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?

 

Free: Conference Revelation

I enjoyed reading Heather Roberts words. I hope you do too. I’m sure many can relate to her fears. My hope is her story will encourage you to attend a conference despite your trepidation.

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“You don’t belong here.”

“You have no idea what you are doing.”

“Did you really hear from Him?”

My thoughts pinch worse than my high heel shoes as they click on the stone stairs. Stairs rising toward the wooden doors beckoning I enter despite my trepidation.

Deep breathe in, exhale a prayer and open the doors. The mundane process of signing into the writer’s conference soothed my nerves. Soon my critiqued book proposal was clutched in my hand yet unopened.  It revealed what I already had known “serious technical errors- not ready for submission.”  My eyes scoured the paper in search of the name of the professional who confirmed my fears. Dr. Dennis Hensley’s name jumped off the page a highly respected and awarded author, teacher and all around giant in the field of Christian writing.

A burning prompting emerges I must meet him, for reasons yet unknown to me.

My palms sweat as I run my finger down his sign-up page, an opening.  How could this be?

I cram my terror downward and forcefully turn my body and head toward a meeting I had no idea why I was going to let alone what I would say.  What do you say to a master of the craft of writing?  Was I about to commit suicide to my nonexistent Christian writing career?

The stadium seat squeaked its protest as I sank into its hard confines, secretly wishing it would catapult me out.

My voice emerged, surprising me, “I came to tell you that I completely agree with the critique you gave me.  I have no idea what I am doing writing.”

His response, “Well let me see what I wrote- technical difficulties, I see.” “Here’s the thing you are ahead of 90% of the people I meet.  Everywhere I go people tell me they are going to write a book- ‘someday’.”  “You are the only one who can take what is inside your head and put it onto paper.  You can always pay someone to edit.  In looking at your credentials you are the woman to write this curriculum you, young lady just need an editor.”

To this day, I still have no idea what else he said and the above is a paraphrase of what he spoke almost three years ago.  I could no longer hear him the clatter of the chains falling to the floor drowned out all other reality.  The blood flowed back into the areas of my Spirit previously strangled by demonic strongholds.  The Lord used Dr. Hensley’s words to free me from bondage, I ignorantly fostered for years.

Freedom surged through me fortifying my commitment to the tedious, work ahead.  Light streamed in where darkness had ruled a fortification of the cracks of my doubt.  I could write and I will write.  Walking through those doors to enter a writer’s conference was costly- obedience always is.

Obedience stormed the gates and the person who emerged from those wooden doors returned to write a new woman.  Free.

More about Heather:

Heather Roberts is an ordained minister and published in Prayer Connect, Sorry Mom is Praying. Find her at   http://tostrengthenamothersheart.wordpress.com and at this year’s Write to Publish conference.

What is your biggest fear in attending a conference?

 

A Writer’s Conference Connection

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

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

About Kathy:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

http://amzn.to/2ksLALx

 

 

 

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

A Conference Gem

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

(I heard that sniggering.)

 

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

 

Confidence is a fickle companion.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

And I did.

Bio:

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

The Pony Express Romance Collection

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

There are nine stories in this collection.

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

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Click to order this novella collection of delightful stories.

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

 

 

 

Why Serious Writers Attend Conferences

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Lunch with Steve Barclift from Kregel Publishing

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

Face to Face

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

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

Classes

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

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

Critiques

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

Grow your network

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

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

Introverts connecting

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

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

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

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

Best reasons

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

Fun, fellowship and education all rolled into one.

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

More to come

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

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

Tell me why you love to attend conferences.

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Click here to purchase

Be Prepared to Make the Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have you done to prepare to make the sale?

 

 

 

Don’t Leave Money On the Book Table

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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