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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FREE book give-away!

I understand it's important for writers to have a strong blog following, but how does one go about creating a following? I've been thinking about it. In Colorado, all I have to do is mention Tim Tebow and I imagine I'd have a thousand hits. (maybe I'll blog about him next time) Anyway, in order to increase my followings, I'm offering a give-away. Well, maybe it's a bribe...

I'm giving away a copy of Sandi Rog's Biblical fiction, Yahshua's Bridge to the person who refers the most blog followers. (no tie breakers) The second book in the series, Yahshua's Bridge will not disappoint:

An Amethyst stone draws him to his past. An elusive maiden draws him to his future. Alexander is born into slavery under an abusive master: a master of his own flesh and blood... a man he will never call father. Determined to break away from his master's hold, Alexander devises a plan to purchase his freedom. But what's he to do when he finds himself shipped off in shackles to Egypt, disappearing from the lives of everyone he knows and loves?

Click here to purchase the first book, The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog from Amazon.

You have one week to complete your mission. Next Tuesday, November 22, I'll announce the winner. Following is easy. Just sign up with an email address. Use comments or email to alert me to how many you referred or were referred by..... kellihughett@gmail.com.

Will you take my bribe? Repost this on your FaceBook Page, email the link etc.

Ready, Set, Go! 



Monday, November 7, 2011

I've signed with an Agent: Jesus

Have you ever made a mistake?  I didn't think so. Well, this is my blog and I confess to making tons of them. Today, I really messed up. I sent a manuscript to an agent with a mistake in it. Ouch, that hurts. I looked for the "suck a bad email back" feature on my computer, but alas, I clicked "send" before I realized the mistake.

(I'm an impetuous person, this isn't a new lesson, I'm afraid)

The pity party that followed helped me see something. If my own life had just one mistake, like the manuscript I sent, I'd be doing pretty good. The truth is, my "agent" has already agreed to publish my name in the Book of Life. And that manuscript (my life) is loaded with mistakes, coffee stains, mustard blobs, hideous grammar, misspellings and faux pas. He overlooks them all.

He is the best critique partner. In fact, he bled all over my work and now it's perfect. Put that in your book!

Thank-you, Jesus, for agreeing to be my agent. For coaching me. For correcting my mistakes before they go to the publisher. And He charged me no commission.

Do you ever make mistakes?  (and do you think this agent will overlook mine?)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why read suspense?

Stone cold fingers gripped her throat, strangling the frantic scream that escaped her lips. The icy chill in her veins came more from the look in his eyes than from his violent grip on her neck...

Oh! I love a chilling suspense! But what makes suspense great? Is is just a psycho killer? The thrill of the hunt? For me, suspense is at its best when even the average prose has you turning pages. When the plot has highs that have your heart pounding and lows when you think everything is safe.

I read suspense to escape life and transcend laundry, dishes and toilets (I have little boys, need I say more?) So, I like to read about relationships that are tested in the fire of the plot. Hopes dashed against the rocks of a wonderful plot...and finally brought back together in a memorable kiss!

Why do you read suspense? What do you expect in a suspense novel? Or maybe you haven't read suspense yet...why not?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What makes you read a blog?

What makes you want to read a blog? Are there things that allure you more than others? OK, let's be honest. I'm a blog follower for quite a few blogs and I only occasionally read them. I just don't have time to hear about everyone's last trip to California and look at pictures of what they are doing at school or the latest writing conference. I want more. It takes pretty good bait to get me to take a look these days.

What makes you take a look? Recipes? Tips for living? Funny Stories? Freebies like downloadable devotionals? Contests?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Distilling my conference experience

Everyone is asking about the Genesis contest: I got runner-up! I'm so proud of the accomplishment. I admit, runner up was a little anti-climactic but after distilling it for a while, I'm thrilled. I didn't even think I'd make the first round cuts and I was runner up. Pretty cool.

I wish I had the energy to detail every single minute of my conference experience. But I'm exhausted. I drank adrenaline for four days and it leaves you groggy and cranky on the down side.

The ACFW conference changed my life as a writer. I'm a writer now. I've pitched my book. I've schmoozed with industry leaders. I've sat at the feet of master writers. I even placed runner up in big contest. Yeah. It was sweet!

Everyone bases their conference success on different things. Here were my goals: Place runner-up in the Genesis contest and have one agent or editor ask to see more of my work. GOAL ACHIEVED! The first time an agent asked to see more, I think I stared at him slack-jawed. Quickly coming to my senses, I wrote down his contact information and made a note in the journal of my life. I did it.
In my opinion, I was wildly successful in my pitching. I feel that I've gotten validation on the fresh feel of my plot and my ability to creatively communicate ideas...now the rubber must meet the road.

