Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference Highlights

By Iola Goulton

You may have read my blog post last week, Top 10 Tips for First-Time Conference Attendees. One of those tips was not to schedule anything important for a couple of days after conference.

This blog post is me not following my own advice.

I’ve just returned from the 2017 Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, and I’m body tired and brain tired. Especially brain tired.

Narelle shared her highlights of the Romance Writers of Australia conference yesterday, including being able to meet several ACW members in person, as well as meeting with a representative of Draft2Digital. She also shared lots of fun photos, which shows she’s more organised than me—I always forget to take photos at conferences!

With Kristen Lamb
I do have a couple. When I arrived on Thursday afternoon, I met the exuberant Kristen Lamb, social media jedi, author of Rise of the Machines, and one of our keynote speakers. I also met the lovely Delwyn and Maggie from Australia. Delwyn and I found we have several writing friends in common, including ACW members Andrea Grigg and Nicki Edwards.

Me with Maggie and Delwyn

There were several Australians at the conference, both as guest speakers, and as attendees. If you can get a cheap trans-Tasman flight, the RWNZ conference works out around the same price as the Australian conference, and the conferences had different speakers this year—Delwyn attended both conferences back-to-back.

The format of RWNZ is that we have a keynote speaker who takes all four sessions on Friday—which is almost seven hours of speaking (and listening, and taking notes. Lots of notes). Our Friday speaker was Kristen Lamb. I consider myself fairly social media savvy, but I still learned a lot from Kristen’s talk. I think that’s going to be a separate post, once I’ve recovered a little more.

Saturday and Sunday was a mix of sessions from our keynote speakers, from visiting agents and editors, and elective sessions from Kiwi and Australian speakers (including yours truly). The sessions were a mix of technical (how to use Scrivener, how to keep yourself safe online), craft (writing a scene, creating reader engagement), and business (how to write a query, self-publishing advice).

My topic was Introducing Christian Romance: the biggest little genre you’ve never heard of. 

I was prompted to submit a speaker proposal after attending last year’s conference, when a lot of the people I met, even the Christians, didn’t even know Christian romance was a thing. No one told me that this year, so I guess that means everyone had read the programme. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win.

All the sessions I attended were excellent, and there were several electives where I wanted to attend two or three of the four options. I wasn’t the only one with this problem. I had several people tell me they wanted to attend my session, but there was another session they also wanted to attend. I couldn’t blame them. So did I! The result was that my presentation was more of a discussion, as only two people attended. That didn’t bother me—we had a fabulous conversation.

I did have several authors tell me they are Christian writers, but not writing for the Christian market. Great! People who are reaching the lost with their writing—reaching people who would never walk into a Christian bookshop, or even read a Christian book.

I don’t have any of my own books to give away or sell, so I did the next best thing: I took copies of Then There Was You by Kara Isaac to give away, and Kara was kind enough to donate two copies of Can’t Help Falling. I gave copies to the ladies who attended my sessions, to a vicar from Christchurch, and to a general market author of rock chick romance who loved the cover and blurb. I doubt she’s ever read a Christian romance before, but she said she’d read it. Wonderful!

This is the third RWNZ conference I’ve attended. 

The first time, I went with Andrea Grigg and Catherine Hudson. We were impressed at the openness and friendliness of romance authors. Many of the attendees write erotica or paranormal romance, but they were universally friendly and welcomed us as fellow writers, despite the differences in our writing and personal beliefs.

I had the same experience last year and this year. Romance writing is a community that chooses to celebrate our common love of romance, rather than focusing on our differences. I love that. Yes, I’ll be back next year.

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Monday, 21 August 2017

Romance Writers of Australia: Conference Highlights - Narelle Atkins

By Narelle Atkins

I love writing conferences. I've lost count of how many I've attended over the years but I have collected six badges from Romance Writers of Australia conferences. I met my dear friend, Mary Hawkins, in person for the first time at the Sydney conference in 2007.

Our Aussie conferences are special. In recent years the Romance Writers of Australia conference offerings have broadened beyond romance writing to include more workshops on the business of writing and publishing. This year in Brisbane I had the opportunity to attend workshops from Draft2Digital and Google. I was also blessed with an excellent fifteen minute appointment with Dan Wood, Director of Operations and Author Relations at Draft2Digital.

Draft2Digital are a global distributor of ebooks and audiobooks. They assist authors by distributing their works to digital storefronts including ibooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Tolino. 

Kris Austin, CEO and Founder, shared his vision for how Draft2Digital will continue to expand their author services to meet the needs of their author clients.They currently distribute to 195 countries. Australia is their second largest market (15%) behind the USA (53%).     

