Last week I attended a writers’ conference in Liberty, N.C. put on by Serious Writer (www.seriouswriter.com) Going to a conference can be a big commitment as well as an extra expense–especially for struggling writers. What are some reasons for attending a writers’ conference?
- To meet other writers. Why is this important? We writers spend our working hours alone and a lot of time just in our own heads. To meet others who also have this strange way of living is refreshing and encouraging. As C.S. Lewis put it: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another ‘What, you, too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'”
- To meet people in the “business.” You know, editors, agents, publishers, and, did I mention other writers?
- To attend workshops that will help you better your craft.
- To have your questions answered. To learn what your questions should be in the first place.
- To hear other people’s stories. You know, other writers.
- Encouragement. I had to force myself to make some appointments to pitch my book, but I’m glad I did. I don’t know yet what may come of the appointments, but I did get some positive feedback.
- Worship. As Christians, we should worship God in whatever we do. Attending a conference with other Christians makes this easier and is a good reminder of Who we’re working for.
I’m already looking forward to next year. What about you? Have you been to a writers’ conference this year? Making plans to go soon?
Critique groups for writers are a necessary evil. Aren’t they? Most of us who write prefer our own company to any other. Also, as long as we are the only one reading our writing, we can believe it’s pretty good. Or not too bad. Or actually, it’s terrible and not worth the hard drive on which it has been stored. (See what I mean?)
But there comes a time when, if we’re serious about putting our work out there to the public in some way (preferably publication as in people are lining up to buy our books or we’re winning prizes for our stories and New York is calling), we must find some other writers who can give us constructive feedback. Letting your friends and loved ones read your work and tell you it’s the best book they’ve ever read (even if they haven’t read anything since high school) is all well and good, but will not impress any agent, editor, or publisher.
How to find that perfect critique group has eluded me so far, so, unfortunately, I am not here to give you any helpful tips if you are in that same position of looking for a good group. I have a couple of possibilities right now, and I hope to be able to share with you in the next few months about how I have finally found that group and how amazingly helpful they have been.
So, while I’m continuing my quest for a critique group, I will share the basic guidelines for what I expect from a group, and maybe you can suggest a few more. The first may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Everyone in the group needs to be writing and to be serious about writing. (Who would join a group about writing who isn’t actually writing? All those who dream about writing and know how easy it really is, and think ‘what’s the big deal anyway?’)
Secondly, everyone needs to be willing to share something of what they’ve written and be willing to listen to everyone’s comments on their selection without being defensive or apologetic. And, third, everyone needs to be willing to read the writings of all members and give helpful feedback. No “this was great” or “this was terrible.” Be specific at what you like, don’t like, or feel needs to be made more clear.
Coming Soon: Besides rewriting Solomon I (totally changing the POV; more on that another time) and working on Solomon II, I’m working on a story to post in this very blog. Soon.
Fun Fact: I noticed when I started writing this blog, I have published one hundred posts, so here’s to 101.
P. S. For any of you writers out there, the Charlotte Writers Club has their nonfiction contest open now. Any piece of unpublished nonfiction from 750-2000 words may be entered. For more information, check out their website: charlottewritersclub.org
How about you? Have you been part of a critique group? What worked and what didn’t?
To continue with our trip: Of course, we made plans to visit the most famous lighthouse of all–Cape Hatteras, also known as America’s Lighthouse. Confession: I thought it was the only lighthouse on the Outer Banks. I obviously need to get out more. Since we stayed in Kill Devil Hills, our trip to Hatteras took us close to two hours. Recent hurricane weather had flooded the roads and what was to be a “scenic drive” was mostly driving through water and seeing rather large sand dunes on the sides of the road. Still, I enjoyed the drive and what scenery we could see.
Having climbed one lighthouse and spending $10 for the privilege, I was content to view this lighthouse from the ground. My husband, however, was up for the challenge (and saw a deal in $4 for seniors) and made the climb. I promised to wave to him when he got to the top, but spent a little too much time in the museum and gift shop, or bookstore. Someone waved to him, however, (who apparently looked amazingly like me–from the top of a lighthouse anyway), so thanks whoever you are!
