Tag Archives: Inc.

Ten Lessons Learned from My Year as OWFI President

The last two years I served on the Executive Board for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc., first as conference chair in 2014 and then as president in 2015. I love the people and the organization. However, leading a non-profit is harder than anything I’ve ever had to do. I had no idea how hard until I did it. It’s impossible not to learn from an experience like mine. Here are ten lessons I learned.

1.) Volunteers for non-profits work harder than anyone else. They work for passion, not for money. You can ask for 100% and they’ll voluntarily give you  150%.

2.) Five percent of the people will scream loud and long about everything you and the other leaders are doing wrong. It’s easy to doubt your actions even though the good of the organization was behind every decision. The best way to test resolve when people complain is to suggest they volunteer so their ideas can be put into motion. In my experience, none wanted to volunteer.

3.) Ninety-five percent will remain quiet or send the occasional note of support. You have to know that the screaming minority have agendas that have little to do with the organization. This makes it easier to put the negativity behind you.

4.) Ten percent of your members will do all the work. They will also belong to the 95% who are quietly supportive.

5.) Never respond to a complainer in a way that is rude or disrespectful, even if they are being that to you. The attack may feel personal, but it rarely is.

6.) The buck stops with you. If something goes wrong, it doesn’t matter if you had nothing to do with it, you accept the blame. Pointing the finger only makes it harder to find solutions.

7.) With that thought in mind, always seek opinions regarding every decision. From your board, from your membership, from people who have done what you’re trying to do. Then, make the decision. Be definitive.

8.) When conflict arises (and it will, regularly), get all the information; and if you find fault, be firm but kind. It is rarely the intention of the member to make things difficult. In most cases, our passions are what leads to disagreements. However, right or wrong, the parties need to apologize for their part. After all, it takes at least two to agree and two to disagree.

9.) NEVER forget that your decisions impact others and that the result is not always positive. When you have to make a decision that someone isn’t going to like, be prepared to listen. Give them an audience. However, if you made the decision for the good of the organization, that’s all you can do. Most of the time, all the person wants is to know someone listened and considered what they had to say.

10.) There’s no such thing as too much communication. Keep communication open with the board, the other officers, the volunteers, and the members. Anything that might be misunderstood, get out in front of it as soon as you can. If you drop a ball(nearly guaranteed), accept the responsibility, fix the problem, and make sure everyone knows it.

Working with so many awesome people and amazing talents was a joy. I believe my time with OWFI has made me a better writer and my year as president has made me a better human being.

Have you had a similar experience where leadership taught you valuable lessons? I’d love to hear what you learned.

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Writing Zone: Craft from the Ground Up OWFI 2015

Many of you followed last year as I prepped for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation conference in May. As president this year, I wanted to recruit great presenters who will bring amazing content. Check us out! The conference is May 1-2, 2015 at the Embassy Suites in OKC. This is just some of the fun coming your way if you attend.

LesEdgertonLes Edgerton is a full-time writer with fifteen books in print. He teaches creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. He writes in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects he chooses to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing.

His work has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Derringer Award, Spinetingler Magazine Thriller of the Year (Legends category), Jesse Jones Book Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Violet Crown Book Award, and others. His screenplays have placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s Foundation Script-writing Award, and as a finalist in the Best of Austin and Writer’s Guild’s screenwriting awards. His 18th book, a black comedy crime caper, titled The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping came out in October from Down & Out Books.

Social media: www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com
Twitter: @HookedOnNoir
Email: butchedgerton@comcast.net


 

Richard ThomasRichard Thomas is the author of six books—Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies: The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time, he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press.

Website: www.whatdoesnotkillme.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/richardgthomas3
Twitter: @wickerkat
Website: http://www.whatdoesnotkillme.com

DARK HOUSE PRESS (where Thomas is Editor-in-Chief)

Website: http://www.darkhousepress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-House-Press/567172509981629
Twitter: @DarkHousePress


 

Brenda Drake AuthorBrenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at Park Literary. Look for her upcoming novels from Entangled Teen Touching Fate and Library Jumpers, releasing 2015.

