Words of Wisdom from the Seatbelt Suspense Lady

I attended the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference in Seattle last weekend where Brandilyn Collins gave the keynote address and taught three classes on creating dynamic suspense. My next couple of blog entries will be devoted to passing along some of the wisdom I soaked up, who I met, what happened, and why these conferences are worth deserting your family for two days.

To quote the conference brochure, Brandilyn is a leading force in Christian mystery fiction. She’s the Seatbelt Suspense Lady (as in, “put on your seatbelt before you pick up the book, otherwise you’ll jump right out of your chair”) and the founder of the Big Honkin’ Chicken’s Club (a club for wussies who don’t think they can read the scary books Brandilyn writes but want to take the chance, anyway). She also blogs (Forensics and Faith), Twitters, Facebooks, and hostesses great Fourth of July parties. In other words, she’s a stick of dynamite in a petite package who successfully does absolutely everything.

During her keynote address, Brandilyn talked about her ten-year struggle to break into print and the lessons she learned along her journey. Two points really stuck out to me:

1. People don’t read your books to learn about God, they read them to be entertained. In other words, tell a really great story! If it happens to contain truths about God, that’s fantastic, but it’s the remarkable story that will stick with people and prompt them to pick up more of your books in the future.

2. The pre-published days in an author’s life are a true gift, and Brandilyn encouraged us to find joy in them. It’s okay to quit writing during this period, because if it’s a true calling from God, you’ll pick it up sometime in the future and keep going. Once you’re a published author and under contract, there’s no option to quit or take a break or get lazy. So cherish the pre-published phase of the journey and use the time to truly learn the craft of writing. Because when the inspiration deserts you and you’re under contract, your knowledge of the craft will carry you through the deadlines until you re-discover your creativity.

Tomorrow I’ll share content from the three classes Brandilyn taught.

-Sonja

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