The Impact of Writing Conferences on My Life

Today, Roger E. Bruner is sharing his conference story. I love the fact it took him years but he stayed faithful to his goal of attending annually and the blessings that followed.

Roger B&W

When I first started writing novels, I didn’t question whether conferences were worthwhile; I didn’t know they existed. I found out, though, and I’ve make it a practice to attend at least one each year for the past ten or eleven years, even when money was tight.

I can always learn something helpful at conferences. At seventy, I still want to become the best writer I can.

But what has sold me on conferences more than anything else—what has impacted my writing career like nothing else—occurred at one of my earliest conferences. I had an appointment with an editor from Harvest House. I don’t recall which manuscript I pitched, but she asked for sample chapters, and—thankful for her interest—I sent them to her as soon as I got home.

Time to wait and wonder.

Can you imagine my surprise several weeks later—no, not the offer of a contract—when I received email from a different Harvest House editor, one who liked my sample chapters but regretfully informed me that HH didn’t publish anything in that genre. She was very encouraging about the quality of my writing, however, and we periodically exchanged messages. (We still do.)

Every once in a while, I asked if I could send a sample of something to get her opinion, and she was always gracious about doing that. And that’s what happened in June of 2008 when she said, yes, please send her three chapters of Found in Translation. I had recently scrapped the first fifty pages and rewritten the beginning—thanks to advice from James Scott Bell at a recent writers conference—and felt good about the changes I’d made.

On Tuesday, she said she hadn’t been able to put those chapters down and to please send more; I emailed her the whole manuscript. On Friday, she told me to read her message from the bottom up. It was a series of forwards and responses.

She’d been so impressed she sent the manuscript to Mr. Terry Burns (retired now from Hartline Literary), who agreed that Found in Translation needed to be published and became my first agent without my ever having communicated with him.

How unbelievable that an editor at a publishing house that couldn’t use my novels would do something like that!

Within a year, Terry had obtained a contract for Found in Translation with Barbour Publishing. Barbour had been interested in starting a Young Adult line, but hadn’t seen anything they considered suitable until they saw my manuscript. Talk about timing that was beyond my control…

This journey to first publication was a God-story. A God-sized snowball that began its downhill roll from an expert writing instructor’s advice at one conference and a fifteen-minute interview at a different writer’s conference.

God may not use your conference experiences to impact your writing the same way He did mine, but when you get further down the road, I believe you’ll be able to look back and see what an important role conference attendance played.

Rosa No-Name (small)

 

Biography

Roger Bruner spent his whole work life trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up. Along the way he taught school, interviewed job seekers, and programmed computers. He retired from a temporary stint at Target to write full-time and wishes he could have done that years earlier.

He has four published novels and eight manuscripts that are still looking for a home. He’s also published two small books containing his shorter writings, many of which may be read at RogerBruner.com. His website also contains audio and video recordings of many of his original songs.

A guitarist and songwriter, he’s in the church choir and plays bass in the praise team and guitar at a nursing home ministry. Long interested in missions, he’s gone to Romania, England, Wales, Australia, and Nicaragua on short-term mission trips.

Roger likes spending time with his wife, Kathleen. He has a daughter, who lives with her family in Orlando, and stepdaughters in New York City and Las Vegas.

He enjoys reading, photography, web design, and playing Words with Friends.

Website, Blogs, and Social Media Links

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.

The Suspense Writer: Smart and Witty or a Tad Crazy?

After I read Fear is Louder than Words I knew I had to invite Linda S. Glaz to Jubilee Writer. Her suspense novel kept me so engaged. The stalker remained a mystery until the last few chapters. I asked her why she loves to write suspense.

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Do you have to be sassy and smart, or a bit crazy to write really good suspense?

The jury’s still out on me!

I’m the person who loves to watch/read about really bad characters that you love to hate. I know, that says something very strange about me, but I write suspense! So is that all right?

