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.

TimothyFountain_Headshot

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

 

 

 

Rebecca Waters:Be Prepared Because God Has a Plan…and It Includes You

 

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Becky Waters

Rebecca Waters

Today I’m so pleases to have fellow-author Rebecca Waters sharing some wonderful insights with us.

The end of March marks the three-year anniversary of my first novel, Breathing on Her Own. A couple of life lessons have been reinforced for me since I made the decision to become a published author.

 

 

Lesson 1- God can see around the corners and has a plan for you.

As a child I enjoyed capturing my thoughts and ideas on paper. As an adult I used my writing skills to entertain my own children as well as students in my classroom. I followed God’s lead to pen both a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation at the University of Cincinnati. The door then opened for me to serve as the chair of the education department at a Christian university. The university needed someone with the background, credentials, and writing skills to put together a state approved and nationally accredited teacher education program.

I knew I was a writer. I didn’t think of myself as an author.

My husband and I made the decision to retire early following his quadruple bypass surgery. We gave ourselves one year to make plans to retire then we would pack up our belongings and head to Florida for the winter—Tom to golf and fish and me? I was clueless as to what I would do. I prayed about it.

In February, two months after we made that decision, I announced to my husband I would become a published author. Tom, the encourager, offered his full support. The notion was God’s, not mine. I got busy drafting a business plan for my writing and crafting a novel.

I signed up for two days at the Write-to-Publish conference in Illinois, where, by the way, I met Cindy Huff as we stood side-by-side signing up for appointments with agents and publishers. My last appointment of the conference was with Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. We met, I pitched my book, and two months later I received a contract for Breathing on Her Own. I finished writing it a few days before my “retirement” party.51Zlo60t2cL._AC_US218_

Breathing on Her Own was released the last week of March 2014. My husband died in a bicycle accident the last week of October 2014.

I trust God because He can see around the corners. He knew I needed this new direction in my life. He also knew my words could inspire readers. He had more confidence in what I could accomplish than I did. I cling to Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Designing a business plan for your writing EDD(1)

Lesson 2- Do all you can to prepare yourself for the work God has called you to do.

That February morning I was confident I was going to become a published author. I used spring break to research and draft the business plan for my new career in writing. I made a list of my strengths and weaknesses and set out to learn everything I could about the industry. I now work with writers to draft their own business and marketing plans.

Marketing you and your writing 101 Edd 2

Part of my business plan was to attend a writing conference. I could only afford two days of the four-day conference but I made the most of it. I picked the brains of the presenters, agents, editors, and publishers. I gleaned information from every attendee I met. I knew nothing about blogs, building a platform, or even how to write a query letter. I wasn’t sure what God intended for me to write. I only knew I needed to be prepared and to walk through any door He opened.

Convinced that blogging should be added to my business plan, I researched the topic, read several blogs (making note of what I liked and didn’t), and signed up for a free webinar on blogging. I drafted several posts, signed up with a blog host and launched A Novel Creation the first week of January 2013 from Florida.

 

Preparing for the work God has called me to do has been fruitful. In addition to that first novel, I’ve published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Home Health Aide Digest, and The Lookout Magazine. I’ve taken my blog posts a step further penning the Writing to Publish series which includes three titles: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and Writing with E’s. Money received from these handbooks for writers goes to The Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research fund set up by the CDC Foundation.writing with e's Edd 3

You may already have these truths permeating every thought and activity in your life. But for me, the journey has been a good reminder that God can see around the corners so I need to prepare myself for what He has in store next. He has a plan.

In honor of the Third Anniversary of Breathing On Her Own Rebecca is offering a free Kindle version to one lucky Commenter.

About Breathing On Her Own

Molly Tipton looks forward to a peaceful retirement, but her life suddenly spirals out of control when her oldest daughter is involved in a terrible accident. An icy road and a sharp turn leave one woman dead, another clinging to life.

While two families grieve, details emerge that reveal Molly’s daughter was driving under the influence. As she prepares her daughter for the prospect of a vehicular homicide lawsuit, Molly discovers her oldest child is not the only one injured and forced to deal with past mistakes. If it’s true that time heals all wounds, what are we to do with our scars?

