I just returned yesterday from six days at a writing conference. It was great, wonderful, and exhausting. I taught a mentoring track with 10 writers in which we spent 8 hours together doing very extended critiques. I also had about 20 appointments with writers to critique their work.
All of that was fun, but I still think the best times were the offline hours when I sat down with old friends (and new friends) to talk. I think there are no friends like writer friends.
On the airplane coming home, I sat with one of my loyal blog readers who often posts here, Camille Eide, who lives not too far from me. She’s only been writing for about a year, so she had set her expectations relatively low–at the level of an early “Sophomore.” However, after getting strongly encouraging feedback from a couple of novelists at the conference, Camille worked up her courage to show her sample chapter to a couple of editors. They liked it too.
Camille told me all this in the airport while we waited for our flight. I asked to see her work and she let me read it on the plane. I liked it! I liked it a lot. I don’t know how the large-scale structure of the story will work out, but the 20 pages I read were Xtremely good on every point that I know how to measure. So I told her it’s time for her to get an agent. For the rest of the flight, I took a nap.
I took today off from doing any kind of serious work, since my brain is still basically oatmeal. I’ve been reading a legal thriller today by Rick Acker, who I met at the conference. I already knew about him because I’d read his second novel for endorsement a couple of months ago at the request of his publicist. I liked that one so much that I wanted to read his debut novel, DEAD MAN’S RULE which came out last May. Since Rick was at the conference, I bought a copy and got it autographed.
I’ll tell you, I REALLY like this book. Rick is a lawyer and has done great research on Russian biological weapons, and he’s got a great, compelling story. DEAD MAN’S RULE feels like a nice blend of the best early work by John Grisham and Tom Clancy. Suspense has always been my favorite genre, and Rick’s book is a terrific suspense novel. I hope to finish it tomorrow, because I really do need to get back to work.
Tomorrow, we’ll pick up on Cindy Martinusen Coloma’s “Puzzle Method” and I’ll report on how I liked the ending of DEAD MAN’S RULE. See ya then!
Daan Van der Merwe says
I am very happy for Camille. I was thinking of all you lucky people at the conference all the time.
So pleased you had a great time. Hope Oatmeal brains turn to mexican jumping beans brains very soon.
Although I’m pretty much a lurker at the moment I do appreciate all the hard work, time and effort you put into this blog.
Excellent that Camille also had such a positive time. Woo hoo!
Carla Stewart says
It was nice seeing you at the conference. I spent a lot of time with Camille–loved her and was happy to share in her good news about the editor requests. I’m so glad you were able to encourage her as well. That’s one of the things I liked most about MH–the holding each other up and cheering when good news came along.
Glad to know that Randy is back. Sure, as usual, he is back with a lot for us.
Kristi Holl says
It was great meeting you at the conference, Randy. You were right–it was life-changing. I will be processing for a long time!
Randy won’t have oatmeal brains for long, trust me. The guy can fall asleep in a snap. He literally said, “Get an agent. You’re ready to sell. I need a nap.” Then he closed his eyes immediately and fell asleep. This guy has time management DOWN.
I don’t know much, but one thing I do know: it’s not polite to shake a sleeping man in the seat next to you on a plane and ask him to repeat what he just said. I had to spend an hour or so frowning out the dinky plane window wondering if I heard right.
Mt Hermon was my first conference and I had a fabulous, well rounded experience. (LOVE YA CARLA! What a sweetheart you are!) BUT…… for Daan and the rest of you knowledge-hungry writers who didn’t get to go: they don’t call this place Advanced Fiction Writing for nothing! We are getting excellent teaching on fiction writing here guys, always moving forward, nothing repeated. This is a great place to spend time if you want to press on. Some of us can’t help ourselves… can’t seem to learn it fast enough.
Thank you so much, Randy, for all the time and effort you put into this blog. (And thank you for the kind words! If you hadn’t posted it here, I’d still be thinking I dreamt the whole thing.)
