Keli Gwyn
Friday Fun Post-Conference Style

The American Christian Writers Conference was awesome!

I’ve enjoyed reading the post-conference updates of others who were there.

One thing that’s stood out was how much fun everyone had seeing friends again and meeting online friends in person for the first time. I quite agree.

Here are but a few of the awesome people I was able to spend time with.
As you can tell from my mile-wide smiles, I had a blast.

Me with my lovely roommate, Sarah Forgrave.

 

Erica Vetsch and me at the Books & Such Dessert. Love her!

 

Lindsay Harrel, Casey Herringshaw, and Melissa Tagg. Awesomeness x3!!!

 

Me with Jessica Patch. Oooh, is she ever fun!

 

Me with Gabrielle Meyer. What a warmhearted woman.

 

Me with Marji Laine. They don’t come any nicer.

 

Me with Donna Pyle. She’s sunshine and smiles all in one.

 

Krista Phillips and Cathy West. Talented authors x2!!

 

Helen Gray and me. Yes, she’s the Helen who puts the coffee on in Seekerville each day. I told her she’s a celebrity.

 

The Awards Banquet and Awards Ceremony were wonderful. I was privileged to sit with two of Rachelle’s clients who were Carol Award finalists–and winners! I wept so many tears of joy I had to restock my tissue supply.

Me with double Carol Award winner Rosslyn Elliott–a class act!

 

Carol Award winner Lisa Jordan and me. What a sweetheart!

 

Love Inspired Senior Editor Melissa Endlich and me. Yes, I got to sit beside her at the Gala. I loved her dash to the table to grab her speech when her second author in a row won a Carol.

 

Another of my conference highlights was seeing my agent. We had a great talk.

Me with my agent, Rachelle Gardner. Doesn’t she rock that red?

 

I had some fan-girl moments. It’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by so many awesome authors who write amazing stories.

Me with NYT & USA Today bestselling author Julie Cantrell.

 

Dan Walsh and me. See what wonderful people you can meet at the ACFW conference?

 

The worship times are so uplifting.

The ACFW Choir. They blessed me BIG time!

 

And there were a few milestones moments for me, this being one of them.

Me with my debut novel in the ACFW Bookstore.

 

After five days of hotel food, I was happy to spot one of my favorite hangouts on my way home.

Me at Taco Bell in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

 

This was my third ACFW conference, and it was by far the best so far. Yeah, yeah. I’m sure I’ll say the same thing next year. I can’t help it. This is an awesome organization, and I’m thrilled to be a member of it.

☙☙☙

What makes a conference a success for you?

 

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Keli Gwyn
Conference Bound!

I’m en route to Dallas for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.

I can feel the excitement building as the conference kickoff gets closer.

I managed to get everything in a single carry-on, although if I were to pack all my hopes for the week, I’d need a stack of luggage much like this one.

Cool display in the baggage claim area at Sacramento International Airport, where my journey began.

Here are but a few of my hopes. . .

I hope to see many of my friends from past years.

I hope to meet friends I’ve met online in person.

I hope to make a host of new friends.

I hope the keynote addresses by Michael Hyatt are awesome.

I hope I learn heaps in the workshops.

I hope I find some awesome books in the bookstore.

I hope good things happen for many of the conferees and that their dreams come true.

I hope I can get by on little sleep so I have more time for fun.

I hope there’s a Taco Bell in Houston where I have a lengthy layover. (My friend Dawn Alexander is delivering me Taco Bell when I get to Dallas. =)

I hope I don’t miss Gwynly too much.

I hope those who aren’t attending the conference have a wonderful week. One way to do so is to check out the Bright Side Blog Bash being hosted by my friends Lacie Nezbeth and Jennifer Hale. They have a plethora of prizes for readers and writers.

Here’s Jennifer’s Grand Prize for the week. Look what wonderful company my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, is keeping.

I won’t be blogging while I’m gone. Look for my next post after the conference.

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Keli Gwyn
Meet the Reviewers: Kav at Best Reads

I met Kav when she posted a review of my book on her blog, Best Reads. She has such a fun way of writing a review that I read more of hers, was impressed, and added her site to the Christian Book Reviewers page on my website. I zapped her an email and asked if I could introduce my newfound book-loving friend to you, and she made my day by saying yes.

Kav is a Canadian who has a job any avid reader would love: library technician. As you might expect, she loves to read, having recently developed a love of inspirational fiction. She also enjoys writing, painting funky furniture, cooking Vegetarian meals, and supporting environmental concerns, including supporting local farmers and artisans. And she has a thing for chocolate, especially fair-trade Cocoa Camino and white hot chocolate.