Click here to order Breathing On Your Own.

click here to order Kindle version of Designing a Business Plan for Writers

Click here to order  an Kindle copy of Marketing You and Your Writing 101

Click here to order a Kindle copy of Writing to Publish Writing with E’s

Learn more! Visit Rebecca’s site & Read  her blog
Let’s connect! Follow her on Twitter & Like  her on Facebook
 Ask any questions you may have about marketing and the business of writing. Becky will be happy to answer them.

 

 

 

Rowena Kuo:Writing Epic Back Cover

rowenakuo2016Today I welcome Rowena Kuo to my blog. She is an Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I sat in on her Writing Epic Back Cover class at the Write to Publish Conference this past June. Her knowledge helped clarify so much for me. I have touched on the importance of awesome back cover content in a previous post. Writing back cover isn’t as easy as I once thought. It’s not my best work. And other authors admit they’d rather have a root canal. So to take some of the pain and mystery out of this daunting task I’ve called on Rowena to give us some helpful guidelines toward excellent back copy.

Ro, welcome. I am so honored to have you as a guest blogger.

Thank you, Cindy. I always enjoy visiting with you and look forward to any time I get to see you again.

The word length of the back cover copy is 100 to 300 words. Tell us how do we decide what goes into this small cache’ of words? What should we leave out? How can we discern the difference?

Every word on your back cover carries weight, so we should make each word count. The back cover should answer “who, what, where, when, and why,” with the book content being the “how.”  Introduce your main characters by name and their relationship to each other, what the story is about, the setting, the time period, and why your reader should invest in your story. When you introduce your main characters, first show what is the “normal” world before everything goes wrong. Introduce your “average citizen” before his “call to duty,” and whether or not he will answer that call to become a “superhero.”

Place your characters in a place and time setting, so that your readers can affiliate with your story. This is key to deciding the genre of your book. You should then say what that “call to duty” is, the “inciting incident” that destroys the “normal” world and forces your character into action. Every story must have conflict to be interesting. State what that conflict is. The “why” of your story should make your characters compelling, your story thought-provoking, and intrigue your reader enough to buy your book.

Leave out non-essential and complicated storylines. Don’t summarize what happens in the story. Sometimes becoming too detailed drags your back cover copy, and your reader will search for a different book. End your back cover copy with a question. That question should entice your reader and should be answered upon reading your book.

Once we decide what goes in how do we make the words epic?

Use words that drive your book to the top of searches. Go to Amazon and search for the best-selling books in your genre. Read the back cover copies, and online, these would be the description or blurb when you click on the book title.

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How do I find those top seller books in any given genre to examine the back cover?

  1. Go to Amazon.com
  2. On the Amazon search bar, the gray tab on the left drops down. Find Kindle Store.
  3. On the far left-hand vertical bar, find Kindle eBooks.
  4. Still, on that far left-hand vertical bar, there are several categories of books. Click on your genre. For example: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense. The number in the parenthesis next to the genre is how many titles are categorized in that particular genre. This number can change depending on new books coming out that fall into that category.
  5. Refine your search to the smallest sub-category. These are still on that left-hand bar. For example: Mystery–>Cozy (2878)
  6. Click on that first book. The books can change from moment to moment depending on book sales, so what I find at the top today, you may not find there tomorrow. The important thing to look at is the back cover copy or the description of those top 10 books. For each book, there will be rankings in 3 genres.
  7. Look at the words that “pop out” at you, common words that search engines will use to align your book with the titles at the top of your genre.

Certain words trigger search engines and lead readers to those books. Plant those words into your back cover copy. Depending upon the genre, these words will vary, but a little research on your part prior to writing your back cover copy can be the difference between your audience finding your book and your novel being dead last. For example, the keywords I see on the back cover for the #1 book in Romance and Women’s Fiction are: fatal, accident, discovered, secret, lies, disappears, suspicion, love, romantic, gripping, mystery, suspense.

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How important is back cover copy to potential readers?

Back cover copy is what your reader looks at to decide whether or not to invest time and money in your book. This copy is what search engines use to connect books to the right audience. It’s important to know your genre and all the possible genres where your book might fit. Knowing your genre(s) can help you write back cover copy that will attract the readers who would enjoy your story.

How important is the wording of back cover copy to Amazon and other online and storefront retailers?

Amazon and other retailers base success on sales, and sales drive where your book ranks. Amazon gets a cut of every sale, so having a back cover copy that translates into sales is key to how successful your book is going to be. Of course, the book itself must have an amazing story, but it is the back cover copy that influences readers to make that purchase.

