Tag Archives: carol awards

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.)

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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

Bazillion Duple

I’m not home yet. As this post releases I prepare to board a plane back to Denver after Sunday night’s excitement. But as I write the day is last Thursday. I prepare to leave home, to face the unknown of the Carol Awards.

I’m pre-scheduling my blog because I want to share my acceptance speech with you. I don’t know yet if I’ll actually get to say it, but win or lose it needs to be shared. Being chosen as a finalist for the Carol (no matter the outcome) is an honor that is not just mine alone.

Below are the words I’ve prepared. I’ve practiced them over and over, not because they are difficult to say, but because I can’t get through them without crying. Not those nice quiet tears, the loud, sobby ones. So deep is my gratitude. So deep is my passion.

Yes, it’s the acceptance speech I was asked to write, but really, it’s a thank you note, maybe even a love-letter, to all of you.

For this blog I must begin with the words . . .

Dear Friend,

The dedication for my novella includes these words, “to all my friends who ‘bazillion-dupled’ my joy of a first book contract.”

It seems a fitting way to open tonight.

Ours is not a solitary journey. For the Christian writer, we first hold onto our God for all we’re worth, empowered to persevere through success and disappointment, and then we hold hands with our friends. The true ones cheer us to victory and soothe the wounds of discouragement.

In 2004 when I joined ACFW I had no idea how valuable this group would become to me. I mostly wanted a discount to hear Francine Rivers speak! But almost ten years later I realize how invaluable this organization and each of you are to my journey.

Part of the road to becoming an author includes, at least for me, a lot of refinement, digging deep to find courage, and stretching. The ACFW prayer team prayed me through some of the most difficult years of my life, as did other dear friends and my sweet husband, Jerry. Brandilyn Collins committed to pray daily for a year for my children–and ended up praying for several.

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Editors, authors and critique partners offer wisdom and encouragement and teach me to write. Those who’ve gone before, like Kathy Kovach and Darlene Franklin, opened doors so I could follow, and Rebecca Germany, JoAnne Simmons, and Barbour Publishing took a chance on a newbie.

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Posing this summer with my dear friend and writing partner, Kathy Kovach

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Rebecca Germany of Barbour Publishing and I pose at the Barbour party in Sept. of 2011 when Rebecca awarded me my first book contract

Last year when a car accident shut me and my writing down, my agent, Rachelle Gardner, offered wise council, loving me through the difficult curve in my path, and the editor I felt I’d disappointed offered me hope and grace instead of censure.

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Taken September of 2011 when I got my first book contract, and Rachelle won agent of the year!

What a community we have!

At home, my dear family daily enriches my life and cheers me on despite burned or forgotten dinners when I get lost in fictional worlds.

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Photo by Kim Liddiard of the Creative Pixel

Yes, I’ve persevered. I study hard to perfect craft. I’m intentional about learning how to become a professional, but when the rubber hits the road, this victory is not mine alone. It is a collective one, an honor given first to my God, then to each and every person who taught me, mentored me, prayed for me, and believed in me.

As we endeavor to write for our Lord Jesus Christ, believing we help shape eternity as we do, we need each other.

Thank you for being there for me. Sharing this moment with you bazillion-duples my joy.

Blessings,

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We need each other