5 Tips to Help You Afford a Writers Conference

“I can’t afford to go to a writers conference.”

I hear this writer’s lament a lot. And there were years I stared down that seemingly insurmountable CAN’T, all the while longing to go to a conference and learn, network, and yes, have fun.

Harsh Reality: A writers conference is nowhere in your budget.

Writer Reality: You can’t afford not to go to a writers conference.

So how do you get past the first reality, conquer the financial obstacle, and get registered for your first writers conference? Here are some things that worked for me:

1. Start local. Yes, we all want to go to the big national conferences: ACFW, Mount Hermon, and any – okay, all of the MBT retreats. But when you add airfare and hotel on top of conference registration, your budget collapses. Hop on Google and search for writers conferences in your town or one-day conferences within a day’s drive.
2. Save up. One of the first conferences I attended had an arrangement where they charged a certain (reasonable) amount of the registration on my credit card for twelve months leading up to the conference. By the time the conference rolled around, it was paid for. Set up your own conference savings account and put a set amount aside each month for conference registration. What’s that you say? It might take you two years to save up for the Deep Thinkers or ACFW? Okay then. Get started now.
3. Buddy up. If you’re traveling out of town to a conference, there’s no need to get a hotel room all by yourself. I take that back – some people do prefer to sleep alone. But, if you can, share a hotel and split the costs two, three, even four ways. If the conference is within driving distance, see if anyone else wants to ride with you and share the cost of gasoline.
4. Book early. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your plane flight or your hotel room. The closer you get to your departure date, the pricier your plane ticket. And hotels fill up fast, especially when the conference offers a discounted rate for attendees. You can, of course, choose to stay at a less-expensive hotel close to the one where the conference is being held – but make those reservations early too.
5. Avoid extras. Yes, early bird sessions and after-conference sessions with big-name speakers are nice. But these are optional – not mandatory. Bookstores with all your favorite authors’ books – and the chance to have those books signed! – is another temptation, as are auctions to raise money for worthy causes. Think ahead: Is this in your budget or not? If you do go to the bookstore, know how much you’re going to spend. Pay cash if that’s the only way you won’t go over your limit.

What about you? How have you budgeted for a writers conference?

Finding Time To Write With A Busy Schedule

Snippets of TimeDo any of you wonder how others do it? How do they find time to write? I’m incredibly busy, as I’m sure you are; yet people are successful at writing. How?

Well if you have a question, you should seek out answers right? So I did. I asked friends that still work a full time day job and write, stay-at-home Moms and full-time authors. There responses were enlightening.


Here’s how they responded to the question of how they write with an already busy schedule.

“Verrry carefully. Seriously, it takes a little planning but even more flexibility. I used to think I could plan everything out just so, make sure I had the perfect number of hours set aside in which I could write the perfect number of words. Then…reality set it. If I’m in deadline mode, I try to wake up early to do some writing before work and then I usually write for a couple hours in the evening and 2-3 Saturdays a month.

But more and more, I’m discovering the need to–and fun of–writing in small spurts when I can. I used to wave off little bits of time, twenty or thirty minutes here and there, as useless. But as I wrote my last book, I found sometimes those shorter time periods helped me wordsmith. Sometimes in long bouts of time, I feel pressure to write a BUNCH of words. But when I just have a short time and know from the start that I probably won’t pump out more than a few hundred words, I find I’m more concerned with the words themselves…the sound and feel and rhythm. So that’s been kind of a fun discovery lately.”

Melissa Tagg, Author

“Since I write full time now, it’s just like a job. I usually get up by 5:30 and have my quiet time, then sit down at the computer and work until I have 2,000 words. After that, I write 3,000 words a day until I finish the manuscript. I do try to take a break on the weekends, sometimes writing only for an hour or so.”

Patricia Bradley, Author

“I have a daily word count goal (1,500 words and/or one scene). I plan to write five days a week, for a total of 7,500 words and/or 5 scenes). If I can’t squeeze in my scene for the day, I write two the next, or use Saturday as my make-up day. There have been MANY nights where I’m exhausted and the last thing I want to do is write my scene, but I force myself to. It might not be the best scene ever, but it’s words on the page and I can always fix them later.”

Gabrielle Meyer, Author

“I work full time, so getting writing time in regularly is hard. When I make a writing goal, I usually have to give up watching TV and reading for a period of time until I meet my goal. I take my computer with me when I’m running errands that include wait time, like playing chauffer for my kids activities, and I write while I wait. I also keep a small notebook in my purse, so when I’m at work or running around, I can brainstorm in my down time and jot notes to get me started when I can get to my computer.”

Andrea Nell, Writer

What about you? What creative steps do you take to find time to write?






