Category: ACFW

A great conference

It’s my pleasure to chat today about the upcoming American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, taking place September 18- 21 in Minneapolis at the Sheraton-Bloomington. If you’re an aspiring novelist or a prespiring novelist (that would be me!) who writes with a Christian worldview, this is the conference for you.

Since June, we blogging ACFW members have been chatting up the conference. You can read what other bloggers have been sharing about this premier writers conference by clicking right here. The line-up of workshop leaders and continuing session teachers is top-notch. I am teaching a couple classes, too, but that truly is beside the point. The keynote speaker, Angela Hunt, is a gifted novelist, wise and funny, and she will be one of dozens upon dozens of professionals teaching and attending the conference.

If you’ve got a work in progress whose final chapter is in sight, you can sign up for agent and editor appointments that provide one-on-one face time that you just can’t get anywhere else. A national conference like this one is simply the best place to pitch a book idea to a prospective publisher or agency. I am amazed (God was nice to me) that I ever got published without attending a conference first. This is the way to break into the industry, meet people, learn and grow.

It’s the best investment you can make in your writing career if you are pre-published. Honestly. And hey! Over 100 authors (including me) will be signing books at the Rotunda at the Mall of America! It’s going to be wild and fabulous. If you’re a fiction writer, I hope you’ll consider coming. If not this year, then next. It’s never too late to make plans for next autumn!

Have a lovely Monday. See on the workweek’s bookend. . .

Back from the misty beyond

I have a few very good reasons for being invisible the last two weeks.

I was working on a deadline. I was speaking at an event in Canada. I was working on a deadline. I was launching the fall small groups ministry at my church. I was working on a deadline. I was teaching at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Dallas. And then of course, there’s the deadline.

But I am back at my desk with the deadine met, (big hallelujah!) the small groups grouping, Canada a lovely memory, eh? and the ACFW workshop taught and apparently enjoyed by those who attended.

I am thrilled to tell you that Widows and Orphans, the first in my Rachael Flynn mystery series, won second place in the ACFW’s Book of the Year contest in the suspense category. It was wonderful to hear my name called and to see this beautiful book cover appear on the big screen as I walked to the stage this past Saturday. You can read the entire list of Book of the Year winners, all wonderful friends and superb writers, on the ACFW site.

I came home last night to this lovely email from a reader who had just finished reading W & O: “I loved Chapter 26. It was the reason for me picking up this book. I went through the same emotions and conversations with myself and God just this past August. I knew one of the ladies that died in the I-35W bridge collapse. It didn’t make sense….it still doesn’t, but I know God is like the rays of moon, that no matter how much you cover His light, He Still Shines!! When I read Chapter 26, I realized I’m still going through the grief, but also knowing I can still trust God with all that is going on around me. So Thank You again for writing this book.”

And reading that, friends, was also like hearing applause. I am in awe of having written anything that meets someone at a place of need. Wow.

I am a bit behind in sharing with you some news about new books a couple good friends have just released, so if I may, here’s some great reading available for the taking:

Tricia Goyer’s second book in her Spanish Civil War series is now on bookstore shelves: Here’s what my friend Tricia has to say about A Shadow of Treason: “There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn’t deserve it. Even though Sophie [the main character] had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions. I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us — even when we don’t want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her — she also has to deal with a war within herself. It’s something I’ve battled, and mostly likely others have too.”

Tricia is an award-winning novelist, a top notch researcher and a one of the most capable people I know. This book follows Valley of Betrayal and precedes Whisper of Freedom which is slated for a February release. You can learn more about Tricia’s new book right here. And you can read the first chapter here.

I’ll have another great read to recommend to you on Friday. Until then, enjoy these infant fall days. . .

What I should have done

Anytime I speak about writing or dream-following or the amazing providence of God, I am asked how I got here. What was the road to publication like for me? Most of the time I can see one of two things in the eyes of an asker who is also a writer: hope or dread. Can I expect the road to be wonderful or terrible? those eyes say.

If I have the time I tell them it is both. It is wonderful and it is terrible. And for pity’s sake, have no more expectations. Goals are good, dreams are empowering, passion is essential, but expectations just don’t seem to figure in to getting published. They did far more to trip me up than build me up. Because what you expect is rarely what happens.

I tell fellow novelists waiting for that big break that there are only two things you need to get a book published: 1. An incomparably well-written story 2. Perfect timing. Only one of those things can the writer control. They hold sway over the depth of their prose but they are not in control of time. You could write a stellar novel about a boy who learns he is a wizard but your timing would be splendidly off if you expected to see it published. Timing is everything.

But here’s the good news. There is something you can do to improve the quality of your writing and your knowledge of what is timely and what isn’t. It’s something I should have done in the beginning and didn’t but which I heartily recommend to any writer at any point in the journey. Go to a writers’ conference. Just schedule the time, invest the money and go. Which one is best for you largely depends on where you are at with your writing project and who it’s for. If you write fiction from an inspirational worldview, may I encourage you to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in Dallas. The dates are Sept. 20-23. I am one of many workshop leaders who will be sharing at the conference. In addition to a strong panel of teachers and leaders, editors from major publishing houses and literary agents will also be available for personal appointments. This is really the best reason to attend an conference like this one. There is no other way to have one-on-one time with an acquisitions editor or agent. Sending in your completed and (gasp!) unrequested 350-page manuscript just doesn’t work anymore. It’s personal contact that gets your foot in the door. And this is what happens at the ACFW writers’ conference.

God was amazingly kind to me to get me inside this industry without that personal contact upfront. But it doesn’t usually happen that way. Plus, I missed out on all those opportunities to build friendship connections in those early days. I failed to see writers’ conferences as CEUs, an investment in my future, a fantastically SMART way to improve my writing and my network of contacts.

So if you’re an aspiring author or you know of one, take this advice to heart or pass it along. You don’t have to go to a writer’s conference to get published. But it sure does help. In more ways than one.