I’m thrilled to introduce you all to Camille Eide, a truly wonderful writer. Camille was kind enough to answer a few questions. Stick around after the interview and enter this week’s giveaway, a signed copy of Camille’s book, The Memoir of Johnny Devine. This is one of my absolute favorites from the last year.
About The Memoir of Johnny Devine:
In 1953, desperation forces war widow, Eliza Saunderson, to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob, Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now, the notorious womanizer claims he’s born again. And so he seems to be. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become, a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.
When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s communist hit list, both John and Eliza become entangled in a HUAC investigation that threatens both John’s book and Eliza’s future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. She also needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can cover a multitude of sins. But just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy 1950s façade America now clings to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?
When did you know you were a writer?
Aside from writing, illustrating, and self-publishing my first book about Snoopy at age 7, I began to feel the drive to write in 8th grade. I had a great English/Lit teacher who loaned me books to read and encouraged me to enter my writing in a school collection. I’ve always liked to write, but never seriously considered writing to publish until I was in my 40s. I’m not sure I “knew” I was a writer, but I knew I had a dream to see a book published and knew I wouldn’t stop until I had realized that dream. I guess it finally occurred to me that I must be a writer when I had spent countless late nights working on a story that I soon realized needed help. I didn’t want all that time, lost sleep, and effort wasted, so I sought help learning the craft and understanding the publishing industry.
How long did you actively write before you received your first contract?
I began writing my first novel (having no clue what it took to write or publish a book) in 2007. I signed a contract for two completed novels in 2014, so 7 years of writing, studying, receiving critique, writing, submitting, writing, growing, etc. I grew much as a writer during those 7 years, including acquiring patience and persistence, the concept of the importance of reaching for excellence, and understanding that there is no “arriving” but always growing.
Where do you write?
I have a home office where I do most of my writing. It’s painted in soothing, cozy colors. I can’t write in a coffee shop – I need total quiet.
Where did you get the idea for The Memoir of Johnny Devine?
While working on a story idea that was running into a plot snag, I prayed for the Lord’s help, and soon after, I had a dream about a man with a cane watching in silence as a lovely woman walked out his door for good. In my dream, I knew that his heart was breaking but that he couldn’t stop her. I woke intrigued and immediately began fleshing out this man’s story. As the pieces of the story, backstory, and societal backdrop began to fall easily into place, I really felt my dream was inspired by the Lord and an answer to prayer. The fact that I was able to write it very quickly was also an answer to prayer and further affirmation of this story’s divine inspiration.
What kind of research did you do for The Memoir of Johnny Devine?
I checked out mountains of books (I had to take a rolling suitcase to carry them all) on the 1920-1950s in America, the film industry and the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Studio System, the Cold War era, WW1 & 2, Senator McCarthy and the HUAC hearings, and more. I Googled everything I could get my hands on, talked to my Mom who was in high school the year this story takes place, and watched a LOT of classic films (bummer, huh?)
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on being a grandma as two of my kids are having kids this year, and juggling some changes to our home and family. Meanwhile, I’m working on a couple of novel ideas and deciding which one will become my next book, and I am not at all opposed to an entirely new story idea via a dream.
Thank you, Camille!
Entering for a chance to win a signed copy of The Memoir of Johnny Devine is simple.
- Subscribe at the upper right of this page. (If you’re already a subscriber, you won’t need to do this again.)
- Comment on this blog post.
The winner will be drawn on Tuesday, July 26 at 5:00 pst.
UPDATE: The winner is Jema!
Camille Eide writes heart-tugging tales of love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms.
Author Website: www.camilleeide.com
Donna Moore is guest blogging for me today. She actually wrote this for me weeks ago, but I PROCRASTINATED. With Nanowrimo behind me and Christmas still a few weeks away, I’m forcing myself to get a few things done. Okay, I’m avoiding a writing project that has me stumped.