Website: www.brenda-drake.com
Twitter: @brendadrake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaLeeDrake
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012713.Brenda_Drake


 

Sara HenningSarah Henning is a crime writer, recovering newshound, and word nerd of the highest order (aka a freelance copy editor). She has degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas, and has worked for several news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The Palm Beach Post. When she’s not hunched over her computer or curled up with a good book, Sarah is probably running ultramarathons, playing with her cherub-cheeked kids, or nagging her husband to eat more kale. She is repped by Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Website: www.sarahhenning.me
Twitter: @shhenning
Tumblr: sarahhenningwriter.tumblr.com


 

Leon Husock AgentPrior to joining the L. Perkins Agency, Leon Husock was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. He has a BA in Literature from Bard College and attended the Columbia Publishing Course. Leon is actively building his client list. He has a particular interest in science fiction & fantasy, young adult and middle-grade novels filled with strong characters and original premises, but keeps an open mind for anything that catches his eye. He is also looking for historical fiction set in the 20th century, particularly the 1980s or earlier.

Website: http://lperkinsagency.com
Email: leon@lperkinsagency.com


 

Michelle Johnson AgentMichelle L. Johnson is a literary agent and the founder of Inklings Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the urban fantasy, Divinity, released September 2014.

After spending a decade in bookselling, she opened and ran a writers’ center in Virginia where she helped aspiring writers find their voices. Michelle has been an editor for two indie presses, and began her career as an agent with the Corvisiero Literary Agency in New York.

In adult, NA, and YA, Michelle is looking for breakout stories in contemporary romance and also the adrenaline genres – Thriller, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, suspense, horror.

Website: www.inklingsliterary.com


 

Q LansanaQuraysh Ali Lansana is author of eight poetry books, three textbooks, a children’s book, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute and the Red Earth MFA Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University. A former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include The Walmart Republic w/ Christopher Stewart (Mongrel Empire Press, September 2014) and reluctant minivan (Living Arts Press, May 2014).


TrishaHeadshotTrisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for over five years now and has published six YA novels and eight adult titles (as USAToday bestselling author Lyla Payne).

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Cavy Files books. Look for The Historians, the first in a new YA science fiction series, coming from Bloomsbury Spark in 2015!

She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Website: trishaleigh.com


LeeLoflandWith a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations. He consults for many best-selling authors, and is a regular speaker at writers conferences, including the Left Coast Crime Conference, Pennwriters Conference, Deadly Ink, and Willamette Writers Conference. He is also the host and director of the Writers’ Police Academy, an event where writers learn realism by attending an actual police academy.

Website: www.leelofland.com


Jennifer McMurrainHaving a great deal of wanderlust, Jennifer McMurrain traveled the countryside working odd jobs before giving into her muse and becoming a writer. She’s been everything from a “Potty Princess” in Yellowstone National Park to a Bear Researcher in the mountains of New Mexico. She has won numerous awards for her short stories and novels, including hitting #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list with her debut novel Quail Crossings. She lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with her husband and daughter. She has just released her third novel, Return To Quail Crossing.

Website: www.jennifermcmurrain.com


Melissa Nasson headshotMelissa Nasson has spent her life in and around Boston, attending Boston University and Boston University School of Law (Go Terriers!). After interning at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, East-West Literary, and Perseus Books Group, she began working as Contracts Director at Beacon Press. Now, Melissa continues her work at Beacon while actively building her list as an associate agent at Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is open to MG, YA, NA, and adult fiction in any genre, though she particularly enjoys fantasy and sci-fi. Melissa loves dogs, craft beer, making pickles, tending to her tiny vegetable garden, and her pet tortoise, Norton.

Website: http://www.rpcontent.com
Twitter: ‪@melissabnasson‪‬‬


AmyShojai-ComAmy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and author of 30 nonfiction and fiction pet-centric books, including Lost And Found and Hide And Seek, thrillers that include dog viewpoint. She’s also a composer, playwright and performer and has collaborated with Frank Steele to co-write, direct and produce three musical theater productions. Most recently, she combined her love of pets, music and theater when she and Frank co-wrote, directed and produced, Strays, The Musical to enthusiastic audiences in Sherman, Texas. Amy also is a past OWFI president and is delighted to share sessions about collaboration, playwriting techniques and pet-centric tips.

Blog: AmyShojai.com


Jerry SimmonsJerry D. Simmons is an Oklahoma native and former New York publishing executive for the Time Warner Book Group. Over the years he directed an international marketing group and has worked on hundreds of New York Times bestselling titles and with numerous bestselling authors. Today he writes the INSIGHTS™ blog and publishes the TIPS for WRITERS™ newsletter.


