Committing to the Craft – Conferences, Connections & Contests

One thing that writers love is their cave. It is warm, cozy, and quiet. Coffee, tea, or other favorite libations are always at hand while the mind agitates.

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A single reader can elevate an author into the stratosphere with a kind comment or an Amazon Review. Out of that deep grotto, a connection is made.

Once the first flush of achievement fades, the next questions that authors must ask is how to get more readers and how to improve writing skills?

This January, I attended the second annual Sierra Writer’s Conference. Organized by Sierra Writers and Sierra College, it is a friendly, intimate venue filled with opportunities.

“If you want to be serious about writing, treat it like a business,” says Jordan Fisher Smith, a conference keynote speaker.

Joyce Wycoff, a event board member, says that when a writer attends a conference, “You are showing up for your writing.”

A writing conference is a place to;

  • hone your craft
  • make connections, and
  • establish an action list 

“Agents and publishers often say that writers’ who attend conferences are more serious about their craft and are more likely to succeed,” Wycoff comments.

This year’s conference was on the same day as the Women’s March.

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Women’s March

Politics was not discussed, but keynote speakers recognized the passion that the marchers expressed.

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Molly Fisk, author of Blow-Drying a Chicken

“A writer is not outside of what is going on,” said Molly Fisk. “People recognize themselves in our writing.”

“Being a writer opens a door,” she continues. “It is permission to think.”

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“Art happens when people get together to share their struggles,” Jordan Fisher Smith, commented. “You write because you are called to it.”

 

Following my current interests, I attended Marketing and Publishing and Guided Critique break-out sessions.

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Catharine Bramkamp, author of Future Gold

Catharine Bramkamp, a writing coach and social media expert discussed a variety of platforms, member demographics, and analytics. “Know where to spend your time on social media. Be aware of the results that you want to achieve. Keep yourself from getting sucked in, but do enough to have a presence online.”

 

 

 

Bob Jenkins, is a professional storyteller with a PhD in criticism. “Criticism is the20170121_202153analysis of art; what works and why it works, as well as what doesn’t work and how to fix it,” he explains.

Jenkins delighted his listeners, and the brave souls who pre-submitted writing samples, with dramatic readings of their work. His suggested improvements were striking and gratefully received.

Bob’s writing improvement recommendations; ProWritingAid, Ginger Grammar Checker, and Building Great Sentences.

 

The last workshop that I attended was with Mark Weideranders. He is a is a historical fiction author. Several of my next writing projects fall into this category.

20170121_195645robert_louis_stevenson_at_26“History did not record what was going through the mind of Fanny Osbourne, an American art student, when she drew this affectionate sketch of young Robert Louis Stevenson,” began Weideranders.

When writing historical fiction, it is important to let people know what is fact and what is fiction,” says Weideranders.

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Q & A Panel – Mark Weideranders, Mary Volmer, Jordan Fisher Smith and Kim Culbertson

Connections happen with shared experiences;

  • standing in line to get coffee
  • looking through books on display
  • the person you sit next to during lunch break
Poets Quartet performance
Poets Quartet performance

First Sentence Contest

A confidence booster was winning the First Sentence Contest. Below is my entry along with the artwork (on my cell phone) that inspired the words.

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Lucia Stewart Artwork

 

For an introverted author, making oneself mingle goes outside the bounds of the comfort zone. Realizing that many authors share the same feelings makes it easier.

My ‘meeting people strategy’ is simple; smile, make eye contact, and have a genuine interest in the person I want to talk to.

The next time I step outside of my cave, it will be with increased confidence, improved skills, and more people I know in my writing community.

 

 

Additional Resources

Conference books, authors, and writing improvement tools

Download a FREE Conference Journal to discover your conference-attending personality

Additional Writers’ Conferences – Poets & Writers

Literary grants & funding

Writing Contests and Competitions –

Writer’s Digest

The Writer Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predicting the Future – Writer’s Resources

Sicfi fans are smiling together today. It is the day that Marty McFly traveled to in the iconic Back to the Future movie. Remembering that light-hearted, entertaining story about one boy who changed the future will have many of us tuning in once again (Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy ) to share the fun with our kids.

In the original script the time travel portal was a refrigerator. It’s easy to visualize the comedic scenes that could have spun off from that idea. Would removal of a certain item cause the time travel event? Would the characters have had to squeeze inside? Would grabbing the handle make the floor drop out from under Marty and company? It was a cool idea but I think that the DeLorean was a much racier choice.

It’s been fun to see the differences between the movies’ visions of the future and what actually transpired!

Time travel, as a story theme, is fruitful ground—ripe for the imagination. Economists, politicians, governments, storytellers, futurists, scientists, dreamers, children and their parents all wonder about the future.

As a writer, I find that scenes set in the past are much easier to imagine than ones set in the future. Information, history and research is easy to access. What I enjoy most abut that type of writing is weaving in little known facts—learning becomes effortless and fun. (Author, Ken Follett is a master of this technique.)

How can a writer prep for composing futuristic fiction?

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Currently I am working on a scenario where a character from the year 2135 travels back to the mid 1980’s.  Coming up a story rich in details that haven’t happened yet is challenging.

Since we have we have a 10-year-old son who will be ready to start his professional life somewhere around the year 2030, my research about the future has become a family affair. Together and separately we read and talk about articles in geek, science and technology magazines. We watch TV shows and documentaries where futurists entertain us with their speculations. The links below are to some of our favorites.

“The kids who will control the solar system are the ones who do not give up, who enjoy doing it and persist.” – Chuck Pell, Artist, Entrepreneur and Futurist and host of the TV series, Xploration Earth 2050.

Other Resources:

U.S. National Intelligence Council website Global Trends 2030. Articles submitted by academicians and think tank members discuss a variety of topics such as population, immigration, climate change, aging and more.

MAKE Magazine & Movement

The Futurist Magazine

As with any writing endeavor, research can take tremendous amounts of time. So much so, that it may be difficult to pinpoint where to stop.

As the cast and creators of Back to the Future point out, some future predictions were right and others were wrong. While you are working on a project, you have no idea if it will be a hit or a flop. Only time will tell.

In the end, all any writer can do is create strong characters, set the scene, make their best guess and enjoy the journey.

Today Show cast interview.