I asked Kav three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.

What led you to start reviewing books on your blog? When did you post your first review? What can your visitors expect in the future?

I started up by accident! I worked at a school board central library at the time and I was in charge of the novel studies and literature circles that rotated around the schools. I found I spent a lot of time helping teachers decide on what novel set they wanted to use because there wasn’t an easy system in place for them to browse through. So I had the idea of making up a blog for our sets. Every title had a new entry and I could label them by subject and grade. Made my life so much easier! So, what does that have to do with my starting a blog?

Well, about the same time I started reading Christian fiction exclusively and, since I’m an aspiring writer, I wanted a way to keep track of the books I read and note the strengths that I wanted to emulate in my own writing. Since I liked the way my novel study blog looked, I thought it was the perfect venue for my Christian fiction tally. I had no clue what I was doing though – no idea that you could keep a blog private – so I created my blog for my own use and blithely posted away thinking that I’d go unnoticed in the grand scheme of the bloggersphere.

Only one day somebody posted on my blog. And then I got some followers – new friendly little faces peering out at me every time I logged on. At first I was mortified because my ‘reviews’ weren’t so much reviews as little unformed sentence snippets meant to prompt my memory and encourage my writing skills. But I rallied and started posting actual reviews and ta-da – here I am!

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it but do so with respect. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

First off, I don’t review books I don’t like, if at all possible. I only review for one publishing group – Baker Publishing through Graf-Martin – a marketing company here in Canada. I’m given an opt in selection of books to review each month so I’m careful to pick titles, author and genres that interest me. Sometimes though, a book and I don’t click but I’m still obliged to review it. When that happens I’m careful to highlight the positives and offer gentle observations about other areas that I had issues with. I also try to coach those comments with ‘me’ sentences, so it’s clear that I’m not criticizing the author but commenting what I personally like and dislike. Hopefully I achieve a balance.

The other books I review on my blog are ones that I have purchased myself. If I love them, I review them. If I don’t love them, I don’t review them. Easy peasy.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

I do most of my reading on the bus…or standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus! I have a long commute to and from work. I’m in transit between three and five hours a day depending on the weather and traffic and if the buses are running on time (which they usually aren’t!) It would be unbearable if I couldn’t be carried away in a story! I also like to read in bed for a wee bit before lights out…and sometimes when I eat because I live alone …well, with my wee laddie Simba (a sheltie) but he’s not known for his stimulating dinner conversation. 🙂

And speaking of my boy-o – this is his picture in place of mine.

I’m terribly camera shy and take horrible pictures to boot – so not a good combination – so I rarely have my image captured. Except on my bus pass which makes me look like an unrepentant hatchet-murderess! Best I don’t scare your readers, so Simba is my stand in. We really look a lot a like – if you shorten the nose, smoosh the ears down a bit and of course mine don’t tip over like that. Oh, and my eyes are hazel not brown. And I wear glasses and Simba doesn’t. His face is black, but mine is white. I’m not as furry as he is either. And my tongue isn’t as long as his. And my nose doesn’t twitch at the faintest scent of squirrel. But other than that, we’re pretty much carbon copies. They do say that people who live together grow in likeness over the years. 🙂

Three Fun Facts About Kav

It must be way cool to spend time in a library and get paid for it. What are three aspects of your job you most enjoy?

Buying books. Reading to kids. Creating bulletin boards.

Painting funky furniture sounds like lots of fun. What’s one of your favorite projects so far?

My favourite project to date was painting an Adriondack chair for a teacher’s retirement gift. She loved Kevin Henke’s picture books so I put all these little mice scurrying around all over it with Chrysanthemum on the back center.

I usually pull old abandoned chairs from the garbage and spiffy them up with glue and paint. Very artsy crafty style. Polka dots and stripes, tons of colours – no two chair legs look the same! Mary Engelbreit is my inspiration.

I also painted a full set of chairs for one of the school libraries I worked in. Each chair was a different book character. That was a HUGE project! Took me all summer!

Chocolate lovers unite! If you won an all-expenses-paid chocolate sampling trip to any place in the world, where would you go, and why?

This is going to sound strange but – Ireland. For a bunch of reasons. First, I was born there and I love the country! Secondly, I lived there for two years after school and rented a flat in an area of Dublin close to a couple of candy factories. The air was permeated with the smell of melting chocolate and my landlady used to bring ends of all the best chocolate bars home at the end of her shift and she’d share them. Blissful sigh. So whenever I think chocolate, I think of Ireland.

Kav’s Question for You

If you were a dog, what breed would you be? And why? Or if you’re not a dog lover – what animal do you most identify with and why?

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Keli Gwyn
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