December 29, 2008

Year End Report

I do a little bookkeeping, both professionally and as a volunteer for my local ACFW chapter. In accountant's terms, the final bottom line for the year tells you where you're at, leaving little to debate.

The bottom line on my personal "P&L" for 2008 aint lookin so good.

It's been a great, rough year for me. I've learned a lot, and unfortunately, a lot of what I learned came in typical Camille form: The Hard Way.

As a writer, I have been given much. I've received writing opportunities I hadn't dreamed of, including a scholarship to attend Mt Hermon, invitations to send a manuscript to editors, and a semi-finaling entry in a publishing contest. I've received encouragement from authors, editors, agents, and readers (ahem, thanks Mom). I've received wisdom & help from generous mentors like Mary DeMuth, Randy Ingermanson, Ane Mulligan and many, many others. I've been blessed with a tight-knit critique group that encourages me and pushes me to do better. I've met dozens writers locally, nationally & online who understand this calling and this journey, and who graciously sharpen and cheer one another on as artists and as business professionals. Like winning the lottery, it seemed all this was just handed over to me unearned. What's the catch?

Balance has never been high on my list of strengths. Okay, it's not even ON the list. Imbalance is acceptable when a little off-beat humor is in order, but it tends to be hard on relationships. It can be a relationship killer, actually. For me, with the blessing of writer's groups and new friends and opportunities and newfound craft sharpening tools came a new obsession with all things writing. And when I say obsession, I mean in true Camille form. ALL OR NOTHIN. Which means that over this past year, I have neglected some critical things in my life: my husband, my kids, and my Lord. And the fruit of this folly has become painfully ripe.

This year, as a Wife, Mom & Child of God, I've learned some things, as previously mentioned, The Hard Way. Sorry if getting personal makes you squirm, but if my purpose in life is to communicate, then what I say must be true, though I'll do my best to say it in a way that stings me more than it does you. (Hey, I made a rhyme. Who knew.)

While focused on finishing a novel this year, I pulled away from ministry, functions, friends. I've put spending time on writing/researching/networking over spending time with my husband and kids. I've learned that after doing this for a while, lines of communication break down and walls begin to form. I've also neglected time with the Lord, time in his word and in prayer, and it shows. I've done and said things I shouldn't have, not done and said things I should have, unintentionally hurting people I love, borne out of thoughtlessness or selfishness. That really sucks. Or stinks, more accurately. Like rotting flesh.

I've made some poor decisions this year, some either as a direct or indirect result of the way I've spent my time. But those writing blessings, answered prayers, and opportunities have made it clear to me that the Lord is behind this writing gig. What was He thinking giving this to me? Why would He give such things to someone who can't handle it? It's like dropping a lottery windfall on a spendaholic. Was this a test? If so, I flunked big time.

But this is the way Camille learns life lessons. The Hard Way.

Following the lottery analogy, I'd say I overspent this year's allowance, find myself 'in debt' at year's end.

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions - I don't see the point of resolving to do something just because you flip a page on your cheesy dollar store calendar. If you need to make changes, why wait until January 1st? There's no more magic in the beginning of a new month/year/century/millenneum than there is in a new day.

But since 2008's bottom line is the starting point for 2009, I can see the red, see where I'm out of balance, see where changes need to be made. I would like to write another novel this year, but I would like to do this with balance, with my family's blessing, and with the Lord's help. This means making some major changes in the way I roll, but I know now that these changes were needed all along. The blessings of this last year put me in a place that forced me to see that I cannot continue to spread myself thin any longer, giving less than my best to those I love most, tossing crumbs and lip-service to God and to my family.

I'm thankful for what God has given and shown me. I'm also very grateful for the grace and forgiveness shown me. And most of all, I am blessed beyond measure by my wonderful family. Dan: thank you your patience, forgiveness, encouragement, support, your sacrifices for your family, your purposeful, steadfast faith---for everything.

Dan, Shane, Ben and Janae, Mom and Dad: I'm sorry I haven't been there. I love you.

December 19, 2008

Question For YOU

First off, if you’re a writer and you’re still looking for your ‘voice’. . . STOP!

