what they needed. A too large photo has to be resized. A too small photo may not be usable if it must be enlarged. The pixilation becomes blurred as it is resized.

Formatting

Most often the formatting of a manuscript of any kind is Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced. Articles are left margin justified (no indenting) with two spaces between paragraphs. Fiction is first line left justified for first line of chapters while all other paragraphs are indented (Not space bar five times) with tab set at 0.5. Margins all around should be 1.0 all around except a book manuscript where the first page is 3 inches from the top.

Check the publisher’s style guide for specific formatting instructions.

Submitting directly on websites

Some websites such as Chicken Soup for the Soul have a specific page for submissions on their website.  You fill our your personal information and cut and paste your article into the space provided. Some have you attach your manuscript on to their form. If a publisher has a submission page never send your story via email.  They will delete it without reading it.

If you don’t follow the directions provided in the guidelines to the letter your work won’t even be read.

Word count

If the publisher requests 600 words don’t send 601. Often, I have read in the Q & A section of many publisher’s guidelines there is always the question will you take a manuscript that is longer than your acceptable word count. And with rare exceptions it is usually a resounding NO. Be sure your offering doesn’t exceed the word count.

Deadline

Never send anything after the deadline. You are wasting your time and not being professional. Unless the publisher gave you the assignment and you have their permission to submit late, don’t do it. There are periodicals and publishers who only take submissions during specific months. If that submission period for example falls between April and July. Don’t send anything in early either.

Submitting reworked pieces

Some publications will allow you to remove a submission and replace it with a newer version. Don’t even think about changing out your submission unless it is stated in the instructions.

SASE and contact info

Few publications ask for a self-addressed stamped envelope anymore. But if you need to submit by snail mail be sure you include an envelope with appropriate postage for your piece.

Electronic submissions must have your name, email and phone number in the cover letter or wherever the editor requests it be placed. If you fail to do this your words will be rejected because they have no way to contact you. And no they aren’t going to search the web for your identity because they must buy your book. It will never happen.

hook-881443_640Double check

Before you press the send button, or seal the envelope be sure you have followed every step laid out on the website.  Only after you are confident you haven’t missed anything should you press submit or lick the envelope.

A final thought

Whether you are writing for a magazine with a huge subscriber base or a friend’s blog always be professional when submitting. It will make the editor or blog hosts job so much easier.  And the possibility of being published is much greater.

What’s the most confusing thing you have found in submission guidelines?

 

 

 

The Tragedy of 2014 – A Conference Story

Patricia Beal took a bold step in the midst of tragedy while at a conference. I can’t even imagine the strength God gave her to reach her goal.

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My grandmother died on the first night of my first ACFW conference, the one in St. Louis in 2014. My mom called me soon after the last spotlight session. It was almost midnight in Brazil, where I’m from and where it’d just happened. Back home people get buried fast, so I knew there was nothing I could do.

The following day my mom gave me the website of the funeral home, and in the afternoon, I would be watching the cremation ceremony online. I didn’t want to do conference anything—I was a mess. But I had a 10:15 editor appointment with Amanda Bostic, editorial director of fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and my mom urged me to go. “It’s fifteen minutes,” she said.

So I got dressed, got my folder, and I went. I knew I looked like I’d cried all night, so I told her what had happened, but also said I was glad I’d got it together and that I was there—ready to pitch. I jumped right into pitch mode, and the pitch was good, praise God.

Amanda was so sweet and caring. She gave me her card and asked me to email the proposal to her after the conference. She urged me to meet as many agents as possible while in St. Louis, because even if she liked the proposal, she would need me to have an agent. Then she asked if she could pray with me. She reached for my hands and prayed for me and for my family. And I was so touched. And she was so touched. I will never forget that moment.

That afternoon, I watched my grandma’s funeral online from my hotel room. Not a good day. But with the conference worship events and the prayers sent my way, I woke up well on Saturday and booked tons of extra pitches, all with agents, like Amanda said I should. I just kept getting back in line and pitching to anyone who had an opening. I pitched to each of the four agents in Mills 9—it was pretty comical. I finished the day with five agents interested in seeing my proposal.

Two weeks after the conference, Les Stobbe offered to represent me.

Amanda ended up sending us a rejection, but I will always remember her compassion, and I credit her for the sweet blessing of having Les Stobbe in my life. I wouldn’t have an agent today if she hadn’t urged me to meet as many agents as possible while at the conference.

 

Something else happened because of St. Louis 2014. During a break in my Saturday agent-appointment marathon, I went to a class and sat next to a young woman with a weird dream. She’d just finished a masters in technical writing and was looking for a job editing fiction—her passion in life. Edit away! Have fun! We exchanged cards. A year and a half later, I got an email from her saying she’d been working for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and had just been promoted to managing editor of one of their newest imprints. She’d been following me on social media since we’d met, loved everything about my online presence, and was dying to see my proposal. Two weeks later she requested the full manuscript, and in four days my agent had an offer.

Praise God for orchestrating these meetings that comfort us and move us closer to His perfect will.

So, if your conference gets out of control, don’t sweat it. God’s still in control. Really 😉

About Patricia:

Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, comes out on May 9, 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). The pre-order link is up!

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.FinalCover

Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/bealpat

Facebook – www.facebook.com/patricia.beal.author

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/patriciasbeal

Twitter – www.twitter.com/bealpat

Web – www.patriciabeal.com

 

What difficulties did you have to deal with on the home front while attending a conference?