They've asked to see more....do I have what it takes?

I think of it this way, I'm a good interview. Can I perform at work? They took the bait but will they swallow it? Now the work begins and I'm a little nervous. I've got a lot of requests and they're all for different things. Proposals. Full manuscripts. First three and synopsis. I've SO got my work cut out for me. What seemed polished and ready now needs a face-lift, big time.

I'm a better writer, thanks to the classes I sat in on. Kristen Heitzmann taught a class on Point of View that totally changed everything for me. I get it. I can do it. My writing will be better. Thanks Kristen!
I took a class on Christian love scenes (not to be confused with non-Christian love scenes). I can't wait to take what I've learned to my characters. My, my that will be fun!

Two huge conference moments for me: Meeting my critique group friends. I've forged friendships that I'll take to heaven. These women were the biggest gift of the conference. Thanks for saving me a seat, I'll never forget that moment. I had a friend in a sea of seven hundred people. (Made more new friends than I can count, next year will be such a fun reunion)

Another big moment: Pitching. It was the most nerve wracking thing I've done but looking back, it rocked. I can't wait to do it again. I'm like a pitching thrill-seeker. Find me a scary agent or editor...and bring it on. Wait, I didn't have to hear rejections this weekend....never mind. I'm still a virgin pitcher who has yet to hear..."I'm not interested!" I'm sure that's coming after I send my requested stuff.

So, after conference my life is changed. I'm ready to forge a road into publishing. I learned that although writing is an exciting industry, I'm just a mom after all. That's the most exciting ending I could have imagined. Behind the high-heels and the glittering lip-gloss (TG4 girls-that's for you) I was so excited to come home and be me. Home-school mom, friend, wife and daughter. I think suspense writer is my alter-ego.

I'll let you know how the journey goes...rocky or sweet it may be.

How did conference go for you? Did we meet? Can't wait to solidify our friendships!





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get ready for ACFW conference!

A newbies guide for ACFW conference preparedness:


Getting ready for the ACFW conference in St. Louis? Me too. I'm excited, nervous and well-- excited. It's my first time to attend a writer's conference of any kind and besides having nothing to wear, not having a polished pitch, feeling like a rookie and eating too much chocolate, I'm ready to go. At least I've got a finished manuscript, right?
Am I qualified to write this article? Probably not if you're seeking expert advice. If you want to share the ups and downs of preparation, read on!

I can't tell you how long it took to admit to someone that I was a writer. What if they ask what I've published? "Oh, nothing but I'm attending the ACFW writers conference in September." Trust me, you're a writer!

ASK: There are brilliant writers in this biz and they are almost always willing to help or share with you. CBA authors will never cease to amaze you with their kindness. Email someone you'd like to emulate, even if you've never met, and ask the question. Want to know about pitching? Ask around until you find that brilliant pitcher... don't check the minor leagues... we're talking book pitch. I've learned more valuable information from asking the right person than I've ever read in a book. I'm pitch-ready because of an acquaintance thats helped me get through it.

PRAY: Duh, right? How many times do we endeavor something without praying? Isn't it cool to think of all these writers praying for basically the same thing? Forgive the tongue in cheek but can't you hear St. Peter: "It's a rush on aisle 7". We want an agent. A contract. A new craft tool. A practical marketing plan. Yeah, He knows and, like we've heard a million times: TRUST HIS TIMING! The Psalmist reminds us that "He seeks to bless you in even as you sleep." (What if we don't plan to sleep at conference?)
 
CHILL:
Um, I wrote this one for me. Anyone else have my problem? I eat, dream and gargle conference ideas with every thought these days. Will I be ready? What should I expect? Chill. (yes, Kelli-- Chill) There are approx 190 other newbies attending the conference this year. A good chunk of the whole burrito! If you're worried, remember this great little mantra: Go ahead and fail....everybody else has.

