Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ACFW Conference in Review

By K. L. Bridgewater

What a great view of the arch
I just returned from the ACFW Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a place where I actually fill like I belong. Sitting in a room with over 600 different writers feels great. We talk about ways to make our stories better. Take classes by respected authors. Eat lunch with fellow authors and agents. All while developing friendships that will go far in writing careers.

Ronie Kendig and I
I roomed with Emilie Hendryx who if you have been following my blog for a while has been featured on here before. We both write suspense. As we took the stairs on our first night to see if we could get down to the fourth floor, where the grand ballroom was, we pictured ways for our characters to die. Emilie and I love joking around like that. It is nice to be able to talk to someone like that without someone looking at you like you’re weird. Too bad we only see each other once a year. We understand each other and have a great time together.

I took a Forensics and Crime Fiction class taught by Jennifer Dornbush, which was very interesting for suspense writers. Jennifer was a great teacher who kept the class laughing as we talked about finding missing body parts and the temperature of a rigor mortis body. I truly am glad the class lasted all day.

Susan May Warren and I
I enjoyed the worship sessions lead by Rachel Hauck. She is a great singer and invites the Lord’s presence into the conference and all its attendees. The songs chosen were ripe for the moment and the struggles we all deal with. Thanks, Rachel.

One of my favorite parts was meeting all the published writers who I read and love. Here is a list of a few of them that I met: DiAnn Mills, Becky Wade, Renee Andrews, Christine Johnson, Lauraine Snelling, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen Coble, Renee Riggs, Winnie Griggs, Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, Melissa Tagg, Ronie Kendig, Dineen Miller, Robin Carroll, Cara Putnam, Patrick Carr, Kristy Cambron, Kate Breslin, John Faubion, Liz Tolsma, Cynthia Ruchti, Deborah Raney, among others.

Me with Becky Wade
I’ll keep working on this writing so that hopefully one day someone will list my name along the published authors that they can’t wait to meet or take a picture with.

Me with Kristy Cambron
If you attended the ACFW conference, what was your favorite part? Who did you actually get to meet?   

Friday, September 26, 2014

Welcome Fall

By K. L. Bridgewater

Four weeks ago on August 29, I talked about saying good-bye to summer, and I found my passion for writing again. But today, however, I want to talk about one of my two favorite seasons, which started this week. FALL! Just the idea of fall brings a smile and a shiver to my body.

My four favorite fall things are:

       1.) Color- Every where you look there is a vibrant of autumn colors. Browns. Red. Oranges. Yellow. The leaves change color on the trees, showcasing God's handiwork. The pumpkins are all ablaze in their vibrant orange color, begging to be picked and used as decorations or to be carved into a unique scene. I love going to the pumpkin patch and picking the one, which is perfect for carving and having all aglow in my living room. I love decorating the house with leaves and berries mixed with the pumpkins and scented candles.

     2.) Cooler weather- I love cold weather, so I become excited when it is time to put the shorts and t-shirts away, and you get to remove the sweaters and jeans out of the closet. I love walking outside, hearing the crunch of the leaves under your feet and smelling the chill in the air. I take huge gulps of crisp air, lingering outside as much as I can. As much as I don't mind mowing grass, I truly enjoy raking leaves into a mountain of brown nuggets of fun. My boys and I jump into the pile and throw the leaves around. Moments of joy and laughter expel from our front yard as we enjoy this fall tradition.

      3.) Covered Bridge Festival- In Parke County, Indiana, for an entire week in October, there is a huge Covered Bridge Festival. Parke County features 31 different covered bridges. In Bridgeton, Mansfield, and Rockville, they have huge festivals with food vendors and tents. The tents and stores along the city sell homemade items and name brand stuff at a great discount. Plus, all the houses on the main roads to the festival are filled with yard sales galore. As a huge avid of yard sales, I'm always looking out for a bargain. I spend the whole week shopping with my husband, kids, aunt, and in-laws. Even my mother-in-law, aunt, and I take a girl day and shop during the week. Great fun! I usually shop for Christmas gifts and clothes for the kids for next year. I have a budget, which I stick to. One of my most coveted food item is a soft pretzel hand-created by the Amish. Yum!  I get one or two every year. I'm drooling already. I can't wait. A couple of years ago, I found a first edition of Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis. Great find! I love finding book treasures for myself or to give as gifts.

