Saturday, September 29, 2007

Back From Writing Conference, Part I

Goodness, what a whirlwind of activity. The ACFW conference was great, as usual. The organization gets better each year. Next year's conference is going to be in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I can't wait. I've never been to Minnesota before. I'll get to add another state to my list of "been there" states. And if Elaine goes with me and we use the conference as the jumping off point to our yearly vacation, I might even get to add Michigan to my list.

I left home on Wednesday, a little disappointed that we had not gotten word from The Wild Rose Press about our novel, First I'm Nobody. I'd been checking a couple of times daily for word as to acceptance or rejection. I wanted to be able to see people and tell them that I had another contracted book. It's been five years after all. Sigh. All I could tell them was we were waiting for news, but that Elaine had a contract for her Sonora from the same company.

I was so nervous about the agent and editor appointments I had looming in front of me. Even up to the minute I walked down that long, long hallway to the Pecan room, I started to back out. But I pushed my feet ahead, swallowed my fear, and smiled as I walked up to the agent. She was friendly and demanded a hug instead of a handshake - "I'm Italian." That put me at ease at once.

She asked for my one-sheet - I didn't have one. Because I didn't know who I would be seeing I wasn't sure which book to pitch, one of mine or one of ours. After I got my appointment assignments on Thursday, I had to sort of work up a pitch. Since I had gotten an editor appointment with Zondervan, I decided to pitch Alaskan Knights. But I didn't have a way to work up a one-sheet at the hotel.

She then asked me for a business card - gulp, I'd left them in my car. I promised to retrieve one and get it to her. I did, the next day on my way to the editor appointment. But, I pitched the book anyway. Alaskan Knights is a romance with bits of suspense in it. She read my name tag and it indicated that I wrote romantic suspense, which is what I'm writing now, but that book was written with Love Inspired in mind. The agent said Alaskan Knights sounded more like women's fiction, and I agreed. It is.

She liked the idea behind it and asked that Elaine and I send her a proposal. I left feeling better. Whether or not the editor liked it, someone did. I just have to tweak it and get it sent off to her.

The next morning I met with the Zondervan editor. I knew it wasn't going to go well as soon as I walked into the room. Oh, she was friendly enough, but she made me wait over five minutes while she and the woman before me continued their discussion. Then when I got seated and launched into my pitch, she told me about a minute into it that we couldn't do what we had already done in 100,000 words. We should divide the story into two books of 80,000 each. I didn't bother trying to convince her, her mind was already made up. I listened politely and left after about five minutes.

Oh well, that's the publishing business. The right person at the right time with an open mind. Elaine and I have always been ahead of our time. Things editors have said aren't and shouldn't be done when we approached them with an idea out of the box are now being printed and sold.

But, I had the agent's interest, and that was enough for me. I sat through the awards ceremony on Saturday night happy for the finalists and winners, especially Kim Vogel Sawyer because we've become friends over the years I've been going to conferences, but I wished one of my books had been at least entered into the contest. I'm too recently published for consideration in the Genesis contest, and too long past publication to be considered in the Book of the Year contest. There is no place for the middle-of-the-roaders like me.

So the conference ended. I had met face to face with four of the other Naner group members. That was a highlight of the conference for me. I had gotten hugs from friends I'd met at other conferences. I made some new friends that I'll look forward to seeing next year. The conference was a success just for those reasons, but to come home with the possibility of getting agent representation again was icing on my cake.

After the conference I drove on up to Denton to work a couple of days with Elaine on a new project we started last October - a cozy mystery. Meet me here later for part two of my story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off I Go To The ACFW Conference

My clothes are clean, though not packed, my lists of assignments that I volunteered for are printed, my schedule is printed, and I'm off on Wednesday evening to travel to Dallas for the 2007 ACFW Conference.

Thursday morning, bright and early, my friend will give me a wake-up call, and I'll drive in to the Marriott for the Early Bird Conference. I can't wait.

People I haven't seen in a year will be there, and new friends await my meeting them. My Naner Banana hat is ready and waiting to go, now I just have to find my camera so I can get a picture of me wearing it.

So, I'll be away from my computer once more. Meet me back here in about a week, and I'll let you know how the conference turned out. See you then.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Facing Your Fear

Fear is a terrible thing. Facing your fears is more so. I've found that as confident as I am in many ways now, I'm still harboring deep-seated fears of rejection.

Bad thing, rejection, for a person to have, but when you're a writer it's the worst. You'd think I'd have gotten over it by now, but I haven't. It's easy to tell a new writer that rejections are not personal. How do you make them believe it when you don't yourself?

I've gotten accustomed to it through the mail, and it's not so bad through email, but that face to face rejection is still a slap in the face. At my first ACFW conference, I had an appointment with an editor. I was attending the conference alone. I shook in my boots, my mouth was dry, and I could hardly speak coherently, but she agreed to accept a proposal for a book my writing partner and I had completed. Nice.

Then I had an appointment with an agent. Same physical symptoms. I walked into the room. The agent greeted me and asked if I had been published. I said yes and pulled out a copy of our book, Her Home or Her Heart. The agent looked at the cover, smiled and said, "I've read this. I loved it." I walked out of the 15 minute interview with a request for us to send her everything we'd written. We received an offer to represent us. Score! Not bad for a first time attendee.

That was five years ago. The agent, though a very nice woman, did nothing for us. We sold nothing else. After three years, our agent sent us an email and dropped us. Rejection again. We are back on our own again.

