Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Book Academy Changed My Life

by Julie Coulter Bellon

The UVU Book Academy Writers Conference is one week away. After all the months of planning, it’s finally here! As most of you know, this is our second year doing this conference and I think it’s one of the best in the valley. For me, it’s my motivation. It gets me excited and motivated to dig back into whatever project I’m working on at the time. Plus, I get to see a lot of my writer friends that I don’t see very often. And I get to meet a lot of new people who quickly become friends.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to another author, Tiffany Fletcher, and she mentioned to me that the Book Academy had changed her life. After she’d told me her story, I asked if she wouldn’t mind writing it down and letting me share it with you, especially since some of you who read this blog are aspiring authors. She agreed to share, so, here it is, in her own words.

"The Book Academy changed my life! My husband was planning on attending The Book Academy with his students and asked me if I wanted to come along. It had been two years since I had written my manuscript, “Mother Had a Secret” and I had already received several rejections, including a rejection from Covenant Communications. My husband kept insisting that he felt I should attend and asked me to read the bios of all of the professionals who would be in attendance. The night before the event, my husband directed me to the Academy’s website where I saw the bio of Kathy Jenkins, senior editor at Covenant Communications. In her bio, it mentioned that she sat on the board of Mental Health for her county. Immediately, I knew that I had to attend. My book is about my relationship with my mother who was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.

Armed with nothing more than a notebook, and a firm determination that I was going to do whatever it took to speak to Kathy Jenkins in person, I paid the fees and accompanied my husband and his students to The Book Academy. I attended several classes, including a class on pitching books to the media, taught by Kelly Smurthwaite, publicist for Covenant Communications. Kelly asked if anyone wanted to pitch their book, and I immediately shot up my hand. I had come to promote my manuscript and I felt that this was a good opportunity. After I pitched my book, there were many intrigued, which gave me added courage to accomplish my reason for being there, to speak to Kathy Jenkins.

At lunch, Kelly sat at my table and we discussed more about my book and what I could do to catch a publisher’s attention. During the lunch, Kathy Jenkins sat on a panel of experts, answering questions. After the luncheon was over, and after everyone was dispersing to their next class, I quickly approached Kathy as she was leaving the room. I began by telling her of my mother and of the book that I wrote. I mentioned that Covenant had already rejected it once, but that I really felt that she should give it another chance. Kathy agreed, stating that they had just changed their submission guidelines and that they were now accepting narrative non-fiction. She asked me to send it to Covenant again, and to put her name on it.

It took four months for Covenant to review the manuscript, but in January, I received a call that the board of directors wanted to meet with me. A week later, the manuscript was accepted for publication. Exactly one year after that meeting at the Book Academy, my book has been released and I have been the recipient of many incredible opportunities that I would have never otherwise experienced.

What I love about The Book Academy is that it creates an environment where professionals and writers can meet. The conference allows writers the platform for success, but it is up to us, individually, to take advantage of the opportunities that are there. If I hadn’t have got up the courage to approach Kathy Jenkins, she would have walked right out of that room, not even knowing that I was there. The Book Academy provides the backdrop for success, but it is up to us to shine."

Tiffany Fletcher (author of Mother Had a Secret)

What I liked most about Tiffany’s story is that she took the opportunities that were afforded to her and made the most of them. She knew who she wanted to talk to, she talked to other professionals about the right way to do it, and she did it. And what a wonderful outcome it had for Tiffany. But most of all, I really believe in what Tiffany said, that conferences like the Book Academy provide the platform for writers and professionals to meet, yet, it’s up to the individual to take the opportunity. Of course, as writers we’re used to taking chances and we know it can be scary, but who knows, it may change your life if you do!

If you haven’t already signed up for the Book Academy Conference, you can do so here.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!


At 9/23/2010 2:48 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I got to hear Tiffany speak last month--she was truly inspiring, and I look forward to reading her book.

I'm even MORE impressed at how driven she was--what an active participant she became in creating her own opportunities.

At 9/23/2010 2:54 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

How wonderful for Tiffany! I'm so happy for her and grateful to everyone at Book Academy who work hard to provide those opportunities for writes. Thanks, Julie!

At 9/23/2010 10:00 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Ironically, I was just speaking to Kathy Jenkins today (who, by the way, is an absolutely fabulous person), and she was very complimentary of Book Academy. I am so excited to go this year! Not only do I get to meet Julie Bellon, but I get to do a signing that weekend with none other than Tiffany Fletcher. :)

At 9/23/2010 11:51 PM, Blogger Taffy said...

I'm very interested in Tiffany's book now. I enjoyed Book Academy and look forward to another great conference. I feel I'm ungrateful for the opportunities so close to home if I don't take them. The local authors are so willing to share their knowledge, take time
and help newbies like me.

At 9/24/2010 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although i am not an author I do have business ideas that i believe in and after reading this I realize that these conferences opportunities have many applications and I am now motivated to attend more conferences in my chosen field!!

At 9/24/2010 4:52 AM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

I've never attended a book conference and never done a book signing despite the fact that my fourth novel comes out next year. Darn Atlantic Ocean! You've whetted my appetite for such literary feasts! Anyone rich out there want to pay my air fare?

At 9/24/2010 12:40 PM, Blogger Krista said...

What an amazing, nurturing community! I love being part of it and I am really looking forward to Book Academy. It will be my first writing conference!


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