 

FrankSteeleFilmFrank Steele has had a passion for writing since he wrote neighborhood plays as a kid in Vernon, Texas. As a teacher, he encouraged his students to write and create original work. He is member of the Screen Actors Guild and plays/screenplays are his main focus these days. His topics for OWFI will focus on writing with a partner…the challenges and the successes. His most recent outing is Strays, The Musical written with OWFI member, Amy Shojai, which has been recently produced to enthusiastic crowds in Sherman, Texas. Can ‘partner writing’ be a success? Very much so! He’s looking forward to explaining how in the sessions he and Amy will present.


 

BrentTaylor

Prior to joining TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. Brent Taylor held numerous entry-level positions in publishing, most recently at The Bent Agency. He is based out of Louisville, KY and represent books for a wide range of readers, with a focus on middle grade, young adult, and select upmarket commercial fiction.

Twitter: @NaughtyBrent
Website: www.triadaus.com
Publishers Marketplace: www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/brenttaylor

 


Brandy Walker

Brandy Walker is the owner and lead designer at Sister Sparrow Graphic Design. Brandy is an international award winning artist with over ten years of graphic design experience. After founding Sister Sparrow Graphic Design in 2012, she fell in love with book cover design and has been happily designing book covers ever since. Brandy’s covers have been featured on blogs like The Book Cover Designer and Library at the End of the Universe. Brandy lives in a small town in the Texas Panhandle with her military husband and their three rambunctious dogs.

Website: www.sistersparrowgraphicdesign.com

 

 

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Collected Works: Goals, Loki, and Chocolate.

LokiOkay, so it has nothing to do with goal setting…but he’s ALWAYS inspirational. LOL

The idea of Collected Works is to share our goals, encourage each other in those goals, and inspire each other when those goals go sideways. I’ve always been a believer in setting goals so this is a way to make me hold myself accountable for what I expect of myself. And I consider it a win. If I don’t meet my goals, chocolate soothes the disappointment. If I meet them, I celebrate with chocolate. Win-win. 🙂

If you’re interested in sharing in this, check our Collected Works.

August Goals

1. FINISH OWFI (Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc.) Presenters communication – it doesn’t sound like writing because it’s not manuscripts but as President of OWFI, I’m responsible for setting up the conference in May. This is a priority for all of us who attend. (and you should, too!)

2. Send in full request to agent.

3. Finish rewrites of Sam Dakota. This is high priority for me as school starts up again soon and cuts my writing time in half.

Do you set goals? Join us!

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Wrap Up, Buckle Down, & Rev Up to Go Again

OWFIbadge  OWFI 2014 is over. With a huge sigh of relief that things went so incredibly well, and we all had an   amazing time. We wrapped up an outstanding three days on Saturday night, and everyone fought that “eager to get started writing” feeling with the “sad at leaving behind new and old friends” one.

As the new President, I didn’t really have time for a break. I held meetings with new board members before and during the conference and returned to become an Email Queen. I fear people will begin “blocking” my address. LOL. However, my time is limited as I’m also wrapping up the semester, and it was a rough one. Grades are due Tuesday, and I’m a Grading Fiend until everything is ready, and I hit done.

Once that happens? I rev up the engine and seriously begin work on OWFI 2015. Stay tuned here for announcements throughout the year. You can start by checking out our keynote speaker, Les Edgerton.

Recommended Reading:

Edgerton On Writing

Les Edgerton

 

 

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IWSG

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2It’s time for Insecure Writer’s Support Group! “Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic.” If you’re interested, check out the link. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Visit as many new blogs as you can and learn from and share this journey with others and please leave comments, support each other. Our words might be exactly what someone needs.

Alex J. Cavanaugh’s co-hosts today are Hart Johnson, Chemist Ken, Candilynn Fite, Terri Rochenski, Clare Dugmore, and Lilica Blake!

Writing is a solitary life and writers tend to like this. Still, the most introverted among us still crave the encouragement of others, especially other writers. This leads us to seek out writing communities; classes, MFA programs, conferences, conventions, and retreats geared to artists. My critique group has attended or created our own share of those things. Recently, I accepted an opportunity to give back to a writing community that has been good to my group and me. At the time, I was full of excitement and motivation. Then I stepped into the role and the magnitude of what I’d taken on hit. Now the emotions were more like fear, trepidation, and at times bordered on panic.

