Thursday, September 27, 2007

More A.C.F.W. thoughts . . .

During the first general session Q & A, a couple of people asked the agent panel about elevator pitches. Maybe it's just me, but I cannot bring myself to pitch to someone without an appointment.

You should have seen the look of sheer terror on Chip's face when I stopped in the hall to just tell him 'Hi and how much I enjoy his blog.' I can't blame him. I'm sure he gets accosted all the time. He was cordial and friendly--especially after I assured him I just wanted to say Hi. He even looked at my name tag and informed the people around us that we were "Chip & Dayle."

I can't even bring myself to pitch at the meals. That is unless the host ask me to. At the Christian Writers Guild conference, it was obvious some of the editors did not want to hear pitches over lunch or dinner. One even said as much. Personally, I'd rather take the opportunity to ask questions and get a conversation going.

I must say that David Webb of B & H was a true gentleman. I sat at his table during one of the meals. He kindly asked each of us about our work in progress and even asked further questions and even gave some feedback. Above all, he seemed genuinely interested in each of us.

Kelly Mortimer was the first agent-hosted table I've sat at. She is um . . . she's something. Lots of energy. She wanted to know about each of us and made sure we were given equal time. Before my turn came the band started to play. She told me to stay after if I could and she would speak to me then. I did. And true to her word, she did also. Thanks, Kelly. (like she's ever gonna read this.)

I know several books encourage the elevator pitch, but to me, it reeks of desperation. Of course I am desperate, but that doesn't mean I have to reek it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A.C.F.W. Conference medley . . .

For those of you who don't know, the ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers.

I drove to the conference in Dallas with only a few modest goals:

1. meet 2 of my future ex-wives.

2. cause an impromptu bidding war on my manuscript.

3. get an agent to agree to represent me and then inform them in front of the rest of the conferees that they are not "Dayle James Arceneaux material"

I learned that I have an accent and received a couple of request to "say something". I also learned that being outnumbered 60 to 1 by women isn't so bad, but I did find myself longing to watch football and speak in a deeper voice.

On to the serious . . .

I met with three agents who all asked for a submission. My 1 editor appointment resulted in a request for a full.

What moved me . . .

I often joke about my disdain for the human race. "People are the worst." This joke is rooted in some truth. During the daily grind, I come across a lot of people for whom the kindness of others is simply an opportunity to take advantage of them. The world seems full of selfish, self-absorbed, narcissists who believe the rules only apply to others. They feel life is a game of I have to step on you before you step on me.

It is such a joy to be with a group of people who don't live that way. This was my second Christian Writer's conference and I am so proud to be a part of them. These people are genuine, warm, kind, and above all - giving beyond expectations. From the big publishing house editors, elite agents, multi-published authors, volunteers, to the first time attendees. The world could use more people such as these.

I heard no unkind words - only encouragement.
I saw no hints of jealousy - only joy for the success of others.
I saw no arrogance - only humble graciousness from those who have achieved.

I am honored to be counted among their peers. And, I look forward to the day when I can give to others at least as much as I have been given.

-dayle james arceneaux

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finally home . . .

I just got back from Dallas where I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. More on that in the next couple of days.

I had intended on posting from the conference, but the Marriott was the first hotel I have ever been to that charges for internet connection. $10 a day. That is sick. I refused to pay that much on Principle.

Now, before you accuse me of being a cheapskate - - Keep in mind: This is not a cheap hotel. I have stayed at economical hotels in the smokies that had free wireless in the room. The Marriott only had it in the lobby and you had to pay.

Scratch the Marriotts off of my list of hotel destinations. You felt that? That was the trembling of Marriott executives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Unexpected Discovery . . .

I was hiking an unmarked trail in The Smoky Mountains when I came across this beautiful scene.

Sometimes it is a wonderful thing to expect the unexpected.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Writing . . .

Resist the temptation to try to use dazzling style to conceal weakness of substance.

- Stanley Schmidt

Great content will shine through the veil of mediocre prose, but great writing cannot hide the stench of a bad story.

- Dayle James Arceneaux.

I figured I'd try to come up with one of these quotes. What do you think?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just wondering . . .

Is anyone gonna buy the O.J. book?

I predict a flop.

update: I just checked's bestseller list. It's # 1.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

America the Promise . . .

Remembering 9-11 made me think of this photo I took in North Carolina. It was a gorgeous, peaceful, autumn day and I remember just standing there and reflecting on America.

There are a lot of Americans who hate our country. And we have certainly had our faults. How could the bastion of Freedom explain the treatment of the Native Americans, slavery, and the continued denial of equal rights to Blacks well into the 20th century?

