Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ACFW Conference

“Write what you know, learn what you don’t, never give up on the dream.” –Tracey Peterson (Foundational Basics workshop)

That’s exactly what the ACFW annual conference taught me. From the idea feeding ground of Donald Maas’ workshop to the awe-inspiring speeches from Debbie Macomber, the conference was an unforgettable experience. It’s been a little over a week since the conference ended, and I’m still slowly absorbing everything that I garnered from that jam-packed weekend.

The great news is that last night I got to sit down and actually start applying the stuff that I learned. Right after the conference, I went to spend a week with my sister. So, I am just now getting around to writing. I found my notes stirred up my muse once again and hit the keyboard at light speed.

Perhaps the greatest thing that happened at the conference, though, was the validation I felt after talking to the editors I met with (and yes, I did get a request for my manuscript!). Too often, I let others tell me how slim the chances of ever getting published are. I let them trick me into wondering if I should be pursuing this dream with such gusto. At the conference, though, I met many other people who have the same struggles. I talked with other professionals who didn’t mind sharing their wisdom. And I met with two people who told me that I was on the right track. God wanted me there, and He will see my destiny come to pass in His time.

I may not ever be published, but I know that friends/family will read my stuff. I write to effect change and if I can make a difference in one person’s life, then I have accomplished the goal in God has set before me.

Of course, I still want to be published.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting about specific things that I learned that I hope will help you as well.

God bless.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Time to Learn

Over this past week, I discovered two new things about myself. Perhaps I’ve always been this way, and never noticed, or perhaps this is a fairly recent development (ie since I’ve had kids). Either way, I have just now come to terms with these realizations, a little late for the ACFW conference, but in good time for post-conference goals!

1. I am NOT a SOTP type of person. I must have order and organization when it comes to my writing (this doesn’t necessarily apply to my house, by the way, which is almost always in a state of chaos).
2. I DO NOT work well under extreme pressure. Some pressure is good…it motivates me to get my rear in fear. However lots of pressure (like 20K in five days with no husband at home and a list of non-writing chores to finish before I leave).

Like I said, this will be a lesson learned for the future. Chances are I won’t be quite as prepared for the ACFW conference as I would like to be, but instead of beating myself up about it, I’ll choose to learn from it and apply it in the future.

Some things I’ll do when I get back from the ACFW conference:

1. Make better use of my calendar. Not only will I write stuff on my calendar, but I will look at it—daily. Yes, I know that sounds silly, but you’ll be surprised how often I write stuff down, but then never review the calendar. Many a birthday cards have been late/not sent because of this. (sad…very sad)
2. Make better use of my time. As a stay-at-home mom, which comes with a set of stipulations of its own, with a military husband who is home as much as he is gone, majority of my time is obviously spent on my kids. In return, my writing time can be very restricted. So, as I figure out the best time for me, I need to make sure I make the best use of it…balancing fresh writing with CWG Apprentice homework, freelance work (which I hope to start), and reviews. A new schedule will be written up when I get back.
3. Set deadlines for myself and make out a plan to reach that deadline. How many words per day? Per week? How much time will I need for editing/revising?
4. Spend adequate time during the week dedicated to learning/honing the craft and researching the business.

I think that’s a start, don’t you?

A writer is basically self-employed. Unless we are under contract, it is our job to set standards for ourselves—deadlines, work schedule, etc. No one is going to do it for us. No one is going to call if we are thirty minutes late to the keyboard. No one is going to care if we call in sick. No one is going to miss us if we don’t finish our novel.

No, no one will miss us because the next big thing will have taken our place.

So, upon return to reality after the ACFW conference (and a short visit to my sister’s), I will revamp my writing lifestyle to accommodate the discoveries I have made. But what about you? What can you do to improve your writing time? Do you need to be more conscious of how you use your time? Do you need to learn to write even when you don’t feel like it? Does your writing area need a thorough cleaning and redecorated to help the muse work?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preparing for Conference

I will be attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference later this month—my first conference ever! *cheers* I am excited and terrified. Right now it’s about 50/50. My list of to-dos for the conference grows every day and it’s frustrating. I finish one thing and two more pop up in its place. My mind is swirling with terms like one sheets, pitches, workshops, etc.

Here’s my to-do list (part of it anyway):

--Finish Dividing Spirits (about 28k to go)

--Complete one sheets for The Impossible Choice and Dividing Spirits

--Fine tune pitches for IC and DS

--Print out sample chapters of both novels

--Research the agent/editors I signed up to meet

--Buy a dress for the banquet

The list may not look very long, but anyone who’s gone through this before knows that they are rather time consuming. Plus you throw in the packing and everything else. Ack! My husband is leaving for a work trip next week and I also have to pack the girls and get them to the in-laws before flying to the conference.

It’s going to be a long couple of weeks.

Yet, each day my excitement grows. I have some wonderful friends that I’m anxious to meet. My critique partner, Cathy Bryant, has been such a blessing. I can’t wait to see her and give her a great big hug. My roommates for the conference have been wonderful in helping prepare pitches and such over the last month.

Even more than all that, I just know God is going to move in a great way at this conference. I know that may sound hokey…but I just know it. I don’t know if it will involve me or if I will just be there to witness it—whatever the case, it’s going to be huge!

I look forward to conversing with people who think like I do. To be in an environment where talking to yourself, acting out scenes, and blubbering when you kill off an important person is not signs of a crazy person. I am also excited to know that I am going to learn so much. Between the workshops, the seminars, meals with editors/agents, and everything else, I’m going to walk away with a wealth of information to apply to my life and my writing.

And when I get back, you can expect to hear all about it!