Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Posts Tagged ‘writers conferences’

It Must Have Been the Magnet in my Ear – Lessons in Conference Etiquette

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 7, 2012

I survived another conference in a state “over there.” Which I drove to, all by myself, through Chicago.

I am not a brave person.

And as I get older, I find myself inappropriately courageous in some places and inappropriately cautious in others. But more of that later. I paid for, attended, pitched, roomed with my agent, made fun of Canadians I only just met, hugged and cheered for people I had just met, sold some books, hopefully encouraged some people, enjoyed the company of strangers who I hope have become friends and marveled that I drove around as much as I did in a state of directionally-challenged fog and still made my pitch on time.

Seriously, the magnet taught me some things about conference etiquette.

1. Go prepared.

No matter how prepared I thought I might have been before, this was my time to shine. I checked out the acquisitions editor I targeted for my pitch, as well as recent releases in my genre from the publisher, and shamelessly name-dropped, which seemed to work in this instance. I also had my pitch for the books I wanted to discuss written out. Which I realized later that I handed to the editor as my brief synopsis and actually started with “Hello, (editor), thank you for seeing me…” I also had a session of acupuncture, admitting my nervousness, which resulted in the acupuncturist placing a tiny magnet in the cartilage of my ear to help with anxiety. Since people, even my Christian friends, have invoked the power of magnets for stuff like motion sickness, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

 

2. Be yourself.

Up to a point. Politics, favorite television shows, bathroom sharing, bedtimes, snoring, getting lost, favorite foods, eating and drinking preferences…I’ve discovered that leaving some mystery about yourself is good. Share what’s not overwhelming or too personal, listen to others a lot, keep that smile plastered no matter…and be kind and helpful.

 

3. Let bygones not haunt you.

I knew I was going to have to probably interact with a person I have not had a good relationship with in the past. I feel terribly unchristian admitting this, but I had to work at dredging up some compassion for this person. Not pity, but compassion. And it helped. No, I was not delighted to meet the person, and smiled from a distance and kept contact to a minimum. It helped. Along with touching that magnet in my ear. Which hurt.

 

4. Leave lots of time.

To get places. When I thought I knew where I was going because I had a picture of the exit in my head, but realized that I had not enough of the in-between route in my head and turned the wrong way several times, I had some time to be lost and still make my editor pitch appointment.

To get away from too much activity. It can be overwhelming to always be “on point,” so make an effort to find time alone for even a few minutes.

To listen to people. You just might make a new fan and a new friend…after all, don’t most of us simply want to be acknowledged?

To answer questions and share of yourself. I’ve been published multiple times now and I do have stuff to share, and I’m willing to share it when asked.

 

5. Keep your expectations realistic.

I went to the conference knowing that I was an unknown author, but also that many of these people were cyber-acquaintances. I was not presenting or offering a workshop at this conference, so I did not expect to sell much. But I did, thanks to a friend who recommended me to others. I also wasn’t sure how much new info I’d absorb from the speakers, but on the flip side, I was also there to support people who needed an audience, and that was okay. And yes, of course, a person can always learn something new, or reinforce or be reminded of past lessons. Usually the editors and agents will be kind and take something even they tell you no later. I was a bit surprised when the editor actually took my pages and chapters I had printed out. My agent was pleased as well. Another cool thing that happened was the big keynote speaker I was excited about said he’d heard about my most recent book.

 

6. And, finally, relax and have fun.

It gets easier for me each time I go. I’m still a little chicken to do totally new things, but with each layer of experience, I grow. I’ve gone from needing my best friend to hold my hand to using medication to the magnet. Maybe someday I won’t even need the magnet.

Posted in Anxiety, Author Marketing, Encouragment, Living Our Faith Out Loud | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

ACFW is Here Again

Posted by Ben Erlichman on September 15, 2011

It’s that time again, kids. Next week is the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference, from Thursday the 22nd through Sunday the 25th, this time in St. Louis, Missouri.

