Okay, Heads up if you’re going to ACFW!


 Here’s the deal.  If you’re a VOICE, we want to know.  SOOOO….we have cool “VOICES” Pins you can wear to identify yourself as a VOICE.   Rachel and I will have them, so track us down, OR, go by the bookstore, find our section and pick up your VOICES pin!


 You have 3 more days to sign up for the My Book Therapy Pizza Party!  It’s Friday night, during free time, so you won’t miss any ACFW activities.  We’ll eat pizza (of course!), talk about MBT and how to make it BETTER, you’ll find out some of the COOL things we’re going to do next year, and we’ll even have some goodies to give away.   (AKA: FREE STUFF!)  To find out more, read the announcement at

 I can’t wait to see everyone at ACFW – it’s my favorite conference of the year.  Don’t forget to stop by Rachel and Susie’s Late Night Brainstorming Blitz!  (And bring your story ideas, glitches and black holes). We have a fun SECRET to give away that will change how you write. 

 Other Classes Rachel and I are teaching:


Friday 3:30pm-4:30 PM:  Lost in Novel Land — Creating StoryWorld, the foundation for every novel.

 Saturday 4:00 – 5:00 PM: Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve: Advanced Techniques for Writing Emotion


Friday 4:45 – 5:45: You Write Like A Girl – Handling the Male Perspective  

Also, leading worship and hosting a LNC on Brainstorming with Susie! 

See you all soon!


Pit Stop! Conference Thoughts

Susie’s son Pete had his first football practice yesterday.  He’s only been waiting 7 months, working out nearly every day, lifting weights, running, watching football, analyzing plays.  If there was ever a kid who had football in his blood, it’s her 13 year old.   Next year he’ll be eligible for the High School team and then the fun really begins. 

 Until then, he has big dreams of impressing his coach.  “I did well today,” he said when Suz picked him up from school.  “I’m not as fast out of the snap as I want to be, but I make up for it with speed.”  She could see his wheels turning, trying to figure this out in his mind.  “Except, if I go too fast, the coach will put me in at half-back, and I really want to be full back.” 

 “Why do you—“

“Because the full back gets  to plow the way and TACKLE.” 

Oh, question answered. 

 Susie tried to find some wise mom advise.  “Maybe God just made you to be a half-back, son.  He made you fast.  You might have to embrace that.”

 He thought for a moment, then added, “Well, I guess if I can’t be full back, I’ll just have to ask God to make me the best half-back I can be.”

 Wise words from a 13 year old.  “I wonder, sometimes,” Suz said, “if I’m so busy looking at what I am NOT, what I don’t have, that I miss the opportunity to be the best I can be where I am.”

 What a great image to contemplate. Paul tells us to not compare ourselves to others, says we are unwise (stupid) if we do.

 Every year, we attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Annual Conference.  Aside from seeing friends and learning, we also get to teach classes, and sometimes pitch ideas to editors.  We love it.  But it can be overwhelming.  Knowing what to say to editors and agents hoping that they’ll see the spark you do in your story. 

 The fact, is, we’re all on a journey – in our writing, in our spiritual life…and maybe we’ll get chosen by the coach to play our dream position – Full back.  Or maybe well have to embrace a different position. 

 We thought we’d take a pit stop and share some insights for having a great conference:

 1.      Prepare yourself emotionally for the highs and lows of a conference by spending time in the Word before the event.  

Suz reads a lot of Psalms before conferences, just to remind me that God is on my side regardless of the situation.  (not saying that editors are Philistines or anything…)

Rachel prays for God to be her agent, editor and promoter. She reminds herself of the verse in Luke where Jesus says, “Don’t sit at the head of the table. What if they ask you to leave? Sit at the end, and wait to be invited up.”

2.     Bring your A game – that is, know your story, your pitch and polish it to the best you can.  However….

3.     Be alert for learning opportunities.  Attend editor and agent panels, and listen.  Go to classes, talk to your fellow authors and find out what they did to ramp up their writing, what books they read, what blogs they follow (hopefully My Book Therapy!)  What groups to belong to.  Take lots of notes.

