Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The tiny plane rose higher and higher into the sky. I hunched over on the floor, sandwiched between the pilot and small door. My instructor, Dennis, sat in front of me. Only the pilot had a seat. Too late to go back now.
I pressed a finger to my carotid artery. My heart pumped stronger, but no faster, than usual. I fought the urge to fiddle with the chest straps on my harness. Are these tight enough? I looked at the pack on Dennis’ back. I check my altitude bracelet. The needle danced at 9,000 feet.
Dennis turned around. He joined our harnesses so that my back touched his chest. He checked a bunch of clasps I couldn’t identify. His right hand extended over my shoulder and gave me goggles. “Are you ready to jump out of a fully functioning airplane?”
I’m not sure if I nodded or said yes. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a ‘No’.
He twisted the handle, and the plane door popped open. At that height, there’s almost no way to conceive how fast you’re going. I remembered the instructions he gave me on the ground. He’ll put his right foot onto the step. My right foot goes outside his. Then I’ll move my left foot onto the step. He’ll pull back on my head and count into my ear. Then we’ll jump. While in freefall, I only need to let my arms and legs relax. He’ll do the rest.
I moved closer to the doorway. Something in my body railed against this. In that moment, I knew I should be afraid of falling. I laughed in my head. That’s why I’m here! And the fear was gone. I looked down and saw his right foot on the step. I guided my foot to the place it should be. Or I tried. The wind was so strong that it blows my whole leg around like a flag. I don’t remember how my left foot ended up outside of the plane. Neither of them ever touched the step.
Dennis spoke and counted. Then we fell, twisted and flipped in the air. My body was not relaxed and concave. I had pulled a ‘Superman’; my legs and arms were stiffer than a sheet of plywood. I felt his ankles wrap around mine and yank them back. We steadied out. His hands gripped my biceps and cracked them into the proper position. I felt something snap on my left shoulder. My arm had come out of socket and he pushed it back in.
The rest of the flight was smooth. At 6,000 feet, I pulled my own parachute. We landed to the cheers of friends. It wasn’t like the drop on a rollercoaster, but it was definitely fun.
My right foot reminds me of when God asks something of us and we obey without commitment. On the ground, Dennis said “I have a vested interest in your safety. We’re strapped together with one parachute. I want to live. You’re going to be fine.” It put my mind at ease. I knew I didn’t really have to try very hard. Dennis would fix it. When we obey God’s original call to action but do not follow it through with the actions He requires of us, we’re bound to get hurt. It is important to put your right foot onto the step, but a lack of commitment will have you in an uncontrolled freefall and your endeavor will not bear fruit.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
My brain is too tired to recount my full day, so I'll leave you with this. If I ever become a James Bond girl, my name will Candy. Caramel Candy.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I ate lunch with a publisher/editor I really like and other writers who proudly wave their geek flags. Geeks are the best. Where else is "That's so weird!" a giant compliment? Geekland, that's where.
I also had my first chapter critique today. It went really well. My criticizer (I'm not positive that's the word I want) made two assumptions about me based on my work. One, that I was a college grad and two, that this manuscript was not my first writing project. Neither of these are true, and it was pretty awesome to hear from someone in the publishing world.
The following is her evaluation sheet. :)
She complimented my synopsis. I had never written one before, and all my research had outlined was a required length that varied from two paragraphs up to five pages. It needed a few more things, but since this was my first attempt, I'm proud of what I accomplished.
I could actually bask in this. Even the low point, "Most of the dialogue is flawless," is awesome. I've never had a single class on dialogue, and I know it's not nearly as strong as my action writing. She told me the tension I build is fantastic and at some point she got chills, even though this isn't her usual genre. Even you could see me right now, I might actually be glowing with happiness.
It wouldn't be fair if I posted all the things that were great about my first chapter, and then excluded the weaker points. I've done a decent job forcing myself out of passive voice, but there's always room to improve. My progress is even showing in my longhand. I'm honestly surprised with how much trouble I have conveying emotions to my readers. Relating to people is not something I struggle with in real life. It baffles me a little that I can lack that strength in my writing.
That was my day! Overall, it was excellent. Tomorrow I have class on dialogue. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that. I also have a mentor appointment lined up as well as an agent appointment. No, I'm not pitching Demon. Not yet. The appointment was part of the conference fee. I'm confident my manuscript will be strong enough for publication this time next year. I figured I may as well sit down with an agent and ask some questions that will benefit me when the time is right.
The conference has been great so far. I even met a few gals who live in Bettendorf! Imagine that! Right now, I want to finish my homework, soak my feet in hot water, and get to bed!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
And those pants turn sheer when wet. Luckily, the rain was nearly nothing. After I registered, I looked out the window and the drizzle had turned into a downpour. So I was stuck there and didn't know anyone. Thankfully I had my Kindle in that giant bag.
My day turned brighter after that. I started meeting people, mostly women who were dying to know where I had gotten my shoes and/or earrings. I honestly got at least thirty compliments on my shoes today. I hope ACFW has an award for best heels. I would totally win that.
I also had a publisher comment on them. He then stated that running in them would be impossible. I said I could hit a brisk jog, which he then invited me to demonstrate. And I did. That's right. Not even a full day into the conference and I'm making some very unforgettable first impressions by running across a room in 5 inch stilettos.
I also attended a class called "A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss." I didn't realize that this was a class for Christian romance writers. The advice was helpful to an extent. The principles can apply with some tweaking, sort of how a vaccination is a watered-down virus. A fiction novel just isn't going to have the same stylized passion scenes as a romance novel. Though, at some point I had to restrain my laughter. Apparently a wife's neglige strap slipping off her shoulder is considered very risque and using words like throb simply will not fly.
Tomorrow I have my critique at 3pm. I'm very excited to get feedback and learn how I can improve.
This sign was hanging in my booth. "No tinkers taken in." Pat Rothfuss would not approve.
At the end of my meal, the waitress brought me a complimentary cheesecake in a jar. Too adorable.
I arrived in St. Louis and checked into the hotel. I knew my room was a King parlor suite, but I didn't expect to have an entire living room. The view isn't too shabby either.
That was taken out of my living room window.
After settling in, I drove out to West County Mall. H&M taunted me with sweaters that were too boxy and dresses that were far too short. Oh well. I got a few cute accessories which will polish off my conference outfits nicely.
Today I'll check in at the ACFW booth. I originally planned to go to the aquarium this morning, but I think I might come back to the room and do some writing. Seems like a good way to start a Fiction Writers conference. :)