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A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)


The ACFW conference is on the horizon and after two years it's going to be great to have the chance to see folks in person again. I'm super excited to get the chance to attac...er...hug as many author and reader friends as possible. Readers, you say? Well, THIS year, ACFW is also having StoryFest so readers can join in the fun, so it's double the fun for authors. We get a chance to see our writing buddies AND hang out with the folks who love our fictional people!!
But conferences can be great for more than just socializing and aggressively hugging folks. :) They are also good networking and marketing places. In case you haven't heard this enough on Seekerville, let me say it one more 'gin. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

Visibility is important in marketing. 

Now, does that mean you need to spend all your time and money going to every writer's conference on the planet? No! I like people, but that sounds absolutely terrifying (and expensive) to me. However, if you DO go to a conference, then it's a great time to use your time well and engage in some friendly networking. 

1. Have a business card- for the newbies out there, this is a very good investment. It keeps you in people's minds longer than an introduction. It's also a good idea to have your photo on your card so that folks have both the auditory clue of your name/voice as well as a visual reminder of what you look like :)

2. Share the fun on social media - this is a great way for people who know you online to look for you if you're going to be at the conference. It's also helpful for those introverts who aren't as comfortable initiating contact with stranger, because you can find "your group" faster. In fact, the group may very well come to you if they know you're going to be present. (And, as always, social media is a great marketing tool anyway). 

3. Find your emotional support people - Like I said in #2, touching base with folks before you get to conference to let them know you're going to be there, sets up an opportunity for you to already have SOME people to hang out with. Plus, there's a good chance those people will know OTHER people, which then broadens your "visibility" within the community. You never know which connections will lead to the best connections. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

4. Smile - yeah, yeah. This seems like a simple thing to share, but nerves can do crazy things to our facial expressions. Unless your smile is Joker-scary, then USUALLY smiles  are reciprocated AND have a tendency to make any face a little nicer. Smiles give off the vibe of approachable. I know not all of us may want to appear approachable, but you'll need to leave that side of you at home during the conference (or only pull it out when you're hiding in your hotel room after "people exhaustion". Bonus: ACFW is a Christian writer's conference, so we'd hope most people would be nice and approachable anyway. This is the time to branch out, put your best foot forward, and try to learn, grow, and build your community. I can assure you, most of the rest of us are there for the same thing and (don't tell anyone), but I still get nervous every time I go!

5. Being Prepared - sound weird to add this to visibility? Well, let me just say, folks who come in ready are more memorable. Ready to take advantage of the moment. Having those business cards, one-sheets, maybe a few first pages...those are great ways to show you've prepared to meet with folks. Also, preparing yourself by creating catchy elevator pitches is another. AND preparing your heart and soul through prayer and mutual encouragement is a great way too. 

Conferences can be crazy, but they can also lead to GREAT opportunities for you to network...and even build your own community of fellow nerds...er....writers. I already knew some of the Seekers when I attended my first conference and immediately had a kinship with them. They introduced to other people. 

P.S. I support fangirling. That last photo is of me and Debbie Maccomber. I've also met Francine Rivers. I walked right up to them to introduce myself and tell them that I loved their books. (and I was nervous the whole time, but...now I have this cool photo to share for visibility! LOL) 
Are you attending a conference soon? What would you like to learn more about as you prepare? Pitches? One-sheets? Business Cards? Etc. ?

Conference Fun and Transitions

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last weekend I attended the Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend in Dallas and wanted to share just a little bit of the fun we had with a few quick photos:

The weekend kicked off with a reader scavenger hunt on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of my table, but here is a photo of the spinner I used at my table to award the various little prizes I handed out.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Next was an author bingo sponsored by me and four other author friends - Julia London, Angi Morgan, Sasha Summers and C.A.Szarek. These are always so fun, for both the authors and the readers. Here's a pic of the author team (some of us took the PJ party aspect more serious than others :) )
Conference Fun and Transitions



On Saturday I hosted a table for lunch. This year I chose Cool Chicks Read as my theme and I had a great time collecting and creating items that would fit.
Conference Fun and Transitions


Then Saturday afternoon I was part of a panel titled I'm Holding Out For A Hero along with authors Bethany Turner, D B Reynolds and Tif Marcelo. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a competition with me and Tif paired off against D.B. and Bethany. We were given questions that required us to answer with either lists or drawings and then the attendees voted on whose responses they liked best. Suffice it to say there was a LOT of laughter at our responses. The session actually ended in a tie (or maybe the moderators just decided to cut it off there :)  )

Conference Fun and Transitions



Then there was a booksigning where I got to sit next to my panel-mate, Tif Marceello.
Conference Fun and Transitions

The day ended with supper where I got to sit at the table hosted by the always fun and fabulous C.A Szarek
Conference Fun and Transitions

A wonderful end to a wonderful event!

