Archive | September 2012

Conference Memories–in No Particular Order

1. I forgot to pack the beautiful banquet dress I had so carefully ordered so it would arrive in plenty of time. Ended up wearing something I had actually packed for a ‘just in case’ scenario. and I was the only one of 700+ attendees who knew or cared. 🙂 And I cared way too much!

2. Found out just how tech challenged I am–and thankfully was not charged for it. 🙂

3. Got patted down in the airport at KC because my artificial knee set off the metal detector and they wouldn’t accept the verification card I carry from the surgeon.

4. Got through the airports, onto the planes and off again without mishap because my traveling companions took very good care of me.

5. Another editor asked for my full manuscript–which means I will now have two editors from two different publishing houses looking at it. Yay!!

6. Loved being with my Pages in Stages sisters

7. Ate too much!!

8. Was blessed by the devotional/worship times

9. Laughed a lot/ cried a lot.

10. Renewed commitment to seek His face alone.

And I’m still processing it all!!

Talking about Grades

Today is Parent Teacher conferences at school. I write this blog with a knot growing in my stomach! I dread Parent Teacher conferences. We homeschooled for ten years and I now remember one of the perks–I was the teacher so our Parent Teacher conferences weren’t too bad and very short!!

Please don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think there will be many concerns about the boys’ grades or social behavior. But, the thought of sitting across the table from a teacher and discussing grades scares me. It always has. When I was in school I dreaded those moments. In college I had to discuss a grade with my advisor–I still remember that conversation.

The boys have wonderful teachers and I enjoy talking with them in the hall, at games, after school. But put me across a table from them with a grade book in their hands and my nerves start growing. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

How about you? If you have PT conferences do they make you nervous? Did they when you had kids in school?

Maybe this is normal and all the parents waiting in the gym today will be feeling the same way!

I hope you enjoy your Friday. I’ll be glad when mine is over!

Sara

Aahhhh…Autumn!

I’m “fall-ing” for autumn.

What’s your favorite season?

Blessings,

Susan Hollaway

Writers and Winners

One of the really fun things about this writing journey is the people you get to share it with.

As I predicted last week, we did have a wonderful time at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. We didn’t even capsize! It was especially nice to spend time with Cherie Gagnon since she lives in Canada and we don’t get to see her often.

It was also wonderful to reconnect with writer friends over the years. I met Melanie Dickerson at the conference in 2008 and was thrilled that she won this year’s Carol Award in the young adult category for The Merchant’s Daughter. Hearing Melanie’s acceptance speech in her gorgeous Southern accent was worth the trip.

The Merchant’s Daughter is loosely based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, set in medieval England. Anabel is the daughter of a merchant, but after his death her family does not fulfill its obligation to work in the lord’s fields. She is forced to become an indentured servant for three years at the home of Lord Ranulf le Wyse. Rumors swirl about the irritable Lord le Wyse, who lost an eye and the use of his hand when he was mauled by a wolf. Anabel longs to join a nunnery, so she can read the Bible and escape marriage to Bailiff Tom, which her brother is trying to force upon her.

When Lord le Wyse protects her against the bailiff’s advances, a fragile friendship grows between them and Anabel believes he may not be the beast the servant girls whisper that he is. It’s an enchanting story with engaging characters. It was written for young adults, but I thoroughly enjoyed this tender romance.

In addition, one of my favorite authors, Lisa Wingate, won the Carol Award in women’s fiction. She also made history – the first novel to receive perfect scores from all judges. I haven’t read Dandelion Summer yet but I am going to remedy that very soon

Congratulations to all the winners, Melanie and Lisa in particular. Find out the winners in all Christian fiction categories here.

~ Susan

2012 ACFW Conference

Last week, four of us from Pages From Stages went to Dallas to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference.

It was an intense few days, full of meetings with agents, mentors, critiquers, and publishers. The professional opportunities were amazing. I’m truly grateful to the wonderful staff and volunteers who put this conference together!

I’m so excited that all of us are taking baby steps forward in this writing journey. Only God knows where we’re headed on this crazy, winding path. Personally, it’s been building my faith to trust Him – no matter what the outcome is.

I’ve been asked what was the highlight for me at this conference…I’d have to say meeting so many warm and wonderful people who share similar passions for writing and God. I loved meeting up with my fellow bloggers who live too far away to visit in-person regularly. The four of us shared meals and classes with writers from all over the world. Sometimes I only managed to eat half my meal because we were talking and laughing way too much!

