Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guest Amanda Flower

Readers, please welcome my friend, and fellow COTT staff member, Amanda Flower as today's guest blogger.  Amanda, thank you so much for being my guest today here at Adventures in Writing!


Amanda Flower’s Pitching Tips

I’ve recently returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis, and Michelle asked me to stop by and share with you some of what I learned at the conference.

I decided to go to this particular conference because I live in Ohio, so the conference was nearby. Also, it was the perfect opportunity to learn about the Christian publishing industry and pitch my unpublished novels to agents and editors.

The closer and closer I got to Indiana the more nervous I became. You see, I am a published author, but I’ve never pitched to an agent or editor face-to-face. I sold my debut mystery, Maid of Murder, in a less traditional manner you can read all about in my friend April Gardner’s blog.

However, when it was all over, I did come away from the conference with some pitching tips that I’m happy to share.

1)      Pray right before your appointment. I believe my prayer went something like this, “Please, can you just make sure I don’t sound like a babbling fool for the next say twenty minutes. Amen.”

2)      At the beginning of the time, ask the agent or editor what he or she is acquiring. Save yourself from the anxiety and embarrassment of pitching a fantasy to an editor who is only interested in historical romance.

3)      Notice the agent’s or editor’s body language as you’re speaking. As a writer you are an observer of human nature, right? You can tell pretty early on if the person you are talking to isn’t buying what you are selling.

4)      When an agent or editor agrees to look at your work, thank them and wrap up the interview. Don’t use up more of his or her time than is necessary. You might look desperate if you keep pressing for the hard sell, when you’ve already succeeded.

5)      Remember that your life and writing career do not hang in the balance over how well you speak in the next fifteen minutes. This can be hard to remember as the wait for your appointment can be agonizing. At the ACFW conference, the organizers had us wait on a walled platform for our appointments, which they nicknamed “purgatory.” It was very appropriately named.

6)      Good or bad, reward yourself. I went to the mall and bought myself a sweater. However, you can reward yourself without spending money even if it’s a quick call home to your kids or a retreat to your hotel room to escape the crowd.

7)      Pray right after the appointment. I spoke with a few editors and agents and here are examples of prayers I thought afterward.
a)      “Yea! Yea! Yea! Thank you!”
b)      “Wow, that was a train wreck, wasn’t it? Can I have a do over?”

I hope this eases your mind a little as you travel to your next writers’ conference. The road to publication is not easy. If you don’t succeed at one conference, keep trying. Eventually, someone will stand up and take notice of how talented you are.

Thanks Michelle for letting me stop by the blog today!

To learn more about Amanda and Maid of Murder visit her online at http://amandaflower.com/. You can also follow Amanda on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/ejquq or Twitter at http://twitter.com/aflowerwriter.

 Amanda Flower is an academic librarian for a small college in Ohio. Her first novel, Maid of Murder, was released in 2010. When she is not at the library or writing her next mystery, she is an avid traveler, aspiring to visit as much of the globe as she can.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Status: Delivered

My book has reached its destination. It's a small thing, but reading that word, "Delivered", excites me!  It didn't get lost in the mail, it has arrived.  =)  Now, I realize that I am building this up way too much.  And that if I don't make the first cut this will all seem so anti-climactic.  But I'm willing to bring you all along with me on this ride even if it is very short.  Besides, it's not the only possible path on my journey, that's for sure!

**Tomorrow I will be welcoming Amanda Flower to my blog, so make sure and catch her post!**

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Operation First Novel

IT'S IN THE MAIL!  Yep, that's right.  Yesterday I mailed off my manuscript to the CWG for the OFN contest.  The nerves have not set in yet but I expect to start feeling anxious as soon as I imagine it has arrived and is in the hands of a judge- meep!  For now though, I am content to be d-o-n-e scrambling on edits.  Hopefully I did catch all my typos.  Everything did not go off without a hitch though.  While paying for my postage I suddenly realized... duh duh duh DUUUUM... I forgot to include the self-addressed stamped postcard for confirmation of delivery!  Oh no!!  It's not a requirement but it is the only confirmation offered by the Guild.  I had planned on sending one, really wanting the comfort of receiving that back in my mailbox, and I FORGOT IT!  So I sent it certified mail.  At least the post office will confirm delivery and that will have to do.

