Thursday, May 30, 2013

What I Learned at Storymakers

This post has been incredibly slow.

That's not fair. It's not the post's fault. I should rephrase that: I have been incredibly slow at writing this blog post. But, it's for a good reason. You see, I learned SO MUCH at this writing conference, that I've been furiously polishing my manuscript. I polished it so much that I submitted it to the #PitMad contest happening on twitter.

And I got some requests.

So. Basically, this intro is to tell you I've been querying and I'm getting some (very early, don't get too excited) results.

All that aside, I do want to blog about some of the amazing things I learned at Storymakers in Provo. First the things I learned from myself:

1. Comfortable shoes are a must. My cowgirl boots (I live in Arizona, duh) were the perfect choice. My feet didn't hurt for one second, despite pulling four consecutive eighteen-hour days.

2. Bring non-sugary snacks. I did not do this, and I was on carb-overload by the end of the weekend.

3. Don't ditch to have a chat session with your friends. You will want to ditch to pick an editor's brain, and you will have wasted your ditch. (I made the right choice on this one, but more on that in a later post)

4. Promote yourself. Don't pimp yourself. Hand out cards or swag. Don't accost people and force them to take your swag.

True story: Every time someone forced me to take swag I didn't ask for, I thought to myself, "Yeah. Sure. I'll throw this away for you." Which is wasteful. Don't be wasteful.

5. Get your friends' cell phone numbers ahead of time. Tweeting and emailing gets slow when there's five hundred people in the same room doing it at the same time. Text is much more efficient. And you can gossip without someone reading it in their tweetstream.

Now, the stuff I learned from other people.

Elana Johnson, on querying: They're judging you.

J.R. Johanssen: When querying, be the non-crazy people. It will help you.
J.R. Johanssen: Sometimes it's about the trends. Sometimes it's about the writing. But the biggest deal-breaker is not having a voice of your own.

Jordan McCollum: A well-executed internal journey (or character development) dovetails with the external journey (or your plot).
Jordan McCollum: Give your characters real choices, not stacked choices. And then let them make the wrong choices.

Marion Jensen & Krista Lynne Jensen: It's not what your character does, but how he does it that makes him endearing.
Marion Jensen & Krista Lynne Jensen: Humor requires surprise. It is the opposite of boring. (This doesn't actually have anything to do with their class - "Crafting Endearing Characters" - but it's both true and useful.)

Paul Genesse: Tom Bombadil is the worst thing to ever happen to Middle Earth. (Again, not really relevant to the class - "The World as a Character" - but it's true and needs to be said more often.)
Paul Genesse: Come up with 100 details about your character's universe. Delete 90 of them.

Julie Wright: Don't focus on the most important character in the universe, but the one who hurts the most.
Julie Wright: Books that are not fully imagined are not worthy of the [fantasy] genre.
Julie Wright: Fairy tales remind us to be better people.

Clint Johnson: There is no such thing as an "omniscient" POV. It's all being filtered through someone's lens. Figure out whose, and define the story through them.
Clint Johnson: Reaction reveals so much more than action. Your story is not what happens, but what your characters do about it.
Clint Johnson: Exposition communicates information. Narrative communicates emotion.

Several of these classes/instructors were so informative and helpful, I'd LOVE to just post my notes (some of these hour long classes resulted in four pages of notes... and not just one of them.) and let you share the vast wealth of knowledge I know possess. But. That would be unethical, not to mention mean. So, if you want more notes from a particular instructor (and I promise, if you *think* you do, then you TOTALLY do), you'll have to get in contact with them.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I've Learned About Writing Conferences Without Even Having Attended One Yet

I really tried to think of a shorter or less obvious title for this post but came up short. Have I mentioned how much I hate titles? Oh, I have? Well, then. We'll just move on.

I am attending the LDStorymakers Conference in Provo, Utah this week and my preparations have taught me a lot already, despite the fact that the conference doesn't start for two more days. Here's what I've learned so far:

- You need business cards. And if you don't know this until it's too late to have them printed, you'll have to do them yourself. And if that's the case, you'll need to buy twice as many as you think you need because you are a writer and not a professional printer and you will mess them all up.

- Writers are casual people and will refer to the shoes they packed as "really nice clogs." I don't have any idea what that actually means, but it bodes well for my feet over the next few days.

- You're never ready to read your work out loud in front of people, no matter how much you love it and no matter how many times you've edited it.

- "Business Casual" means something very different to artistic-type people than it does to a person who worked in banking for eight years.

- There are too many classes and, yes, you will want to attend them all. But you can't. So you need to pick.

- Checked baggage fees are bullcrap.

I'm quite sure the list of "What I've Learned After Attending A Writing Conference" will be fourteen and a half times as long as this one, so I'll just leave you with this for now.

Oh, and if you're interested in learning some of the tidbits and gems we glean from the conference, you can follow #storymaker13 on Twitter. (Yes, it's a very long hashtag. I'm not in charge of these things.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013


So there's this woman I know from Twitter. I will call her Mary. Only because I'm reasonably certain that I don't actually know anybody named Mary, so that makes this an innocuous choice.

Mary and I followed each other for probably two years. Maybe three. Who's counting?

We followed - literally - hundreds of the same people. We talked often. Shared jokes, shared good news and virtual hugs when there was bad news. We were not close friends, but more like good friends. Like, she's the childhood friend of your best friend, type of friends.

One day I saw that she unfollowed me. (I use Manage Flitter to unfollow inactive accounts and such) No big deal. It happens. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it wasn't, but it was definitely not a big deal. I stayed following her and would occasionally comment on something she tweeted.

She never, ever responded.

When I would comment on a tweet of hers that had somebody else involved, she would respond to the other person and delete my handle - effectively deleting me from the conversation.

She then went on and unfriended me on two other social networks. I took that as the sign that she just didn't want me around, so I unfollowed her on Twitter.

Please believe me: This was not an "I'll show you!" kind of move. It just that if she's in my stream, I'll respond /star/RT/whatever. She obviously doesn't want me doing so, so I just remove her from my stream to stop myself from doing those things.

Every day, she shows up in the "People you should follow" setup in the sidebar of Twitter. #AWKWARD

And I know I need to get over it because it's just twitter, and I know it's not worth being upset about. And I honestly wouldn't categorize myself as "upset," it's just that it's... well... it's WEIRD, right?