Tuesday, July 30, 2013

After the Writers Conference: 5 Ways to Get Moving!

Image © Julie Campbell, 2013

So, you just returned from a whirlwind trip to a writers conference, where you networked with agents and editors, made connections with other writers, and crammed your head with so much knowledge you could fill a football stadium. Now what?

Once the euphoria has worn off, here are five practical things you can do AFTER the conference:

1. Take a deep breath (and maybe even take a nap) – Most likely you have been waking up early (who decides to start these things at 8 a.m. anyway?) and staying up late, attending workshops and dinners and hobnobbing with (translation: kissing up to) agents, best-selling authors and editors. Don’t feel guilty about taking a day or two (or three) to chill, rest and process. As long as you get moving once your batteries are recharged, you’ll be fine.

2. Review and Write – Look over your notes, highlighter in hand, and mark valuable info that applies to you and your genre. If you really want to get fancy, you can even color-code your highlights – yellow for craft, pink for social media/website tips, green for marketing, etc. Then put all that good advice from the experts to good use and start writing and working on your trouble areas.

3. Follow Up – This is undoubtedly the single most important thing you can do after a conference. If an editor or agent has invited you to send a query, proposal, partial or full manuscript, get to work! Time is of the essence here, and as much as we writers like to procrastinate (heck, it’s a career for some of us!), now is NOT the time to mess around on Facebook or play Solitaire. Craft an amazing query letter (great advice on how to do that here), or get busy revising (or writing) your manuscript. At a recent conference I attended, one agent said if he requests a manuscript (and he knows the writer already has it written), he expects to see it within a week or two after the conference. Moral of the story: Don’t. Drag. Your. Feet.

4. Get Social – Remember all those business cards you collected at the conference? Now’s the time to follow your new found writer friends on Twitter and Facebook. It’s all about community, and there’s never been a better (or easier) time to network with your tribe and stay in touch.

5. Stay Productive and Be Patient – Don’t waste time hitting the refresh button on your e-mail every 30 seconds to see if your potential dream agent has contacted you. More than likely, it will take weeks, maybe even months, for anyone to get back with you. Publishing is one big waiting game, and the sooner you get to work on another project, the better. You need a distraction. So, if you haven’t already, start a blog or a website, get going on that new idea, or submit some magazine articles.

So, excuse me while I stop procrastinating by writing about what to do after a writers conference. Now, I actually need to follow my own advice and get to work. Happy writing!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding God from the Driver's Seat

In a million unique ways – as we change diapers, eat dinner, return e-mails, pay the bills – we are to be the evidence of God. Jesus factored in the mundane. We need to eat and sleep and shower and clean up and work on our marriages because of the way he made us – typical, inadequate, and human. Embrace the common: a Sunday afternoon watching sports, Starbucks with a friend, cooking dinner for a neighbor, taking the dog for a walk, heading to a job that is making you more humble and needy because it is so unfulfilling, or working through conflict with a friend you have offended. This and more is all part of it.

So do your everyday and your ordinary. Godliness is found and formed in those places…. Jesus says the way we glorify God, the way we step into his story, is by accomplishing the work God gives us to do. Jesus glorified his father on earth by doing that very thing.

We play our part in his story, and the beauty is, it was what we were made for.

~ from Anything, by Jennie Allen

After the umpteenth hour in the car this week, I was starting to feel a wee bit sorry for myself.

“I feel like I spend half my life in the car,” I huffed to my husband one evening.

Of course, he assured me that he appreciated my constant shuttling around of our three needy teens and that someday, they would look back and realize the amazing sacrifice their mother had made on their behalf.

Really? Well, a girl can dream, right?

Maybe you’ve felt like me lately… that you’re nothing more than a maid, cook, babysitter, dishwasher, errand runner, or (my personal favorite) chauffeur. Yes? That’s you? Did you ever stop to consider that this is all part of God’s story for you? That God is shaping and molding you into His image through these seemingly mundane tasks? That this is exactly where you belong?

The above passage in the book Anything by Jennie Allen really rocked my world. Instead of complaining about the ordinary, I should be embracing it! This is the way I can glorify God right where I am, in the left hand turn lane, waiting for the slow poke in front of me to turn already! (Oh, yikes, guess I better work on my attitude toward pokey drivers while I’m at it!)

Wow! If I can really get this – that I can glorify God even from the driver’s seat in the turn lane – I can’t imagine how much easier, and more fulfilling, my life would become!

The mundane, the common, the ordinary, the hum-drum – this is where godliness is found. This is where I belong. By accomplishing the tasks God has set out for me to do before the foundations of the world (Eph. 2:10),  I am participating in His grand story for my life.

Don’t know about you, but the driver’s seat (or the dishes, or the dirty laundry, or [insert your mundane task here]) just started looking a lot better!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV


This is an entry for Five Minute Friday. Every Friday hundreds of writers join in this five minute writing exercise at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, Tales from a Gypsy Mama.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa-Jo posts on her blog. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

Have a blog? You can join in, too!

Five Minute Friday