Who Else Wants to Be a REAL Writer?

My blogger buddy and fellow writer M. Simone Boyd of My Family Fantastic is here today to dish on everything you ever wanted to know about attending a writer’s conference! She attended one for the first time this year, and she kindly agreed to share her experience. Get ready to take notes and/or bookmark this page because, I’m telling you, this information is GOLD. Enjoy!


Who Else Wants to Be a REAL Writer?

“You should go to a writer’s conference.” That’s what my writing mentor said to me about four years ago.  Until that point, I had implemented every piece of advice she’d given me with great fervor because she’s a REAL writer.

I, on the other hand, always felt like an impostor…kind of like I was faking this whole writing thing. Yes, I write a blog. Yes, I’ve had a few freelance pieces published.  Yes, my Twitter bio says writer.

But, secretly, I lived in fear that one day I would be found out as a fraud. And the thought of a writer’s conference gave me the heebie-jeebies.

My First Writer’s Conference…

That all changed at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference a few weeks ago. There is just something powerful about being with a community of people who are reaching for the same goals, and it was a life-changing experience for me.

I found out about ACFW by internet stalking my dream literary agency, Books & Such. They mentioned in Writer’s Market that they accepted few debut authors. However, the best way to seek representation from their agents was to meet them at a conference.

So, I looked at their conference calendar and selected one. This was my first conference and initially I was a little overwhelmed by reading the bazillion things I needed to do to prepare.

Pre-Conference Preparation

A writer’s conference is VERY different from most other conferences. Because you are going with the intention of “selling” your manuscript. (Some people go just to learn, but most folks go to get something i.e. an agent, an editor, a publisher, etc.)

At ACFW there were editors from Harper Collins, Revell, Howard, Bethany House, Love Inspired, Guideposts, Tyndale House, and a host of others. As a registered attendee, you choose your top four picks for appointments. However, you are guaranteed only one 15-minute appointment with an agent, editor, or mentor.

Editor and Agent Appointments

At that 15-minute appointment, you can pitch your story idea to an editor with the hopes they’ll express interest in seeing your full manuscript. The thing is, a tremendous amount of research goes into learning what interests each editor or agent.

For example, you wouldn’t pitch a suspense novel to a Love Inspired editor…because they generally look for historical romance. The same general rule applies to agents and each agent is looking for something different.

What Editors and Agents Want to See…

Additionally, each editor or agent wants to see different documents during the appointment. As far as I can tell, it boils down to a combination of one of four items:

  • One Sheet – includes an author bio, tagline, and back-cover copy.
  • Book Proposal –a business plan for your book and how you plan to ensure sales success
  • Three Sample Chapters –first three chapters of your finished manuscript
  • Verbal Elevator Pitch –three sentence explanation of book

These materials take a TON of time to write. The great thing about ACFW, is that when you register you can sign up as a first-time attendee and receive emails via the First Timer’s Loop.

Beginning in July, you’ll receive almost daily emails on how to prepare the suggested materials and helpful links. Best-selling author, Brandilyn Collins critiqued each of the first-timers elevator pitches and gave us great feedback on how to make them “punchy.”

Conference

The conference is basically three days. Workshops are organized based on where you are situated in your career:

  • Freshman Courses – some writing experience, little to no conference attendance
  • Sophomore Course – novelists with moderate writing experience, making progress on a novel
  • Junior Course – significant writing experience, benefits those previously published
  • Senior Course –established writers who are contracted

But, attendees can select any workshop they choose.

On Thursday night, there were agent and publishing house panels. Agents discussed what they look for in clients. Publishers discussed what types of manuscripts they are currently seeking. Attendees get to ask questions.

Saturday night there is an awards gala for titles in different genres. Francine Rivers won a lifetime achievement award, and she sat two tables over from me at lunch one day. (But, I was too scared to say howdy to Mrs. Redeeming Love.) The ACFW 2016 conference is August 25 – 28th in Nashville, TN.

The Definition of Success Differs…

I learned that the definition of successful book sales vary at different houses. For example, at Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) 25 thousand copies sold in one year is successful, at Waterbrook/Multnomah 10 thousand sold is the benchmark, and for Lion Fiction its 5 thousand copies sold over a period of two years.

