Tag Archives: ACFW

Meet Donna Schlachter!

img_6534-juggling-the-books-smallerJust seeing the name of this dear sister-in-Christ makes me smile every time. Donna Schlachter is the author of A Prickly Affair, the sixth novella in the collection, A Bouquet of Brides. Donna and I go way back. God is so good! We had no idea all those years ago that someday the Lord would again weave our writing journeys together, giving of the great pleasure being published in the same collection. (Thank you, Jesus!)

From the beginning of our experience together I knew Donna to be a conscious, servant-hearted, capable leader with a quick smile and wit.

When I served as president of the north Denver chapter of ACFW, Donna served as treasurer. She was wonderful, handling details that would have bogged me down on top of keeping the books, a job I think only a saint would sign up for.

The picture below, taken November of 2010, is of the His Writer’s board the day we hosted our first writer’s conference. We were thrilled to have teacher extraordinaire and multi-published author, Susan May Warren, as our speaker for the day. She’s standing between Donna and me in the picture below. On the other side of me is Linda Ables, who served as treasurer, and Jill Hups, who was vice-president at the time. Donna and I have laughed together over email about this day, which had its own foibles and learning curves, but still offered wonderful instruction to area writers.

74017_1662508329931_246122_nI’m grateful for all Donna did to make our board run smoothly and for the encouragement she so often was to me personally. Her desire for excellence and her wisdom was such an asset! The Lord also used her to speak some thing into my life that I hadn’t understood about myself.

Looking back to those years we served together, its fun for me to relive Donna and my developing friendship. It’s a testimony to how God knits hearts together and how deeply we need people who help us see new perspectives.

Donna and I liked and respected each other from the beginning, but I’m not sure we always understood each other. It seemed we often saw things in leadership from the opposite perspective! What’s so beautiful about that is we soon learned that sharing our ideas, even when we differed, made the outcome better for everyone. Donna was definitely the balance I needed as I grew as a leader in this position.

51OhyGLrtxLIt is with deep love and gratitude that I think of this special friend and all we shared together during those days of serving. Donna is incredibly faithful and giving, and we’ve been cheering each other’s journeys for a while.  I’m so grateful God chose us to be friends and blessed the love we share by allowing us to be published together in A Bouquet of Brides.

Before I close, I wanted to let you know about Donna’s daily devotion, Transformation, which releases TODAY! Talk about a God-thing! I pre-scheduled these “friend” posts about my fellow authors. Then I heard Donna had a devotional book releasing, so I decided to add that information this post. THEN I discovered I’d already scheduled the blog about Donna on the very day Transformation releases! Isn’t that cool? I love these little gifts of the Father.

Here is a blurb about the book:

Cover imageTransformation offers 366 devotions that will chronologically walk you through the Bible in a year

If you’ve ever wished you could start a devotional at some time throughout the year other than January 1st, then this is the devotional for you! Each day is numbered, so you can start any day of the year and still walk through the Bible in a year

If you like to start out the year on the right foot on January 1st, then this is the devotional for you!

However you like to structure your quiet time, today is the absolute best time to start!

If you’d like to follow Donna:

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

You can check out Donna’s other publications on her Amazon author page. 

Until next time when we meet the final author of the collection, Pegg Thomas,

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Introducing . . . Suzanne Norquist

1Drum roll please!!

The next author in our Bouquet of Brides line-up is debut author Suzanne Norquist, who wrote A Song for Rose.

(Actually the next story in the collection is At Home with Daffodils by yours truly, but I figure you already know me and Suzanne’s story is the next in the book.)

I’m Jumping up and down about this one! It’s always an incredible delight to see a friend get her first publishing contract. Congratulations, Suzanne! We’re so happy for you and so proud of your hard work and perseverance!

It’s such a joyful honor to be alongside Suzanne in this book, her very first release. As I’ve worked on these blogs I’ve had this sense of God’s special blessing. Many of us in the collection did a lot of WORK together with ACFW. It’s almost as if He is smiling upon us saying, “Ok, ladies, you worked together, now enjoy publishing together!”

Suzanne and I became fast friends when we served together in state leadership for ACFW Colorado. She was on the Colorado Springs board, and I was ACFW Colorado Coordinator. Suzanne and I met monthly with the state team to discuss and implement strategies for supporting Christian writers in our state. I loved the vision part of the job, the networking, teaching, leading, and encouraging. The paperwork and spreadsheets? Not so much. I sent out a cry for help from someone who understood spreadsheets, and Suzanne not only rescued me from the details the national folks expected of me, but she also created an amazing tool that helped us reach out to writers all across the state. Because of her spreadsheet design, work that was taking me hours was accomplished in minutes, and we were much better equipped to reach out to ACFW writers in Colorado. Suzanne served ACFW faithfully and diligently, with much skill and grace.

