Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ACFW Bragging


Just a little bragging. This was the dessert at the conference. It was yummy, and shortly after this photo was taken, it was gone. :P

This was my bed. It’s a king. I didn’t have to share with ANYBODY (except Teddy).

This is Teddy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Big Bang Theory

I’m back from ACFW. I learned a lot and I’m sure I’ll learn even more as I continue to reflect on the things that happened while I was there and when I receive the MP3s of the conference, and I can listen to the sessions again (or for the first time for those I missed).

Today I want to talk about The Big Bang Theory one of my favorite shows on TV right now. The show is about a group of friends, four of them brainy scientists, and the last the normal girl who lives across the hall.

Leonard and Sheldon, two physics professors in their mid-twenties, are a bit socially awkward. Actually, Leonard is a bit socially awkward; he’s nervous talking to girls and sometimes tends to babble about scientific things when he gets nervous. There is a certain charm to Leonard’s awkwardness, because it comes from a heart with good intentions.

Sheldon, on the other hand is a lot socially awkward and there is little that is charming about him. He is a know it all who really doesn’t. He’s brain smart, but not street smart. He doesn’t understand humor or sarcasm, though he attempts to learn them. He frequently insults his friends, but doesn’t understand why they become angry with him when he does. He’s overly analytical, and the concept of suspension of disbelief is foreign to him. He’s super set in his routine, and becomes unbearable if this routine is upset. Despite all of these negatives, there is a certain innocence to Sheldon that comes across as almost refreshing.

Leonard and Sheldon live across the hall from Penny, an aspiring actress from the Midwest who is biding her time by working at the Cheesecake Factory. There is an attraction between her and Leonard, but she finds it hard to overcome some of his more awkward moments. She and Sheldon don’t really get along at all, frequently fighting, and occasionally declaring all out war, as she tries to push Sheldon out of his shell. Penny is mostly sweet, but is not afraid to tell it like it is when one of the guys really needs to hear it. She is sometimes amazed at how well she gets along with these guys who are so different from her.

Frequently at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment are their friends Howard and Raj. Howard is a wannabe lady’s man who is definite more creepy than attractive, and not just because he lives with his mother (who we’ve never seen) and frequently gets into shouting matches with her. He is the only one of the “geeks” that does not have a Ph.D. in Physics, but instead has a Masters in Engineering. He likes to impress girls with the fact that he works at a secret government facility (where he gets the Mars Rover stuck in a ditch) and that he has designed equipment on the International Space Stations (the malfunctioning toilet).

Unlike Howard, who most girls just wish would shut up, Raj cannot talk to girls unless he is under the influence of either alcohol or experimental drugs. From time to time he almost disappears from the scenes when a girl walks into the room, and if he needs to speak he does so by whispering in one of the other guys’ ear. This is unfortunate because some of the best comeback lines come from Raj.

The Big Bang Theory is among some of the smartest shows on TV right now. It combines a level of intelligence many can only dream of accomplishing, with real life problems and events that we can all relate to. If you’re looking for a new show that’s genuinely funny, try The Big Bang Theory.





Monday, September 21, 2009

What I learned from ACFW Conference 2009

What I learned from ACFW Conference 2009:

  • How (not) to write a proposal
  • Always read what you’re getting into
  • It’s your expectations that may disappoint you (those last two are ones that other people discovered and I’m just learning from their mistakes)
  • Sometimes what people say they want is not REALLY what they want.
  • Jamba (think Jamba Juice) is the Swahili word for “intestinal wind.”
  • You never who where you’re going to meet someone who will really impact your life.
  • Take down the “special diet” card BEFORE dessert (if you’re a vegetarian)
  • There’s a Potbelly’s restaurant in Midway Airport (I learned this on the way to ACFW conference, but it’s still very important information)
  • Write things down when they come to you. You will forget.
  • Buy the MP3s. You won’t remember everything (especially if you weren’t there)
  • There’s always justification for spending money in the bookstore.
  • Lost luggage covers all seven basic plot categories: tragedy, comedy, overcoming the monster, voyage and return, quest, rags to riches (but in reverse), rebirth (Thankfully I didn’t learn this from experience either).
  • Deus Ex Machina is okay in Greek Tragedy, but it doesn’t work so well in modern fiction.
  • Some people talk to much
  • Pretty much wherever you are you will find someone willing to talk about college football (especially during football season)
  • Not everything is supposed to be double spaced (shock to all students)
  • Be flexible.

As I stop and think about this more I’m sure I will come up with more things to remember, such as, never, ever give up (even if one year you win the award for most rejections), and the best way to do research for a novel, but these are the things that have stuck with me through the brain frizzle of the past week.

Thanks to everyone at the ACFW that made the conference possible, it really was a blessing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Freakout before Denver

Two more days until I leave for Denver and the ACFW conference. I have business cards, my one sheets, a proposal (which includes a synopsis – actually, several synopses of varying lengths) and a print-out of my full novel. I’ve bought new pens, paperclips, a business card case, and a new journal (because the one I got back in November is almost full). I know what book I’m taking to read on the bus and the plane. I even have my new NaNoWriMo “Author” mug to label myself.

