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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Conference Memories


Today is my day to post about Conference. I've been to all of them and want to share some of my memories with you.

Some of my most favorite memories occurred at ACRW/ACFW conferences. From meeting wonderful authors for the first time to being recognized by Debbie Macomber in her speech at breakfast on Sunday, lots of good things, funny things, and crazy things have happened to me as well as lots of others.

One year one of our members forgot to bring her underwear. I won’t mention any names, but she knows who she is. Right CW? I forgot my makeup one year and had to buy some EXPENSIVE stuff from the store in the hotel. Another year I left some of my clothes in a drawer in our room and my roommate had to mail them back to me. I’m glad she found them.

2002
The first conference in Kansas City was so much fun. It was small, even mini, by today’s standards, but we had a great time meeting and hugging each other. I met Linda Windsor the first day, fell in love with her, and decided I needed to read her books. I also met Tamela Hancock Murray who became my agent a few years later. No appointment, just sitting with her at the dinner table and remembering her wonderful smile.
Brandilyn MCed and did such a great job it became a permanent position. Karen Kingsbury was our keynote speaker and I learned so much about adding emotion to the plot. I was a finalist for the Noble Theme that year and that was exciting. Also met Rachel Hauck, Allison Wilson, Tiff Miller (and her Tiki Bird slippers), and Andrea Boeshaar. We shocked other guests with talk of WIPs, how to kill off a character and various other writing ideas. Some funny goings on happened in the café/bar in the hotel, but I wasn’t there and don’t want to spread rumors.

2003
In 2003 we met in Houston and I was on the Conference Committee and helped line up speakers and workshops. DiAnn Mills and I roomed together and were two of the busiest people at the conference. I met Jeanne Marie Leach who headed up the bookstore and fell in love with her and the same with Kim Sawyer. Deb Raney and Brandilyn Collins had a competition going that really livened things up, and Anita Higman won the hog calling contest. The night before the conference began, I hosted a dinner at my home for a number of those who had come in early. Kristy Dykes was one of the guests, and I liked her immediately. Her warm, southern charm really grabbed me. Robin Lee Hatcher was our keynote speaker and she did a magnificent job. On Sunday she had an alter call for those wanting prayer. ACRW leaders were at the front to pray with us, and Patty Hall prayed with me. I’ll never forget it.

2004
We were off to Denver and Francine Rivers as our keynote. I had met Francine in Tulsa years before and she is a wonderful person to know. Colleen Coble was named our first Mentor of the Year and that is when the great announcement about our name change was made. We became American Christian Fiction Writers so we could include all genres of Christian Fiction. Again I served as a volunteer and worked in the bookstore and hosted several workshops. That’s one of the most things about conference. If you can, volunteer.

2005
Some of my most favorite memories occurred at ACRW/ACFW conferences. From meeting wonderful authors for the first time to being recognized by Debbie Macomber in her speech at breakfast on Sunday, lots of good things, funny things, and crazy things have happened to me as well as lots of others.
One year one of our members forgot to bring her underwear. I won’t mention any names, but she knows who she is. Right CW? I forgot my makeup one year and had to buy some EXPENSIVE stuff from the store in the hotel. Another year I left some of my clothes in a drawer in our room and my roommate had to mail them back to me. I’m glad she found them.
2002
The first conference in Kansas City was so much fun. It was small, even mini, by today’s standards, but we had a great time meeting and hugging each other. I met Linda Windsor the first day, fell in love with her, and decided I needed to read her books. I also met Tamela Hancock Murray who became my agent a few years later. No appointment, just sitting with her at the dinner table and remembering her wonderful smile.
Brandilyn MCed and did such a great job it became a permanent position. Karen Kingsbury was our keynote speaker and I learned so much about adding emotion to the plot. I was a finalist for the Noble Theme that year and that was exciting. Also met Rachel Hauck, Allison Wilson, Tiff Miller (and her Tiki Bird slippers), and Andrea Boeshaar. We shocked other guests with talk of WIPs, how to kill of a character and various other writing ideas. Some funny goings on happened in the café/bar in the hotel, but I wasn’t there and don’t want to spread rumors.