No, we're not perfect. But, when compared to the rest of the world, we are the ultimate defender of freedom and the light of hope for mankind. Our wonderful friends, such as Australia, Poland, Britain, and others wouldn't last too long against the forces of evil in this world without America. In fact, fascism and communism would dominate the planet without the U.S.

Imagine a world where the Nazi's won WWII, where communism had no limits, where men didn't step foot on the moon, where millions, maybe billions of people never received medical aid or food from America. Where free nations were not defended against tyrants.

If it were not for America, the Jewish people may have been exterminated. There certainly wouldn't be an Israel. And, Christianity would be confined to the dark alleys of the world.

Many forget that before WWII, Democracy was on its last legs, considered by many to be a failed experiment. Socialism, Communism, and Fascism were the dominant forms of government.

Yes, we have our faults. But please don't confuse our government with our nation. Governments will always be flawed. Power corrupts. It took a 185 yrs for the U.S. government to finally deliver the promise of freedom to the Black population. But, America recognized their right from the beginning. All men are created equal. Endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. It took a while, but we finally got there.

As a student of History, it is clear to me that despite our faults, America is the pinnacle of human achievement.

How dark would our world be without this shining city on a hill?

My fear: that shining light is starting to dim. The promise of America is still there. But, by pushing God out of our nation, we are slowly turning out that light. How can we recognize our God given rights, if we don't even acknowledge there is a God?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Two Scents - episode 1.

Prologues - Necessary element of a story? Or scourge of the earth?

I'm about to post my opinion on prologues. I have thought about this for many minutes. The subject of prologues is something I would like to share my opinions on. So stay tuned for my thoughts on prologues. Are you ready to hear my thoughts on prologues? Don't worry, I'm about to begin. But first, let me tell you about the first time I considered posting my thoughts on prologues. It was about an hour ago . . .

The above is why I don't like prologues. Valid or not, the net effect is that prologues are perceived by my brain to delay the story. The story starts at Chapter 1. Get to it.

When I buy a book, I want to immerse myself in that world. A prologue says "Hold on. Before you get to the exciting part, read this."

There are exceptions of course, but they are few.

I will definitely read an afterword. Somehow, they interest me because they might shed more light on the world the author created or why he created it or who knows what might be revealed. But, most importantly - since they are at the end of the book, they cannot delay the story.

Need to write a prologue - - - call it Chapter 1.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

To Kill a Manuscript . . .

Ever have doubts about your manuscript? Ever wonder why you can't write one in 8 months like everyone else? Ever wanted to throw your manuscript in the garbage?

Consider This . . .

It took Harper Lee at least five years to write To Kill a Mockingbird. Including not less than 2 1/2 years of re-writing.

On one particularly frustrating night in 1958, she threw the manuscript out of her apartment window. Fortunately, she called her editor who then convinced her to go outside and round up the pages.

From all that frustration, doubt, and hard work came 88 weeks on the bestseller list, a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar winning movie, and over 30 million copies sold in 18 languages. It makes everyone's top ten of the century and is considered by many to be the best novel ever written.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Considering my last post . . .

In February, an editor requested my manuscript at the C.W.G. conference in Colorado Springs. I spent the next three months working on it hoping to polish it as much as possible before submitting.

Three months later I received my SASE expecting to find a rejection. Lo and Behold, it contained an evaluation memo, a page of editor notes, and a request for a rewrite and resubmission.
Since sharing this good news, many have asked if I agree with the notes. The answer is: It doesn't matter if I agree. If I want this particular publisher to offer me a contract, I must acquiesce. If I feel that they just don't get it and refuse to compromise my . . . uh . . . artistic integrity ( insert giggle here), then I must pitch my manuscript elsewhere.
How does this tie in with the last post? A year ago, author and freelance editor Donna Fleisher
told me the publishers won't like the fact that a background character in my book was killed by a drunk driver.
Now, I assume most would say "What's wrong with that? It happens all the time." That is exactly what's wrong with it. It's too common. Fiction is escapism. It is the peculiar and the extraordinary that interests us. Real life is boring-Don't write about it. That is unless, someone has an extraordinary or peculiar life.
Even though I agreed, I left it in. The reason: I had not yet thought of the perfect demise for that character yet. I decided that it wouldn't be a deal breaker and I left it in pending a spark of imagination leading to a change at a later date.
Well guess what one of the notes said? "We have another drunk driver killing a . . . . . . Argh!" They actually used the word "Argh!"
Would they have offered me a contract if I had changed it? Probably not. But, my story would have read a little stronger and who knows. But that's okay. I've been given a second chance and that spark of imagination has arrived.

Monday, September 3, 2007

On Writing . . .

Use your imagination. Trust me, your lives are not interesting. Don't write them down.

- W. B. Kinsella