     4.) Holidays- In October, Halloween comes, and in November, Thanksgiving and my birthday. I enjoy decorating the house for fall and Halloween mixed together. Picking out the kids trick-or-treat costumes is a huge blast. This year, I found Mario and Luigi costumes at a yard sale for three dollars, which made my youngest two really excited. Even though I know a lot of Christians don't like trick-or-treating, my kids go because when I was growing up I never went, and I hated sitting at home while my friends got tons of candy. No fun! So I make sure my children enjoy this fun holiday, plus they get to stay up late and walk around outside in the dark with flashlights. What could be better!
        Thanksgiving is also a fun holiday because every five to six years, my birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving. I enjoy sitting around with the family, eating turkey, and pie. We don't watch football at my house. We watch hockey, but hockey players have thanksgiving off, so there is no game. The children watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, while heavenly aromas of the turkey, sweet potatoes, and veggies mixed with the nutty smell of pumpkin, chocolate, and peanut butter pie filtered through the house.

I hope you enjoyed writing my favorite things about fall. What are your favorite things about fall? Comment below. Tell me what you like. Let's be thankful that God gives us such a fun season to relax after the harsh summer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Should I Meet With An Agent or Editor?

By K. L. Bridgewater

Standing in line at the ACFW conference, waiting to attend my mentor appointment with Ronie Kendig, everyone around me is a buddle of nerves. Because they are meeting with agents and editors to pitch their latest writings. Some of the writers have been writing for a long time, whereas, some others haven’t been writing that long at all, but they think they have a great book that an agent or an editor would love to represent.

Five months later, I attended the Advance Writer’s Boot Camp in Asheville, North Carolina. Again the same scenario. Everyone wanted to meet with the agent and editors, praying for a book deal. Anything to validate their writing skills.

But me, on the other hand, was not there to meet with agents and editors. I wanted to sit at the feet of the published writers and learn from them. It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible. I wanted to sit at the writer’s feet like Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learn from others who have been published. I want to keep learning until I feel comfortable with my writing. Maybe have a couple more manuscripts under my belt. Right now, I have two complete 90,000 word novels written, but I’m still learning things everyday to improve my writing.  

Running around pitching my idea will be something I will do later, but I, currently, don’t believe my writing is good enough.  I entered the ACFW First Impression contest last fall and the Frasier contest this past spring. All four judges agree with me. I received threes from both contests. I still have some learning to do.

Right now, I want to learn from the tap. Develop relationship with published writers. Maybe even find a mentor who is published who will take the time to look at my writing out of the kindness of their heart and invest their knowledge into my writing. (I’ll take offers, if anyone is willing!) I have improved a lot since joining the ACFW, but I still have some growing to do. I don’t want to stand around and make the ACFW conference a tense place for me. I don’t want to wander what is wrong with my idea as I bounce from one foot to another while my palms are sweaty and my heart beats loudly. Really don’t need that type of stress.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that a conference is most likely the way most of us unpublished writers will catch the attention of an agent or an editor, but I, personally, don’t feel ready to do that yet. When I start receiving better scores on the contest I enter, then I will be right there with the masses looking for an agent or editor.  

Are you willing to wait to present to an agent or editor or do you have to be like Martha and run around the conference, trying to get the big deal while not learning from the published writers who have volunteered to teach their skills at a conference? What are your ideas about meeting with agents and editors at a conference?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Worry, Write!

By K. L. Bridgewater

A couple of weeks ago at church, senior pastor Scot Longyear preached a sermon that bounced directly into my heart. It was on worry. Something I have been doing a lot since I graduated from graduate school. Why don't I have a job? Not a blue collar job. Not that there is anything wrong with them. My husband, parents, and in-laws all work in those jobs. But I have a Masters degree, so why I don't have a higher paying job to help my family. I mean, we live comfortably. We have no debt except our mortgage payment, which will be paid off in 9 years. Can't wait! Then we will be truly be debt free.

We never take vacations beside going to Holiday World or camping in Indiana. We don't really have any extra money to spend on elaborate vacations. I have really not traveled that far. This past February, I traveled with my husband to Asheville, North Carolina, which was the first time I have ever seen the Smoky Mountains. I drove over the Mississippi River once. I have never been farther north then Chicago. I would LOVE to visit England and stay for a month. I would love to visit the home of my Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. I would love to visit Yellowstone National Park. All of those are dreams that I would love to see become a reality. We have friends who travel all the time, and I feel sad that we don't.

There are times, like this past month, where my husband only works 20 hours a week. It is hard to pay the bills when his company does that. I have applied to jobs all over the world, but still nothing. My resume and cover letter is in London, Alaska, New York, Tennessee, Minnesota, Colorado, Montana, among many other places. But I still worry.

Longyear's sermon focused on Matthew 6: 25-34, which is rightly titled, Do Not Worry. Easy for the them to say. But not easy to follow. Longyear had three comments about those verses. Why do we worry?

       1.) We don't think we are valuable.
               In verse 26, it reads, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" I have read those verses many times in my walk with my faith, but it struck me a little different this time. I have been questioning whether God actually cares that my family doesn't have any extra money and live in a home that is no where near my dream home. But this verse proves that I'M VALUABLE TO GOD. Wow! Further proof is located in John 15: 13, 15. God has laid down his life for his friends, which is us fellow believers. God calls me his friend. How awesome is that.