What had I been thinking? I was not up for this. I didn’t have this level of experience to help plan a writing conference. How does attending a bunch of them qualify you to do this? (It doesn’t.) I had developed a bundle of nerves and convinced myself this organization that I loved had just made a horrible mistake placing their trust in me. Who was I? A lowly writer with a degree and some sales to show for it. Did this qualify me to put together a large event? (No.)

OWFIbadgeFast forward a year of amazing lessons, a discovery of self, and a realization of the strength of our organization, Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. We have an amazing conference planned for May 1-3, just weeks from now. All the hyperventilating and second-guessing and soul-searching is behind me. (I hope.) The conference will be the best fun ever. Like with all things, team related, I have people to thank. My OWFI President, Christine Smith-Jarmola, is a ball of writer energy. She came into this with ideas and ran with them. The board supported all efforts to right the ship any time rough seas hit. Thanks for all you did this year to give us the conference we all want. My girls, Novel Clique, who kept me vertical when panic set in. Hugs and chocolate are coming your way.

Related Links

Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc.

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2014 OWFI Agents, Editors, Publishers Appointments

OWFIbadge

If you’re attending OWFI 2014 and are interested in booking an agent/editor/publisher pitch session, Natasha Hanova is your gal.  Feel free to repost and/or tweet if you or someone you know might be interested in this writer’s conference. Thanks!

Please email her at NatashaHanovaOWFI (at) gmail (dot) com with your top two choices to request an appointment or if you have any questions.

Sign up DEADLINE is Monday, April 28.

NOTE: These appointments are only for people who have registered for OWFI 2014. Click here for online registration or download registration.

See you in May!

Here’s a list of attending agents, editors, and publishers. Please be sure to check their websites for current wish lists.

Agents

Susan Brower from the Natasha Kern Literary Agency

I love finding and developing authors and connecting them with the reader.  Book publishing has changed dramatically over the past several years and it’s no secret that the novels that create buzz through their unique writing or concepts are the ones that become bestsellers.  Over the past 25 years in publishing, I have done marketing, editing, story development and acquisitions for Zondervan, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. Most recently, I was Executive Editor and had the privilege of working with New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Tim LaHaye, Stephen L. Carter, and Terri Blackstock and was named ACFW’s Editor of the Year in 2010. And now I am fortunate to partner with Natasha Kern at the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

I’ve been an avid fiction fan since childhood and love the way stories are able to change lives, heal hearts, and bring joy to readers.   Today, I want to read and acquire women’s contemporary, any kind of romance, suspense, mystery and historical novels.  I would love to discover the next breakaway author in any of these genres.

I am originally from Arizona and now live in Michigan with my hubby, and three furry “kids,” Shep, Ollie, and Pepper.

Susan Bower Agency Website     •     Susan’s Website   

Dawn Michelle Hardy from Serendipity Literary Agency

Dawn Michelle Hardy has been called a “literary lobbyist” by Ebony magazine for her ability to help authors reach their readership using strategic promotions, win awards and garner national and local media attention.

She began her career in publishing in 2002, first as a assistant to a self published turned New York Times Bestselling author, then as an award-winning publicist and author consultant and now as an associate agent with Serendipity Literary Agency led by Regina Brooks.

While actively building her client list, she likes memoirists who can capture a larger narrative through their personal story and strong hook, best-in-class professionals in a variety of fields, the relatively unknown that has unique and incomparable life experiences, and the music, sports and pop culture enthusiasts with a ‘hip’ idea from an untold vantage point.

Her client list is diverse ranging from a veteran entertainment writer, to a single mother, to a Washington Post award winning sports journalist. Her first acquisitions as agent included a biography on the Grammy winning pop-star Nicki Minaj (Hip-Pop Moments for Life by Isoul Harris), a previously self published memoir that garned SyFy Channel docu-series fame (Forgotten Burial: A Restless Spirit’s Plea from Beyond the Grave by Jodi Foster) and a forthcoming narrative inspired by the #2 most shared news story in 2013 on NBA 16-time Allstar Allen Iverson.

As an agent she is continuously seeking acquisitions for platform driven general interest narratives that can spark debate and heavy conversation. She welcomes the process of collaborating with editors and authors on topics in the area of sports, pop culture, blog and trend, music, lifestyle and social science.

Dawn on Twitter  

Amanda Luedeke  from the Chip MacGregor Literary Agency

Amanda was a 2006 graduate of the acclaimed Professional Writing program at Taylor University Fort Wayne. Since college, she’s made her living as a writer, working as a freelancer for local newspapers and marketing companies, while operating her own writing business.

