Check out a preview of my upcoming Valiant Hearts series with Bethany House Publishers here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet Me in Philly!

This week I will be at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Catch me and say hi if you're there. I will be teaching three workshops, "Personality Types for Writers and Characters," "Writing Powerful Scenes," and one that the conference director specifically requested from me, "Issue-Driven Fiction." I will also be taking appointments, doing paid critiques, and yes, even ministering a worship dance during one of the evening sessions.


This conference with the theme of "Write His Answer" is very affordable and full of the spirit of God. For more info about the Philadelphia conference, check out their website.


Monday, July 14, 2014

$.99 Sale Extended

The publisher has decided to keep the sale going for a few more days. Don't miss out! 




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dance from Deep Within - Only $.99!!!


Please spread the word!!! And in fact, if you are seeing this on the 9th, yes, it is on sale early :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Subconscious Writer

In novelist circles you hear a lot about plotters (authors who carefully plan their books in advance) and pantsers (authors who write by the seat of their pants and make discoveries along the way.) I’ve even heard the term “organic” writer tossed around lately, which is a prettier name for pantser. I’m a combination. I like to start a book organically, but at some point I can see through to the ending quicker than I can type, at which point I write a synopsis to help me remember the story. Sometimes I really think I need a new kind of name for myself. I propose, "The Subconscious Writer."
 
Why subconscious? Because so much of my creative process takes place on a level even I do not understand. Ideas percolate under the surface, maybe for weeks, maybe for months, maybe for years. At some point they burst out like a geyser. Characters are talking to me, scenes unfolding in my head, worlds evolving, and I’m frantically trying to get them down on paper before I lose them. I’m sure if push came to shove, I could sit down and come up with an idea and craft a book like a normal person, but that’s not the way I typically do it, and it’s not the way I desire to do it.

An upside of this subconscious process is that I rarely deal with writers block. If the words and scenes aren’t there, I simply don’t write. If I’m under some sort of deadline, I will sit down and read the last chapter or so, and then try to write a few paragraphs. Often, that will stir things up and get them moving in my head, and I’m on my way again. If not, I don’t push it. And if possible, I wait for that exciting artistic wave, because it’s so much more fun to surf it than to try to paddle against the current.

When I returned from Colorado a few weeks ago, I had every intention to work on my newest novel, Chivalrous. This is one I needed to plot in advance for the publisher, but I had my first solid creative burst before my trip and the novel was well under way. However, when I returned, I could just tell. It didn’t want to come. My subconscious was trying to unravel things. I didn’t feel any leading from the Holy Spirit to write. And so I didn’t.

Instead, I did what I felt prompted to do. I worked on me. On the trip, God had been dealing with my heart, and I wanted to continue that work. Over the next few weeks, I read a lot of nonfiction books about the spirit, personality, and the true self. During that time, a few ideas welled up from my subconscious about places in the book where I needed to tweak the plot to be truer to the heroine’s character. Then finally, while reading Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers, bells went off in my head. There was a lesson in that book that my heroine desperately needed to learn. Problem was, I needed to learn it too. And Gwendolyn couldn’t learn it until I did first.

What if I had rushed the process? What if I hadn’t waited for my subconscious to untangle things? What if I had pushed ahead of the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I still would have written a good book, but it would have been missing something. It wouldn’t have been all God intended it to be.

I desire to write hand in hand with God in a creative partnership. (He’s so much smarter and more creative than me.) I can’t do that by rushing through a novel. In the end, being a “subconscious writer” isn’t the goal. It’s just the process. The ultimate goal, whether pantser or plotter, is to be led by the Holy Spirit and allow him to flow through every word we put on the page. This is how to write with a godly passion that will cause our readers to fall in love with our stories and transform them from the inside out.
Readers, have you thought about how authors write? Would you rather read a story that is planned or that develops naturally? One written out of practicality or passion? Writers, what is your process like?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dauntless Cover Is Here!

The Dauntless cover is here. I love it! In the original mock up cover, I loved the composition, but the model didn't quite fit the description in the book. However, after a few little tweaks by the publishing house, I couldn't be more pleased :)


Dauntless will release next March, so yes, you still have to wait for a while. In the meantime, you can get more info about the book and the series at http://valiantheartsseries.blogspot.com/  and if you'd like, you can actually pre-order it already in the paperback here

Monday, June 9, 2014

Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

Today I'd like to share with you about my experience at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I've been on staff there for the past two years, and it has been a wonderful time.