I hope to go back to conference next year. I wonder what the next 12 months will bring…

– Cherie

Susie, Lotice, Julane, Cherie, Ian, Sara, Lora at the ACFW Gala. Don’t we wash up nice?

The Silo…a memory by Kathy Manning Gronau

The Silo
by Kathleen Manning Gronau

I remember when it came. Masses of concrete rectangles and what seemed to be miles and miles of iron rod piled high on a massive truck. We were getting a silo.

I didn’t know til many years later that its worth would lay not in the mass of concrete and steel or even in the layer upon layer of silage that would fill it each fall, but in the memories that lay within me.

As years pass, I have learned to recognize that things are valuable not because of what they are but because of the memories they become a part of . . . And so it is with the silo.

Following the patient instruction of our father’s voice we learned to climb its rungs, carefully moving hand and foot, occasionally freezing with panic slipping out around the frantic “I can’t ”

“Yes, you can” would come our daddy’s calm reply. And we did. What excitement when we reached the open door, crawling in as the sweet and putrid smell of fresh ground corn stalks wafted from that inner sanctum. We could jump and fall and play, enjoying the smells and textures and echoing sounds while daddy pitched forks full out the door and down the shoot to bellowing cows impatient for their evening meal.

Later, unassisted, we climbed to the top. No waiting hands beneath to catch should we slip.

Exhilarated by the risk, we dare not let the fear that hovered round us get the upper hand. And then the view, as we clung tightly to that last rung as though we had mastered our very own castle peak.

I don’t know if momma ever knew about that escapade. I think now about the sterile way we now protect our young. Bike helmets, crossing guards, cell phones “to keep in touch” Would I ever allow my precious grandchild to climb unassisted to that 40 foot lofty peak? Did my own sons visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm ever make that risky trip? Sometimes its better not to ask.

Blessings Kathy

authors note: Mom relates that they had been piling silage on the ground. Grandpa Fluke didn’t them to get a silo. He was set in the old ways of cutting the corn stalks, binding them in bundles and hauling them in. Mom says that Grandma Fluke told her that if they wanted to put up a silo, she would loan them the money to do that. So they did. In June of 1954 the big day came.

Julane’s Right. God Really Does Know Best….and Yes, Sometimes It Is Hard

As I read Julane’s post from last Saturday, my heart heaved a sigh of disappointment for all that she lost on her manuscript.  She’s a wise woman though.  Maybe she’s right. In time she’ll find that more was gained than lost in the computer mishap. Hindsight is always much clearer than what you’re seeing (or perhaps feeling) at the time of the discouraging event.

When disappointment  shows up, cling to  Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB)

I didn’t get to go to the ACFW conference this year.  And while I’d love to be there, I’m okay with not getting to go.  As a matter of fact, while my husband and I were working  it out so I could attend, the Lord laid it on my heart that it was a year to stay home.  I didn’t know exactly why at the time. I just knew. It was one of those “I don’t completely understand it now, but it’s what I have to do” moments.

But now I know why.  God always has a plan.  A perfect plan.  And in His perfect time.  And yes, sometimes it is hard.  Extremely hard. But the hard part is not missing conference this year.  It’s that my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Again.  And just a week before I would have left for conference, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. Again.  God knew that I needed to be at home.

When we received  those diagnoses, I was disappointed.  More than disappointed. My heart ached.  I felt as if the air had been sucked out of my lungs at the same time someone punched me in the stomach. But as I asked God, “Why?” I felt Him tell me that He would never leave me or forsake me.  He would never leave nor forsake my mom and my mother-in-law either.  He loves them even more than I do.

Do I see the good in their cancer right now?  No. My human mind can’t completely wrap my mind around that.  But I know that God is good, more than good, all the time.  Every single second of every single day, He’s in control.  And He has a plan.  So I trust.  And I cry sometimes.  But I continue to trust and have faith in things unseen and in my God who loves me enough to have sacrificed His Son on the cross so that I can have a relationship with Him.  He loves you that much too.

God really does know best … and yes, sometimes it’s very hard.  But God’s arms are there ready to hold you close and comfort you when things happen that you don’t understand.

May you cling to Jesus as you hit speed bumps that you didn’t see coming.

Blessings,

Susan Hollaway

Today we fly to ACFW

Today, I am heading out to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, Texas. Julane and Sara and I are flying together, with Lora from the Kansas City chapter. We’ll meet Cherie at the hotel.

The first ACFW conference I attended was in Dallas in 2007. It’s the premier event for Christian fiction and it’s rather humbling to be a part of it. We’ve got a busy few days ahead, catching up with friends, studying writing craft, learning about new developments in the publishing world, finding out the winners for book awards and meeting with agents and editors to talk about book proposals.

