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?

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.

Bob H

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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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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Three Ways Your Life Experience Can Be Shared With The World

 

Book heart-2

Your true story doesn’t have to be written by you. Check out a professional.

Often I hear from people who learn I’m a writer that they are going to write a book someday. Many people may profess it, but few actually do it. I’ve read a variety of blogs and heard speakers tell of people sharing how everyone says their life should be a book and their story needs to be told to the world. Those bloggers and speakers share helpful hints with their audience on how to determine whether your message should be dispensed in book form.

Because most of my posts for the next two months are going to be reposts of my ten conference tips, I thought this subject blended well. Because at every conference there are people with a passion to get their story told but no idea how. They hope to find an agent or publisher to agree to publish it.

Is this a book of my heart?

There are many things that have happened in my life—true miracles. There are tragedies as well. None of which I have felt at the present are a book of my heart. Some of those experiences take form in some of my characters in my fictional world however. But if one or more of your life experiences burns in your heart to be told, then I’ll help you explore ways to accomplish this.

Scenario one

Let’s pretend for the sake of this blog post that I have had a wondrous experience, and every time I share it people insist I need to write a book.  I’ve never written anything so I find the idea daunting. Yet, the thought takes root in my heart and won’t let go.

Let’s assume I know a writer. And I share my story and my desire to write a book. They smile politely and tell me to take some writing classes to learn the craft. I’m a little offended that they should suggest such a thing. After all, this story needs to be told. I don’t have time to waste on classes. Besides don’t publishers fix your mistakes?

So I attend a writer’s conference with the intent of finding an agent or publisher. I have a handwritten copy of my story and determination on my side. Okay, so maybe I have a typed copy, but it is single spaced. Perhaps I have a copy in 16-point font, single spaced on pink paper all neatly bound in a colorful cover.  A few copies even. You see where I am going with this.  No publisher or agent takes these kind of presentations seriously. There are industry standards which I will not discuss here.

Even though I strike out achieving my original goal, I make a connection. A writer hears my story and suggests I get a ghost writer. She connects me up with a fellow-writer. During a meeting he decides what I need is a writing coach to help bring my story to light.

Another scenario

This time I am joined at my conference lunch table by a magazine editor. I share my story and my battle plan for getting it published. He asks, “Have you ever consider writing an article about your experience.”

“But I want to write a book.” I declare. I am thinking a magazine article would not have the same impact.

“Our magazine has a circulation of 100,000. I’d love to publish your story.”

“Wow! I had no idea.”

 

Heart microphone-2

Sharing your story to groups of people may be another way to get a publishers attention.

Still another scenario

During a break I am trying to decide what class to take when I overhear someone singing the praises of the Speaker class. My curiosity is piqued and I attend. There I discover a new possibility. Speaking in various venues. I learn how to get the word out about the story I want to share. I immediately order all CDs.

 

My point

Book form may not be the best way to get the story of your heart before your desired audience. At least not at first. A magazine has large readership and gives your story a great chance to be read by many more than you may get in book sales. The article or series of articles could get you the attention of a publisher and be the outline for a book. Again, learning the craft of article writing is a must.

Perhaps sharing your story in a speaker’s format is more effective. Some stories are best shared orally. These days it’s easy to place stuff on You Tube or create a podcast to share your story.

A writing coach or ghost writer might be the best way to get your message in book form quickly. Otherwise it is imperative to learn the craft of writing well. And that can take years.

Ghost writer pic-2

Ghost writers and writing coaches may be just the ticket to getting your story told in a compelling way.

Be aware that coaches and ghost writers do this for a living and will expect to be paid. It is worth every penny to give your story its best chance at sales. Many wonderful true stories which have soared to the best seller list were written for the individual by professional writers. Ninety Minutes in Heaven is a great example.

If you have a book in your heart, perhaps these tips will help you decide how you want to share it with the world.

 

I’d love to hear any questions from those who want to get their story out there. And if you’ve successfully shared your life experience to the masses, please tell us about it.

 

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It’s a Struggle to Keep My Writing Torch Lit

Don't let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Don’t let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Like most conference attendees, my heart and mind are on fire with all I’ve learned and the encouragement I received. My I AM A WRITER torch shines so brightly in my soul that it overwhelms every other thought. My world is changed. Sigh!!! Then I drop my things inside my front door—reality hit hard. My mother has called several times. My grandchildren are needy, and there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be done.

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.  Image compliments of morguefile.com

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.
Image compliments of morguefile.com

I want time to decompress. But I spend my first day back with my elderly parents. Calming anxieties, attending to needs and cheering them up. Back home I am hugging grandbabies and cuddling granddaughters while their parents attended to things they need to do. I have a few days to organize myself before I go back to work.