I know there’s something I’m missing… oh, yeah… actually packing! You know… the actual physical putting of clothes into the suitcase… the making sure you have the contacts and solution, the medications, the toothbrush, etc. That’s the part that I’m actually missing. Oh, yeah… I also have to hem those new pants I bought (or I could take different pants).

But at the same time… I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really ready. Do I really know what I’m doing? Do I have everything memorized that I need to have memorized? Do I have all of my paperwork? Am I going to get to Chicago and not have my plane ticket? What if I can’t find the shuttle in Denver?

I tell myself to take deep breaths and that everything is going to be okay.

Next time you hear from me I’ll be in Denver (hopefully!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ACFW - American Christian Fiction Writers

For those who are curious about why I have so little time to write, I’m conference prepping. For those who want to know what I’m prepping for:

"The Premier Christian Fiction Conference"

STANDING FIRM...MOVING FORWARD

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 17 - 20, 2009

Bestselling authors, publishing industry representatives, and newcomers to Christian fiction writing will gather in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference September 17-20 to compare notes, learn from each other, and encourage one another in the pursuit of publishing goals.

This year’s conference theme , Standing Firm…Moving Forward, will especially inspire the full range of talent and dreams in the ever-changing publishing world today.

This amazing conference will feature representatives from major publishing houses like B & H, Guideposts, Zondervan, Harvest House, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, Bethany House, Waterbrook Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, Tyndale House, and Thomas Nelson, and top literary agents who will meet with writers and identify promising proposals from both new and veteran novelists. Conferees will have access to publishing panels, professional critiques, and customized workshops based on skills and interests.

The keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Learn more about the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference by visiting www.acfw.com. Click on the left sidebar on Annual Conference.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bringing the Go(o)ds to Market

In my college poetry class I reads a poem that contained the line “What if the go(o)ds refuse to go to market?” I don’t remember the name of the poem, or even Strickland’s first name (I only know that the last name is Strickland because it says so in the second paragraph), but I remember how much this line made me think, so I dug through my “Old Classes” files and dug this up.

I loved these lines in the poem. "What if the go(o)ds refuse to go to market? What then?" I think it is really though provoking because it presents the question, "What is the marketability of a god?" What is it about a god that would make a person want to buy (or for that matter, not buy) them? What are aspects of a god that if we were to see it on a shelf in Meijer we'd be like, "Who would actually buy that thing?" regardless of how much they were charging? Are there specific things we look for in a god that we wouldn't want to buy it if it didn't have them. Is a god like a car? Without the right features we're going to be like, "Nope, not quite what I'm looking for" and move on? Or is a god more like something that you see on QVC or the Home Shopping Network; something that you didn’t know you couldn’t live without? Or is a god like something from a garage sale? Can you barter down the price? Pick it up second hand from someone who doesn’t want their god anymore?

I also think it's interesting the play on gods and goods. By comparing a god to a good it is almost as though Strickland is saying that a god is an inanimate object that is sitting out there for our benefit to fill its purpose when we need it to. But she is at the same time using personification for goods (which are inanimate most of the time regardless of how you view God). Refusing is not a passive verb. It is an active verb, a VERY active verb. It implies a conscious choice and desire and an action that prevents one from doing something. An inanimate object cannot refuse to do anything. An apple cannot look at the farmer and be like, "I'm not going to go to market today, sorry" (and if it did that'd be a little scary).

So... what do you do with a bad good (hehe)? Do you put it in the corner for a time out? Do you spank it? Do you drag it to market despite its refusal? What would the farmer do if the apple wouldn't come out of the tree? If every vegetable or fruit decided it didn't want to be eaten? Then the farmer wouldn't be able to go to the market and he wouldn't be able to sell his food and he'd go broke and lose the farm (literally) and people will starve because they don't have the fruits and veggies they need and eventually civilization as we know it would collapse (but I exaggerate). If these are the possible repercussions from a simple apple uprising, what would happen if the gods were to revolt? What would happen if an entire pantheon was no longer marketable? Would it have the same effects?

So did the Greek pantheon die away into myth because Alexander died without leaving an heir, breaking up his kingdom and causing years and years of civil war and causing Ancient Greek culture to give way to the growing Roman culture? Or did the Ancient Greek culture die away because their gods were no longer needed, there were new gods to worship. But the Ancient Greek pantheon is a poor example because the Romans just assimilated their gods and gave them new names. Did Ancient Pagan Roman culture, a culture of relative enlightenment and great acts of barbarism die away because their gods, and the gods of those they conquered, were no longer necessary with the rise of Christianity and the Christian Roman Empire? Did these gods become no longer marketable, and so they, and the culture they inspired, fall to the wayside to give rise to another culture with a god that people were buying?

Will Christianity eventually become a culture with an unmarketable God? Will it eventually die away? And what god will be marketable after that? Has it already happened?