        2.) We don't think God knows our situation.
                Psalm 139:1-5: "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord know it completely. You hem in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me."
                God knows our situation before we begin. Why not share it with him? He isn't some all-powerful God who ignores his followers. He wants a relationship with us where we share even our troubles with him.

        3.) How do we kill worry and get peace?
               Peace is found in the pursuit of Christ.    Did you read that? Read it again. I had to read it a couple of times to allow it to sink in. In Matthew 6: 33, it says, "But SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD . . " We need to seek God. As soon as we worship God and read His Word every day, seeking his heart, then God will take care of the rest. God will provide a plan for your life, just follow after him.

I need this reminder a lot lately especially with my writing. I have been writing books and newspaper articles for 16 years now. Half of my life, I have felt this calling by God to write, but I keep getting frustrated. This past summer, I had a down time when I didn't write anything, but my blog posts. I spent  a lot of time reading the Bible and worshiping God, which I know has given me a closer relationship with God. Recently, I wrote the first chapter in my new three book series featuring Devin Sanders and Chloe Walker, and I prayed before I started writing, asking God to write the best story for his glory. Then I turned on my worship channel on Pandora, and the words just flew from my finger.

Are you worrying or seeking God in your life? Your writing? Maybe we all should turn our writing over to God and allow him to worry about that agent or editor appointment coming up. If God truly wants us to be published, he will provide a way. Even I had to swallow that statement because as a human, I want to be published now and not wait on God's timing.

How did this change the way you thought of worrying about your writing? How do you seek first the kingdom of God?        

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Attend a Writer's Conference?

By K. L. Bridgewater

I have been asked by a number of people why do I attend writer’s conference. Having only attended two in my life, I don’t have a lot of experience, but the two writing conferences I went to were pretty great. I suggest researching the type of conference you want to go to, and glance at the reviews to see if it is well worth the investment. Most conferences cost a pretty penny. Tie in room and expenses to drive or fly there, it can become quite expensive. But I have three reasons that might make the money and time worth it.

1.)    You meet and make friends with like-minded people.
At my first ACFW conference last September, I attended the First Time Orientation where Brandilyn Collins answered questions and discussed what we could expect. After the Q & A session, Collins asked us to divide into our different genres to meet someone who writes in the same type of plot line. Since I write in suspense, I joined the suspense group, which sadly, was mostly populated with guys. Most of the woman grouped in romance or historical romance groups. After talking for a couple of minutes with the guys, a young woman about my age with shorter dark hair and black rim glasses with a camera around her neck approached me. We started talking about our writing and love of suspense. Instant friend. We talked a lot that weekend and still keep in touch. We plan to room at the 2014 ACFW conference in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see my friend, Emilie Hendryx again.

2.)    You meet accomplished writers.
As an avid reader and writer, I become excited when I meet an author who I have enjoyed their books. At the ACFW conference, I took writing classes from Tosca Lee, Karen Witemeyer, Jeff Gerke, Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck  . . . Additionally, I took a pictures with Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, and Robin Jones Gunn (shown above with not a good picture of me) after they autographed their books for me. One of my favorite, and most valuable experiences, was meeting with mentors. I met with Ronie Kendig who looked at the first two pages of my chapter and scribbled all over the page to improve my writing. She actually enjoyed my beginning. It was nice to see these established writers as normal people who didn’t mind meeting with you. At the Writer’s Advance Boot Camp, I met Steven James and Lynette Eason, two of my favorite suspense writers.

3.)    You network with the right people.
At the ACFW conference, at every meal I attended, an agent sat at our table and asked questions. Steve Laube, of Steve Laube agency, sat at the same table as me for lunch one day. He asked the table about our writing and if anyone had an agent take a bite on their pitch yet. After a while he asked a grammatical question to the table. While everyone else declared yes to the answer (sorry, I don’t remember the exact question, but something to do with a title of a book), I kept repeating, “no, you don’t.” Laube asked me to explain my reasoning while he smiled in my direction. After lunch, he approached me and handed me his personal business card. He told me to keep in touch. It was awesome. At the Writer’s Advance Boot Camp, Lynette Eason wanted to see the first couple of chapters of book and wanted to help me write better since I looked like someone was teachable.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to find a conference to attend. Personally, I had a blast at both conferences and can’t wait to return this year to the ACFW conference in St. Louis.

If you have attended a writer’s conference, do you have any other reasons for attending? Do you have any memorable moments that fall under my three categories that you want to share? Please do, I would love to read your funny conference stories.