Dear Suzanne and I share another love besides writing. We love to walk–and we’ve done a lot of it together, shedding pounds as we went. When we took this picture, we’d just finished a 10.18 mile trek together. And we’re still smiling, if a little sunburned.

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Congratulations, Suzanne! I’m privileged to call you friend!

Until tomorrow when we meet the next author,

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PS I’m a special guest today on Mary Davis’ blog. We’re talking about my handsome hero, Jace Gruber! Check it out! 

Author Stuff – A Fun Interview

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Ever curious about the other me–the author Paula?

The ACFW Colorado Inkwell honored me by inviting me to interview as their Author Spotlight for May. There were some unique questions and I had a lot of fun.

Here’s a taste:

1. People often say that writing and publishing a book is like birthing a baby. You’ve raised four children. What have you learned from that experience that helped with birthing your books?

What a fun question! Maybe the most important thing is comparing a first draft to a birth experience. We would never think a child is full grown just because he is born, but new writers too often think this way about first drafts. Birthing a first draft is a huge accomplishment and something to celebrate, but it is just the beginning of the book’s growing up. Most accomplished authors say they rewrite 5-15 times!

Another connection that comes to mind is how the birthing process itself differs with each book. My first child took 17 hours of labor. My second sailed through in under 2 hours. It’s the same with the books I’ve completed. Some took years to form, others were written in weeks. Some was excruciatingly painful to produce and others were (comparatively) easy… (Read more on the Inkwell!)

Until Next Time,

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Epiphany #4

IMAG2583That whole conflicting with my desires thought from my last post should have prepared me. But it didn’t. I ran off in my merry little sanguine way expecting sunshine and roses. Only what grew along with the roses were tomatoes.

Never saw that one coming.

I started figuring out that things weren’t as easy as I expected when I went to one of my favorite places: A writer’s conference where I was reminded that my new epiphany was really a curve ball.

See, ever since 3rd grade when I wrote a story about a pencil and an eraser, I wanted to be an author. (Oh brother. The tears still spring to my eyes, and honestly I’m tired of crying about this.) Somewhere during high school speech competition I realized I also wanted to be a speaker. For the last 25 years I’ve lived my other childhood dreams–to be a teacher and a mommy, and as the years have ticked away toward cheering on my last high school graduate, I’ve eagerly awaited greater freedom for that dream of becoming an author and a speaker.

Sure, I am those things already. I have two published fiction books, have published over 300 non-fiction pieces, and have spoken for homeschool groups, writer’s groups, and mom’s groups, as well as having taught at writer’s conferences. But that was all in my spare time. Now I was ready to enter full-time into the world of writing and speaking–to take the whole gig to another level. To write the deeper, more complex stories of my heart. To up my speaking opportunities.

I’d waited for so long for this moment.

Then God gives me this curve ball and tells me to learn to be a business woman. I need to mention here that up until this point everything I’ve done in life was connected to a dream. Teacher. Mommy. Writer. Speaker.

Never once did I dream of becoming a business woman.

I spent a lot of the writer’s conference in tears. Not because it wasn’t fun. It was actually amazingly wonderful. Except for the increasing understanding that my next season wasn’t going to be all about my dreams and except for the fact that the keynote speaker said we had to be obedient when God sent us curve balls on our writing journey.

By the time I left I’d convinced myself that God wasn’t going to let me write books for a while. And I was heart-broken.

Thankfully, He then gave me Epiphany #4. I did get to write books. Just not the deeper books of my heart–yet. He wanted me to do what my agent, Rachelle Gardner, had suggested right before that second car accident that left me unable to write books for a year. He wanted me to write genre romance.

The good news is I like romance–both in books and in real life. And evidently I’m pretty good at it because I’ve helped a non-romantic male learn to be at least a little romantic, and my first romance story was a finalist for a prestigious Christian fiction award.

More good news is that genre romance is the kind of thing I can usually write while living with a lot of chaos in my life. It also is light-hearted enough to keep me happy and sane when I write it (unlike women’s fiction, which can bring me into the doldrums as I dig deep).

So it really is the perfect solution to my quandary of how to continue my writing career while learning to be a business woman. And I’m super happy about it except when I’m not. (I’m a girl, ok?)

My agent put me on a deadline to have that next book to her, and I added up word counts. I need to write 1700 words/day, six days a week. The good news is so far I’ve written 5,175 of the 55,000 words I plan to complete by Thanksgiving.

The bad news is I haven’t written any today because I’ve been too busy writing blog posts.

But I will get it done.

