Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ACFW's At-Home Conference

For years I've been part of ACFW and each year I watch the conference come and go. Since joining, most of the conferences have been so close to home that it made not attending that much harder. But the time hasn't been right yet, and I'm good with that.

One thing that's made staying home easier is the At-Home Conference that Karin Beery and Tiffany Colter host online. I've been able to catch a few sessions here and there even when I was super busy, and I've been able to teach, too. It's always such a treat.

Why is the At-Home Conference so cool?

  • It gives those not attending the ACFW Conference and the sessions there a chance to learn. Each year Karin rounds up a great crew of teachers who present lessons on many different aspects of writing.
  • We can fit the At-Home conference into our own schedules, without leaving home or what we're doing. The lessons are sent via email so we can read, study, and apply them even if it's in the middle of the night or the baby's teething. 
  • The At-Home conference offers a chance to connect with other writers--a virtual meeting. This year they're doing a Facebook group so we can chat and interact, asking questions, sharing what we've learned, and encouraging each other. That connecting and networking is often what makes attending a conference extra special, so being able to do some of the same even though we can't go is a great bonus!

When is it?

This year the At-Home Conference will be offering four classes a day Thursday, September 25 through Saturday, September 27.

Some of the classes...

  • Moving to the Next Level: a Judge's POV
  • Writing Great Dialogue
  • When You're Stuck - Fun Ways to Unlock Your Creativity
  • Cooking Up a Novel Without a Recipe
  • Writing Crime Right: Ensuring Accuracy in Your Crime and Suspense Stories
  • Rx for Writeritis: Remedies for Literary Ailments
  • Creating Speaking Topics and Bible Studies From Your Fiction
  • Deep POV
  • Using Social Media for Building Brand Image
  • Your Characters' Personalities and You
  • The Forgotten Art of Line Editing
  • Clearing the Blog Fog  -- I'm teaching this one! ;-)

I have to tell ya, I'm really looking forward to some of those!

Check out who's teaching these classes!

How can you attend the ACFW At-Home Conference?

  • Members of ACFW can sign up here. If you attended last year, it will say you've already registered, but you will need to update your information. Click the 'update' option and proceed with registration.
If you can't attend the ACFW conference in St. Louis, join us for the At-Home Conference. In addition to the great list of classes, there's also more than a dozen donated books and items that will be given away at the end of the event.

For more information, head to the At-Home Conference site.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Learning. It's Worth the Investment

I should’ve done this six months ago—not that I had time, but hey, better late than never.

I planned on setting September or October aside to learn how to use my very annoying computer (six months ago I was moved onto a mac—not my choice—and I’ve been going crazy ever since), and other things because I’m so sick of banging my head on the wall. I figured four weeks invested in learning all I could would eventually be saved in time wasted hunting and pecking and all the accompanying frustration. Since I found the classes I wanted faster than anticipated, AND I had a window of days open unexpectedly (God is so good!!), I started early, never dreaming how fast my frustration would end.

Last week I broke the piggy bank I’ve had in hiding and bought Joseph Michael's video course on learning Scrivener. It was worth it. I am in awe of all this program can do. But the part that currently has my mouth hanging open is the project statistics and settings. It not only keeps track of your word count, but you can set targets, specific DAILY targets, and it will track it for you. It even gives you a bar graph to show where you are in reaching your goal. No more mental math for me! A quick glance will tell me if I’m even close (cuz the bar graph is color coded: red to yellow to green).

No more clip boards and stray pieces of paper for me! I now understand why people rave about this program and say they’ll never go back. I'll tell you more about this tool as I dig into it more and gain more experience on it.

I’m taking other classes and I’m finally learning how to use my Mac, too. No more making applesauce with it! WOOT!

If you’re frustrated by things you don’t know, it’s more than worth taking the time to LEARN them. It’s worth the investment of the time and money. The return on your investment is often surprising. I know mine sure is!

So tell me, what's something that has you frustrated because you don't know how to do it?

Monday, September 01, 2014

What's Your Resource?

The other day, after washing the dishes I was gnashing my teeth over how long it was taking me to rinse the kitchen sink after scrubbing it. I mean, really, how long does it take to wash bubbles off the sides of a sink and down the drain?

Like you, I had a mile-long list of things I needed to do but it was taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. rinsing that confounded sink. I used the dishcloth to wipe them, I used my hand to splash water on them, but still, the bubbles weren’t much closer to the drain than they had been before. Frustrating with a capital F (for my attitude right then, of course).

That’s when I had to laugh at myself. All that splashing and teeth gnashing for no reason. The sink sprayer was within six inches of my hand but I wasn’t using it. Why?! I hadn’t thought of it. I was so consumed in what I was doing, what I was thinking about, and what I needed to do that I didn’t use the resource that was right in front of me.

It was a DUH! moment.
It was a DUH! moment that God used it to show me I do the same thing in almost every area of my life.

God’s grace in my life is abundant. It overflows. But too often I forget about it. I go on about my day, doing the things I do, frustrated because it’s taking so long or is more difficult than I anticipated or… But the real problem is that I’m not using the resource that’s right in front of me and all around me. God’s strength.
My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
When I try to do things in my own strength I’m guaranteed frustration and possible failure. God never meant for me to do things apart from Him. The things He gave me to do require HIS power, HIS strength, HIS resources. Without those I’m just splashing water around wondering why things aren’t working like they’re supposed to.

Am I the only one who does this? Take a moment and examine what you’ve been doing lately. Are you frustrated at the ineffectiveness of your attempts to do your work? Maybe you’re using the wrong resources.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Where's Your Best ROI?

