Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...

Monday, February 28, 2011

How'd It Go? and Updates

Welcome boys and girls!  I promised you an update and here it is: I'm sick!  Just kidding.  Well, I am sick but that's not the end of my update.

As you probably know, I attended the Writing For The Soul conference in Denver a couple weeks ago to pitch my book to agents and editors and meet other writers.  It was an amazing weekend.  I'm not capable of giving a coherant narrative of the events so instead I will provide snapshots:

*Liz Curtis Higgs is a phenomenal speaker, encourager, and all-around great person.  I was in tears during her talk on opening night.  Afterwards, I stood in line to have her sign a book and gave her a hug.  I shared how touched I was by her message and we talked about the book I had inside of me waiting to get out.  She locked eyes with me and told me my book was already written.  Already written.  God knows our words before we speak or even think them, and my book was already finished. I cannot adequately describe this to you but her words cut straight through to my heart and I stood bobbing my head and swiping at tears and knowing I was meant to be at this conference. What a way to begin!

*My first pitch.... well, I chickened out and didn't even pitch in that first meeting.  I shrank back and claimed I was only interested in learning and asking questions without first even trying to sell myself and my idea.  Lesson learned.  After that point, my pitch went over pretty well with my appointments with mentors, agents, and the editor from Zondervan.  I was very excited and encouraged by all of my appointments. I had two requests from agents and one from an editor "in a few months". 

*Jerry Jenkins himself critiqued my first page in his Thick-Skinned Clinic.  Um, yeah.  Okay, are you ready? Yeah, it was interesting.  I guess I uh, had some dialogue that was a bit too, you know, realistic.  He taught me about "on the nose" writing.  Adding too much small talk in a scene that, while realistic, slowed down the action too much. 
       Note: I've since re-written my first page. *grin*

*Friends! I made a lot of new friends at the conference and I hope we keep in touch.  One of my new friends landed an agent while there--an agent who wasn't even on the panel but drove out to meet with her!--and I got to watch the progression of that success story go from her nervously entering first appointments to finding overwhelming interest to landing a contract.  Amazing and inspiring.  It was also so much fun meeting up with my friend Jessica Patch after chatting all these months online.  We met at the airport and stuck together quite a bit all weekend.  I also got to meet COTT's marketing rep Jennifer Slattery after working together for months.  Very cool!

*My plane home was a later flight and I had time to kill. Brandilyn Collins was in the lobby after the conference ended and I had the opportunity to chat with her at length which was pretty neat. She insisted I really needed to go to the ACFW conference.  She wasn't the first to mention it, so now it's on my prayer list to attend.

I've got to tell you, the very best thing about the conference is all the people you get to meet and talk with.  Having dinner with editors, agents, authors, speakers, it's very cool.  Not in a star-struck sort of way, just in a really neat 'no walls' kind of way.  I highly recommend you go to one!

Books I purchased at the conference:
  • Orson Scott Card's Characters and Viewpoint
  • Brandilyn Collins' Getting Into Character
  • Liz Curtis Higgs' Rise and Shine

So... now what?  When I got home I jumped right into my duties with COTT and pondered my post-conference action plan.  I joined ACFW. I am working with a mentor now to whip my novel into better shape and decided I would let the agent know it would be a little while before I sent my materials, for that reason.  That was difficult to do, but necessary.  I devoured Orson's book--well, the portions most relevant to me anyway.  I am working on fleshing out my characters more and highly recommend his book.

I got an idea for a non-fiction book while driving my daughter to school the other day.  My husband thinks it's a really good idea so that's encouraging! I sketched out my thoughts but I'm not sure when I will begin really working on it.  I have a lot to do working with my mentor on Beauty For Ashes. And I haven't forgotten my next novel, it's just sitting in a folder on my desktop waiting.  Yeah, free time is not in abundance around here these days.

So, I'm entering the Genesis contest through ACFW within the next couple days. This week I am meeting in person with my mentor and hoping to make progress on the novel.  That's my top writing priority.  Next on the list is finishing my proposal (that pesky marketing section is still laughing at me), and after that anything new will get my attention.  I'm praying about the ACFW conference in September.  Agents? Well, I'll wait until my mentor feels the manuscript is at a point where querying agents is a good idea.

It's a long, long road to be sure. But connections and feedback are the best ways to move forward.  Writing is a lonely process, but writing well--and getting published--is not.  If that's you, then get out there. Join critique groups, get to a conference, participate on blogs... do something to connect to the bigger world of writing. 

The keyboard will still be there when you come home.


Jessica R. Patch said...

Yay! Go get it, girl! How much fun did we have? Nevermind, you just said it all! :)

Jennifer Aulthouse said...

I had an amazing experience, too, and am also feeling the adrenaline pushing me forward mixed with that feeling of being overwhelmed by the marketing aspect. Thanks for sharing your experience. I couldn't wait to get back home to my family yet I felt a deep sadness that I had to leave such a nourishing environment.

Jill said...

I suspect I'll need to get a part time job so I can go to conferences. Ugh. I feel that I'm missing out big time. Good luck to you w/ your requests/submissions/rewrites.

Michelle Massaro said...

Jessica, we had so much fun--though much of it was a blur! lol

Jennifer, I felt the same way. Writing this post reminds me what it felt like while there so it was good for me. It's too easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of life and forget all the things God spoke to you while there. All the things you were inspired to come home and put into action. Methinks one conference per year isn't enough! Good thing I have a money tree in the backyard, right? lol

Jill, I'm sorry to say this but yes, you are missing out BIG TIME. I thought the biggest benefit would be pitching but it's really not. It's feeling like you belong to this other world of authors. Having a casual conversation with world-famous authors who ARE TRULY JUST LIKE YOU, learning from others and discovering you have something to teach them back. You leave there with your writing-sphere so much bigger than when you arrived it's ridiculous. I fundraised to get to this one. I'd love to talk and share what worked for me--and my pastor!--to get you to a conference. In fact, I'm going to email you! {HUGS}

Phoenix said...

I'm so glad you got to go! Sounds like it was a truly amazing experience. And now it sounds like you have a lot of good work ahead of you. Not enough hours in the day to accommodate the motivation you brought home, is there?

Michelle Massaro said...

Yes! Getting Trevor into daycare twice a week should give me a breather to work on my writing. That's the plan anyway. Gives me back a few of those hours. =)

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh wow!! You sound like you had a fantastic time and so glad you joined ACFW. It is my prayer too that I will be able to attend the conference and meet so many awesome friends I've made online:) COngrats on the requests as well!!!