Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Conference Fun!

Note to any writer who wants to be published:

(Pictured to the right is Marlene Bagnull, the Director of the conference, with me.)

I'll get back to that statement in a bit, but first let me tell you about it from the beginning...

I drove from Morganton, NC to Philadelphia, PA in order to attend the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Even though it was supposed to be a 9 1/2 hour drive...I got there in 13 hours. Leaving at 2:30 AM seemed smart. How was I to know that I would somehow find myself in Trenton, NJ? What's really funny is that the only other person that I heard of getting lost and landing in Trenton was also from NC. Must be a Southern blonde thing. (Even if I am Californian by birth. LOL) But you know what? It was worth it. Every mile.

So, I got to the Radisson, finally, and went up to my room to meet Bonnie face to face for the very first time. PRAISE GOD! She was there! She also had a bit of trouble finding the hotel. Philly is not user friendly.

I had waited to eat lunch, not expecting to get lost for three hours. Bonnie and I were planning on getting a Philly Cheesesteak, I didn't want to spoil my appetite. Unfortunately, I was so late that we had to rush off to a Welcome meeting. Then there was a practice your pitch meeting with Kathy Mackel (author of some great Christian Fiction, including THE HIDDEN). So, here we are in a room full of nervous first timers, waiting to speak in front of everyone...and it is around 6:00PM. I'm hypoglycemic. Me and food do not go well without each other. My sugar drops, I start to shake and sweat...real cute in front of a crowd. But Kathy was great. She understood my ordeal and let me go 2nd...Bonnie 3rd...and we rushed down to the hotel restaurant to eat our fill. Many other conferees met us down there. We were all hungry!

We went to sleep quickly and woke up early the next morning, eating breakfast in our room (remember the cheese muffins, Bonnie? YUM!) and headed off to the car to drive to the Philly Biblical University. Ha ha ha. Remember what I said about Philly? Yeah. We got lost, along with our new NC blonde friend who had gotten lost the night before too. We ended up asking some police officers where the college was. We were NOT the only ones. EVERYONE I spoke to had gotten lost going to PBU from the hotel. Maybe I'm not as blonde as I think?

We had a great chapel service and then went to our first class. Bonnie and I took 'Story Structure for Novelists' given by Kathy Mackel. (This was an ongoing session which lasted the whole three days.) Man, she is good! I'll have to do a post about just that class alone! Whew!

Well, just before I had a meeting with an agent, Kathy went over our LOG Lines. What's a LOG Line? It is like a short advertisement about your book. Anyway, while practicing, Kathy said that I needed to say what my title, F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Be Careful What You Wish For meant when telling about my book. She loved the acronym.

So, off I went to meet with Bill Jensen, Literary Agent. He was great. I felt so at ease talking with him. Turns out that he is from Oregon and understands the setting of my book really well. Those who know Santa Cruz, California can say that anything and everything crazy can happen there. He enjoyed my tongue and cheek title too. I felt like I was speaking to an old friend. We laughed and told each other stories about fairies. I've sent him my manuscript, so...we'll see what happens. God's timing. Not mine.

Bill also taught two of the classes I attended, 'It Takes More than a Good Book' and 'The Role of Agents'. The agents class was the most informative. If I had only been able to attend two classes, it would have been the agents class and Kathy's. I'll probably do a post for the agents class too. Way too much info to give out on this post!

Later that day I met one-on-one with Bryan Davis, author of the Dragons in Our Midst YA Fantasy series. He liked my writing but had a problem with my protag being too bratty. He was right and it was an easy fix. I'm thankful for his honesty...even if I resented it at first. I was able to get him to sign his forth book for my sons...they were really excited when I got home. I also took 'Writing Out of this World Fantasy' by Bryan Davis. He taught it well, using LOTR as a guide.

Okay, I promised to explain why authors need to attend conferences...well, there was a panel of editors and agents and they explained the acquisition of new authors. Publishers look at agented authors FIRST. Then they consider authors who attend conferences that they were at SECOND. Only when they have time...which is hardly ever...they will consider unsolicited proposals AKA the SLUSH PILE. Really. If I had know this, I would have been going to conferences long ago.