In response to the question posed in my last blog post, some of my favorite authors, editors and agents generously offered their thoughts on what it takes to develop that essential yet elusive element called author voice. Do yourself a favor and read their comments.

So all this excellent advice has motivated me to get Down and Dirty and really WRITE. Allow what I’ve learned so far to gel, while tossing off the gloves and throwing all sorts of gutsy, inelegant punches.

“So, Camille,” you say, checking your watch. “Did you say you had a question?”

Yeah, I do. I’ve been brainstorming to create a new storyworld, new plot, characters and conflicts for my next novel. But after 10 pages of rambling, it became clear that I have TWO novels. One involves immigrants and would take place in a Depression era setting—a time, people and way of life completely foreign to me requiring MAJOR steepage into research, and the other—a contemporary story set in a fictional town I already know very well featuring a sharp-tongued heroine with a chip on her shoulder. And a growling Fat Boy.

“So, what—you’re saying she’s like YOU?”

Aw, look at you, keeping right up. No. Let’s get one thing clear. I do NOT resemble that chick in any way.

But let’s just say I did. I wonder which story idea would allow me the freedom to write with abandon? The one that would require me to constantly think about idioms, social perceptions, customs both American and of the immigrants, attitudes, lifestyle, and the natural rigors of daily life? Or the story that flows freely and requires no interruption to check every word and every move for accuracy?

“So,” you say with a taut little nod, “you want help deciding which of these stories to work on next?”

Your lips look really tight right now, by the way. Makes you look like a muppet.

I guess if I’m going to ask for help deciding which story to write, I should first state my goal. And I’d do that if I knew what IT was.

Is my goal to work on a story that will give me the freedom to write with abandon and develop my voice? Or is my goal to lay down an intriguing storyworld and build a drama/suspense that reads like a killer box-office hit movie? Which project should I commit to for the next year? Which one is most worth my time and energy?

And not to be forgotten is that most important voice, that of the Master. The Psalmist said, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

Yes. Absolutely right. But I’d like to know: is the Lord a Pantser or Plotter??

December 6, 2008

Still Hearing Voices . . .

I play bass guitar and learned to train my ears to hear the bass lines in music. It was cool when I discovered the ability to recognize not only lines, but certain artists’ styles. (Sting & Clapton are great for that.) I am now hoping to apply that mysteriously astute part of my little brain to writing.

I am currently working through a sizeable To Be Read pile. I recently finished reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m sorry to say I had not read her until now. Her voice hit a chord right from the start (and her first novel!) For some whacked reason, I have a hard time finding books written in a style and voice that interest me. And I KNOW there are tons of really great writers out there—so obviously the problem is with Camille. One author whose voice grabbed me on page one and latched on for the rest of the book was W. Dale Cramer with Summer of Light. So did Sara Gruen with Water For Elephants.

I also just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees, another of those highly acclaimed works I never got around to reading until now. Now Sue Monk Kidd has a smooth, soothing voice and handles touchy, painful topics in a sensitive way. I’m currently reading Lisa Samson’s Embrace Me, and next up is Olson’s Shade, Ingermanson’s Oxygen (again), then Cramer’s Sutter’s Cross and Levi’s Will, and Samson’s Quaker Summer. I await Mary DeMuth's newest series. Right now, I plan to read more of Cramer and Samson in an effort to identify their author voice, especially when each story is told from the view of different characters.

Lisa Samson makes me mad. Her ‘voice’ is confident, knows when and how it may break the rules of writing, and brings such a rich hue to the story. I don’t mean to compare my work to hers (good grief, I may be green, but I’m not stupid) but I can’t help noticing the freedom of speech with which she writes and how glaring a contrast it is to my reserved, rule-strapped little writing voice.

For now. I am an obsessed student of this writing craft and I WILL learn to free my voice, even if it kills me. :)

Maybe all this reading will shed a wee bit of light on the whole “author voice” mystery and help answer the burning question you and I and are dying to ask these authors: how do you, as a writer, keep your wry wit, polished profundity and organic originality intact while following the Rules of Great Writing . . . or at least giving them a reverent nod in passing?

