Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 10 Days to go

START PACKING!

Not that my luggage is quite this classy or anything…

Maybe someday…

 

In the past, our luggage actually looked a lot more like this:

Which is one reason we purchased a new set of suitcases for this conference – that and… all of the ones we have are a bit battle-scarred.

 

You may want to consider buying some new luggage yourself… especially if you fly – unless what you already have will fit what the airline allows. In that case, don’t spend the $$$ because it will probably get thrown all over the place in transit anyway.

If you are flying, make sure you check the rules for the specific airline you are flying with.

They ALL seem to have different rules and you don’t want to get to the airport only to find out that you can’t board the plane.

To be safe, stick with the travel sizes for any bottle! They can be sticklers about that.

 

If you are driving, make sure you account for the fact that in St. Louis, you will most likely have to pay for parking – if you stay at the Hyatt where the conference is being held, or another Hotel nearby. You don’t want to have to make six trips back to your vehicle.

 

Pack smart – if you have odds and ends, put them in an extra suitcase (preferably one that’s stackable or that can be attached to your main case) instead of having two or three bags or boxes on top of your regular luggage.

 

Consider bringing snacks and/or sandwiches.

You never know when you’re going to hit a stretch of road where there are NO exits for miles and miles and miles.

And speaking of a stretch of road that goes for miles with no exits… STOP for restroom breaks before it becomes an emergency – same with fuel!
Stop to fill up when your tank hits the halfway mark.

Play it safe! You’ll have a more enjoyable trip that way!

 

And as far as the packing goes…

MAKE A LIST! – And it sounds trite but check it TWICE!

Pack at least one extra outfit. Things happen and you may not have time or $$$ to shop for something new!

Don’t forget your travel shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, toothpaste and the ever important toothbrush!

I can’t tell you how many times I failed to bring mine, thinking that the hotel would have it and had to go buy some when we got there because they didn’t… or the type they have gives me a rash… or it doesn’t stretch the whole visit and they want to charge an arm and a leg for another (in that case, go to a local wal-mart – trust me, it WILL be cheaper).

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

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Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 12 Days to go

DO NOT PANIC!

 

I know it’s coming up fast now but you have to calm down, take some deep breaths and relax!

 

1) IF YOU PANIC… You’ll miss things!

I have learned that lesson over and over and over. If I get in a panic and rush around trying to get out the door, I forget things.

 

2) IF YOU PANIC… You won’t be ready!

This is the same lesson. Whenever I get in a panic, I rush around and for some reason it takes me at least three times as long to do things… and I don’t usually get everything done.

 

3) IF YOU PANIC… You won’t have as much fun as you would like!

If you panic now, you won’t be able to enjoy the days leading up to conference. And you just might wear yourself out so much that you can’t enjoy the conference either.

 

Remember that. RELAX! And have a great conference!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

SPECIAL POST – REMEMBER | Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 14 Days to go

Remember…

 

 

 

In honor of the tragedy that took place thirteen years ago today, I am doing this post a little differently.

 

Today I want you to take a moment to REMEMBER with me.

Remember why we write Christian fiction.

I don’t know about you but I write Christian fiction to help shine God’s light into a hurting and lost world. It’s not just about showing lost people the way to God, it’s about lifting up His children and helping them to hold onto Him as we make our way through this world.

 

Remember Who is inspiring our writing.

One of our favorite pastors has a motto that I just love. “Our number one job in life is to make Jesus look good.” – David Gibbs Jr.

In this life, we have a job as followers of Christ. We are to show the world the light of Jesus that shines through us. For writers, that means that our words should reflect that light. They should show the world how wonderful God is and not dwell in the darkness of the world.

And it is possible to write about that darkness while still showing the light of God through it!

It’s not easy but it is possible. If it were easy, every writer would do it.

 

Remember what our message is!

Our message ultimately, whether you write Amish fiction or speculative is LOVE – God’s love.

Remember that and you will be just fine.

 

And lastly…

 

REMEMBER the sacrifice!

Remember the sacrifice that so many men and women made willingly on that fateful day thirteen years ago in the effort to save as many as they could and remember the sacrifice that so many men and women make every day on the battlefields, fighting for our freedom.

 

But most of all, remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and for me on that day more than two-thousand years ago on a cross! Remember that sacrifice when you write, when you promote, when you are on social media, when you attend conferences and when you speak to people in everyday life.

Remember that Jesus wants to shine through your life and do everything you can to make Him look good, every day, in every thing!

 

 

Good Day and GOD Bless!

~ Rachel

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 16 Days to go

What NOT to bring?

 

 

We briefly touched on this in the original post about what to bring to conference HERE but this really needs it’s own post!

 

Remember when we pointed out that many editors and agents are going paperless and even those that aren’t… might not want to drag home reams and reams of paper. That is still very true.

