Tag Archives: Writing

How I Found God in my Diet

I was born skinny.

Well, maybe that’s a lie. I was, in fact, the largest of my mum’s eight babies, weighing in at a whopping 10 pounds. But the joke in my family for a long time was that I’ve never put any weight on since.

It’s true though, that through no merit of my own, I managed to give birth to four sons and then shrink, almost immediately, back to my previous slim self. The same skinny jeans that I’d discarded a few months prior slid easily over my hips without too much trouble. And I continued in that same skinny vein for years and years. If you don’t believe me, here’s a 1990’s picture to prove it… Continue reading

Why You Should Always Read the Author’s Dedication…

I’ll never forget the thrill of writing the dedication in my first book.

This book is dedicated to the oldest and youngest members of my family…. I wrote.

To my dad, Harry Hughes, who first told me the wonderful Story of Jesus. And to my grandchildren, Xander, Sam, and Brixham, who are just beginning to hear the wonderful Story for themselves.

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When I penned those words I was nervous. I wasn’t sure whether my dad, frail at 90, would ever be able to hold that book, or turn its pages, or see that it was dedicated to him, or even remember that his daughter was the author. But he did. I have the photograph to prove it:

My dad & I B&W

And how glad I was, because he never did get to hold my second book. He died while it was in the mail on its way to him, all wrapped up in Christmas paper, on route over the wide sea from Michigan to England.

If he could have opened it, he would have seen that I dedicated that book to my first granddaughter, newly arrived into the world.

For Colette, my first granddaughter, I wrote. How my dad would have loved to meet her, and lift her high onto his shoulder. But it wasn’t to be.

There is a time for everything, Solomon wrotea time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh.

Isn’t that true?

When the time came for the third title in the series, Christmas Love Letters from God, I was ready when my editor asked, Who would you like to dedicate this book to? 

I knew, straight away, whose name would be printed in the front of this book, and why. And so when Laura Sassi, children’s book author, welcomed me to her blog, and asked me to share the story behind its dedication, I was happy to do so.

Do you know who I dedicated Christmas Love letters from God to?

Read the story to find out…

5 Not-to-Miss Tips to Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile

Congratulations! So you took the plunge, as I did, and registered for a great Writers’ Conference, like Maranatha.

Now what?

Now you prepare, as thoroughly as you can. Here’s my top five tips to help make your Writers’ Conference worthwhile:

  1. Pray. Prayer should be the foundation of everything you do, as a writer, and a Christian. From the first words on your page, to the last step inside that conference door, PRAY. I love what Mark Batterson says about the role prayer played in the journey to publication of his first book:

I don’t just write books; I circle them in prayer. To me, writing is praying with a keyboard….I didn’t write that book; I prayed that book.

Pray: about the right conference to attend; the right people to see; the right words to say.

2. Research. Once you have chosen the right conference, do your research thoroughly. Research the faculty and staff in attendance. What publishers or agents might be interested in your genre? If they are offering one-on-one consultations (as Maranatha does), make sure you are booked in with them. If you can only attend for one day, choose the day when they will be there. Research the workshops offered. Sign up for all that interest you.

3. Prepare. If you have paid to attend a conference, you need to be wise about your investment. The last thing you want is to return from that conference saying, I wish I’d taken this, or, if only I’d done that…

Carefully prepare your book proposal to share with publishers and agents. For my book, I used a template from Michael Hyatt:

Write a Book Proposal That Leaves Publishers Begging to Publish You

This free nonfiction book proposal template by Karen Porter is also very useful. Once you’ve written your proposal, consider having it edited by a professional. Children’s book author Crystal Bowman  edited my proposal and offers a great editing service to children’s writers.

Once you’re satisfied that your proposal is the very best it can be, print off several copies on good quality paper and be sure to attach your business card, preferably one containing your photograph. (Publishers and agents are meeting with many people. You want yours to be the face they remember).