I met so many great people...
Here is a photo of author, Lisa Sampson, Bonnie, and Me.

Then there was Terry Whalin, Fiction Acquisitions Editor for Howard Books. He has a great blog. And an wonderful book: Book Proposals that Sell.

Angela Hunt was great. She gave me some awesome advice.

Next was Jennifer Peterson, Sr. Review Editor of Peterson Ink. She is a romance editor...and even though my book is NOT romance, I met with her to seek her opinion on the brattiness factor of my protag. Wow. She is amazing. She helped get me a great new first line of the book. With Bryan, Kathy, and Jennifer...I have made my protag just right. I am so thankful for their honesty and brainstorming!

On my way back to NC, I was able to meet another blogging buddy, Jaime! She and her employer graciously let me stay overnight. She took me out to Applebee's for dinner and dessert (Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce! MY FAVORITE!) We stayed up late chatting and going over what I learned at the conference. Like Bonnie, Jaime has really helped me out with rewriting my book by giving great advice and honest critiquing. THANK YOU JAIME!!!

These were the two stinkers who welcomed me home. I missed them...but learned so much!

I'll post more about what I learned later. Have a great day/night! I'll also be visiting all my blogging friends this week. I have not forgotten you! God bless you ALL!


Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yikes! That picture with Lisa Samson looks like I was ready to bite somebody...Was there someone holding a Cheesesteak sandwich nearby?

Clefspeare said...

Thanks for the comment, Mimi. I couldn't detect that you resented my critque at first. You handled it very professionally. I would like to see the new beginning now the Mellie isn't so bratty. The story idea is cool.

Jaime H. said...

I am THRILLED to help, Mimi!!! And it was so nice to meet you and spend time with you! Thanks for staying over!!

cube said...

Wow, it looks like you're well on your way! Thanks for all the insight into the world of writers.

Now if I ever get off my butt and write something, I'll know where to come for advice ;-)

Kimber said...

Oh girl - I am so glad you had such a great trip (minus the getting lost several times..hee hee)!

It sounds like God helped put you in the path of some great authors and agents and FRIENDS too - YEA!!!! How fun to meet Bonnie face to face - way coolio!

I bet those cute little guys really missed ya - your one son looks JUST like ya!

You have been missed in blogland as well my sweet friend!

Kat said...

welcome home (and back to the blogging world)! sounds like you had a great time and had fun with Bonnie :)

thanks for your comment on my blog -- i feel far from settled, but i know that the transition will take time. at least i'll start working on Monday... that should help with having something to, meeting people, and earning money so i can get groceries ;)

jel said...

Morning Mimi,
glad you had a good time and a safe one too!

and thanks for the comment you left on my other blog!

have a great day!

Ballpoint Wren said...

You all look beautiful!

This is some good info, Mimi. I never realized how important conferences could be. I mean, I figured they were good for motivation, but other than that, I had no idea.

P.S., your kids are DARLING.

pam halter said...

hey Mimi ~ you got some great pics! I was so happy to meet you and am looking foward to getting to know you better through email. It was a good conference. :)

Corry said...

I am so glad you had such a great time. Welcome back, girl.

God's Grace.

M. G. Tarquini said...

awww. I think you all look great. So glad everybody had fun and learned a lot.

Nick Zegarac said...

Sounds like you had a blast and learned so much. The old adage holds eternally true - never be afraid to consult. You will only grow and be enriched by the experience. New adventures, same old spirit and lots of heart. Now Voyager, go forth and write.

Trinity13 said...

Glad you had a good time! Welcome back!!!

K. Jimmy said...

hi mimi! wow, looks like conference was awesome. i also didnt realise how important conferences could be and its got me thinking hard, because i dont think there's much of that sort of thing going on in the southern hemisphere- not for specifically Christian writers....hmm....anyway, your pictures and dialogue are wonderful! im stoked you got to meet so many wonderful, helpful and inspiring people. good to have you "home"!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Mimi, you met some great people there; great pics taken.

nettie said...

You are braver than I, wouldn't have dared the drive.

audrey` said...

So many beautiful pics :)