Writerly Connections

I haven’t really gone fishing. Not in the usual sense. 

As a writer, I need to make connections. One of the best ways to do that, is to attend conferences. You meet all sorts of people at writers conferences. Of course you meet lots of writers from the novice to the expert, unpublished, published, multi-published. You meet agents, editors, publishers, teachers, speakers, and everything in between.

I attended my first writers conference in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, several years ago. Excited and more than a little nervous, I walked into a classroom and sat down. After it started, I realized I was in the wrong class, but the speaker was so funny and interesting, I decided to stay. And besides, there was chocolate.

After that, I attended every class she taught. Ginny Smith, author of numerous novels in several genres, became my first “writerly” connection. Ginny encouraged me to keep working. She suggested I join a writing organization that offered critique loops where I could meet other beginning writers and improve my craft.

But most important of all, Ginny became a friend. There were others along the way, who also encouraged me to keep working at my writing. I met Fay Lamb on the main critique loop at ACFW. She encouraged me to form my own group, where I met my long-time crit partner, Amy Blake.

After a while, Amy got busy with home-schooling and other responsibilities, and had to move on. I joined two other small groups and met Nike Chillemi and Jennifer Hallmark. Nike (AKA Crime Fictionista) is a constant encourager, and in return, I get to read her crime/suspense stories in progress. Jennifer and I work together on a blog she started with another of our critique loop members, Christina Rich (Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!).

As I got to know Fay Lamb better, we discovered so many “odd” coincidences in our lives, we’ve decided we’re long-lost siblings. And yes, “odd” is the correct word. She even named her latest dog “Audrey.” Another weird coincidence, since my middle name is Audrie. By the time many of you read this post, I hope to have met Fay, face-to-face for the first time. Ever. But we have so much in common, will it seem we’ve known each other much longer?

Fay linked me up with Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press. I was invited to contribute to a multi-author novella published this past February–A Dozen Apologies–a humorous “caper” of a romance. Jennifer Hallmark also worked on that novella. What fun we had. I’ll also meet Tracy this weekend. Later this year, Write Integrity Press will publish my novel, Amelia’s Legacy, the first of three in the Legacy Series.

At a local gathering of authors, I met Hallee Bridgeman and her husband, Gregg. Hallee is busy making quite a splash in the Indie publishing market. I had self-published a couple of fantasy-adventure novels several years ago. They lacked “pizazz” — Hallee and Gregg helped me get them spruced up. I’m working on some final details that will (huge sigh of relief) make me proud of those two books. I could not have done this on my own. God knows exactly what we need, and when we need it. Along comes the connection at the precise moment of need.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Of connections made over the years, one after another? Though many times, I’ve been tempted to give up, I kept moving forward, and now I’m a published author. I’m still attending conferences, because you still need to make those connections.

I have worldwide connections now, as my connections multiply.

We cross-publicize, pray for one another, encourage one another in the craft of writing and in life. What greater pleasure is there? So dear reader, are you discouraged, thinking you’ll never make it? Have you done everything possible to improve your craft? Have you put yourself out there? Found and attended local groups and conferences?

Life is a series of connections, both public and private, whatever field or calling is yours. Where you are right now came as a result of some sort of connection.

I thank God for all my connections. I’ve met wonderful people along the way, who took the time to express encouragement to a newbie. I learned from some of the best among them. Never forget, you may be someone else’s most important connection.

“Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2: 2-4, The Message

photo credit: Sifter via photopin cc

Small & Indie Publishers Rock!

What a month I’ve had! July has been so exciting, I almost hate to see it go. And it flew by, don’t you think? Did you take a vacation? Go someplace really fun or restful?

I visited with three very busy people. Three publishers who are making their mark, pressing in and beyond to achieve their goals and dreams. Reaching out to bless others and speak living words into as many hearts and lives as possible. I’ve been blessed beyond measure just reading some of the comments left on the posts. Yes, these ladies are making a difference.

