One Writer’s Experience at the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference

Yesterday, I returned from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. As usual it was an amazing experience. Here are some things I took away:

1. I heard top agent Barry Goldblatt critique first pages read by attendees. Now, I have a much better idea where to start my story. I had way too much dialogue up front. Not enough was happening. I need to start at a more dramatic moment. Actually, that’s easy. I just need to skip more pages.

2. The night before the conference started, my roomie, an amazing writer, had reviewed my own first page and synopsis. Together, we pinpointed the organizing principle of my protagonist’s personality. I now can see the thread stringing the pearls of my plot together. It was always there, but not as clear to me as it was to her. That help was priceless. (You know who you are–thank you!)

3. I spent some time with other writers and an agent chatting in Zebulon’s Library, an intimate bookless conference room near the restaurant. It was a different and relaxing way to meet people and share information.

4. I met an energetic, fascinating, famous, and powerful professional writer in the bar. Her example was a gift. Most immediately applicable of the many things I learned from her is a working method. She uses a bluetooth microphone and paces around her office, dictating, during working hours. She logs 4000 words a day. Okay, I ordered a bluetooth microphone this morning. Reviewers say it works with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I like and have trained. This week I have assignments to turn in and errands to catch up on, but this weekend, I am going to finish my novel, or at the very least, come close. I am one of those strange people who finds it much easier to rewrite than to do the initial draft, so this is going to work. It will also help my sciatica (caused, in my case, by too much sitting) heal and increase my calorie burn.

5. I heard an accomplished thriller writer discuss his Stanislovski-style method of characterization. I couldn’t do it the way he does. (He actually shoplifted once  as part of his character research.) I can, however, use my imagination to immerse myself more deeply into my protagonist’s mind. He emphasized the characters’ feelings, but, more than that, the responses of other people to the way a given character acts. Coming home, I found myself observing people in the airport more closely.

6. I heard a professional nonfiction writer, an architect, giving advice about how to break into writing. I have been broken in for quite some time, but his talk reminded me of avenues to publication I have not explored in a while, and I will be watching them more carefully in the coming months, making notes for possible projects.

7. I attended two panels where literary agents answered questions commonly posed by attendees. I was able to see people who represent the kind of book I am writing. When I am ready to submit, I will be able to associate their names, faces, and personalities with information I find online.  I will also be able to say what impressed me about them. (One of my major goals this year is finding appropriate representation for my work.) By the way, don’t be discouraged if you get rejections from agents. They get more than 1000 queries a week and ask for few sample pages (even fewer full manuscripts).

8. I heard a famous thriller writer extol the virtues of self-publishing (though Amazon). It’s not for me, but, hey.

9. I added to my list of books to read.

10. I met many wonderful fellow-writers, ate great food, took a walk in the Garden of the Gods, sipped Blue Moon, had a massage, and watched Eat, Pray, Love on Saturday night in our room. (Husbands will not share that one.) What could be better?

Writing from the Peak: Rocking the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

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Follow the SCBWI 2013 Winter Conference, Here, Now!

If you write books for children, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Their huge Winter Conference is going on right now in New York City. Click on the link below and follow the conference through the eyes of a crack team of official bloggers. You will find out what to expect when you attend your first international conference. The next one is in Los Angeles in August, but the organization sponsors more intimate regional events as well.

The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

An Interview with Meg Rosoff

I’m not going to SCBWI’s winter conference in New York this year, but I am still going to follow the conference blog. Here’s an interview from the keynote speaker, Meg Rosoff.

Meg Rosoff: ‘Writers are naturally questioning, fairly dark people’  – Martha Brockenbrough – author – martha brockenbrough – author.

Literary MagNet | November/December 2012 | Poets & Writers

Read about innovative approaches to literary publishing in this article by Travis Kurowski in Poets and Writers Magazine online.

Poets and Writers, if you don’t know about it, is a terrific resource for literary workers. There are market listings, contest postings, interviews, and much more.

Literary MagNet | November/December 2012 | Poets & Writers.

The Write Routine: The “Morning After”: One Conference Attendee’s Struggle

Writers Conferences are inspiring, exhausting, and addictive. They provide literary workers with information, support, inspiration, and so much fun it’s practically unbearable. Here are some reflections from a recent SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) regional conference attendee. Click on the link below if you have recently attended a writers conference, or if you are thinking about signing up for one.

The Write Routine: The “Morning After”: One Conference Attendee’s Struggle.