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.
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ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

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)

MY ROOTS:
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.

Camille's Books

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Like There's No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, and The Memoir of Johnny Devine are available in print & eBook at Amazon, B&N, Audible, Smashwords, iTunes, & Kobo.