Even if you have an agent who has been looking over your work, they may not want to lug 300 pages home with them.

And it’s just possible that YOU don’t want to lug it around either… so don’t go running over to Kinkos and run off three copies of the MS to bring with you. Most hotels have a copy center…and if they don’t, the conference is in a Hyatt and they do have a copy center.

 

I learned the hard way for the last conference I attended…

DO NOT BRING BOOKMARKS unless you have a book to go with them. If you have a contract or you are already in the process of self-publishing, bring bookmarks…scads of them, buckets of them and hand them out like crazy.

But if you don’t have a book that is in the process of  being published, a bookmark is just a long business card and it’s not worth the extra money you will have to spend when you have to order a second run with all of the info about who and when… and the name may change… and the cover may change…

So be safe and thrifty and wait for the bookmarks.

 

 

I know the post says we’re talking about what NOT to bring but while I’m here…

 

I PLAN to bring a few favorite books that I want signed. Don’t go crazy and bring your whole library with you but a few favorites would not be a bad idea…

You never know who you might sit next to at breakfast or lunch or bump into on your way to a session. And if you happen to have their book with you… well you get the drift.

I have not yet discovered a way to find out exactly who IS attending but I’m betting you can figure out most of them by watching Facebook, Twitter and Websites. A lot of authors talk about events coming up and ACFW is a big one for most of us.

 

I still say it’s still a good idea to at least bring your laptop with you. It’s no big deal to leave it in your hotel room. And they have so many great rolling bags now that you can use if you don’t want to carry a bag or a briefcase or a backpack.

You never know when someone will ask you to e-mail your first three chapter or a proposal or even the whole book to them.

 

 

OK. SO we’ve already talked about what to wear. Now we’ve talked a bit about what to bring…and what NOT to bring.

And while we are talking about what to bring… YES! You still have time to order business cards! GO find some you like and order them. They’ll usually get to you within a week or ten days. Vistaprint still has some REALLY great deals going on!

 

Good Day and GOD Bless!

~ Rachel

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 18 Days to go

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE!

 

I was painfully reminded only a few minutes ago of why we should NEVER do this. I won’t go into details except to say this: It is very true! When you take on too much and spread yourself too thin, you miss important things. When you have too many blogs, you don’t post often enough on any of them and you end up having a smaller number of “likes” on each one.

At any rate, the point is this: No one can do a better job of being YOU! You are unique, one-of-a-kind, fearfully and wonderfully made and NO ONE else can be YOU!

Remember that while you are preparing for conference in the next two and a half weeks.

 

1) NO ONE ELSE CAN WRITE YOUR STORY!

Even if two authors took the exact same story line, characters and plot to write – you would end up with two VERY DIFFERENT stories at the end!

 

2) NO ONE IS DEALING WITH EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS YOU ARE!

God knows what you can handle and what you can’t and He knows what challenges you need to encourage you to be the best you can be!

 

3) NO ONE ELSE LOOKS AT THE WORLD THE WAY YOU DO!

You are the only person who sees the world the way you do and no one else can understand exactly how that outlook is.  

 

4) NO TWO PEOPLE GET TO THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME ALONG THE SAME ROUTE!

Every author I talk to has a different story to tell about how they went from Chapter 1 to Contract. We can read all the books about “How to Write”, follow all the rules about queries, send material to the same agents and attend all the same conferences but no two authors are going to go from Chapter 1 to contract along the same route.

Each author finds an agent differently. Each author gets a contract differently. Each journey is different and we really should not try to judge ours by anyone else’s.

Remember that. And have a great conference!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

Author Spotlight: Vannetta Chapman | And a SURPRISE GIVEAWAY!

 

Today we welcome Bestselling Author:

FLowers N Butterflies Polaroid

 

 She has come to share with us – a little of her own writing journey
and some of that much-needed encouragement.

Thank You Vannetta!

God Bless You!

 

OK, first – questions:

 

– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day. Was “A Simple Amish Christmas” your first completed novel? (And let me just say here – if it was… WOW! Because it is AMAZING!)

Actually A Simple Amish Christmas was the 9th book I wrote and the first book published – so take heart! I still think those other 8 novels are good books, and in fact I am publishing one of them as an indie book this month.

 

– Can you tell us a bit about what inspires you to write both Cozy Amish mysteries and such wonderful Amish Romances?

I do enjoy writing about the Amish. I think their lifestyle is very close to that of our grandparents, and also they remind me of simple country folk that can be found all over our country.

 

– Would you mind sharing with us how many rounds of querying you went through before getting that “YES!” or if you went about it a little differently…?