Finally, practice, practice, practice your pitch to the professionals. You don’t want to be stumbling over your words. You only get one chance to make a first impression… make it a good one.

4. Network. Once you’re at the conference, take advantage of every opportunity to network with other attendees and professionals. Swap business cards. Learn from others. Mix and mingle. Make connections. These folks will become invaluable contacts who will support and encourage you in your publishing journey, as you do the same for them.

5. Take Notes. You are a writer…. write everything down, whether on your phone, iPad, or whatever works best for you. I personally am one of those old-fashioned writers who use those two ancient tools beginning with p. Whatever you use, take notes on what you hear. You will quickly forget all that information once you return home.

And one final piece of advice… if you do manage to get your proposal in the hands of someone who’s interested, be sure to enquire (politely) when and how you can expect to hear from them. If they tell you to contact them after a certain period of time, make sure you have their contact details. ( I didn’t do that…and it was an agonizing wait).

I just registered for Maranatha. It’s not too late… perhaps I’ll see you there! And you never know, that one book offer might just turn into five, because after all, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  Ephesians 3:20

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What other advice would you give to aspiring authors? What tips have worked well for you? 

The Best Piece of Advice I Could Give to Aspiring Authors..

I’m often asked, by aspiring authors:

What’s the best piece of advice you could offer as we try to break into the publishing world?

I’m usually tempted to say, learn to speak in a British accent, (since it’s done wonders for me). But instead, my singular piece of advice for those who don’t have an agent is:

Attend a Writers’ Conference.

I personally never wanted to.

I’d heard about writers’ conferences before, but I didn’t need to go to one. I decided I could do this myself. The thought of attending a writers’ conference intimidated and overwhelmed me. I’d seen the photographs of packed stadiums, brimming with people and bustling with activity. I was shy. I didn’t need, or want, to network with lots of agents, publishers, or other writers.

But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that there were only two ways to get my manuscript into the hands of Zondervan ( which was my goal). I either needed an agent, or I had to attend a conference.

That’s when I felt God nudging me to look at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, taking place in Muskegon, on the picturesque shore of Lake Michigan.

Not only was this conference in a beautiful setting, but it appealed to me because of its size. Although described as the largest writers’ conference in West Michigan, it was ‘small enough to be personable,’ promised excellent faculty in attendance, and was able to offer individual attention to writers through consultations with agents and editors. I plucked up courage, prayed, and registered. It was a decision I would never, ever regret.

Maranatha really did have an impressive faculty list. As I prepared for the conference, I scanned through the names, and saw that a well-known children’s author would be attending, to offer workshops, and meet one on one with writers.

I checked out her website and noticed she also offered editing and critique services. So I contacted her and before we’d even met at Maranatha, she had critiqued and edited both my proposal and the entire manuscript. I signed up to attend her workshops, registered for individual consultations with several faculty, and printed off my newly edited proposal. God had been with me every step of the way.

I was ready to attend my first writers’ conference.

My experience at Maranatha was everything it promised to be. Not once did I feel intimidated or overwhelmed. I was welcomed with genuine warmth; found fellowship with new friends; attended life-changing, informative workshops; heard inspirational testimonies; walked barefoot on the beach; and prayed with a small group of writers on a wooden balcony overlooking Lake Michigan, as God’s voice whispered through the wind and the waves.

The children’s author who had edited my work agreed to endorse my book, and most importantly, I was able to meet one on one with an editor from Zonderkidz- a ten minute consultation that would forever change my life.

She went back to Zondervan carrying my proposal. I went back home carrying my dream—a dream that was about to become reality.

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Little did I know that on a beautiful fall day, in that quiet, friendly, charming atmosphere of the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference, a new chapter of my life would begin. Little did I know….but God knows it all.

God – the giver of the writing gift; the creator of dreams; the planter of seeds; God knows it all. Writers… pick up your pens, open yourselves to the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and register.

Next week on the blog: 5 Not-to-Miss Tips To Make Your Writers’ Conference Worthwhile.