This was a hectic kind of month for me. Within two weeks, I had a book release (Returning to Amanda), a birthday, and I attended a five-day writers’ conference. All went well, although the conference was pretty chaotic, trying to listen to all the speakers and attend the Zoom meetings.
With us South Africans being six hours ahead of the conference timing, it took some juggling, aggravated by the fact that we have what is called loadshedding as an ongoing nightmare in our country at the moment. Several times each day, our towns get plunged into darkness for 2.5-hour stretches on a rolling schedule. Four of us; Deryn van der Tang, Val Waldeck, Allyson Koekhoven, and myself, attended the conference zoom meetings, but all had load shedding at different times during each day.
Anyway, we made it. It is so great sharing the experience together as a group of friends (who basically have never met in real life). We all belong to the Christian Writers of Southern Africa FaceBook group (A.K.A, CWOSA), despite one of our members having moved to Washington DC. We don’t ever have functions such as this in S.Africa, so we knuckled down and learned all we could. The fun thing with the Zoom calls was that we could rearrange our seating arrangements so we sat in a row of four together. Fun!
Introducing Allyson Koekhoven
I thought I’d ask those that attended and participated with me, how they enjoyed it, and the most important lessons they learned. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Allyson Koekhoven who lives in a suburb on the outskirts of our holiday mecca of Durban on the South Coast.
SC: Hi Allyson! Welcome to my home on the web. It was great spending time together albeit online, and being challenged in so many areas. What are the biggest areas that grabbed your attention?
AK: That I could stop worrying about how many people I have on my mailing list and just get the newsletter written and sent out.
Another takeaway for me was that collaboration with other Christian writers comes in many forms and we need to stop seeing one another as competitors and tune into how we can help one another.
Finally, it is so important to listen to God when He speaks to you and guides you. The answers are available – but you need to ask God for his guidance.
SC: I love all three of those, Allyson. Re the number on my mailing list, I was excited to learn there were so many other methods of reaching out to people than I had first known. I have always seen collaboration as important, but I had never seen the huge number of different possibilities, so that was also exciting. And then yes, I loved the idea of setting a monthly business meeting with my CEO (God) and listening to Him! I really like the idea of having a CEO in charge of my writing!
SC: So have you had any thoughts yet of how you will put these ideas into action?
AK: I’m putting together my first newsletter and will send it out in the next few weeks.
SC: Great! I’m looking forward to receiving it. Please make sure I’m on your subscriber list! The overall theme of the conference was collaboration. Do you have any plans for further collaboration with other writers?
AK: Yes, perhaps not in collaborative writing, but certainly as sounding boards and to help share via blogs, newsletters and social media.
SC: That sounds good. I know you’ve just published your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about it?
AK: Sure. In Under Construction, Adine du Toit’s comfortable life is thrown into turmoil, creating a weighty problem that could force her to choose between the two loves of her life. Her new boss at Imperium Construction seems determined to make her life miserable. An unwanted visit from a family member makes her question long-held beliefs. Old friendships are threatened; new friendships tested. Will Adine be chased by shadows forever?
SC: And as an ARC reader of this novel, I can vouch for it as a really fun light-hearted story that gave me a number of laugh-aloud moments! Did you find you needed others to collaborate in publishing it?
AK: A friend and writing colleague, Anna Jensen, helped me to set up my author website, guided me in recruiting a book launch team, provided invaluable guidance in terms of the entire publishing process, and did the layout for the book. Chérie Kleynhans designed my book’s cover. So yes, it certainly was a team effort.
Allyson, What Future Plans Do You Have?
SC: Do you have plans for your next book?
AK: I’m starting a series of cosy mysteries, with Adine du Toit as the main character. She will be joined by some of the characters from Under Construction. The Adine Investigates series will focus on murders and mishaps that occur on the KZN (KwaZulu-Natal) South Coast, with a specific emphasis on (but not limited to) the construction sector.
SC: That sounds such fun, Allyson. I look forward to the next book . . . books! Thank you for this short chat, Allyson. Finally, how can we pray for you?
AK: I would love to get divine guidance on the plot of my next book.
SC: Great stuff! So you need to meet up with your CEO right? I do hope I have the opportunity to receive an ARC of your next book too!
If any of you wish to know more about Allyson, visit her home on the web here: www.allysonkoekhoven-writes.com
It was such an amazing experience that we could attend the conference together, so we are all on the same page with collaboration efforts. A huge priviledge to support one another on our publishing journeys. I was also an ARC reader of Allyson ‘s book Under Construction. For anyone wanting relief from the stress of everyday, this is a sure fire cure to make you laugh, and find out you are not so badly off after all!
Deryn, thanks for visiting. Yes, the whole conference experience was great, but made doubly so by having four of us together.