Thursday, May 30, 2013

[Update] I'm Baaack

What I'm Listening To: Smells Like Teen Spirit - Scott D. Davis

Guten Tag! Wie gehts? It's been a while since my last post. Apparently I began my blog on May 24th of last year, so I'm a little late in celebrating [Insert Title]'s one year anniversary (you'd think I'd have come up with a name for it by now). Ah, well. I've been busy sleeping in, reading, and, of course, writing. Not to mention doing yoga while having a Friends marathon. So proud of myself for trying to get in shape. *sips Dr. Pepper*

As for my writing, I'm currently 34,000 words into a YA fantasy standalone novel (temporarily titled Shadows and Chains because I can think of nothing else) that I hope to complete either this month or the next. I'm currently getting some feedback on it at critiquecircle.com (there's still a few slots left in my private queue if anyone is interested) and, from what the feedback I've been getting, I feel like it's got some potential, though a few people hate the main character with a passion, which I'm fine with. She's a hard character to like. I'm also getting ready to query my first novel The Kingdom's Champion. I have a few agents in mind, but I'm pretty nervous about sending out my query.

So I finally went to my first writer's conference two weekends ago at the Loft Literary Center in downtown Minneapolis. It was the Children's and YA literature conference. I was really hesitant to go at first and considered backing out until I paid the fee, which thereby sealed my fate. I learned a few things, number one being I don't know how to mingle. I was the awkward one standing by the wall with no one to talk to. I really don't know how to strike up a conversation. Even with fellow authors.

Networking is a bitch.


The conference went for two days and I got to attend four sessions. They had four different tracks you can follow: Craft, Middle & Young Adult, Picture Book, and Publishing & Career. You pick and choose which you want to go to, and these are the ones I attended:

World Building for Fantasy Writers with Kelly Barnhill

She's very energetic, slightly geeky, and pretty funny. I think the most important thing she stressed is the integration of world building with the story. I have a tendency to info dump rather than try to subtly describe the world.

The books she recommended:

The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
London, A Biography - Peter Ackroyd
Collapse: How Civilizations Choose to Fail or Succeed - Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond
Steering the Craft - Ursula K. LeGuin
How to Build a Flying Saucer and Other Proposals in Speculative Engineering - T.B. Pawlicki

Creating Male Heroes: Beyond the Brooding Hunk with Bryan Bliss, Steve Brezenoff, and J.C. Geiger. You should check out their blog: www.boysdontread.com

These guys were hilarious. I really enjoyed their presentation. It was probably my favorite part of the whole conference. They had great exercises to help you get to know your characters. I now know my protagonist wears boxers, eats garlic dill pickles which he purchases in the condiment section as opposed to the refrigerated section (because it's fun to say condiment), and keeps his money crumpled into balls. Not stuff I really need to know, but little things like that help make your character come to life.

They also had a great exercise where they had one volunteer describe their character to the rest of us, then they blindfolded the person, gave them a scenario and three options their character could make. The crowd then voted on which course of action they thought the character would take. Finally, the author would choose one. The idea was to match the audience with the author. It really helped to make sure that the author was portraying their character as they intended. Seems like a fun thing to do with beta readers.

To Query or to Kindle: A Dilemma for the 21st Century with Erin (Soderberg) Downing, Laura Bradley Rede, Stephanie Watson, and Patti Frazee.

Very insightful. They talked about the pros and cons of both self-publishing and traditional publishing that they've experienced firsthand. I'm still on the fence whether I want to self-publish or traditionally publish. At times, I think it would be really fun to self-publish, but I still feel there is more prestige in having your work traditionally published, especially with a large publishing house. Not that I'm in it for prestige or anything (totally am). Also, I have a feeling I'm going to be terrible at marketing. What happens if I attempt to self-publish my work, it doesn't sell, and then it negatively impacts my chances of getting traditionally published later on? It's my worst nightmare!

Teens Do Know Best: Reader Response and the Writing Process for Young Adult Fiction with Patrick Jones and Adela Peskorz

I was somewhat disappointed with this presentation. I'm not sure I learned anything I didn't already know besides more about Teens Know Best, a teen book review group. They had a panel of two teenagers who talked about their likes and dislikes concerning books, but I'm not sure exactly how helpful it was. I mean, it hasn't been that long since I was a teenager. I'm only 23. And I'm continuing writing the books that I started when I was teenager, so I'm not particularly worried if teens are going to like my work or not. They don't like, they can go suck it.

How's that for professionalism?

Patrick Jones actually spoke at my high school five or six years ago, so I was familiar with his work before I went to the conference. I got the book I own of his signed and was able to speak to him a bit. He actually showed interest in reading my manuscript, but I've been too chicken to email him and I'm afraid now it's too late.

