"Write, write, write," he said. Ignore the wind and the waves and write.

Houston's books available from: Your local bookstore, all on-line bookstores or click here at: (Just Dust Publishers)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Afternoons...

If you think my next words are “I’m just beginning to see…”, as in the song of the same title, you could be right!

Yes, after attending the “conference to end all conferences” for getting your book published by a Christian publishing house, I have re-set that goal. Not because there was anything wrong with the event or the publishers, although I will admit I don’t think I am a conference person, I do think that it is timely to think about self and electronic publishing as the future of reading.

I know, I know, I too am a smell-the-print person, as I was a feel-the-pen-in-your-hand person when I began writing. Quickly, I realized the superior convenience of the cut and paste, delete and replace, and so many other happily convenient values of the computer over the pen and paper. So, adjust, I tell myself, once again.
I also have some ideas about how to make that all work. Maybe even a business around the self/e-book. I do love business!

So, this next weekend I am off to yet another conference, Orange County Christan Writer's Conference, but this one has a strong self-publishing thrust. I am excited to talk to some of the people in the industry face to face. I’ll report a bit more about that when I return.

In the meantime, write-on and don’t worry about the publishing aspect—I’m believing that may all be up in the air right now, in more ways than one.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time for a major re-right

I left the conference a day early.

There are lots of stories as to why...but not for this page. Still, I don't want to be obscure since I promised an honest report.

My current assessment is conferences are not for me. Maybe all conferences, but especially Christian Writer's Conferences. This, is in spite of many wonderful contacts I made with people and even a very fun publisher who I like personally.

I've talked a bit before about the ACC, American Christian Culture, and this beast is alive and strong at the conferences. Not that we don't all have our hypocritical selves, but the ACC has an unspoken norm that I, unfortunately don't fit. Or maybe it's for the best.

I can honestly say I am sure that no one missed me the last day I wasn't there, which is a wonderful thing about not knowing anyone when you go somewhere--it's easy to leave unnoticed.

I will write a little more on the subject when I have regained my strength and balance. Especially would like to list some good writing tips I learned.

Till then!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Overwhelmed, Talking to the intelligencia, part 2

I was going to post last night and could not get on line. We're nestled in a redwood forest on a hillside, so I'm glad to have coverage--ever.

The latest, career-wise, is that I talked to another editor who is interested in seeing a book proposal from me. Can you believe it? She likes an idea I have for a devotional book. So, I'll need to go put that together. It will take a while and be about thirty pages long.

My mentoring class with Brandilyn Collins is fabulous. Yesterday the group critiqued Julia and were complementary and encouraging. As I was going into the class I was wondering why I had signed up for this because I was so sick of reworking Julia that I didn't think I could stomach rewriting it one more time. But Brandilyn gave me some insights about it that have excited me to return to tweaking the book.

One of the most important things I have learned in her class is to know what is the protagonist's desire. To be able to state this as specifically as possible. She pointed out that this is the foundation of the book.

If you're thinking of writing a book, I hardly recommend first reading her book, Getting into Character. This will help you write in a way that keeps the book consistently moving in the same direction and to avoid a wall in the middle of the project.

I sat at dinner last night with Bill Meyers. He wrote screen plays, McGee and Me, and many novels. I told him I wanted to write screen plays and he told me he would like to discourage me as there are much fewer opportunities to write for those than books and articles. I told him I didn't care. So, we talked. What an amazingly kind man. He's also doing the keynote speaker talks and if you can get your hands on the CD's of these, you should.

In the midst of this, I have to say I am exhausted. Last night after dinner I went to my room to recoup and was in bed by 9. I'm thinking of driving to Santa Cruiz today to walk in the autorium there or the boardwalk. I'll be leaving here on Tuesday to Sacramento and headed home on Wednesday.

OK. I have to go. Class in an hour and I have homework.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to talk with an editor...part 1 Make a Good Impression

Some conference attendees make a big deal out of talking with the right editors. One woman told me she sold her first born son to land an appointment, but I know better than that—I have sons.

I, myself, am very cool about these things. I took leisure time this morning over coffee in my room, the proverbial babbling brook tittering outside my window, and meditated deeply on several scriptures. Then I saw the time.

Holy smoke! I dressed, make-uped, and scooted out the door so quickly that I forgot one of the critiques I had prepared for class this morning. This oversight caused me to use my entire ten minute break to hike downhill to my cabin and back. I don’t think anyone noticed I was panting through my nose when I returned to the classroom. Very cool.

I felt like my lunch with the editor of one of the major publishing houses went very well—they will not be printing any new fiction for 2 years. Hmmm. But she recommended another editor. OK.

After lunch I scampered (as fast as one can with a cane) to pick up the pre-conference manuscripts I had submitted to editors. Nope. Neither of their houses can use my books either. More recommendations.

I attended another two workshops on different elements of publishing and let the words roll over me. “Don’t be disappointed.” “Don’t give up.” “Do the next thing.”

I didn’t cry or anything. OK. I did eat some M&M’s that I had previously in the day wondered how anyone can stomach. Then trundled to my room to update the blog. Here I found under the chair of my desk a 2” long earring on the floor that matches the one in my ear.

Very Cool.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day One--Beautiful Site

Taking my first step out of the car upon arrival, a wash of emotion fell over me. Was it the sun shining through the towering redwoods or had the long desired arrival (over three years) solidified passionately into reality? I don't know. I suspect there is a spiritual element here that is palpable. More on this later.