Her love for writing and her ability to think strategically landed her a full time job in marketing at an agency in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Since starting there in 2008, Amanda has written web and print copy for Vera Bradley, Baekgaard, Brecks and Peg Perego. She’s also assisted in marketing strategy for these companies, conducting research, launching social media sites and proposing and working on major projects targeted at the online consumer.

Yes, she knows … she’s one of those people.

She met Chip at an author signing in Barnes and Noble in 2008. After realizing they had a commonality in Taylor University, one thing led to another, and before she knew it, she was helping him with projects, research, and all the little stuff she now assumes he just didn’t feel like doing. Shortly after, Amanda was hired on as Chip’s Assistant.

On board as an Agent since 2010, Amanda brings unique interests to the MacGregor Literary team. She represents general market and CBA projects, and her areas of interest include nonfiction, literary fiction, women’s fiction (all types except historical romance), paranormal and speculative fiction (including steampunk, fantasy, etc), YA, middle grade fiction, and twenty-something/post college-aged hip lit (think Joe Meno, Brett McCracken, Brad Land, JD Salinger).

Having lived all over the Midwest, from Iowa to Minnesota to Illinois, Amanda considers the Chicago suburbs to be ‘home’, though she’s currently settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband, Tad.

Amanda on Facebook     •     Amanda on Twitter

 Maria Vicente from the P.S. Literary Agency

Maria Vicente is an associate agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She is a creative and editorial agent, providing support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process. Maria is dedicated to managing authors’ literary brands for the duration of their careers.

Her reading preferences vary across categories and genres, which is reflected in her client list. She is actively looking for literary and commercial fiction, young adult, middle grade, illustrated picture books, and nonfiction projects in the pop culture, pop psychology, design, and lifestyle categories. She has affinities for literary writing, strong character development, and original storytelling formats.

Maria’s publishing career began as an intern with Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency. She also interned at P.S. Literary before joining the agency as an associate agent. Maria has a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton University, a Bachelor of Education from The University of Western Ontario, and many years of experience editing and designing literary magazines. She is currently an editor for Underneath the Juniper Tree, a literary/art horror magazine for children.

Her blog, I Believe in Story (ibelieveinstory.com), features book reviews, advice for writers, publishing industry articles, and lifestyle posts inspired by literature. You can find Maria on Twitter at @MsMariaVicente.

Editors

Mari Farthing

Mari Farthing is a writer and editor with over 20 years of practical experience in private industry, government, media and publishing. Mari has worked with writers on technical documentation, procedural manuals, memoir, children’s fiction (middle grade, young adult), women’s fiction, suspense and horror.

Mari on Twitter     •     Mari on Facebook

Mary-Theresa Hussey

Mary-Theresa has been at Harlequin for nearly a quarter century—but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

As an executive editor for Harlequin Books, she is surrounded by fantastic stories, terrific colleagues and has had the pleasure of working on thousands of entertaining, enlightening and exciting novels.

Mary-Theresa—sometimes known as Matrice—works with authors on both series and single title imprints, and is always eager to talk about books.

Publishers

Rhonda PendersRhonda Penders from Wild Rose Press

Rhonda Pender is President and co-founder of The Wild Rose Press, a publishing company that publishes books electronically and in print.  The company began in May 2006 and is home to over 1600 titles and 500 authors. The Wild Rose Press began as a romance only publishing house but in 2013 opened its submissions to other genres of fiction including erotica, women’s fiction, mystery and suspense including thrillers, and historical fiction.

TWRP prides itself on never issuing form rejection letters and on being a kinder and gentler publishing house.  Their web site, which is referred to as “the garden”, is truly a community garden where everyone feels as if they have a part in its growth.  Writers, authors, readers and editors come together in chats, loops, blogs, and email to discuss ideas, thoughts, concerns and plans for growing the company.  The editors and the owners are completely accessible to their writers. Currently they are accepting submissions in all lines and all lengths.  All submissions should be made electronically and specific guidelines can be found on their website at http://www.thewildrosepress.com.

Vivian Zabel from 4RV Publishing

Vivian Zabel has a degree in English and speech. She taught in public schools for 27 years, covering such subjects as English, composition, writing, yearbook newspaper, literary magazine, drama, debate adn speech. Vivian has published short stories, articles and poetry until she retired from teaching, and now has 7 published books. Vivian is the founder and president of 4RV publishing, a traditional, royalties-paying publishing house with over 75 authors, including many OWFI members.