Dare me to ask them?

November 29, 2008

Hearing Voices

What is it about an author’s voice and style that allows a loyal reader to read an excerpt of their latest work and be able to identify the author? Not that I can do that, I’m only just beginning to compile a list of my favorite authors. It seems I’m finally coming out from under the rock I’ve been living under since I began having babies back in the ‘80’s, (please don’t tell my children I said they crawled out from under a rock) and am only now discovering authors whose writing voices ‘speak’ to me. A couple of these are:

W. Dale Cramer

Barbara Kingsolver

Susan Meissner

Randy Ingermanson

Sara Gruen

I enjoy these author’s voices, but I sure don’t write anything like them. I’m leery of “branding” my writing any time soon; in fact, after reading Chip MacGregor’s latest post on branding, I’m not too worried about defining my writing brand for quite a while. The only definition I can give my writing at the moment is Nicholas Sparks meets Karen Kingsbury at an off-beat little comedy club. A little more Nicholas than Karen. Gayle Roper read an excerpt and synopsis of my first novel and told me I’d written “an intelligent romance.” I took that as a compliment, although I didn’t actually check to see if she’d meant it as one. So I really haven’t written enough to analyze. Right now, I am enjoying reading and analyzing the work of others.

So there are many more books on my TBR list. These are a few topping the list because I have a feeling I’m going to hit it off with them too:

Lisa Samson

John B. Olson

Michael Snyder

Jamie Langston Turner

My question to you: Do you know these authors and their work, and if so, do you see a pattern to this list? If you are familiar with their work and know of other authors with similar elements of voice and style, I’d love to hear some reading recommendations.

November 24, 2008

Back To Bloggin

So apparently, I went ahead and entered that Zondervan/Mt Hermon First Novel Competition after all. How could I NOT enter? I met all the criteria, thanks to a string of strange coincidences. No, you’re right. Not coincidence. I call these convenient convergences of opportunity ‘God-incidents.’ Anyway, imagine a clipped squeal when I took a break from scrubbing toilets last Saturday to peek at my inbox and found a message saying my novel had semi-finaled in the contest and asking me to send the full manuscript. My husband thought I’d seen a spider.

So The Novel is sent and I wait till Feb 1 for finalists to be announced, which means my kids will get their favorite Christmas cookies this year after all. I could be really candid here and tell you what I think my chances of finaling are, but I won’t. A very cool Oklahoman told me recently that there are no odds with God. I could tell you that if I don’t win, I’ve already been blessed by this contest because 1. It forced me to scrape up the nerve to submit and 2. It got me fired up to finish the ding-dong thing on a deadline, which I did. But I won’t tell you that either.

I will say that since The Novel is sent, there is no point working on it at the moment, so I am free to blog again. We may discuss some of the topics covered in my novel, things like loss and grieving, tests of faith, praying for your enemies, and haggis. And possibly beach volleyball. World Peace is always a hot topic here, too. So if you have a preference or suggestion, post away.

September 30, 2008

Wot? No Blog?

Uhhh....yeah. I meant to tell you. I've been suffering from a severe case of Blogger's Block. The doctor thinks he's got a cure, though. He prescribed Getalife. That should boost production of charming, witty profundity cells where there currently are none.

To be quite honest, I've been putting all my time and energy into polishing up that heartbreaking work of staggering genius (or is it the other way around? I always forget) novel to send off to that agent, that editor and perhaps even that Zondervan/Mt Hermon Contest. More about the contest HERE.

Well....almost all my time. Some of my time is spent goofing off on FaceBook. Other portions of my precious time are spent finding creative ways to avoid cooking dinner, or calling in paramedics when I announce I'm actually cooking dinner and my family passes out.

July 12, 2008

One Eye on the Rear-View Mirror

Ever find yourself driving down the road with one eye on the road and the other on the rearview mirror? Ever look back and realize you’d come much farther than you thought? Or are you like me—pedal to the metal, straight ahead, never looking back?

