• conferences,  Swimming in the Deep End,  writing

    Swimming Came In First!

    Unlike Izzy at the beginning of the story, Swimming in the Deep End won the race, bringing home the OCW Cascade Award for contemporary fiction!


    To say this shocked me is just not enough. While the award itself is a huge honor, being a finalist with Carrie Stuart Parks and Jane Rubietta was a thrill.

    One of my favorite things about the Cascade Awards are the way they are announced. Instead of just reading the name of the winner, one of the hosts (Jim Rubart), reads the first line, then the title and author.

    Of all my books, I know the beginning of Swimming the best, but even as I was walking toward the stage I found myself wondering if Carrie Stuart Parks had a similar first line. That’s silly for so many reasons, only one of which is that I’ve read all of her books an obviously would have noticed if one of them started out like one of mine. UGH!

    The air in the spectator area of Brownsburg High’s swimming pool is nothing short of heavy, but there’s a safety in the thickness. An illusion in the midst of the humidity lulls me into a belief that my daughter is safe, protected from the evil of the world. Maybe that’s why I push her to compete. Maybe that’s why I can breathe in the moisture-rich environment other mothers dread.  ~Swimming in the Deep End


    Anyway, thank you OCW. This organization has supported and encouraged me for years. They’ve honored me and allowed me to serve on staff. They teach me and challenge me. I’m forever grateful.


    Barnes and Noble


    Christian Books



  • ACFW,  conferences,  writing

    Nashville 2016


    I just returned from Nashville, the home of the 2016 ACFW conference. As usual, the event was packed full of teaching, celebrations, and relationship building.

    Most years I try to arrive the day before the conference begins. My introverted self needs some warm up time before taking my first meal with 600 other writers. This year, however, my husband and I had tickets for the Josh Groban concert, and I wasn’t going to miss that for anything. The venue was outside, the weather was perfect, and that man can really sing.


    Before the concert started

    The next morning my husband dropped me off at the airport, and I was on my way. Well, I was on my way after TSA checked my laptop for explosives. Apparently I was looking rather suspicious.


    My cute driver

    By the time I arrived at the hotel, right in downtown Nashville, most people had gone on to bed. After a day of travel, that was all I was thinking about too.


    Flying into Nashville


    The next morning I jumped right into conference mode. I connected with some authors who are also represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Agency. Their enthusiasm and kindness was very appreciated.

    I took a great continuing ed class from the remarkable James L. Rubart. In the afternoon, I met with a couple editors.


    Cara, Nancy, and me

    On Saturday I was able to meet with one of the editors from my publisher, Kregel Publications. Dawn greeted me warmly and made me feel welcome and excited for this next year.

    Saturday ended with the annual awards gala. All who attended were dressed for a fine evening. I watched as well-deserving writers were honored. The last award was given to Linda Brooks Davis. What a powerhouse of enthusiasm! I could have listened to this woman’s acceptance speech for an hour. She was wonderful.


    I woke up the next morning and had breakfast with my friend Nancy then headed out to church. Down the road I found a Baptist church offering traditional and contemporary services at the same time. I chose contemporary. Not a surprise, but the music was phenomenal. The pastor shared about how we should serve, and I left with much to think about.


    The plan I had months ago, when making my reservations, was to stay an extra day in Nashville, spending time with a friend. Unfortunately, she had to cancel. With my manuscript due to the publisher by September 1, this extra day turned out to be a blessing even without Jodie. I hunkered down in my hotel room and finished my final read-through.

    By the time I was done, my eyes were strained, and my legs were aching for a walk. I took a long stroll around downtown Nashville. If you’ve never been to Nashville, you should consider planning a trip. It’s like no other place I’ve visited.


    Monday morning, I took my first Uber to the airport. I tell you this because I’m sure it makes me sound modern and savvy. Haha!