And because I am a bit of a dork, I took pictures of me with my "brown paper package" before it went off on its journey to Colorado.  See?  That's me and my manuscript! :)

Now I am able to take some time off from my book and focus on homeschooling, my family, and Clash of the Titles (yay)!  Please bookmark our website, follow us on twitter and like us on facebook.  Authors, send in your entries for our first Clash!

Several of the Clash staff just got back from the ACFW conference and are reporting a lot of enthusiasm surrounding COTT after talking to several agents and authors.  Things are really starting to get going now and I am humbled to be a part of it.  I am the "Public Relations" person so make me look good by clicking all those "follow/like/bookmark" buttons. =)    Seriously though, this is going to be bigger than I ever imagined it would be and you will want to be a part of it too- writers AND readers!

As chatter begins to grow in the blogosphere, I will try to always link to articles or blog entries mentioning COTT so that you are up to date.  For now, you can expect fewer posts regarding my publishing journey and more about COTT and other "industry" news.  Because, as I've mentioned, a lot of the journey is waiting.  So I am actively waiting on God and on the contest judges.  If I don't move on to the next round in OFN, I'll start working on my pitch for the agents at the conference, my one-sheet, and my query (again).  Well I'll do all those things even if I AM a finalist, but... you know what I mean, right?

So make it a great week and don't forget to say "hi" every once in a while here in the comments. =)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guest April Gardner

Please welcome my new friend April Gardner as she shares a bit about the writing life:
Juggling—My New Profession
I’m a homeschool mom, author, and for the next six months, a deployment spouse. Throw into the pot a few church responsibilities, stir in a moderate dose of co-op responsibilities, and you’ve got the fixings for a busy life. How do I fit it all in? The better question is—do I fit it all in? Just barely. Hence the new career in juggling.
The recent birth of the new website, Clash of the Titles, has strained my time budget, but I think it’s worth it. With my debut novel, Wounded Spirits, coming out this November, my writing career has taken off leaving me almost breathless. While I stumble along trying to keep up with my new pace and all the major life changes I’ve faced, I plug away at my routine.
Ok, I’m lying. I have no routine, only the attempt at one. I’d like to say I have it all figured out. That I’m up with the sun and starting school at 8:30 sharp. That I live by the clock and my detailed, daily schedule. But nope. I’m failing miserably. I do manage to fit most everything in, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
Burning the midnight oil and sleeping in until 7:30 is new territory for me. My floors haven’t been mopped in 3 weeks (thank goodness for linoleum that hides dirt!), and weeds have taken over my garden. It’s PBJ again for lunch, and I haven’t even thought about dinner. I refuse to talk about my bathrooms. It’s just plain embarrassing.
Last week, while trimming my hedges and mentally characterizing my new heroine, I buzzed through the trimmer’s extension cord. I survived the sparks and bought another $24 cord, then did it all over again yesterday while finishing up the front bushes. Think maybe I have too much on my mind?
This story of adjustment doesn’t have a happy ending…yet. Just like that awesome novel for which I can’t seem to plot an ending, I have yet to figure out how to orchestrate my new, crazy life; how to create boxes for each area of my life and stack them neatly into my days.
Oddly enough, I don’t care, because I love what I do. I get to be a mom and a writer—my two dreams.
I might still be learning how to juggle it all, and I might even drop the ball more often than the average person, but it’s ok. Amazingly, God blesses despite my many, daily failures.
If you had told me a year ago I’d be muddling through the unorganized, chaotic life I now live, I would have laughed you all the way to the loony bin. Today, the thought of ever managing to straighten out my schedule has the same effect.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc. 3:1
Yes, my life is dizzying, but I’m convinced that I’m fulfilling my purpose for this particular season. What season? Today. I can’t think about six months from now or even next week. I’ll go crazy. God has impressed on me the need to take life a day, an hour at a time.
Yes, I do think long-term and plan accordingly, but to get through today, I’ve learned to stop and ask myself “What is my top priority at this moment?” Sometimes the answer is obvious. Sometimes, it surprises me. But whatever the case, I can ignore the sticky floors, because I’m doing the best I can right now with the moment God’s given me. At least that’s the goal. The two busted trimmer cables wouldn’t agree that I’m succeeding.
But I imagine God looks at me much the way I do my little girl during phonics. I recognize her limitations, and so long as she gives it her best and has a good attitude, I’m pleased with her work. The difference is that my own loving Father doesn’t have moments when He loses his patience. Praise His name!
Just like He has every other time, God will guide me through this uncertain period. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye on one juggling ball at a time—and refrain from trimming the hedges.
April's first novel "Wounded Spirits" releases this November! She's also a reviewer, homeschool mom, Air Force wife, child of God, musician, and master chef. Ok, the last one's a lie, but there's always the dream. Truth be told, April's already living her dream!