I’ve been blessed to attend the conference for the past two years, and after each one my writing and my writing career have measurably improved. When I first attended the ACFW Conference in 2009, I had the privilege of meeting big name authors like Jim Rubart, Brandilyn Collins, Tosca Lee, Randy Ingermanson, John B. Olson and others. What’s more, Robert Liparulo and Ted Dekker showed up too, and I literally got to sit shoulder to shoulder with Ted at a bar/restaurant in Denver, Co, where the conference was held that year.

Yeah, meeting famous authors can be neat, but I also made what I think are going to be lifelong friends there as well. My good buddy Lynn Rush (who I’m interviewing for next week’s post about her new book) just got published. Her first book, Wasteland, is out now. I had interviewed her in the past about her track to publication, and now she got published, so I get to interview her again.

I also met my pal Avily Jerome (her pseudonym), who is incredibly talented and creative. I’m forever indebted to her for introducing me to the Firefly series while she let me stay at her house in Arizona for a church conference in Phoenix this past spring. What’s more, we’ve become each other’s FUD Buds, or “Finish-Upon-Death” Buddies. A FUD Bud is a person to whom you can entrust the completion of anything you’re currently working on should you die mid-project. Basically, if I die while writing a book, she’ll finish it for me and will pursue publication with both of our names on the manuscript, and vice versa.

Then there’s Frank Redman, who appears to be on the fast track to success with his writing because of his uncanny ability to make amazing connections (some of which I can’t tell you about because he’s asked me not to). I really believe it’s only a matter of time until Frank gets pubbed and hits it big, which is nifty because we’re buddies and I’m excited to see where his career goes (including the possibility of collaboration between us down the road).

For my last post on leading up to the last ACFW Conference, I provided a list of three goals for the 2010 conference. I’m going to do that again here.

Goal #1: With three novels written and one in-process, I want to convince a particular publisher (I’ll tell you who in a later post) to take the next step(s) in publishing me, thus making my path to publication a question of” when,” not “if.”

Goal #2: I want to network heavily with other authors to obtain submissions for the short fiction magazine I’m editing (previously described here) for Written World Communications. I’ll give an update on that in two weeks.

Goal #3: I want to soak in as much marketing strategy information as possible as it pertains to my writing so I can better promote and plan for my future success as an author.

I’m not entered into the ACFW Genesis Contest like I was last year, so I don’t need to comment on that. I also want to enhance my relationships with some of the authors I’m becoming more acquainted with since 2009, and I’d like to become more integrated in the ACFW Community via networking and meeting people.

I also want to swordfight Jeff Gerke, but that may have to wait until another time.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Happiness, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Ragged Edge Conference – A Review (and Extras)

Posted by Ben Erlichman on August 18, 2011

I recently returned from Ted Dekker’s Ragged Edge Conference, which I described a bit in my post last week here on Reflections. What follows is a review of my experiences there.

For the most part, I really, really enjoyed the conference. The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the fact that I had to pay $649 plus airfare, a rental car and gas to get there. I found out later that the pricing for the conference was intentional: Ted and his team specifically wanted to weed out those people who weren’t totally serious about writing so that their message would reach only the most committed, most dedicated people. I guess I can’t be too upset about that.

The other thing I didn’t like was that for whatever reason, I didn’t receive any of the preliminary emails once I registered for the conference. I actually had to email one of the organizers to get an itinerary, and then I found out once I got to the conference I learned that I had missed out on a second, subsequent email that the other attendees received. What’s more, when I tried to check the itinerary via a link in the email when I arrived in Nashville the page had been removed from Ted’s website. These were little things, but they got on my nerves enough to mention them.

All of that aside, the conference was not only helpful but also very entertaining. Despite what he said about being introverted and how he enjoys isolation sometimes, Ted Dekker is truly an entertainer. He loves his audience, and he loves to be the center of attention. When it’s your conference, though, I suppose that makes sense and isn’t a bad thing.

I should add that all of the authors were clever, witty, and fun to be around. They were also very knowledgeable in regard to the craft and the struggles of writing. I enjoyed their approach overall–they focused more on what it really takes to be a writer, what it really takes to succeed, and what that looks like real-life situations. They didn’t focus on the craft of writing for very long because, as they correctly stated, we can learn about the craft of writing at any writers conference or from books on craft which are much cheaper.

