Been to a Writers’ #Conference ? #Writing


All APW conference photos published with permission from Tim and Deedle Tomlinson.

All AP writers conference photos published with permission from Tim and Deedle Tomlinson.

One of the things I love about writing is the ability to do my job all scruffy, hiding behind my desk, or some nondescript cafe table. A conference? No, thank you very much.

But last week I did attend a conference (the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Conference), my very first. I admit I’d gone there just for the workshops– they sounded great. One of my first ever ‘writing’ books was Tim Tomlinson’s Portable MFA in Creative Writing, and he would teach a workshop. Dr Sally Breen from Griffith University would lead an editing workshop, and Francesca Rendle-Short would do a session on voice.

I attended all three, and let me tell you– if you ever hear of a workshop from any of them, queue up. My only wish for those sessions?  They should have gone on longer. (I’m sure the others were equally good, but they either didn’t relate to my fields of interest, or clashed with these three.)

A few things I learned from the workshops:

1. Fragments strung together can make a story/ novel, you just need the right connectors.

2. It is perfectly acceptable to write with your left hand, eyes closed, when working around a writer’s block. Or otherwise.

3. Look at each word you use while writing. Take away as many as you can when revising, leaving a spare, beautiful structure.

AWP Writers' conference

All AP Writers conference photos published with permission from Tim and Deedle Tomlinson

I had a short editorial consult with Literary agent Kelly Falconer, and her insights were helpful. Her comments would help me polish my work further.

I also went to book launches. I watched authors read, talk in panels, and chat with each other during breaks. Authors are some of the most interesting people you can meet– they talk about everything from speculative poetry to sunflower seeds and everything else in between. They are also kind, generous, and courageous souls with a sense of humor, who stand up against injustice. (There could have been bitchiness and negativity somewhere, the stuff writers’ events get a rap for, but I didn’t see any that I can report. Quite the opposite!) It all ended in a great open mic session with singing and poetry. Couldn’t have ended on a better note.

So if there’s another writer’s conference I can go to, I’ve decided I will.

Especially if it is organized by Jane Camens, because if not for her help, I wouldn’t have been able to register for the conference or the workshops during weeks of traveling madness. Besides, throughout the conference I saw her add that touch of compassion and good cheer to each event I saw her at– it brought home to me why at the heart of writers’ events we need writers. Not just a great organizer, or fundraiser, but someone who understands writing and writers. (For more details on the conference, read this excellent article.)

What writing conferences have you taken part in? What was your experience like? What advice would you give me and the Daily (w)rite audience on writer’s conferences?

 

Dear Writers, Who Do You Write For?


‘You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing cant be a way of life, the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.’ ~ Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing was one of my fave writers going into my twenties, and I completely agree with that last line of the quote.

As to who I write for– I write the first draft primarily for myself, sometimes even the second or the third. But the later drafts almost always have a reader in mind.  Not all readers, but one reader, someone I know or imagine, the kind of person who would be interested in such a story.

Sometimes my ideal reader is my betta fish!

What about you? Who do You write for?

Betta fish writing

Who Do You Write For?

Dear Author, Are You Writing a Series?


Through the months of November and December, some fab writers would take over Daily (w)rite. I still have a few slots open for December, so I would welcome guest posts by writers who have something to say about the art, craft, and business of writing. Write me a mail at atozstories at gmail dot com to discuss this.

Today, I welcome Rick Gualtieri. He has a great blog, and his latest offering, , Sunset Strip is on my TBR pile (Just look at that gorgeous cover!). It is a 60k words of paranormal fantasy with attitude, and is now available Kindle, Nook, Kobo . If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out. Take it away, Rick!

Sunset Strip: A Tale From The Tome Of Bill

Sunset Strip by Rick Gualtieri

Surviving a Series

 I’ve just released the fifth book in a horror/comedy series I’ve been writing.  I’m lucky in that it’s been well-received by readers and has developed a bit of a following.  There’re few better feelings for a writer than receiving a message asking when the next book will be coming out. At the same time, it’s not all wine and roses. It’s very possible to suffer from series burn-out. There’s also the ever-present fear of ‘jumping the shark’, where everything afterward doesn’t quite reach the highpoints that came before.  In short there’re plenty of challenges for series authors. In between writing mine and reading others, though, I’ve come up with some suggestions that hopefully you might find useful.

 -        Know where you’re going.  A series should have a destination in mind.  Even if it’s not an ultimate destination, there should be a culmination to story arcs in mind before starting anew.  Closure is good and gives readers a sense of satisfaction.  Without that sense of direction, your multi-book epic adventure could start to seem aimless. Treat your series like a singular story, except each book represents a chapter.  Make sure you have a coherent beginning, middle, and end when it’s all viewed as a whole.

-        Change is good, as long as it’s not for the sake of change.  Mix things up, kill characters, introduce new ones, and have the survivors grow as a result – as long as it makes sense for the story.  The same thing over and over again is comfortable, but can rapidly become boring.  Just make sure when you change it, you know where you’re going with it.

