Monday, March 27, 2017

7 Reasons To Attend a Writer's Conference

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

In 2010, I was new to the writing world. Sure, I'd written before. I started writing when I could hold a pencil and put my ABCs on paper. I went to college for Mass Communications & Journalism. I knew I wanted to write from a young age, but my writing career didn't come into play until I was raising my children and needed something I could do that was productive and fun for me. How did I get started? A writer's conference.

If you're new to writing, I highly recommend you attend a writer's conference this year. And if you've been in a writing career for any amount of time, you know the value of one.

Click to Tweet:  7 Reasons to Attend a #Writers Conference This Year

Here are 7 reasons to attend a conference this year:

1. Networking: There's no better place to meet and associate yourself with other writers than a writer's conference. It's a great place to meet agents, editors, and established writers. But it's also a great place to meet up-and-coming writers who will be able to encourage you just as well as the established writers. Don't discount anyone. You never know who God is going to raise up and place in a position to help you get your books published or ask you to join their team.

2. Learning the Craft: Many new writers need to take time to learn the mechanics of the craft of writing. If you write a wonderful story but don't understand Point of View, it's going to affect whether or not an editor keeps reading. And Point of View really isn't that difficult to understand, if you take the time to learn it and apply it. Writer's conferences are the perfect place to learn about plot, character development, point of view, world building, and so many more of the important elements of a successful story. Go forth and learn, young write-a-wan.

3. Opportunities: Most agents won't take on a writer unless they've met them in person. And most editors won't take a manuscript without submission via an agent. Does a writer have a chance? They do if they attend a conference where agents and editors are present. Make sure you sign up for appointments when you register for the conference you are attending.

4. Fellowship: Writers are an odd bunch, and we tend to isolate into our writing holes while we pound away at the keyboard. It can be a lonely world, this writing career. Writer's conferences are the perfect place for us to come together with like-minded weirdos and talk all things writing and otherwise. Other writers get us. They understand what it takes to do what we do. They get the fear of being watched by big government because they noticed your Google searches always contain terms such as "body dump" or "ways to commit murder with poison." They understand the joy of being able to set your own schedule or take a family vacation whenever it's convenient. They get you.

5. Rest: As busy as you'll be over the course of the conference, it's usually a restful time. Maybe it's because you're away from the daily grind. Maybe it's because you're surrounded by those who get you. Maybe it's because you're just away from the four walls you usually face when working. Whatever the reason, spending that time away from home and around others in your field is actually relaxing. You should be physically tired when you head home from the conference, but your creative juices should be restored and you should find yourself ready to go full speed ahead again.

6. Idea Central: Stuck? Not sure what to do next? What word fits that sentence? What best describes your story? Should you take on that next editing client? You're surrounded by others in the same business. This is brainstorming central. Don't be afraid to ask that burning question. This is the place to get the answers.

7. Encouragement: Yes, there may be a rejection here and there, but that's part of the business. What's great is that you are surrounded by others who get how much it can sting and know just the right words to pick you up and set you back on your way. Writer's conferences are a great place to find encouragement in your writing career. Who doesn't need encouragement?

There are many, many other benefits to attending writer's conferences. If you have one you'd like to share, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Do you want to attend a writer's conference but don't know where to start? Here are a few conferences we recommend (some have already taken place this year, but they are annual, so you can catch them next year if you'd like ... others are coming up):

Asheville Christian Writers Conference
This is perfect for new writers, as it's a smaller conference. Watch closely for the 2018 registration to open. It fills up quickly, and they always have a waiting list. Held in Asheville, NC.

Carolina Christian Writers Conference
This is another great conference for first-time attendees, as it's a smaller conference. Great faculty. Plenty of opportunity to learn. Held in Spartanburg, SC.

Florida Christian Writers Conference
It’s an opportune week to meet agents and editors, award winning writers and others who have heard the same call to write.  Come attend workshops and continuing classes that will sharpen your pen, develop your platform, and strengthen your resolve. Critique groups, meetings with agents and editors, writing contests, and camaraderie with fellow writers make this week one to remember. Held in Leesburg, FL.