The first day consisted of the authors putting into words a lot of what I already knew with regard to the lifestyle and sacrifices of a writer: lots of isolation, even loneliness, fewer friends, and having to claw your way through the muck and mire of publishing a book. The second day focused on a bit of craft in the morning and then ended with a long discussion about marketing and talking with agents/editors (or seducing them, as Ted put it).

What I really benefitted from the most was meeting and re-meeting the authors who were presenting. I met best-selling authors Eric Wilson and Steven James for the first time, and I now have signed copies of one book from each of them so I can start reading their work too. Robert Liparulo and I reconnected in person for the first time since 2009, which is also where I met Ted and Tosca for the first time as well. I strengthened ties with all of them, which certainly can’t hurt when it comes time to publish.

When I re-met Ted, I was in line to have him sign one of the free books we were given. He saw me and then did a double-take as if he recognized me. I explained that I had met him in 2009 at the ACFW Conference and that I was literally sitting shoulder to shoulder with him at a bar/restaurant in Denver for the better part of the night because we all went out in a big group.

He remembered, and he asked me how I was progressing in my writing, and when I told him I had completed three novels and had a meeting on Monday (the 15th) with a local big-name publisher, he was a bit surprised but happy for me as well. The next day as the conference was wrapping up, he passed me as he was cruising through the crowd and he did another double-take. Then he said to me, “I think you’re one of the ones who is going to make it.”

Wow. That’s huge, coming from Ted Dekker.

Then I asked him to endorse my first book and he said he probably wouldn’t. (HAHA) I’m going to try anyway. ;)

Overall, the conference was definitely worth my time and the money, even though it was pricy. Then again, I already talked about how persistence and money are exactly what it takes to get published, so I know the investment was sound.

How about you folks? Did any of you go to the conference? What were some of your experiences?

-Ben

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Happiness, Life Experiences, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Post-ACFW Results

Posted by Ben Erlichman on September 30, 2010

It’s been two weeks since my father and I left for the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. We’ve since returned to the grinding cogs of everyday life, yet now more excited about my writing career than ever before. That’s because some good things–some GREAT things happened at the conference.

Our flight to Indy got canceled an hour before take-off. The airline provided us with alternate transportation to Indy via a limousine bus service. We spent the next 6 hours riding to Indy–not exactly what I had in mind.

But we made it. In our hotel room, I checked my email. My inbox showed a message from my agent, Les Stobbe. He’d forwarded a reply from a publisher we’d contacted, one with whom I would have LOVED to work. The message was a rejection of my proposal for The Dreamer.

Fortunately, I knew the pub rep who sent the email would be at the conference. I intended to talk to this person about it when I had the chance.

At the conference, I managed to intersect with some key people, including the rep from the publisher who’d just rejected my work, who explained why my book didn’t fit what they were looking for. His concerns were not unreasonable (and neither was he). At the end of our conversation, he did offer to stay in touch and welcomed future submissions from me. That was nice.

Remember my last post, how I said I had three goals for the conference? Part of the reason I said the conference went GREAT was because I fulfilled all three of those goals and THEN some. Here they are again:

Goal #1: I want to convince at least one publisher to request a proposal for my first novel, a compelling action/adventure story.
Goal #2: I want to kindle a growing interest in my second novel, a historical action/adventure Western, among editors.
Goal #3: I want to kindle a growing interest in me as an up-and-coming author, specifically by reigniting connections from last year’s conference.

I accomplished all of those things, praise the Lord. The end results were as follows:

- I was asked to submit proposals to Guideposts, WaterBrook-Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, and B&H Fiction for The Dreamer (which more than met Goal #1).

- I was asked to submit proposals to WaterBrook-Multnomah and B&H Fiction for Unlucky, my western novel (which more than met Goal #2).

- I reinforced relationships with published authors, literary agents, and editors who I met at last year’s conference in Denver, and I also made valuable new connections and friendships (which, in conjunction with meeting with the pub rep who rejected the work but still wants to stay in touch, meets Goal #3).

There’s a lot more to talk about, but I also learned that I should try to keep my blog posts to a certain word count, so for the time being, let me end with an encouragement to you.