Monday, September 13, 2010


I've been quiet about this long enough!  A while back, I was honored to be asked by April Gardner to be a part of a new venture she was undertaking.  She was in the process of gathering a handful of women (Christian authors) who would share her vision for a blogsite called Clash of the Titles.

Catchy name!  ...what is it? 

Well, the idea is to pit one author against another-- in the form of brief novel excerpts-- and let readers decide who has done the better job conveying a particular theme.  Voters will be entered into a drawing and two winners will be chosen to receive a copy of one of the two books.  Each week, two new books/themes will be showcased, two new winners will get free books, and two new authors will get to go head-to-head for fun, bragging rights, and publicity.


So, I've gotten to know these wonderful new friends and have had the privelege of being part of bringing COTT into the web-world.  We are now "live" and you can visit our super-cool website, follow us on twitter, and 'like' us on facebook.  Readers, be sure to participate when we have our first Clash next month. Writers, be sure to scan the schedule page for your genre/theme as well as the submissions page for information on taking the COTT challenge.

And now....I have a special treat for you: please stop by tomorrow to read a guest post by April Gardner, in which she answers my question of how she finds/makes time to write novels while being a full-time homeschooling mother. I think you will be inspired and encouraged by her response!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My God, the Artist


                        by Yaweh, circa 0000


I'm sitting drinking my pumpkin spice in the quiet of the morning and watching my guppies dart about in their tank. There appears to be some brand new additions-- welcome to the world! I wonder what they'll look like when they get their color? Right now I have several yellow snake-skin guppies, an 'albino' female, and a flaming orange/black male. So bright, so colorful, so artistic! The Lord must have so much fun! He must so delight in His handiwork. Could you imagine the drab world we'd live in if every fish looked the same; every human bore the same fingerprints, skin, or eye color; if the leaves didn't change color, or the stars didn't shine in patterns? If Mars wasn't red or the rocks never held a streak of gold? Creativity overflows from the heart of God!   

Don't ever feel that your expression of creativity- gardening, painting, decorating, or yes- writing, is a poor use of your time. It is not the lesser way to spend your energy. Look how much energy God spends on his creations. He does not deem it wasteful; He called it very good- and then sent His son to redeem that creation when it became stained with sin.

So the next time someone, in some subtle way, makes you feel frivolous about wasting time on creative pursuits when there are souls to be saved... look around you! Then use your gifts for His glory and take joy in the pastime of creativity that you share with your Maker...

Almost time...

Hello friends! 

Well, I am down to the last week-and-a-half before I want to have my manuscript in the mail and on the way to Colorado where it will hopefully shine forth with enough sparkle to become a semi-finalist in the Operation First Novel contest. 

My to-do list had recently included removing the song lyrics I didn't get permissions for, when lo and behold, an email appears with information on that very thing!  Licensing for one of the songs would be $40.  I haven't decided if I'm going to do it yet.  I had just accepted the fact that I'd have to remove the references, so this is sort of jostling me.  But it's good to get the info on how this process works, nonetheless!

