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A WRITING CONFERENCE ~ What’s That All About?

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Blog, Commentary, Journal, Uncategorized | 9 comments

A WRITING CONFERENCE

What’s That All About?

 

Earlier this week I returned from the 2013 American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference in Indianapolis, IN. This was my second ACFW Conference. The first one I attended was in 2011. A friend (not a writer) asked me some pointed questions when I told her of my three day odyssey. “So you like to write, why do you go to a conference for that? Do the attendees get together and sit around and write?” It was evident she thought my trip to Indianapolis was more than a bit odd.

Her questions brought to mind a comment I heard while I was at this year’s conference.  It was announced early on that those of us who wanted to dress in the clothing of our genre* should only do this for the Friday evening dinner because there were also normal people registered at the Indianapolis Hyatt. Hmm, was that a subtle suggestion that writers aren’t normal folks? But hearkening back to the 2011 conference, I do recall seeing tables of inter-galactic creatures obviously representing the speculative fiction genre. Perhaps we are a “little different”.

I tried to explain the reasons why I, and many others, attend writer’s conferences. This is by no means an exhaustive explanation:                        

1. Fiction writing, or any writing, can be a very solitary endeavor. Most of us spend a good portion of our lives in front of a computer, or with a tablet, sharing life with our imaginary characters. Some of us spend just as much time doing research which

Sarah Ladd, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Melanie Dickerson

Sarah Ladd, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Melanie Dickerson

may be an activity we do alone. Being with other people who enjoy the same pursuit is energizing. It’s also a wonderful time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. (Old friends might be other writers we hardly ever meet face to face since our friendships might be initiated or grow over e-mails and the internet.) Attendees at the conferences come from far and wide; this year I know of some who came from Australia and Norway.

2. Writer’s conferences can provide an opportunity to network not only with other writers, but specifically with those people who write in our particular area of interest. Ten different genres were represented there. It is also a place to meet and have appointments with literary agents and publishers who have come from all over the country to meet with writers and listen to our

My agent, Linda Glaz with Hartline Literary Agency & me

My agent, Linda Glaz with Hartline Literary Agency & me

“pitches”, manuscripts we are hoping to publish.

3. Like other conferences, ACFW provides workshops for every learning level. These are taught by experts representing various aspects of the industry, whether it’s learning more about the craft, what is involved with working with literary agents and publishers, and what the present and future book selling market looks like.     

 4. Since ACFW refers to itself as The Voice of Christian Fiction – a professional organization devoted to the craft of Christian Fiction, it is a venue that provides inspiration and encouragement. There are wonderful times of worship, prayer, and fellowship, inspirational talks given by the keynote speakers (This years was Robin Jones Gunn **). 

5. The last night of the conference is the awards gala, a time to recognize some very special people.

  • The Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded this year to Frank Peretti ***)

    Frank Peretti

    Frank Peretti

  • The best Literary Agent of the Year
  • The best Editor  of the Year
  • The Mentor of the Year
  • The winners of the 2013 Genesis contest (pre-published writers) in each genre
  • The winners of the 2013 Carol Awards for the best Christian fiction published in each genre by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.
  • Other awards were given for service to ACFW

So it was an exciting, inspirational, affirming, and challenging three days for a bunch of folks who may not be normal, but we are a lot of fun.

 

*Webster’s defines genre as: a particular type or category of writing literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.

**Robin Jones Gunn is the best selling Christian author of over 82 books including The Christy Miller Series for teen girls as well as Christian fiction for older women and a few non-fiction books.

***Frank Peretti generated an interest in spiritual warfare with This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness, his first two books. He’s gone on to publish many more books with 15 million novels in print.

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God is Faithful

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Journal, Uncategorized | 6 comments

God is Faithful

I’ve been reminded of God’s faithfulness several times over the past few days.

 

On Sunday morning at church:

~We heard several testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the lives of people.

~We were reminded of His faithfulness in providing for a debt free facility during a time when

people’s jobs and finances took a big hit.

~We sang O God, Our Help In Ages Past, Isaac Watts’ ancient hymn, based on Psalm 90, that has brought comfort and encouragement to many over the centuries. It’s a reminder that the same God who has been with us through earlier trials will continue to guide us through whatever sorrows and challenges life will bring in the future.