The road for me is endless. And though I keep my eye focused on the horizon, I don’t think I’ll ever reach my destination.

I am not an Olympic Gold Medalist Christian, Wife, Mom, Employee, Friend, Musician, Biker, Artist, Teacher, Blogger or Writer. I’m not silver or bronze, either. I’m not even a fairly good . . . any of those. Do I expect myself to be?


So, on the heels of looking for permission to be where I am for now, and seeking patience and active contentment, I am reminded of another compounding issue: how easy it is to forget how far I’ve come.

I received a very touching e-mail from my sister on Mother’s Day last year. It made me cry, which in turn made me want to beat her up. Her email told me how proud she is of me and of how far I’ve come in life in spite of my background, and proud of the kind of person I’d become. Whoa. This was coming from a person who I never thought had much use for me and who I certainly never thought had any respect for the things I was trying to accomplish in my life. We have always had different perspectives, and we didn’t exactly get off on the best foot best as sisters.

When my mom and her dad got married, she was 16, I was 17 and between us, we’d experienced far more than any trusting, emotionally needy girl ought to, ever. By then neither of us had any trust in or expectations of anyone. At all. Probably not even of our selves.

So when I read her note, I was first shocked, then worried that we needed to get her meds checked. She’s not one to give approval lightly, at ALL, so to me, her words carried weight. Not that I don’t value compliments from others . . . I just don’t believe a word of it. But as I sat there trying to focus on the blurry screen through tears (well, I couldn’t see, so maybe she really said “p-o’ed” instead of “proud”) it occurred to me that I had forgotten how far I’d come. Here I am constantly dissatisfied with my current progress as Christian, wife, mom, writer, etc, etc, but forgetting that by the grace of God there has been so much healing, growth and progress in my life up to this point that some would think it a miracle, and me ungrateful. And I guess it would be true.

God had Joshua and his people haul boulders out of the Jordan River and make a memorial, something tangible so they would never forget how God had delivered them.

How could they forget, those ungrateful dolts.

So, to my desire for patience and active contentment, I would like to add a healthy amount of memory. Not too much, but not wiped so clean that I forget where I came from.

And most of all, gratitude.

Thank you, Jesus. It’s only by your sweet grace and endless patience that I am even HERE.

July 3, 2008

Permission To Be Here . . . For Now

The other day, I had the colossal nerve to think there are a couple of lines in my current novel that aren't too shabby. This morning, I cracked open Water For Elephants. Incredible, captivating writing, spectacular voice, charming wit, depth & heart.

Wow. After an hour I put it down – I had to get ready for work. Part of me couldn't put it down; part of me couldn't read any more. It's a beautifully crafted, engrossing reminder that my writing sucks.

I nearly broke the mouse punching the close button on my always-open novel document. Then I took a deep breath and heard a little voice saying that NO ONE expects my first novel to be as good as Sara Gruen's third (?) and a NYT bestseller at that.

No one but Camille.

I like---no, love a bar set so high my nose bleeds just squinting to see it. I love an impossible challenge when it comes to writing well. Sara sets the bar high, and I like that. But somewhere in all this straining, bleeding and reaching, I guess I need to look at where I am now and give myself permission to be HERE.

For now.

Habakkuk 2:3 says:
For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. (Amplified)

I will be patient and wait for the day my writing is at its best, but I will wait in earnest---pursuing excellence, writing, studying, honing, reading, listening, receiving instruction and correction and advice, working harder every day to reach that bar.

And I will keep reminding myself that it's okay to be here (while pinching my nostrils and pressing an ice pack to my forehead).

Just wanted to share that. Best of God's blessings to you...wherever you "are."


June 26, 2008

Farewell, Our Indian Daughter

Mercy will return home to India this week after spending a year enduring the warped humor and affectionate teasing of The Eide Family. Technically, we were her 'host family', but it seems strange to call it hosting - she's become one of us. Poor kid. Thankfully, Mercy is a very intelligent, fun-loving, easy going girl. She's quick to get a joke and laughs easily when teased or burped on, which is a daily occurence with a brother like Ben around. Especially when she makes her excellent Indian Curry.