Accommodations

Yep, it really looks like this!
The Colorado Christian Writers Conference shares a director and the "Write His Answer" theme with the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. While there are many similarities, the main difference is in the gorgeous Colorado Rocky setting. This conference is held at the Estes Park YMCA campus. The lodging is lovely and comfortable with a number of gracious amenities. The food is pretty decent for cafeteria style dining. And the entire complex is surrounded by a ring of awe-inspiring mountains, many of which are still snow-capped in May.

This conference itself costs about $350. The housing options vary significantly depending on your choice of lodge and number of roommates, and meals are included with most options. Total, expect to pay between $500 and $800.

Two issues to keep in mind with this conference. First, there is a decent bit of walking up and down hills involved. For many, this is a pro, but for those with mobility issues, it could be a con. And this can be further complicated by the high altitude. Second, the complex is about 90 minutes from the Denver airport. Although the cost is far less than many other conferences, be sure to include the shuttle fee to the Estes Park YMCA or car rental fee. You might want to stick around the final night for the hayride and cookout which I've heard displays the campus at its best, but be aware that this also costs an extra fee.

Conference Specialty

Make new friends in Colorado!
As I mentioned, Marlene Bagnull runs both the Colorado and Philadelphia conferences, and both reflect her unique spirit. If you like a casual, family style feel, these conferences were tailor made for you. Want to meet with that editor in jeans or shorts, no problem! They might just be wearing the same. Marlene has been running these conferences for several decades, and if you get a chance to meet her, you will be sure to get a wonderful dose of motherly love. Even if not, her warmth and sweet spirit permeate all of the general sessions. It might not feel as sharp and professional as some of the big conferences, but it makes up for that in other ways.

Perhaps the stand out quality of this conference is the attention to the spiritual side of both writing and living. While there is much writerly inspiration offered during the general sessions, attention is also given to building you as an individual and to important issues of our time. So you kind of get a writers conference/spiritual retreat two-for-one. I've also noticed that many of the workshops have a spiritual tone. Of course there are plenty of craft and business classes to choose from, but if you'd rather focus on hearing from God, on the heart, and on ministry, those options are available as well.

Staff

This conference covers a number of genres including fiction, nonfiction, journalism, devotions, etc... It even offers a Saturday tract for teenage writers. While the staff is divided between genres, this year's fiction staff was still top notch.

Allen Arnold - developed the fiction line for Thomas Nelson, received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and now works for Ransomed Hearts Ministry. This year he gave a keynote address and taught a continuing session on The Heart of a Storyteller (which was my personal highlight).
Tracie Peterson - author of 100 Christian novels, best-seller, and winner of many awards. Tracie offered a fiction practicum. You can't really beat that.
Not to mention: Tim Shoemaker, Tiffany Amber Stockton, Kimberly Woodhouse, Kim Vogel Sawyer, N. Paul Williams, Susan Baganz, Nancy Lohr, Nick Harrison, and yours truly, Dina Sleiman

You might not find as many editors and agents that represent fiction at this conference as you would at say ACFW. However, since the conference is only about a third of the size, you might actually increase your chances of meeting with the people that you want to talk to.

And of course, the variety of genres is great for an author with multiple interests or a new writer who hasn't yet found their niche.

Final Thoughts

So if you are looking for a conference well covered in concrete with obligatory elevator rides, climate control, gourmet meals, and three piece suits, this one is not for you. LOL. Of course the next conference is a year away, and you will want to consider the staff, agents, and editors who will be there. But, if you love nature and spirit and want your heart awakened, be sure to put this conference on your radar. For many attendees it is a yearly tradition not to be missed!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Blog has a Blog

At our house we always say, "This is my dog Scruffy, and this is Scruffy's dog Bella." Well, now I kind of feel like my blog has a blog. I just launched a new blog for my young adult Valiant Hearts series. I don't plan to advertise it much at this point, since book one will not be released for close to a year, but you, my faithful readers, are welcome to visit it and give feedback. My plan is to continue improving it as I get more official graphics for the series.

 I'm still debating whether I should change the look of my current website and blog as the time draws closer. I'm also wondering if I should update my "Dance with Passion" tagline, since the new series has little to do with dance. The passion will still apply, but my new heroines are much more likely to fight with passion than merely dance around with it. LOL. Any thoughts would be appreciated. One friend suggested, "Empowering Your Passions." Does anyone like that one?

Anyway, here is the link to the new blog. Maybe it will give you some ideas. http://valiantheartsseries.blogspot.com/p/series.html