Keli Gwyn
Bidding Borders Goodbye

I’ve long been a fan of Borders and rejoiced when a store opened in Folsom, California, half an hour from the small town where I live in the Sierra Foothills of California. My hubby and I would often stop by after dinner on a date night. He knew a visit to Borders would be better than dessert to his book-loving wife.

I watched the slow process of Border’s demise with sadness. When each store-closure list hit cyberspace, I scrolled through them, breathing a sigh of relief when the Folsom store wasn’t there. I’m one of many who hoped that a buyer would rescue the chain and wept when July 17th came and went and no one had stepped forward.

On Friday, July 22nd the Going Out of Business Sale began. The Folsom store opened at 9 a.m., and I was there, as was a disappointed TV crew. There weren’t long lines of bargain hunters eager to get inside. Like the reporter, I was surprised, and yet I was also relieved. I’d not come to grab all I could get. I’d come to say goodbye, and I was happy to do so without a crowd of witnesses.

For over five years I’ve been writing. One of the ways I kept myself motivated was to visit Borders, head to the Christian Fiction section, and imagine seeing my book on the shelf. I’d come to know the names of my potential shelf mates well. When I visited the section that day, I saw that the book that would have been to the right of mine was Bittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake. “How fitting,” I thought, as my dream of visiting “my” Borders store to see my debut novel faded.

The sale at Borders will continue until some time in August or September, but the store has already ceased to exist. A liquidator has taken possession, a fact I learned when I handed the clerk a Borders coupon she couldn’t accept.

At present much of the merchandise is only marked down by 10%, although some sections reflect 20, 30, or 40% savings. I anticipate the prices will drop as the sale continues.

The atmosphere in the Folsom store when I visited Friday was one of sadness. I think many of those present were there as I was, to mourn the passing of an era. Times are changing, and the big-box bookstores are on the way out. Most of those I talked with cite the advent of digital books as a reason, although some agree that Amazon has had an effect. Some postulated that we might see a resurgence of indy bookstores.

One thing I found surprising was the attitude of the young people I spoke with who were perusing the shelves in the Young Adult section. I asked them if they preferred reading paper or e-books. They were quick to respond with “paper.” One young woman was adamant as she told me she would “never” buy an e-reader. Hearing such a declaration from one so young did this dinosaur writer’s heart good.

I returned to the store on Saturday, driven by curiosity. Somehow I wanted to know that Borders would be missed by more than a handful. Relief filled my heart when I found the store resembling Christmas Eve with the line for the registers snaking halfway across the store. I’m sure some were there for the bargains, but I prefer to think they, too, were there to bid Borders farewell and had simply been at work the day before.

Will I return for another visit before the doors are locked for good? No. I’ve paid my final respects and will move on, but I have memories of Borders I’ll treasure for years to come.

• • •

How do you feel about Borders going out of business?

What reasons do you give for the chain’s demise?

Where do you get most of the books you buy?

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Keli Gwyn
Building a Dream Team

My awesome agent, Rachelle Gardner, had a post earlier this week called “The Myth of the Lone Ranger Author” in which she talked about the many people at a publishing company who help get a book on the shelf. Having worked for a small textbook publisher as an assistant editor, I’ve seen firsthand all that’s involved. Plenty.

I’ve yet to go through the editorial phase for my debut novel, but I’m looking forward to it. I have, however, gone through the years of preparation that went into getting my first publishing contract.

I learned that a writer doesn’t make it to that milestone alone.

I wouldn’t be where I am today with a book in production if it weren’t for my Dream Team, those wonderful people who are my cheerleaders. Who are they?

My supportive husband and daughter
My extended family
My church family
My face-to-face friends
My online friends
My talented critique partners Anne Barton and Jody Hedlund
My awesome agent Rachelle Gardner

I’ve yet to meet the editorial team at Barbour, with the exception of editorial assistant Linda Hang, who’s been super to work with, but I’ve heard wonderful things about them. They will be the next additions to my Dream Team.

