Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ACFW Conference: On Being A Sponge

This year's conference in St. Louis will be my fifth conference. I guess I'm somewhat of a seasoned professional.

Or not.

Like many other writers I'm an introvert. The prospect of attending my first conference was both exciting and terrifying. I'd made friends through the email loop and blogging, but what if I didn't have the nerve to talk to them? What if I end up at a table with an editor or an agent and they ask what I'm working on and I don't know what to say? What if nobody sees me?

I did find the nerve to talk to my new friends. I did end up at a table with an agent or editor and was able to talk about what I was working on. Lots of people saw me. I talked to my favorite author and she was sweet as can be. I had a great time!

A first conference experience does not have to be scary. It can be the most thrilling, exhilarating thing you've ever experienced. How?

Be a sponge.

I attended my first conference in 2007 with the mindset that I was there to have fun and learn. And that's exactly what I did. I learned new things in every class and had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I arrived home exhausted, but happier than I'd ever been in my whole life.

I still take this mindset with me every fall. I'm not there to make that first sale, or meet that editor, or talk to that agent. If God makes it happen, great! I'm there to learn and have a good time with 600 other people who know exactly what it's like to argue with people who exist only in your head. Who don't think it's weird that someone is on the floor in the corner scribbling like a madman.

I also made the choice that first year to not make any appointments. I think that was the best choice I ever made. No pressure. At least of the pitching kind. This year, I'm doing appointments. But the thought doesn't scare me because I took the time to just observe and enjoy myself.

So if you see someone looking like a sponge, it's just me, enjoying myself and soaking up everything I can. (And if I have that glazed look in my eyes that says I'm in another world--while I'm walking--step out of my way. I won't see you in time to keep from running over you.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

New photo!

When I started using this template, I wondered if there was a way to change the photo at the top. Turns out there is, I just had to scroll through all the HTML code until I found it. Obviously, I did.

The above photo is probably the most famous balcony in all of the French Quarter. It's above the River's Edge Restaurant on the corner of Decatur and St. Ann. When you orient Jackson Square to the points of the compass, it's a diamond shape with the cathedral on the northwest side. This balcony in at the point where southeast meets northeast. Jackson Square itself is to the left of this picture and the French Market three blocks to the right.

This particular picture was taken by my friend Ria in 2006 when she came to visit me. We stared at it the whole time we ate beignets across the street at Cafe du Monde and she just had to have a picture of it. It's in mid-September.

Since I'm currently writing about French Creole culture, what better picture to have than the first mental image people get when you say French Creole?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: The Lady of Bolton Hill

The Lady of Bolton Hill
by Elizabeth Camden
Purchase at Amazon, B&N, or CBD.

I signed up to be an influencer for this book based partly on the cover, and partly on the prologue that Elizabeth has posted on her website. What I read intrigued me, largely in part because it starts out in the man's POV. I'm a total sucker for that.

The rest of the book did not disappoint. An excellent debut from a wonderful new author and one I am very much looking forward to reading more from.

I'll let the back cover blurb speak for itself. You can read it at any of the links above. I wish you could see the back cover of the book. It's even more beautiful than the front.

Clara Endicott is a reporter, the daughter of a well-off, influential pastor in 1870's Baltimore. Danial Tremaine is the son of a steel worker killed in a horrible accident, bent on revenge against the mill owner. Wrong side of the tracks romance; done to death, right? Elizabeth makes it fresh!

There's a good suspense thread throughout, though it is light. This is a historical romance, not a suspense. The secondary character of Bane is very intriguing. Clara shows herself a true Christian, that she's not just talk.

The writing throughout is more formal than I'm used to seeing in modern historical romances. But it worked. Well. Very evocative of the year it takes place in. The speech patterns, while stilted to modern ears, are exactly the way the people spoke back then.

It also covers another aspect that many historical writers ignore: Unions. The unions of Baltimore play a crucial role in the plot. I was very pleasantly surprised. Unions have been in the news an awful lot this year.

The passion that binds Clara and Daniel together is music, specifically Chopin. I love it when historical authors use "contemporary" composers in their books.

There's also a strong thread of redemption throughout the story, and how God will go to whatever lengths it takes to rid us of our idols. Daniel's idols are his inventions, his patents, his thirst for revenge. Sometimes threads like that can be overdone or melodramatic, in my opinion. Not this one. The entire progression was believable and never once made Daniel seem less of a man. He remained committed to his goal throughout, and allowed God to change that goal. That's a real man!

I don't believe in rehashing the back cover copy or giving you a synopsis of the book. This is what I liked about it. This is what made it fresh for me. These are the things that stood out to me.