Before I hand my blog over to Donna, I want you to know what a special person she is. About three years ago I was matched up on an online critique group. If that sounds kind of like a blind date, it is. Sometimes the matches work, and sometimes…well, not so much. This group works. Donna is a constant encourager. She has three children and a husband and always shows by example how to love God through loving her family. Donna is always there when I need to talk, vent or when I need someone to pray for me. Her heart is tender and huge. She is one of the unexpected blessings I’ve been granted through my writing career. Thank you, Donna!
I have learned that my friends on Facebook have nothing to say. Not that what they say isn’t intelligent and important. That isn’t it at all. I have amazing friends. I mean, they simply weren’t updating as often as I was checking. Shouldn’t someone have something to post every two seconds?
This week I struggled with Blank-Page Syndrome. It is a painful experience for any writer. I was creative this week in my avoidance of the blank page and taunting cursor. I often tell my teenage son not to procrastinate, but when it comes to writing when I am up against a wall of little to no ideas, often I find myself doing just this. It’s another case of do as I say and not as I do.
It’s not that I’m not productive during my procrastination sessions. Things get done that I would normally put off for another. Yes, procrastination at times rules my life. In honor of my procrastination techniques I wrote a poem which also served as another way to avoid dealing with my manuscript.
If you give a writer a blank screen some will take off and write an amazing adventure, but others will clean their house and vacuum the living room twice just to see if the canister will fill up again.
If you give a writer a blank screen you might find yourself wrapped in the arms of a dashing hero as he woos his lady love, but others will take their puppy on a walk and pretend it was the dog’s idea.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might have you flying into outer space on in a hot air balloon, but others might check their Facebook just to see if anything has happened in their friend lives within the last two seconds.
If you give a writer a blank screen you could find yourself sailing the seas with a rogue pirate or coaching a football game of misfits, but others will organize the pantry alphabetically.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might write about a widower finding his second love or they could go scrub the bathrooms paying special attention to the area around the toilet.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might pull you right into the middle of a world surrounded with elves and dwarfs, but then others will go and mow the yard instead.
If you give a writer a blank screen they could take you to exotic locations, but then others will go to the grocery store for the fourth time that week just to walk up and down the aisles.
If you give a writer a blank screen those who sit down and write have the potential to do amazing things while others, well they will do lots of other things.
I joke about how much effort I put into avoiding writing this week when I find such joy in actually writing. The advice I have heard the most is “Put your butt in the seat and write every day.” It’s true. You can’t grow as a writer by avoiding writing anymore that you can grow as an athlete by avoiding practicing your sport. You don’t wake up one morning and decide to run 26.2 miles anymore than you can wake up and write an amazing story in one day. You have to work at it daily with diligence and perseverance. You have to train even on the days when it doesn’t come easily and everything you write you know will be cut. There are things that you can do to help get yourself in the seat daily. I feel I should reveal that this is an area I struggle with on the days and weeks when writing is hard but then you probably guessed that about me.
First, set up your area with little distractions. If you are like me, and seeing a messy house distracts you, find a space where you can’t see the shoes all over the living room or the laundry folded but not put away on the couch. I love to write on my swing on the back porch. I can’t see the clutter in the house and if I leave phones inside no one can find me. Salesmen can ring the doorbell all day long, but I simply can’t hear it out back.
Next, set a time. I am also going to add, and this is a hard one for me, if you sit down at the same time everyday you will become conditioned to know that this is your writing time. I would also add, you need to guard this time as the jewel it is. Don’t allow others to intrude. Don’t make appointments or set up meetings during your appointed writing time. Avoid self-imposed distractions. Turn off the internet to your computer while you write. Email, Facebook and other social media outlets will act as distractions. Trust me when I say, the email will wait and no matter how wonderful your friends are, they don’t update enough to check every two minutes. And really do you need to know that Janet is going to take a nap or Fred is on his second cup of joe? Setting a time will help you be more accountable. It is easy for writers to move that writing time around each day and if you are a disciplined person, which I am not, that may work well. For those who struggle with time management, put it on your calendar and set a date with your manuscript. Your characters deserve to have their story told and they need the time with you to do it.