We also visited The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. (I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture outside. None were allowed inside.) The most interesting sight here is the “lost lens” from the original Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There are also artifacts from the ghost ship Carroll A. Deering. This ship passed Cape Lookout Lightship on January 29, 1921. Some months later, the ship was found abandoned and no one knows what happened to the crew. For more reading on this mystery: https://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/theghostship.htm
On our last day, we started by visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Though the museum is still under construction and won’t be open until next year, we were still able to climb the hill that had been the sand dune where the brothers performed many of their experiments and now displays a monument in their memory. This climb was almost as difficult as the one up the lighthouse and will give you a new appreciation for the determination the Wright Brothers had and the work they put in to learn to fly. Reading David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers last year helped me to understand better what the Wrights accomplished. I’m afraid the vision I retained from my elementary days was of a couple of old brothers jumping off a sand dune with a strange-looking contraption. Obviously, there was quite a bit more to it than that, and I can highly recommend McCullough’s book for more detail.
As no vacation would be complete without a visit to at least one bookstore, we visited a couple, including ones at every historic site we toured as well as the Island Bookstore in Kitty Hawk.
And, finally, though we ate some good food at several places, I had to make a stop at Duck Donuts before we left.
There’s still much we didn’t see on our trip to the Outer Banks, so hopefully, we can go again someday. Maybe I’ll even climb another lighthouse. How about you? Visited any lighthouses lately?
Last week, my husband and I made a trip to the Outer Banks, N.C. to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We’ve lived in N.C. twenty-nine years, but this was our first trip to the Outer Banks. There are closer beaches, but I wanted to see the lighthouses and learn more about the history of both the Outer Banks and our state. The Outer Banks is home to five lighthouses, and we managed to see three of them.
On our first day, we went to Corolla and visited the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. This lighthouse began flashing its light in 1875 and stands at 158 feet. I enjoyed climbing this lighthouse and seeing the great view from above.
Near the lighthouse is the Corolla Schoolhouse. When exactly this one-room schoolhouse was opened is unknown, though some sources cite it as early as 1890. It was closed in 1958. In front of the schoolhouse is a Little Free Library, a replica of the schoolhouse.
After a lunch in Duck (where there are plenty of food options), we ended the day with a walk and some reading on the beach at Kill Devil Hills.
For those who have been following my blog from the beginning, you know I started this blog for a class assignment while working on my masters degree. My original intent was to share homeschooling news, library events, and book reviews.
For the past two years or so, I have returned to writing on a more serious and full-time basis. I have heard and read that I need to have my own domain–under my own name–in order to build a better platform and so that people can find me. I have been dragging my feet about it, but have finally taken the plunge and will be blogging under http://www.pmgilmer.com. I will start with an introduction, then will post “My Name is Absalom”. It will still be in seven parts, but I will probably not wait a week between each post as it is a rerun to most of my readers. Of course, I hope to attract new readers, and I believe this is a good example of my writing.
It will take me a few days to set up my new blog, (and if you go to it now, you will only be redirected to “declare”) and I will continue to post book reviews and other random things that take my fancy on “declare”. I know many people keep up with more than one blog, but I doubt I will do that for long. Then again, who knows?
I hope you will continue to follow me here, but will also join me in my writing journey at http://www.pmgilmer.com
Half the fun of writing historical fiction is the research. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for (or scholars disagree on certain findings) and that can be frustrating, but more often I run across “fun facts” that I had not even considered (which makes it sound like most of my research is serendipitous and maybe it is). I may not always be able to add these “fun facts” or details to my story, but learning more about the culture of my characters helps me, as the author, to know my characters in a more rounded way.
As most of you know, I’m writing a story about Solomon during the time of King David, so I was intrigued when I ran across an article concerning a find in 2012 by Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Eilat Mazar. From the Ophel mound between the Temple Mount and the old city of David, a pottery shard was found containing seven letters. Now known as the Ophel Inscription, there is still quite a bit of debate about those letters and what it all means, but there are those who have concluded that the letters are Hebrew, making the find highly significant concerning the kingdoms of David and Solomon.
Hebrew letters on a 3,000 year old pot gives credence, not only to the existence of King David living in Jerusalem at that time, but also suggests that the written language was not just for the rich and their rulers.
I have no problem believing the Bible concerning the existence of King David and that he ruled in Jerusalem, but have wondered about how literate were the people of that time. After all, David was not raised as a royal son, yet he wrote psalms from an early age, so one must believe that both reading and writing were more common than some may assume.
From one article (link to follow): “The Ophel inscription–though untranslated–joins the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon as part of a growing body of archaeological evidence supporting the biblical truth that ancient Hebrews were literate. Rather than inventing a post-dated history, they had the linguistic and cultural tools in place to record it from the earliest days that Israel was recognized among other monarchies of the ancient world.”
Studying the history of the Bible and reading more of different archaeological finds continues to make the characters of the Bible more alive to me. My prayer as I write of stories in the Bible–specifically, Solomon and imagining what his life may have been like as he was growing up in the court of King David–that the Bible will also become more alive to others who will one day read my stories.