Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why I Hate Fishing

Although I have a few good fish stories, fishing was never my thing. I don’t have the patience to spend five minutes baiting a hook then three hours waiting for a fish to come along. Sure, there’s the more active fishing where the arms wear out from constantly tossing out a line and reeling it back in.

Only to find some fish came along and stole the bait.

Other times, the fish couldn’t care less about my little offering.

I figured out there’s another form of fishing I despise. Well, not the fishing so much, but the bait. I can’t seem to come up with a good hook for “Traitors.” An author who will be attending the conference offered to give advice on hooks. I presented two iterations, and both left her befuddled.

The author basically said why would anyone care about the protagonist who’s an assassin? What makes her the protagonist? In the second shot, I added that my protagonist is telepathic, but again that didn’t do much for the hook. The author asked why the telepathy is important? Does it help or hurt the protagonist?

How can I answer that in one 25-word-maximum sentence?

I’ve written so many one-two sentence hooks I couldn’t begin to count them. At one point I got so frustrated I wanted to throw my hands up and say, “I quit! It’s not worth attempting to get published if I’m this stressed over one teensie sentence.”

As with all temper tantrums, however, I gave myself a moment (or fifty) to calm down. I purged on an electronic notebook, and was able to come up with what, I hope, is something better. Although I’m more than a little nervous to ask the author to give it one more look. I don’t think I could take the disappointment.

Today anyway. Tomorrow? Who knows.

I’ll give you a chance to weigh in, however. Tell me, does this pique your interest?

Given a Bible by a man she’s about to kill, a telepathic assassin discovers God’s forgiveness. However, redemption demands she betray her friends and a military who considers her more weapon than human being.

Not quite the 25 word sentence, but that’s as far as I could get with this frustrated brain.

Did I mention I hate fishing?

Will I Survive This Time?

Plane ticket purchased, conference fee paid and hotel room reserved, I now have five weeks to prepare my manuscript — and myself for the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis.

On my to-do list:

  1. Rewrite my one-page synopsis
  2. Rewrite and practice my one-sentence pitch.
  3. Design and order new business cards with a photo of moi.

You’d think after attending a major writing conference three times, I’d feel like a veteran. Not even close. This will be the first time I’m attending this conference. While in some ways I know what to expect, in others I’m clueless.

Pitching my story is one of them. It’s not so much not being comfortable talking about it, but boiling it down to a single sentence and make it so interesting people will want to read it. Especially agents and editors.

The last time I signed up for the Christian Writers Guild conference I purchased a short guide by Meredith Efken called “Writers Conference Survival Guide.”

My main motivation came from the absolute failure I made during the previous year’s conference. I took the attitude that I didn’t need to prepare for the conference. I figured God would guide me to the right editors, etc. when the time came.

Most of you have heard the phrase, “Don’t put God to the test.”

If you do, God ends up doing the testing, and guess who earns the failing grade? Not God, that’s for sure.

I ended up not knowing anything about the appointments I made and made a complete fool of myself. I ended up canceling all my other appointments and concentrated on the workshops instead.

In the end it wasn’t a total loss, for at the very least I learned that preparation is key in getting the most out of the conference as far as workshops, meeting other writers, and piquing the interest of publishers/agents. Part of it means researching prospective publishers as well as the editors and agents themselves.

For instance, using science fiction as an example, Zondervan at large will look at speculative fiction, but the specific editor at the conference may only interested in looking at historical romance.

The guide by Meredeth talks about this and so much more. She also includes how to create a one-sheet and a fill-out-able list of what must be taken to the conference. With the list filled out after packing, it’s one less thing to worry about before the trip begins.

With just over a month to prepare, I best get crackin’.