Lastly, what has worked well with my critique group is to hold each other accountable. Set a word count goal or a page goal and don’t get up until you have fulfilled it. Those are the days I feel best because I know I am one more step closer to my dream. Write to that goal even if what you write isn’t what you had in mind before you plunked yourself down. You might be surprised at what you get, of course you could end up cutting a large chunk, but buried in there might be a ruby of an idea.
Now stop procrastinating and go forth and write.
Jodie Bailey is here just in time to tell us about the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
Okay, I admit it. If I had the funds, I would be a conference junky. It’s likely that “conference season” would find me all over this country at every single workshop I could soak up. There’s just something about the air at a good conference, something that gives you a shot of oxygen and gets you excited and pushes you through on those days when it feels like writing is the hardest job in the world.
The first conference I ever attended was the 2009 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. And I went right by my little lonesome self, making the drive from west-central Georgia to the North Carolina mountains with only God and my iPod for company. The drive itself was amazing, but God started working on me right about the time I hit the NC border.
See, one of the reasons I was going to Blue Ridge was to meet Chip MacGregor, and that scared the fool out of me. I wanted to query him, but first I wanted to meet him. Why waste both of our time querying if I couldn’t even talk to him? From his blog, I knew he pulled no punches, and I knew I needed that. As I was driving and praying and singing, God suddenly said, “Don’t pitch.”
Do WHAT? I just paid all of this money and am driving all of this way NOT to pitch to anybody? Surely, God’s lost His mind, right?
But the further I drove the more I knew, He wanted me to keep my mouth shut. He wanted me to lay aside ever expectation I had and go in there ready for anything, not focused on a goal, just to let Him have all of the control.
So, I did. And I had an amazing week. There was no pressure, no stressing about a sit-down with anybody. There was total freedom to be me, to speak when I wanted, to observe as much as I felt the need… See, I had never sat in a room full of writers before. After the very first hour, I called my husband and yelled, “I have found my people!” There’s something about learning you are not crazy, that other people get dragged out of bed in the middle of the night because their characters won’t pipe down. There are other people who stare at a computer screen all day and talk to imaginary voices. I was in heaven. I met people who were instantly my friends, simply because we “got” each other without even speaking. It was amazing!
And it wasn’t just the people. That conference center is a total retreat. You’re up in the mountains in these beautiful rooms with no TV. And it’s quiet. (They do an Autumn in the Mountains retreat that I want to do, by the way…) It was a beautiful recharge, a stepping out of everything and into the writing life, fully immersed. Talk about charging your batteries!
I did get to sit down at an appointment with Chip at that conference, but I asked questions. I never pitched. My heart was about learning and not about selling. It felt good to have someone who knew what they were doing walk me through the good and bad of my proposal and my premise, to point out what worked and what needed help. (I did manage to throw a pen at his head by accident. Trust me, that could ONLY happen to me…) Many months later, I did land at MacGregor Literary with Sandra Bishop who, like Chip, pulls no punches when it comes to telling me what works and what doesn’t. God knew exactly what He was doing.
If you’re going to your first conference, go with God’s leading. I honestly think one of the best things to do is to just go and be. Enjoy being with people who are just as “alien” as you are. That was the best thing I got out of Blue Ridge, being with “my people.” Oh, the classes knocked my head around they were so awesome, but the people won my heart and are the reason I’ll go back.
Jodie Bailey is an avid reader, a life-long writer, and an aspiring beach bum. She is a stubborn child who resisted God’s calling for two decades until He hit her over the head with a Beth Moore Bible Study book, and she finally figured out He wanted her to be a writer. When not tapping away at the keyboard, she watches NCIS reruns, eats too many chocolate chip cookies, wishes she were at the beach, roughhouses with her daughter, and follows her Army husband around the country. Jodie’s debut novel, Freefall, will be released by Steeple Hill LIS in November 2012
Today we’re joining Karen Barnett for an insider’s view of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
After the evening session, I hurried to my room and grabbed my laptop, making a beeline for the lounge—I wanted to check my e-mail before turning in for the night. I sank down into a soft chair by a crackling fire. Within moments, the room began to fill. Before I knew what was happening, authors Mary DeMuth and Randy Ingermanson sat on either side of me, talking about their journeys to publication and offering me hope and encouragement. Other published writers joined the circle, aspiring writers ambled in, an agent sat down, an editor pulled up a chair. My laptop lapsed into screensaver mode, long forgotten. Jokes flew, stories were shared, and laughter ruled the evening.