Just as it takes a host of people to prepare a child for adulthood, it takes many people to help us reach our dreams, be they dreams of publication, dreams of completing a marathon, or dreams of becoming a gourmet chef. (And no, I’m not into running or cooking. Those might be others’ dreams, but they’re not mine. :-))

I’m beyond grateful for the many people who have supported and encouraged me, taught me, and pushed me to do more than I ever imagined I could. You rock!

• • •

What are your dreams?

Who are the members of your Dream Team?

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Keli Gwyn
The ACFW Conference: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Two months from today I’ll be packing my bag, eager for my flight to St. Louis the next day where I’ll be attending my second ACFW Conference. I’ve been looking forward to this event since the day I flew home from Indianapolis last September.

I’ve attended a number of conferences in the five years since I began writing. Each has been enjoyable and memorable, but none has been as thrilling as the ACFW Conference.

For those who’ve never been before, I thought I’d take a look back, using photos to highlight some of the many benefits of attending this gem of a conference.

The Venue

ACFW chooses great locations for the conferences. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Indianapolis and was able to take in a few of the city’s many sights, including some of the older buildings that cause this historical writer’s heart to take off like an Indy race car.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Lucas Stadium, Home of the 2012 Super Bowl

Indiana State Capitol

Friends, Friends, and More Friends

The sights are interesting and the workshops enlightening, but my primary reason for attending the conference is the people. Seeing friends again and meeting others in person for the first time is wonderful.

Some of my many friends: Karen Witemeyer, Katie Ganshert, Heather Sunseri, Jeannie Campbell, Cindy R. Wilson, me, and my critique partner Jody Hedlund

Friends Erica Vetsch, my agency mate, and Wendy Paine Miller

My agency mate Deborah Vogts and me

You meet the nicest people at mealtimes. Look who was at my lunch table one day.

My conference roomie and agency mate Anne Lang Bundy with Julie Carobini, John Olson, and Randy Ingermanson

Authors Galore

Meeting the authors of the books I love to read is such fun. Here’s just a small sample of the many talented author who attended the 2010 conference.

Julie Lessman and me

Me and my agency mate Karen Witemeyer

Me and Rachel Hauck

The Publishing Professionals

One of the many benefits of attending the conference is the opportunity to meet agents and editors, getting that all-important face-to-face time. I got to meet my agent in person for the first time at the conference, which was one of the highlights.

My awesome agent Rachelle Gardner and me

If you summon your courage as I did, you might get a picture with the man in the kilt, aka agent Chip MacGregor, who graciously posed for this shot with me.

Chip MacGregor and me

Editors are in attendance, too, and it’s reassuring to find out they’re very nice people. 🙂

Bethany House editor David Long with my critique partner Jody Hedlund, who is holding her debut novel, The Preacher's Bride

Fun with Friends

I learned that the bar is the place to hang out after a busy day at the conference. Since I’m not one to visit bars back home, I asked a friend to snap this shot to prove I was having lots of fun. I smiled so much during the conference that my cheeks hurt. 🙂

My friend and agency mate Katie Ganshert and me

The Awards Ceremony

It’s such a thrill to cheer for those who are finalists for the Genesis and Carol Awards.

Jeannie Campbell

Getting dressed up in our finery is fun. The atmosphere in the ballroom is super-charged.

Katie Ganshert, Jody Hedlund, and me

Rosslyn Elliott and her husband make a stunning Victorian couple

A Look Ahead

I’m counting down the days until the 2011 ACFW Conference and am eager to see my many friends. I’ll be rooming with a new writer who lives not far from me, and I’m looking forward to serving as her guide.

I’m anticipating many helpful workshops. I signed up to volunteer this year and am excited about being able to give something back to ACFW.

I’ve had a Victorian gown made and am eager for its debut at the Awards Ceremony. My awesome agent, Rachelle Gardner, is one of the finalists for Agent of the Year, and I’m ready to cheer myself hoarse for her. She’s already a winner in my book.

The Conference is one of the highlights of my year!

• • •

Are you planning to attend the ACFW conference? If so, what are you looking forward to?

If you’ve attended other conferences, what did you enjoy the most?

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Keli Gwyn
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