Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mt. Hermon recap

Captain’s Log, Stardate 03.24.2005

Got back from Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference on Tuesday afternoon. My friend Sharon Hinck and her daughter stayed overnight with us and left on Wednesday. It was wonderful to spend time with her, although we were both so tired from the conference that we just smiled and yawned at each other.

The conference was terrific. I learned a lot spiritually more than anything else. God had to remind me again to give up my control-freak tendencies and remember that my success or failure is all in His hands, by His will, in His timing. I also was reminded that this is a CHRONIC problem with me. He can be so gentle even in a rebuke.

God has a grand sense of humor. I hadn’t specified anyone for a roommate, I figured I’d just go with whoever I got matched with. Lori Kincaid is one of the nicest and funniest people on the planet. She and I hit it off. We’re both fiction writers, from California, and almost the same age. We were loud and obnoxious--or at least we giggled a lot--in the Fiction track with T. Davis Bunn, but he has a good sense of humor and didn’t get too upset.

The Fiction track was good, Davis had several tips and tricks I hadn’t heard before. He’s very knowledgeable about writing fiction, but I already knew a lot of what he talked about, so some of the time was a bit boring for me. I think next year, I will take the mentoring track. There is also a mentoring conference in November. Lori is thinking of going, so it would be lots of fun if I can go, too.

I met up with Charise Olson there, too, and she formed the third part of our loud-and-obnoxious group in the Fiction track. It was terrific to talk with her about our writing and hear how things went for her.

I was immensely flattered because Jeff Dunn from RiverOak Publishing remembered me when I bumped into him at breakfast on Saturday. He wanted to talk to me and we set up a meeting.

Jeff also talked to Rachelle Gardner from NavPress about me and told me to see her, which just made my day. I had spent a couple days worrying about the market fit for my manuscript and pitching but getting several “No, thanks.” Then Kelli Standish reminded me that it’s all in God’s hands, stop stressing about my career and my manuscript, that I don’t need to pitch at all. So I sat at Rachelle Gardner’s table that lunch and didn’t really pitch my manuscripts.

“Hi Rachelle, Jeff Dunn told me to talk to you.”

“Oh, okay.”

Hmm, not an encouraging opening.

“So what do you write?”

“Oh, I wrote a Chicklit with an Asian heroine, and a romantic suspense, that’s got an Asian protagonist, too.”

“Sounds great.” She fumbled in her bag, then handed me her card. “Send them both to me.”

I was so shocked I just gaped at her, while Charise, who sat next to me, was kicking me under the table to make me say something.

When I met with Jeff Dunn, he was interested in my suspense even when I told him it was more entertainment than deep spiritual lessons. He said that RiverOak wants to publish several plot-driven stories (as opposed to character-driven stories) each year. I’m to send him the manuscript.

I had sent the first chapter of my suspense “Furious Dragon” to Karen Ball at Zondervan and Christopher Soderstrom at Bethany. Karen had some positive things to say, but she thought I gave too much away. I guess the story didn’t stand out, at least for her.

Christopher, the darling man, was so cute, he wrote on the evaluation form: “I am Curious Dragon. Can I see the manuscript?” It was nice to know he remembered me from last year, too. However, he scheduled me right before the editor’s panel by accident, and stood me up. I sat at his table at dinner with Sharon and Kaetie, who both know him through his wife. We ribbed him a bit, but I got a chance to talk to him after dinner.

I was honest with him and said I couldn’t really see the CBA being ready for a Silhouette-Bombshell-type suspense, not until the romantic suspense genre became more popular and established, like Harlequin’s Intrigue line. I pinned him down and flat-out asked him if he thought I should send the manuscript in now, or wait for a while, and he asked what I wanted to do. When I mentioned I still need to put the manuscript through a final critique and revision (neglecting to mention I also need to finish that last chapter or two, sorry for the fib, Chris, if you’re reading this!), he said it would be fine to send the manuscript after that was done. He was also honest and said he’d check around the publishing house, ask people’s opinion on if there was a fit for this type of story in the market.

I mentioned my Hawaii Chicklit/suspense, and he first talked about how Bethany hasn’t had a Hawaii-set story in about seven years, but in the next breath he talked about how it didn’t sell very well seven years ago. !!! However, when I asked if I could send him my Chicklit/suspense when it was done in a few months, he said sure.

To be honest, I think if I were to brand myself with a certain type of writing, I’d rather write funny suspense/action rather than serious suspense/action. So I have mixed feelings about sending the suspense to the publishing houses. But I guess it’s all in God’s hands, and Sharon mentioned that the suspense might put my name out there in a positive way so people would recognize me when the Chicklit/suspense arrived on their desks.

One thing I learned this year is that I’m interviewing the editors as much as they’re listening to my pitch. I need to get to know them, to see who I would like working with. That was such a revelation to me, such a different way of thinking.

I acted like a junior higher and stayed up late talking with friends. One night, Meredith Efken, Lori and I stayed up until 3am chatting in the coffee lounge. Two nights later, Meredith, Lori, Charise and I stayed up until 2am in the coffee lounge with Steve Laube and his posse. That was fun--Steve has the funniest stories. We were also congratulating my friend Laura Jensen Walker for winning the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter award.

After we quit the coffee lounge, Charise went back to our room to use the restroom, and we ended up talking (or rather, whispering so we wouldn’t wake our next door neighbors) for another half hour. It was raining cats and dogs outside, so she wasn’t really in a hurry to leave. We were cracking each other up but trying not to make noise, my stomach hurt like crazy. Lori left the room to use the bathroom, and then the power cut out. We found out later that a tree fell on a power line. The emergency generators kicked in, but we still didn’t have power in our dorm. Poor Lori had to find her way back to the room in pitch blackness--she almost headslammed into a wall. Charise ended up calling in the power outage and managed to get home okay.

Summary of Mt. Hermon experience: Boy am I tired.

Writing: I need to revise the first half of my suspense and get it to my critique “team.” Then I will finish the last few chapters, revise the last half and send it to be ripped to shreds (just kidding, girls). THEN I will send it to my agent, whom I forgot to tell I was going to Mt. Hermon (bad Camy, bad Camy), and ask him to send it to the editors who requested it, as well as other houses who might be interested. Then I will start work on both the Chicklit novella for the anthology and my Hawaii Chicklit/suspense. I will be super busy for the next few months, that’s for sure.

Diet: I actually ran on Saturday morning, about half an hour. But I ate rather poorly the last few days (including today), poorly as in “I want to stop eating but I can’t close my mouth.”

5 comments :

  1. look at you and all your requests girly girl! sounds like you had a blast! I'm glad.

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  2. (((((((((Camy))))))))) I am sooo proud of you girlfriend. I was dying of curiosity all week. You, uh, probably guessed that from my numerous messages, huh? (blushing). I apologize. :0)
    Praying for you.

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  5. Sorry, I probably don't need to say anymore, do I?

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