How many tries does it take to get this right?

Writing back cover copy can be a trying task. It can be written and rewritten dozens of times before it would pass publisher approval. Don’t lose heart at this stage. It will be worth the effort no matter how many times it takes to revise your back cover copy.

Any final words for forlorn authors struggling to make their back cover shine?

I encourage you to read the back cover copies of the best-selling books in your genres. Write down words that pop out at you and draw you to that book. Investigate what drives a book to the top of the lists and make sure your book is comparable. Use active rather than passive verbs and descriptions that engage the imagination, curiosity, and heart of your readers. I’m still looking for the magic formula that will make our books crash the download servers, but I hope that I have given you a few pointers to at least ensure your back cover copy promises a fantastic read. If your book delivers the story your back cover promises, then you are well on your way to successful sales. See you at the top of the charts!

Rowena Kuo is an editor and executive producer for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Lighthouse Productions of the Carolinas. With over 15 years of ministering to children, youth groups, young adults, and now women and family groups, Rowena advocates for writers to build God-centered support systems consisting of people, perseverance, practice, and most of all, prayer. She has written for Christian Devotions, Written World Communications, and the 168 Write of Passage. When not working on words or films, she is a full-time mom with secret aspirations for spaceflight.

Rowena Kuo
Acquisitions Editor
Editorial Director
Fiction Division
Managing Editor, Brimstone Fiction
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
http://lighthousepublishingofthecarolinas.com/
Development Executive Producer
http://lpcmediagroup.com

Do you have a love or hate relationship with back cover copy?

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A Visit with Author Beth Ann Ziarnick and a Giveaway

I’ve been reading alot in January and it is reflected in my second author interview in so many weeks. I love to share author stories and I hope you love reading them.

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Today I am welcoming Beth Ann Ziarnik to Writer’s Patchwork. We met at The Write-to-Publish Conference a few years ago where she won a publisher’s award at the banquet with her debut novel Her Deadly Inheritance. I’m so excited about its recent release. I enjoyed the story and the creative way you told it. Click to read my review.

Below is the a little taste of the story for those who have not read it yet.

First a runaway. Now running for her life. Won’t Jill Shepherd’s family be surprised when she returns to Grand Island, Michigan to end their scheme to have her declared legally dead? But when Jill exposes the mastermind behind her intended death, her family’s deception may kill any chance she has of remaining alive.

Clay Merrick may seem to be little more than a handy-man restoring homes, but when the former Special Forces operative tracks a brutal killer to Jill’s historic house under renovation, he has most of the evidence he needs to bring the killer to justice … until Jill gets in the way.

When the killer sets sights on Jill as the next victim, it’s not just Clay s mission on the line, but his heart.HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Beth, I’m thrilled to have you visit with me today. Let me take your coat. Watch out, don’t trip over the pile of shoes near the front door. Come, join me in the kitchen for coffee and Danish.

Thank you for inviting me, Cindy. It’s great to be here. Oh, is that lemon-centered Danish? My favorite! How did you know? <G>

It’s such an honor to have you take time from your busy promoting schedule to share with my readers some of the background story to Her Deadly Inheritance.

My pleasure!

Let me start out Q & A with a question all my readers want to know. Where did the idea come for Her Deadly Inheritance?

The idea first germinated while I was reading yet another wonderful romantic suspense—even then my favorite genre. I wondered how the faith of Christian heroes and heroines might affect the choices necessary in the difficult circumstances of a romantic suspense. From there I took the basics—isolated and exotic location, frightening suspense, the falling in love of two unlikely people, etc.—and started praying and asking myself, “What if?” Jill and Clay and pieces of their story started to form. I wrote those short scenes and chucked them into a folder until I finally had enough to see a story emerging.

Tell me, how did you come to choose Upper Michigan for your setting?

I live in northeast Wisconsin and was looking for an island for my novel’s setting, one that was somewhat remote and exotic. Eureka! I found it in The Grand Island Story by Beatrice H. Castle. The location had everything I needed. My husband and I made two trips to Munising and Grand Island MI to research the setting. Forest ranger David Worel and a few other local people were kind enough to help. We loved the community and its old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. I just knew I had found the right place and time for Jill and Clay’s story.

Why renovating houses as the backdrop?