It's great that we don't need to travel to the US to see publishing industry professionals.The amazing Margie Lawson is travelling to Australia for our Omega Writers Conference in Sydney, 28-30 October 2017.

Rochelle Manners, Kat Kolmer, Andrea Grigg, Narelle Atkins
A conference highlight, as always, was the chance to catch up with old and new writing friends, including familiar faces from our ACW group. Unfortunately I wasn't able to arrange an ACW group photo but I have included everyone in photos in this post.

Andrea Grigg, Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Rochelle Manners did a wonderful job organising the conference book store. Brisbane locals and tourists can visit Rochelle's charming bookshop, The Mad Hatters Bookshop, in Manly, Queensland. 

Andrea Grigg, Rochelle Manners, Cindy Williams
Romance writers know how to party. The Harlequin Escape After Party that followed the Saturday Evening Awards Dinner was a lot of fun. 

I discovered the Gold Coast train to Brisbane and travelled to and from conference with my dear friend Andrea Grigg. Andrea and I enjoyed a relaxing post-conference Monday lunch by the beach before I flew home to Canberra via Sydney. 

Narelle Atkins & Andrea Grigg - Currumbin, Gold Coast
Conference weekends are busy and I did my best to squeeze in some writing time. I flew to the Gold Coast via Sydney and spent more time in airport lounges than in the air. I used the waiting time to brainstorm my latest story. 

Early on Friday morning I wrote and edited my upcoming Inspy Romance blog post in the airport lounge and during my first flight from Canberra to Sydney. A blog post completed by 7.30am was a great way to start my conference weekend.

Stop by Inspy Romance on Thursday (Aust/NZ time zone) to join in the conversation on ebook pricing. Strategies for ebook pricing was a hot topic of conversation at the conference. 

Do you share my love of writing conferences? Are you planning to attend the Omega Writers Conference in October? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins

Friday, 18 August 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ To Review or Not to Review?

My name is Andrea Grigg and I don’t like writing reviews.

Some of it stems from the fact I’m not a natural reviewer. It takes me hours, even when I love a book. I could rave about it verbally – albeit not coherently – but to write one is a challenge. I forget plot points, themes and often can’t remember the subtext. All I know is I adored the characters, felt their pain and then the love when everything turned out as it should.

But there’s a great deal more to my discomfort than that.

Nola encapsulated my thoughts beautifully in one of the threads on my January 14 post: (You’ll need to set aside half an hour if you want to read all the comments). Here's what she had to say:

‘I sometimes feel 'put on the spot' when I read something I don't think is up to scratch...'

Read more at the following link:


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Book Review My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

By Jenny Blake
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island
Carrie Fancett Pagels
Barbour Books (July 1, 2017)

Journey now to Mackinac Island where...
A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds.

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

My Review:

Firstly thanks to Netgalley for my review copy.

I have read a couple other My Heart Belong books this year all set in the west and more westerns. It was refreshing to have a different location and era. I really loved the story. It made me want to go there and see the island and to also taste some of the famous fudge.

Maude wants to run the inn that has been in her family for generations but her father thinks she needs to be married. When the man she hoped to marry breaks her heart she sets about trying to prove herself to her father. On the flip side Ben is posing as a wealthy industrialist when he is in fact a journalist who is trying to expose how men come to the island pretending to be rich to snare a heiress at the famous hotel. Ben is really struggling with his assignment as he feels more comfortable with the locals than the wealthy. He has a story that has scarred him.

As both Maude and Ben seem to be coming closer there are issues arising they need to deal with. 

I loved the different area of America which I haven't read about before. The places are real with the story fiction, and we get a feel of what it would be like to live on the island. Also what it is like when you live year round on a place where in the summer the wealthy will come and stay at The Grand or other Hotels. It then becomes very much a division of the people. There are also other issues that both Maud and Ben have to deal with, which added to the story. 

I really loved the story and have heard Carrie will be writing about one of the other characters in an upcoming book.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Top 10 Tips for First-Time Conference Attendees

By Iola Goulton

Do you live in Australia or New Zealand? Are you signed up to attend the Omega Writer’s Conference in Sydney from 27 to 29 October?

If you are, great! (If not, sign up now!)

Some of you might be nervous about attending. Don’t be—there will be writers of all levels and all genres at the conference. The two things we all have in common are that we all write (or want to), and we’re all Christian.

For those who are a little nervous, or who don’t know what to expect, here are my top ten tips based on what I've learned attending previous conferences:

1. Go for the whole weekend

It’s tempting for first-time attendees—especially those who live near the venue—to attend only for the Saturday. Yes, you’ll still learn a lot even if you only go for the day, but you won’t have the opportunity to get to know people as much as if you stayed for the whole weekend.