Conference Fun and Transitions

And now for the writing portion of this post, I thought I'd dust off a post I did here ten years ago on Transitions:

Transitions: Getting From Here To There

When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to tell the story linearly. Instead, a good writer will select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way. Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus.

Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your reader across these story gaps smoothly and while still remaining grounded in your story. There are several techniques or devices that you can utilize to do this effectively. Some of them are:

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

  • Early the following Monday, Michael.... (Time change)
  • Once he reached the parking garage.... (Location change)

Mood - Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

  • As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened. It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...
  • Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin. (Time and Location change)

The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and smell to bridge a story gap:

  • Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent.

    Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room. Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze? (POV change)
  • Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book. Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.

    Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm. This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’. (POV and location change)

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

  • Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation.
    When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all. (Time change)
  • The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on. But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche. That other crash had happened six years ago. Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport... (Time change - flashback)

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

  • Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend. She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.
    But by Sunday evening,, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart. (Time change)

An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

  • Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window. Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.
    He picked up the ball and marched to the door . Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it. (Change in focus)

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:
  • The autumn seemed long that year. Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color. Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her.   (Time change - extended period)


These are just a sampling. There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions. Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

And now for some fun news. Just in time for Thanksgiving, my publisher has re-released my novella Home For Thanksgiving as part of their Love Inspired Classics program.  Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy


Conference Fun and Transitions

All that stands between Ruby Anne Tuggle and a fresh start is an escort to Tyler, Texas.

Rancher Griff Lassiter is too kind to refuse, but too wary of being hurt again to offer anything but protection on the journey. 

Then a fever forces an unexpected detour and a chance to find the place they both belong...


To learn more or get your copy, check HERE

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend
Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the always fun Readers & Ritas conference in Dallas. It's put on by the wonderful folks at Fresh Fiction and they've been sponsoring the event since 2008. I'd attended a number of these in the past, and always had a fabulous time, but then I had to miss it in 2016 and 2017 due to schedule conflicts. So I was really excited when things aligned perfectly for me to be able to return this year.

When I looked over the schedule I discovered that the organizers had made some great changes to the event offerings that increased the value for everyone. For instance, you can now register for writing workshops that are held on the morning and early afternoon on the Friday of the event. And there is a Scavenger Hunt on mid afternoon Friday that wasn't there before - a great opportunity for the authors and readers to meet and interact in a fun way.  So here is a quick look at how my weekend went.

My first activity was the Scavenger Hunt. The way this was set up, each participating author was assigned a station in one of two large rooms and the attendees went around to each station, collecting signatures and tokens to be entered into a drawing for a prize. Each author had some sort of activity for the readers to perform during their stop - for instance some had bean bag toss games, some had quick craft activities, others had guessing games and such. For my station I decided to do a tea-themed event. I found some cute little teaspoon favors with conversation starters on them and a teapot shaped spinner, so I had each person pick a spoon and answer the question, and then they got to spin the arrow on the teapot. Whatever color spot the arrow landed on determined what prize they won - candy, a small tea-themed Christmas ornament, book lover button, etc.  Everyone seemed to have fun with it.

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

Later that evening, four other authors and I (Sasha Summers, Tracy Wolff, C.A.Szarek and Sherry Thomas) sponsored an author bingo. It's played like regular bingo except instead of the letters B-I-N-G-O across the top you have the author names and instead of numbers down the columns you have book titles. We had a nice crowd show up, lots of prizes were distributed, and much fun and hilarity ensued.

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

The next day kicked off with a breakfast with hosted tables and a Q&A session with one of the attending authors. Afterward I sat on a panel with the lovely Becky Wade and always fun Piper Drake where we talked about our various experiences with research - I know our attendees must have picked up on some good info because I learned quite a bit from listening to these two savvy ladies!

At lunch it was my turn to host a table of readers. Since I have a Christmas reissue this year I decided to go with a Christmas theme for my decorations. Below is a photo of how the table looked before the doors opened.  Unfortunately I was having so much fun chatting with everyone I forgot to snap a photo of my guests.

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

After lunch I spent time in the  Author Lounge chatting with more of the reader attendees and getting to know them better, then it was time for the big book signing.

That evening we had a special treat.  Author Nancy Naigle was there to speak about her experience having some of her books turned into movies and how it has been working with the folks at Hallmark. We also got to see previews of some of those upcoming movies, a real treat!

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend


There was a brunch and closing activities the next morning, but unfortunately I had to leave early and missed out on that.  But all in all it was a really great weekend.

Here is a group shot of some of the authors in attendance - there I am, right smack dab in the middle of the pack! Can you pick out any other familiar faces?

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

Readers & Ritas Reader Weekend

So have you attended any reader-focused conferences yourself? Do you have any favorite experiences with them you'd like to share?

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)Conference Fun and TransitionsReaders & Ritas Reader Weekend

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