I needed a reason for Clay to be there and interact with Jill while they fell in love. I’m also an architecture addict and cheer on the restoration and upkeep of grand old historical homes of any era. So I borrowed Mark Twain’s Connecticut home, tweaked it a bit for my story’s purposes, and plopped it about half way up Grand Island’s east side over Trout Bay. I think that’s called literary license because the truth is: (1) There’s never been a house at that location, and (2) no one ever built a Victorian mansion on the island. You can go to the location on the Grand Island, but you will not find Jill’s house or any evidence of it. That element of the story is pure fiction on my part.

Besides visiting The Grand Island what other research did you do? I always like to know how other writer’s build their story world.

In addition to reading Mrs. Castle’s book and visiting the community to experience the story’s locale, I interviewed an officer at the sheriff’s department to find out how they might process a case such as the death of Jill’s mother and how quickly they could access the scene on the island. I also interviewed a couple of island residents about life on the island. I read everything I could about the history of the area and took pictures. I researched both Jill’s career as a genealogist and Clay’s as a restoration contractor, even interviewing a local restoration contractor. I made an online tour of Mark Twain’s house and collected articles and pictures so that I could better “walk” through the house as if I were there. Lots more because every aspect of a novel will have some research connected to it in order to make the story and its setting come alive.

Describe the personalities of your two main characters Jill Shephard and Clay Merrick. Did you model them after anyone in particular?

Though they are totally themselves, Jill has bits and pieces of me in her, and Clay has bits and pieces of my husband Jim in him. Jill’s tendency to be frightened yet bulldoze through her fear to a desired end is a little like me. So is her relationship with God. Clay’s steady purpose, his faithfulness, his muscles and love of family and playing ball are like Jim. As a matter of fact, the spectacular catch he fields in the ballgame scene is Jim’s. I saw my husband do that amazing thing! But truly, I had to write about Jill and Clay and observe them to come to know them. I never had anyone in mind as they developed.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope readers see that loving someone isn’t a walk in the park. It takes work and sacrifice but is so worth the effort. I also hope they will come to realize that if they obey God and give him enough time, he will make difficult situations come out for good in the right way and at the right time.

How long did it take from conception to publication?

Oh, boy! Her Deadly Inheritance was a long time in the making. The idea first occurred to me forty years ago. Romantic suspense wasn’t even on the Christian publishers radar screen back then, and I had a long way to go to learn the skills for writing fiction. I spent my early years being published in magazines and newspapers with articles and news stories. I also had twelve years of being just this side of wheelchair or bed-ridden with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Not much happening then. But the dream and the story never went away. Then about six years ago, I decided to get serious. I focused entirely on the novel, working hard to acquire the needed skills, endlessly writing and rewriting and polishing. I started meeting editors and agents at conferences and sending out proposals. As close as I seemed to come to breaking through, nothing happened until the summer of 2013 when agent Jim Hart declared he loved my novel and wanted to represent me. Surely the Lord was at work! A year later, my novel won a big award during the Write-to-Publish banquet, and six months later, Rowena Kuo at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered a contract to publish my book. It took about a year to edit and polish a novel to bring it to its best. Meanwhile, other important preparations were in the works. But on January 2 this year, Her Deadly Inheritance released.

What have you learned along the way to publication that you can pass on to new writers?

  • No matter how tempting, don’t quit. Believe in yourself and the dream God put in your heart. Keep working at your craft, building your skills for storytelling.
  • Join a local Christian writers group—start one if you have to. I did. Join online writers groups, too. You will grow much faster as a novelist if you do. I love ACFW where I take monthly classes taught by professionals (free with the membership) and make friends who help me and whom I am blessed to help.
  • Go to Christian writers’ conferences seminars where you can learn more than you ever dreamed. Where you will make dear writer friends and meet editors, publishers, and agents. Again, where you will both help others and be helped.

I was very intrigued by the number of endorsements you have in the front of your book. Endorsements from noteworthy authors. Tell us how you managed to get them.

They all offered. These friends whom I’ve made down through years of going to conferences and seminars were almost more thrilled than I was when my dream came true. But they are also professionals whom I could count on to tell the truth.

Do you have any other projects in the works you would like to tell us about? Is there a sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance?

