Speaker Spotlight for #MVWC 2017 – Cheryl Wray has the Query Secrets

Do queries put you in a quandary? Cheryl Wray has the tools to set things right.

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Cheryl Wray

Cheryl Wray is a reporter wit Al.com, a freelance magazine writer, and an adjunct journalism professor at the University of Alabama. She’s had more than 2000 articles published in a variety of magazines through the years, and is the author of two books on the article publishing process. Her book, Writing for Magazines (McGraw-Hill), was a featured selection of the Writers Digest Book Club and her most recent writing guide, Writing Feature Articles (Vision Press) is used in college courses across the country. She is currently working on a book on Type-1 diabetes featuring profIles of celebrities and everyday heroes. She’s also the co-founder of the popular Southern Christian Writers Conference.

Cheryl joins the Mountain Valley Writers Conference to share the secrets for crafting a query letter that grabs the attention of the editor and lands you the gig!

Craft a Query Letter that Sells

Expect to walk away with a query or query outline

    – how to do the research
    – finding the markets
    – submitting the letter/proposal

More about the Speaker

Favorite book: I’m an avid reader and could list probably 50 for you, but the one I come back to over and over is To Kill a Mockingbird. I love all things Southern, and the story’s morality and the characters can’t be beat (My almost 13-year-old daughter is named Scout. So, yep, my husband and I both love that book). I’m also a Harry Potter nerd, and love those books!

Favorite Quote: Again, my “favorites” change all the time according to what’s going on my life. But I love quotes from writers, from the Bible, from books, from songs even. Right now in my mind I have the verse from Esther that says, “Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (4:14). A recent favorite is “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Both of those say a lot to me about taking advantage of our opportunities, believing in God’s plan for our lives, and also sticking to your dreams even when perhaps we are pushed down by our doubts or other people or whatever.

Want people to know about me: I love to encourage aspiring writers. I love to take the mystery out of the writing and marketing process. It takes diligence, yes, but it’s not brain surgery. You can do it!

Random fun facts: Have three daughters McKenna, Delaney, and Scout and am a brand-new grandmother with granddaughter Ramsey Cate. (Three of them have birthdays in the same week…the last week of March.) I love sweet tea, sports of all kinds, Star Wars, road trips, and bubble baths. (Sounds like a personals ad. ) I was born in Texas, the child of two writers, so it’s in my blood.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Facebook: Cheryl Sloan Wray
Twitter: @cwray_sports


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Speaker Spotlight for #MVWC 2017 – Jonathan Trip Builds Community

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Jonathan Tripp

Jonathan Tripp opens his home to you as host of Jonathan Trip Live. He creates an atmosphere of comfort with simple steps – like the “mug shot” of the day and other little invites to bring you into the conversation.

A background in management services and non-profit organizations has helped Jonathan become a proven leader ready (and willing) to create actionable social media strategies that will deepen connections with your target audience and grow the engagement that supports your brand and business.

The ever changing technology of the internet creates new opportunities and doors for moving forward. Jonathan is focused on this evolving world and helping you find your way through it. His Show, Jonathan Trip Live, focuses on social media, business and marketing topics, and developing a strong network.

Jonathan joins the Mountain Valley Writers Conference to share his tips for connecting, engaging, and growing community.

Want to create breakthroughs on demand? Say yes! Your actions are fueled by your beliefs whether positive or negative. Denise’s presentation will show you how to interrupt worn out, ineffective beliefs and replace them with powerful, effective beliefs to achieve your goals. In a fusion of comedy and science, you will hear and see how quickly you can make this can happen in any area of your life.

Building a Community

    Take away Top Point:
    Why community growth is more than just posts & links!

More about the Speaker

Favorite Book:
The Poetry of Robert Frost

Favorite Quote:
The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived.

One thing:
My love for people and coffee are only outweighed by my love for my wife and family.

Random Fun Fact:
I love acquiring coffee mugs, especially from my listeners.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Website: jonathantripp.com
Instagram: @jontripp
Community: jonathantripp.com/group
Start-Up: vitmug.com

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Make the Most of the Writing Conference – Plan for Five

The Mountain Valley Writing Conference is only two weeks away. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, today is the day. The investment for one-day tickets will go up to $135 on March 10th. The investment for full conference admittance (two-days will go up to $235 on the 10th as well.