-        Don’t milk it.  While you wouldn’t be the first writer to throw a few extra books into a series to keep the old cash cow alive, remember that readers aren’t stupid.  If it’s filler, people will realize it. Go to that well too often and don’t be surprised when readers react to the announcement of the next chapter with apathy rather than excitement.  If your series is reaching its end, go for it and go big.  Don’t put off the inevitable just because you hope to squeeze people for a few more bucks.

-        It’s okay to take a break.   You may get some grousing, but it’s perfectly okay to work on a different story in between series volumes.  You need to respect your readers, but that doesn’t mean they should dictate what must come next.   No ideas for a different world? Consider a side story for a sub character. This can be a great way to mix things up and keep them fresh for you, while at the same time expanding upon your universe.  My latest falls into that category.  It was a nice breath of fresh air to help me recharge my batteries, while still treading familiar ground.

Writing a series can be an awesome experience in extended world-building and storytelling.  But much like a long road trip, it’s easy to get lost. If you can avoid doing so, though, you may find it personally rewarding as well as potentially lucrative.

————–

Rick Gualtieri

Rick Gualtieri

About Rick: Rick Gualtieri lives alone in a dark, evil place called New Jersey with only his wife, three kids, and countless pets to both keep him company and constantly plot against him. When he’s not busy monkey-clicking out words, he can typically be found jealously guarding his collection of vintage Transformers from all who would seek to defile them. Defilers beware!

———  As a reader, what are some of your favorite series, and why? If you’re an author, what’s your take on surviving a series?

On what I learned from an #Author and an #Agent


Two days ago, I finished a course by Curtis Brown Agency, UK a three-day bootcamp for aspiring novelists in Singapore.

The Singapore National Arts Council  flew down Anna Davis, an author of five novels and a Curtis Brown agent who runs Curtis Brown Creative; and  bestselling author Jake Arnott, known for books like The Long Firm and The House of Rumor, to conduct this workshop.

Curtis Brown Novel Workshop Singapore

After the Curtis Brown Boot Camp Singapore

Between them, they chose 15 candidates out of 60 applications, and I got lucky. When I caught glimpses of the work of my peers, I realized how lucky– the room brimmed over with talent. I learned as much from their questions and answers as I did from some of  Jake and Anna’s comments.

In the three-day workshop Jake and Anna covered everything from Characters and Dialogue to Rewriting the Novel– they helped reinforce a lot of of my attitudes on technique.

But what helped me most were the sessions on Story, Structure, and weirdly enough (because I’m not ready for an agent by a long shot), the Agent Query letters.

Jake gave us an interesting theory of what a story is : Story occurs when character and plot meet. Story is itself the driving force, the very DNA of prose fiction. We do not tell stories. They tell us.

This led me to think about my novel– its plot which seemed to be doing too much and leading the story by the nose.

While writing the query letter (Anna surprisingly thought mine worked, though I had spent less than  two days writing it!)  and the pitch, I kept wondering what my story was about.

Anna Davis and Jake Arnott

Curtis Brown Bootcamp by Jake Arnott and Anna Davis

The 20-minute in-person tutorials with Jake and Anna told me exactly why it can be crucial to get feedback from the real pros in this business– while I’ve been flapping along like a fledgling stork with my first draft and second, they swooped in immediately like ospreys on just what the story was. Kind and perceptive, both Jake and Anna merely asked me a lot of questions– never forcing their point of view, but helping me see my work in a way I hadn’t before.

As a result, I’m now considering sweeping changes in my work, which might mean yet another complete change of direction and rewrite. And though that means a lot of new work, and a lot of old work possibly binned, I’m thrilled.

No matter what direction I take with my novel, and irrespective of whether it ever sees light of day, I learned to ask the right questions when it comes to a novel. To me, that’s invaluable.

—-

What workshops have you taken part in? Have you ever participated in a Curtis Brown Workshop? Has a workshop ever led to major changes in your work?

Cherie Reich: Magna’s Plea


Today I’m excited to introduce blog friend and fellow-writer Cherie Reich‘s work on Daily (w)rite. She is an inspiration on her blog, through her writing and her book reviews.

Here’s more about her latest release: Magna’s Plea.

Magna's Plea by Cherie Reich

Magna’s Plea by Cherie Reich

Book Description: A princess will rise and challenge Fate.
While her father, brothers, and people fight against the Kingdom of Apentha, tenacious eighteen-year-old Princess Magna can only watch the destruction of Amora, her besieged city and kingdom. Her mother, Queen Vyvian, has refused to allow her heir to join the fray.
But Magna won’t take no for an answer. She seeks out an end of the war from Prince Cyrun of Apentha, their prisoner. If she can’t persuade him toward peace, then Amora may fall.

Here’s an excerpt from Cherie Reich’s latest offering, Magna’s Plea :

Amora

12-13 Days of Luquiry

Year 1717 AUC

Tendrils of smoke swirled heavenward. The smoldering stench reached Princess Magna at the top of the palace’s northern tower. She wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant odor, yet it still smelled better than the filth plaguing the besieged seven-hilled city.