If I let it, my day can return to business as usual. Well, I choose not to. I have projects to complete and new ones to start and this blog to get out on time. I will lock myself in my room and work. I’ll ignore the phone and the knocks on my door by family members. (Well, most of the time.)

I spent a lot of time and hard earned money to make connections toward publication at that conference. I’ve learned valuable things I need to start implementing right away. And I’ve discovered more friends who get my writer’s mind. Yet, it is easy to let my other life, the one full of housecleaning, job responsibilities and grandbabies squash the zeal, bury the plans and deconstruct my conviction that I am a writer.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your  I AM A WRITER flame burning bright. Image from free microsoft clipart.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your I AM A WRITER flame burning bright.
Image from free microsoft clipart.

Over the years I’ve started with baby steps. Scheduling time, even if it’s only a few hours a week to write. Taking reading material with me when I am waiting, pulling out a notebook to write. Even taking my laptop on long trips. I have my email connected to my phone. I can delete unimportant emails during break time at work. I rise extra early to write. Sometimes if my brain is functioning I write at night. Whatever it takes, I will not let life extinguish my writing flame.

The funny thing is—perhaps funny is not the right word—I always had excuses over the years as to why I couldn’t write. I’d lay it aside when life changes came. I’ve slowed my steps toward publication on many occasions. It was simply easier than pressing on. Now, however, I am now busier than I have ever been, yet I am writing more than I ever have. And truly experiencing what it feels like to be a writer.

I will do what it takes to feed my writing flame. How about you?

 

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Conference Tips: Double Checking and Final Thoughts

Double checking to be sure I haven't forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Double checking to be sure I haven’t forgot anything before I leave for the conference.

Today is the first day of the Write-To-Publish Conference. I have spent the last few days making sure I have done everything I encouraged you all to do in my ten tips. I feel I’m as ready to as I can be to get full value out of this week’s conference.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. My tote bag contains all the tools I’ll need. Wait! I need to do a double check. Help me look through my bag to be sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

I’ve removed everything and we can repack it again following my previous conference tip posts.

  1. I have my special business card holder. Let’s look inside. I didn’t forget to put the business cards in there. (Hey, it’s happened before.)
  2. Multiple copies of my sell-sheets for my two novels. Check.
  3. Chapters and summaries (I opted to leave my proposals at home based on my research and experience at previous conferences.) Check.
  4. I have marked the workshops and classes I want to attend.
  5. I’ve done my research and know who I want an appointment with to pitch my stuff.
  6. I have printed copies of my writing clips from magazines, blog posts and e-zines.
  7. I’ve print off a variety of samples. Some I want to pitch and others just because you never know what you wish you’d brought along.
  8. I reviewed the dress code and made sure my wardrobe is appropriate. I’ve broken in my new shoes ahead of time, (Don’t want blisters.)
  9. My notepad and several pens are now safely tucked in my tote as well.
  10. I’ve practiced my pitches (well, you all know I hate doing them.) to try and make them sound smooth and natural.

So, looks like I’m ready. Wait I need to add an umbrella or rain parka; the weather is so unpredictable in Northern Illinois this time of year. I’ve made sure any bills due while I’m away are paid. All instructions for family left behind clearly defined. My phone charger added to my tote. If I were not commuting, I would be double checking my luggage and adding my laptop and its adapter to my pile to haul to the conference. I might opt to take it later in the week anyway.

Eyeballing everything one last time. Looks like I’m ready to go. I’m stoked and nervous even though this is my seventh year attending a conference. Next week I’ll post some highlights and new things I’ve learned.

If you are attending the Write to Publish Conference be sure to look me up. I love to connect with my readers.

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Conference Tip #10 Notes, Books and CDs, OH NO!

Shopping at the conference and having enough paper for note taking are two subjects dear to a conferencees heart. Photo By Charles Huff

Shopping at the conference and having enough paper for note taking are two subjects dear to a conferencees heart. Photo By Charles Huff

Here is my last piece of advice for a successful conference. This answers the biggest quandary writers have at conferences.

Note Taking Needs

I had a friend email asking me how many notebooks she should take to the writer’s conference. My response—one. Think back to high school. It took a few weeks or longer to fill up a spiral notebook with notes from any given class. Most conferences run from two to four days. Often handouts are given with many of these classes. I’ve been given a three ring binder at conferences with outlines to fill in. One notebook or some loose leaf paper to slide in the binder under the classes you are taking is usually enough. If you’re still afraid you won’t have enough paper, then buy a larger notebook. Some people prefer legal pads or steno pads. Whatever you’re most comfortable with.