2003
In 2003 we met in Houston and I was on the Conference Committee and helped line up speakers and workshops. DiAnn Mills and I roomed together and were two of the busiest people at the conference. I met Jeanne Marie Leach who headed up the bookstore and fell in love with her and the same with Kim Sawyer. Deb Raney and Brandilyn Collins had a competition going that really livened things up, and Anita Higman won the hog calling contest. The night before the conference began, I hosted a dinner at my home for a number of those who had come in early. Kristy Dykes was one of the guests, and I liked her immediately. Her warm, southern charm really grabbed me. Robin Lee Hatcher was our keynote speaker and she did a magnificent job. On Sunday she had an alter call for those wanting prayer. ACRW leaders were at the front to pray with us, and Patty Hall prayed with me. I’ll never forget it.

2004
We were off to Denver and Francine Rivers as our keynote. I had met Francine in Tulsa years before and she is a wonderful person to know. Colleen Coble was named our first Mentor of the Year and that is when the great announcement about our name change was made. We became American Christian Fiction Writers so we could include all genres of Christian Fiction. Again I served as a volunteer and worked in the bookstore and hosted several workshops. That’s one of the most things about conference. If you can, volunteer.

2005
We met in Nashville and Janice Thompson was my roommate. She didn’t feel well. Mama Martha made sure she had enough rest and ate properly. Karen Ball was great as usual. Who can forget “It’s all good” or “I have a castle.” We had a scare the last day when her father was taken ill and went by ambulance to the hospital. Right before my editor’s appointment, Kim Sawyer prayed with me. All of our conferences offer a prayer room, and it’s a wonderful place to go to unwind and communicate with the Lord. Volunteers are there to pray with you if need them or want them. On the last day Meredith Efken drove up in her new convertible and we had lunch with Stuart and Tiff when they were friends before lovers.

2006
Dallas was the destination for 2006. Sydney Zech, our Conference Director, did a wonderful job of organizing everything for us. Liz Curtis Higgs was our keynoter and taught us all to say “Ta Da” in front of our mirrors. The Barbour dinner on Thursday night was hilarious with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson cooking up a skit to introduce Barbour’s new Cozy Suspense line.

2007
We stayed in Dallas this year and had a great time as James Scott Bell made us laugh as well as think about our writing. My good friend Linda Kozar was named Mentor of the Year. Kathleen, Janice, and Linda drove up with me and we had a blast when we stopped in Fairfield and had lunch with Eleanor Clark and found fodder for a book in the local newspaper.


2008
We went to Minneapolis. My greatest thrill happened before the conference when my friends banded together and made it possible for me to attend. Angela Hunt shared her wisdom with us as keynote speaker, and Brandilyn once again did a great job as MC. What a wonderful time that was with the Book Signing in the Mall of the Americas. I got to sit by Cynthia Ruchti. I was leaving an appointment and heard the busses were boarding to go to the mall so I ran to get on. Got there for the book signing with NOTHING!!! No chocolates, no bookmarks, no postcards, and one copy of my book. Very dull book signing for me. After the banquet on Saturday night, Linda brought out a beret and we all had our turn at being Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat. Janice was named Mentor of the year.

2009
We were back in Denver last year and Donald Maas led the early bird. Debbie Macomber entertained us with stories of her writing journey. This was an exciting conference because I had just signed a three book contract with Strang. Then on Sunday morning, Debbie used me as an example in her presentation. Donita Paul was named Mentor of the Year. The book signing stretched up and down the hallways and on to the other side of the lobby. The walk from my room to where we had meals was the longest I’ve ever seen.

Meeting and getting to know “Mama” Ruth, seeing Chip McGregor in his kilts, Deb and Brandilyn’s “feud”, getting to meet face to face with Tamela, and old friends are things I will never forget about conference. All the wonderful workshops help me to improve and grow as a writer. Thanks ACFW.We met in Nashville and Janice Thompson was my roommate. She didn’t feel well. Mama Martha made sure she had enough rest and ate properly. Karen Ball was great as usual. Who can forget “It’s all good” or “I have a castle.” We had a scare the last day when her father was taken ill and went by ambulance to the hospital. Right before my editor’s appointment, Kim Sawyer prayed with me. All of our conferences offer a prayer room, and it’s a wonderful place to go to unwind and communicate with the Lord. Volunteers are there to pray with you if need them or want them. On the last day Meredith Efken drove up in her new convertible and we had lunch with Stuart and Tiff when they were friends before lovers.

