Meet A Winner

The first time I went to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, I rode the bus. It was not a happy experience, mostly because I went at night, arrived tired, and stayed that way a good bit of the time.

The following year, some while before the conference, I pulled out the trusty list of attendees Mount Hermon supplied and started emailing locals to see if anyone from my area was driving up and might have room for a passenger.

While several people replied, only one looked like it would work out. I have to be honest. I had reservations. My traveling buddy was to be a man I had never met. Didn’t know him from Adam or from Jack the Ripper. 😀

Rich with his wife Sheryl

I laugh now because Rich Bullock, the writer who offered to car pool the six hours north, is one of the top-of-the-line Good Guys.

But I had another concern. What would we talk about for all that time? Or would it be OK for me to nap or stare silently out the window?

Silly me. I had prayed about this trip, and God has a way of giving abundantly more than we ask or think. I was driving with another writer, and we pretty much talked about writing non-stop.

Pretty much. I did learn that Rich and I are twins. Well, not actually, but we do share the exact same birth date—month, day, year.

So began a writer friendship. For the next three years Rich and I carpooled to Mount Hermon, adding in a couple other passengers along the way. One year we even had the opportunity to be in the same Mentoring Clinic, so I got a chance to read and critique Rich’s work, and he mine.

I soon learned he had an excellent eye and spot-on suggestions. For a short time we were in an online critique group together, and I saw more and more that Rich knew what he was doing on both sides of the writing desk. Even after that group petered out, I’d occasionally shoot a piece of work to him for his feedback, and he to me.

Consequently, it was my privilege to read a chapter from his new work in progress, Storm Lake, back in February when he was preparing it for another mentoring clinic at Mount Hermon.

And now, seven months later, after a somewhat hopeful agent rejection, Rich hit contest pay dirt. He submitted Storm Lake/Storm Song to the ACFW Genesis contest, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category, and won!

I can’t tell you how excited I am for him. Here’s a writer who has taken the time to learn the craft and isn’t afraid to have his work before a group of tough critics. He’s one of those writers who gives back, too, having volunteered for years as a contest judge himself.

Hats off to all the ACFW winners—in all categories of both the Genesis (opening pages of an unpublished writer’s manuscript) and Carol (formerly the Book of the Year) contests. But I have to say, I’m especially happy for my friend Rich.

His is a name you’ll want to remember, especially if you enjoy mystery/suspense. His writing is sensory and transports you into the scenes he writes. I can see readers up late at night, all lights burning, covers pulled tight under the chin, but unable to put the latest Rich Bullock novel down!

Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm  Comments (5)  
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The Barking Dog Syndrom

Before I get started, I’d like to point out two new blogs posted by Christian writers. These are not new writers, mind you. Both are experienced and talented, albeit unpublished. The first is Rich Bullock, my long-time carpool buddy to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. The other is Sally Apokedak, 2007 Genesis winner and good friend and writing partner. This is Sally’s second blog, the first one being All about Children’s Books. This busy woman also publishes a writing for children column for BellaOnline.

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Now we’re going to the dogs. 😀 Not in the cliched use of the phrase (at least I hope not!) I actually want to think about dogs—yapping dogs and deep-throated barking dogs—and promotion.

I live in a neighborhood in which twelve out of every sixteen houses have a dog (to spare you doing the math, that’s 75%. I could have said three fourths, too, but just wanted to be different. But it’s probably important to note that this is a pure guess on my part, but I think a pretty accurate one.) From my apartment where I work day in and day out, I am privy to the sounds of many of these dogs.

Repeated sounds. The bored yapping of the little white dog across the street. The incessant yip, yip of the dog on the corner whenever someone walks by the house, the chorus of barking from the four dogs whose yard borders a neighboring school whenever the children come out to play … or the maintenance man walks across the field … or a yard supervisor … well, you get the idea. The point is, dogs bark more often than not in my neighborhood.

And a good percentage of the time, I tune them out just as I do the sounds of traffic from the boulevard a block away or from the freeway a few blocks further on.

When I notice the barking is when it has been quiet and starts up suddenly, insistently, when it is louder than usual, and when the tone changes or when the dogs in the front and in the back all join in. In short, when the barking is out of the ordinary.

What does any of this have to do with promotion? I think consumers often feel like those wanting them to buy are yapping at them. A sort of bored, repetitive, refrain “Buy this, you need it, it’s the best one you’ll every find, and you can have it for the bargain price of …” Quite frankly, we’ve learned to tune a lot of it out, or turn it off. We can mute TV commercials or fast forward past them. We can have our names put on the do-not-call registry, and we can drop junk mail in the trash can on our way to the living room. We can delete spam or have it blocked for us. We can even block pop-up windows.

And still, ads pepper the sides of our roads and the sidebars of our blogs. So we’ve become adept at ignoring them, scrolling past them, clicking over to the next blog that isn’t running a promotion.

And yet, what do writers do when they have a book coming out? After all, how can people buy if they do not know a product exists, in this case, our baby we’ve worked for years to see in print. We promote, of course. But how can our promotion be something different from the yapping-dog promotion all around us?

That, I think, needs to be the writer’s job. Separation from the myriad of voices clamoring for consumer attention. Maybe we can explore some ideas this week.

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 11:29 am  Comments (5)  
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