She’d vowed to protect Amora. Her heart shattered a little more each day at the devastation afflicting her kingdom.

The once grassy and flower-filled plain sprouted dust plumes from the trampling feet. As the sun neared the western horizon, a bloody hue washed over the battlefield. Tiny, metallic dins and men’s shouts rang out. Magical bursts flashed in the sky like Thean’s lightning, beautiful and deadly. A wooden catapult hurled a human-sized stone slab into the city’s wall. Magna jerked away from the opened window she stood before, as if the object had struck her instead. Rock crumbled from the impact, but the barrier held.

When the reddish orb sank lower, the fighting ceased. War’s chaos parted into two orderly sides, and soldiers crossed the field to gather their dead.

She brushed a shaky hand over her cheeks. Tears dampened her face, and she struggled to turn away from the battle before her. Almost two months had passed since the Apenthans had begun their attack Amora. How much longer could the Amorans—she—stay safe behind their impenetrable wall?

——-
This short story prequel includes a sneak peek of Reborn, Book One of The Fate Challenges, forthcoming May 2014.
YA Epic Fantasy
The Fate Challenges #0.5
A 5500-word Short Story

To download this short story for free: Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords / Goodreads

Read online at Wattpad, Add to Goodreads

—-

Magna's Plea by Cherie Reich

Magna’s Plea by Cherie Reich

About the Author: A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror series Nightmare, a space fantasy novella trilogy titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms.  Her debut YA Epic Fantasy novel Reborn, book one in The Fate Challenges, will be released on May 23, 2014.

Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Wattpad

Five Weird OCD Twitter Rituals You Should Consider Trying


Twitter is my favorite social media platform, but I have to confess I am a little OCD and ritualistic when it comes to my Twitter experience.  Most of these processes involve ways to clean up my tweet stream, but others are the ways I engage and interact. It might seem a little odd to some people, but it works out well for me.

Here are five of my weird OCD Twitter rituals:

1. TwitCleaner

On the first of every month, I religiously run TwitCleaner to clear the noise from my stream. It’s the quickest way to unfollow suspected bots, people who post too many duplicate links, people who post only links, and people who have little or no interaction with their followers.

2. ManageFlitter

Every Monday morning I run Manage Flitter to see who unfollowed me so I can return the gesture and  unfollow those who have inactive Twitter accounts. I’m always able to weed out between 30-60 followers that way. Perhaps it seems petty to unfollow those who’ve done the same to me, but I am a strong believer in two-way interaction.

3. Morning Tweets

I tweet every morning from 7:30am-8:30 am with my morning coffee (excepting weekends and vacation). I like to be able to to catch up with anyone who personally interacted with me since bedtime the night before and allows me to keep  a strong level of engagement with my most active followers.

4. Evening Tweets

I tweet every night from 8:45pm-9:45 pm (excepting weekends and vacation), because I work a regular 9-5 job during the day and my “mom” job after school, and this allows me to catch all the tweets I might have missed earlier in the day. I don’t like my tweets to go unnoticed, and I know my followers appreciate a reply. Sometimes I miss a few people, because I have a lot of activity in my mentions feed, but I try to be diligent in catching up with everyone.

5. Retweets

During my morning and evening tweet sessions, I make sure to retweet at least 20 followers each during both times from my main Tweet stream. I specifically select followers I haven’t had recent interaction with in awhile to let them know I haven’t forgotten them and to show a little extra love to the followers who have helped me with retweets and website visits. I also spend this time reaching out and interacting with people I might not have tweeted with in awhile.

Of course, there are times I am able to tweet a little during the day, but it’s not often.  With my weird OCD Twitter rituals in place, I feel like I’m on top of things most of the time. I have different routines for Facebook, G+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc., but those are posts for another time.

How about you? Do you have any OCD Twitter rituals? Assure me I’m not too crazy by sharing them in the comments! :-)

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This post by Amberr Meadows has been syndicated with permission from her and Jim Dougherty , on whose blog the post first appeared.

Any Words of Advice for a Scrivener Noob? #IWSG


Insecure Writer's Support Group

Insecure Writers!

It is Insecure Writer’s Support Group time, and I’m at a loss about what insecurity to post about. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

I’m in this calm place where I can write without hope and without despair (The phrase is borrowed from writer friend Zafar Anjum, my sentiments echo his). I’m okay to just write and become better, let consequences take care of themselves. No expectations, no shortcuts, no anguish.

What I’m struggling with instead is Scrivener. Blog friend Corinne Flynn was one of the first people to recommend it, and I’ve got myself a trial version. But I haven’t taken her advice, which was to patiently sit through the tutorial — so I’m struggling with the simplest of tasks, like compiling documents. About ready to give up.

Anyone else have a (good or bad) Scrivener story to share? Words of advice for a Scrivener noob?