Writing Sexual Content in Our Stories

Rachel HauckWell now that I have your attention…

Let’s talk about writing sex. Or not writing sex. But finding the balance of showing male-female attraction in our stories.

I happened upon a piece not to long about by an up and coming author and well, she kind of over reached on the sexual attraction.

The hero spent most of his internal dialog thinking sexual thoughts toward the heroine and while we all understand men are visual, in this context, the hero came across shallow and unlikeable.

In story, emotion is king.

It doesn’t matter than men are aroused visually. Or that they like a nice cut of cleavage or a nice shot of a thigh peeking from under a short skirt, what matters is how the reader feels.

If our hero and heroine meet physically first, the emotional element is cauterized.

Let your hero and heroine reveal their heart first before taking the relationship to a physical level.

When I read novels that lead with a physical observation (which isn’t often) I am turned off. The characters are instantly shallow to me.

If the story opens with, “Man, she was hot,” I want to close the book.

But if the story opens with, “Man, he never expected to meet a woman like her today,” I’m intrigued.

I want to see what captured his attention.

I want to know why he didn’t expect to meet someone.

Did he just break up with the love of his life? Or did she break up with him?

That sort of opening line has all kinds of implications about the hero.

But “Man, she was hot,” does not invite me into his heart and mind at all.

In the inspirational market, we’re challenged by the world to add more sexual content.

Yet challenged by the Word and by our readers to be modest and conservative.

Some authors feel the sexual boundaries should be pushed and tested.

I don’t see the added value of pushing sexual content. Even if it’s to show healthy sexual relationships.

Because in the end, writing descriptively about sex only awakens desires that may or may not be slaked.

Just because people are married in the story doesn’t make it more holy to write descriptively.

But sexual desire and tension is real. Our characters should have sexual attraction.

Just don’t start there. Write about the people, the emotion of the story, first.

Keep your descriptions modest. Maybe imagine someone reading it out loud to your kids, your family, your Mama or Grandmama.

Or… you know, Jesus.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Introduce your characters from the heart first. Let us meet their emotions, how they think or feel about the other.
  • The more you build up the tension between the characters, the more exciting the slightest touch can be. Like holding hands.
  • Employ third grade play ground tactics like teasing, slight shoulder bumps and comedy to build sexual tension.
  • Make the hero a true hero. He may “want” the heroine but instead of pushing for his desires, he politely walks the heroine to the door, kisses her sweetly and leaves.
  • While writing internal thoughts, make sure the hero and heroine note spiritual, emotional and intellectual attributes of the other as well as the physical ones. It’s great Jack and Jill are getting together but he has to bring something more to the table than his luscious full lips.
  • Ask God for help. He invented sex.
  • Use metaphor to show sexual tension. But be careful here. We don’t want to read Song of Solomon type of stuff.
  • Keep it simple. Keep it real.
  • I like to tie physical touch to emotions. For example, “His kiss purchased a piece of her melancholy.” We get the picture that his touch made her feel better, perhaps loved.

Hope this helps. Don’t want to be a prude but want us to think about how we show sexual tension in our stories.

Go write something brilliant

Brainstorming the Villain Persona

Photo by ba1969
Photo by ba1969

Villains bring the whole creepy factor to your novel. Sometimes villains are devious and brilliant, other times they are crass and brutish. But one thing they all have in common is that they have a public persona.

What exactly do I mean by public persona?

A villain’s public persona is the image they project to the community. We often hear of killers who fooled everyone around them. They were model citizens, community leaders and the perfect family man. Maybe they skulk through dark alleys, avoid any contact with someone who might recognize them, or generally dislike interacting with people.

Brainstorming the villain persona is a key element to developing their point of view scenes and the way that they threaten your hero/heroine.

Questions To Ask When Brainstorming the Persona of a Villain:

*Do they prefer public attention or invisibility?

This component is essential to determine because it will impact the actions and proximity opportunities for the villain. Research profiles of these types of villains so you can best fit their persona to their psychological makeup.

*How do they get attention or stay invisible?

The public attention seeking villain will be a leader in the community, or run for public office. If there is a desire to stay invisible, there are actions taken to keep away any attention. This villain also will also find any public attention as an obstacle.

*What community functions or activities are they involved in or conversely, which ones do they avoid?

Identifying if they are a deacon at their church, running for mayor, or simply flip burgers on the night shift is key to determining what opportunities will arise for the villain to access, threaten, or plot against the hero/heroine.

*What gives my villain a thrill?

The public persona of the villain often informs what gives the villain the greatest rush. Once you identify their preferences you are able to pull in their moments of euphoric rush

What is the most interesting element of the public persona of a known villain that you’ve heard of?