Indie Author Support

There also seemed to be lots of support for indie authors. Both of the authors I met, told me they’ve made more money on their indie published books than their traditional published books. Also, indie authors can submit their books for the Carol Awards if the author has earned $4000 from a single novel in a twelve-month period.

Post-Conference

Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

I’m currently following up with contacts. One of the agents said she’s amazed at how many people she invites to submit full manuscripts that never do.

This doesn’t surprise me, because maybe they suffered from the same impostor syndrome as me and simply couldn’t risk being rejected.

My Main Takeaway…

In the workshop “The Wildness of Writing with God” the speaker explained that “our enemy loves to keep changing the definition of success…so that it never quite arrives.”

That was life-changing for me.

Because I realized, my identity as a writer comes from within and it is not based on some external measure of success that is forever elusive.


M Simone Boyd - Head ShotBio: Last year, M. Simone Boyd quit her job as an energy analyst to research what makes relationships thrive or die. She interviewed 10 Christian Black Men to get their advice on relationships and wrote a free guide. Simone is one of eight kids, and her awesome husband is an only child. She leads workshops, writes, and goes to the gym at least once a month. But only because she likes to eat gluten-free cupcakes.

Keep up with Simone via her website: MyFamilyFantastic.com


HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A WRITER’S CONFERENCE? IF SO, WHAT WAS YOUR NUMBER ONE TAKEAWAY? IF NOT, DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ACFW?

 

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A Lot Can Happen in 365 Days: Three Things I Learned After A Year in Publishing

I’m happy to celebrate with my girl Nigeria as she launches the release of her third novel! Today, she’s stopping by to offer some inspiration to fellow writers and to share an excerpt from her latest book, Tempted to Touch. Enjoy!


Every writer has experienced a day or two (or a month) where all you do is look up at the sky, sigh, and ask the Lord, “When is this thing going to happen for me?”

If you get a publishing deal you start doing the happy dance only to find out that your release date is almost ten months to one year after the date you’ve submitted the book. So, you spend another month with a crick in your neck because you’re constantly looking up asking the same question.

I know this because a year ago this was me. I was anxiously waiting for the release of my first novel, Born at Dawn and two years ago I was waiting for the publisher to offer me a contract.

Now fast forward to join me where I presently am in my writer’s journey; my first novel Born at Dawn won the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Award for First Fiction, my second novel, Seasoned with Grace was released in July to some great reviews including a review right here by Faith Simone and in Publisher’s Weekly (Woot! Woot!). I am currently one week away from releasing my third book, Tempted to Touch by my own, yes, my own independent publishing company, Inheritance Books. After only one year in publishing I’ve learned that a lot can happen in 365 days. Here are some of the big takeaways for me:

  1. You are bigger than you think. Don’t let that newbie author status hold you back. Everyone isn’t going to embrace you because they don’t know you, but them being unaware of the gift that God has placed inside of you shouldn’t stop you from strutting through the door. Keep pushing. Try and unlock the side door if you have to, but don’t avoid knocking on the door because you believe you’re too small. I submitted Born at Dawn to the Phillis Wheatley Award competition and Seasoned with Grace to Publisher’s Weekly for review and found out I am bigger than I thought.
  2. God’s glory will open every door. I couldn’t bust through those big doors if it wasn’t for His glory on my life. I took the gift He gave me, and gave it back to Him. He hasn’t let me down.
  3. Listen to the Unction of the Holy Spirit. So, I started this publishing company, Inheritance Books this year, as in 2015. I never considered myself to be a business maven, but while on jury duty I suddenly felt very industrious and started setting up Inheritance Books. After I received my logo I showed my logo to my sister. She liked it, but she asked me why I was creating a publishing company when I already had a publisher. My response was, “I don’t know, but I feel like there’s a hole and I want to fill it.” I genuinely didn’t know why I was doing what I doing until two days after that conversation with my sister when my publisher announced that they were cutting the Christian Fiction line. There was the hole that Inheritance Books was designed to fill and now I’m preparing to publish books that entertain and edify. Starting with our first release Tempted to Touch. We’ll also be hosting webinars (for all kinds of dream chasers) and workshops for authors because I want you to #GetyourInheritance too!

