Friday, May 21, 2010

They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick

So I've learned two important things at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (of course much more) that you need a catchy title for your book/article etc. so hopefully, Todd Starnes, author of "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick" won't mind that I've titled my blog article with his book title. The other was that you need a hook to get the reader's attention. With a title like that I figured I could pass on the hook.

I can tell you that this is a great read and that you will not want to put the book down and it will make you feel better because you will be laughing. Todd was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. He is a southern boy, who moved west and then east to work as a reporter for Fox News in the big city. He is a great storyteller and if you have an opportunity to hear him speak you may discover he sounds a little like "Jimmy Stewart". For my readers who are younger, he was an actor from the 40-60's era.

Todd had open heart surgery while in his 30's, lost 150 pounds and ran the New York City Marathon. But more than that he has a love for the Lord and encouraged me to walk closer to him. You can get his book at Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million etc.

I attended classes each day and enjoyed fellowship with others writers. At meal time we could sit with the faculty who each hosted a table. I had not planned to, but God opened the door for me to pitch a book idea to Literary Agent, Les Stobbe. He liked my idea and gave me some suggestions to make it more marketable. I had an appointment with Susan King, the Associate Editor for The Upper Room which went well. She gave me a thorough critique of my devotions that I had submitted weeks earlier and said that they were well written. She had suggestions that would make them more appropriate for their publication and encouraged me to submit them after incorporating her instructions.

Before the conference I had wanted to concentrate on my novel, but I believe God is telling me to work on my devotions and articles. Vonda Skelton, speaker and author taught a workshop on "How to Have Magazine Editors Calling YOU!" which gave me a new prospective on magazine articles. She is the author of "Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head"

I will share about some of the other wonderful faculty and keynote speakers in other post including Jerry Jenkins, James Watkins, DiAnn Mills and Christian thriller author, Steven James who taught us the "Wisconsin Milk Cheer" ! Stay tuned.....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blue Ridge Conference Count Down

It's Mother's Day today. I was reminded in our morning service that anything we do we do unto the Lord and that includes all the motherly duties like washing clothes, fixing meals,running kids to doctor appointments to name a few. As a writer I'm reminded of how God can use me as his instrument through written word. While I'm not the breadwinner or the quarterback I guess you could say I'm an important part of the team. And at least I'm not sitting on the bench.

Our college son graciously cleaned house while I was at my part-time job yesterday and I am very grateful. It gave me some time to prepare for conference. BAD NEWS...my computer was attacked yesterday by what appears to be a virus and I had several things I needed to do before the conference. I decided I'm not going to stress about it because God is in control.

I submitted my material to the conference and did save copies just in case. Outside of the conference I've submitted a story for a book that will be published in Fall 2011. I will be contacted in September if it has been accepted. Actually I'm already looking forward to my rejection letter. Now I'm not being pessimistic. I know from other writers that rejections are how we learn and grow.

I took a writing class at a local college and I asked my professor if she had any of her writings published. And her response was "oh..no...I couldn't handle the rejection so I've never submitted anything for publication." I decided then that I would had least try even at the risk of getting rejected. My goal is to continue to submit smaller stories, articles and devotions until I complete my first book.

If possible I will try to blog about the conference next week and can't wait to tell you about my experiences. This will be my first trip to Ridgecrest near Asheville. Having just returned from Boone last week to pick up our son from college I'm already looking forward to the cooler mountain air. I will enjoy meeting other first time conference attendees,absorbing the knowledge of our speakers and sharing time of fellowship.

One week till conference!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interview with Author and Writing Instructor, Janice Hanna Thompson

I became acquainted with Janice Thompson through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and have followed her career since 2006. She is the author of many books including, “It Had to Be You” Weddings by Bella Series, “Allegheny Hopes” (Pennsylvania) and “The Wedding Caper.” Below is an interview with Janice about her new writing course that is offered online.

Janice, could you tell us a little about your new venture?
Of course! Thanks for asking. On April 20th, 2010, I debuted my new writing course “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The sole purpose of this venture is to teach struggling freelance writers how to earn money with their writing. Here’s how it will work: students can purchase one lesson (for $24.95) or all ten (for $199). They don’t have to feel compelled to buy the whole package, though they will get a package price, if they do. Each lesson will include an audio file and a video power point presentation of me teaching the lesson (available with just a click of the mouse), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum, where I will meet with authors for some group mentoring (at designated times). Right now there are ten lessons, but eventually those ten lessons will become ten separate categories with multiple lessons in each. For example, the current lesson on magazine article writing will eventually have multiple other lessons underneath it—all meant to teach writers how to make money writing articles. People who take these courses will have the benefit of meeting other freelancers in the forum and can also chat with me about their projects. Best of all, the site will continually grow. New, fresh material will always be available. (I’ll be recording new lessons routinely.) I’m so excited, because I know that struggling freelancers can and will learn how to make money with their writing.

What prompted you to set off on this new adventure?
For years I’ve been writing novels and non-fiction books. I’ve been so blessed to have over fifty books published, as well as dozens of magazine articles and even a movie script. It’s been quite a ride. . .and it’s not ending anytime soon! I’m currently contracted through 2011. The longer I’m in this business, however, the more I’m aware of the basic need of the average freelance author to make “better” money. Sure, many of them eventually sell books. They get advances and royalties, (though, not often in the range they had hoped). As a full-time freelancer, I’ve faced this myself. Several years ago, I found myself hollering, “Where’s the money?” I made up my mind to find as many creative ways as I could to bring in money as a freelancer. I’ve learned so much since then, and want to share what I’ve learned with others, so that they can benefit, too.

Tell us a little about your own writing.
As I mentioned above, I’ve written just about everything! Most of my writing is for the Christian market, so my stories have a clear faith element. Lately I’ve been writing romantic comedies, (most recently the “Weddings by Bella” series), but I also enjoy writing mysteries, kid’s stories, historicals and more. I continue to write magazine articles, because they provide a great financial supplement. I’m also very excited about my many write-for-hire projects, because a huge chunk of my income comes from those. To learn more about my books visit my author site at www.janiceathompson.com. Books can be ordered directly from the site.

Why do you feel so strongly about stirring up the gifts?
There’s a scripture I love where the apostle Paul speaks to his young protégé, Timothy: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (II Timothy 1:6 NIV) The King James version uses the words “stir up the gift” instead of “fan into flame the gift.” The idea is the same. Gifts need stirring and fanning. As a published author, I make it my goal to “stir the gifts” of those hoping to be published (or hoping to be published in more markets). I know that these lessons will stir people up. I could sense it as I recorded them. Changing lives. . .and encouraging writers. . .what could be better?