Jill and Clay’s story will continue for two more books, though each story can stand on its own. Yes, I’m putting them through two more horrendous suspense experiences that will threaten their lives and challenge their growing love to the breaking point. I am loving the writing of the second novel even more than the first, if that’s possible. <G> For this one, I borrowed the Pabst Mansion and it location in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Jill will meet her birth father face-to-face for the first time. But her long-time dream of a loving relationship with him turns into a Christmas nightmare she and Clay could never have foreseen.

Giveaway Hurrah!!

You mentioned you wanted to do a giveaway. So, readers, leave a comment to be put in the drawing. You have time to make a comment either here or on my Facebook page. Please share this blog with your friends so they can enter the contest too or pick up a copy at their favorite bookstore.

The winner will be contacted by me for email information to pass on to Beth. We will announce a winner on Friday.

More About Beth

A long-time fan of romantic suspense, Beth Ann Ziarnik offers her first novel with all the twists and turns, cliffhangers and romantic tension she and readers have come to love. She is a co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in Northeast Wisconsin and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to her 450 published pieces (several included in anthologies), she is the author of Love With Shoes On, her ten-year devotional column about love in action and based on 1 Corinthians 13.

Currently, you can find her online at:

www.bethziarnik.com

www.facebook.com/beth.ziarnik

www.facebook.com/authorBethAnnZiarnik

http://www.bethziarnik.wordpress.com

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An Interview with New YA Author Debra Coleman Jeter

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Today I want to welcome Debra Coleman Jeter to my blog. Debra’s debut novel The Ticket has been tagged as a # 1 release by Amazon. Its release date was June 9th and it continues to receive 5 star reviews. Not bad for a newbie, Debra. Take a seat on my slightly lumpy couch and help yourself to some chai tea. While you get settled let me share the book blurb on your book.

Cover-The TicketTray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she’s growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit. The only person who understands Tray’s need for acceptance is her grandmother, but when Tray wears Gram’s hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray’s luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father’s, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father’s ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray’s dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.

Check out the book trailer for The Ticket at: vimeo.com/50187275.

Debbie, what prompted you to write this novel?

That tea’s delicious! Cindy, first, I want to thank you for having me on your blog. As a newbie, I’ve just started one of my own, but I’m not sure anyone has found it yet. http://www.debracolemanjeter.com/blog.

I think the idea for this novel came to me in stages. First, I wanted to write something to show how little importance wealth really is, though we often spend way too much time thinking about money. Once I decided to write about a family with financial troubles winning the lottery, then I thought it might be interesting if someone else bought the ticket and gave it to them … which leads to a lot of the twists in my plot.

I’m admitting my age here but I was a teen in the early 70s. The setting resonated with me. Why the 1970s? Why not present day?

I wanted to pick a time when a fourteen year old was more naïve than today’s teens typically are. Also, I wanted a time before cell phones and social media. Finally, I chose a period when the states of Kentucky and Tennessee (the states where I’ve spent most of my life) did not yet have a lottery, and so the idea of winning a lottery was particularly novel. You had to cross into another state just to buy a ticket.

There are some edgy scenes in The Ticket. One in particular caught some flak from some readers. As a YA book many parents may read it before their teens. Tell me why you felt the scenes needed to be there.

First, it provides an opportunity to round out the character of Pee Wee, the man who buys the ticket. Up to this point in the novel, his behavior makes him seem ominous. This scene shows that he isn’t evil or beyond redemption. But, more importantly, The Ticket deals with some tough, realistic issues. The situation referred to in the controversial scene is one that arises all too often, and I think it’s important for young women or boys who might face something like this in their lives to know that it’s not their fault. They are not alone. They should not feel ashamed. Ideally, I’d like for my book to open a dialogue within families about how to handle such a situation should it arise.

How do you hope Tray’s story will impact your YA readers?

I hope they will be moved to cheer for Tray, to be alternately glad or sad with her, depending on what is going on. I hope they see the good that can come out of difficult or trying circumstances. No matter how bleak things get, there is always hope in the morrow. I want them to see a girl who, like so many of us, struggles with self-confidence and to see they too can emerge stronger and more confident in the end. Also, I hope they will figure out that Tray is making some mistakes and resolve not to make those same kinds of mistakes in their own lives.

Debbie, what’s next on your agenda? A sequel for Tray or a different direction?

A different direction. I have two adult novels almost ready to go; they are set in a small Southern beach town. I am also currently writing an ambitious saga about my grandmother’s life, which is based on the facts that I know, but fictionalized. I start when she is twelve and cover fifty years of her life.