Friday, September 12, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

By K. L. Bridgewater

I had a little break in between writing Face of Admiration, and I thought I would include this blog on here. I first saw the idea on Jamie Lapeyrolerie’s blog, Books and Beverage. I thought this was a neat idea and wanted to tag a few of my writer friends to see their answers to these creative questions. Hopefully, it will makes it way around the blog sphere and allow us writers to get to know each other a little more. So here goes:

Question 1: How tall are you?
I’m 5’8” which is the exact height of my husband. It is nice because we are the same height. Great for hugging!

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I don’t know if you can call this a hidden talent, but I do cross-stitch in my spare time. I have done baby blankets for my three boys, my niece, two nephews, and a friend who is having a baby in October. I have cross-stitched a number of winter scenes that hang on the wall around our house. I have done stockings for my immediate family and my sister’s family, my mom, and my dad. Lastly, I have done the tree-skirt under our Christmas tree. It is a Christmas village. I enjoy making pictures from x’s and string.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
I wished more people would comment on my blog every day. According to the count, I have about fifty people who look at it every time I post something, but no one even says hi on the bottom.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
A dirty bathroom. Living with four boys, I have designated the downstairs bathroom the boy’s bathroom. It is always dirty, even though I have the boys cleaning it every Saturday. It is a manly bathroom with a light gray wall and deer and moose everywhere. Upstairs, however, is my bathroom with the candles and light purple walls and flower pictures hanging. Big difference.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Right now, it is “Take the Bullets Away” by We As Human. I enjoy Christian alternative music. My favorite radio which I have stream through my phone in order to listen to in the car is RADIOU. They play Christian music, but it is NOT CCM, which, personally, I can’t stand. The good thing about RADIOU is a lot of my non-christian friends have no problem listening to RADIOU where they wouldn’t touch the CCM stations for nothing.

Question 6: What’s your favorite ETSY shop that isn’t yours?
I feel bad, but I have no idea what an ETSY shop is.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Having three boys, I rarely have any moment alone. I read and write with three boys hollering and playing in the background. There is rarely a quiet moment in my house.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a desire for Heath and Carmello’s. Love English toffee and Carmel smothered in chocolate.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
I have two dogs. Happy, is a golden retriever, and Snoopy, is a beagle.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite non-fiction and fiction books?
For non-fiction, which I don’t read a lot of, I would have to say the Bible. For fiction, there are too many too count. But here are a few: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Anything by C.S. Lewis, The Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. These are my favorites who have influenced by writing, and I could read any day.

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
I really don’t wear a lot of make-up, so I can’t answer that. I do have a Chapstick in my pocket at all times, so maybe that would count.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
I don’t embarrass easily, or it could be that I don’t put myself in a situation to be embarrassed. I used to be humiliated when I had to speak in front of a crowd, but teaching has helped get rid of that.

Question 13: If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I enjoy my Dr. Pepper, but because I’m on a diet, I have left that out completely. Lots of water lately with some coffee thrown in for a variety.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore and David Arquette. Or Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts. Can’t decide which one I enjoy better.  

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
 I really didn’t hang out with just one group. I had friends in all groups. I was in honor classes, so I hung out with those type of people. But I hung out with the students I worked with. I hung out with loners who saw the world differently than most people. I had friends in the band. I was friends with the valendictorian and the popular kids.

Question16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I always wanted to live in a London, England. Some of my favorite writers, as you can tell from my list on question #10, are British writers. I plan to visit England with my husband for our twentieth anniversary, which is in seven years, so keep my fingers crossed that it actually happens.

Question17: PC or Mac?
I don’t really like anything to do with Mac or Apple, so I stay away from their products. There are things just as good on the market, if not better, for a lot cheaper.

Question18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boyfriend/girlfriend, or spouse?
For my birthday in 2003, my husband purchased tickets to see the Colorado Avalanche when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks United Center. This was back when the Chicago Blackhawks were not good, so the tickets were not expensive. We were pretty close to the ice for $70 a ticket. Now it is about $400 a ticket for the same seat.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
My favorite actor is Robin Williams, so sad that he just passed. He brought such joy to my life. My favorite actress is Sandra Bullock. My favorite sports hero would be Patrick Roy, who is number 33 and was the goalie for my hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche from 1995- 2003. Then he retired and came back in 2013 as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. They made it to the first round of play-offs, which they haven’t done since Roy’s days on the team. Boy, am I glad he’s back.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly wish to be friends with?
There are so many great bloggers out there. I don’t know if I could name just one. I enjoy Emilie Hendryx and Laurie Tomlinson, but they are already my friends.

I tag Emilie Hendryx, Laurie Tomlinson, Dawn Crandall, Suzanne Wesley, David Anderson, Ronie Kendig, and Jamy Whitaker.

If you decide to do this (I hope you do!), please send me the link! I want to read them! If any of you would like to participate, here are the rules!

1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.
2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)
3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment below with the link to your post.
4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!
Question 1: How tall are you?
Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Question 17: PC or Mac?
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

**This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info,check out the beginning post right here.**