 

Earlier Sunday morning:

~Our daily devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young reminded us that each day we can turn to God at any point and He will not reject us. He will encourage us, give us the strength for each moment and all we need for each day. We can trust Him by relying on His empowering presence.   (my paraphrase)

On Saturday:

God is Faithful

~I read

“God’s voice has never misspoken…

His faithfulness has never betrayed…

His care has never faltered…

His kindness has never disappointed…

His love has never failed.

His love will not fail you now.”

– Roy Lessin

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

 Jeremiah 31:3 ESV

 

On Friday:

~We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary  

~a marriage designed in heaven

 

The Man

Widowed after a happy marriage of 34 years.He prays and asks God to select a wife for him, and to prepare her heart and identify her.

God selected the wife and identified her in a crowd of about 750 people.

The man, not expecting to hear God’s voice, says, “Now what do I do?”

And God helped the man and showed him the way to win her heart.

 

  The Woman

Alone for 10 years and not interested in dating much less getting married.

When caring friends suggested re-marrying might be God’s will for her, she would answer, “if it was God’s will that she married again, God would have to send the man, God would have to prove He sent the man, and God would have to change her heart.

And God sent the man, proved in numerous ways that He sent the man. And God changed her heart. 

 September 6, 2003

God is Faithful

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Shirley Plantation 400th Anniversary

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Blog, History, Journal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Julian Charity and Carrie Fancett Pagels

Julian Charity and Carrie Fancett Pagels

Last week I had the opportunity to tour Shirley Plantation with Carrie Fancett Pagels, author of “Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance” and several other writers. Historian and tour guide Julian Charity and Carrie gave us a fascinating tour of the property and the Great House. This beautiful home is occupied by the 11th generation of the Hill Carter family that dates back to the 1650s. Shirley Plantation, and many of the others, is located along the James River in Charles City County, Virginia.

King James I of England granted 4,000 acres of land on the banks of the James River (named for him) to Sir Thomas West, Virginia’s first royal governor in 1613. The property was initially named West and Sherley Hundred, incorporating his name and his wife’s, Lady Cessalye Sherley. “Hundred” was a term in the 17th century used for many of the outpost settlements.

Cotton

photo courtesy of Carrie Fancett Pagels

The plantations in Virginia in the 16th, 17th, and 18th century were used for agriculture, first worked by indentured servants and later by slaves. Tobacco cultivation was Shirley’s original crop. That changed over the years to include corn, wheat, barley and oats. Cattle, Sheep and hogs were also raised. As we drove in for our tour we observed beautiful fields of cotton in bloom.

Shirley Plantation

Shirley Plantation

Sir Thomas’s heir and wife sold the property in 1618 upon his death. The new owners changed the name to Shirley Plantation. Captain Edward Hill I purchased the property in 1638 and built Hill House for his family. Captain Hill served in the local militia, as Speaker of the House of Burgesses as well as other positions in local and regional government.

Shirley Plantation continued to pass down through the generations of the Hill family sons. Since Edward III lost his only son during childhood, and the oldest daughter moved to England upon her marriage, the plantation would ultimately pass to his youngest daughter, Elizabeth. While this young lady might have been a target for fortune hunters, she married John Carter, the attractive and educated son of the wealthiest man in North America, Robert “King” Carter. Robert Carter attained that nickname because it was said that his wealth rivaled that of the King of England. When these two great families were joined in marriage in 1723, they began construction of the Great House on the plantation. It has remained in the family ever since. Many other familiar names are part of this family such as Light Horse Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee, Mary Nelson, daughter of Thomas Nelson, who was governor of Virginia and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Shirley was used as a supply depot late in the Revolutionary War, when Lafayette’s troops traveled to Yorktown. During the war of 1812 the lead roof from the Great House was sold and melted for bullets. During the Civil War, the James River was a strategic route to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. When General McClellan took over the land of Shirley Plantation and used it as a field hospital, Louise Humphry’s Carter, wife of Robert Carter, provided care for the Union solders encamped in her yard. In appreciation for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of his men, General McClellan issued a Federal Order of Safeguard protecting the residents and the plantation.

Other than the metalwork, stone and marble, all the materials for the Georgian and Queen Anne style Great house and outbuildings were produced onsite. One remarkable feature of the house is the remarkable four story square-rigged “flying staircase” in the front hall. The only other “flying staircase” I’ve seen is a circular one at Carter Hall (part of the same family) located in northern Virginia near Millwood. These staircases have no visible means of support, yet they have stood the test of time.390 Year old Willow Oak

I was also intrigued by a magnificent Willow Oak, now estimated to be 390 years old.

