Christian Fiction Writer’s Contest

Mt. Zion Ridge Press announces its first writing competition for published and unpublished writers. More info at this link.

Deadline: January 30, 2020

Published and Unpublished Authors of Christian Fiction

Cost: $10 per entry payable upon registration

Prizes:

1st Place: $15 Amazon gift card, winner’s certificate, GIF to put on your website/blog, and a copy of Do Yourself a Favor: Tips and Quips on the Writing Life

2nd & 3rd Place: Winner’s certificate, GIF to put on your website/blog, and a copy of Do Yourself a Favor: Tips and Quips on the Writing Life

4th & 5th Place: Winner’s certificate and GIF to put on your website/blog.

All finalists have a CHANCE (no promises here) to be offered a publishing contract with Mt. Zion Ridge Press.

Rules for Submitting: Any work not following these rules will be disqualified.

  • We accept published and unpublished authors.

  • Fiction work submitted cannot have been published before.

  • All works submitted must have a Christian Worldview with no profanity, occult, or sex scenes on page.

  • We accept all Christian fiction genres except picture books and children’s chapter books.

  • Follow all rules and guidelines to the letter.

  • Nobody who is part of the selecting committee or is a current Mt Zion Ridge Press author or employee may enter the contest.

Write On Writer’s Conference

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Carole Brown and I will be teaching at a writer’s conference in Dayton, Ohio this week that is very affordable. If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, here are the details. Click on the poster to go to the conference site.

write-on

Tamera Lynn Kraft at ACFW Conference

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

I loved being at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference this year. It was the best writer’s conference I’ve ever attended.

Ted Dekker challenged us go deep into the darkness of our heart and shine God’s light in the dark places. That’s what being a Christian writer is all about.

ted dekker

I got the chance to meet Ted in the hallway. He is a lot of fun.

dekker 1 Dekker 2 Dekker 3

I took a workshop with Donald Maas which was fantastic. I learned so much. Another author who I learned a great deal from was James L. Rubart, author of The Five Times I Met Myself. In the class, he encouraged me to go deeper in my writing. I don’t believe I’ll ever be the same writer. Jim also won a Carol Award this year for his new novel. I can’t wait to read it.

acfw rubart2acfw rubart

I met with some of the ladies from Colonial Quills for supper before the conference began.

Colonial Quills 1

Colonial Quills 2

And I went to breakfast with my writer friends from Ohio.

acfw ohio

I met some strange and historical people in the hallways before the genre lunch.

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Here I am at the genre lunch. I didn’t really dress up, but I could imagine someone wearing something similar in 1919.

acfw me

Here I am all dressed up for the gala. I was trying to look glamorous, but I couldn’t pull it off because I kept laughing.

gala

I also had some pretty strange and fun roommates. We became close friends in a short time.

roommates selfieRoommates

The best part was the spiritual side of the conference. Every speaker talked about how God was our validation not writing. When it was my turn to work in the prayer room, lives were changed and people were healed. And the worship was so anointed. The presence of God was heavy there.

acfw worship

acfw worship 2

I talked to two editors and one agent who were interested in my work, but what I got out of the conference went beyond what the open doors and opportunities for my writing. Needless to say, I had a great time.

 

 

Writer’s Conference: Six Things You’ll Need for Your Editor’s Appointment.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

blank sheet in a typewriterIt’s that time of year again. The ACFW Conference is this week, and other writing conferences are set next month. I, like many of my writer friends, am prepared for the dreaded editor/agent appointment. Most writers will tell you the only thing you need to bring to a writer’s conference is a One Sheet. Don’t believe them. The one sheet is only the start of what you’ll need if you want to be prepared for the editor who is interested in seeing more. These six things should be at the tip of every writer’s fingers at any time during a conference.

One Sheet: One sheets are nice for editor and agents because they only have one sheet to take on the plane home. But I suspect that most One Sheets are disposed of unless the agent was unduly impressed with the writer. Still they’re nice to have because they do have all the information you need to make your pitch.

First Five Pages: If the agent or editor looks interested, it’s nice to mention that you have the first five pages of your novel if they’d like to look at it. This may be what gets you over the edge for the editor to request more.

Organize Puzzle Shows Arranging, Managing Or Organizing.

Author Page: This is a One Sheet with the purpose of telling about the author. If you’ve had anything published or have any other information an agent would be interested in knowing about, this would be the sheet to present.

Synopsis or Summary: It’s very unlikely you’ll get to this point. If the agent is interested after the One Sheet and the First Five Pages, he’ll tell you to send him the rest. But my motto is be prepared.

