Saturday, June 28, 2008

Taking Flight

Guest blogger Janelle Mowery, welcome to the Yielded Quill!

I love attending conferences. They’re like a culmination of all the hard work I’ve put into my writing. Okay, scratch that. A CONTRACT is the culmination. Conferences are the reward I give myself for all my hard work. I also love object lessons, so I tried to come up with a visual aid that might come close to explaining my feelings for the whole publishing realm and the place conferences hold in that vast territory. Sorry, but a kite was the best I could do.

Kites were made to fly. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and designs, but they’re all made to do the same thing…get up there where the wind will help them fulfill their goal. The way they whirl around in the sky, they almost paint a picture. Most kites have tails. Some are longer than others but they still serve the same purpose. What might that purpose be? Well, a tail helps the kite fly through the air. It changes how the wind moves around the kite, keeps the kite pointed into the air, and gives it balance. Without a tail, a kite likes to roll and dive…and crash. Did you also know that without the attached tethering string, the kite, no matter how big or bright, is nearly worthless?

Writers are very much like kites. We love to soar. We also paint pictures…with words. And we have tales. Oh, do we have tales. Some are longer than others, some a bit more colorful, but if you think about it, our tales serve the same purpose. I’m not talking about the stories we create. The tales I refer to are the stories we have, the steps we’ve taken, on our journey to publication. I have several. Most have taken place at ACFW conferences.

Let’s see, I can recall my bunkmate telling me to stop practicing my pitch and go to sleep, then during the night silently screaming for me to wake up. I remember two authors who became highlights of conferences because of their encouragement, one telling me my writing was already publishable and the other cheering me on and working me up into such confidence I’m fairly certain the editor wanted to run for dear life from the wild-eyed writer sitting in front of her. And the friendships. Oh, the friendships, both new and old. I have so many wonderful memories of both. But most of all, I can clearly see the steps God took me through to get me to where I am now, a published author. Never forget to examine your tails/tales. They’ll keep you pointed into the air, moving around and changing directions, and give you a sense of balance when the rest of the world seems off kilter. As my co-author and good friend Lisa Ludwig does such a good job of reminding us, don’t be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the journey.

But let me end with the most important part of the kite…the string. Without it we’d go flying off to who knows where and most likely, our journey would be cut short as we get hung up in a tree or highline wires, or worse, crash to the ground, all with the possibility of never flying again. As writers, we need to make God our string. He’s the One Who keeps us tethered with just the right amount of tension as we fly toward our goals. He steers us away from power lines and tree limbs. He can straighten us out when we begin to fly erratically across the sea of publication. Hold onto that string just as tightly as God holds onto us. He will keep us anchored as we soar. ___________________________________________________________________
Janelle Mowery is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an active member of an ACFW critique group. She signed her first contract with Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents Mysteries! line in 2006. WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, a cozy mystery co-authored with Elizabeth Ludwig, released in the spring of 2008.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recommended Reading...and Free Books!

This week The Yielded Quill is pleased to have Susan Sleeman, author, reviewer, and host of The Suspense Zone:

Are you an aspiring writer or even a multi-published author? If so, you’ve no doubt heard that one of the best ways to develop writing skills is to read, read, read. I don’t know who said it first, but as you browse interviews with successful novelists they often recommend reading as a way to grow in your writing. This seems straightforward, doesn’t it? Not only can you polish your writing skills from reading good fiction, but you can also find out what editors are buying by reading the books they publish.

So where can you find a list of first-class books in your genre? Why not start with this year’s Christy Award nominees? For the past seven years, excellence in Christian fiction of a variety of genres has been recognized with The Christy Award. Named after Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, and for her contribution to growth of the fiction Christians love to read, this award is synonymous with quality fiction.

Each year, Christian publishing houses submit novels to the committee for consideration. The books are placed in categories and are then read and evaluated against a ten point criteria by a panel of seven judges. The judges come from a variety of areas including librarians, reviewers, academicians, literary critics, and other qualified readers, None of these judges have any affiliation with the publishers. When judging is complete, the top three ranked books in each category are announced as finalists. Later in the year, an awards banquet is held where the winners are announced. The 2008 award will be held in Orlando, Florida on July 12th.

So why not check out these special books. I’ve listed the 2008 finalists below, but you can find finalists and winners for the last seven years at The Christy Award website, And in celebration of this year’s award, I am giving away copies of eight of the nominated books at my website, The Christian Suspense Zone, , in a contest that ends on July 15th. The books I am giving away are noted below in bold type.

So what are you waiting for? Stop by The Suspense Zone to enter to win a copy from me or go out and purchase your own copies. Either way you won’t be disappointed.

2008 Christy Award Nominees:

CONTEMPORARY (Stand Alone) -

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
In High Places by Tom Morrisey (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

CONTEMPORARY (Series, Sequels and Novellas) -

Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)
A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson)
What Lies Within by Karen Ball (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)


Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

LITS (tie) -

Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Tyndale House Publishers)
Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)
Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck (Avon Inspire, a division of HarperCollins Publishers)


Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour Publishing)
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)
Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group) My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay (Moody Publishers)
The Pawn by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress Publishing Group)
Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)


Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress Publishing Group)
The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)
In Between by Jenny B. Jones (NavPress Publishing Group)
Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (NavPress Publishing Group)
Susan Sleeman is passionate about Christian Suspense both as a reader and a writer. Susan is the author of seven Christian Suspense novels and she looks forward to the day her agent finds a publishing home for her work.