Oh my. I sent out a LOT of queries. I could have easily wallpapered a room with my rejections, and I am NOT exaggerating. Honestly, I think it was a matter of hitting the right agent and the right publisher at the right moment–which has to be a God thing. OUR PART, in my opinion, is to keep the faith, keep writing, keep learning, and keep submitting.

 

– You released “A Simple Amish Christmas in 2010, “Falling to Pieces” in 2011 then “A Perfect Square”, “A Promise For Miriam” and “Material Witness” in 2012. That sounds like a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Is there an interesting story in there or just interesting timing on the publishers part?

Yes, I was writing for 3 publishers at once, and it was a bit of a roller-coaster. Fortunately my agent helps to work out the coordination of those contracts, and the publishers are very understanding about my timelines as far as when I can get a book in to them. I do enjoy writing in two different sub-genres and now I’ve added inspirational romantic suspense to the mix!

 

– Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?

Absolutely. Keep writing! (I might have mentioned that before.) The biggest mistake I see is when writers finish their first book they stop and tinker with it, or simply wait for a publisher to pop up and offer them a contract. With each book we write, we learn new skills. It’s important to attend classes, workshops, critique groups–whatever helps you to grow as an author. And above all–keep writing.
Thank you for having me. I’d be happy to answer questions if anyone has a question. Feel free to post them in the comment section.

 

Please join me in thanking Vannetta for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.

 And I hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!

Keep reading for details on the giveaway.

 

 

Now for some other info about Vannetta and her wonderful books

 

And you can find more on her WEBSITE.

Vannetta Chapman Headshot

The first thing you need to know about me is that I write Fiction full of GRACE.  Every plot is different. The characters change. Some of my books are mysteries, others are novellas, and some are romances. But they all are stories of light, hope, and truth. Stories that at least for a moment touch the deepest places in our heart.

Tales that whisper hope. That speak of family and community. That remind us of God and His love.

What do I write? If I had to reduce it to four words, I suppose I’d say I write Fiction full of GRACE.


I hold a BA and MA degree in English, and I am proud to be represented by Mary Sue Seymour, AAR. I have published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, and have received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  I am honored to be a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Faith Hope and Love.

I live and teach in the Texas hill country with my husband, cats, and a rather large herd of deer. Our four children have flown the nest; however, we are fortunate that they all live close enough to visit.

I have always felt that my faith was at the very center of who and what I am, and I am thrilled beyond words to be able to now write about something that is so near to my heart. At various times I have served as a pianist, teacher, church secretary, and worship team member. While living in the Dallas area, I served as an adjunct professor of English Literature at Dallas Baptist University. When we moved to a small town in Central Texas, I continued teaching for a few years, but I now write full-time and I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band.

My grandfather was born in Albion, Pennsylvania, and I am currently researching whether I might have Amish roots.


December 2013, I was honored to be featured on the ACFW page. In that interview I discuss how I came to write Amish fiction, and why I continue to do so. You can read that interview here. I was also featured on the ACFW page when I first began writing. That piece speaks to the amount of grace in my life. I’m enormously grateful that God is so willing to give each and every one of us more than one chance, more than two chances, but in fact a multitude of chances …

ACFW Feature

MY FIRST SALE:

Vannetta Chapman
by Tiffany Amber Stockton

“Finding a good balance is always a challenge. I want to live in the present that God has given me, live with intention, and be appreciative of what I have now.”
—Vannetta Chapman

After graduating from college, launching into a teaching career, re-establishing a family after a painful divorce, and writing nine novels, Vannetta Chapman knows the meaning of a challenge. However, since so many others also face the challenge of balance, she sees herself as like everyone else.

God used the pain to help shape her life and her writing.

Thankfully, Vannetta Chapman’s parents have always been supportive of her in all she’s pursued. During her years as a single mom, God used the pain to help shape her life and her writing. He showed her His grace and love, and confirmed to her His plan and purpose. Eleven years ago, she met and married her husband, and she wouldn’t be the author she is today without his love and support.

Click here for rest of feature…


Vannetta is a proud member of the following writing organizations:

American Christian Fiction Writers

Faith, Hope and Love (Inspirational Chapter of RWA)

Romance Writers of America

 

 

Vannetta Chapman has so many wonderful books, it’s hard to know which ones to highlight so I will just tell you about what is coming up! Exciting! (Keep reading – we’ll get to the giveaway I promise)

 

Hidden

HIDDEN is an inspirational romantic suspense scheduled for release on September 30th.

Home is where our story begins …

DANA JACOBS would rather forget the night of tragedy and violence that marred her childhood. She is now supervisor in charge of the Department of Homeland Security in Taos, New Mexico. Her team is prepared to handle any threat—biological, chemical, conventional, cyber, even nuclear. BENJAMIN MARSHALL is newly assigned to Dana’s office. Straight from a six year military deployment, he is not what Dana wants or needs.