One Sheets, First Five Pages, and Synopsis of other projects: You’ve decided to pitch that historical you wrote about the Civil War, and the agent says she’s not interested in anything from that time period. What she’s really looking for is something having to do with the War of 1812. You wrote a War of 1812 era novel five years ago, but at the time, nobody wanted it. If you have available information on every book you’ve written, you can change your pitch to another novel without missing a beat.

Business Cards: You won’t really need these for your appointment, but they’re fun to hand out to friends you meet at the conference. Besides, it never hurts to be prepared. You can get nice looking business cards at Vistaprint.

Of course you don’t want to carry a filing cabinet or a big briefcase to the meeting, so here’s some ways to organize you’re information.

Accordion File: These are very portable and have files for each project.

Folders: You could purchase an oversized folder for each project and carry them in a folder binder.

Conference Notebook: This is my favorite idea for carrying everything you need. This link  will tell you how to make your own Conference Notebook.

One more thing, when you go to make your pitch, start by taking a deep breath and exhaling. Then treat the editor/agent like a real person, and ask her how the conference has been going. I’m not even above carrying around some chocolate for bribes. Whatever you do, remember to have fun. Your writing career does not depend on this one appointment. When you realize that, it will be easier to pitch your story.

12 Great Christian Writing Conferences for June – September, 2014

If you write Christian fiction or want to, there’s nothing like a Christian Writing Conference to get you to the next level. You might want to start with one of the inexpensive small conferences for an intimate feel or you could try a large more expensive conference with lots of opportunities to interact with agents, editors, and best selling novelists. Here’s a few that are coming up in the next few months.

Write to Publish Conference – June 4-7, Wheaton, Illinois

American Christian Writer’s Mentoring Retreat – June 6-7, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Wesleyan Writer’s Conference – June 11-15, Wesleyan, Middletown, Connecticut

St. David’s Writer’s Conference – June 17-21, Grove City, Pennsylvania

American Christian Writer’s Mentoring Retreat – July 11-12, College Park, Georgia

Montrose Christian Writer’s Conference – July 20-25, Montrose, Pennsylvania

Midwest Writer’s Workshop – July 24-26, Muncie, Indiana

Greater Philly Christian Writer’s Conference – July 30-August 2, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

American Christian Writer’s Mentoring Retreat – August 1-2, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference – August 4-7, Portland, Oregon

Maranatha Christian Writer’s Conference – September 15-19, Muskegon, Michigan

ACFW Conference (American Christian Fiction Writers) – September 25-27, St. Louis, Missouri

 

 

Guest Author Bonnie Duran – Writer’s Conferences: Why Should You Attend?

dora17Bonnie Duran

Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and Sudoku puzzles. Her husband of thirty years is a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet. They share their Denver home with two Siamese cats. Her debut novel, Dark Biology, released October 25 from Pelican Book Group

Writer’s Conferences: Why Should You Attend?

We’re entering conference season. Conferences across the country are typically scheduled between February and October.

If you live within driving distance or close enough to commute, conferences are a bargain. But why should you attend one halfway across the country and pay the big bucks for registration, food, and lodging?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Teaching: Top-notch instructors help you grow in the craft. None of us ever arrive. In one workshop, a friend of mine was shocked when Francine Rivers sat behind her.
  2. Camaraderie: We writers can feel isolated as we pound the keyboard in our pajamas. Emails and Facebook posts exchanged with other writers can help the loneliness, but for me, face to face is best. You can meet those people you know through the internet as well as meet new writing friends. And let’s face it, no one but another writer understands when you tell them your characters aren’t cooperating.
  3. Appointments: At most conferences, you can sign up for appointments with editors, agents, authors, and other professionals. If you’re ready to pitch that devotional book or novel, this is where you want to be. Many editors will not accept unagented writers except for those they meet at conferences. In 2012, I signed with both an agent and a publisher whom I met at a conference.
  4. Worship: Christian conferences have wonderful times of coming together for worship.
  5. Books: This is a great time to pick up Christian books you might not find anywhere else as well as books on the craft recommended by faculty.
  6. Professional connections: I’ve met writers at all levels at conferences. Some of the professional ones have encouraged me beyond the classroom. Robert Liparulo whom I met when he taught for several years at conferences, graciously wrote an awesome endorsement for my first novel, as well as Mark Mynheir.
  7. Giving back: Conferences offer opportunities to give back to the writing community. They have directors but run on the generosity of volunteers. Also, you can encourage other writers. Many just starting out don’t know where to turn for encouragement, and many are overwhelmed with the input they receive after attending a bunch of workshops that overload their brain.
  8. Inspiration: Learning goes beyond the nuts and bolts of craft teaching. Workshop leaders and keynote speakers can recharge you when you’re in the midst of writing trudgery, whether that’s writer’s block, discouragement, or frustration at the whole process.

