Writer’s Conferences have evolved

Last week I attended the Write To Publish conference. And I’ve watched it evolve over the decade plus I’ve been an attendee. Most conferences have followed the same pattern of evolution according to some friends who attend various ones across the country.

Then:

Back in the day everyone brought paper copies of proposals and articles along with ready pitches memorized. I had a three-inch notebook with sleeves to hold all my clips and proposals. Before that, I had six copies of my proposal, each in its own thesis binder.

I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

Now:

This past week I had three folders. One had one-sheets and the other two were copies of my proposal. Two publishers requested my proposal to be emailed to them. And every magazine I pitched to did not even want to look at clips. Instead they’d prefer emailed articles.

Then:

Two contests

Now:

At this year’s conference there were more contests to enter for several genres—for both published and unpublished writers. Contests are a great way to support a conference and give authors and would-be authors wonderful accolades. Entering contests for unpublished authors challenges entrants to polish their work and practice submitting according to guidelines. For those of us who are published and win, it adds credentials to our by-lines that open more doors for future publication.

Then:

Ninety-nine percent of the classes offered were about writing in a variety of genres including articles and poetry. One class on proposals and query letters.  Another on marketing and over time one on marketing using the internet which evolved into social media. A class or two on a speaker’s platform usually rounded out the schedule.

Now:

Classes on website building, blogging and successful marketing on a myriad of platforms are offered alongside fiction and nonfiction writing classes, including articles both for the web and periodicals but no poetry. Speech classes cover more than live talks, adding podcasts and YouTube videos. A writing career is more than putting words on paper, and conference class offerings are reflecting that more and more.

Always the same

One aspect of conferences that hasn’t changed is the kinds of attendees. You will see the alumni who network with faculty and conferees alike with grace and encouraging words. Among them are the returning unpublished alumni showing more confidence from their experience in the past, anxious to reconnect with friends who get-them as a writer. And the first-timers whose faces are overshadowed with a bit of terror as they look around at a room of strangers.

 

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Jodee Starrick and I became BFF after meeting at a conference a few years ago.

 

By the end of the conference those newbies have found friends and made valuable connections and those of us who attended every year are encouraged and refreshed with a notebook full of notes and requests for our words.

How have you seen conferences change? How are they the same?

 

 

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Book signing and a Class Reunion

When my husband first signed us up to attend his 50th class reunion, he suggested I do a book signing at the local library. I was hesitant because library things can often be a bust. People go to the library to borrow books, not buy them. But I wanted to honor my husband’s request. He announced it on his class website and kept them in the loop. I was listed as an event for the class along with other activities that day. I’d placed a press release in the town paper to be sure others knew about it.

 

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My book signing visitors.

 

The library is a transformed school. My wi-fi connection for my square wouldn’t work in the old structure. We arrived early and set up, book trailer playing on the laptop, nice table cloth, bookmarks and posters. My table was in an out of the way place. That concerned me. As I said libraries are not the best places for book signings.

 

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Signing books

 

At the start time people came. To my surprise and delight my husband’s cousins had driven up from Arkansas to participate in the book signing.  Salem, Illinois is four plus hours from their homes in Arkansas.

An 80-year-old from a neighboring town had seen my press release in the paper. Judy Trader had never been to a book signing and decided she was coming. Two of Charley’s classmates came as well.

 

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80 year old Judy Trader at her first book signing

 

I did a reading from both books, and we had a wonderful time of discussion. Everyone bought both my books, which is always a plus.

 

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Reading from New Duet

 

That evening at the reunion festivities, the MC announced I was there with my books, and I sold several more sets. I guess being a woman in her sixties achieving her dream made me a celebrity. A strange feeling indeed. I sat at our table and classmates would come up and purchase signed copies. No special table covering, no fanfare. Another new experience. And thankfully my square found a connection in that location.

 

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Charley and I at the pre-reunion gathering where they insisted I needed to bring my books to the reunion festitivties the next night.

 

Everyone signed up for my newsletter because they wanted to keep up with my writing journey.