Check out an Excerpt from our first release Tempted to Touch:Tempted to Touch

“Is that…?” Onyjie gasped after flipping my laptop open as I tried to press it closed when she entered my office.

“Yes, that’s Quincy, and this is not what it looks like,” I said, pointing to the screen. The mint green lacquer on her nails gleamed in my eyes making it difficult for me to formulate a good lie.

“I hope not.” Onyjie wagged her head and folded her arms across her chest. “It looks to me like you’re cyber stalking him.”

My head shook from side to side. There was no real way for me to make an innocent afternoon of research appear innocent. “No, I bumped into him this morning. He gave me his card.” This would be a great moment for a genie to pop out and shazaam the card would appear in my hand while Onyjie tapped the toe of her metallic silver booties on the floor waiting to find the hole in my story. I don’t know why she went into accounting after college. She has the entire detective thing down pact right down to the cold stare and twisted mouth.

“He’s in the industry now.”

“What industry? The how-to-get-a-divorce-in-ninety-days industry?” she asked, pointing at Quincy’s almond colored face.

“No, the music industry,” I said, laughing to disguise my guilt. I had not so much as called him and Onyjie already had me feeling like I was committing adultery.

“Girl, please. He’s been in the music industry since you met him like fifteen years ago. It turned out that all he did was hand out flyers for Diddy.” Onyjie adjusted her black and white graphic print A-line skirt and parked a quarter of her thigh on my desk.

“Make yourself at home,” I offered, sliding the laptop out of the way. “All that street team stuff is in the past. Now he’s the boss. He runs MacMusic.”

Onyjie shrugged her shoulders and shook her pepper colored pin curls. “Never heard of it. If, and I stress the word, if, this is a legitimate recording company, what do you think is going to happen? You cut a demo and then you’re going to blow up?”

I lowered my head and focused my eyes on a nick in my new desk to hide my smile. Was I being naïve in thinking that a chance encounter with my former lover was the key to living my dreams? Well, he wasn’t quite a lover. Quincy was more like the love you-leave you-then-love you again type.

Onyjie seemingly caught onto my quiet contemplation, or my poor avoidance tactics, and snapped my laptop shut. “You better let the past remain in the past.”

“I have. It’s been ten years since we’ve even seen each other. I entertained him off and on after we graduated, but once Mason and I got married I cut that off. You’re acting like I went and hired a private eye,” I said, swatting her hand off my laptop and popping it back open. “I bumped into him at Joe’s House of Java.”

“Yeah, and Eve bumped into Satan in the garden while she was picking up lunch.” Onyjie folded her arms and the corners of her mouth into a scowl at the same time. “You think you’re the first pretty girl he’s given his card. He probably has two baby mamas and a girlfriend. Don’t be no fool, girl.”

Do you think Kira is going to give in to her flesh or follow the Spirit?

Pre-order Tempted to Touch here to find out:

Paperback: Pre-order for the Inheritance Books website at 20% off and receive an autographed copy

Ebook: Amazon, Smashwords

For more information about Inheritance Books visit:

www.inheirtancebooks.co

Sign up for our newsletter and receive 3 Keys to Getting Your Inheritance FREE http://eepurl.com/bkYUAH

Follow us on Instagram @inheritancebooks and on Twitter @inheritbooks


nigeria

Bio

Nigeria Lockley possesses two master’s degrees, one in English secondary education, which she utilizes as an educator with the New York City Department of Education. Her second master’s degree is in creative writing. Nigeria’s debut novel, Born at Dawn received the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Award for First Fiction. Nigeria serves as the Vice President of Bridges Family Services, a not-for-profit organization that assists student parents interested in pursuing a degree in higher education. She is also the deaconess and clerk for her spiritual home, King of Kings and Lord of Lords Church of God. Nigeria is a New York native who resides in Harlem with her husband and two daughters.

