…and then, after praying about it, I made the wise decision to go to a Christian writer’s conference. I noticed an ad in Writer’s Digest (wonderful magazine for writers—I highly recommend it) and because it was within driving distance, I decided to go. Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is located near Asheville, NC. That’s a trek from the Maryland Piedmont area and close to eight hours away, but doable. I read the daily online posts, had business cards printed as well as a one-sheet, (a sheet with a bio of you as well as a short blurb on the book—all in fancy colors!) and bought a color-coordinated notebook with tabs and plenty of paper.
Then I did something else really bright. BRMCWC has the wonderful advantage of offering critique services to their attendees. I chose a person on the list, sent in my money, and emailed it off. Was I proud of myself? Oh, yeah. She was going to love it! I expected a few comments, and was even prepared for a revision here and there. What did I get back from this illustrious author? A chapter full of RED marks. Red EVERYWHERE. The word crestfallen does not even begin to reveal how I felt. I put the offensive response away for a day and then went back to it with fresh eyes.
The dear woman who evaluated my work didn’t pull any punches, but she also managed to be imminently encouraging. At the very end of the chapter, she’d written that despite all the corrections, she didn’t want me to become disheartened because she saw a real writer in me. I simply had to learn the craft and there were many ways to do that. Then she suggested I make the changes she’d indicated and offered to read it again! What a gift. We emailed back and forth several times before the conference even started, and I received a great deal more instruction than $25’s worth.
At the same time, I was also supremely blessed to find a critique partner who was going to the same conference. She proved to be an invaluable friend, resource, and sounding board (she still is—thanks Elizabeth!) I had a built-in buddy and knowing I wouldn’t be alone buoyed my spirits.
Now I was ready for the conference. I made a few copies of my newly revised first five chapters, a couple of copies of the entire book along with various length synopsis’ (synopses???), packed up Casey the Corolla and drove the hundreds of miles to my destination. The conference turned out to be another turning point in my writing adventure. I came home realizing that…I knew next to nothing about how to write.
Back to the drawing board.
I took that book I was so tickled with, reworked several chapters, changed the order of the story to quicken the pace and get the hero and heroine together sooner. (Can you believe I had them finally meeting in chapter SIX???). I revised the heck out of it. NOW it surely was ready, right?
Not so much. I queried a few agents—most of whom didn’t respond—but one agent was kind enough to give me suggestions on what to change. I tweaked and modified but, as nice as she was, she still wasn’t interested. Sigh.
Despondent, I put the book away both literally and figuratively.
Now what, God?