I promised you my funny story from the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference . . . here it comes.

First, let me say that the conference was wonderful. Marlene Bagnull outdid herself, as usual, and Nancy Rue and I taught TWO Nangie clinics: a 101 class and a 303 class. Both groups had some very talented writers and we all had a great time learning from each other.

While we were having our conference at the Estes Park YMCA campground (lovely!), we were sharing the facilities with a group from Habitat for Humanity. (And this story is not meant to reflect badly on them. They do great work.)

Anyway, we shared the dining facility with 700 other people, most of them middle schoolers. No further comment needed.

So Friday Nancy and I trot down to the much quieter cafe to grab a sandwich. Nancy slips away to powder her nose while I hold our place in line. A family in front of me–two husbands and two wives who look like parents and daughter/hubby, are chatting when the older woman suddenly turns to me, glances at my name tag, and deduces that I am with the Christian writers’ group.

“Oh,” she says to me, very matter-of-fact, “you’re with the Christian writers.”

I nod.

“What is that, exactly–a class in computer generation?”

I blink at her. “Excuse me?” I search through my mental files, wondering if someone is teaching a class on Christian computer programming or something.

“Well,” she says, even more matter-of-factly, “it’s a genre, you know.”

I gaze at her even more blankly. “A genre?”

“Yes, Christian fiction is a genre.”

“Well,” I say, “yes, it is, but it has many genres within it. We have mystery, romance, suspense, military, thrillers, historicals–“

At this point she dismisses me with a glance and turns to her daughter. “I know all about it,” she says. “A friend of mine used to be an editor for Harlequin. There are templates, you see, and they pass them out so writers can just fill in the blanks.”

Not sure whether I should laugh or cry, I turn away and wail, “Nancy?”

LOL! At lunch the next day, I tell what has now come to be known as the “template story” to Dave Lambert, Nancy, and Kathy Mackel.

“Ah,” Dave says, “what you don’t know is that I have the template. And I’ll be auctioning it off a little later . . .”

How could anyone believe that nearly 300 people would gather to learn how to fill in the blanks? 🙂 ROFLOL!

If only it were that easy.



  1. Kay

    I want one of those templates, please. ASAP

    I can believe that Harlequin uses them, though!

  2. Karen

    Angie, you recently answered some questions for me in an e-mail. I have to tell your other blogfans about this particular exchange: Q. “Do you prefer any particular genre?” A. I like all genres, but probably prefer woemen’s fiction and speculative fiction. I’m driven to write about things I’m learning, or to attempt new literary experiments, such as extended metaphor. (Here’s the clincher) I’m too easily bored to write the same formula over and over again.” I guess we can assume you didn’t bid on the template!

  3. Angela

    That’s right, Karen–good thing I didn’t confess to using a “template”!

    And Harlequin doesn’t use templates, because I write for them, too. (Steeple Hill, publisher of THE ELEVATOR, is a division of Harlequin.)

    Honestly, I don’t know where that woman’s perception came from! That was a first for me! 🙂


  4. Kay

    LOL! I was tongue in cheek and thinking of those romances I used to read when I was a teenager. They seemed like the same story with different names put in.

    But in case you decide to go the easy route, here you go: http://rinkworks.com/crazylibs/

  5. Pam Meyers

    ROFL! The story is still funny to me, even though I already heard it from you during Nangie 03 last week.

    Thanks again, Angie, for the wonderful clinic. Now that I’m out of my post-conference coma I intend to get right to work on my skeleton. Figures a woman who writes about funeral homes would have a writing method called a skeleton. Just kidding. 🙂


  6. Anonymous

    As someone who has been in publishing since 1989, I have never heard of a template, it really had me LOLROF (and I rarely use that whole letter thing).

  7. Cindy

    Wow…if there was a template, that would make things so easy! 🙂

    Seriously, with all due respect, I think Grace Livingston Hill had a template….:)

  8. Suzanne

    Wow, a template? Where can I get one of those? It is like the Staples easy button?

  9. Erica Vetsch

    The Christian Fiction Template. Found right next to the MadLib books. 🙂

  10. tonya

    Dear Angie,
    I was at CCWC this weekend. Your closing talk really spoke to my heart. When you kept repeating how you went to the library and would check out a book to learn what you needed. I also do this. My family thinks I am nuts, not anymore! I am just starting out, but your encouraging words really blessed my heart. I would send you card with one of my pictures, but I didn’t have an actual email or address. I would love to send you a “real” thank you card.
    Again thanks for your time and all your knowledge.
    Tonya Vander
    PS, I tried to post this on your website, but with not luck.

  11. Deena

    Have you ever read a novel by one of those imprints?? You can feel “Template” in the writing…it is an insult in many ways…both for the writer AND the reader…but I won’t go there…


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