Beating the Post Conference Blues

Are you home from the ACFW conference?  Finally unpacked?  I hope you came home filled with encouragement and new ideas on how to make your writing breathtaking.

Now what? 

Conferences can be overwhelming, between the requests for proposals or full manuscripts, new story ideas, craft lessons, marketing epiphanies and loads of new friends.  Where and how do you start to process all this information?

  1. Organize your contacts: Sit down a make a list of everyone you met, from editors to fellow authors, to newbies. I always have a bazillion biz cards, and I just take a moment to input those into my outlook contacts.

 

  1. Reach out.If there are editors or agents who gave you their time, even in an elevator to listen to your proposal, thank them.  If they asked you for a submission, thank them and tell them that you’ll be sending it. Thank the new authors you met who spent time with you.  If you’ve met someone just beginning their journey, reaching out to encourage them is a way to remind yourself of where you’ve been.  This is how you build connections.

 

  1. Start a “Huddle” or Craft Group. This is not a critique group, but a group of writers committed to learning together. One of the best things that Rachel Hauck and I do is compare notes on similar books. We’ll both read a book and then talk about the craft we learned in it. Or she reads a book and tells me what she learned, and I read a book and mention what I learned. Working together you can start to apply what you learned at conference.

 

  1. Organize your plan of action. No doubt you’ll have come home with something you’d like to work on in your story.  If it is something you are going to weave into the plot or the first three chapters, knuckle down and do this immediately before you send in your proposal. If you have a list of new teaching tips to add into your ms, then make a list, and apply these, step by step in to your story. Don’t try and tackle it all at once – get one element down, then move to the next.

 

  1. Respond to those requests for proposals. If you’ve received a request to send in a proposal, or a full, then, Yay! and Oh Boy, because now you have an open door that you want to use wisely.

 

Now that you’ve attended the conference, you may want to hold off submitting until you have applied changes to your MS. If you have quick revisions, go ahead and apply them, easiest to hardest, to the synopsis and first three chapters. Your can fix the rest of the book while the agent/editor is reading over my proposal.

 

However: if it is a full book rewrite, write to them and tell them you’ll contact them when it is finished. You don’t want an agent to read your proposal, be excited about it, only to have you say…sorry, it’ll be six months before I get the rest to you.

 

The key is to keep communicating.  If it takes you until mid-November to rewrite, then simply send your agent/editor a Christmas note giving them an update on the story.  I promise they’re not waiting by the computer for your submission, but it’s courtesy to let them know what’s going on.

My advice: Follow up on every proposal request with the appropriate information:

  1. A Thank you and your ready proposal
  2. A Thank you, and an update on when you’ll send it.
  3. A Thank you and an “I’m not ready yet, but can I contact you later when I am” request.

 

Conferences are a great boost to your writing journey – but the key is to beat the Post-Conference Blues and get to work!

 

Then– Go! Write Something Brilliant!

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Welcome to March!

I have always loved March 1st. No matter how dreary the winter months, I begin to notice the days getting longer, the sun shining brighter and the promise of spring time rides on the wings of the wind.

I know that in just a few weeks, we’ll celebrate the chronological passing away of Old Man Winter and usher in the season that is filled with new life and growth. It’s an exciting time for me and today is the day that sets all that in motion in my mind and heart.

As a writer, you go through seasons as well. Each has blessings—and challenges—of its own. You may be going through a blustery time that seemingly will never end. It’s cold, dark and dreary. Emotional and career gray skies cast a monotonous hue over your life, your manuscript and your journey as a writer.

But, just as assuredly as today marks the turning of the tides of winter, so it sets in motion a whole new season for you as an author. Granted, you don’t go to bed one night with feet of snow outside and wake up to green grass and flowers, particularly if you live in the frozen tundra of the north.

The changes are far more subtle. Like the stirring of the insects below the surface or the restlessness of the geese who’ve come to winter in your lake. Or the tiny creep of the mercury upward one tiny hash mark at a time or the silent reappearance of a weed. Winter and spring will dance together for a while, alternating who leads. They gently tug each other, wooing it to their side of the dance. Eventually, springtime will win out. It always does.

Always.

I never tire of watching the miraculous passing of one season to the other, in the atmosphere, and in the lives of writers. Your seasons as an author will come…and they will go. It’s only natural.

Please don’t make the miss the miracle of the changing of your seasons by getting yourself stuck in a season you don’t particularly care for. No matter how cold was—and still is—embrace today. If you’re still bundled up in front of the fireplace, you may not run outside in bikini but embrace that change is in motion.

When a farmer plants crops, for seemingly endless days afterwards, all he sees is rows of dirt. Nothing more. It’s like nothing is happening at all. Then one night he goes to bed. When he wakes up the next morning and looks out, he sees green. It was like it changed overnight. But he knows it was changing all the time.