We will miss her and her affectionate, bubbly personality, her positive outlook on life, and most of all - besides her cooking - we will miss her laugh. It's sort of a blended laugh/giggle, starts low and rises into a cute little chatter that reminds me of the chipmunks who laugh at Smudge, our fat bunny.

We don't know if we will get to see Mercy in India, or if we'll see her back in the States one day pursuing a career in medicine; we hope to, Lord willing. But one thing we do know: She accepted Christ as her Savior and was baptized while she was here in America, so we will see her again, if not here, then in heaven. Where the curry won't cause heartburn, and where no matter how much raw garlic Ben eats, he won't be able to burp on Mercy. He'll have to find some other way to torment her.

May 26, 2008

Bring Out The Blarney Stone, It's Election Year

Shane, my missionary son, visited THE Blarney castle housing the famous Blarney stone. Shane writes:

It's Blarny Castle in County Cork, about a four hour drive away. It's on the west coast of Ireland. There's a stone at the top of the castle that, according to tradition, you're supposed to kiss. It'll give you 'the gift of gab.' Apparently, that's where you become a very tactful and witty speaker. Winston Churchill kissed it and look how he ended up. I didn't kiss it. I figured I didn't need the gift of gab. (~Shane Eide, Missionary & Novelist)

So I did a great deal of follow up research which took about 2.3 google seconds. The Wise and Almost All-Knowing Wikipedia offers this list of fascinating theories involving the stone:

* the Stone was the stone that Jacob used as a pillow, and was brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah
* the Stone was the pillow used by St. Columba of Iona on his deathbed
* the Stone was the Stone of Ezel, which David hid behind on Jonathan's advice, while fleeing from King Saul, and may have been brought back to Ireland during the Crusades
* the Stone was the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their flight from Egypt
* in Ireland, the Stone was known as the Lia Fail or "Stone of Destiny", part of the king's throne, with mysterious powers
* the stone's powers were revealed to the McCarthys by a witch who had been saved from drowning

A couple more mildly interesting items to note:

1. According to common legend, the stone is believed to be half of the Stone of Scone which originally belonged to Scotland. Scottish Kings were crowned over the stone because it was believed to have special powers. One story says an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to talk sweetly. He was able to talk anyone into doing things. The stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in return for his support in a battle. Queen Elizabeth I wanted the Irish chiefs to agree to hold their own lands under title from her. Cormac Teige McCarthy, the Lord of Blarney, handled her every Royal wish with clever promises keeping loyalty to the Queen without "giving in." Elizabeth proclaimed that McCarthy was giving her "a lot of Blarney." This is how the story began that if you kiss the blarney stone you will also be able to make clever promises.

2. Apparently, the stone inspired this wee poem:

"There is a stone that whoever kisses,
Oh! he never misses to grow eloquent
'Tis he may clamber to a lady's chamber,
Or become a member of parliament."

~ Francis Sylvester Mahony, who may have actually kissed the stone before he penned this verse.
3. Rumor has it that locals are known to 'relieve' themselves on it. I'm glad to hear my son decided against puckering up to it. Smart lad.

So those who seek the gift of gab may ---with a little gymnastic effort ---kiss the stone.

Now here is where I'm confused. Some define the gift of gab as eloquence or skill at flattery. I always thought the "gift of gab" was the ability to talk much and say little. Maybe it's the same thing?

May 23, 2008

Shane Sent Me A Castle . . .

. . . Which is almost as cool as my husband buying me a Harley. #1 Son sent some photos, but no details. I'll have to find out what it is we're looking at and post it later. He said Blarny Castle, but I always thought Blarny was something people say when they don't really know what they're talking about.
Isn't this lovely, though?
I am pressing/nagging him to swim on over next door and scope out Scotland for me, especially the mid-lowland area where my novel is partially set. Do you think I can get him to do it?

May 21, 2008

Robin Jones Gunn Book Giveaway

All right, Robin Jones Gunn fans---she has a new Sisterchicks book just released May 20 and she's having a book giveaway. Hop on board if you want a chance to win a copy of "Sisterchicks Go Brit!"

