Chapter Two: “It Never Rains in California . . .

30 03 2005

But girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours . . .”

Ah! What could be better than welcoming spring whilst frolicking amid nature’s lavish verdancy at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in beautiful, sunny California? Not a thing if you have an umbrella. It rained pretty much the whole five days. The verdancy was still there of course. We just sort of glanced at its dripping lavishness as we scurried from building to building like damp rats.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate rain. It serves an important purpose, softening the earth so verdancy can do its thing. Turns out the rain was a bit over-zealous, though. The last night of the conference, a huge, patriarchal tree — most likely of some ancient redwood variety — found itself in such thoroughly softened soil, it started slipping down the side of its age-long mountain home. Valiant powerlines prevented papa tree from depositing itself in the middle of the main road, down which all the happy conferees expected to be shuttled back to the airport the next day. Yes, the powerlines prevailed, but they got so distracted by their heroic efforts at barring the traveling tree’s way, they ceased supplying electricity.

By what can only be described as a miracle, I woke up at 6:23 AM anyway. No alarm clock. No lights. No hot shower. No espresso.

I didn’t really need a shower. I’d had one the previous afternoon. And even the most determined clouds can’t obscure all the ultraviolet rays the sun so dutifully sends out. Natural light works for me. But no espresso? This was an emergency indeed.

How did this happen? I mean, how did we get to the last morning already? I haven’t told you a single thing about the conference itself. Silly me. Let’s backtrack.

This was my third consecutive year to attend Mount Hermon. The first year was great, but I spent quite a bit of time feeling overwhelmed. Four hundred serious writers had paid a bucket of bucks each to buy the right to vie for the attention of a comparatively small number of editors and agents. It pretty much felt like I’d been dropped into a piranha-esque feeding frenzy. In Christian love, of course.

The second year was much better. I’d made some friends, kept in touch with them, had a better handle on what I was about, and I left with a wonderful, reputable, likeable agent. Good year.

This year was the best. More friends. More depth of relationship with those friends. A respected agent’s name on my proposals. It wasn’t overwhelming at all. On the contrary, it felt intimate.

Tidbits:

~Four more editors asked for my nonfiction proposal for Parting the Waters, the book I wrote about Jacob’s accident and finding beauty in brokenness. It remains open at five or so other houses, too.
~Received encouraging, positive feedback from the editors who read sample chapters. Maybe it will sell SOON.
~Didn’t pitch the novel I’m working on, but I did get to brainstorm with delightful, creative minds. So helpful and fun!
~Played piano and sang for one of the evening, key-note meetings. The coolest thing about that was having Mary Rice Hopkins accompany me on her guitar. In the 70s and 80s, she and Wendy Talbot recorded as “Wendy and Mary.” A friend and I used to cover some of their songs, so playing with her was a special treat for me.
~Three new Kristin Scott Thomas sightings. I get more of those at Mount Hermon than anywhere else. I’ve decided it’s because writers are observant — always on the lookout for details. Apparently I still look like her.
~Met some more amazing, new friends and connected with talented, supportive, publishing industry insiders.
~Jammed on the piano and sang the last night with Mick Silva, editor at Focus on the Family. We had a blast. Great way to blow off steam at the end of a busy conference.
~Learned a lot and recharged my creative batteries.

Then it was time to leave. I don’t get very nervous flying, but the shuttle drive to the airport had me praying hard. Thanks to our giant tree-friend’s mountain descent, the main road was closed, and we had to take narrow, winding mountain-goat trails. (Okay, they were streets, but if a car came the other way, one or the other had to pull off.) Our foreign driver zipped along as though it weren’t raining, the roads were four lanes wide, and a shuttle van that flies off the side of a mountain automatically sprouts wings.

When we got to the airport, we learned our flight had been delayed. A couple hours later it was canceled due to mechanical problems. We rebooked on a different flight and arrived in Dallas around midnight. But we made it. I’m home. I’ve conquered the mountain of mail that greeted me and have only to scale the daunting 1040 precipice to bow before the income tax idol before I can plunge into writing my story again.

If you read this far, you must be truly interested. I appreciate you, and I promise you’ll be among the first to know when my book sells. I mean it. After all, I’m expecting you people to buy dozens of copies for all your friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, garbage men, members of your high school graduating class . . .

Okay, then. While you start saving your buckets of book-buying bucks, I’m going to begin my ascent up income tax mountain. Wish me well! See you on the other side.


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16 responses

30 03 2005
jetpacknomad

It sounds like you had a really good time. Thanks for sharing.

“…bow before the income tax idol
That makes me laugh.

30 03 2005
jetpacknomad

It sounds like you had a really good time. Thanks for sharing.

“…bow before the income tax idol
That makes me laugh.

31 03 2005
Anonymous

a lull in the packing

I really shouldn’t have read this, but I miss you so I went on your website after checking the weather in Atlanta. Looks like T-storms for TaTa and me. Every breath is grace. You didn’t tell me about the 3 KST sightings. FH

31 03 2005
Anonymous

a lull in the packing

I really shouldn’t have read this, but I miss you so I went on your website after checking the weather in Atlanta. Looks like T-storms for TaTa and me. Every breath is grace. You didn’t tell me about the 3 KST sightings. FH

2 04 2005
emma_furlong

A rainy adventure

Hmmm, I can hear that song “It never rains in California,” going over and over in my head right now. And I’m still laughing out loud over the valiant powerlines. What a wonderful experience you must have had, we never have anything like that in Perth, even if something exciting happens its on the East Coast a million miles from me. Ah well perhaps one day I shall buy your book and be able to say ‘I know her’lol
Emma

2 04 2005
emma_furlong

A rainy adventure

Hmmm, I can hear that song “It never rains in California,” going over and over in my head right now. And I’m still laughing out loud over the valiant powerlines. What a wonderful experience you must have had, we never have anything like that in Perth, even if something exciting happens its on the East Coast a million miles from me. Ah well perhaps one day I shall buy your book and be able to say ‘I know her’lol
Emma

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

I did, and you’re welcome.

At tax time, you gotta laugh or cry. Laughing is more fun.

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

I did, and you’re welcome.

At tax time, you gotta laugh or cry. Laughing is more fun.

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: a lull in the packing

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see your comment here. Thanks for missing me.

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: a lull in the packing

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see your comment here. Thanks for missing me.

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: A rainy adventure

Yeah. I had the song replaying in my head all day after typing those words.

We have huge storms in Texas. In fact, my internet was out for four days because lightning zapped my modem last Thursday night.

I hope you’ll be able to buy my book some day! :o)

♥ EZ

4 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: A rainy adventure

Yeah. I had the song replaying in my head all day after typing those words.

We have huge storms in Texas. In fact, my internet was out for four days because lightning zapped my modem last Thursday night.

I hope you’ll be able to buy my book some day! :o)

♥ EZ

9 04 2005
Anonymous

a rodent of unusual size

momzy, i like thinking of you as a damp rat.

9 04 2005
Anonymous

a rodent of unusual size

momzy, i like thinking of you as a damp rat.

9 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: a rodent of unusual size

laughing. out. loud.

That’s nice, Grace. But I don’t think they exist.

9 04 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: a rodent of unusual size

laughing. out. loud.

That’s nice, Grace. But I don’t think they exist.

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