I almost refused to do it because I didn’t want to distract from Charley’s reunion festivities. But he was as excited as I was over the response. Visiting with his cousins later after the book signing was an unexpected treat.

I plan on taking other opportunities to present my books in new and different venues. Maybe my own 50th reunion, five years from now.

 

Where are some unusual places you’ve had book signings?

An Interview with the Hero of New Duet Dan Sweeney

As promised, I have Dan Sweeney, the hero of my latest novel New Duet. And once again we’ll be talking about some interesting factoids that may not have made it into the novel.

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Welcome Dan, or should I call you Daniel?

No ma’am, the name is Dan. Dad never liked long names. Then Uncle Paul told me an Old Testament character was named Dan. I had a heck of a time convincing teachers and the army that Dan was my legal name.

If you hadn’t mentioned the army, I’d have guessed it by the ma’am address. Is that where you lost your leg?

No, ma’am. I left my fingers in Afghanistan and shards from an IED explosion cut my cheek. I lost my leg in the good old USA. You’ll need to read the novel to get the whole story. God only knows why I’m not dead and only lost my leg. I’m grateful for the second chance. I’d planned a career in the army so it’s taking time to readjust to civilian life and my disability. It’s harder than anything I did while in uniform.

Tell us a bit about Brutus.

Even though I tell myself I don’t need a service dog, I do. Brutus keeps my panic attacks at bay reducing my need for meds. He helps me if I fall. Super dog, Brutus knows how to perform tasks beyond my needs. Which is at times annoying. He was trained for a boy with severe disabilities who died. Brutus has bonded with me. He seems to know my thoughts. He’s a great companion but his manners around women need work.

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I understand you have a home in Aurora you’re fixing up. Why Aurora?

My uncle lives in Aurora. I’m not close to my sister, and my folks passed. I graduated from East Aurora High School, so it made sense to find a place there. I’ve been working on it every leave I had for three years. Then I had the accident. My buddy Steve and a few friends rehabbed the bathroom and some doors to make my ranch home handicap accessible. I won’t let them do any more. It’s my house, my project.

How’s your social life?

You sound like Steve. He grilled me on it hard one day. Tried his hand at matchmaking. And I’m not saying anymore, ma’am. Any further reference to my social life is on a need to know basis. Only those who buy New Duet will be upgraded to need-to-know status.

Clever, Dan, very clever way not to reveal too much of the plot. What’s been the hardest thing for you since you got out of the service?

Adjusting to a lost leg and a lost career. I’m back in college with a bunch of kids and it’s not easy. But good friends, a supportive family, my goofy dog and a special someone makes the adjustment easier.

 

Thanks for giving us a peek into your world.

Here’s the link to the book trailer.

New Duet is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon. You can request it at any bookstore and it’s also available to order online at Barnes & Noble. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss future posts with interviews of real people and information on other writerly stuff.

 

 

How to Throw a Facebook Book Launch Party

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Tomorrow is my Facebook Book Launch party for my newest release, New Duet. This is my second time doing a launch party. I thought I’d share for those who’ve never had one or never participated as a guest in a Facebook Book Launch Party what it’s all about.

What is it

Launch Parties are an opportunity to both celebrate and sell your book. It’s a party without refreshments but full of fun. Like any party it needs planning. Invitations, prizes, decoration (a banner) and games.

 

Invitation-Event page on Facebook and social media announcements on all platforms

Create an event page and share it with all your friends. FB gives you step by step instructions for creating the event. Design a banner to grab attention. There are templates for FB size banners.

New Duet Release Banner

Be sure to send out the invitations to the event at least a week ahead. Then announce it a few more times before the event. Send out ticklers by talking about the prizes and show the cover.

Create a meme for twitter and other social media to announce your party also.

What to do during the Facebook Party

Here are the kind of games that make the party fun: Book trivia questions, drawings, author trivia, and background about the creation of the story. These games get the guest to comment. And comments are what make a Facebook party.