2006
Dallas was the destination for 2006. Sydney Zech, our Conference Director, did a wonderful job of organizing everything for us. Liz Curtis Higgs was our keynoter and taught us all to say “Ta Da” in front of our mirrors. The Barbour dinner on Thursday night was hilarious with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson cooking up a skit to introduce Barbour’s new Cozy Suspense line.

2007
We stayed in Dallas this year and had a great time as James Scott Bell made us laugh as well as think about our writing. My good friend Linda Kozar was named Mentor of the Year. Kathleen, Janice, and Linda drove up with me and we had a blast when we stopped in Fairfield and had lunch with Eleanor Clark and found fodder for a book in the local newspaper.


2008
We went to Minneapolis. My greatest thrill happened before the conference when my friends banded together and made it possible for me to attend. Angela Hunt shared her wisdom with us as keynote speaker, and Brandilyn once again did a great job as MC. What a wonderful time that was with the Book Signing in the Mall of the Americas. I got to sit by Cynthia Ruchti. I was leaving an appointment and heard the busses were boarding to go to the mall so I ran to get on. Got there for the book signing with NOTHING!!! No chocolates, no bookmarks, no postcards, and one copy of my book. Very dull book signing for me. After the banquet on Saturday night, Linda brought out a beret and we all had our turn at being Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat. Janice was named Mentor of the year.

2009
We were back in Denver last year and Donald Maas led the early bird. Debbie Macomber entertained us with stories of her writing journey. This was an exciting conference because I had just signed a three book contract with Strang. Then on Sunday morning, Debbie used me as an example in her presentation. Donita Paul was named Mentor of the Year. The book signing stretched up and down the hallways and on to the other side of the lobby. The walk from my room to where we had meals was the longest I’ve ever seen.

Meeting and getting to know “Mama” Ruth, seeing Chip McGregor in his kilts, Deb and Brandilyn’s “feud”, getting to meet face to face with Tamela, and old friends are things I will never forget about conference. All the wonderful workshops help me to improve and grow as a writer. Thanks ACFW.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We have a winner

Jan Marie is the winner of Deborah Raney's book. Congratulations, Martha and thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Interview with Deb Raney


Interview questions for Deb Raney

1. Where did you get the idea for your idea for this new story?

My husband is always clipping stories out of the newspaper that he thinks I’ll find interesting––that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future novel. One day he placed the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story and the career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the lives of the survivors and how they find the will to go on after such a tragedy. The Hanover Falls novels explore the questions I encountered that day.

2. The cover states that it’s a Hanover Falls novel. Will this be a new series? If so, what are some of the ideas for future books?

Yes, the three-book series will follow the lives of several of the survivors of fallen firefighters as they try to piece their lives back together after a tragic fire at a homeless shelter in Hanover Falls.

3. What was the most difficult thing about writing this story?

The research! Because part of the storyline of The Hanover Falls Novels revolves around events in a homeless shelter, when our church asked for volunteers at our local shelter, I knew the Lord was prompting me to answer the call.
My first night on duty was a Sunday and I was told to bring something to read since usually the hours were quiet and uneventful. I thought it strange when I arrived that no one else from my church was there yet. But I introduced myself to the volunteers from another church, and we began our evening serving supper to about twenty residents who had checked into the overnight-only shelter.
Not once the entire night was there so much as a minute to sit and read. According to the other volunteers, this was the craziest and most eventful night they'd ever experienced at the shelter.
As the night unfolded, we dealt with a suicide watch, a new fresh-out-of-jail admittance who turned out to be on the no-admit list, a bottle of Vodka discovered in the hallway that meant administering a (thankfully negative) Breathalyzer test on the main suspect, a mild altercation between a resident and a volunteer (not me!) and a phone that rang the entire 5-11 shift. Before the evening was over, I'd had some fascinating conversations with residents, and had the privilege of praying with a suicidal man.
I went home with my brain brimming with ideas and information for my novel. Only after I arrived home after 11 p.m. did I glance at my calendar and do a double take. I had looked at my schedule wrong! I wasn't supposed to show up for my shift until the following Sunday night!
Nights like that one give me a fresh appreciation of how God often turns research into ministry––and of how He never wastes an experience in the life of a writer.