I came a day early and was glad I did since settling in took more time and energy than I imagined (it didn't help that I locked myself our of the cabin first thing and had to hoof it back to the main office for a spare key.)

I can see I will have no trouble getting in some much needed exercise since I also arrived at breakfast this morning without my name tag and had to return to my cabin for that. The camp is carved into a hillside and so every trip is a hike.

Many people have been extremely friendly. The greeting question is not, "How are you?" but "What do you write?" or "Where are you from?" I've already learned to shorten my answer to "A little bit of everything..." and "No, not from Texas, that's my name."

Most participants are women. I was worried that the average age of the "campers" would be younger than my housecoat, but there are MANY women here whose children have left home. It seems most men who are here are editors, agents, or writers who are part of the staff. What does that mean? I'm forming my theories.

People think they know me, either from my name or my face. This has been my blessing (or bane) for years and in this setting these traits might work toward my advantage. I don't know yet. So far, erroneous interest remains polite, but distanced when they realize they don't know me--rather as if I had played an adolescent joke on them.

I attended a session on how to make the most of the conference last night and left more overwhelmed than before. Seems the main thrust of the woman speaking was, "Don't be rude--desperate or cloying." LOL! I admit after one pays a month's mortgage payment to attend a conference like this the idea of tackling the first real editor one meets may have flashed through my mind. But I think I can restrain myself to more appropriate responses.

I did have a vision of Jesus walking through the crushing crowd and turning to the woman who had 'touched Him' to say, "Don't be so needy." I don't think so. So, the editors are just people too. And sinners like me. How does God stand us?

I woke this morning realizing two things fully. 1) I need to grab another 3" mattress from an empty bunkbed to place under my own measily mattress. 2) I have no idea why I am here. I talked to Lauraine Snelling this morning at breakfast who helped me think a bit clearer. I wondered out loud about writing even though I felt called by God. She asked me if I needed a "come to Jesus" talk because she was ready to give me one! A delightful woman.

So, we'll see.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Travel

Well, what would we single travelers do without audio CD's?

It was rain, then sun, then rain/sun/rain/sun/SNOW!/rain/sun/ But I didn't mind, even though the snow came when I was half way through one of my fifteen minute walks.

Mark, my husband showed me that I have a cable which transfers pictures from my phone to the computer. Who knew!

So, maybe I will figure it out whule there and post some pics--or not.

Rolling into camp tomorrow afernoon. See you then.


The Writer

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ready to roll?

I have six book samples to read and critique today—each 20 pages. This is for the Brandilyn Collins mentor group at the conference. For all of those whose books I am reading, there are authors who are also reading and critiquing twenty pages of Julia. I’ve actually begun, but I want to do a good job on each so, I’ve a full day’s work ahead of me. That’s besides packing and taking my mom to lunch for her birthday!

I plan to leave by seven tomorrow morning. Yes, I am driving to the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Anyone want to ride with me? (Do you note a quake in my voice and knees?) I hate to go alone, but my time with God alone on the drive will be blessed, too. Seriously. Driving is healing to me.

I will visit my family in Sacramento on Wednesday and arrive on Thursday. More super interesting stuff will be posted then, I’m sure. Thanks for reading along.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is Behind Door # Two?


This might be premature of me, however, I am submitting the first page of my second novel to a "First Page" contest at the Orane County Christian Writer's Conference at the end of the month. I am looking for critiques, my friends!

FREE CONTEST~There is a prize involved for the most helpful comment! A Steve Green CD--brand new--titled "For God and God Alone" or maybe a million dollars...it depends on which I can lay my hands on first.

So, here's the rules.
1) Read page one of my new book (below)
2) Write a comment that would be helpful to me as the author in the comment section of this post. In one week, I will decide which comments are helpful and have a drawing for the CD. I will post the winning comment and send the CD on that day. Easy!

Book 2
Chapter One

Willow left her restaurant five minutes before seven, erroneously thinking that ample time to arrive. She slid onto the driver’s seat of her VW van which she then rolled down the snow-packed main street of Sage Meadows, Oregon. Five minutes should have been plenty of time to drive five blocks to the town center, but tonight, revelers slowed traffic to a stroller’s pace.

Having moved to the area less than a year before, Willow had no idea that tourists came in droves for the western town’s quaint tree lighting ceremony. Who would have guessed?

As her van crawled by the gathering, she strained to find an empty spot. Nothing. She did see plenty of scarves, hats, and mittens—all red—in theme of the season. How original, she thought. A Suburban behind her honked with impatience. Willow jumped, cursed, and sped on.

She finally found a space at the curb, two blocks away. She still radiated internal heat from the fast pace she kept in the restaurant kitchen, so her wool pea coat hung open and her alpaca muffler and cap bulged from her pockets as she trotted toward the festivities. Her thick wool socks slipped in her Birkenstocks with each slap-slap on the street. The gravel truck had been through that day spewing fresh volcanic ash gathered from the surrounding Cascade mountains. The tiny stones peppered the snow, providing better traction for vehicles and walkers.

As she neared the crowd, she could hear high-pitched laughter and mellow murmurs ripple through the chilled air. Children’s voices steamed from their chapped lips as they argued for the best spot on the hay bales that formed a circle around a towering evergreen.

How am I going to find Mum in all of these people? Willow’s mouth curved up from either side of the lip ring in the middle of her lower lip. Her heart still soared when she thought of her good luck at finally finding her birth mother. Had it really been only three months since they met?