American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference

What a joy to be a part of the ACFW family! The conference here in St. Louis is filled with aspiring writers and encouraging editors, agents and publishers all here to glorify God! I’m finding myself encouraging others more than anything else, which makes for a great time! Happening at the same time is the Joyce Meyers Convention, so the entire downtown area is filled with people who love the Lord! I even had the chance to give one of her staff a copy of Run, River Currents, as Joyce ministers about her abusive life.

From the moment I arrived it was as though God had a plan for everything. I have been a part of a giving attitude in every restaurant, every store and every coffee shop within a 10 block radius. I hear workers saying to each other that they have never been treated so kindly, tipped so graciously or listened to so intently as these few days. My own maid cried when I handed her a few extra dollars and a book of faith I picked up here. I hadn’t seen her need until then. I was just reacting to the gratefulness I was feeling.

Writers do make a difference, but more than that, people of faith make a difference when we allow God to shine through our actions. I know I am learning techniques and craft here, but the real lessons are coming from the heart.

Go on out today and be a blessing to someone in any little way you can. You never know where God will take your kindness.

P.S. Don’t forget you have until October 12 to sign up for my Goodreads Giveaway of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance! A “button” bracelet will be included for one lucky winner!

The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance On Sale 7-24 to 7-28 on Amazon

For those who wish to grab a copy of my least release, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance, now is the time! Amazon is running a Kindle deal at just .99 cents from July 24 through July 28!

When you are finished reading it, don’t forget to post a review, as authors everywhere so appreciate the words of their readers!

Enjoy!

Ginger

 

Join Me on My Blog Tour This Week!

Today begins the blog tour journey for The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance!

Join me today at Lisa Haselton’s Review at  and leave a comment!

The rest of the week is listed below!
July 22: Our Wolves Den
July 23: Ari Reads
July 24: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!
July 24: LizaOConnor-Author
July 25: Writer’s Club of Whittier
July 28: Shelf Full of Books
July 28: Deal Sharing Aunt
July 29: Nickie’s Views and Interviews
July 30: Margay Leah Justice
July 31: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
August 1: Let’s Get BOOKED!  (This review site does have adult content as well as Christian content)
August 1: Long and Short Reviews

 

For the next several days, my book will be featured on the following blogs. On July 23, I will be a featured guest on Ally Bishop’s Upgrade Your Story podcast and July 24 I will be featured on The Rebecca L. Maham Radio Show. Join me throughout the week for giveaways and great conversations, won’t you?

I grateful to so many people for hosting me and allowing their readers exposure to my new work! A big thank you to each blogger and to those who take the time to share their questions and comments!

Have a great day!

 

Who Has Influenced You Along Your Writing Road?

A long time ago, in a far away place…. okay, so it was ten or so years ago in Washington, D.C. I attended a writers retreat, Algonkian Conferences, put on by a man called Michael Neff. I arrived at Dulles Airport after dark and took a cab to the cabin  located in a state park not far from D.C. For a moment, I thought the cab driver was taking me somewhere to kill me, as I had no idea as to where I was going. We wound our way through tall pines with no other humans in sight. I found myself praying out loud. He didn’t kill me, but over the next couple of days, I wondered if it would have been less painful than my insecurities during that retreat. Ten students, both male and female, shared two five bedroom cabins along the edge of the Potomac River. It was lovely and we were all hopeful that our writing would be grandly praised. We spent a full week there, writing, critiquing, and string meals. The first day or two, Michael Neff listened to our works, gave us homework and explained the difficult road that might lie ahead, as many writers give up after a retreat, or worse yet,  just don’t show up to their desks to write. He pushed us to limits we didn’t know we had. His sharing of his professional information and resources,  helped us band together.  He supported us with such zeal it made me feel like we could take on a dissident country. Every day we swore we were going to work harder to make him proud. The next day, armed with new work, we’d read, listen to his wisdom and revise the work for the next day.He’d push us again, stretching us to go beyond the limits we had arrived with. Though we loved him dearly, we’d sometimes giggle at the idea of setting him afloat down the Potomac tied to a donut raft. It took us the entire week to realize the enormous value of what he was teaching us. We didn’t know anything! We were cocky, over confident and just too green to realize we didn’t know what we didn’t know! Many weeks later, Neff’s wisdom sunk in. I came to realize that Michael Neff was the first of many mentors to give me good, sound advice, advice that moved me step-by-step to where I am today. A year later, because of Michael Neff,  I attended and pitched a book at a New York Pitch Conference. It was a book I hadn’t even written! With my pitch, I got a manuscript request from two publishers for a book that didn’t even exist! What I learned from the conference and from Michael, was how far I yet had to go. From there, I began to focus on the craft of writing, obtaining my M.F.A. Shortly after graduation, my first novel was published and I haven’t looked back. In July, Vox Dei, a  Christian imprint of Booktrope Publishing released my third novel, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance.

Today, I just wrote THE END on my first mystery, all because I took the first step at Michael Neff’s Algonkin Retreat! For that, I will be ever grateful to Michael Neff. He made an enormous difference in my writing career!

It is funny how people come and go in your life, influencing you without you even understanding the effect they have had. I don’t know why this hit me today, but it did. It also caused me to reflect on those who have had a spiritual influence on me, as well. My grandfather, John Lovean, my brothers, Kent and Milton and my older sister, Sue have been influencers in both my private and public lives. Thanks to all of you for making me see beyond what this life has brought me here on earth. You led me to the gift of eternal life. For more information on Michael Neff’s New York Pitch Conference see http://algonkianconferences.com/index.htm

A Simpleton’s Guide to Making a Book Trailer

Book Trailers are all the rage right now, so with the upcoming release of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance, I thought I would try one!