Now I’m really looking forward to the rest of Cindy’s puzzle lesson because I missed her workshop at MH 🙁 (But I had a very good excuse, honest!)
Sheila Deeth says
Glad you had a good conference, and great news for Camille. I passed on links to your blog to some writing friends; maybe I’ll see them in comments sometime. Meanwhile, I’m really enjoying the puzzle method, but taking time off from puzzling my own story while family come home for Easter. Is time off okay?
D.E. Hale says
Woo Hoo Camille! That’s awesome!!! (Of course, now all us other sophomore’s are a bit jealous…lol)!
Kellie Coates Gilbert says
Camille’s critique partners are VERY proud…!!!
OH YEAH, GO Camille!!!
Paul D says
Anyone not able to get to this blog entry via the link in the email? Mine doesn’t work. I had to go to an earlier entry and click to this one.
Carol F. says
Paul, I thought it was just me and my tired, old laptop. I have to do the same thing every day–go to post from yesterday and click forward to the post for today.
Randy, I met you at Mt. Hermon two years ago. Since that time, I have benefitted from your blog, seminars and teleseminars tremendously. Keep it up, the Lord is blessing me through you.
CONGRATULATIONS, CAMILLE!! Yee Haw!! Don’t forget us plebes when you become famous! 🙂
I agree with you regarding Randy, Camille. I thank God all the time that I found him. We are blessed, blessed, blessed!! THANK-YOU, MASTER RANDY!
I am looking forward to reading Camille’s book!! I’m so excited for her! :::Jumping up and down and doing the Snoopy Dance!:::
bonne friesen says
Hurray Camille! From reading your blog posts, I’m not surprised at Randy’s recommendation. Believe it, and enjoy the feeling. Good for you!
Gerhi Janse van Vuuren says
I’m glad there wasn’t much posted over the last week because I had no time to read it.
Ok, my comment is back in moderation again because I had made an important decision a while ago. Randy threw open the blog for input on under what name I should write. The most sensible option looked to be Gerhard J van Vuuren.
I tried it on for size. Created a gmail address. Changed my email signature and more. Last night I had a moment of clarity.
It might be a very sensible option but it is not me. I worked hard to accept me as I am and that me is Gerhi Janse van Vuuren. So what that 90% of the people can’s pronounce it. I can’t pronounce most of the names of writers I read. I still read them because they read well.
Also, and this is getting me back to writing, I have been steaming ahead on my novel, mostly because I’m using elements of the puzzle method. It seems to work very well for me. Once I have a complete draft I will analyse it with the snowflake.
I feel that I am writing enough to get a writing voice going. And what I am writing is written by a Gerhi not a Gerhard.
And then I just want to quote what Camille said:
“BUT…… for Daan and the rest of you knowledge-hungry writers who didn’t get to go: they don’t call this place Advanced Fiction Writing for nothing! We are getting excellent teaching on fiction writing here guys, always moving forward, nothing repeated. This is a great place to spend time if you want to press on.”
So, Randy, thanks for the great place!
Merrie Destefano says
It was awesome to see you again! Thanks so much for being so supportive of my writing over the past year. I really appreciate it!
And I agree, meeting new friends and visiting with old friends is one of my favorite parts of Mount Hermon. The late-night laugh fest up at Central Lounge more than made up for the stress of pitching.
Thanks for helping with my alternate world dilemma. Those pesky alternate worlds. You trying rubbing them out, you try scrubbing them out, but they still keep popping up in speculative fiction stories.
Thanks for being a good friend.
Donald James Parker says
Thanks for sharing Camille’s story. She told me that she was afraid to show her work to an editor despite the great critiques. I used two cliches (they don’t become cliches for no reason) – put it in God’s hands and the worst thing that can happen is that they will say no. I was jazzed to hear that she found the courage to pitch and the umpire called it a strike. I echo the thanks of others in regards to Randy spending his time to help other writers. It is greatly appreciated.