Things are looking up a little. Elaine has just signed a contract for her third novel, Sonora. We are waiting word on acceptance or denial from the same company for another of our novels. Prayers are going up all over for a positive acceptance for First I'm Nobody. Waiting is hard.

In three days, I head for Dallas and the 2007 ACFW conference. I'm scheduled for an interview with an editor and an agent. Everything within me wants to cancel both. I'm the shy one; Elaine is the confident one. Elaine doesn't do conferences. A waste of her time and money, she says. I understand her feelings, but I get so much out of conferences. It's not necessarily the workshops that I pick up techniques from, but it's the people I meet at them that are valuable.

Is God trying to give me more confidence by giving me these opportunities in spite of my fears? Or am I supposed to cancel my meetings? At this moment I don't even know what I'm supposed to pitch. Do I pitch First I'm Nobody to the agent and something else to the editor? Or do I pitch one of the other of the novels we've finished with? Or do I pitch something of my own? I don't know. Is my fear something Satan is sending to me, trying to make me fail? Or is God telling me to wait? God needs to send me a sign so I'll know. And I need that sign quickly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On The Road Again

I feel like I've been in the car the whole month of September. I took off with my niece for Oklahoma City on Thursday before Labor Day. I returned home on Tuesday after Labor Day. I got to stay home a whole 48 hours before taking off again for a quilt retreat.

The retreat was a blast. I got chosen as Queen of the Afternoon for Saturday - have the crown and scepter to prove it. My wonderful friend and quilt buddy was in charge of this September's retreat, and she did an absolutely fantastic job of planning to ensure that each of us felt special.

We added an extra day to the retreat, so I got to quilt all day on Friday and Saturday and half the day on Sunday. They do make us leave by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday - boo hoo. One comment I overheard as we were packing our cars, "I feel like I'm at a reunion - I don't want to leave." Amen, sister.

I had an agenda for the retreat. I had to plan, create, construct, quilt and bind a wall hanging. I made my goal. I have the wall hanging I promised to donate to the ACFW writer's conference I'm attending this coming Thursday - Sunday. We're having a silent auction to raise funds for scholarships to next year's conference. I just have to add a couple of rings so the winner will be able to hang it on the wall. My friend, Diane, added a bit of embroidery to my wall hanging and it looks wonderful. Thanks Diane!

The embroidery wasn't free, though. Diane exacted the promise of a wall hanging for November's silent auction for a Christian women's group she belongs to. So after the writing conference it's back to the sewing machine I go. Such a chore - to have to quilt. lol

I spent from Monday through tonight going to meetings and running errands for myself and my aunt and cousin. I'm ready for another break. So it's on the road again I go next Wednesday. But in the meantime there's all this laundry to get done so I'll have something clean to wear at the conference.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Life is frustrating - all the time! I spent a long holiday weekend with my nephew's family while he and his wife took a short, ten-year anniversary honeymoon. They have three wonderful children. All equally bright and each completely individual.

Sam's sisters, Susanne and Summer, took me with them while they "baby-sat" for their brother. The weekend was nice and the kids fun, though exhausting. They range from 14 to 5. But they, nor the visit, is the frustration I'm referring to - it is the return to reality that's frustrating.

About an hour and a half from home, I got a phone call from my mother. My aunt's daughter had been taken to the emergency room and my aunt needed a ride to go to her. I'm 90 miles away, what am I supposed to do? They had been calling around to try to get a ride but had not been successful. I told them I'd be home as soon as possible.

About 40 minutes from home, I called to check. My aunt's daughter-in-law had responded and taken her to the hospital. My niece, Summer, and I decided to stop for dinner in that case. We'd only been back on the road about 10 minutes when my sister called checking to see if it was okay for her to use my car to take my cousin home when she arrived from the hospital with her mother via taxi. She apparently couldn't wait for anyone to drive over to get her, so they were taking a $40.00 taxi ride from town to my house.

We arrived before my cousin and my aunt, so I ended up driving her home myself. My sister needed my car because she drives a tall truck and my aunt and cousin couldn't maneuver themselves into it.

So with that situation settled at midnight, I got online and went through over 500 email messages. At 2:30 a.m. I finished and started to go to bed only to realize that my cell phone was dying and my charger unit was still in my niece's car, locked, and she was asleep with the key to the car in her possession. Not wanting to waken her, I decided to take my cell phone for a drive to charge it up so my mother could call me if she needed something while I slept.

Thirty minutes later I returned home and climbed into bed. Turning on the VCR I started watching Eureka, which I had taped earlier. After falling asleep and waking and rewinding the tape three times, I decided to forget it and go on to sleep.

New day, multiple phone calls to distrub my sleep, and I finally wake up around noon. Good thing I'm retired isn't it? Got up to start critiquing the things for tonight's critique group. Sat down in my chair and plop, down it went. The pneumatic unit has finally bit the dust. It's been a good chair - I've had it about 4 or 5 years. But now the search begins for another to take its place. I hate shopping!

Then along the way my Internet Explorer decides it's time for an update and refuses to allow me to access my Hotmail account without it. It took about an hour to update because my computer kept freezing, and I'd have to shut down and restart. So now my arms are aching because of the low height of my chair, and it's time to get ready for critique group, and I just want to go away again where things were more simple and my real life ceased to exist.

Life is so frustrating.