Not only should you not wait to get your conference tickets, but you should begin to prepare for what you want and what you will do when you arrive.

A few weeks back, the #blogchat – held every Sunday night at 8 pm Central – sparked a conversation about how to get the most out of your conference attendance. We came up with “the Fives for a Successful Conference – five targets and tips for before, during, and after a conference that would give you the most powerful (and measurable) results for your efforts.

Before the Conference – PLAN for Five

Plan to learn five new things – or to expand on five things you are already pursuing. Review the sessions and make a list of the questions you want to have answered or the information you want to gather.

Plan to meet five new people – it is ALL about relationships. Make an effort not only to meet five new people but to engage with them in a way that sets the foundation for potential relationship growth.

Plan to attend five GREAT sessions or workshops – at the Mountain Valley Writers Conference, you will have your choice of 8 workshops and 8 sessions. Expect to gain something from the ones you choose – maybe directly from the information offered, maybe from the question and answer sessions, and maybe from the spark of inspiration ignited by the information. Expect great and you will find it.

Plan to have five inspiring conversations – and expect to be the inspiration as much as you will be inspired. It is often the one to one conversations at conferences that generate the most amazing results.

Plan to write five short pieces (from 500 to 1000 words) – you can write about the conference, about the location, about the people, or about your own journey through the conference. Plan to write and make the notes that will give you the foundation for those writings.

Every conference you ever attend has the potential of moving you forward in your journey. The Mountain Valley Writers Conference strives to be the ignition for those who want to build a living or develop an income on the foundation of words. Putting to practice the PLAN for Five will help you move forward in your desired writing success.

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Speaker Spotlight – Constance Smith – Mountain Valley Writers Conference 2017

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Constance Smith

Constance Smith got started running her first website in 1998, teaching herself to write html from scratch. Since then she has acquired 2 decades of experience in social media and has readers that have stuck with her since the very beginning.

After living a military life for 25 years, she is planting roots in northern Alabama and starting a homestead. It is a new life chapter that she shares with her subscribers, along with the countless recipes and other lifestyle content on her website, Cosmopolitan Cornbread. She believes in “what you see is what you get” and her readers have come to love her honesty and authenticity. Constance chronicles her adventures with her subscribers in both written form as well as video on her YouTube channel. She has a heart for teaching, which is expressed through her blogging, vlogging, speaking engagements, volunteer work and she even homeschooled her three children through graduation.

Constance has appeared in local, national and digital publications, such as: MSN Food & Drink, BuzzFeed, Military Spouse Magazine, Home Gourmet Magazine, The Alaska Post, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Making it Home Magazine and others.

Constance joins the Mountain Valley Writers Conference with the task of providing the tools to help you take your passion and turn it into profit. She will challenge attendees to know what they love and then find ways to make that into a living wage. She did it in her life so she knows it is something possible and profitable!

    Passion to Profit

    My focus will be on blogging & social media as an outlet for what I am passionate about, and how I have used that to garner my own income by connecting with sponsors, growing readership/subscribers, and more

More about the Speaker

Favorite Book: The Bible

Favorite Quotes: “Bloom where you are planted.”

Random Fact: I am a history & genealogy buff and have traced one branch of my family tree back to the first century.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Website: Cosmopolitan Cornbread

YouTube: Cosmopolitan Cornbread’s Homestead

Facebook: Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Twitter: @CosmoCornbread

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/cosmocornbread

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cosmopolitancornbread

Tell Your Story – #MVWC Speaker Spotlight with Lawayne Orlando Childrey

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Lawayne Orlando Childrey

Lawayne Orlando Childrey is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. His autobiography, Peeling Back the Layers: A Story of Trauma, Grace and Triumph, was selected as one of the top six autobiographies of 2015 by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. In this book Childrey demonstrates how he endured some of the most horrific trauma imaginable, including childhood sexual abuse, depression, a crack cocaine addiction and an HIV diagnosis. He finally found fulfillment through his faith in God’s grace. Reviewers have called Peeling Back the Layers: A Story of Trauma, Grace and Triumph a masterpiece…so personal, so inspiring, so intimate.

