Which Hart Brother is Right for You?

My palms are sweaty. My heart is racing. I’m holding my breath.

Why?

The Seven Brides for Seven Texans romance collection will be gracing the shelves by Dec. 1. I know there are a lot of novella collections out there, but I promise you there’s none quite like this. I am so excited to share this book with my readers.

7-brides-2This collection features seven Hart brothers who’ve been told to find a bride within the year or lose their share of the ranch. Each of us authors had a different brother to write about. Some of the brothers served in the Civil War and have physical or mental trauma from that experience. One is doctor, some are ranchers, and mine–well, he’s a Texas Ranger. We authors collaborated on their backstories and their lives, so these stories are more interconnected than most novella collections. If you enjoy a good television series with an ensemble cast, this is the collection for you.

And did I mention these are some ruggedly romantic men?

Amanda Barrett put together a little quiz so you can find out which heart brother is for you. I think you’ll find the selections truly yummy. You can take the quiz here.

As this holiday season gets going, pamper yourself with a little Longhorn Love, and pre-order Seven Brides for Seven Texans today.

Christianbook.com

Amazon

 

5 Things Nobody Told Me About Writing

It’ll be fun, I thought. It can’t be that hard, can it? After all when creative writing time came around in high school English class, way back when, I was pretty sure I could pull off an A, maybe even an A+. Same thing with college writing courses. Years later I thought becoming a real writer would be a snap.

Oh, how cocky I was. I had so much to learn about the writing world. When I took my first correspondence writing course, I was stunned to learn how much I had to learn about writing. You mean there’s more to it than having a beginning, middle, and an ending? Oh, and of course, good grammar. Seriously? There’s more to it than that?

Was I naïve? Just a wee bit. Two writing courses later, I felt ready to take on the writing world and get my work out there, but I soon learned several things no course could ever teach me.

  1. Once you realize you were meant to be a writer, there is no going back. You’re in it for life. Every snippet of intriguing conversation you hear, that strange character you saw in the grocery store, or that weird tale someone told you, is followed up by, “Hmm, how can I use this in a book?” In your wildest dreams, you cannot imagine not writing.
  2. Once you have that great idea in your head for a novel, it will always be there, like a CD stuck on repeat for the…rest…of…your…life. Even if that great idea doesn’t pan out and a newer, more improved idea pops in, that original plot idea will always be there in the back of your mind saying, “Use me, use me.” Get used to it. It’s part of your life now. If you are hearing voices, you are an official writer. No matter what anybody says, do not let them take you away. If they do, however, remember you can write them into your next book from the safe confines of your hospital room. Then they will be sorry they ever messed with you.
  3. Rejection is a fact of life. At first you may want to curl up in a ball in your bed crying out, “Why me? Why me?” But someday that sting of rejection will turn to tears of joy when you tell your family, “The agent/editor/publisher doesn’t want to take on my project, but they said my story was wonderful.” That is a moment of pure bliss and should be celebrated as such. Little did I know I would ever welcome rejection. That just seems so…wrong.
  4. My biggest dream as a writer has changed from being published to receiving a phone call from an agent informing me that publishers are in a bidding war for rights to my novel and that Hallmark wants to buy movie rights. Ah, how I look forward to that day when I find myself lying on the floor taking that call. (Then I wake up and reality hits.)
  5. No one ever told me how much joy I would receive from fan mail from little girls who read my books. All of the hard work and the waiting, waiting, and more waiting pays off when that first letter comes along. Knowing that something I wrote has touched a young person’s life is one of the best feelings ever. As a writer, it doesn’t get much better than that.I love writing

More Christian Writer Conferences!

Oh there are so many Christian writer conferences I’d love to attend – I could spend all year traveling and learning! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Over the past few weeks we’ve touched on several excellent conferences including:

*Christian Fiction Readers Retreat
*WordSowers Christian Writers Conference
*Realm Makers

But there are so many more out there for writers to choose from, from all regions of the country, that deserve a mention. I can’t list all off them here, but the list below highlights some of the more popular conferences.

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) August 25 – 28, 2016 in Nashville, TN. — This is probably the biggest one for Christian writers, editors, agents, publicists, etc. I’ve met most of my writing friends through ACFW so going to this conference is always like a family reunion. Here you’ll also find a top-notch setting, delicious food, high-quality courses, opportunities to meet your favorite authors and to pitch your work to editors and agents.

