Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reading and Writing and Conferences, Oh My!

I must confess I have never been to a writer’s conference.
Well, that is not entirely true. Back in the early 1990’s I was co-director of the short lived Southern Christian Writer’s Conference for about three years and I spoke exclusively on writing plays. And, I attended Hutchmoot 2010 a quasi-writer’s conference although Hutchmoot defies categorization as it should.
And so, this year I planned on attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference in North Carolina. I made plans literally a year ago to attend the conference. As I examined the courses offered, I realized the emphasis of this conference was on first time published writers -- in other words, those who want to be published. But, there were offerings on publicity, marketing, and social media. Perhaps it was the best way for me to network with other authors and learn more about publicity and marketing -- in other words advance my writing career.
I also wanted to attend this year’s ACFW conference in Dallas but managed to snare one of the one hundred slots at Hutchmoot 2012 which sold out in the first seven minutes! It is the same week as ACFW. What to do? I chose the more intimate, community minded Hutchmoot. Will it advance my writing career? Could the BMCWC have advanced my writing career? I don’t know. It is more and more challenging to “advance the writing career” in today’s marketplace.
But, there is a reality I have to face. I am a published author and my business depends on this little thing known as WRITING. I spend so much of my free time (other than my day job!) on social media and promotion, I realized I was NOT spending time on my writing. And, I have a manuscript due in December. But, Bruce, you say, this is May.
My manuscript for my fourth book, “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” was the completed manuscript that landed me a book deal. I am very proud of it. I think it was my best work to date after writing the first three books before getting my contract. I have since learned, thanks to my awesome editor, Andy, that my writing generally is so-so at best and he has pushed me to become a much better writer. And here is my conundrum (how’s that for a fancy word). My fourth book comes in at 150,000 words but my contract specifies a maximum of 75,000 words per book. I met recently with Adrienne, my rep at Charisma, and commiserated over this problem. How do you literally cut a book in half and still maintain the story, the plot, the characters, etc.?
Suggestion: make it two books. The problem is, I am in a countdown mode moving from the thirteenth demon down to the first demon. If I split this book in half, I have two books about the same demon and this throws my entire plan off kilter. I could bring in two demons for this story, but I can’t make that work with this story. So, what to do? What to do?
First, I prayed and prayed. I have always believed that I will never write a word unless God is inspiring it; unless it is His work for my life. If this is meant to be, I will find my divine inspiration to decide what to do with this book. Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Do you turn to God for guidance?
Second, I read some books. A good writer has to be a good reader. I already participate in an online book review every month and this takes up much of my reading. But, I wanted something different. I read “Thunder and Rain” by Charles Martin. What an amazing book! What an amazing author! Guess what? It inspired me! It made me sit back and really take a hard look at my story. How do you make sure you read regularly? What types of books do you read? Do you go outside your genre to read good stories?
Third, I cancelled the conference! I wasn’t feeling very well anyway and fearing that I was, once again, passing a kidney stone. So, the decision was made a little easier. But, I realized that if I had an entire week off, my time would be better spent WRITING than attending a conference and promoting my career. After all, if my book stinks, my career sinks! So, what about you. Have you found writing conferences helpful? If so, in what way? If they were a waste of time, would your time have been better spent writing?
While I am here huddled over my word processing program, my fingers flying over the keyboard (Thanks to my sister who told me to take typing in high school!), my brain desperately trying to put together the shortened strings of my story, I hope you are WRITING and READING regularly. And, if you have some words of wisdom and advice, by all means share them. I could use them! And, if you are at the BMCWC, tell Alton Gansky I said, “Hi”.


Bruce Hennigan said...

Odd that I would comment on my own post, but I wrote this Sunday night. Tuesday, while taking a break from writing and taking walk, I started experiencing chest pain. I ended up in the ER, stayed overnight and today (Wed) I had a normal cardiac catheterization.
I think it was the heat. But, I wonder what would have happened to me if I had been in the mountains 40 miles from a major city?
I guess when God speaks, I am glad I listen!!!

Jillian Kent said...

So glad you are okay. That must have been very scary. I've been to the conference at Blue Ridge and it is wonderful. I highly recommend you go to it next year or to ACFW. In fact, I'm going to ACFW next year and I would like to meet you, so show up in Indianapolis and maybe all us Charisma folks could visit each other. :)

Like you though I opted not to go this year because I need to write. In fact right now I'm on a personal retreat to finish my novel that is due soon. It's been a wonderfu experience and I'm here in Kentucky enjoying horses and deer and peace and quiet and getting a lot done.


Bruce Hennigan said...

I'd love to go to ACFW so I hope we meet there. Maybe all of us should try and have a get together at ACFW but I can't go this year because I really want to go to Hutchmoot 2012 and I as I wrote, it is the same week.

Yes, a writing retreat was in order for me this week. In fact, I almost left for a week in ORlando with my retired best friend and former pastor (we're working on a book together) but his wife had just had surgery. So, the Lord was determined I stay at home and have a writing staycation so I could get this heart issue taken care of.

Thanks for the encouragement and I'm praying you have great success in your work on your current book.