Childrey is also the co-author of Self-Publishing & Selling Your Book, a step-by-step manual that explains the entire process from start to successful finish.

In addition, Childrey is also a recipient of the national Edward R. Murrow Award for Journalistic Excellence. He has won numerous Mississippi Associated Press awards for his reporting with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, a statewide affiliate of National Public Radio. In 2014 the Alabama Community College System selected Childrey as its most outstanding alumnus in the institution’s 50-year history. The ACCS awarded a $5,000 scholarship in Childrey’s name to a deserving Alabama high school senior. During the same year, Childrey was named alumnus of the year for Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham. He currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee where he serves on the executive committee of the Nashville Regional HIV Planning Council. He is also an executive board member of The Excell Group, a mentoring program for at risk youth in Pembroke, Illinois.

Childrey is currently in demand as a speaker, inspiring many different kinds of audiences with his incredible story.

He also works as a freelance journalist, national voice over artist and HIV/AIDS advocate.

Lawayne joins the faculty for #MVWC 2017 as an advocate for telling your story. He will facilitate a workshop highlighting the importance of autobiographical storytelling during the 2017 Mountain Valley Writers Conference.

Balancing the Truth of Your Heart with the Exposure to the World

    Everyone has a story to tell and a lesson to teach.

    From a legacy perspective, we tell our stories for ourselves and as a gift to future generations. This presentation highlights some of the many ways telling those stories, both good and bad benefit us all. It also demonstrates how difficulties arise not because we have a story, perhaps a very sad or painful story, but because we become attached to our stories and make them an essential part of our very selves. Telling our stories is not an end in itself, but an attempt to release ourselves from them, to evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and tell our experiences to transcend them. During this presentation we will learn to use our stories to make a difference in the world; to broaden our perspective to see further than normal; to act beyond a story that may have imprisoned or enslaved us; to live more of our spiritual and earthly potential.

    Everyone has a story to tell and a lesson to teach.

More about the Speaker

Favorite book: Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris. This is the first book that I actually saw myself on the pages. I felt like Harris was telling my story and I read it in a day.

Favorite quote: To Thine Own Self Be True
When I was a kid growing up my mom would drill this in my head. However, it wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to fully appreciate its meaning. “Thanks mom and William Shakespeare, I get it.”

Random Fun Fact: I got to hang out and shoot hoops with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters when I was 10 years old.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Video: http://www.pbs.org/video/2365762197/
Website: www.lawaynechildrey.com
Facebook: Lawayne Orlando Childrey and Lawayne Childrey, Author,
Twitter: @LChildrey
Instagram: lawaynechildrey

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Creating a Solid Foundation in a Volatile Industry


The writing industry has been feeling some shakeups as of late – from companies closing their doors to cutbacks to one side declaring the other “an insult to the written word.” It has not been pretty out there. Even local writing conferences and author events have been announcing cutbacks or a complete “no show” for 2017.

During these times of change, the Mountain Valley Writers are determined to help you develop the tools you need to build your writing success.

Setting the Foundation for Writing Success

    1. Get your own real estate. Social Media can be valuable for engaging with others, but it is not a solid foundation. The site controls the rules and can change them at any time – not good for you if that means that you get blocked or locked out from using a tool that was working. Set up a website you control and also begin building your own email list. It might be interesting to also have a snail mail list – because who doesn’t still enjoy getting fun things in the mail.

    2. ALWAYS read the fine print. Know your rights and know how to execute your rights. Keep a copy of your rights with your files so they are easy to access. It might be a good idea to highlight your rights so that you can find them with ease when scanning the pages (those contracts can be LONG and very wordy). The more educated you are about what rights you have the easier it becomes to stand up for them.

    3. Never expect someone else to be your answer or your source. They can be a tool in your journey to success, but you hold your answer. If you know that you hold your answer then you will not be as devastated when they disappoint.