Robin, I hope you send the Sisterchicks to north to Scotland next. Or better yet, send ME!

Go to for details.

May 15, 2008

My Son Arrived In Ireland

Our son Shane arrived in Gorey, county Wexford yesterday - or the day before - I get jet lag just trying to wrap my head around the time difference. He'll be spending about 6 months there working in the church he helped plant two years ago.

He'll be visiting the Blarny Castle in Cork today, so I'll do the mom thing and get photos from him that I can post here. He saw lots of castles when he lived there before, but didn't get any photos. I guess everyone in Ireland has a castle in their backyard, so there's really nothing novel about it, the same way everyone in Texas has a pool, or everyone in Hollywood has a plastic surgeon.

Pray for the Agape International Church: Shane, Pastor David and others serving in this church would like to develop a solid youth group and leadership for the church before they return to the States in the Fall. They have a heart for youth of Gorey.

And speaking of love, Shane was greeted by two unexpected roomates. He was under the impression he wouldn't be sharing a room, but discovered both beds occupied when he went in to get some sleep. Hamsters. One on each bed. And by the sound of it, not in cages. Shane told us he was able to clear away the wood chips and get some sleep. I hope allergies won't keep the roomies from getting along. Especially the hamsters.

April 30, 2008

Me & My New Ride

Here's my bike. I'll have to figure out how to upload the idle.
THIS is one growling beast of a hog.
So is the bike. :)

April 20, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

Imagine my surprise when my darling stud of husband of nearly 25 years pulled me out of my writing cave last Sunday in my writing attire including bare feet, and escorted me out the front door. With a silly big grin.

He wanted to show me somethin. But I heard that deep throated V-Twin cruiser rumble and felt the ground pulsate before I rounded the corner of the garage and saw it.

That's right. A Harley. My husband thought I'd dreamed and whined about wanting one long enough. That or he just really loves me and knows this chick gets WAY more excited about an idle you can hear for miles, shiny chrome and black leather than some stuffy old jewelry.

We'll be celebrating our 25th this summer. On the road. If I can figure out a way to get him a matching one. Maybe I'll sell the NOVEL I'm cramming to finish and I can buy him one too.

Thanks, honey. You ROCK!!

April 5, 2008

Friday Shoppers vs Saturday Shoppers

I shop for groceries weekly, have to, that’s how the buck rolls. And with a husband and 4 young adult children (16-22) in the house, I’d face mutiny if I didn’t provide a steady supply of food. Of course, the worst they (the big kids, that is) can do is go on strike, which would look pretty much the same as it does now, or abandon ship, which I think is actually the point.

Before becoming a serious writer, I used to grocery shop on Friday mornings, my day off from the day job. But as a writer trying to put out a decent word count, I discovered Fridays offer me a priceless sanctuary: 8 hours of empty house. You can’t buy that, not even with homemade cinnamon rolls. Which I should have known would backfire. duh.

So I’ve started shopping on Saturdays. What a culture shock! I’ve repented of taking my Friday co-shoppers for granted.

On Fridays, I used to pass other single, swift shoppers with carts they’ve also made sure roll straight BEFORE they loaded up, lists in hand, good walking shoes on their feet and a goal in their eyes. These people know what they want, how much they want to spend and how many other stops they can make before the ice cream melts. They bag their groceries quickly, pay and disappear.

Saturdays, when the determined Friday shoppers are doing something productive, I am in the store with co-dependent couples and entire families who obviously don’t drink coffee or anything else that might shake them violently from their stupor and who:

1) don’t realize that the rules of the road could be of benefit in a grocery aisle,

2) don’t seem to notice that there are people waiting on either side of their ‘what do we want for dinner, everyone?’ logjam in the center of an aisle,

3) don’t move at any measurable speed,

4) just discovered there are choices of prices, sizes and brands and pull up a chair to ponder the differences,

5) move slower than a submission in a slush pile,

6) loudly discuss the drama in their lives for everyone else to hear,

7) bring tired, hungry, bored children to the store and ignore the amount of noise they make and where they crawl, stand, sit, play or poop,

8) wait until ALL their groceries have been rung up and paid for before they start bagging them,

9) stare at their cart full of bagged groceries and wonder how they’ll carry all this stuff on the bus home.