Not sure if you can afford a conference? Many offer scholarships.

Here are a few writers conferences to consider. You can fine a complete list in the Christian Writers Market Guide.

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, April 9-15, 2014, held near Santa Cruz, California. This is one on my wish list.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference, May 14-17, 2014, held in Estes Park, Colorado. I’ve attended this one for 16 years and plan to go this year.

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, May 18-22, 2014, near Asheville, North Carolina. This is another one on my wish list. Alton Gansky directs this conference.

Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, July 30-August 2, Longhorne, Pennsylvania. Marlene Bagnull directs this one as well as the Colorado Conference and they have a similar format.

ACFW 2014 Conference, September 25-27, St. Louis, Missouri. This conference focuses on fiction. I’ve attended this one for seven years and plan to go this fall.

Writer’s Workshop, October 12-14, 2014, Colorado Springs, Colorado. At this event, hosted by Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue. This one is part craft, part retreat. I’ve attended for three years.

So consider attending a conference this year. The benefits are incalculable.

DarkBiology2Dark Biology

by Bonnie Duran

Renowned vaccinologist “Hildi” Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal. Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he’ll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father’s marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody.

After all, it’s only a mild influenza strain…Or is it?

Available at these links:

Pelican Book Group

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Writer’s Conference Prep: What To Bring To Your Appointment

Most writers will tell you the only thing you need to bring to an appointment with and editor or agent and a writer’s conference is a One Sheet. While this may be true, I believe in being prepared. These are the things I suggest you bring to your appointment.

One Sheet: One sheets are nice for editor and agents because they only have one sheet to take on the plane home. But I suspect that most One Sheets are disposed of unless the agent was unduly impressed with the writer. Still they’re nice to have because they do have all the information you need to make your pitch.

First Five Pages: If the agent or editor looks interested, it’s nice to mention that you have the first five pages of your novel if they’d like to look at it.

Author Page: This is a One Sheet with the purpose of telling about the author. If you’ve had anything published or have any other information an agent would be interested in knowing, this would be the sheet to present.

Synopsis or Summary: It’s very unlikely you’ll get to this point. If the agent is interested after the One Sheet and the First Five Pages, he’ll tell you to send him the rest. But my motto is be prepared.

One Sheets, First Five Pages, and Synopsis of other projects: You decide to pitch that historical you wrote about the Civil War and the agent says they already have too many of that time period. What she’s really looking for is something having to do with the War of 1812. You’ve written a novel about that war, but at the time, nobody wanted it. If you have available information on every book you’ve written, you can change your pitch to another novel without missing a beat.

Business Cards: You won’t really need these, but they’re fun to hand out to friends you meet at the conference. You can get nice looking business cards at Vistaprint.

Of course you don’t want to carry a filing cabinet or a big briefcase to the meeting, so here’s some ways to organize you’re information.

Accordion File: These are very portable and have files for each project.

Folders: You could purchase an oversized folder for each project and carry them in a folder binder.

Conference Notebook: This is my favorite idea for carrying everything you need. This link  will tell you how to make your own Conference Notebook.

Writer’s Conference Prep: Manners

Manners are a very important part of approaching editors and agents at writer’s conferences. This is something you should have been taught as children, but alas, not all people have proper manners. Even those of us that do, need refresher courses at times, especially in new situations where we don’t know what’s expected. There is a standing joke of a writing following an agent or editor into the restroom and pitching while they are captive audiences. The sad part is this really does happen at times. This is not the way to positively influence an editor or agent.

Here are a few pointers on manners at writer’s conferences:

Be prompt: Arrive for all appointments a few minutes early. Who knows? If the person before you doesn’t need the whole time and you’re already there, you could get extra time. If you can’t make an appointment, let the appointment director know so the editor or agent doesn’t waste time waiting for a no show.

Don’t monopolize: At some conferences, you will have the opportunity to sit and eat with editors and agents. If this is the case, don’t monopolize the conversation. Most agents and editors will give each person at the table a chance to talk. Wait for that opportunity or you will appear rude.

Elevator pitches: If you find yourself on an elevator or alone with an agent or editor, be courteous. Introduce yourself, and ask if this is a convenient time to make a pitch.