Life is too full.
It really is. I watch my church friends run from this practice to that game to... It seems never ending for them. Could I do it? Probably. But I won't because my life is full with too many other things (and we homeschool, effectively reducing the number of extracurricular activities pulling at our time).

On my awesome agent's client loop we've been chatting about platforms lately--specifically blogging...which we all know I love and miss when I'm away from it doing monkey business, like I have been this summer. But summer is over. Right? =)

If we're writers, platforms are a MUST.
There is NO disputing that. They’re a fact of our lives. At least they are if we ever want to sign a publishing contract. Check out what Terry Burns has to say about the importance of a platform. Sobering--especially if you haven't been working on a platform but have books written.

If we’re writing our blogs geared toward other writers more posts is a huge turn off because writers are juggling two lives--their work and family AND their writing life because most can't do just one or the other. But what if we’re writing for those who aren’t writers? If our blogs are aimed at people who aren't writers, who are READERS…who most likely won’t comment? Case in point: Karen Wingate’s blog. Recently she found others are reading her blog--local friends! They don’t leave a comment, but they chat about it. And I don't blame them because I love Karen's articles too. How does that effect the blogging equation?

Fonzie looking for all the people.
And what if the blog is for writers, and readers, and people wanting to see pictures of monkeys, or your latest knitting project, or whatever it is you do besides write? How does that factor in to what you post and how often?

This is something I’ve been mulling over a lot lately—especially as I work Twitter more (hey, doing ANYthing on Twitter is more than I’ve done in years, LoL). The people I see on Twitter are other writers. I get notices that I have new people following me on Twitter—and ALL of them are writers. Makes me wonder if there’s any NORMAL people on twitter. Or do the normal people lurk? Or… I just don’t know.

Then there's Facebook.
Okay, I'll admit it.
I've grown to love Facebook.  I heard that snicker. LoL. All the months I've spent on the road with the monkeys has pushed me into Facebook--just to stay connected with friends. And yes, I'm thankful. =)

So tell me, where do YOU get the best ROI for your social media (PLATFORM) time?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8 Tips to Help Your Blogging Blast Off

I've been getting a lesson ready for ACFW's stay-at-home conference--it's on blogging and I've had so much fun working on it! I've been doing some digging, asking questions on my agent's loop, and relishing this dive back into a topic I love.

Here's a nugget from my digging...

8 Tips to Help Your Blogging Blast Off:

1. Design impacting blog posts that someone can read in 60 seconds or less.

2. Use paragraph headlines on longer posts so a person can skip / scan to relevant info.

3. Tell stories from your personal life. Make a point.

4. Choose the perfect picture that goes along with your writing.

5. Don't let perfectionism paralyze you from publishing. Nobody's perfect.

6. Even the best bloggers run out of ideas. The difference? They don't quit.

7. Turn your blog post into a podcast, video, slideshow, infographic, etc. "Recycle" via other technologies.

8. Don't neglect social media platforms. Get your blog post in front of as many eyes as possible.

Source: Infographic courtesy of Sugar Pine Realty

The At Home Writer's Conference is September 25 - 27 and the class line-up is a good one! We'd love for you to join us!

So tell me, what would you add to this list?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Lesson From the Dogs

Gracie is the first to respond to each and every alarm that’s sounded—she quits whatever she’s doing and charges toward the point of concern. I’ve seen Puppers bark a warning, race toward the threat only so far, then fall back to what she’s watching over as soon as Gracie arrives. Gracie spends every night roaming, keeping watch on the perimeter while Puppers is the one who stays in the yard.
When Gracie comes home in the morning Puppers cares for her, whether it's licking her sore and sometimes bloody feet or pulling the burs from her hair.

Although we didn’t assign them, each dog has a job in our family—a job given them by God, one that fits with how they were created. If Gracie didn’t do her job, we wouldn’t have blueberries because the deer would eat the bushes as they did before she came to stay with us. If Puppers decided she was too tired or over worked to care for the needs of others, Gracie would limp and ache all night, making it so she wouldn’t be as effective as she is, not to mention the burrs and sticks that would get matted in her fur. Forcing Gracie to stay home at night by tying her up makes her miserable and Puppers is happiest when she’s nurturing someone, whether it’s Gracie, one of the cats, or one of us. Each dog not only does her job, but she takes great joy in the role she plays in our family.

As Christians we should be the same way. Some of us are assigned to the perimeter, roaming far from home, while some of us stay in the yard and minister to the others as they return or touch base. Each role is necessary and if one of us neglects our job for whatever reason, the whole family is affected.

I never see Puppers ignore someone who comes to her for nurturing—if it’s breathing, or supposed to breathe, she’s there, caring for their needs and showing her love and concern. She doesn’t seem to care that she doesn’t get out of the yard much, that she’s left behind and misses out on the exciting stuff. Washing feet is fine with her, even when they’re caked with mud and who knows what else. I’ve seen her spend an hour cleaning Gracie’s feet while the big dog sleeps, then lay down to rest and end up with a cat nestled in to her. She doesn't care that it's a cat and not puppy, only that she's there for the one who needs her.

Makes me wonder about myself. Am I doing the work God has given me to do? Am I taking as much delight in fulfilling my God-given job as my dogs are?

Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it. Colossians 4:17

Monday, July 21, 2014

TV Time with Toby

Toby loves relaxing with the family in the evenings. Sometimes, he's a bit like a lap dog and just curls up on my lap to sleep. Other times he hops from person to person, playing and visiting, and every now and then he'll actually watch the TV for a few moments. Like here. He liked Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.  =)

So tell me, do your pets watch TV with you and can you tell what shows they like best?

Like pictures of the monkeys? Follow me on Instagram!

Monkey Monday at Patterings

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