Keep up with Nigeria

Website: www.nigerialockley.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorNigeriaLockley

Instagram: www.instagram.com/NewNigeria

Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewNigeria

To find out more about Inheritance Books sign up for our newsletter and receive 3 Keys to Getting Your Inheritance FREE http://eepurl.com/bkYUAH


Faith Simone says: I’m soooo proud of Nigeria! She stays on her grind and does not hesitate to give God all the glory. Her takeaways from her first year as a published author are awesome. It’s reassuring to hear an author speak from the place of their own doubts, yet still having the courage to step out on faith. People rarely admit that part of the process of chasing your dreams is getting weary on the journey. The key is to never give up!

***********************UPDATE 10/27/15*********************

Nigeria is giving away one autographed copy of the book and a $10.00 dollar Amazon gift card. Enter below!

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Have you ever dealt with a ‘Quincy’? (Haven’t we all!) What are your thoughts on infidelity? Do you think it’s something people just fall into? Or does the possibility creep in slowly? Do you have any questions for Nigeria about Inheritance Books? Ask away in the comments below.

The Other Side of the Story + A Giveaway!!!!

Now, y’all know I like helping authors promote their books because the struggle is real out here in these streets. Today, I’m featuring Daphine Pricilla Brown-Jack and her book The Other Side of the Story. Plus, she didn’t come up in here empty handed: she’s giving away a paperback copy of her book! Check out the deets below.

The other side The Other Side of the Story

On August 26, 2009, Daphine Priscilla Brown-Jack thought everything was fine. While driving home from work, she began to reflect on her day, grateful for all her blessings. But just as her gut instinct told her something was wrong, her phone rang. As her daughter relayed news of an allegation against her husband—the man who was always serving and loving God and his family—Daphine’s life plunged into turmoil. Suddenly, nothing was fine.

In the coming months as the situation in her home grew unbearable, Daphine knew she could no longer depend on anyone and turned to her only remaining hope and strength: God. As she relives the emotional experience of watching her life fall apart before her eyes, Daphine provides a compelling glimpse inside her personal journey as she separated fact from fiction, navigated through the criminal justice system, and learned to trust in God’s purpose and plan for her life.

The Other Side of the Story is the inspirational true story of one woman’s struggles within herself, her family, her faith, and the justice system after her husband is wrongfully accused of a crime.

Also available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

DaphineBio: Daphine Priscilla Brown-Jack is a law enforcement officer and motivational speaker. She earned a degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University. Daphine is a wife and mother of three children and one step-son who lives in Houston, Texas. This is her first book. Website: www.dalphinepriscillatheauthor.com

GIVEAWAY!!!!!! 

Click on the link below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Any questions for Daphine? She sounds like a pretty interesting lady. Not only is she the “po-po”, but a motivational speaker too? Now, I know y’all want to ask her some questions. Even if it’s just how to fix a ticket, lol!

(Anyone who comments on this post will also be entered in the giveaway.)


***UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed and the winner is ‘DuggarLover’! Check your email to collect your prize. 🙂 ***

ERIC JEROME DICKEY’S 6 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR WRITING POP!

A couple of weeks ago I promised to share some of the tips I’ve picked up at the various writing events I’ve attended this summer. I’ve been hitting these streets hard and I feel terrible about taking so long to drop a ‘lil knowledge on y’all. Charge it to my head and not my heart. I’m a homebody by nature, and I’m past ready to have several seats. But fall promises to be just as busy, so I’ve got to keep grinding and chasing these dreams!

When I attended the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta I had the opportunity to sit in on an interview with two literary heavy weights in the African-American fiction community. Eric Jerome Dickey and Victoria Christopher Murray have both published like a gazillion books and have been in the game for decades. Victoria did the asking and Eric did the answering. Needless to say, I was beyond interested in what they had to say about the writing process.


Victoria Christopher Murray Photo Courtesy of victoriachristophermurray.com

Victoria Christopher Murray
Photo Courtesy of victoriachristophermurray.com

ERIC JEROME DICKEY’S 6 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR WRITING POP!