Tell us a little about Debra Jeter. What are you up to when you are not writing?

I love to spend time with my family. My daughter has a three year old and a new baby, just a month and a half, and they are incredibly precious. I also teach and do academic research at Vanderbilt University. I find my way to water every chance I get—to the ocean or to Kentucky Lake, especially in these hot, humid days of summer. I start to dry out like a fish if I am away from water too long. There is nothing quite like the ocean to show us God’s power and to teach us we cannot rely on our own. I also love to collaborate with my son on film projects (when he will let me)!

One last question. The one I love to ask every writer I interview. What words of wisdom would you give new writers?

I have a colleague at Vanderbilt whose signature on his emails reads “Never, never, never give up.” I think this is what I would tell writers. That, and write what you care deeply about, rather than what you think the market is ripe for.

Before you go let’s do a give-away. Commenter’s names will be put in a drawing. The winner will receive a copy of The Ticket. I’ll give everyone until the end of the week to comment. The winner will be announced in the comment section on Saturday. If you have any questions about Debra’s book or her writing journey Debra would love to answer them. As an extra incentive each commenter will be sent a link for a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Include your email to receive the link.

 Click here to order The Ticket

Visit Debra on Facebook and Tweeter

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Great reward for those who consistently attend writer’s conferences

My award. I am so blessed.

My award. I am so blessed.

For those of you who have never attended or no longer attend writer’s conferences I challenge you to rethink that. After attending writer’s conferences for six years, I have finally reaped an awesome reward. I was chosen as the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award at the 2014 Write-To-Publish Conference. This award is for perseverance and potential. It entitles me to professional editing of my novel and mentoring and the opportunity to have my novel presented to the publication board of Lighthouse Publications of the Carolinas. Whether they actually decide to publish my book is another story. But it’s a win-win because my manuscript will be ready to present to any other interested party.

The truth about attending conferences

Often beginner writers approach a conference expecting to get a contract with the first editor they pitch their story to. They lug around their manuscript hoping someone will take it home with them. Those stories of instant contracts are few and far between, and if you get down to the real nitty-gritty of details, you will find most of these authors have paid their dues. They have attended conference after conference as true students of the craft of writing. Taking home all the information gleaned from the pros to apply to their own manuscript and marketing strategies. Networking with other writers to be encouraged as well as encourage.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Writers encouraging writers

For me, my first conference was a learning experience. I flew to Colorado Springs for the Writing for the Soul conference. On the plane I sat next to a published author. I don’t recall her name, only the blessing she was to me. During the flight she took the time to instruct me how to pitch my story ideas and who might be a good fit. She encourage me to enjoy the conference and have fun meeting others. At the conference one devotional editor took the time to mark up my devotional to show how it would best fit her needs. She gave me tips on the right attitude to bring to the editors I would pitch my novel idea to. The editors and agents were encouraging. I went home ready to write my novel.

Guess what, folks, I returned the next year to the same conference pitched my story, got interest. Went home and sent off my novel and got all rejections. 😦

Learning from rejection

That is the nature of the beast. One publisher was brave enough to say the writing wasn’t to their standard. 😦 😦 To his credit he was absolutely correct. I knew nothing about POV and many other fiction craft techniques. So, I took another class and read more craft books and continued submitting articles and writing skits and doing whatever writerly thing God brought my way while rewriting my novel.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Benefits of attending even if you don’t get a writing contract

The next four years I attended Write-To-Publish conference. Each time I went home and sent off my manuscript to those who requested it. Each time it was rejected. But I picked up other smaller writing assignments that gave me more publishing credits. I started this blog and a Facebook page. The third year I received excellent edits with my reject manuscript. I persevered through family tragedies and lots of life interrupting my rewrites and still wrote articles and short stories. Some getting rejected, others published.

This last year I reaped the blessing of my perseverance with this award. That is six years from my first conferences. Don’t wait until you have the perfect manuscript to attend. Don’t skip the opportunity because you have nothing to hawk. Come because you need to grow your craft, you need to network with writers, agents and editors. The secret ingredients at all conferences is the knowledge you can take home and the life-long friends you make. Both can grow your writing career at a faster pace than those who don’t attend.

 How has perserverance at a writer’s conference benefitted you?