    4. Two words – due diligence. It is up to you to find out what, who, or how. I queried an “agent” once and she responded with a quick affirmative about my WIP. Something in her wording, or maybe her response time, made me curious. I invested some time to learn more about her and her agency. It became apparent that she was out to get money for fees – reading, editing, even promotional – and not out to build a relationship with clients. I passed on her offer. It wasn’t up to her to tell me what was the normal and customary way of doing business. The responsibility for my journey is mine. Research as much as you can, and when you have exhausted all those outlets ask others.

    5. Be wary but willing. The writing industry can be a tough battlefield. Instant information and publishing opportunities served only to increase the intensity. It also has made it easier to create a trap for unsuspecting authors. Step out there, but stay alert as to where you are stepping and why you are stepping.

    6. Ask the expert. Take paperwork to a lawyer BEFORE you sign – preferably one experienced in the publishing industry. Things happen and you want to be sure you are covered if things happen. “In the event agent/company goes out of business, all rights revert back to author.” Have the lawyer insure that your rights will remain yours.

There are no guarantees – but if you invest your own efforts then you can create a foundation for you and your words that will protect you when things do come up.

How do you set a solid foundation for your writing protection? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Get your tickets for #MVVWC 2017 by clicking the link below

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Elevating Mind Power – Denise Oatley Hall in the Spotlight for #MVWC

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Denise Oatley Hall

Denise Oatley Hall here. The first thing you should know about me, is I am a combination of artist, scientist, goofball and dreamer. When I was a kid, we lived on a lake. I wanted to build a submarine (no kidding) and paint it with wild colors before I launched it. In junior high, I found out I could make people laugh. (Much to the dismay of my teachers.) No surprise then that I became a professional clown and a children’s entertainer for many years. I am also passionate about going for the gusto in life and helping other people to do the same. Becoming a hypnotist gave me understanding and powerful tools to not only help people create lasting change but also experience belly- busting laughter. These days, I use most of these experiences (no pies in the face) to create one-of-a-kind keynote presentations, shows, retreats and write. Life is good. Oh, and my favorite food is a hot dog.

Denise lives in sunny Safety Harbor, Florida with her dog Sophie.

Denise joins the Mountain Valley Writers Conference to share her secrets of mind power and how to make the most of your subconscious to reach your defined success.

Want to create breakthroughs on demand? Say yes! Your actions are fueled by your beliefs whether positive or negative. Denise’s presentation will show you how to interrupt worn out, ineffective beliefs and replace them with powerful, effective beliefs to achieve your goals. In a fusion of comedy and science, you will hear and see how quickly you can make this can happen in any area of your life.

Power Up Your Mind

    Take away:
    Boost confidence and belief in self and goals
    Breakthrough negative thinking and reset mind
    Increase confidence in self and goals

More about the Speaker

Favorite book: I don’t know how anyone can have one favorite book. But I love Little Women. I read it yearly and love it dearly.

Favorite Quote: Favorite quote? I have so many…but here is one I am fond of. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but building the new.” Socrates

One thing I want people to know about me. I am extremely playful and I love to make other people laugh.

Random fun facts: My friends call me Pioneer Woman – ask me why.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Website: Denis Oatley Hall
Facebook: ChoosePassion

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Make Money Writing – Cindy M Jones in the Speaker Spotlight for #MVWC

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Cindy M. Jones

Cindy M. Jones is a writer and consultant specializing in content provision, social media management and marketing for real estate, tourism, and author promotion. Her mission is guiding writers in discovering their goals and unique voice while giving them the tools they need to succeed.

She has appeared in publications such as; The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, The Christian Post, The Writer’s Den, Inspire a Fire, Birmingham Magazine, Birmingham Parent, Birmingham Business Journal and RootsRated. She has founded and facilitated creative writing groups throughout Alabama and Mississippi for all ages.

Cindy enjoys discovering treasures along the Alabama Coastline with her one true love, Bryan, and spending time with their three grown children.

You can make money writing, and Cindy joins the Mountain Valley Writers Conference with the task of providing the tools for creating a living wage providing content. She will challenge attendees to take their words to the next level. Whether you are a blogger, a novelist, or a non-fiction specialist, developing new income avenues and learning new paths to make money writing will give your a stronger foundation for the journey

    Make a Living Writing Content

    Top Points:
    You’ll learn how to:
    Develop a content provision niche
    Find new material
    Approach potential clients
    Market and brand yourself while staying organized.