  1. Watch A Movie. Yep, that’s right. Get your popcorn, some kind of drank, kick your feet up and watch a movie. But don’t get too comfortable because you’re going to be ‘working’ while you watch. Eric suggested downloading the movie script and studying the movie from the writer’s perspective while comparing the writer’s intentions to the actor’s portrayal. Look for movies and download scripts for free at The Internet Movie Script Database.
  2. Minor Characters Matter. Every single person in your books needs to pop. They need to have personality, special quirks, ways of speaking, etc. No matter how minor the character, if they’re on the page, they need to be on the page. No one is allowed to have presence in your book as filler. If they’re not bringing anything to the table, it may be time to say, “Hasta la vista.”
  3. Move the Dialogue. If you want to speed up the pace of your book’s dialogue, have each character say no more than 5 words at a time. Couple that with each character’s distinct way of speaking and you’ve struck gold! The words will fly off the page for readers and as a writer, you’ll pack a lot of
    Eric Jerome Dickey Photo Courtesy of ericjeromedickey.com

    Eric Jerome Dickey
    Photo Courtesy of ericjeromedickey.com

    information into a scene without a lot of wordiness.

  4. Don’t Slip on Setting. Eric’s novel A Wanted Woman is set primarily in Barbados. To capture the exact feel and layout of the island, he had a taxi cab driver cruise the streets while he video recorded as much as he could. Later, when he got back to his hotel, he would review the video footage and write down as much description as he could. Repeatedly reviewing the video helped make the setting authentic and real to readers, and went a long way towards the success of the book.
  5. Hook Up With A Writer Friend. Get your mind out of the gutter. They weren’t talking about that kind of hook up. Eric said that his book, Milk in My Coffee, came about from an improv exercise he did with a fellow writer. The exercise consists of having an entire conversation in the voice of your characters. No take backs and you have to just roll with it. Recording the conversation can be helpful, but the real premise is to step out of the way and let your character speak. You get a better feel for them, which will help when you’re actually writing the novel.
  6. Avoid Predictability. Plotting can be difficult. Trust me, I know because the struggle can get ridiculously real for me at times. To avoid predictability Eric suggests making a list of all possible scenarios and guesses, then don’t use any of them. Then ask your friends and critique group for possible scenarios and guesses, and don’t use any of those either. Challenge yourself to come up with new twists, new answers, new scenarios. Keep’em guessing and keep’em coming back for more.

I hope these tips help improve your writing process as much as they have mine. Getting the opportunity to soak up knowledge from people who have long traveled the path you’re starting out on is invaluable! As always, I strongly encourage you to make time to attend writing/author events. They’re all kinds of nerdlicious fun and I always walk away feeling like going was well worth my effort.

Do you have any unusual tips for writers? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to help get you out of a writing slump? What author events have you attended that you highly recommend for others? I’m planning my 2016 events calendar and I’d love to have some input!

Confessions of Faith: Special Edition (Soul Ties)

soul tie

I’m about to go in on a touchy subject and I’ve gotta say, I’m not too comfortable with it.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that when I’m afraid to speak, the words I have to say will have the most impact for someone. So I speak them anyway. Even when my voice shakes and my heart pounds so loud I feel like the sound of it is going to drown out my whispers of truth.

I do it because I know that someone needs to hear these words. Feel them and tuck them away right next to their own quiet shame or sour bitterness or red-hot rage. Tuck them away until they’re ready to let it all go and walk into the cool calm waters of acceptance; float on the weightless glory of forgiveness.

What’s the Price of a Soul Tie?

I’m talking to church folk on this one. Backsliders in general, single women with emotional baggage in particular. Soul ties. A phrase tossed around in pulpits, written in the pages of books clutched desperately by those seeking answers… Those seeking deliverance.

  • But what does it really mean?
  • What does it really cost?
  • What’s the price for a soul tie and how can a sista’ get a refund?

Because if you’ve ever been caught up in a spiritual tug of war, you’re going to want everything you sacrificed to that war back. With interest.

(Click HERE to read the rest of this post at My Family Fantastic!)

Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito (´・ω・) / Foter / CC BY