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference
This one is my personal favorite. Maybe it's because I'm on staff, but really it's because this is the first conference I ever attended, and it's one I call home. Personable faculty, a wide variety of classes for all levels of writers, and a beautiful mountain setting. You can't go wrong with the Blue Ridge Conference. Held in Black Mountain, NC. May 21-24, 2017

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference
There are West Coast conferences! And Mount Hermon is one of the well-known conferences. Held in Felton, CA. April 7-11, 2017

ACFW: American Christian Fiction Writers
Are you a Christian fiction writer? ACFW is a great conference focused on writing Christian fiction. Held in Grapevine, TX. September 21-24, 2017

Write to Publish
Another popular Christian writer's conference. Held in Wheaton, IL. June 14-17, 2017

Realm Makers Conference
Do you write stories set in other worlds? Realm Makers may be the conference for you! Don't forget your cosplay! Held at Atlantis Casino Resort, Reno, NV. July 27-29, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Do You Write?

By Andrea Merrell


I have a question for you to ponder this week: Why do you write?

What is your true motivation? Have you ever really thought about it? These questions could also apply to speaking, teaching, mentoring, or any other type of leadership.

I read an article recently that suggested we should analyze our reasons for doing what we do, making sure it’s not out of need, insecurity, ego, or even a false sense of responsibility. According to the article, when we operate out of any of these motives, we are seeking praise, acceptance, approval, and the applause of the audience. I’ve heard this referred to as an “approval addict.”

All of us need approval, an occasional atta-girl or atta-boy to let us know we’re doing a good job. That’s the way God created us. But when we get to the point where we can’t function without that approval, we lose our focus and our purpose.

Some people say, “Do what you love.” We could add to that, “Do what you’re called and gifted to do.” When we operate within our God-given calling, we do it with love, grace, and passion. It’s a natural flow.

I am not gifted to dance, act, or work with children. My math grades in school proved I would never become an accountant or CPA. Other areas where I fall short are sewing, drawing, painting, photography, and … well, you get the picture. Over the years, I’ve tried and failed at many endeavors. But when God called me to write for Him, I knew He had shown me my true calling and passion. I write because I can’t not write. Not the best way to say it, but it makes the point.

So, what about you? Do you feel God’s call on your life to share the words He gives you. Maybe you write poetry or devotions that will bless others. Perhaps you’re a gifted novelist who can entertain your readers while showing them the way to live for Him. You might write articles or blog posts that will resonate with others, or children’s stories that will thrill youngsters and open their eyes to God’s creation, love, and truth.

The Bible says everything flows out of the abundance of the heart. When we recognize and utilize the unique gifts, talents, and abilities God has placed inside each of us, doing everything we do “as unto Him,” we don’t need the approval of the crowd—only the applause of our audience of One.

So, why do you write? What has been your motivator? We would love to hear from you.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/surasakiStock.)


TWEETABLE


Monday, March 13, 2017

Writing for God Begins at Home

By Lori Stanley Roeleveld


My son-in-law is a chef. You'd think he'd be sick of cooking when not at the restaurant, but instead, we have gourmet meals at holidays. 

My husband is a construction manager. You’d think he’d be exhausted at day’s end (and you’d be correct), but that doesn’t stop him from renovating our home, putting up bookshelves for our daughter, or helping neighbors with projects.

I’m a writer.

Thank God that early in my writing endeavors, I encountered a study in our local newspaper stating that the unhappiest spouses were those in unhappy marriages to good communicators. I flashed immediately on my tirade to my husband just the night before. I’d spelled out in great eloquence the depth and breadth of what I believed were our troubles (largely attributed to him). God took the opportunity to instruct me that the people in my life should be the first to benefit from my gift with words—not become victims of it.