Be sure you have trivia questions or talking points already typed out, so you can cut and paste in comments to create interaction with your guests quickly. Cut and paste eliminates typos due to nerves.  Take pictures of each item that is being given away in advance too. Every fifteen, twenty or thirty minutes (depending on the length of your party) have prize drawings.

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Trivia questions are easy to do. I usually do multiple choice or true/false questions. My guests don’t need to have read my book before they can answer questions. The idea of the party is to pique interest in my book and add followers.

Help

Have someone keep track of all those who commented so their names can be entered in the drawing. At the end of the party or the next day on the party site post the winners. Request the winners send you a PM or email with their address or email (depending on the prize).

Have your street team comment and ask questions during your Q & A in the last portion of your party. This keeps the other guests engaged. Think through possible questions and have answers prepared so you can cut and paste the answers and worry less about typos or foggy brain.

New options

This time I’m planning on using Facebook Live to visit my guests in person and read a portion of New Duet.  We will see how that goes.

I’ll be showing my book trailer as well. It’s is awesome.

Hope to see some of you there tomorrow too.

Those of you who have had experience with Facebook Book Launch parties tell me how you party and engage your guests in all the fun.

 

 

 

An Interview with Candee Fick

Today Candee Fick, fellow-LPC author is with me today. I enjoyed her debut novel Dance Over Me and today, along with getting to know her, she’ll share  her newest release Focus on Love.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The seeds for my writing journey began at age four when I first learned how to read and unlocked the power of imaginative stories. As an avid reader, I found a happy escape inside the pages of a book and often found myself inventing alternate endings or adventures for my favorite characters. However, there came a time when I found the latest book unsatisfying and soon began dreaming new stories of my own.

Of course, once I deliberately began to write for publication rather than personal entertainment, I quickly discovered how much I had to learn! While fiction was my passion, my first published works came through non-fiction articles and books. However, once I mastered bits of the fiction craft, I haven’t looked back. Multiple attempts at the ACFW Genesis contest eventually led to a victory and finally my first fiction contract.

What is your latest published project?

My latest project, Focus On Love, was released on February 13th of this year, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It tells the story of a photographer-turned-actress who meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold. When he shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. While perfectly okay as a standalone the picks up right where Dance Over Me left off (and I’m thrilled to say I’ve just officially signed a contract for the third book of the series.)

Focus on Love cover from LPC

How do you research for your book?

With contemporary settings, most of my research revolves around the professions of my characters. For example, Liz is an actress at a dinner theater and they are about to present White Christmas followed in a few months by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  I needed to know how many people would be in the cast for each, character names, songs in the stage version, and so on. Since Liz and Ryan are both photographers, I needed to research specific types of camera lenses, wedding photography, and then created a fictional magazine publishing empire to hire Ryan.

What inspired you to write your book?

This particular book came to life while writing a previous story about Liz’s roommate Dani. While weaving bits of her character into the narrative, I found myself wondering more about what made her tick. Why did she hold God at arm’s length? If she was so good at photography, why was she an actress instead? And finally, what would it take to change her mind? Once I got to know Liz, her story just had to be written.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

At first, my desire to create fictional worlds for readers was purely for the entertainment value. I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. But then I found spiritual truths about God creeping into the storylines as my characters struggled with the obstacles they faced. Suddenly, I wanted to show authentic Christians wrestling with the tough issues against the backdrop of God’s unfailing love. That’s when writing became more of a calling.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I’ve got several favorite verses that have carried me through difficult times in the past. But the most recent actually inspired The Wardrobe series: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) For me, this verse paints a comprehensive picture of God’s unfailing love. Dani discovered that God never left her and in fact rejoices or dances over her. Liz’s fears are quieted with God’s love. And soon Gloria will learn that God sings and then begins to sing a new song herself.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