2. Most authors are introverts

Sure, some authors (and conference attendees) are extroverts. Most are not. We might not look like it at conference time, but we are. We have a fabulous extroverted time reconnecting with old friends and making new friends … then retreat into our introverted writing caves until Christmas (when our families demand we come out and pretend to be extroverts again).

3. Yes, we do know each other

When you arrive at conference, it can feel like everyone already knows everyone else. That’s partly true—but most of us only know each other from previous conferences, or from online writing groups such as the Australasian Christian Writers or Christian Writers Downunder Facebook groups.

If you’re going to conference for the first time, join one (or both) of these groups and start interacting with the regular commenters. Then, when you get to conference, people will know you. I’ve formed real friendships from my online connections.

4. Arriving at conference

If you’re flying in, plan to arrive an hour or so early and take the conference bus. You don’t want to be stressing because you’re rushing. We meet at a convenient coffee shop, so you have time to have a drink and a bite to eat.

It’s also a great opportunity to meet and get to know some of the other attendees before we arrive at the venue. (If you can’t find me at the appointed meeting place, I’ll be at Krispy Kreme getting my annual sugar fix).

5. You are a writer

One of the questions you will be asked is “what do you write?”. I remember Simon Kennedy asking me this at my first writer’s conference. My answer? I said I didn’t write—even though I was writing 150+ book reviews a year, plus dozens of blog posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

To anyone else, that looked like I was a writer. But it took me three or four years before I was able to admit to myself that yes, I was a writer, even though I wasn’t writing novels or screenplays or something “big”.

Believe in yourself. You are a writer. Don’t buy into the lie that what you’re writing (or want to write) isn’t “real” in comparison to what X or Y is writing.

6. Be prepared to learn

If you’re doing the fiction stream, Margie Lawson will give you writing tips that make you feel like you’re a complete beginner (but she’s a Southern lady, so she’ll do it with grace and style). This can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry—instead, count your blessings that you’re learning this before you’ve published six books you now realise you have to rewrite and republish.

I’ll be attending the fiction stream, but I’m sure the other teachers will have equally important insights to impart.

7. No one knows it all

We are all at conference to learn. No one knows everything there is to know about writing. The trick is to know what we know, to know what we don’t know, and to be teachable.

8. Don’t be intimidated

Really. Don’t. The only difference between you and the multi-published award-winning authors is BISFOK time. That’s Behind In Seat, Fingers On Keyboard. And your writing doesn’t have to be perfect—as an editor, I can assure you no one produces a perfect first draft.

9. Bring money

There is a conference bookstall, and you will want to buy books (especially when there is the opportunity to get author autographs as well!). To buy books, you need money. Don’t worry about your airline luggage allowance—you can arrange for your new purchases to be posted to you.

10. After-conference care

If you’re anything like me, you’ll eat too much, drink too much coffee, talk too much, and won’t get enough sleep (I blame those native Australian birds which sound like screaming). That’s all okay. Plan for it i.e. don’t schedule anything important for the next few days after conference. You’ll want some time to decompress, and to prayerfully consider how you’re going to apply what you’ve learned to your writing. And to your life.

If you’re a more experienced conference attendee, what are your tips for first-timers?

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The cloak of mourning

By Keona Tann

Grief is a strange companion the barbs of sadness pierce your heart at the strangest times. Everyday tasks can bring overwhelming sorrow.
It's like a cloak you sometimes forget it's around your shoulders but then, like a punch to the stomach, you'll realize it's still there, surrounding you.
At first you wear it heavy like a winter wool cloak but gradually over time it becomes a light silk cape.
Grief and healing is a process that we simply cannot rush! We need to allow it to take shape. Find someone who can help you through the process.
As I wallowed in my grief during my illness; loss of employment; and loss of loved ones I was led to Psalm 42:1-3,5 (NIV): “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God (stand before Him)? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”.

I realised that I was given a choice each day - I could celebrate the small victories or wallow in my grief! As I pondered that I decided to celebrate the beauty of the sunrise. I declared that God's mercy and grace is new each day, like each dawn (Zephaniah 3:5). So the suffocating heavy cloak of grief gradually changed into a light silk cape. I allowed Jesus to speak to my heart and He gradually replaced my mourning with peace and then eventually joy!

I pray that your cloak of mourning lightens as you press into God’s promises:
Lamentations 5:21 (NLT) “Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!”
Lord ignite in me a joy for you that burns bright and clear!

30:11 (NLT) “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy”  
Lord remove my mourning from my mind and replace it with joyous thoughts of you!
Lord remove my mourning from my heart and fill it with Your joy!
Lord remove my mourning from my spirit and wash me afresh in Your never-ending joy!