4. What advice would you give to those desiring to write suspense and romance?
Though this is sometimes labeled suspense, I really hesitate to call it that. It definitely has some suspenseful moments, and the romance thread is strong, but it falls more in the drama/women’s fiction category than true suspense.
My advice to those wanting to write either of those genres is the same as any writing: Paint the story in vivid SHOWN scenes, and leave me guessing at the end of every chapter. Dare me NOT to turn the page!

5. What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love that my work feels like play. That I’m using the gift of creativity that God has given me when I write. That I can make my own hours, and therefore have more time for my family. And I love that my stories have touched the hearts of readers and that once in a while I get to hear all about it!

6. How long have you been writing?
16 years! It doesn’t seem possible. I started writing New Years Day 1994 as part of a lifelong dream and, that year, part of a New Years resolution. One of the few I’ve ever kept!

7. How long did it take to get your first book published?
I finished the first draft of my manuscript about 5 months after I started writing, and immediately started sending it out to publishers. (Remember, this was in the day before publishing houses had closed their doors to unagented writers.) In September I got my first contract offer; by November, I was entertaining three offers, and my book was released from Bethany House in January 1996. Two years from writing the first word to seeing my book on the shelf. And that was really quite speedy. Publishing is a S-L-O-W process.

8. A Vow to Cherish has been around for a long time. What is it about this book that keeps it on the bookshelves of the stores?
I think the staying power of that book has much to do with its portrayal of family loyalties, commitment in marriage and the meaning of true love. I think those qualities are something every person desires, whether they realize it or not.

9. How many books do you have in circulation now?
I’m working on my 20th novel and I’ve co-written or contributed to several non-fiction projects as well. I haven’t done the math recently, but at last count I was approaching half a million books in print.

10. Do you have a favorite among your books? Why or why not?
Now that I’ve written almost 20 books, a few have risen to the status of “favorite.” A Nest of Sparrows is one, and Beneath a Southern Sky. Both were RITA Award finalists, and Beneath a Southern Sky won the RITA. I’m also very fond of Playing by Heart and Remember to Forget, and both were Christy Award finalists, so apparently readers agree with my choice of favorites.

11. What type of books do you like to read?
I usually read the kind of books I write––women’s fiction with a strong element of romance. But I’m learning to expand my horizons and read some different genres. I’ve read a few suspense novels recently and enjoyed them (when I wasn’t hiding my eyes and quaking in my boots!) Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying Dr. Richard Mabry’s romantic suspense novels with a medical theme.

12. Any words of wisdom for new writers?
Don’t rush the process. We don’t expect pianists to play Carnegie Hall after a year of lessons, or a first-year med student to do brain surgery. Likewise, it usually takes years of study and practice to write a novel that is ready for publication. Hone your craft, read books in the genre you’d like to write, and enjoy the journey, whatever it brings!
Thank you, Deb, for telling us about your books. Please leave a comment and let us know why you'd like to have this book.
(This book was provided by the publisher for review and marketing purposes.)

Review of Almost Forever

When two firefighters die, they leave Bryn a widow and Garrett a widower. These two turn to each other in their grief and form a friendship that helps them both in the healing process. But Bryn carries a dark secret that eats away at her heart and soul. Did she really do what she thinks she did to cause the fire, or was it just a dream? With hopes for the future destroyed, they must find a way to begin again, but when Bryn reveals her secret and confesses to accidentally setting the fire, Garrett faces the toughest test of his life as to whether or not he can forgive. Deb Raney has woven a story of love and death and love found again that captures the reader from the first page to the last. Fascinating secondary characters round out the cast for this gripping tale. It’s one you don’t want to miss from this talented author.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Hopeful Heart Winner

Congratulations to Charity Lyman. She is the winner of Kim's book. Thanks to all who visited and left a comment.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Review: A Hopeful Heart




Once again Kim Sawyer has captured my heart with her characters and delightful story. Take a group of women who want to marry, a woman determined to train these ladies, the men who would like to marry them, and one who insists he’ll never marry and you have the recipe for a funny, heart-warming story of Tressa Neill and her journey to become a rancher’s wife. Add in a little mystery with disappearing cattle and the story gets even better. Tressa arrives in Barnett, Kansas to attend a brand new Herdsman School for training women to be wives and helpmates for ranchers. What she learns about herself and the people in Barnett, especially Abel Samms, is a tale woven with a great setting, endearing secondary characters, and just enough tension and conflict to keep you reading. This is another great book from Kim, and I hope she keeps them coming.