Ben knows God has a reason for putting him in this place at this time—to help Dana. When a local school is threatened, they open a case which leads them on a chase through the Enchanted Circle and Carson National Forest, pursuing a man filled with a bitterness Dana can understand. But her anger is different. It’s justified, it remains hidden inside, and it hurts no one.

Can Dana face her own mortality? And when she does, can she truly understand what it means to forgive and to be forgiven?

**This book will be available in print and ebook format through all standard vendors.

(I’m betting  this is the book Vannetta Refers to above)

 

Don’t forget the next installment of her new Amish Village Mysteries!

Murder Tightly Knit

This next installment is scheduled for release December 16th! I know I can hardly wait!

When a local Amish man is found dead, the Middlebury Amish Artisan Village comes under suspicion. Two amateur sleuths—one Amish, one English—will have to work quickly to keep fear from dividing their community.

As fall blankets the Pumpkinvine Trail with leaves of brown, gold, and orange, a local Amish man is found dead on the path. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—toward the local survivalist group and toward the Amish Village—specifically the village’s knitting shop, The Cat’s Meow. The police call in a federal investigator, and he quickly puts everyone on the suspect list. Amber Bowman and Hannah Troyer know who isn’t guilty—they know this community down to the last buggy, but can find the guilty party before someone else is in danger?

While Hannah helps Amber solve the mystery, she and Jesse Miller continue courting. But when Jesse’s prodigal brother returns to their farm, Jesse becomes distracted by family troubles. He and Hannah will have to overcome the tension in order to keep their relationship alive. And Amber and Hannah will need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.

 

 

Vannetta recently announced that her 3 Shipshewana Mystery Novels are being compiled into 1 volume! Don’t we all just love having three books we LOVE in one place!

            

A Perfect Square        Falling to Pieces         Material Witness

The eBook version is already available for Pre-Order at Amazon HERE!

 

And… we don’t have much information yet but I know I’m excited about this series to come!

Plain and Simple Miracles Series (set in Oklahoma, romance)

  • Anna’s Healing (Book 1 – October 2015)
  • Joshua’s Mission (Book 2 – February 2016)
  • Sarah’s Orphans (Book 3 – October 2016)

SOUNDS EXCITING DOESN’T IT!

 

 

WOW!

SO MANY GREAT BOOKS!

Where will you start reading?

 

Vannetta Chapman is a particular inspiration to me for a couple of reasons.

She was a single mom during much of her writing career and I personally relate to that as, I’m sure, do many of our readers!

And… she was another author who was presented with the idea to write Amish fiction – a genre she had no real experience with – but her wonderful agent convinced her it was a good fit for her so she went right to work researching and writing.

And I don’t know about you but I think her stories are just AMAZING!

GOD BLESS YOU VANNETTA! And may you continue writing for years and years to come!

 

AND NOW…

… our GIVEAWAY!

 

Vannetta has graciously offered to give away ONE of her books
to ONE of our readers!

ONE of our readers will win a book (of their choice) of Vannetta’s

Click HERE for a complete list of her books!

 

What do you have to do?

First you have to SHARE this post!

You can share it on the social media site of your choice!

Then come back here and post a comment below with the link!

 

FOR FACEBOOK:

Click HERE and share our Facebook Post.

EDIT: Apparently Facebook will NOT let me see all of the shares due to privacy settings so…

You can chose whether to post a comment HERE with the link
or on the FB post itself.

 

The contest will run from today until September 14th.

Winner will be announced no later than September 15th

rules and regulations for all contests can be found HERE.

You will get one extra entry if you LIKE our post
and another if you FOLLOW our blog!

 

God Bless You all and Have a GREAT week!

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 20 Days to go

EDIT! EDIT! EDIT!

 

Even though this is clearly a paper tacked to a school wall, it holds some very important lessons, for even even for us adult writers…

 

No matter how perfect you think your manuscript is, there are always going to be mistakes!

How do I know this? Because every single PUBLISHED book I have ever read, I have found at least 1 ONE mistake. No it’s not always the writer’s mistake. A lot of times it is obviously a publishing error or even a computer glitch-type thing. But there is always at least ONE! 

So… don’t get too hung up on your editing.

But DO IT!

And do it again.

And do it again.

And then have someone else read it.

And then do it again.

And then, put it down and MOVE ON!

You’ll never get the next story written if you stay hung up on the first.

But ALWAYS edit your first story!

And if you are one of those people that can edit one story while writing another, GO FOR IT because, chances are, you are going to be doing it at some point or other in your writing career anyway.

So edit, edit, edit and then move on!

But… with conference coming up, it wouldn’t hurt to go over your MS at least once – just a cursory look at it.

 

And then get to writing. Get back into that groove so that you can honestly say that you are working on the next project when someone asks!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come!