Haven’t these people heard of being proactive? Prepared?


I marvel at the couples who need to do their shopping together, as though they can’t make a decision, push a cart, or bag it up on their own. And who wait until Saturday, wasting an entire day doomp-de-doomping at a leisurely pace in a place where I want spend no more of my life than is critical to my survival.

Such a waste of time. Isn’t it? Or do some people actually enjoy being together no matter how much they block the aisles? Maybe they just know how to relax. Maybe they really LIKE spending an entire Saturday hanging out in a grocery store together. Maybe I should start bringing my husband and our gang with me to the store.

Maybe . . . then we could discuss our lives and our drama with each other instead of penciling it in on my list of things to do . . .

March 23, 2008

Back to the Shire from Mt Hermon

I’m back from Mount Hermon, back to my ordinary world, but, like Frodo, things in the Shire will never be the same.

This conference blessed me in many ways. I connected with people I needed to meet in person, made new friends, learned, gave and received encouragement, laughed, and wept in awe of God's grace.

And then there was that other thing I did not expect.

I won’t go into story mode (this is a blog, not a novel) with the details; I’ll just say that I went to Mt Hermon fully intending to keep my novel to myself and be the late-blooming, knowledge-hungry sponge that I am. I'm not sure how I ended up having my novel requested in full by one house and in part by another two. And I don't know how I ended up sitting next to The Snowflake Guy (also known as the Supreme Dictator for Life) on the flight home and discussing the potential of my work, which he actually mentioned on his blog.

Even though I received manuscript requests and encouraging feedback that I'm still not entirely convinced wasn't a sleep-deprivation induced hallucination, the grand take-away from Mt Hermon---besides the AWESOME Christian writerly people I got to meet in person---was the call to be more than a novelist; to be a communicator. (No keynoter said it; it just came on the breath of one small voice.) I don’t know what variety of forms this will take, but I am excited to see what God will do.

I also came home with a need to finish my novel quickly and very, very, very well.

And I will. And you will want to read it, because you would like an intelligent, faith inspiring love story.

February 29, 2008

Hello, My Name is Camille, And I'm A Wordaholic

We met for our local ACFW chapter meeting the other night. I never liked going first when there's a round-the-room intro, I always think of what I should have said after I hear everyone else.

I might have said: Hello--my name is Camille, and I'm a wordaholic.

About a year ago, I was thinking about writing a novel. I'd never heard of acfw, pov, mru, or storyworld or scene and sequel. Goal-Conflict-Disaster was just another name for parenting teens. Definitely never heard of making a novel out of a snowflake. Head hoppers and pantsers could have been slang for the people I quit hanging around after I got saved.

A year ago the thought never entered my mind to quit making homestyle dinners and cleaning toilets, to join a critque group, to spend hours and hours into the night pounding at the keyboard, to sign up for feeds from writing blogs and leave posts everywhere like a puppy in training, to attend writing workshops, to read stacks of books on writing craft, to download a fiction writing course, to think about how to market myself, or to attend a writer's conference. Or to whine to gracious, wise ones for extra help in getting it right. When I look at the bio I am crafting for my upcoming proposal, I see someone who didn't exist a year ago. Pretty weird when I think about it.

I'm counting down the days until the MT HERMON CHRISTIAN WRITER'S CONFERENCE in March. Lately I've been glued to a few pages of a proposal and the first few of my story that keeps shedding skin and emerging a tiny bit tighter each time, and talking about little else besides pre-subbing and morning tracks and elevator pitches and agent panels and the one thing to never include on the business card when you're unpublished. A year ago, this would have been a foreign language. To family and friends, it still is.

I wonder where I'd be today if a year ago someone told me what writing a novel actually takes.

I'd like to think . . . I'd be right here. In a maniacal frenzy to get ready for MT Hermon.

Oh, here's that bio.