4.     BUT – don’t barricade yourself in your room trying to analyze or revamp your writing or pitch.  It’ll be sloppy and haphazard.  Take notes, go home and THINK about how what you learned applies to your story.  Then, rework it.
 5.     Listen to the editor or agent’s feedback.  And then realize, also, that everyone has an opinion.  Not every book will fit every editor or line, and know from the place they’re talking from when gauging their advice.  Obviously, a Love Inspired editor isn’t going to be interested in your Fantasy Fiction proposal….(even tho they might give you good feedback).  

Don’t try the over confident approach: “Hey, have I go the book you’ve been dying to read.” Doesn’t work. Pitch your story humbly then ask if they have any input or advise.

Rachel did this once with her editor Ami McConnell before she became her editor. She asked, “What kind of redneck chick book are you looking for?”

Ami said, “I’ll know when I see it.”

Rachel needed to do her homework, but she also realized Ami didn’t have a preconceived idea. She knew good writing and a good story when she saw it.

Also, don’t do the American Idol thing. “What, Simon, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I sing great.”

No, actually you don’t. Simon does know what he’s talking about BUT he isn’t always right.

Same with editors and agents. They DO know what they’re talking about, but everyone of them has turned down a future published novel. Nevertheless, take into account the feedback they give you. Incorporate it if you can.

6.     MEET OTHER AUTHORS.  Networking is huge.  You never know when a door will open…but here’s a key that Suz and Rachel live by.  Don’t look at others at opportunities to help you on your path – look at others as an opportunity God has given you to encourage and bless others on theirs.  Then any friendships you make will always be based on authenticity, and not some sort of professional goal. 

7.     Put your best self forward – bring not only your writing A game to the conference, but your PERSONAL A game…dress for success, be professional, talk professionally, and remember that who you are is as much a selling point as what you write.  

We love conferences, and we can’t wait to see the VOICES at the ACFW Conference!  We’re shaping up to have a fun Pizza Party – we’re having to switch rooms as our venue grows…BUT, registration closes on MONDAY SEPTEMBER 14th, so if you want to attend, don’t forget to sign up! 

AND, if you’re a VOICE – stop by the Susan May Warren or Rachel Hauck sections of the bookstore and pick up your FREE “I Hear Voices” pin!  Let’s find each other!





First Day of School…what have I missed?

Hey — my kids went back to school today!  I feel…sane. 

Which means the fog has cleared and I’m left wondering, where are we in the Heroes Journey!

I went through all the past blog posts since January and recategorized them according to subject…so, for example, if you’re looking for information on creating heroes — yes! you just click “archives” and find the “heroes” category!  or, writing tension — again, click on “archives” and you’ll find….TENSION!

Hope that helps. 

But, let’s press on! Over the past eight months, we’ve covered:

Act 1: Departure:  The protagonist is separated from the known

Hero’s Home World

Call to Adventure (inciting incident)

Weighing the Options (Refusing the Call)

Starting the Journey (Crossing the Threshold)


Act 2:  Initiation:  The protagonist is tested, and grows

Supernatural Aid

Road of Trials

Meeting a Soul Mate

Overcoming Temptation and Weaknesses

Viewing the Big picture (emotional reward/layering)


We still have the 3rd Act: The Return

Refusing to Return

The Chase

The Rescue

Crossing the Return Threshold

Master of Two Worlds




Okay, now you’re thinking:  What?  Wait, I haven’t heard all this!  This is crazy talk.  I don’t even know what these elements are!


So, I’m going to simplify all this into story structure we can wrap our brains around. 


Raise your hand if you remember your first day of school.


Act 1: Departure: the protagonist is separated from the unknown

There you are, hanging out with your younger brother and sister, watching television, playing in the sandbox…. This is HOME World.