EMBODY KINDNESS: It might be your year to land that big contract, it might not. Wouldn't it be nice to have a smile along the way? To tell you the truth, unless they masquerade as grocery attendants and newspaper boys, I've never met and agent or an editor. But I have met doctors, teachers, professors and lawyers. Engineers, preachers, dancers and day-care providers. Want to know what I've noticed? They're all people. They have good days and bad days...just like us. I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing they don't really want us to be afraid of them...without writers...they join the unemployed. Be kind. Embody it. Share it.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: If you're like me, I've been on the "loop" for a while now. Are you hanging on every email? Me too. I don't want to be guilty of a conference faux pas~!  But here's what I've noticed: person A says this...person B says this and person C contradicts them all. How to pitch, how to plot, what to wear? I've never seen such great advice on how to be prepared from our great conference volunteers. But basically, be yourself and expect the unexpected! We're all striving for that creative pitch; don't you think God throws one of His own now and then? Your conference experience could be that God curve-ball. Heck, look at the platypus.

Best advice for marriage and conference attendees:  TLYE (someone text me that a few times on Thursday, OK?) Temporarily Lower Your Expectations. I'm not sure what's going to happen at conference, but I know God's going to bless it. So you don't get that contract. You aren't the big Genesis winner. If your expectations are a little lower, maybe the "thud" won't be so bad. If I understand it, conference is run by volunteers. I'm sure they could use a break. What if your schedule is wrong or difficult? TLYE. What if you don't get the meeting with your dream agent? TLYE. God's driving this ship. Be ready for that gift.

Here's my request to YOU: I will know 4 people at conference and of those 4, I've met ZERO in person. Will you find me at conference? Introduce yourself to the brunette from Colorado. Share a table with me? A coffee? I'm nervous but also vibrating with impatience to get to St. Louis. I can't wait to meet you! If nothing else, we'll have each other!

Are you feeling prepared? Don't answer that! ASK, PRAY, CHILL, EMBODY KINDNESS, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and TLYE. Smile, and meet me in St. Louis! 











Sunday, September 11, 2011

The end is only the beginning

Many of you have asked, where are your blog posts? Since I was chosen as a Genesis Finalist in the premier contest for new writers sponsored by ACFW, I couldn't release the title of my book until now. I'm vibrating with excitement: I wrote THE END today! Two beautiful words. Fresh Hope is finally finished. Whew. It comes in at 91,706 words.

I cruised through all the tension spots, (it's a suspense after all) but I got hung up on the end. It was hard to take everything and wrap it up. I forgive you. I'll get over it. Kiss. Kiss. The end. Sounds easy? I think it was the hardest part of the book!

Try this on for size:
Love becomes the enemy in Fresh Hope. Eliza Booker thinks her life is perfect-- That is, until her fiance threatens to kill her. Now she's running for her life. Visa-smuggling. Human-trafficking. Can she decipher the clues before she's silenced?

In ten days, I leave for the ACFW annual conference in St. Louis where the winner of the Genesis contest will be announced. My competition has a lot more experience than I do. One of the women won the contest back in 2009. Can I win it? We shall see. I will be so blessed with Runner-up! (all but first place are runner-up)

Since I've never attended a conference before, I'm experiencing the jitters. But if you know me, that's probably a good thing. I perform best under pressure as my husband reminded me today. He said if I didn't have a deadline, I probably wouldn't write a book at all. Not quite true but he knows me better than I know myself sometimes. :)

I've got ten days to perfect a pitch sheet that we ACFW writers call a One-sheet, develop a short elevator pitch and a long 15 minute presentation. I told my husband: It's like fishing. I'm not going to land the fish, just get them to take the bait! I will have satisfied every expectation if I've gotten some "bites" on Fresh Hope. Maybe it's too soon for publication, but I'd like to think my hard work will pay off.

Truly, I'm excited to meet agents and editors that know the business. Someone asked me why I felt I needed an agent. My answer: I need a compass. A finger pointing North in the publishing world. That's worth more than 15%!

It will also be fun to meet my critique group friends in person. I have a wonderful network of brilliant writers who comb through the sludge I send them...they must be great...I'm a Genesis finalist! :) Conference is a great chance to meet other crazies who think writing is the best hobby ever!

Could I have more fun? Agents, editors, writers, friends..we're all just people. I hope I can bring a smile to someone while I'm there. A little light from Colorado!

Thanks for praying for my success. It's totally in God's hands. I can't plant a seed and pull the plant up from the ground. He gives the growth. I may have written THE END today, but it's only the beginning!

Fresh Hope meets St. Louis in 10 days! I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

God knows I like a little suspense!

As you know, I entered the Genesis writing contest in the spring. I had no intention of making any of the cuts so when Friday came (the day the finalists were announced) and I didn't receive the call, I wasn't surprised. After all this is just my first year writing.