If you’d interviewed my family about what it’s like to love a writer before that awakening, they might have had few positive things to say about it. (What’s there to say about someone shouting through a closed office door: “Not now! Can’t you see I’m writing?”)

After that, though, I took to heart that God likely intended to bless my family, friends, local church, and community through my writing before He unleashed me on the world. I sought opportunities to serve those I love with my words through praise, cards, notes, letters to the editor, church plays, and assistance with everything from resumes to eulogies.

God gave me an expanded vision that my writing ministry could have an immediate impact on the world right outside my office door without ever hitting the best-seller list. I realized that even if I never became a “published author,” He desires to use my words to further His kingdom. That’s when my words began to bless and build up my spouse, children, and extended family. They served friends and fellow worshippers. They provided light to coworkers.

Because God is so great, many of those acts I initially saw as sacrificial (read “time away from my real writing”) became unexpected stepping stones in my writing career. My agent discovered my work through letters to the editor in the paper. Church plays became some of my earliest published work, providing me with initial writing credentials. But, by then, I’d realized that was all beside the point.

The benefits of using my writing gift to bless my marriage, parenting, friendships, and relationships in the greater community are immeasurable. I shudder to think what damage my words could have caused if God hadn’t corrected me early on. Like a superhero gone bad, those of us who are skilled with words need to be sure we’re using them for good and not for evil. Writing for God begins at home.

I learned that lesson just in time.

What lessons have you learned through this writing journey? We would love to hear from you.


(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


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Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an inciteful blog since 2009, a pursuit that eventually resulted in two provocative non-fiction books, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) as well as an unsettling novella, Red Pen Redemption. If you don’t find her at her website, www.loriroeleveld.com, know she’s off slaying dragons. Lori lives in Rhode Island with her husband and surrounded by family, absolutely surrounded.




Monday, March 6, 2017

Writers & Taxes

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

I'm a writer, not an accountant. I want to clarify that up front. But since writers have to do taxes, I know a few things about keeping receipts and what I can claim as part of my business. So here is a short list of things writers will want to track for tax purposes (and it's by no means all-inclusive).

When writers attend conferences, purchase online courses, or pay for a local workshop, it's a tax write-off.

When writers travel to and from conferences, meetings, retreats, and critique group, they can keep track of their mileage, save receipts for airfare, hotel, and any transportation they must use during the conference. I use Google Maps to track my mileage. I save my receipt for the airport parking (that's a write-off too), the coffee shop where my critique group meets, etc. Then I Google Map the distance between my house and the destination and keep a spreadsheet of the dates, where I traveled to, for what purpose, and the round-trip mileage.

If you eat while at a conference or during a meeting, you can save your receipts for the cost of the food (this is also proof you were where you said you were). Food write-offs are usually a percentage, not full cost.

Do you love learning about writing? Buy a lot of books about writing? Or reference material? Writing magazines? Those are a write-off as well. But literature (the fiction novels and nonfiction reads) you enjoy is not a write-off.

Do you rent an office space specifically for your writing business? Have a room in your house that is a dedicated office? Ask your accountant how to write off the cost of having that space. (Understand that nothing except work can happen in that space.)

If you have such a space, then some portion of your electric bill, internet service, and phone may be written off too. Again, ask your accountant about this.

Did you buy a new laptop, desktop, camera, or tablet this year? Do you do a lot of business (blogging, writing, editing, etc.) on the electronic device you purchased? That's a write-off too.

What about programs such as Microsoft Office 365 or Scrivener? Yep. They qualify too. Do you pay for Dropbox, PicMonkey, MailChimp, or any other online service? Those can be written off as well.

These are just a few things that are tax deductions for the writer. As I said, I'm not an accountant, so please discuss any questions with yours. If you're new to the writing industry, these are simply things to consider as you move forward in your writing career.

Do you have anything else to add to the list? Feel free to add to it in the comments below. And don't forget to make that appointment with your accountant before April 15!

Tweetables:

A few tax pointers for #writers. {Click to Tweet}
 
What can #writers write off on their taxes? {Click to Tweet}