And so I’m learning how to swing at this latest curve. Letting go of how I thought this next season would look and embracing a new plan. Most of the time I’m good with it, but then there are those days . . . and I’ll tell you about one of them tomorrow.

Celebrating the Memories II

A high. Honest. Sunday at the ACFW conference was full of blessings. (You can read about the first two days on yesterday’s post.)

It started with a wonderful time at the Books and Such Literary Agency breakfast. I was honored to be seated next to the founder, Janet Kobobel Grant.

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The food was amazing and included this darling spread of add-ins for my oatmeal.

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I also enjoyed posing with fellow authors who married daughters off this year. We had to get a few shots of the mothers of the brides. (By the way, Cathy West has recently released two novels I’m dying to read, and Beth Vogt asked me to read and review her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, which I loved. I also enjoyed her second book and am looking forward to the third in the series.)

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With authors Cathy West (left) and Beth K. Vogt (right.)

Dineen Miller also asked me to review her debut novel, The Soul Saver, which was fabulous. But don’t take my word for it. This book WON the Carol Award for the mystery/suspense/thriller category! So happy for Dineen! 2013 has been quite the year for her–marrying off a daughter and getting a Carol!

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With author Dineen Miller

It was also fun to connect with Colorado author Olivia Newport. I had the honor of reading and reviewing her debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. It was a great story! If you enjoy historical fiction, check out Olivia’s novels. Though she’s a fairly new arrival on the Christian Historical Fiction circuit, she has several books out.

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robin-jones-gunn-300Saturday’s lunch included another keynote address by best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn. Suffice it to say that’s when the crying started for me. She talked about obeying God when things look different than we expect, about following Him through the twists and turns in our journey as writers. (Sound familiar? Kind-a like the whole curve ball concept?)

After a teary conversation with my sweet friend and new author who’s releasing to top reviews, Carla Laureano, I felt stronger than ever that I had to swing at that curve ball. (She says we cry every time we talk. And lest you misunderstand–I wasn’t the only one sporting waterworks.)

Sunday night boasted the ACFW Awards Gala. One of my favorite memories is sharing a quick hug with the amazing Brandilyn Collins. I thanked her in the speech I never gave for year after year of faithful prayers. The highlight of my ACFW conferences for many years know has been those precious few moments with her in the prayer room.

I was honored to sing with the choir, who kicked off the gala with author Cynthia Ruchti’s arrangement of “Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow.” I thrilled to sing a high B. It’s been forever since I got to sing with a choir, and it’s one of my great joys.

It was also fun to be a finalist and have my very own place cards for myself and special guests.

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I had to take a picture of my book and name in the program. (Notice the beautiful centerpieces peeking from behind!)

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After the gala, I told my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that I wanted a shot with her where I no longer weighed 210 pounds. It felt so good to sport a fancy dress at my new weight. And see, a real smile even if I didn’t win the Carol.

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I love any opportunity to share time with my fabulous friend and multi-published author Janice Thompson. It’s hard to believe we were friends back when she was a “new” author. She now has at least 18 books out! (And her weight loss story is amazing! We’ve been cheering each other on!)

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As I wrote in an earlier post, I weathered not winning my category in the Carol Awards mostly fine. It helped me keep a happy face when my roomy Kathy Kovach decided I needed a consolation prize, and I pranced around in my new shoes. (Note how nicely they show off my tattoo.)

consolation pirce

The next morning included a couple of awesome “chance” meetings as we got out of Dodge. The first was a super cool prayer time with a homeless man while we waited for our shuttle to the airport. The second was connecting with the Bicycle Lady, Dr. Reba Hoffman, while in line at Starbucks in the airport. She writes a great blog about her experiences. Suffice it to say I find her one of the most courageous women I’ve ever met. Her stories about how God led her to ride her bicycle from town to town to help women find freedom from the ravages of abuse are breath-taking.

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Left to right, Colorado Authors Jen Turano, Carla Laureano, yours truly, Reba, the bicycle lady, Colorado Author Kathy Kovach and pre-published author Jill Buteyn, who WON her category in the prestigious Genesis contest for the not-yet-published authors. (Can you tell I’m proud of all our Colorado gals?)

The flight home included discussing theology with my seatmate, an amazing father of 3. I arrived  home exhausted and enjoyed cuddling up with my family, a pizza, and a movie.

And yes, I love sharing about my experiences–it is my blog so I get to do that. But these last two posts do relate to the question I left hanging a few posts back. As I write in upcoming posts about curve ball, just keep in mind these last two blogs–how happy and comfortable I am here in this writing world . . .

Celebrating the Memories I

author ribbonIt felt good.