I did get some good news. Two of the girls in my critique group made the semi-finals (top 20% in the nation) and I was thrilled for them although I have to admit, I wished I was a semi-finalist too. Another sweet friend in my critique group shared her condolences and empathy; she didn't make the semi-finals either. We shared our momentary grief together for a few days, looking at each others scores and judge comments as a salve to our writer's souls.

My scores came yesterday and after reading the judges comments, I was really pleased with the feedback and results even if I didn't make the semi-finals. Kirt took the time to read them (sweet!) and we were in the living room discussing some of the comments when the phone rang...

It was after 9:30 p.m. and at the preacher's house, when the phone rings late like that, you hope it's nothing bad! It was my Genesis coordinator whom I only know by a tag line in an e-mail. She called to apologize that they had made a slight mathematical error on my scores. Well, I thought that was it...she was forgiven, of course.

Then she told me the good news. Mathematics corrected....I was also a Semi-finalist in the contest. I joined 11 other women and men in the Romantic Suspense category! WOW! The coordinator remembered my manuscript and was surprised that it didn't make the semi's. Something nagged her all day to check the math and when she did, they found some kind of error ... in my favor!

God must have planned to write a little suspense into my life this week! I spent 5 days as a non-finalist and now I'm just in the clouds at the news that I've been one all along!

My book will go on to be judged again and I will know the results in May. I still don't plan to make the cut for the finals. (I have to be top 3 of 12 to make the finals) But I exceeded ANY goal I set for myself in this contest.  Thanks for following me on my journey! This is certainly a high point for me.  I made the ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-finals!!!

Pray for favorable judges that can teach me to be a better writer even if I can't move ahead to the finals. I thank God for the opportunity he's given me and the shot-in-the-arm that my writing needed.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fiction found me...

Many of you have asked about my past and current projects:
I've written one book entitled, Fresh Hope. It's really a practice novel, if nothing else. It was fun to write, full of beginner mistakes and poorly edited, still I entered it this spring in a national contest for the experience. Here's my imaginary book jacket: Till death do us part, Eliza Booker just doesn't realize how soon that could be...
On the eve of her wedding, Eliza overhears an unexpected threat to her life if she ever realizes the relationship between Arizona Congressman, Steven Kayhill and the Mexican immigrants at his resort, Fresh Hope. She must escape before he knows she's gone. 
Eliza expects the heartache and trouble to continue in her now location until she lands a job working for organic farmer, Dylan Prejean. Gradually, she finds there's more growing between them than vegetables. While Eliza and Dylan's relationship blossoms, the killer gets too close for comfort. Can Eliza find Fresh Hope in a life with Dylan before her own is extinguished?


Fresh Hope
is certainly a work in progress, it could be edited all day but creating my first plot, characters and writing over 90,000 words has been very fun and enlightening i.e. showing me how far I have to go as a new writer!


My current project is exciting for me because it represents a blending of genre's. It's a historical set in Victorian England with the feeling and plot elements of a true suspense. Holmestock Manor is a plot I've had in my head for a long time and I'm so excited to get it out on paper, or computer-screen, as it were. This book combines my favorite things; a glamorous setting, interesting social dialogue, historically accurate characters and a little murder! I've written about 14,000 words of the story so far which is about a quarter of the way in...more to come on Holmestock Manor!  


Of course, it's my dream to have these babies published one day but if writing is to be my unpaid hobby for a couple of years or decades, I couldn't think of a better way to spend my free time. Fiction found me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Every Story has a beginning....

This is the beginning of my story as an author. I've been writing stories in my head since I was a child but now I've settled down to the difficult business of writing them down! Why write fiction? Because the world has enough unhappy endings...and I like to believe you can find God anywhere, including fiction! I hope to write stories that inspire readers to look to God while they are hanging on the edge of their seats!

Whether it's Victorian England, The Middle Ages or a Modern Day Fiction, my work (my life) will always be to give God the glory. He is the one that guides my feet and my fingers on the keyboard. I can't write without my Creator's fingerprints showing up here and there!

What inspires me to write? Emotion of any kind. Heart-rending drama, pitter-patter romance or nail-biting suspense...The conflicts in my work usually stems from a problem I've had in my own life or a struggle I failed to understand in order to be compassionate like I should have been. Sometimes, I write about what I'd wish I'd done or who I wish I could be. The stories I write are for me, it gives me a thrill to sit down and put flesh on the bones of a dream!

Am I a published author? Not yet but with the help of The Guided Five (the best critique group ever!), my family and continuing education, I plan to one day see my name on the cover of a book! No matter what happens in my career, I hope that whatever my hand finds to do, I will do it all to the glory of God!

Thanks for joining me at the beginning...