More about the Speaker

Favorite book: The Bible, I just can’t seem to put it down.

Favorite Quotes: “Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have.” ~ Arthur Ashe

“Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” ~ Zech 4:10

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Random Fun Fact: Inspired by an mysterious encounter nearly 30 years ago, I’m a tea fanatic and owl trinket collector.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

website: Cindy M Jones
Facebook: CindyJonesWrites
Twitter: @ceajones
Pinterest: Cindy M. Jones
Instagram: Cindy M. Jones

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Speaker Spotlight with Williesha Morris at the Mountain Valley Writers Conference

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

Williesha Morris

With a journalism degree under her belt, Williesha Morris embraces emerging technology and focuses on freelance writing and blogging for both offline and online publications. Her blog, My Freelance Life, was awarded as one of the top blogs for writers in 2015 by The Write Life.com. She’s written for the Huffington Post, XO Jane, Brazen Careerist, Al.com and Birmingham Magazine.

Williesha built a success blog and will bring some of her experiences in the journey to you. Her session: Freelance, Blogging, and Money – Oh, My will provide the tools for developing an income with words.

    • Blogging is still a profitable way of getting your name out there
    • Only requires expertise, not necessarily writing ability (but that helps!)
    • Resources for finding paying gigs that will establish your credibility
    • Queries for several websites that were successful in landing over $1,000

More about the Speaker

Favorite Book: March trilogy by John Lewis because it presented in a beautiful form what the civil rights movement looked like from the inside.

Favorite Quote:”Sometimes we expect more from others, because we would be willing to do that much for them.” – Unknown – Reminds me that sometimes my heart can be too big, but I’d rather err on the side of love.

One thing you want people to know about you: Spent a summer in Australia and interned for the Olympic Committee in Sydney.

Random fun fact: Superhero shows are my weakness.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Websites:
My Freelance Life
Nerdy Thirty Something

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Mountain Valley Writers Conference – Speaker Highlight – William Thornton

The Mountain Valley Writers Conference will feature speakers and presentations that will help provide the tools to writers that are working in the industry or those writers that are seeking to build their own platform for writing success.

Speaker Highlight

William Thornton

William Thornton is the author of “Set Your Fields on Fire,” which won the 2015 Aspiring Author Contest with WestBow Press and the Parable Group. His comic Christian novel is distributed by HarperCollins. He is a native of Gadsden, Alabama and an award-winning reporter with the Alabama Media Group and AL.com. He has been in journalism for 28 years, with his work appearing in The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, the (Mobile) Press-Register, The Tuscaloosa News and The Gadsden Times, along with national publications. His previous novels are “Brilliant Disguises” and “The Uncanny Valley.”
He lives in Southside, Alabama with his wife Donna and daughter Sophie.

He writes on classic and contemporary literature, music, movies and pop culture.

Here’s a link to the first chapter of “Set Your Fields on Fire.”

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

William will be joining the Mountain Valley Writers Conference as a session leader. He has been learning the ropes of self-promotion and will share all his secrets and special tips for how to market your book without losing all your friends.

Learning Self-Promotion (without Ending up Friendless): You’ve written a book! (or you want to write a book! Or maybe not?) You mean to change the world, one blessed word at a time! But yet, how will they know? You hear about social media, but you’re not at all sure about this whole thing. Does it involve words? Then again, you like the Interwebs, but how much is too much? How can I break the cycle of cat videos, political memes, and get them reading? And what about other media? Does anyone care? Make them!

More about the Speaker

Favorite book: It changes periodically, but always seems to swing back to “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Proves a great book doesn’t have to be long to be important, can be funny but serious, can be lyrical and still tell a story.

Favorite quote: E.L. Doctorow on writing: “It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

One thing to know: It was working as a reporter that convinced Bill he could write a novel. A reporter on a beat can easily turn out two pages a day. Keep that pace up for three months, and you’ve got the first draft of a book.

Fun fact: Because Bill made (what he thought was) an innocuous comment about a 40-year-old movie, the actor William Shatner blocked him on Twitter.

Where to Connect with the Speaker

Website: Brilliant Disguises

Twitter: @billineastala

Facebook: william.thornton.56

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