“God’s peace is joy resting. His joy is peace dancing.” F.F. Bruce

Many blessings!

For most of my life I struggled with sickness. The 2 dominant afflictions were endometriosis (for 28 years) and adrenal fatigue (I was severely debilitated for 28 months and the recovery has been a journey of 11 months so far).
In September 2016 God declared healing over my life. This set me on a path of restoration and transformation.
My passion for writing was reignighted and I wrote the following mission statement:
I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬
I've started a weekly blog which you can find at: https://keonajtann.wordpress.com/
I'm currently working on my testimony as well as my journey with endometriosis and adrenal fatigue. I hope that I'll launch my first book soon. Many blessings, Keona

Monday, 14 August 2017

Whaaat? You’re not coming to conference?

Whaaat? You’re not coming to conference?

By Jenny Glazebrook

I know there are all kinds of reasons not to come to the Omega Writers’ Conference. Most are good and reasonable. But there is one that I want to shoot down in flames (oh no, a cliché … maybe I’m not a real writer and all those real writers out there will notice all the grammer and speling mistakes in here).
Copyright © 2017 thezooom.com

Impostor Syndrome.

Ever heard of it? This phenomenon was brought to my attention only last week. Well, the name of it, anyway. To tell you the truth, I have suffered from it my whole life. So how do you know if you have it and whether it might be making you hesitate about coming to conference?

Are any of these thoughts familiar?

Maybe I shouldn’t come to conference until I have ‘made it’ as an author.

I’m not a real writer. I only dabble a bit.

I’m not published like the real authors who will be there.

I wrote something great once but I don’t have the ability to do it again. It was a fluke.

I don’t really belong.

I self-published so I haven’t had the quality of my work screened by a publisher.

I don’t understand the rules and techniques of writing. I think it’s all going to be above me.

I’m not a writer. I want to write, but I hardly ever do. Life gets in the way.

People might realise the truth about me. I’m a fraud.

I’d love to be a writer, but I really don’t have the talent.

Some people are called to write. I just do it because I enjoy it. They’re more gifted and important than I am.

I don’t even know yet if I really am or want to be a writer.

I’m just someone no one listens to so I have to write to express my 10,000 words a day somehow.

I don’t write for the Christian market. I don’t belong. (I just have to say here, that we are a group of Christians who write many and varied things, including for the mainstream. A Christian carpenter is not expected to just build crosses and communion trays!)

Is there another, similar reason that comes to mind?

I want to tell you right now that we WANT YOU THERE!

Whether you have written 100 books and have them all published, or once wrote a paragraph for a church bulletin, or you journal privately every now and then.

Because the truth is, we all start somewhere. We are all at different stages of the journey. As Richard Bach, best-selling author of classics such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, says:

A professional writers is an amateur who didn’t quit.

We all begin as an amateur.

And even those who have published many books still battle this impostor syndrome. Wikipedia describes it this way: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Maybe you’re like me and even as you read this definition you thought, ‘Oh, well I can’t have it because I’m not high achieving.’  So then my head started going around in circles. ‘Do I have it? Or do I like to think I have it because that would make me feel special and I want to be high achieving?’

However, I read something recently which challenged me. It was pretty much saying that if you’re scared you’re pretending to be someone you’re not and that others will find out – then become that person you think you’re pretending to be.

Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre
So come along to a conference and learn the techniques you don’t think you have. Come along and develop. Dream big! Let God direct you without you putting up your own barriers of self-doubt and fear. Learn from those you consider to have ‘made it’. I can assure you they are more than willing to share with you. And they are still learning, too. They might just be further down the track than you are.

Don’t compare yourself with others. The truth is, no one can write what you can. No one has experienced what you have. No one else has lived your life. God has not given anyone else exactly the same gifts, talents and experiences he’s given you. We can all learn from each other.

Don’t be intimidated by others. Realise you are not alone. (And if anyone else is willing to share their ‘impostor’ thoughts at the end of this and call them for what they are, I’m sure there will be many who relate to them and are encouraged by your vulnerability).

As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.’ Stop overthinking, comparing, worrying … step out and take a risk. Be the writer you’re scared everyone else might discover you want to be but might not actually be.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Hmm, I don’t think I like this post. I’ve just challenged myself out of my comfort zone.

See you at conference!

You can book here:
Registrations close 10th October.

Jenny Glazebrook is this year’s conference chaplain and part of the pastoral care team. She lives in the small town of Gundagai, NSW, with her husband, four children and many pets. She loves to write and encourage others in their writing journey and walk with Christ.