It’s a long journey so don’t lose heart. But it’s a journey full of personal discovery and some of the most amazingly supportive people you’ll ever meet along the way. Just keep writing…and reading…and learning. And never lose the joy that made you want to write in the first place. If you don’t love your story and characters, no one else will.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband tries to be supportive, but bless his heart, he only reads the Bible and the sports page. For me, my local writers’ group has become that vital foundation. At every monthly meeting, we start off by sharing what’s new in our writing worlds. My goal has been to always have something to say that shows my progress. That accountability and group of cheerleaders keeps me coming back to the keyboard on the rough days.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I read it all as long as it’s clean and the favorite of the week depends on my mood. Sometimes I need a little adventure with a YA dystopian tale or romantic suspense or mystery. Other times, my real life is a tad too chaotic by itself and I crave the escape into a simpler historical or fairy tale retelling. Romance and romantic plot threads are always high on my list but the setting and genre can vary widely.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I recently co-sponsored two trips to a castle to teach middle schoolers about writing fiction. While most of the day was consumed with teaching and mentoring and chaperoning…I still got up early and headed to the library to write every morning. My imagination could simply dance across the page and I wish I could always write there!

However, in real life, I write either at the desk in my office before the family wakes up…or at Starbucks while my daughter is at work nearby. Both seem “literary” to me but are also places where my muse knows to show up and help me get words on the page.

More about the author:

Candee Fick is a multi-published award-winning author. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Focus on Love teaser:

Get free first chapters: http://eepurl.com/1OSfH

Check out her other books:

Find all of her books: https://www.amazon.com/Candee-Fick/e/B0056B94VE/

Visit her:

http://www.CandeeFick.com

BLURB for Focus On Love:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016411/r

Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but a career on the stage remains second to a career behind the camera. The possibility of a one-show contract means she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home, and her dreams of pursuing professional photography reemerge. With photography and theater opportunities unfolding before her, Liz faces her biggest challenge yet—listening to her heart.

Meanwhile, sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away so he can begin building a family of his own. With professional opportunities and personal obligations pulling at him, Ryan faces his toughest challenge—balancing family, relationships, and work.

If given the choice, what dreams would develop for Liz and Ryan? And will they learn to trust each other enough to focus on love?

 

Why I Set My Novel in My Hometown

 

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Aurora, Illinois has the Fox River flowing through downtown

 

 

The idea for New Duet ruminated in my mind for a while before I chose a setting. During that time, my husband and I went to a First Friday celebration. (Aurora, Illinois has fun events downtown every first Friday during the summer, starting in May and runs until September.)  The theme for that Friday was spotlighting local artists.

 

My husband and I walk around downtown visiting art galleries and stores, bars and restaurants that featured artists and photographers’ offerings from Aurora and surrounding areas.

 

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Isabell Wilson is inspired by this sculpted water fountain called The Dancing Stones

 

When we visited some artist’s studios, I knew my characters would meet in Aurora. Isabella has an art degree from a Chicago art school and yet, she married a music minister and never create art again.

Isabella needs to rebuild her life after her husband’s untimely death. Resurrecting her art muse in a city that supports the arts was a perfect plot twist.

 

Aurora has a diverse ethnic population of over 200,000. Museums, fun restaurants and the beautiful Fox River gave me scene settings—not to mention possible date opportunities in Chicago, 70 minutes to the lake shore by car. The local college and wonderful local architecture play a part in my story.

 

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The Paramont Theater a great place to see Broadway quality productions

 

The biggest challenge for me is I’m directionally challenged. My sweet hubby double-checked all my physical references and made sure they were on the correct street and my characters were headed in the right direction.

An extra bonus to placing my setting in Aurora are local book signings. I’ll be signing books at If These Walls Could Talk this summer.  This lovely framing store is also a gallery for local artists to display their work.

 

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If These Wall Could Talk Framing and Gallery

 

A wonderful scene in New Duet takes place in that shop. The co-owner and gallery manager, Jennifer Rauch was happy to feature me on…drum roll… First Friday in August. What a great cycle of creativity.

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If any of you are in the Aurora area the First Friday in August come by and say hello. I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes things from New Duet in future posts. Don’t miss out. Subscribe.