I would like to once again thank Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press, and Pix-N-Pens Publishing, Nike Chillemi of Crime Fictionista Press, and Nicola Martinez of Pelican Book Group, for taking the time out of their oh, so busy schedules to answer my questions.

Three outstanding interviews! If you missed one or all of them, click on the links here:

Tracy Ruckman
Nike Chillemi
Nicola Martinez

I enjoyed working with Tracy, Nike, and Nicola, preparing their posts, and reading their answers to my questions. It is obvious, all three of these ladies work hard at what they do. It shows through their most excellent work.

And most of all, thank you, dear readers, for stopping by. I hope you’ll check back in during the month of August when the subject is “Connections.” I have a couple of special guests lined up, who will share their take on the importance of connections in our lives.

Nike Chillemi, Author, Publisher

I became acquainted with Nike Chillemi on an ACFW critique loop. So I was privileged to read her suspenseful stories before they went through the publishing process. I was in the background, watching and waiting as she started her publishing company. I waited for the book I’d so enjoyed critiquing, Harmful Intent.

I’m so excited for her to share a little of her story here today. Thanks, Nike for taking the time to answer my questions about your publishing journey.

*She’s giving away the ebook, Harmful Intent, to one of our readers (see details below).

1. Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?

Nike: It started with the moniker Crime Fictionista. Before I started seriously writing for publication, I worked in the bridal industry. I traveled to industry bridal fairs in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and of course in my home town, New York City. That’s where I heard the term “fashionista.” When I got my first contract, I jokingly called myself a crime fictionista and it stuck. I liked the name and thought it would be just the thing to publish under when I went indie. So, the name of my company is Crime Fictionista Press. BTW, if you notice detailed descriptions of fabrics, necklines, and the like in my stories, that is a throwback to my days in bridal.


2. How do you stand out from other small publishers?

Nike: Crime Fictionista Press has only one name on its author list, one author…moi. The name is part of my brand and is identified with me. So, that, in and of itself makes it stand out. At present it has only one title as well: HARMFUL INTENT, a Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Novel. ~ Betrayal runs in private investigator Ronnie Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect. 
My very talented daughter Delayne drew the Crime Fictionista Press logo.   

3. How did you get started? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?

Nike: I was quite naïve and simply started writing. I still keep my first manuscript around for a good laugh. I didn’t understand character point-of-view. Didn’t know what head hopping was. But I caught on quickly. I took the free online writing course then offered by Harlequin. I also came across a quote, by Stephen King, I believe, advising writers to read the best authors in their genre. To read the authors who excite them, whose book they can’t put down. He wasn’t advising to copy a bestselling author, but to see how they construct things. One aspect of Michael Connelly’s writing I’ve noticed is he doesn’t waste anything. In one novel, I think it was LOST LIGHT (there are so many Harry Bosch novels) Harry drinks a can of soda. He loses hold of it and it falls over the side of his deck into the weeds below his house, hanging over a canyon. Later when the bad guys come to kill him, he flees with a younger, faster bad guy following him under the house. The bad guy trips on the soda can and Harry lives long enough for the police to arrive. I’ve done things like that a few times in my novels, and it tickles me every time I do.

4. What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?

Nike: When I first started out, things I thought were obstacles were simply part of the process. Everybody has to pay their dues. The publishing business is changing so quickly the biggest obstacle is to keep informed and one step ahead. 


5.  Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?


Nike: My blessings started before my publishing company. My greatest blessing since I started writing seriously has been the friendship of other writers, most of them Christian fiction writers, but not all. You, Betty, are one of them. I can’t tell you what the support, encouragement, and the laughs shared with other authors means to me.

*Crime Fictionista Press would like to give away an ebook for Kindle 

to the most interesting, creative, and engaging comment.

A Bit About Nike –
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category, a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories, and a judge in the Eric Hoffer Awards in 2012 and 2013. 
Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press, made an impressive showing in Amazon’s mystery > private investigator category.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN). http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

 

Small Publishers – Indie Publishers

Happy July! Happy 4th of July!

July’s theme has a lot to do with freedom. We have the freedom to choose how we want to publish. We have the freedom to become our own publisher, or to start our own company.