I have always enjoyed the journey of digging into a really bad character, wondering and, hopefully, making the reader wonder just what makes the crazy tick. For me, that’s an adventure. I love leaving tiny hints and trails for the reader to discover. I’m enthralled with digs into the character’s psyche. I’m one of those who wormed into Hannibal Lecter’s head to find out WHY? Why, oh, why would anyone be so disturbed?

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Can you see the smile on my face right now? Thank goodness…

You see, it’s like the roller coaster. It scares the dickens out of you and then brings you safely home. A good suspense novel will do the same. It will scare you until you’re listening to every creak and groan in the house, but once finished, you’ll be safe at home again.

I love it!

Let me give you hint at a really disturbed character from my Dec. 2017 release, Blow Out the Candles and Say Good-Bye:

 

Rural Wisconsin, 1983

The little demons’ cries roused the snake that gnawed at Laura’s gut. They’d better shut up soon or she’d lose the phony smile and shut them up Laura style.

She swallowed hard to push the snake down … down … down. Back where it belonged. Laura grasped the steering wheel with tight-knuckled hands and stared into her rearview mirror. Her eye twitched, but she jerked a finger up and stopped the rhythmic pulsing.

Six girls, all aged five save the youngest at four, clung to one another in the backseat. Grasping little monkeys with fearful wide eyes and noses dripping snot all over their clothes.

She jammed a fist against her temple.

The sixth girl, Cassandra, no, Amanda, glared at Laura. Her sharp stare and crossed arms dared the snake to unwind and strike, but only Laura allowed that. Not some stupid little monster who didn’t know her place.

Laura cleared her throat and shifted her gaze to the miles of hypnotizing asphalt ahead. No brat was going to sidetrack her.

 

I like to believe that each human born has the capacity for good…or evil. I’ve seen it and wondered just what makes a person choose the other path…the dark side as it were. For most of us we all fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Hopefully doing our best to be good, to be caring and compassionate. But what creates in a man or woman the inability to see past their own desires? THAT is what intrigues me, and that is what makes for good suspense…I hope. Since my next novel depends on it.

You need good characters who find themselves trapped. You can add that delicious taste of romance or not. Up to you. But you need to have them tormented and on track to discover the bad guys before their own lives are in jeopardy. If it’s romantic suspense, it works best if the two of them are on the path together.

I, personally, like to use multiple points of view in my suspense. I believe it lends itself to building the sense of fear. But that’s just me. You might like the more traditional POV.

Let me leave you doubting my sanity with one more snippet of our antagonist twelve years later:

…She cackled then slapped a hand over her mouth as their boring, pleading prayers filled the room.

“Please God, bring Mommy and Daddy back.”

“Why doethn’t Mommy want me anymore?”

“Di’Mommy really die, God? Why’d you let her die?”

Enough. But with melodramatic compassion, she forced a teardrop to the edge of her eye. “Poor, precious darlings. Tomorrow morning we’ll go through Minneapolis on our way out. We’ll be shopping for new toys and clothes. You can pick them out yourselves. Won’t that be fun? But first, you all have to snuggle in for the night. Warm and comfy like little bugs in a rug.” She forced her lips to curl up at the edges like a beauty queen, as if cameras captured her every move. Just like college where she’d performed each ingénue role to perfection.

She twisted back, her lips pulling tight. What was that smell? Had one of them peed her pajamas? Sick. If the brat did it again, she’d slap her into a diaper. Being upset didn’t give anyone permission to pee themselves.

Mother had taught her that.

There are rules! And rules must be obeyed!

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, it’s time for my medication. Hehehehe…

 

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Linda, you are such a hoot. I love the snippets of your new book. Just creepy enough to grab my interest.  I’ve decided to invite you back Thursday to share how you build your suspense world. So, this week anyone who comments on this post or Thursday’s post will be put in a drawing for Fear is Louder Than Words.

FEARCOVERFINAL

click here to  order.

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, comment for a chance to win a copy of Fear is Louder Than Words. And if you want to continue to follow Jubilee Writer click the button in the upper left.