Shirley Plantation is one of 33 plantations listed in the National Register of Historic Places located along the James River and its tributaries in southeastern Virginia. Many are open to the public and provide a rich view into America’s past. To learn more about Shirley Plantation or to plan a visit, see: http://www.shirleyplantation.com

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Meet Carrie Pagels, author of “Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance”

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Today, I’m delighted to feature Carrie Fancett Pagels, a friend of mine who has recently had her debut inspirational fiction novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance published.

Carrie has been an inspiration to me in the past two years as we’ve been traveling the path to publication.

Carrie Pagels

Carrie, what sparked your personal writing journey?

 I had been writing for years, since childhood.  What really jump-started my writing was when our son sank into autism after a second set of MMR shots.  I felt like I might lose my mind with all his bizarre and extreme behaviors (which I won’t describe here.)  I began writing a story about a boy who recovered, over time, with God’s help.  And PTL, my son has made tremendous strides and is doing very well now.

 

Let’s talk about your new inspirational book, Return to Shirley Plantation. Please tell us about it.

 This story is about radical obedience despite what might be in a situation for oneself; selfless sacrifice and obedience to our Lord.  It is about waiting for God’s leading and timing.  Angelina Rose is a multi-generational mixed-race woman who is only 1/8 African-American and appears white.

The Abolitionists used photographs of white slaves (white by appearance but in slavery like Angelina) to stir up Northern sentiments.  An exhibit from a couple of years ago, that focused on this, stirred my interest.   I began to imagine how a girl in the 1860’s, enslaved, could be 1/8 white at that point. It wasn’t a pretty thought.  But unfortunately it happened frequently where you have multi-generational abuse of slaves, resulting in yet another generation of children born into slavery with a white father.  

I used a thread in the book where Angelina compares herself with her sister, who is 1/4 African American and had a father whom her mother loved. I have to think that happened, too, where you knew you weren’t the product of a loving union. And I’d also read about a gentleman, who after his death was revealed to have been a man “passing” as white and he was a very prominent man up north.  But essentially, the story is a romance and a historical fiction set at one of our nation’s Historical landmarks–Shirley Plantation, which is an amazing place.

 Return To ShirleyPlantation_RtSP_coverShirley Plantation was a Union field hospital during the Civil War. The Carter women were very impressive in their willingness to tend to the wounded soldiers. Mary Braxton Carter, in particular, is documented to have possessed a very strong faith.  And I have a tragic figure, the real-life Hilly Carter, Mary’s son, who had trained to be a minister.  

I hope my story will “take” people there and help them understand some of the things that went on during the war.  I do not present a one-sided view (I am Northern-raised) but try to give a balanced approach to what people might have been thinking at the time.

 

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing this book?

SO many things!!!  

~ That I need a critique partner, like Kathy Maher, to help me.

~ That I don’t like to write in isolation.  

~ That when God enables me to do something He will give me supernatural favor to get it done.

~ That listening for that still, soft voice is something we all need to do.

 

What are you working on right now? 

Two different manuscripts–one is set up north during 1895 and the other is set along the James River in 1745!  I am going back and forth between the two!

 

Thank you so much, Carrie, for joining us today. Every success as you continue to serve God through your writing.

Here is a bit more about Carrie and where you can find her:

Bio – Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.

With a Ph.D. in School Psychology, Carrie served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. Married for over 25 years to the love of her life, she resides in Virginia’s historic triangle. She has an 11-year-old son and a 24-year-old daughter. 

 

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, is an Amazon top-rated Civil War book.

Carrie contributed to God’s Provision in Tough Times, Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013).

Carrie’s short story, “Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas,” will appear in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (October, 2013).

www.carriefancettpagels.com

Facebook Author Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Fancett-Pagels/317053071710640?fref=ts

Facebook Personal Page http://www.facebook.com/carriefancettpagels

Twitter https://twitter.com/cfpagels

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/carriefpagels/

GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7043690.Carrie_Fancett_Pagels

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=131454255&trk=tab_pro

Links to purchase Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance 

Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Murray-Puras-American-Series-ebook/dp/B00C2EZ5L6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370264197&sr=1-1&keywords=carrie+fancett+pagels

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murray-puras-cry-of-freedom-volume-1-return-to-shirley-plantation-murray-pura/1114941171?ean=2940016542836

God’s Provision in Tough Times

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Provision-Cynthia-Howerter-La-Tan-Murphy/dp/1938499441/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358266747&sr=8-1&keywords=cynthia+howerter

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Maximizing Your Influence

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Blog, Commentary, Devotions, Journal, Uncategorized | 6 comments

I have to admit it, creating and maintaining my own website was not on my bucket list. My preference would be to spend my “computer time” catching up on news, communicating with friends and family, or working on writing projects. However, successful writers, agents, and publishers stress the importance of having a web presence, a platform, where we can maximize our influence.