Then, one day, you get your school prep envelope in the mail.  First Grade! You go to orientation and hear about school, and you know that there are perils, as well as wondering opportunities like learning how to read, and other things you haven’t even considered. This is the Call to Adventure.


Then, it’s the first day of school and it hits you.  YOU HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL. Suddenly it’s scary – you’re hiding under your bed.  You don’t know what to expect, and really you just want to stay home with your brother and sister and watch Barney.  You are REFUSING THE CALL.


Then, Mom arrives.  And she gives you a special gift…it’s a Nametag with your bus number, and a COOL NEW Backpack, with all your supplies.  She says “Be Nice, and remember that Jesus loves you.”  This is your Supernatural Aid.


So, you go out to the bus, stand there with trembling knees and, when the bus comes, you get on! You have Crossed the Threshold into your new adventure. 


Now, you’re into Act 2: Road of Trials

In this act, all sorts of obstacles pop up:  you don’t know what class to go to, you forgot your milk money, you get put in the slow readers group.  And then…during lunch, you go out to the playground and are ambushed by a gang of mean second graders led by Mean Max determined to make you cry and run home to mommy.  And, for a while, you consider it. 


Until you:  Meet your Soul mate.  Pretty Patty (or Peter) There she is (or he is) on the swings, and they get off the swing to let you on.  You have found your match. 


However, Mean Max also has a crush on Pretty Patty, (which he displays by stealing the swing from her)  and he says, if you just stay away from her, he’ll leave you alone.  You’ll get the swings all to yourself.   But you remember what your mother said:  Be Nice, and remember that Jesus loves you.  And you decide that being nice would be to not let Pretty Patty fall into he hands of Mean Max.  You have Overcome Temptation.


But the trials are not over yet.  You see that Pretty Patty likes you, too, and that she will be in your reading group for the entire year.  And you realize that you’ll have to stand up to Mean Max again…but Pretty Patty’s love is worth it.  You have Viewed the Whole Picture – seen a glimpse of the Happy Ending.


But, Pretty Patty informs you that she rides Mean Max’s bus….and that he says he’s not going to let her on – she’ll miss the bus.  Now you know the Ultimate Goal – to defeat Mean Max, and win Pretty Patty’s love.  The bell rings and you run outside, ready to get Pretty Patty on her bus. 


Which brings us to Act 3:  The Return

Seeing Mean Max outside, you refuse to turn away.  He pushes you – and you push back and realize that you have just as much power as he does!  Pretty Patty gets on her bus in triumph.   You are no longer the person you were – you’re stronger, and wiser…And you refuse to return to your weakened, afraid self


Until Mean Max and his pals gang up at the door of YOUR bus.  And they push you back…and you suddenly feel the old fears crushing you, telling you to run and hide!  You can’t do this first grade thing.  It’s too hard, and scary, and you are Chased away…


And then you see Pretty Patty.  She and her girlfriends have banded together to show you that your kindness and bravery have been noticed.  They surround Mean Max and Rescue you. 


You get on the bus, waving to Patty as her friends wave back.  You realize that this new world will require a change in you, but that you have strengths and tools you didn’t realize you had.  You will survive in this new world, even as you return home and show your younger siblings your cool new folders and papers.  You are the Master of Two Worlds


And, the next day, you pop out of bed, ready to face your world, embracing your Freedom from fears and excited about a new day. 


Okay, so that’s rather simplified, but hopefully you see how the journey flows.  It’s about facing obstacles and character change, and discovering a new you that you didn’t know existed.


Now that we’re caught up, we’re going to forge ahead with the elements of Act 3.


This week we’ll dive into “Writing Character change without overwriting” (or, refusing to return to your previous unenlightened state). 


Also – thanks to all who left comments last week!  Since there were so few, ALL of the comment leavers will get a copy of  Love Starts with Elle, Finding Stefanie or Wiser than Serpents!  Thank you for your comments!


And, if you want to hear about the fun stuff we’re going to do next year at MBT, and you’ll be at ACFW, be sure and sign up for our MBT Pizza Party! (details above). 


Write on!