I have vowed not to buy any books. We’ll see how long that holds up!

Today is a day full of anticipation. We’ve spent months preparing and planning (I started picking outfits in June and pledged one year ago to have my manuscript finished by this date.) Most of all, I’m looking forward to those moments God has appointed to make a connection with an author, editor or fellow writer.

It’s an exciting and weighty moment to be setting sail on a dream. Yet I know the Captain of the Seas so I trust His guidance. And knowing my travel companions, we’re sure to have fun even if we capsize. My verse for the week is Jeremiah 6:16.

This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around.  Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.”

~Susan

What dreams are you giving wings to?

GOD KNOWS BEST…IT’S JUST SOMETIMES HARD

Like Sara, I , too, will be going to Dallas for ACFW conference this next week. And like the myriad of other writers who will be attending, I’ve been going over and over what I’m taking–for the planned editors meetings, as well as the unplanned times when I just MIGHT have the opportunity to share what I’m currently working on.

Since the first book of a three book series is now in the hands of an editor I will be meeting with at conference, I’ve been hard at work on the second book. Last weekend I realized I had too many characters and the storyline was becoming too complicated. So–I’ve spent the last ten days ‘un-writing’ this character. And it’s not just a matter of deleting–it’s making sure that all references to him are taken out, and all plot lines erased, and going deeper into the characters that remain, etc..

Last night, while critiquing someone else’s work, my computer did something really bizarre–it ‘glitched’ and suddenly everything I was doing became only a scrambled bunch of little squares…no words, just squares. And everything was locked. I did have my second story open, but not up on my screen, so didn’t need to get out of it. Finally, the only way I could clear it up was to completely shut down (which I rarely do), and then reboot. And–voila!! What I was working on returned in fine fettle, even the track changes remained, and I was able to continue without further problems.

Until this morning–when I opened my second story and found that though the original was there….NONE of the changes I made these last ten days can be found. It’s bizarre. While I don’t shut down my computer every night…I do get out of my documents and in order to do that i must save the changes. For me to have the original and not the changes really baffles me because I was working from the original. I did not have two different documents going.

So now, I must believe that when I once again begin the tedious job of rewritng, what I come up with will be even better. I normally love rewrites for that very reason. But this was a LOT!! And I’m sick.

But at least it answers a question that I’ve been asking myself–as well as seeking advice from friends, i.e. shall I take any of the second story to conference?

Duh!! NO!! not now.

And, like Sara, I KNOW without a doubt that God is in complete control of all of this. It’s just hard to lose so much. But perhaps I’ve not lost at all. Maybe, just maybe I’ve gained more than I can ever hope to imagine at this point.

Dallas–I will be there.

And God has gone before me.

In that I will rest.

 

Writing Conference TOP 10

By this time next week, the annual ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference will be half over. Several of us from this blog will be leaving for Dallas on Wednesday. For each of us it’s our third year. I will admit it doesn’t seem to get any easier with previous experience. The first year, I was blissfully unaware of all the stress because I didn’t meet with any agents or editors. Last year, I came home with a huge dose of reality. This year, I’m really struggling with going so I thought I’d share my TOP 10 reasons why conference is a great experience.

10. Interesting food–One year we had asparagus with EVERY meal. Have you ever had asparagus at 7:30 A.M. with your scrambled eggs?

9. Bookstore filled with books from the authors attending conference (this means you can get them autographed!!).

8. Writing classes taught by authors. What a treat!

7. Meeting your favorite authors and finding out they are so normal and friendly.  My first year I spent more time looking at name tags than faces. To actually meet the authors I’d been reading for years was so exciting!

6. The free book they give you at each meal.

5. Being with hundreds of Christian writers who are helpful and encouraging and realizing that for most the writing journey has not been quick or easy.

4. Going to the bookstore and finding the book that won’t be released until November, waiting for you in September (I’m helping to set up the bookstore on Wednesday so I’m hoping to find a few on my waiting list).

3. Meeting the author of your favorite book and getting to read the first three chapters of her new book (sequel to favorite) from her computer!

2. Four days spent with dear friends you don’t see often enough.

1. Seeing how God has brought me to this place in my writing and knowing He will be with me through each step. Regardless of the outcome He knows the plan and I just need to keep walking forward.

I’m sure we’ll be sharing more in the next few weeks, but I know all of us would appreciate your prayers. We will be traveling, away from our families, and dealing with those voices in our heads that cause us to doubt why we’re even there. Thank you.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Sara