So, almost two years ago when I was invited to become a regular contributor to a group blog, Colonial Quills http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/ I was thrilled. Most of the other writers who contribute to this site were multi-published authors and all share a common interest in our colonial past. This would give me a chance to write about topics dear to me, our incredible history and the Christian faith.  Terrific! Now I had a web presence.

In 2012, Michael S. Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest trade book publishing companies in the U.S. produced a bestseller on just this topic. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Wanting to be current, I read this excellent book about getting our message out, and getting Platform 1noticed. http://michaelhyatt.com/platform

Perusing the web and checking out many author’s blog and websites was fascinating with so much talent, creativity, and my goodness, so many published books on display. Hmm, I would certainly need to get a website as soon as my manuscript was picked up by a publisher. It didn’t take long to notice that almost all the writers that I knew, published or not, already were on the web. I needed to take the plunge and not put it off any longer

Now, two weeks after launching my website, I’ve learned so much, and like so many other things in my life, I’ve learned some important lessons the hard way. My first lesson was; after you post, ALWAYS review it again to be sure it is ALL there, no missing paragraphs, words, or letters.

In addition to reading Jesus Calling every morning, I also receive a wonderful devotional from Nicky Gumbel, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, the largest Anglican Church in Britain. He pioneered the Alpha Course, an evangelism ministry that I was involved with for many years. http://www.alphausa.org/Groups/1000065342/Alt_Home_page.aspx

On August 14th, the very day my website went live Nicky’s devotional was waiting for me in my inbox. Now, why would I be surprised at the timing of his message?

“Maximizing Your Influence”

(used with Nicky’s permission)

1.  Use your influence for the good of everyone   Psalm 96:1-13

2.  Use your influence to spread the good news 1 Corinthians 9:1-18

3.  Use your influence to plant good seeds Ecclesiastes 9:13-12:14

          •        Watch your words

          •        Take risks

          •        Spread your efforts

          •        Take your opportunities

I particularly appreciated his closing prayer.

“Lord, help me and help our community to make the most of every opportunity that you have given us.  Help us to fear you and keep your commandments.  Help us to use our influence for good and not for evil.  Help us to make the most of every opportunity that you have put before us.”

‘Of the making of books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.’ 

Ecclesiastes 12:12  NIV – UK

http://www.htb.org.uk/bioy

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Summer Days By The Sea ~ Part Two

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Summer Days By The Sea

Many years ago during a very difficult season in my life, some kind friends offered their condo at the beach to my sons and me for a mini vacation. It was a generous gift that I’ve never forgotten, a few days that allowed us to forget our troubles for a time. What I thought would only be a change of scene, and a brief escape from the stress that had come our way, became so much more for me. Twice, under very different circumstances, I was reminded of the Lord’s presence, provision, and love for us.

 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 20,21

 

~   Part Two

When we returned to the condo after our stroll on the boardwalk we settled in. Later, after the boys had finally quieted down for the night, I took a cup of tea and settled on the sofa and noticed a little book on the coffee table, Parables by the Sea by Pamela Reeve. It was a thin paperback book with layered pages and lovely pictures and parables of shells, tide-pools, and waves. The message in this remarkable book touched all the hurting places in my heart. Since Parables by the Seathe book belonged to my friends who owned the condo, I couldn’t remove it. But what if the book was out of print? I searched for my notebook and pen and proceeded to copy it word for word. This little treasure was like a love note from God, acknowledging my pain, while reminding me that He was in control and still had a plan for our lives. It was an assurance that He would guide us through that journey. Months later I was able to find a copy of Parables by the Sea, that I still treasure to this day.

The Lord used our friend’s generous gift of those days at the beach to bless me in ways that they, or I, could have never imagined. He knows just what we need, and often uses faithful friends to bring it to pass. Thank You, Lord.

 

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