You can do whatever you want with your life. If you have the drive, then you have the capacity. And if it just so happens that God also wants it for you, then you’re really set because He’ll handle all the God-sized work. I’m just a nobody from Mequon, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, but now I’m at the start of an adventure I’d never imagined I would take until just two years ago.

I believe it’s because God has a plan and a purpose for my life. I believe I’m walking His path (or at least trying to), and as a result, doors are starting to open with my writing career. It’s truly a miracle. God can do the same thing for you. I’ll close with this, something I tell lots of people.

Figure out what you love to do, then find a way to use it for God’s Kingdom.

God will give the increase.

-Ben

Posted in Encouragment, Life Experiences, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

God’s Provision (and a short pitch for ACFW)

Posted by Ben Erlichman on August 6, 2010

I am so blessed to have parents who love and support me in my writing. Just last night my father footed the bill for me to attend this year’s ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. This is not a cheap conference in the least. It’s a high quality, well-organized annual event featuring professional guest-speakers (like Tim Downs and James Scott Bell this year; Debbie Macomber and Donald Maass last year–and more), and rare face-to-face time with editors and agents from across the country, representing multiple top literary agencies and Christian publishers. For both the published and unpublished, it’s a huge opportunity to enhance your career path.

I know all this because I went last year. Because of that conference, I met my agent, learned what in my book needed fixing, grew in my development as a writer, and connected with a variety of great people who are still my friends to this day. A few editors seemed interested in my book last year, but since I’m a Genesis Contest Finalist this year, I know I’ve got a leg-up on grabbing their attention this time around.

Suffice it to say that none of this would have happened without my parents’ generosity and God’s provision. It seems like a cop-out to just say “God paid for the conference for me through my parents,” but I honestly believe that’s what happened.  Why shouldn’t God use someone who loves me to provide? I think I’d prefer that every time over the miraculous “envelope-stuffed-full-of-cash-in-the-mailbox” method. Here’s why: when God uses someone you love to provide for you, it builds your relationship with that person. It creates a partnership in Christ that is now that much more difficult to sever, or even to challenge.

I think a lot of times when we receive God’s provision from people we know, we feel obligated to “pay them back” for their help. That’s probably an okay feeling, and I’m certainly planning on finding some way to give back to my parents when I’m finally able to do so, but theologically, I’m not sure if that’s the right response to God’s provision. If you think about it, what could we ever do that would “pay God back” for Jesus dying on the cross for our sins? Sure, we can dedicate our lives to the advancement of His Kingdom, give all our money to the poor, even die in His service (in an extreme case), all of which are well-founded in Scripture, but would it be enough for God?

This is the part where I’d love to get your feedback. I say that nothing we could do will ever come close to paying back God for what He gave us. However, I don’t think that’s the focus of Christianity. There’s a line in a churchy-type song that goes something to the effect of “And for our inheritance give us the lost.” I think from a theological standpoint, that’s an awesome plea on our parts. Christianity is about being “little Christs;” that’s what the word “Christian” means. We’re supposed to model Christ to the world around us, and hopefully, the Holy Spirit will infiltrate some people’s hearts and stir them toward Jesus’ message. Our task is actually very simple: we go share that message.

Look, you don’t have to preach to crowds of tens to thousands of people. That’s not what I’m saying. God has some people do that because they’re good at it and they’re effective, but we can’t all do that. Instead, I believe He wants us to “Do to others as you want them to do to you” (Luke 6:31). I know I personally need to work on this. For me, it helps to think about my actions/words for an extra three seconds beforehand. That’s just enough time to try to listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart, that unexplainable urge to do something uncomfortable that may have eternal consequences.

For me, this is one way how I can show God’s provision to others. Even if you have nothing else to give, God can still use you if you’re available and willing. A smile, a word (or a few more words) could change someone’s eternity.

-Ben

P.S.  In two weeks, I’ll host a special guest: Robert Liparulo, author of the acclaimed books Comes A Horseman, Germ, Deadfall, Deadlock, and the best-selling Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults. Be sure to check back in for that one on August 19th!

Posted in Encouragment, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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