Vivian’s Blog     •     Vivian’s Website

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Introducing C.D. Jarmola

One of the reasons to attend conferences is the talented people you meet at them. I am always humbled by the people I meet and their talent. Today’s interview is with Christine who I met at Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI), an annual conference my critique group attends. She is not only an author but a director who puts on productions at a local university. Her delightful mystery is a fun trip down the cozy trail.

murder book coverTell us about Murder Goes to Church.

Murder Goes to Church is a fun, cozy murder mystery located in a South Georgian vacation Bible school. Chrissy Chronister, an unwilling amateur sleuth  is thrown into a murder investigation when the victim dies in her arms. What makes this mystery different from the billions out there, is all the clues are uncovered by Chrissy because of the mischievous things her eleven month old son, Lukas, gets into. Whether it is tipping over trash cans or crawling under church pews, his antics get Chrissy in situations that normal people with normal manners never would, and there she finds the secrets that someone has killed to keep quite.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Not as a child. Not as a teenager. It wasn’t until after I had my son, Darku, who by the way is the inspiration for Lukas, that I decided to write a book. I loved reading cozy mysteries and felt that would be such a fun life. Maybe I watched too many Murder She Wrote episodes. So I wrote a book. Sent it to an editor. She said no, and I put it on the shelf. Some fifteen years later, I picked it up and read it again and thought, hey this is actually pretty good. So I rewrote it. And then wrote some more.

Do you write in one genre or many? How do you pick the genre for your books/stories?

I originally planned to write murder mysteries as they are one of my favorite genres to read. But then I started reading YA books and then they were my favorite genre. So my second book to write, Do-Overs was to be a YA book. It wasn’t until I had finished it and was working through it in Bill Bernhardt’s writing workshop that it was pointed out to me that Lottie, my main character was over 18, so it wasn’t YA. Fortunately the publishing industry recently invented a whole new genre, New Adult, just so Lottie Lambert would have a place on the bookstore shelves. My most recent story, Jairus’ Daughters, is YA.

What’s the toughest thing about being an author? The best thing?

The toughest thing is not losing my motivation when all I seem to get is rejection letters. We’ve all heard famous authors say how they received hundreds of rejections before they sold their first book, but still with each rejection it’s difficult to not give up on the writing career all together and go get a real estate license. But then there is the best thing and that is when someone says they read something of yours and they loved it. Just this morning the receptionist at the doctor’s office introduced herself and told me she loved Murder Goes to Church. And last week I got an email from a man in Saudi Arabia telling me he was touched by my story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us. That was the highlight of my month.

Tell us about the story you placed in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Finding My Way is a very short, but true, story of my first trip to Europe by myself. I was young, very naïve and very lucky that God was watching out for me.

What is your next book project?

I just finished the first draft of Jairus’ Daughters. It is a YA book about Brenna Birdsong who finds out on the day she gets her first period that she has the ability to heal one person even from the brink of death. The problem is she can only heal one and how does she decide who. The idea started as more a sentimental book, but it didn’t stay that way. It turned into an espionage adventure with hostage situations, spies and all sorts of counter intelligence working to but keep Brenna safe and exploit her power.

Do you have a character you can’t let go of? One you know you will have to write about again?

I must confess, I have a crush on Al Dansby from Do-Overs. There will definitely be a sequel on that one. Did-Overs? Maybe I need to spend a little more time working on a title for that.

Are you a plotter or a seat of the pants kind of writer?

I’m a here’s a problem now what would happen if that really took place kind of writer. With both Do-Overs and Jairus’ Daughters I started with a problem. In Do-Overs it was what would happen if I could instantly redo a mistake at anytime? How would that affect my life? With Jairus’ the thought was if only I could heal one person I’d never ask God for it again. Or would I? From those questions I invented characters to “act out” the stories. Instead of an outline I attempted to write a one-page synopsis before writing the book. Just as if I were telling a friend about a book I read. Then I write by the seat of my pants. Many things from the original synopsis don’t appear in the book. But one thing I most definitely have to have before I start is the ending. It’s like my plot point on the horizon that I have to know where I’m to drive the story to.

Last two–just for fun…

Favorite chocolate?

Any and all. Especially with nuts. Oh, and white chocolate is not chocolate.

Flip flops or bare feet?

Flip flops in every color imaginable.

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