This sense of being a veteran. Of belonging.

When we arrived at the ACFW national conference in Indianapolis, I turned to my writing buddy, Kathy Kovach. “I’m so glad I’m not a newbie anymore.”

My name tag boasted ribbons, labels really: author, finalist, (represented by) Books and Such Literary Agency, Colorado Coordinator.

I’ve fought for years to live outside of identity imposed by others, to just be Paula, God’s little one, dependent on Him, but I enjoyed these ribbons as recognition of years of hard work–of titles I’d already embraced, like author. I wore it with joy.

The emotions around my first writing conference were much different. I couldn’t even say the words, “I am a writer” out loud, much less be totally comfortable with a name tag that included the word “author.” I packed pretty teacups and chamomile tea to ensure my survival at that conference 10 years ago. I also carefully prepared colored note cards full of hand-written Bible verses and inspirational sayings. Basically, I was petrified and needed these little comforts from home for survival.

But here I was years later: published, teaching, and even up for an award for my story!

This post and the one tomorrow don’t answer the question I left hanging in my last blog. Honestly, the answer is simple but the journey isn’t. I suppose sharing how important this 2013 ACFW conference was to me is a part of explaining the journey before we talk about the specifics of the recent curve ball pitched my way. So just relax and enjoy the view. Nothing too deep coming your way today.

Kathy and I kicked off the conference by teaching a workshop for area coordinators and zone directors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones as well as meeting with authors, editors, and agents.

A delightful surprise was a gift from my fabulous agent, Rachelle Gardner, who congratulated me on being a finalist in the Carol Awards. She did suggest the treat might not help me meet my acfw giftweight loss goals, but I assured her I’d just eat the truffles one at time instead of the whole box at once so it wouldn’t set me back. The packaging is so pretty I actually kept the empty box and displayed it on my desk at home as a memory of my first book award nomination.

On top of enjoying the truffles, I found most of the meals at the conference boasted a yummy dessert, so I delighted in the moments we slipped away to walk in downtown Indianapolis and get some exercise.

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With Kathy Kovach

The Indiana Capitol Building is beautiful.

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Of course I always have to stop and smell the flowers.

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And I’m a sucker for churches, stained glass windows, and horse drawn carriages!

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A wedding party enjoyed the open carriages as well. Notice the cute little ring bearer!

This gorgeous fountain was part of a memorial to the men who from Indiana who’d fought in various wars.

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The stroll with fun, but indulging in an amazing calzone (full of calories and wonderful, hot, gooey cheese) pushed the need for further exercise, so I swam laps in the hotel pool, which is a first for me at a writer’s conference! I love it that after 10 years of sedentary conventions, I now crave physical activity. Thanks to BENew and saying good-bye to all that weight I have truly changed.

I feel my Creator’s smile in that change. Here’s an example. Right before the conference I told the Lord I’d really like to swim while I was there, but didn’t have a decent swimsuit that fit since the weight loss. (Okay, I could have worn the famous bikini top, but it just wasn’t the venue for it.) Right before I left for the conference I happened to see a one-piece suit hanging on the clearance rack at Target. I quickly slipped it on, surprised that it not only fit well, but would provide the support I needed to actually swim for exercise and not just lie on a beach.

But could I afford it while saving for the spending money at the conference?

I flipped the price tag. Surely not.

$1.47

Oh, yeah!

So thanks to God’s good gifts and a clearance rack at target, Saturday evening of the conference meant unwinding in the pool and hot tub. What a great stress relief! I slipped into bed that night, totally relaxed and able to fall asleep despite the pending excitement Sunday promised.

I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow . . .

Check it out!

Hi Friends!

I’m a bit behind on blogging this week! I attended back-to-back trainings, one with Life Force International, and the other at the ACFW Conference. They were AWESOME and full of epiphanies for me. I hope to share about them soon. I think I’m also about ready to write about some of the things I discovered this summer. Whew! A lot on my mind to download. I can’t wait to clear a space to write about all of these really cool things!

Also, just a hopeful note for those of you wondering about my weight loss journey. I’ve not only maintained, but this morning the scale showed me down a couple more pounds! While I had to let go of letting the scale dictate my mood as the pounds came off–often more slowly than I wanted–I have to tell you that I think it’s okay that I wanted to do the Snoopy Dance!

For today’s post, I’m linking to a blog that featured–ME!. I talk a little about the stuff we do here, the nomination for the Carol Award for my novella, and the writing journey. Please visit the Inkwell for the whole story–and if you want, tweet or share the blog on Facebook. That would help ACFW Colorado get the word out about their blog as well as support me in my journey as an author.

YOU CAN FIND THE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT ON YOURS TRULY HERE