I hope you will come back every week to read about these publishing journeys and be inspired!

Quality is the key. The editors and authors I’m highlighting this month are quality. I’ve known a couple of them for several years and can attest to the quality of the books they publish. I think you’ll agree.

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, July 10th
Tracy Ruckman
Write Integrity Press
Pix-N-Pens Publishing
TMP Books
Thursday, July 17th
Nike Chillemi
Crime Fictionista Press
Thursday, July 24th
Nicola Martinez
Pelican Book Group
Thursday, July 31st
Hallee Bridgeman
Olivia Kimbrell Press
Sign of the Whale Publishing

 Mark your calendars. Or sign up to receive my blogposts via email. “Like” my Facebook page.

Bloggity-Hop and Taking a Bite Outta Crime

There’s nothing I love more than sitting down to read another of Nike Chillemi’s chapters on our critique loop. So I was more than happy to help her out with this blog hop.

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards.

So tell me, how could I say no? If I did, she might write me into one of her stories and find a really creative way to murder me, or worse yet, delete my character completely.

Here is an official transcript of Nike’s interrogation of me:

What am I working on?
Carlotta’s Legacy, Book 2 in The Legacy Series, for Write Integrity Press. The first book, Amelia’s Legacy, is due out later this year. Amelia’s Legacy is a 1920’s historical that follows the life of Nancy Sanderson, the heiress of a vast fortune built by her grandmother, Amelia Woods-Sanderson. Her best friend is Rebecca Lewis, the main character in Book 2, which takes place in 1930’s Italy. After the death of her father and her family’s financial crisis, Rebecca decides to marry an Italian count. Marrying him will secure her and her mother’s future, but will it bring her the love she’s always desired? Well, it doesn’t hurt that Riccardo Alvera is stunningly handsome and owns a couple of villas…

How does my work differ from others?
I suppose the only real difference is my voice. Most of my stories are not outright Christian. My characters are flawed, but they have good roots. Redemption happens when you return to the things that are most important in life.

Why do I write what I write?
To entertain. To inspire. To give hope to those who need it. I want my characters’ story to inspire hope in the heart of the reader. But most of all, I want my readers to enjoy the read, because that’s what I want most from the books I read for pleasure.

How does my writing process work?
I’m a big fan of Scrivener. I put together an idea, assemble some characters, decide on a location and an era then build on my idea. I usually write chapter-by-chapter and work a few chapters ahead of my critiquers. When the critiques are all in, I go back and edit the earlier chapters.

So when I had answered all her questions, Nike demanded to know the names of my co-conspirators. I held out as long as I could, but in the end, blabbed it all.  In my defense, she came at me with a raccoon. Yeah, you read that right. A raccoon. It was incredibly cute.

Linda W. Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses. Since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she includes horses in each of her novels, from her contemporary western romance Give the Lady a Ride and her newest release, The Cat Lady’s Secret, to her works-in-progress. Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers.

She is a two-time finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest (in 2008 for Give the Lady a Ride, and in 2010 for The Cat Lady’s Secret) and a finalist for the 2012 Carol Award (for Give the Lady a Ride). She is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and The Christian PEN, a professional editors organization. 
Last known address: 777 Peppermint Place

Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. She’s published over twenty-five books for both adults and young adults. Scent of Lilacs, her first inspirational novel, was chosen as a Top Ten Books in Christian Fiction by Booklist magazine. Her first Shaker book, The Outsider, was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year and was a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine.

Ann lives on a farm in Kentucky not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann loves hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dog, Oscar.
You can find out more about Ann at annhgabhart.com.

Victoria Bylin is a romance writer known for her realistic and relatable characters. Her books have finaled in multiple contests, including the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and RT Magazine’s Reviewers Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky, where their family and their crazy Jack Russell terrier keep them on the go. 
For more information: victoriabylin.com

In exchange for surrendering all my informants, I have been granted leniency. But I have to do penance by publicizing this on Facebook and Twitter. Please help me out and share liberally!