    My first flight was delayed, so I was moved to another airline. The first leg took me to Chicago. Wouldn’t you know it, thunder and lightning started right after we landed, and they shut down the airport. Of course my second flight was then delayed. I ended up sitting next to a with a man who had arms like the Hulk for the four and a half hours trip. But, I’m home now, and back to the keyboard.

    I failed to take enough pictures, but here are a few.


    This is just part of the line to get into the concert.   WP_20160828_009


    Ted Dekker giving the keynote


    With Elizabeth Van Tassel


    It’s food like this that causes me to gain a couple pounds at each conference.






    WP_20160828_019  WP_20160828_018



    With Voni Harris

    Thanks to everyone who works hard to make ACFW function.






  • ACFW,  conferences,  writing

    So, You’re Not at the ACFW Conference

    So…you’re staying home from ACFW this year? Me too.


    St. Louis MBT PP


    For a Christian writer, ACFW is the big event of the year. It’s a place where crazy authors from all over the world meet in one place and feel normal for a few days. A great experience, but one that I can’t afford to attend each year.


    The way I see it, we have a choice. We can watch all the updates on Facebook and dip into I-wish-I-were-there self-pity, or we can take the time we have at home and further out writing careers in a different way.


    Here’s a few things to prioritize this week:


    1. Continued commitment to your writing goals. Monday through Saturday I have a minimum word count goal. Right now, because I’m doing more editing than writing, my goal is 600 words. Next month I’ll start a new manuscript and the goal will increase to 2,500. At the end of the day I mark my number on the calendar and total the week on Saturday. Set yourself goals and stick to them.
    2. Spend time learning. There are so many resources we can access from home. Check your local bookstore, library or writers group for books on writing. Check out some blogs focused on craft. Listen to audio recordings from past conferences. And of course, read a good book in your genre.
    3. Connect with others. It’s easy for my introverted self to nestle in at home with only my laptop for company. Take some time to reconnect with friends. Go out for coffee and just enjoy a good conversation.
    4. Take your writing somewhere new. If you work from home, go to a coffee shop, or the library. A change of environment is a great way to spark new creativity.
    5. Cheer on those who did go. Jealousy and comparing ourselves to others will only serve to zap our energy and passion. Those who are attending ACFW this week are some of our friends, and they’ve worked hard to be there. Let’s get behind them and pray them through the week.
    6. Start making plans to attend a conference. Next year the ACFW conference will be in Dallas, Texas. The year after that, Nashville. Conferences are expensive and time-consuming, but I’ve never left feeling I’ve wasted my money. Start saving now. Consider applying for the ACFW scholarship. If you can’t manage this national conference, look for a local option. Last year I attended Mount Hermon, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had.



    Do you have any other suggestions? Post them in the comments. I’d love to hear them.


    Have a great and productive week,


  • conferences,  writing

    All’s Well That Ends With Chocolate!


    After a crazy day of packing, kid hauling, paper signing, and traveling to the OCW Summer Coaching Conference, I settled in for an afternoon of encouragement and learning. My first workshop was taught by Jeff Gerke. We learned about dialogue and handling profanity.


    After the workshop I was starving. Okay, maybe not starving. I’m an overfed American. Really hungry is not my norm. As it turns out, while I packed every bit of clothing I own, I failed to put in even the smallest snack.

    So when dinner time rolled around, I had to concentrate on not mowing down the competition for the buffet. Luckily I’d met up with Gail Sattler. Her great conversation provided the restraint needed for me to appear relatively polite.

    After dinner Jim Rubart enchanted us with his encouraging keynote. By the time he was done speaking, I was ready to jump off a cliff. That’s a good thing!

    Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck taught an amazing night owl session. They took a synopsis and tore it apart. I consider synopsis to be a form of enemy. I’ve read blog and books on the subject only to feel just as incompetent as I did before. But I think they’ve done it. We’ll see as I finish up my new synopsis.

    And the night ended with CHOCOLATE! Thanks to Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, we binged on popcorn and candy while learning more about what My Book Therapy has to offer.