Why is the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference special? Where else can you kick up your feet and feel at home while surrounded by the best in the business?
Here are the top ten things I love about Mount Hermon.
1. Beautiful Location—The Conference Center is situated in the California redwoods, not far from Santa Cruz. When you step out of a stressful appointment or an intense workshop, you walk out into beauty that refreshes the spirit. God uses those moments to remind me He is in control.
2. Casual atmosphere—Casual dress rules the day. You can leave your high heels and business suits at home. Most registrants wear jeans and slacks, layered t-shirts and sweaters. I like to pack scarves and fun jewelry pieces to dress up the casual look.
3. Unparalleled access to editors/agents—Lunch and dinner tables are hosted by faculty members, including agents, publishers, magazine editors, and published authors. It’s like a back door into the publisher’s office. The host keeps the conversation flowing around the table, speaking to each person and asking about their writing. If they’re interested in your project, they might request an appointment or ask to see your proposal. Good-bye slush pile!
4. Speaking of meals—Mount Hermon’s are the BEST. Ask anyone.
5. Pre-conference submissions—You are encouraged to send two copies of your proposal ahead to the conference, either to published writers for critique or to editors/agents for review. There are also opportunities during the conference to have your work critiqued on the spot by a member of the critique team. This is all included in the cost of registration.
6. Major morning tracks—Morning tracks are classes that you follow for the entire conference to receive in-depth instruction on the subject of your choice. The tracks vary, but they generally include classes for fiction, non-fiction, public speaking, magazine writing, and social media. Specialized tracks are offered for teens interested in writing, for beginners (Head-Start, actually held before the conference), and for published writers (career track—by application). Personally, I love the intermediate mentoring tracks. You pay a few dollars extra, but the class size is limited and you get personalized teaching based on your needs.
7. Afternoon workshops—With forty workshops to attend, how do you choose? (I decided not to stress out about it and bought the CD recordings for the ones I missed).
8. Trend-spotting—One of my favorite parts of the conference are the panel discussions. This is a fantastic time to find out what is selling, where publishing is heading in the future and which of these individuals you would most like to work with.
9. Casual conversations—From the moment you board the airport shuttle to the moment you leave, God arranges divine appointments. An editor might not hand you the rich-and-famous contract, but you might meet a favorite author and become friends. You might have a casual discussion at a table that leads to a magazine article (true story). You might catch someone’s airplane during an ice-breaker or get lost with someone on the hike to the cross… and make a friend for the long writer’s journey ahead. And like I said earlier, some of the best conversations happen after hours.
10. Confirmation of the Call—The first time I went to Mount Hermon, I hesitated calling myself a writer. Attending this conference taught me is that YES, I AM a writer—without question. God has a call on my life. Each year I go back, I feel it anew. The conference at Mount Hermon gives me the energy I need to make it through another year.
The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is held every year over Palm Sunday weekend, so add it to your calendar for next year: March 22-26, 2013.
Karen Barnett writes historical romance for the Christian market and has been published in Guideposts, Ladybug and Babybug magazines. She lives in Albany, Oregon with her husband, two kids and a houseful of pets including a dachshund who loves to chew up her daughter’s dance slippers. When she is not writing, Karen enjoys hiking, photography, leading worship with her church’s children’s ministry and decorating outlandish birthday cakes for her kids. She blogs at “Cannot Be Shaken” found at http://www.cannotbeshaken.
Don’t miss next week. It’s our final installment with Jodie Bailey sharing about Blue Ridge