You know that about the seasons in your writing journey as well. Whether you see it or not, it’s changing. Embrace it. Look expectantly for it. If you don’t see it immediately, wait for it. It will show up. I promise.

Welcome to March. March on, authors. March on!

The Life of a Writer, As Seen Through Susan May Warren Book Titles

I recently was perusing Susie’s website. One by one I flipped through each of her novels, thinking how good this one was or how I’d need to grab that one on Amazon.  Then it hit me. I could actually tell the entire writer’s journey using just her titles! So…

When I decided to become an author of fiction, how could I realize it would be Nothing but Trouble, a wolf In Sheep’s Clothing waiting to devour me. But, after a trip to Office Depot for a new laptop and a month’s paycheck worth of office supplies, I’d reached the Point of No Return and knew I’d fallen Hook Line and Sinker in my new life.

No one would understand so I had to keep it under wraps, an Undercover Pursuit. My Foolish Heart fell hard for my new dream to be an author and I just knew the New York’s Times Best Seller list and I would be The Perfect Match.

How was I to know I was Licensed for Trouble? In fact, after two shots of espresso at midnight, I was facing Double Trouble. Hammering away at the keyboard so hard it woke my husband, he lifted his droopy head and mumbled, “Chill out Josey. Can’t you write somewhere else besides our bedroom?” I looked at him in disbelief before shouting, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside!”

But it was too late. I was already headlong in Mission Out of Control. I knew I needed to Escape to Morning but I still had word count. And I was way behind. Did I dare Expect the Sunrise? I continued typing, and Waiting for Dawn and dreading the moment it would come.

Finally, after eating four Great Christmas Bowls of popcorn with double butter, I typed “The End”. My husband walked by tying his tie and said, “Finally, I can see at least The Shadow of Your Smile returning.”

 Now I faced getting an agent to accept my masterpiece. So, I drafted my letter:

Dear Darling Agent,

You Don’t Know Me, but if you’ll just Take a Chance on Me, I’m sure we’ll soon be Tying the Knot and we’ll have a wonderful partnership, living Happily Ever After in the world of publishing.

Suddenly, I imagined the fledgling agent opening her inbox only to find the lone email from me and she began to cry. Between sobs, she could only manage, “It Had To Be You”.

So, as the Sands of Time sifted through the hour glass, I deleted the email, the manuscript and returned the unused office supplies. Stopping at Starbucks for a vente latte, I pondered what I’d done. I was so distaught, I knew I needed medical attention. Good thing I had Florence Nightingale on speed dial. I vowed that once I recovered from the trauma of being a writer, I’d take an oath of readership, never to put words on the page again.

Until tonight…

There’s Always a Way

Yesterday I had a 10:00am appointment to record an upcoming radio program. There was just one problem. We’d had a snow storm come through three days before. The whole area was covered in snow and, even worse, slick sheet ice.

I could not get a vehicle out of my community so I did what any dedicated radio talk show guest would do. I decided to walk the two miles to the station.

Big mistake.

I found myself slipping and sliding through slick ice, slushing though snow and walking on top of shrubbery that had been buried when the snow plows came through earlier.

I finally came to a place where I could go no further. As far as I could see down a hill was slick ice. You know, the glassy kind you see in art sculptures. There was just no way I was going to get down that hill and back up on the other side. I had twelve minutes to get a half mile to the station.

It wasn’t going to happen. I called my host and explained my dilemma. She immediately offered to come pick me up. Without blinking an eye she whipped through the ice and snow and became my taxi driver.

We made it to the station only a few minutes behind schedule and were able to record the show with no retakes. It turned out to be a fabulous time together.

After the host also drove me back to my iced in community, I was grateful that I hadn’t fallen in the ice and snow, and that God provided a four-wheel-drive taxi.

I was also reminded that, if we really truly want something, even when it seems impossible, there is always a way.

Always.

What appears to be an impossible task melts away as you put your thinking cap on. You’ll come up with a creative way to solve your dilemma. The answer lies inside you. God really did equip you with the ability to work through whatever road blocks you’re faced with on your writing journey.

You face many obstacles on the writing road. Some will seem unpassable. Others will be an exciting adventure. Still others may appear dangerous. Regardless, if you are dead set on being a writer, you’ll head out the door with emotional boots and trudge through the elements to get where you want to be.

When you hit a dead end, you’ll figure out another way. All you have to do is determine that you’re going to try. And keep trying. And call for help when you need it.

You’re a writer. An imaginative creator of all sorts of realities. Why not apply it to your writing journey by remembering there’s always a way.

When was the last time you felt really stuck, afraid and alone on the writing journey? Share it here!