Monday, February 26, 2018

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience Part Two

By Andrea Merrell

In my last post we talked about how to make the most of your conference experience. This week, let’s look at a few more benefits and opportunities.

As I said before, be sure to have plenty of business cards (**with a photo**), and exchange them whenever you can. There is no greater place to connect with like-minded folks than a writers’ conference. These are people who get you. Follow up with them after the conference and establish a relationship. God has a way of creating kingdom connections and lifelong friendships ... and you never know how they might come. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

Learning the Craft
Conferences offer a wide variety of classes from social media to how to write a novel. You can learn everything from the basics of writing to marketing. Writing is a lifelong learning process, and this is the best way to sharpen your skills. Always be open and teachable. Take notes and brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes are recorded, purchase the MP3s or digital downloads. This way, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

Pitching Your Work
Whether you have a completed manuscript or simply an idea for a project, conferences give you the opportunity to meet with agents, editors, and publishers. Prepare your elevator pitch (your project in 30-60 seconds), and be ready to present it at your appointment, at a meal, or whenever the opportunity arises. (You might even get to share it in an actual elevator.) These industry professionals will give you valuable feedback. Listen to them carefully.

Contests and Critiques
Many conferences will allow you to send in your work ahead of time to be critiqued. This is another way to get feedback on your writing. Don’t hesitate to enter. It’s not important whether you win or lose; it will be good experience for you to submit your words.

Conferences are an important part of your writing career. Think of them as continuing education.Whatever you do, be ready. When you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will.

From your experience, what advice can you add? We would love to hear your suggestions.


Monday, February 19, 2018

The Struggle Is Real

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

I'm sitting here waiting for the water to boil so I can cook pasta and sauce for dinner. Sometimes, my writing career feels like a pot of water waiting to boil. Like it's taking forever to warm up so I can make something from it.

Have you ever felt that way?

Today isn't helping, either. For the second day in a row, my planner's outlined and detailed plans fell through the cracks of my day like broken pasta falls between the stove and the counter when it misses the pot. Forever lost.

See, I had plans. Good plans. Plans to write and plans to dream and plans to edit my client's work. I thought thoughts and was ready to put them into the Scrivener pages so they could magically, over time, transform into a book.

But after a day filled with dental appointments and fillings and sore teeth and a strained system after stressing in the dental chair all morning, followed by a day of another child's doctor appointment and spending three hours on the road in order to deliver a job site key to my husband, my planner sits without check marks noting the work I finished, because it. never. got. accomplished.

The struggle is real, my friends. {Click to Tweet}

Days come when life gets crazy - hectic - busy - beyond our control.

What's a writer to do? I have learned that just as I am imperfect, I have to learn to roll with life's imperfections.

I may not have gotten more than this blog post on the page. I may not have been able to edit my client's awaiting novel. And I may be frustrated and feel like finding a cabin in the woods to run off to so I can have focused time to get things done without interruptions.

But I did spend some quality time with the Lord - three full hours to think without being interrupted. I did get to focus my thoughts on my novel and discovered I need to develop my secondary characters so I know what roles they play in the plot. I did manage to finish reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth before the kids made it to school this morning.


There's always tomorrow.

At least we hope there is.

As Proverbs says, don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. But when life interrupts today, be still and know that He is still Lord of your day.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Keep the Writing Juices Flowing

This week, we welcome DiAnn Mills as our guest blogger. If you haven't heard, she has a new book out this month! High Treason released February 6th. Click here to find it on amazon.

by DiAnn Mills

Every writer has faced the monster called dried-up-prose. We read what we’ve penned from the previous day, and it sounds like the same dull voice from the day before that. Is there an inspiration injection to keep the writing juices flowing?

I don’t have an instant solution to perk creativity, but I do have several ways to help unplug the dam. One of these suggestions just might flood your brain and add momentum to your next word and the next.

Keep your #writing juices flowing with these tips from @DiAnnMills. {Click to Tweet}

Continuing Education
Writers need to navigate the waters of learning. This means study the respected blogs about the craft, publishing, and social media. Get involved in a writer’s group. Research conferences for a good fit.

Physical Checkup
Our thinking takes a hiatus when our bodies aren’t healthy. Make an appointment with a doctor for a complete checkup. If lifestyle modifications are prescribed, do it.

Sound Nutrition
If our diet consists of sugar, grease, and air, we have no fuel to write.

Start the day with exercise. Raise the heart rate and the neurons will fire with creativity.

God has the answers to our problems. He speaks to us through His Word, other people, His creation, circumstances, and meditation. His answer may not be as quick as we’d like, but God promises to answer our prayers.

By reading in our genre, we’re able to see various techniques and find inspiration for our own writing. Losing ourselves in another writer’s work frees our mind to solve the problems in our own work.

Take a Break
Walk away from your writing for a period. Relax in a walk or a hobby. The key is give it a rest.

Confide in a Trusted Friend
Many times our friends see our failings before we do. Take a deep breath and confide in someone you trust.

Mentor a Serious Writer
The best way to get our minds off ourselves is to help another person. The satisfaction of guiding a writer who longs for instruction often changes our thought patterns.

We all need to keep the juices flowing to inspire readers with our work.

What way do you keep yourself inspired?

  DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational ReadersChoice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at

Monday, February 5, 2018

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience Part One

By Andrea Merrell

With conference season getting underway, it's important for you as a writer to plan ahead. Let’s look at a few pointers to help you make the most of your conference experience. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned attender, it helps to be well prepared. Here are the basics to get you started.

Check the Website
First and foremost, check the website. You will generally find valuable information on both the conference and venue.

Check the weather (extended forecast) and pack accordingly. Take a jacket or sweater. Even in the summer months, classrooms and auditoriums can be chilly. Layering is always a good idea. Most conferences are business casual, and comfortable shoes are a must if you will be doing a lot of walking. If there is to be a banquet or awards night, you might want to take something dressy.

Some conference centers have restaurants, snack bars, and vending machines, but it’s helpful to take your favorite snacks for those in-between or late-night moments when food is not available. You can also pack a few bottles of water or soda. Be sure to keep mints with you at all times. 😊

Materials for the Conference
  • Business Card with your name, e-mail address, website, and photo. Make it a point to exchange business cards throughout the conference. This is how you network.
  • One-Sheet: a single sheet of paper with the title of your project, genre, word count, your photo and bio, and a short synopsis of your story (think back cover blurb).
  • Notebook, extra pens, conference schedule, and driving directions.

Other Important Items
Don’t forget your vitamins, prescription medications, and toiletry items (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razor). Many conferences are now fragrance free. Be sure to bring your chargers for phones, tablets, laptops, and extra batteries.

The most important thing to remember is to relax and make the most of your experience. It’s especially hard when you are a newbie, but we were all newbies at one time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help when you need it. Christian conferences are a special community of like-minded individuals who are more than ready to help each other.

In my next post (2/26) we'll talk about more ways to have a positive conference experience. In the meantime, happy writing.

(Photos courtesy of and Andrea Merrell.)