Saturday, May 31, 2014

Teaching Appointments

I just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park Colorado. Great conference, I've gone to it for thirteen or fourteen years.

I had a couple of solid days of appointments there and saw some good projects. There were also some others that were not ready to submit and that's okay.

I've been to some conferences that do not allow the scheduling of appointments unless the conferee has a project finished and ready to submit because of the large number of people attending the conference. There are too many people there that really need the appointment to get a submission invited and to pave the way for it.

Other conferences have an attendee/faculty ratio that permits more latitude in the scheduling for conferees that might not be ready to submit yet. This is okay at these conferences and the conferee should be sure to find out what the rules are when they attend. We call these "teaching appointments."

When it is acceptable most agents and editors don't mind teaching appointments, many even enjoy them. I know I do as long as I know right from the beginning that is what it is instead of sitting there waiting for a pitch that isn't coming.

A teaching appointment is a great chance to get comfortable with the process of having a one on one about your project. It's a good chance to test the water on the viability of the project you have in progress which could affect the way you are going with it. With an agent appointment it's a chance to see if you need an agent or if you are ready for one. It's a chance to network and make connections that could be important to you down the road.

Editors and agents have committed time to the conference and we like to see good use made of it. So if you are at a conference that allows such appointments I encourage you to make the most of them if that is the point where you are in your writing.

It's a chance to see that editors and agents don't bite . . . and in fact, want the best for you and your writing and will help if they can.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wearing our heart on our sleeve

I meet 'em at conferences or communicate with them by email. Authors timidly holding out their treasure to me, not so much submitting for publication as they are looking for affirmation of their self-worth. I recognize it, I've been there. Who am I kidding, I'm still there.

I still need affirmation that what I am doing has value, affirmation that means more to me than publishing or making money. We write in a vacuum, and we need feedback to tell us what we are doing is WORTH doing. Personally I have associations with people who give me that affirmation when I need it.

I try to pass it on. When I interface with writers I try to give them that encouragement even if what they offer is something that is not right for me and the odds say that most of them won't be a good fit for me. That says nothing about the project or the writing, but I get hundreds of good projects sent to me and I surely can't take them all. That means I am looking for ones that are better than good, ones that are exceptional.

All agents and publishers are the same way, we all know the numbers and the unfortunate part of our job is having to pass on projects simply because something else works better for us. That's where the heart on the sleeve comes in. Too many writers take it personal. It not only fails to be the affirmation they are seeking but it is rejection.

That's just not the way to look at it. There's nothing personal about it, unless they get back to you and say something tacky in which case you should consider the source. It's just business. We are all picking the best offering we can find for a limited number of slots and even some good projects just aren't going to fit. It takes time to match up just the right project at just the right place in front of just the right person at exactly the right time. At any given time a project may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry and it can be hard to make that connection. Later it may only fit at one place but now that place is different. It takes patience and perseverance.

And that affirmation we need? We have to learn where we can get that . . . and should not be surprised if we don't get it from people who are just busy conducting business.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Children's books

I don't handle children's books, nothing younger than middle readers. I've thought about taking on some younger offerings, I even went to a conference that deals with this age fare to help me make up my mind. What did I come up with? I think they are all really cute and I've found I am no judge of why one is better than another one.

If I can't judge them then I can't select the ones that are best and that I should be representing. So I don't.

I'd read any of them to my grandkids and maybe that is the problem, I'm a grandpa. Not just a grandpa but in fact have ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They call me 'Po.' Decided on that name themselves. Others refer to me as 'grandpa Terry' and that's ok too.

So when it comes to children's books, I'm not an agent, I'm a fan. I'm a grandpa and I love to be that. It's more important to me than being an author or agent, much more important.

Speaking of grandchildren, the young lady sitting beside me in the above picture is a little older now. In fact Iwill be attending her graduation from Abilene Christian University in Abilene Texas this Saturday. We are very proud of her. We will be there cheering her on of course, that goes without saying.

The picture on the right  is the same girl, Mandy Lambright with my mother as she graduated from Carlsbad (NM) High School. I wish mom could be going with us to see this graduation too. And believe me I REALLY wish mom was going to be with us for Mothers Day tomorrow, but I know where she is, and I wouldn't wish her back even if I could.

Children's books? I'm content to just be a reader, someone else can do a better job of handling them.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Miting by Dee Yoder


Client Dee Yoder's book, The Miting, has released from Kregel Publications, the first in a three book series. She is currently editing her second Novel, The Powerful Odor of Mendacity and is working on the second of her Amish fiction novels, The Way Out. She writes short story fiction for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge and her work has been published in The Evangel, Good Tidings, and The Quill magazines. She is a voluntary writer for Dee's News: The Former Amish Newsletter with Mission to Amish People (MAP Ministry). She is happily married to Arlen, and they have a son, Joseph, who is in college. She is active on the Amish Forum and Discussion board which she helped to create with the founder of Mission to Amish People, Joe Keim.  She has a personal connection to the Amish through her husband’s family, who are from the Holmes County Ohio Amish community and has connections through many ex-Amish who are involved with Mission to Amish People in her hometown area.

Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. She does not desire Englisher fashion, all-night parties, movies, or lots of boyfriends. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. She wants to know why Amish life is the only lifestyle her family accepts, why the church has so many rules, and . . . most disturbing, how godly men can allow her best friend to be abused in her own home. In the pressure-cooker environment of church and family, Leah is not allowed to ask these questions. When finally she reaches the breaking point, she walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. Though adapting amiably to the Englisher world, Leah is tormented with homesickness. Returning to the community, however, entails a journey of pain and sorrow Leah could never have imagined. The miting—shunning—that will now be Leah’s unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?
 This is a powerful book, written out of first-hand work with the Mission to Amish People organization. The order link for the book is here.