Writers Conferences: Yea or Nay

There was a conference this past weekend not terribly far from me and it was reasonably priced. But, looking over the session line up (the classes offered), I just wasn’t that excited about going. And there weren’t going to be any agents there to practice pitching to. I went back and forth about going. I ended up deciding to attend mostly because I didn’t have a good reason not to (it was so well-priced, I didn’t have anything else taking up my weekend, and it was within driving distance). And am I ever glad I went! I am ever the one to encourage writers of all levels to attend conferences and I’m glad I took my own advice. What can you get out of a conference? Especially if you are not looking forward to any of the classes?

shaking handsNetworking. This is probably the number one thing. You meet other authors who are at various stages in their careers. Some one you meet over lunch may just be a connection that can help you along the way at some point. Even if not, it’s a chance to meet a critique partner, a beta reader, or someone in your genre who understands your craziness. Which leads me to my next point…

Being among the like-minded. Let’s face it…all writers have some amount of crazy. We make up people and then have them talk to each other. That’s not entirely sane. And yet it is…such an enigma. The fellowship of the not-quite-sane-and-yet-not-crazy is precious. To be around others that understand what you mean and can relate to the fact that your browser history would definitely raise a few eyebrows of the local homicide detectives.

mentorMentoring. I have yet to be to a conference big or small that didn’t offer agent appointments and/or mentoring appointments. That 15 minutes to pick a mentor’s brain can be so valuable. You can focus that time on your weakest area. This past weekend, I zeroed in on my synopsis writing. And the mentor gave me more help than I dared hope for. Now I have more confidence in my ability in an area that needed a LOT of work.

Being present. I’m talking about marketing…getting YOUR name out there. If you don’t attend the conference, that’s a whole bunch of people who might could have heard about your books that didn’t. You are one who champions your cause the best. You are the one who cares the most about getting your name out there. And you have to be present to do so.

People at the conferenceLearning. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the learning. And even though none of the sessions looked like they would really help me, I went in with a different attitude once I was there. What can I glean from these authors who are further along than I? Who know more about craft than I? And, you know what? I did learn. Not all of it was new information, but there were more take-aways than I expected.

All in all, I would say that attending ANY conference is a good idea. No matter how small. There is always something to learn, always new writers to network with, and, if your attitude is right, always more to be gleaned than you can imagine.

Stuck in the Middle

Pick a day, any day…and I will tell you which manuscripts I am working on. Yes, you heard me right…manuscripts. Why would you have more than one WIP (work in progress)? Well, the simple answer is that different people work at different paces and in different ways. For me, the story ideas come faster than I can sit down and finish a novel beginning to end. So, how many manuscripts am I working on? And what are they?

editsThe One I’m Editing. I’m always working through doing editing on a manuscript I just finished. As it just so happens, today I finished my edits on the one I have been working on for a while. So, it’s about ready to click that send button and be queried to agents/publishers. Yay! Editing is…not my favorite. But thankfully, I don’t do it every day. I split my time between editing and writing, so that I can still breathe.


The One I’m Writing. 
I’m always working on writing something. My current WIP is about halfway done, which is where I like to be when I finish up one edit. Now I can split my time between editing the first half of this manuscript and writing the ending half. This manuscript is requiring a lot more research than most, so it’s coming along slower than normal.

daydreamingThe One I’m Plotting/Researching. I’m always thinking about the next one. When I’m about halfway through with the one I’m writing, an idea will come along, a spark, that will excite me and give me a storyline for another book. Now that I’m not doing heavy editing on a whole different manuscript, I will start preliminary research for this next one. Fun stuff!

So, there it is. Three WIPs going at one time. Different places in each. Now, this may be just me, or maybe there are other writers out there like this. I don’t know. But it is my process and it works for me. You have to find what works for you and go with it. Happy Writing!