Appointment Manners: The best way to make an impression is to be kind and truthful. First ask the agent or editor how his day has gone? Has she found any likely prospects. Treating them like human beings will help you gain respect. Next, if you’re nervous or if this is your first pitch, say so. Most agents and editors will help you through your nervousness if you’re honest with them.

Be prepared: When it’s time for your appointment, know what you’re going to say. Have one sheets or sample pages ready to give the agent or editor. Have yourself and your materials ready.

Showing professionalism by displaying manners may just be the edge you need to land an editor or agent.

Writer’s Conference Prep: What To Wear and What Not To Wear

Reprinted from an earlier post.

I have never known of a publisher or agent who was looking for a writer with a great power suit. Dress in the business world is important, but in the writing world, not so much. Good writing will always trump a good wardrobe. But it does help to show you can be professional and can convey a put together image. Here’s some tips for what to wear and what not to wear at a writer’s conference if you’re a woman writer.

Business Casual: The mode of dress for most writer’s conferences is business casual. Business casual usually means a pair of dress slacks or slightly flared skirt, a nice shirt or blouse, and a blazer or jacket. If you’re under thirty years old, blue jeans can sometimes be considered business casual but only if they’re dress jeans dressed up with a nice suit jacket. Dress slacks or a skirt are usually a better way to go.

Fitted: When shopping for dress slacks or a jacket, make sure to get the fit right. If you’re not sure of the right fit for your body type, go to an expensive clothing store with a friend who dresses well. Spend the day trying on clothes you might not normally wear. Ask the store clerk lots of questions. Then take what you’ve learned to the discount clothing store or the sales rack to find the right items.

Shoes: Choose a nice pair of shoes to go with your outfits at the conference, but make sure they’re comfortable. If you’re not use to high heels, toppling into an agent’s lap because your heels are too high is not the way to make a good pitch. Also you’ll do a lot of walking between sessions. If the pitch is at the end of the day, you won’t be able to think on your feet if they hurt.

Color: Writers are creative. Use that creativity by adding a splash of color to your wardrobe.

Jewelry: Jewelry is a great way to complete an outfit, but you don’t want to overdo it with too much. If you are wearing a simpler outfit, loud colorful jewelry can accent it beautifully. But if your outfit has a lot of flair, stick with a couple of simple pieces of jewelry.

Tattoos, Piercings, Etc.: This can be a tricky subject. If you’re planning to make a splash in the horror market or pitch your latest young adult sci-fi novel, tattoos and piercings might be the way to go. But if your novel is a prairie romance, you might want to use make-up and clothing to cover the tattoos and take out the piercings.

Make-up: If you’re unsure of how to apply make-up properly, have a make-up party or have a make-over at a make-up counter at the mall. Make-up can enhance your looks, but don’t wear too much unless you’re going for the gothic horror feel.

Banquet: Most larger writer’s conferences end with a banquet that they advertise as formal. If you don’t have a formal outfit, any dressy outfit will do. But if you do have a formal, go ahead and wear it. How often do you get a chance to dress up? Go for it.

Writer’s Conference Prep: The Elevator Pitch

Reprint from an earlier

An elevator pitch is a tool that every writer should have prepared at a writer’s conference. An elevator pitch is a thirty-second speech you have memorized that summarizes your book in case you get on an elevator with your dream agent or publisher. That agent asks what your book is about.

Unless you’ve thought about it ahead of time and have memorized your elevator pitch, you may end up saying something like, “Well it’s a kind of a like a story about, well you know, it’s about a guy and a girl, and they fall in love, and then stuff happens.” At this point, the elevator opens, and the agent leaves without offering you the chance to send a proposal because he has no idea what the book is about.

Don’t worry about frantically writing the perfect elevator pitch. Many writers panic about this, and there’s no reason to. The purpose for an elevator pitch is to tell someone what the book is about if asked. Here’s a few tips to make writing your elevator pitch easier.

Length: An elevator pitch should be two to three sentences long, around fifty words. If it’s the right length, you should be able to deliver it in about thirty seconds.

Title and Genre: Start the elevator pitch by stating the title and genre of your book. For instance – “My novel is called Yellow Bonnets and is a category prairie romance.” This part won’t be included in the fifty word count but will help the agent know if you have a book that fits her current genre interests.

Main Character: Your elevator pitch should mention the name of the main character.

Main Plot: Don’t mention things that are secondary. Limit your pitch to the main plot.

Study the Movie Industry: The movie industry does elevator pitches better than anyone. Study how they describe movies in only a few words to get an idea on how to develop your elevator pitch.

Here’s a few sites that go into depth about how to write an elevator pitch:

50 Word Elevator Pitch

What Is High Concept?

Getting Your Pitch Right