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, April 7 – 11, 2017 in Mount Hermon, California — I haven’t ever attended this conference, but everyone says it rivals ACFW for best conference. Someday …

Colorado Christian Writers Conference, held this past weekend May 11 – 14 in Estes Park, Colorado — Probably my favorite conference experience. Where ACFW is bigger and fancier, this conference is cozy and laid back. The Rocky Mountain setting with oodles of wildlife can’t be beat. It was at this conference that I took advanced courses with Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue, had a continuing ed class with James Scott Bell (I also had an author appointment with JSB that encouraged me to keep writing), sat in on a talk by Ted Dekker, and, best of all, met friend and critique partner, Stephanie Prichard and her husband, Don. Look for this conference next year in mid-May. A similar conference is held in Philadelphia annually (August 3 – 6 this year.) Register here: Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Portland, Oregon, August 15 – 18, 2016. — This is the conference I’d love to attend this year. Just look at some of these names on the faculty list: James Scott Bell, Angela Hunt, Karen Ball, Lynn Austin, Susan May Warren, Jeff Gerke, James Rubart, Chip MacGregor, and so many more.

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, near Asheville, NC, May 22 – 26, 2016 — This is another conference I’ve always wanted to attend, but being it’s held in May which has been a very busy month for the past several years., it hasn’t been an option yet.

Breathe Conference, Grand Rapids, MI, October 7 – 8, 2016 — a smaller conference I’ve wanted to attend. They usually have fabulous keynote speakers–this year it’s James Scott Bell–and it’s a drivable location for me.

Which conferences are your favorites? Would you add any to this list?

You Can Go Home Again

Along a writer’s journey, one baby step leads to another. For me, the desire to share the stories that live inside my head has been a long and slow process.  When my kids were small, I began to look for others who understood  my passion, and could help me with my craft. This led to a local writer’s group in Central Arkansas, which eventually led to attending a conference in Northwest Arkansas called Ozark Creative Writers. Although there were writers from every genre, one year the featured the Christian fiction team of Hannah Alexander who were actually a man and wife from southern Missouri. They introduced the whole idea of inspirational fiction as a genre. I had never dreamed there was such a thing!

Long story short, my path was now more defined, and I began to concentrate on writing what God had put on my heart. Back at home, I found an online critique group called Writing Chambers. Some of these folks were members of American Christian Romance Writers. Soon after I joined, they became American Christian Fiction Writers. Now, I was Really  home! These folks had a seemingly unlimited supply of resources to help me along the way. I learned about a national conference in Nashville, saved my money, convinced my hubby to go along, and learned of another wide, wonderful world of publishers, editors, agents.

At that conference, I met an author named Deborah Vogts who was from my childhood home of Southeast Kansas. She told me about their group’s annual conference in April, named Called to Write.  They are a small group, but they attract big name authors like Deborah Raney and Kim Vogel Sawyer, and agents like Hartline’s Terry Burns. Since my hubby was less than enamored with writing conferences, I convinced a friend from that first Central Arkansas Fiction group to accompany me on a road trip, and we returned to my home territory.

The picture at the top was taken that first year, when I actually won an award. That’s me in the middle of the back row with the big smile. I have been back three more times. Lifelong friendships, honing my craft, showing my friend the sights in my hometown, Pittsburg, Kansas. What a joy !

Along the way, I made connections with my first agent, and this year, I met a small publisher who asked me to submit a proposal. In a few days, when I hit “Send”, another new chapter in my story may begin.

Bottom line, let God take your hand as you walk. He will definitely lead you gently Home. Called to Wrtie-2016

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

I’ve never been to a writing conference so I don’t have any wisdom to impart or fun pics to post. Attending one is definitely on my bucket list but health wise that’s highly unlikely. I can’t even work half a day so the kind of travel and crazy schedule of a conference wouldn’t work for me.

But I can dream — and this mini day conference for readers really tickles my fancy. Their motto is “Honoring God Through Christian Fiction.” Such a brilliant concept cooked up by three avid readers and bloggers, Carrie Booth Schmidt, Bonnie Roof and Annie (Just Commonly.) You’ve probably seen them around cyberspace or on Facebook and I’m so glad they came up with this FANTABULOUS idea. Seriously genius, I think. Especially since they piggybacked their event with the ACFW conference in Nashville. I’m praying this becomes an annual event.

So, what is a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat? A day of literary bliss and sheer mayhem, sounds like. They have a packed schedule which includes guest author speakers like Ruth Logan Herne, Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman and Laura Frantz. I counted 34 Christian fiction authors participating!!!!!!!!!! Plus they have two author-packed panel discussions, praise and worship and a prayer session. Oh…and an author signing.

You can get all the information here:

http://christianfictionreadersretreat.blogspot.ca/

 

Return to Realm Makers

This year I’m going to return to the best Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy conference ever: Realm Makers. Founded by the Faith and Fantasy Alliance, it is a conference that focuses solely on speculative genres.