I have a few sets of eyes still looking over the novel, hopefully finishing in time for me to make any necessary adjustments to the manuscript.  Other than that, this is what my current to-do list consists of:

1) Ask my neighbor (a firefighter) what that seat on the back of the ambulance is called.
2) Resolve lingering questions on a couple instances of numerals vs. written numbers.
3) Get my 1K-word synopsis down to 750 words, per guidelines.
4) Create cover sheet for contest.
5) Decide on purchasing license for song lyrics.
6) Create/Obtain a self-addressed, stamped postcard for confirmation of receipt.
7) Obtain the proper packaging for mailing the cover sheet and disk safely.
8) Finally, format and save each chapter as its own file and burn everything to disc- and mail!

As you can see, I've already begun crossing things off my list--yay!  I just can hardly believe that the deadline is so close.  I'm so revved up about this.  I'm trying to chill out, knowing that it might be a very short ride if I don't make the semi-finals, but sometimes I can't help it.

Meanwhile, I have another project underway that I am very excited about and will share with you soon!  And you can look forward to another guest post next week, this time from April Gardner!

Please feel free to leave me a word of encouragement- I thrive on your support!  Thank you and God bless you guys!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lisa Lickel

Hello all!  I am very happy to report that I finally came to the end of my manuscript with my edits!  YAY! 

With that big announcement out of the way, let me welcome Lisa to my blog for today's post. Today she is going to share a bit about her road to authorship--the road I'm trekking right now too. Thank you, Lisa--and welcome!

Lisa Lickel and her husband live in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain's house in Wisconsin. Surrounded by books and dragons, Lisa writes inspirational fiction with a midwestern flavor.

The Journey

On the way to just being a wife, mother, homemaker, and church secretary, I received the call. You know, the Abram call in Genesis 12. The one that asks--no tells--you to do something way bigger than the laundry or the midget league carpool? The one that says go to a place you’ve never been, leave everyone and everything behind, I’m going to change the world through you.

Maybe there’s a little streak of adventure in you; maybe you just got a whiff of too many toilet cleaner fumes, but you go.

Many writers don’t have a later-in-life “call to be an author” experience like mine. Many of you have always wanted to write. I enjoyed writing letters, an occasional newspaper article, some reports for the historical society and some Sunday school material, but it never occurred to me to write books or short stories that strangers would read. After I enrolled in the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course, Abram’s call and journey took on new meaning for me.

Every good journey starts with the first step, has a purpose, is a learning experience, and faces the challenges with mercy and grace.

The first step may be as simple as an invitation – an acquaintance invites you to her critique group tonight. Or you enroll in that workshop or attend a conference just to see what writers are about. If you’re not scared by then, you may listen to that still small voice of purpose.

I was so na├»ve when I first began writing that I didn’t even know there were separate markets for inspirational and “regular” books. I had to think about where I fit in, where I was called to be, what kind of tales I wanted to tell.

As I’ve listened and written down ideas, and submitted stories, I’ve learned more about the art of writing and marketing. I’ve taken time to discover what touches readers and what they are drawn to, and not to take criticism personally. It took nearly two years of submitting, writing, submitting again and waiting before I got that first contract and agent. I had to tie my patience strings tighter with each form letter telling me my project wasn’t a good fit. I’m always going to be learning, facing challenges, working harder and longer than an eight-hour job, but writing is my purpose. When I receive a note of appreciation, I hope that even for a moment I helped engineer a change for the better in someone’s life. It doesn’t need to be a huge step, but even a smile can begin to transform the world.

I’m happy to answer questions and talk with you more. You can find me at lisalickel-at-gmail-dot-com

Visit my website, http://lisalickel.com/, and find me on facebook – both personal and like pages, at shoutlife and goodreads.com. I’m also an Amazon author.

Thank you for being my guest today, Lisa!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Praise Report

Good news! I have raised over $100 toward my conference fees- praise God!  I took a real step of faith in registering for the conference, and this quick success has encouraged me greatly!  Of course part of me worries about the rest of the money but I truly am just trusting the Lord.  Thank you to all my friends and family who are supporting me and encouraging me.  You are such a BLESSING!