Help! I Can’t Find Time To Write

So, having trouble finding time to write? Me too! I bet you have another job, or a crazy busy life, or some kids and a house to care for, or a mix of the above mentioned. It’s an all too common problem with writers. Especially those of us who cannot claim it as our full time career. Even then, I believe there are challenges.

organizeThe Never-Ending “To Do” List. And believe me, it will never end. There will always be more that needs to be done. Especially if you are a stay at home mom/dad. Something is always lurking around the house, or coming up with one of the kiddos that has to be done. Being a stay-at-home is a full time job and then some. I know. Even with help. I have help come in a few hours each day to help manage the chaos so that (hopefully) I can get some writing done and I still haven’t sat down to work on a manuscript (save that writing weekend) in three weeks, maybe longer. My weekly schedule just hasn’t allowed for it.

balance beamHow to Manage the List. We’ve talked about the “on the beam”/”off the beam” idea in the sense that you need to decide what remains on your list, what you delegate to hubby or others, what can be moved, and what gets crossed off altogether. I need to take a little bit of my own advice and look at my list with a more discerning eye.

hourglass1So, where do I find the time? You don’t find the time, you make the time. Just like with anything. I never miss a scheduled doctor’s appointment or fail to give that adequate time. So, I need to treat my writing with the same respect. It’s not going to happen if we don’t carve out time to do it. Therein lies the key.

water pumpWhat happens if I don’t feel inspired when that time comes. I would encourage you to use Google to search “writing prompts” and try one or just journal. Anything you can do to get the “pump” primed. Once your juices are flowing, turn to your work in progress and you’ll find that things will come much easier.

I truly do hope that you find these suggestions helpful. I am finding in my days and in my life, that if I don’t make writing a priority and fight for that time, it’s just not going to happen. So, cut out the distractions however you need to and have at it. Happy writing!

Riding the highs and lows of life

I know I have titled this blog “Riding the highs and lows of life”, but let me just talk about this week alone! What a week it has been! It’s often been said to me that, for writers, your blog is an opportunity for your readers to get a glimpse into your life, to “peek behind the curtain” if you will. Well, I’m about to invite you into my living room to sit down for a frank conversation about my week. Not just to talk about me, but to talk about how we all have to go with the flow in life sometimes and ride those waves.

writing computerWriting Weekend (HIGH) – I had the opportunity this past weekend to just go away and write. It. Was. Amazing. I got so much research and writing done. And I had a blast doing it. Having that kind of concentrated time allowed me to really delve into my characters heads and go to deeper places. What a high indeed!

blood clot in legHealth Issue (LOW) – I came home to some kind of intense pain in my leg. Come to find out I have several clots in one of my veins. So, from about mid-thigh to mid-calf in that leg, the blood flow is cut off in that vein. Not only that, where the vein junctions in my thigh, leads to my lungs. So, it creates the risk that one of the clots can break off and shoot to my lungs. Yeah, not so much fun. So, I’m on blood thinners. Also not fun. Take an already cold-natured person and make them even colder. Well, that’s the least of my issues with the blood thinner. This became quite the crashing low after my really high moment. But, with God’s help, I was able to keep my spirits up, keep my emotions in check, and ride the ebbing wave through. Again, the moment you think you’re down and out…you are.

20160302_214034Much Needed Home Improvement Projects Done (HIGH) – Hubby and I finally did a backsplash in our home and painted the first of many rooms (our son’s room) that need to be done. Fantastic! Check and check. And we decorated for Easter. So, our house is all springy and we are getting through our to-do list for the house at long last. Another boost.

pillsMore Leg Pain and Side Effects from Blood Thinners (LOW) – Part of this may be because I was so gung-ho about getting so much done in a 24-hour time period. And I realize I need to rest my poor leg. But the blood thinners…grrr…not my fault that they have side effects. So, now I have to schedule a visit with another specialist who, I’m sure is going to want me off the blood thinners to stop this other problem, but I can’t come off the blood thinners….catch 22. Again, I can either allow myself to become frustrated, or I can remain calm and weather the storm with as much courage and calmness as I can muster.

So, this is what my week has kind of looked like…the highlights (and low points). Now, your highlights and low points look different I’m sure (I hope), but the principles are the same. Don’t take on this defeatist attitude. The minute you do, you are defeated. Cling to God, and allow His strength to wash over you. Let Him be your rock in the midst of the hard storms of life. Let Him hold you together. And bring you peace. This is the only way I know how.