Qualifications: Camille has a PhD in Learning Things the Hard Way. She’s acquainted with dysfunction, pain, despair, and the hope that comes from knowing Christ. She’s a cynic saved by grace who simply wants to encourage herself and others to turn that amazing grace around and use it on those other pesky people.

Camille lives with her family in Oregon. She has been relentlessly pursuing the craft of writing. She is an active member of the Oregon Christian Writers, The American Christian Fiction Writers and her local ACFW chapter where she serves on the board of directors. Camille is a member of The Writer’s View2 and other quality Christian online writing communities that encourage and cultivate literary excellence. She meets with a local critique group. Her past writing credits include two published newspaper articles; she also produces church newsletters and scripts used in drama presentations.
Love Worth Fire is her first novel.

Are You an Aspiring Writer?

If you're an aspiring writer and want to get a writers conference in your inbox, consider joining The Writer View. It's free. It's amazing. And, seriously, you'll learn everything you'd learn at a writer's conference (sans meeting cool people face to face), only you don't have to pay airfare.

How they work: Each Monday and Thursday a panelist poses a question about the publishing industry, the craft of writing, or anything related to the writing journey. These panelists are agents, editors, writers who are well known in the Christian writing industry. Then, panelists and members write posts about the question raised.

It's a moderated loop, so there's no blatant self promotion. Word counts are limited to 250 per post. For beginning to intermediate writers, the group to join is TWV 2. Clickhere <http://groups. group/TWV2/> .

For advanced, published writers, join The Writers View. Click here<http://groups. group/TheWriters View/> .

You will be asked to fill out an application that you then send to the group's leadership. You'll receive an email letting you know whether you've been accepted.

I can't begin to tell you how being part of The Writer's View 2 has taken me to a level of writing that I would not have known without it. Between the advice, the encouragement, the examples of true professionals, and the links to excellent, high-quality writing resources, this group is a must!

January 25, 2008

This is a Blog, Doggonnitt!

......That means there should be some dog gone blogging going on. And there will be, soon. I'm waiting for Randy Ingermanson to dole out the secrets to Best Blogging Practices Ever ANY MINUTE NOW so we can get this baby rolling in the right direction. No hurry, Randy. Take your time.

In the meantime, here are some things I DO know about the future of this blog. This blog will NOT include:

*photos of my family. Well, maybe one or two of the dog. Jodi's really, really ugly in a hairball, Chewbacca kind of way.

Right: Jodi and her favorite snack.

Left: Jodi in her favorite reading spot.

Not pictured: Jodi stealing lettuce from the bunny's pen. She has a lettuce/carrot/or anything we might give to the rabbit obsession/fetish/addiction.

*meanderings about what we found at a garage sale (Did I mention I HATE SHOPPING, INCLUDING GARAGE SALES?? I know, that cuts out about 85% of the potential EXTREME KEYBOARDING community. Hey, I'm prepared to deal with that).

Right: Although he likes garage sales, I found this priceless treasure at Wendy's in 1980. I don't know if that makes him an antique. You'd never guess to look at him.

*musings about what I saw flattened in the road today. Well, no, I take that back. We might blog about things like that if there is a profound spiritual truth to be gained from it.

*Sports of ANY kind. Except keyboarding.

I want this blog to be something you find worth as much of your time to read as it is my time to provide. Hey, we could kill 2 birds with one bird in the hand.... or one stone is worth two birds in the bush.... Okay, I didn't know I had bird issues. Whatever.

Hey, as far as issues goes.... the only thing the self-help '80s and all that theraputic whining into a journal did for me was make me even more self-absorbed. Let's re-bag the issues and carry 'em around a while. Builds muscle.

And let's have a laugh while we're growing older and forced to get a little more serious. We may end up promoting world peace while we're at it. :)

In the next issue of EXTREME KEYBOARDING: How I Survived My Daughter's First Official Date. Includes an eye-opening lesson learned the hard way on selecting a hair stylist who speaks English and understands what "up-do" means.



I've published three novels and a novella (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have twenty-something kids. Decent trade, really. The window-rattling grumble isn't quite the same, but we are still enjoying the ride.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.