I’m seeing more people bring laptops and tablets. I find myself editing my notes as I type so I haven’t taken the leap to technology for note taking. But those who have lightening fingers on the keyboard do well with it. This is especially nice if a website is recommended. Once typed in your notes, it usually creates a direct link.

Paper or tablet is up to you. What you do with those notes after the conference is the key. Do you review them throughout the year? Rewrite them to help you remember. Or shove them in a file folder or on a shelf marked 2015 conference and never look at them again? Hold that thought. Determine to take more thorough notes on the things you really find helpful and fewer notes on things you’ve heard before. Hit the highlights and new revelations. Why? You are more likely to review those notes again.

Buy CDS????

Buying the CDs of the conference are a great way to review your notes. A wonderful thing to listen to in the car and if you get MP3 format you can download them to other devices. But as I said in a previous post, don’t buy them if you know you will never listen to them. I have a few of those on my shelf gathering dust. Although you can get a great deal by buying the whole conference, it’s of no value if you never listen to all of them. Buy the ones you really feel you will benefit from.

Some conferences offer CDs from previous conferences. That’s a great way to get information on subjects not covered in this year’s agenda. And the cost is considerably less. Some speakers offer sets of CDs on the subject covered in their class. Often it covers more than the time they were allotted at the conference. Great chance to really grasp the topic.

Books, Books and more Books

There is always a bookstore at conferences. They contain books on every aspect of writing and marketing. Books by the speakers, teachers and other authors attending the conference. I have acquired a large number of books on writing craft as well as autographed copies of novels, devotionals and other fun books. Writers are readers. Successful writers are avid readers. This is a great place to stock up.

Now that you are salivating over the prospect of purchasing books I’ll add—rein it in. Choose carefully the books you buy. Take time to examine the table of content, read the back cover blurb, and check out examples in chapters. Otherwise you may be spending money on duplicate stuff. There are lots of how to books out there. Many contain the same information just presented differently. If you have a book on writing proposals you love, you probably don’t need a second one unless your first one is outdated, you really enjoyed an instructor and he mentioned a book on a related subject that you feel must be great because he said so. Still check it out. Is his writing style as engaging as his speaking style? Do you think the subject would be helpful to you?

If you are on a budget, decide which books you really want to purchase at the conference. Put others on a list to buy later from the author’s website, online or your local bookstore. Sometimes those books on your list never get purchased. Which might prove you really didn’t need all those books after all. And some may come on sale later. Who doesn’t love a bargain?

Newbie list

Rather than sweat bullets as a novice attendee, here is a short list of must haves. Some are general because there are lots of books on the same subject by wonderful authors. But the first few are must-have titles.

2015-2016 Christian Writer’s Market Guide by Jerry B Jenkins (Tyndale)

Writer’s Market (Writer’s Digest)

(These books list lots and lots of markets to submit to.)

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style edited by Robert Hudson (Zondervan) Similar to the AP and Chicago books of style. A great reference regarding grammar, sentence structure and punctuation and other details in professional writing which change with time and cause confusion. Clarity is at your fingertips.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White (Allyn & Bacon) Some feel this book is outdated, but this small volume still has a lot of useful information about grammar and sentence structure.

The rest of my list has no recommendations. Talk with others at the conference and get their suggestions on which books in the following categories they prefer and why.

  1. A book on how to write proposals and query letters. Preferably one with examples and step by step instructions. (I showed pictures of two books I recommend in a previous conference tip post.)
  2. Fiction writers should have books on POV, character development, plot structure, and other techniques for writing fiction. You may have a favorite author who has published this sort of book.
  3. Non-fiction writers should have at least one book on the nuts and bolts of putting together a well-written book.
  4. A book about self-editing and rewriting.
  5. Marketing book that covers lots of different avenues for selling your work. This area is in constant flux and not everything works for everybody. You might decide on more than one if they come at marketing from different angles.
  6. If you write poetry, screen plays, greeting cards or are looking for help on your speaker’s platform then add a book on those subjects to your list.
  7. Fiction writes should buy at least one novel. Studying the style of another writer always helps improve your own. I never buy only one. (grin)
  8. Non-fiction writers should also buy at least one book for the same reason. Choose a book in a similar topic to the one you are pitching -devotional, Bible Study, parenting for example.
  9. A book on how to research.
  10. Pick up a magazine or two either on craft or ones you would like to submit to in the future to study the content.

Final thoughts

Let me mention to fill your tote with anything offered free. Usually its publisher’s catalogs and writing guidelines, bookmarks and backlog magazines. Take one of each and sort through it later. Sometimes it is autographed copies of books.

Don’t feel obligated to buy a book because the author is standing there when you look through it. Same goes for CDS. Enjoy the sale table and keep your notebook handy to create your buy later list.

What do you like to buy at writer’s conferences?

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