I am technically challenged, but didn’t want to pay a fortune to have someone do a book trailer for me that might not be exactly how I wanted the book trailer to feel. I’m a touchy-feely kind of person and I wanted that to come across in the music and the photos I used.

So here it is. The Simpleton’s Guide to building your own book trailer. I hope it might help another writer as they struggle to find their way in this noisy world of publishing.

 

1. I went to animoto and opened a free account. (Note that the free account gives you 30 seconds of photos, video & music.)

2. I choose a background (Rustic.)

3. I followed the directions and downloaded personal photographs, paintings and free stock photos I found on the web.

4. I choose a song that matched the theme of my book.

5. When the book trailer didn’t seem as long as I wanted, I paid $30 to upgrade for a year.

6. I added more photos and then previewed the piece.

*** All of this took me about 3 hours. The second one I built took less than 30 minutes. You know what I mean. Don’t get discouraged, the end product is lovely!

Click on this link and tell me what YOU think about the results!

 

Ginger

Why Book Clubs Count

I read a wonderful article in the newspaper today about book clubs that are popping up like daffodils all over the country. These seemingly small groups of six to twenty people get together out of love for the written word. It’s a social club filled with wonderful people who appreciate quality writing and good stories. It made me think of a Des Moines Book Club, which consisted of several women who graciously read the first draft of my first manuscript.

Just like the article in the paper, the women of the Des Moines Book Club were brutally honest in their reading, which not only gave me a better sense of my story, but caused me totally rewrite parts of the book so the reader might better understand what was rolling around in my head. It was a lesson well learned.

So to book clubs across America, thank you for your honesty. Writers need your input and your reviews. Thank you for the generosity of your time, as you make us better writers.

Here’s a short tribute to those of you in book clubs, whose importance cannot be denied, from the poets and writers you support!

Surprise
by Beverly McLaughlin

The biggest
Surprise
On the library shelf
is when you suddenly
Find yourself
Inside a book-
(the HIDDEN you)
You wonder how
The author knew.

 

What God says:
Psalm 139:4 “Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.”

Yes, Ms. Bonet, I Do Remember You!

I am sitting at my writing desk fumbling with an aqua-colored  button given to me by a thin, aged woman I met one winter day on my way to Chicago several years ago. We were sitting side-by-side on a United 737 airplane when I saw the button fall from her hand knit sweater into her lap. She hadn’t noticed it and when she crossed her legs it fell to the floor. I patted the floor to retrieve the tiny bit of plastic and placed in to her trembling hand. I complimented her on her sweater, as I had never seen such a delicate weave or color before. One thing led to another and soon we were chatting about how the sweater came to be.

Her name was Yvette Bonet. She shared with me that the sweater was almost seventy-years-old, passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. She had owned it since she was sixteen, a gift passed to her on that special birthday. The wool was angora, imported from France and dyed the pale aqua by a clothier in Paris. My eyes ran over the covering again, seeking ordinary pilling to a small hole that might give away the garment’s age, but their was none to be found. The buttons I thought were plastic, were actually dyed bone, craftsman carved and held in place by strings made of leather.

I watched her as she wove the leather of that missing button through her fingers and listened as she told me about her journey from France to the United States wearing that very sweater. Her eyes teared as she talked about leaving her beloved country, knowing again she would never see the grandmother she had come to love.

I shared the fact that the color of the buttons reminded me of a favorite aunt’s kitchen table. As we spoke, I found myself closing my eyes and swore I could still smell the six-inch high, fresh rolls that seemed to emerge from my aunt’s kitchen any time a neighbor or friend arrived. I knew the warm butter mixed with homemade jam would drop from my lips at any moment.  In that short journey, this stranger and I shared vivid memories of the bright moments the color of those tiny buttons evoked.

As we hugged each other goodbye, she placed the tiny bone button in my hand. “You gave me back the memories I thought were lost. Remember me with this,” she said as we parted.  “I have no children to pass this on to, but you will remember me, won’t you?”

God is so faithful in the way he has given me out-of-the-blue recollections of so many people I have travelled with over the years. Yes, Miss Bonet, I do remember you.

I push back my office chair and smile at this tiny aqua-colored button that rolls in my hand. It is a good memory.

A Moment Alone

I’m sitting at my desk trying to read the final proof of my upcoming novel, The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance. I don’t feel like writing. I feel like taking a walk. I feel like eating chocolate. I feel like studying my Bible. I feel like pushing my feet into the sand of a beautiful beach. But there is so much to do! I have students waiting for test results and papers that need to be graded. I have phone calls to friends and family who I am constantly forgetting to respond to. There are meals to fix, a dog to feed, visitors to entertain, laundry to finish, beds to make, dished to do, a lawn to be mowed, groceries to be bought, and a bicycle that needs repair.

And then I realize, I need to bow my head and settle into God’s loving arms for just a few moments. So, here at my desk, I stop everything and I pray. I thank God for the stories that will come, for the forgiveness He has given me, for His constant strength and companionship when I feel so alone. I praise Him for the sun that shines in my heart when the storms are outside my window and allow him to remind me that I can do all things through Him.

The realization that arrives that this moment is not about me. It’s not about my feelings, nor my good or bad day. It’s not about how life treats me. No, it’s about Him. It’s about the praise He deserves. It’s about what He has done. It’s about how loving He was when I rejected Him and how full of grace He was when I realized how unworthy I really am. The thought of His sacrifice cover me like a gentle sigh and I am lifted up once again.

And for a moment in my heart I cry, “Praise be to a Holy, Holy God!”