 

 

Becky Minor at Realm Maker's
Elven Becky Minor at Realm Makers

I attended the first Realm Makers back in 2013. I was impressed then of the caliber of the classes and talent they had teaching. It was my first experience with a class showing others how to write believable fight scenes by having students mock fight. So much fun, and very informative.

Realm Makers 2016 is to be held July 28th and 29th on the campus of Villanova University. Thomas Locke (AKA Davis Bunn) is the Keynote speaker. The faculty includes Kathy Tyers (who has written for the Star Wars brand), Tosca Lee, Mike Duran, Steve Laube, Julie Gwinn from the Seymour Agency, Kirk DouPonce, Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn (AKA Suzy Q), Patrick Carr, and Thom Black. This faculty is award winning and impressive for a conference that started three short years ago.

The banquet features attendees who dress in costume. And they’re still having a Fight Workshop. I’m so excited to beSplickety Logo able to go this year, especially since I’ll get to meet all the fabulous people from Splickety Publishing Group, whom I work with as Operations Manager.

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Me as a Steampunk Mad Hatter

So, if you were to go to the Science Fiction/Fantasy banquet, what character would you like to dress up as?

 

P.S.: Steve Laube just moved Enclave, formerly Marcher Lord Press, to Gilead Publishing.

P.P.S. Becky Minor gave me the numbers. Last year, 2015, there were 150. This year she hopes to top over 175. Not bad, considering! 

Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference

A little over a week ago, I had the privilege of attending the Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference, held right here in Bellevue, Neb. In fact, the conference was held at my church, LifeSpring Church, a mere four minute drive from my house! (They kept asking who came the farthest to get to the conference, but no one thought to ask who came the shortest!)

Unlike some writers conferences, like the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference that attracts writers from all over the country, this was more of a weekend retreat. The Wordsowers are a fine local group of writers, and they put on a wonderful, cost-efficient conference that has grown a lot in the four years they’ve been putting it on.

Cheryl St John
Active, Vivid Writing with Cheryl St. John.

The conference consisted of an opening session on Friday night, followed by a night cap to meet fellow conference attendees, authors, and speakers. On Saturday, an opening session featured speaker Troy Griepentrog of Focus on the Family, and then workshops throughout the day that ranged from The Ten Commandments of Humor and Digging Deep Into Your Characters, to Song Painting and Using Sales Funnels to Fins New Readers. There really was something for every type of writer (well, maybe not technical manuals…)

One thing I was impressed with was the sheer amount of talent in this region! Writers from all over came (including a few from Illinois and Texas), to teach, to learn, to share their writing experiences. While this wasn’t the type of conference where fledging writers come to meet with agents and publishers in hopes of getting “the call,” it is a great place to meet others journeying along this path to publication. To meet people who “get” what it means when you talk in acronyms like POV and MC. Who understand when you talk about the struggle to translate the rapturous visions in your head to the black and white computer screen. Who don’t ask why you need to know a good way to kill someone with a musical instrument; they just ask if you’re thinking of using one from the brass or woodwind family (oh, wait, that’s just me!).

Brainstormers
My brainstorming group: Mikal Hermans, Sara Bernier, me, and Jennifer Slattery.

I love hanging out with other writers because they “get” me. Other than learning new ways to make my writing sing, Wordsowers was a lot of fun because I got to hang out with my kindred spirits, old and new. Whoever thinks writing is a solitary business obviously isn’t doing it right.

For anyone interested, Wordsowers 2017 is already in the works, with New York Times best-selling author (and a Lincoln, Neb. transplant!) Tosca Lee headlining as the keynote speaker. Mark your calendars and come join us!

Tosca Lee

Conferences for Readers and Writers

When we were in school, conference time might have conjured up images of your parents having a secret meeting with your teacher to talk about YOU. But if you are a writer or a fiction reader, the word conference may have a whole new meaning.

The conference world for writer’s is large and growing. There are local conferences in many major cities. There are regional conferences and their are national get-togethers with thousands attending. Do you write suspense? There’s a conference for that. Steampunk? Yep. Non-fiction. Lots. Even more fun are conferences directed at bringing readers and author’s together.

For the next two weeks, the Inkspers will be discussing conferences. We will highlight some, share information on how to get the most out of a conference, and tell a few stories on our own conference experiences.

Reader Events

BVRW-logoBarbar Vey Readers Appreciation Event

On April 30 to May 1, the Barbara Vey Readers Appreciation Event was held in Milwaukee. There were over 60 authors in attendance and over 420 readers. What a party that had to be with giveaways, lunch, question and answer sessions, and lots of good conversation. If you live in the area, keep it in mind for next year.