Click on the link below to enter The Suspense Zone:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Conference Planning…otherwise known as Stratego

The Yielded Quill welcomes guest blogger, Elizabeth Ludwig:

Remember that old, world domination game, Stratego? My husband used to love that game. He cheated, of course. I never could beat him. It did teach me some valuable lessons about preparing for writer’s conferences, however, a skill for which I’m eternally grateful…

Okay, so that was lame.

Still, there’s a lot to be learned from taking over the world—sketching out a plan of attack, for example, or utilizing your forces in a way that maximizes impact. And let’s not forget targeting your enemy and striking while they’re weak.

Armed with these tools, I attended my first writer’s conference in Houston, Texas, in 2003. You may remember me. I was the one skulking around like a CIA agent on a covert op trying to land all the best appointments.


Oh, what I’ve learned since then. Sitting at a table with Janelle Mowery, Lyn Coleman, and several others at another conference several years later, I summed it up this way:

“I thought I was ready to be published when I attended my first conference. I was certain of it. I’d written several novels, joined a critique group, read books on writing…I was READY.

By the time I attended my second conference, I knew better. Thankfully, I’d learned a lot in the months that followed, so by the time my second conference rolled around, I thought, okay, maybe I wasn’t ready last year, but NOW I’m ready to be published.

This is my third conference, and you know what? I have no idea if I’m ready to be published. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands and hope for the best.”

While that garnered a laugh, it really was the truth. Yes, I was still learning. Yes, I was still networking. And yes, finally, I was relying fully and solely on God. What a difference that made in my attitude, and in my overall conference experience. No longer was I skulking in hallways or lurking around elevator doors, waiting to ambush some poor, unsuspecting editor. Instead, I looked for ways to make others feel comfortable. I sought out those whose earnest faces showed their anxiety and pain. In other words, I made friends instead of contacts. I scheduled prayer times instead of appointments. I visited over dinner, instead of strategizing.

I’m going to my sixth writer’s conference this year. Already I’m planning what I will pack, things like business cards, proposal packets, and pitch sheets.

The world domination plan? That I’m leaving at home.

Look for Where the Truth Lies, Heartsong Presents: MYSTERIES! by Elizabeth Ludwig, co-authored with Janelle Mowery.

Casey Alexander refuses to believe her aunt committed suicide. Her personal investigation makes some people uncomfortable enough to want her dead. As the main suspect in Casey's quest, Luke Kerrigan does some searching of his own. What he finds has him doing a little more digging that leads him to doors he may not want opened. The secrets unearthed will turn lives upside down and threaten the peace in their small community.

Coming Soon from Elizabeth Ludwig and Janelle Mowery: Spring 2009 - Died in the Wool - Heartsong Presents: MYSTERIES!

Monah Trenary takes great pride in how she runs the public library, touting it as a quiet place of learning and discovery. But that peace is shattered when she discovers the body of high school English teacher Charlotte Tait in the ladies restroom, and the people of Pine Mills Massachusetts learn they once again harbor a murderer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Welcome, Guest Blogger!

The Yielded Quill spotlights cozy mystery author Sandra Robbins:

Conferences—What Can They Do For Me?

Every time a published author is asked to give advice to writers on how to attract the attention of an agent or an editor, it seems one suggestion is always mentioned—attend writing conferences. In fact I often give that answer myself.

For new writers, attending a conference is a way of meeting other people who have the same hopes and dreams that you do. Some of your best learning experiences may come from sitting around the hotel lobby with a bunch of people who share your desire to write and finding out about their struggles and how they overcame them.

For those who have been writing a long time, a conference may mean a time of renewal—of seeing old friends and discussing your respective successes or disasters. Whatever your needs may be, however, the right conference can be just what you need to kick your writing career into a new phase as you bring back all that you learned.

I discovered early on the best way to approach a conference is to go expecting nothing and wait to see what God does. You may leave with a new idea from a workshop you think will work for you, or you may leave with a network of friends you didn’t have before, or you may go home to your family with a resolve to show them how God works in your life. Whatever it is, be thankful for it.

At my first ACFW conference, I came away excited because an editor had asked for my proposal, but it didn’t work out for that one to be published. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that God had steered me to a new friend there. Some months later when she was made an editor, she bought my first book.

So my advice is this—don’t go to a conference expecting great things to happen there. Make the most of the workshops, chat sessions, and editor and agent meetings, but never lose sight of the fact that God is in control. The seeds that were planted at that conference may not be ready for harvest until much later. Leave it up to God’s timing. Get out of His way, and He’ll take you where you never dreamed you could go. _______________________________________________________________________
Sandra Robbins’ book Pedigreed Bloodlines recently released in the Heartsong Presents Mysteries from Barbour Publishing. The second one in the series Murder in Small Doses will released next year.

Chasing Charity

Chasing Charity (ISBN 978-1-60260-206-9), book two in my Texas Fortunes Trilogy, is becoming a reality. Barbour Publishing has scheduled it for release in April 2009. I just received the cover and wanted to share. I'm very proud of the job Barbour has done with Diamond Duo and Chasing Charity, and I can't wait to see what's coming for Emmy's Equal.

My Bookshelf

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