RomConRomCon

RomCon’s site says they “ALWAYS” put reader’s first. This event is limited to 250 people and will be held Sept 27 and 28 in Denver, CO, at the Renaissance Denver. Over 65 authors will be in attendance. The event features intimate chats with authors, a luncheon, readers parties, comedy improv shows, a “We Love Cowboys” event, and a Western night with roping, a mechanical bull, and line dancing. Oh yeah, there’s a chat panel with NYT bestselling authors, too. Find out more here.

CFRR Website CoverChristian Fiction Readers Retreat

This year, a new event has been planned which will be held before the annual American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference. The Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat will be held on Aug.  24 in Nashville. The idea behind the event is for readers and authors to come together “to honor Him through Christian Fiction.”

Julie Lessman, Laura Frantz, Mary Connealy, and Ruth Logan Herne will be speaking and 30 authors will be participating. For more information on this event, go here.

Hungary to connect with authors? These are just a few of the readers conferences available, but I believe more will be popping up in the future, so keep your eyes (and browser) open to the possibilities of one coming near you.

What do you think? Would you pay to go to a conference like one of these?

Friendly Future Reads

The life of an author has so many perks, even before the big goal of publication is achieved. One of those bonuses is that you get to rub elbows with wonderful writers.

My “to be read “pile is full of titles by ladies I have actually met. The physical stack on my nightstand forms a cute little book stack poem- “Room for Hope, Robin. Eat Ice Cream for Supper.”

Room for Hope is a historical by one of my favorite Kansas authors, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Her characters are always memorable, their struggles real. The only thing I don’t like about Kim’s books is reaching the end of the story. She has also been gracious enough to critique my own work in progress. Priceless!

Robin is the first book by a lady who this year was in charge of the Called to Write conference that takes place in my childhood hometown. She is an inspiration to me, because her first published novel is happening at a time in her life when she is, well, let’s say, mature. Like me! Love me some Julane Heibert.

I’ve owned Eat Ice Cream for Supper by Kathy Manning Gronau for a few years. It is all about her encounter with cancer. Because my Mom’s battle is still fresh in my mind, I have yet to read it. But, I so admire Kathy for writing it, and when the time is right, I know I will love this book.

The remainder of my TBRs are contained on my Kindle. Chapel Springs Survival is the second book by Ane Mulligan, who offered me so much support online when I was the president of our local ACFW chapter. The first was a rollicking adventure about a modern-day Lucy and Ethel that kept me in stitches. Can’t wait to dive into this one!TBR Mulligan

Finally, one of the first friends I made at a writer’s conference, Barbara Warren, has a new cozy mystery called Deception. In addition to being a lover of fried bread at a great restaurant in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Barbara is a professional editor, and an expert at clean, tight writing. I know this one will be a great read.TBR Warren

Friends who write provide me with books who are bound to become new friends. I love my life!

Spring Smorgasbord

 

No matter what the occasion, I’m always ready to spring into a good book. And I get a tad shy of giddy when given an opportunity to share what I’m reading. I’ve tried to curb my enthusiasm by limiting my list of spring must-reads to the books currently in  my TBR pile. It’s still formidable though, so let’s get started. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ll be reading in the next month or so.

I always choose a selection from Love Inspire every month. I love the consistency of their line and the guaranteed happily ever after. Not mention the amazing authors!

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Picking out two Amish books was a given since I love this genre. I’ve read Rebecca Kertz before but Jo Ann Brown is a new-to-me author so I’m looking forward to getting acquainted.

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Heartwarming and faith-filled, the Love Inspired contemporary romance line has a lot to offer. Especially with fantastic authors like Lisa Carter and Glynna Kaye!

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And seriously, how could I resist catching up with Linda Ford’s new historical series? Especially with covers as appealing as these beckoning to me.

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Romantic suspense is a genre I can’t seem to get enough of. Excited about the new K-9 continuity series. Puppies! Intrigue! Romance! Need I say more?

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And speaking of romantic suspense…sqqqqquuuueeeaaalllll!!!!!! Irene Hannon’s newest release is hovering near the top of my teetering TBR pile. I can’t wait to dive in. She never disappoints.

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These three came courtesy of my public library. I love that they are expanding their Christian Fiction collection. I do my part by recommending books every month. I got first dibs on these ones for that very reason.

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One of the huge blessings in my reading life is receiving free books in exchange for an honest review. This trio arrived on my doorstep via Litfuse Publicity Group. Cozy mystery, fairy tale retelling and women’s fiction. Can’t get more eclectic than that!

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These two are courtesy of public library too. I have read both artists in the Christian Fiction genre and while I think these are for the general market I’m sure I’m going to love them as well.

Phew! So that’s what I am reading this spring! How about you?