Finally, I attended a presentation by Donna Bray, a co-publisher of Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. This was also another highlight of the conference. It was awesome actually hearing from an editor/publisher about what the industry is really like and what they're looking for. It was also fun learning how she got into publishing in the first place.

The conference is done annually I believe, so if anyone is in Minneapolis in May next year, look into it. It's worth it. Perhaps I will see you there.

Anyway, I hope to be posting more in the near future. Unfortunately, I've been having computer issues. My laptop won't turn on for more than a second, so I've been having to rely on my Surface RT tablet that my wonderful boyfriend bought me for my birthday. I really recommend getting one of these if you want something light and portable for writing. I take it with me wherever I go. Love it.

Has anyone else attended a conference before?

8 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary!!! Sounds like a great conference. I would've been glued to the wall right next to you, not making eye contact...if I got up the nerve to go (which I probable wouldn't). Shadows and Chains is great. Ignore the griping about the character. I'm enjoying watching her suffer--I mean grow--now. As far as the querying and Mr. Jones goes, be brave. Nothing ventured, nothing gain (I have other obnoxious motivational sayings on my CC page if need some:p). It's just another step toward getting your story to readers. And they're going to love. I did.

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  2. Congrats!!!!!!!!! 1 year. I'm close to starting my blog. I want to start it before I query. Like that I can build something of a platform (A small one, yes, but something is better than nothing).

    I'm actually really outgoing and talkative in certain circumstances. However, the reason I don't want to go to a writers workshop is because I read that you should talk and mingle. I would just stand in a corner, not knowing what to say. That's why I haven't gone to one (I went to a little one, but that didn't really count) I think I just might waste my money. I'm glad you at least had fun.

    I still can't believe someone expressed interest in your manuscript and you did nothing. If I was you I would contact him to remind him who you are, and then send the e-mail to him. You got to take every chance you get. You never know who might make or break your career.

    I also had no idea that you had a Private Queue.

    I think it's kind of neat that were on the same boat, sorta. We both have a "finished" (I'm still revising) 84/85 k word novel. We're both halfway done with part 2 of that manuscript. We both have another story were writing. (I'm 60k into it and almost done; it's first person). And we're both close to querying. I bought the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. Pretty neat book with a good list of agents and helpful hints.

    Unlike you, I have no agents in mind. I was just planning to just sent to the agents who I found were looking for the kind of story I wrote. Of course I would do my research on them.

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  3. Garlic dill pickles, eh? Oh ho boy, I can only begin to imagine what tragic circumstances led to your hero munching on those. (My guess would be a desperate bid at survival after being lost at sea...but hey, what do I know?)


    Silliness aside, congrats on reaching this milestone. Here's hoping that you keep at it -- and beyond that, I'm hoping that your writing adventures -- your "writeventures", if you will -- pay off. Perseverance is key, I've heard, so as long as you keep working at it, I'm sure you'll carve out a win.


    Here's to another year of...uh...


    *looks to the right side of the page*


    *notices the cover of a Halo book*


    *realizes it's the same book currently collecting dust less than eight feet away*


    Huh. I suppose this is what they call "serendipity". Well, hope you get more out of the book (and any others in the franchise you might have) than I did. There's no denying that the Halo universe is intriguing, and the books themselves are interesting, but in my experience every time I had to read a section about or featuring Master Chief I just went "bleehhhhhhhhhh." But that's just personal preference -- and experience with the games -- speaking. If you find something to latch onto, more power to you. Just be wary of grenades. They'll get ya if you're not careful.

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  4. Thanks! It means a lot to hear you like my work. I'm always afraid people hate it. But I guess every writer goes through that, huh?


    If I can work up the nerve to go, being as dysfunctional as I am, I think you can. Haha. It was a lot of fun. I wish I had talked to more people, but maybe next year I'll do better since I know what to expect. I just wish there were bigger conferences around here.

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  5. Thanks! I'm looking forward to your blog. What are you going to talk about, do you know?

    Well if you don't talk at the conference, you can always learn stuff from the teaching sessions they have, which are always fun. I managed to work up the courage to speak to a few people, and I'm crazy shy, so normal people should be fine. Although, I will say, if you're not good at talking to women, it might be a problem. Most of the people there were female. Kinda funny how that happens.

    I have two private queues now. If you're interested in reading some of my work, lemme know. I'd love the feedback.

    That is pretty funny how we're so close with the progress of our writing. I actually checked out the 2013 Guide from my library, although it's sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. I decided I'm going to do another couple rounds of revision on my first novel before I start querying it. I don't want to rush into sending my work out to agents since it still needs a bunch more work.

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  6. Thanks! Haha, your comments always make me laugh. :D


    My boyfriend is actually making me read the Halo books. I've never played the game and, although it looks interesting, I probably never will. I don't like first person shooter games, since I suck at them. Unless it's Goldeneye for the N64, which I still suck at, but it was fun and reminds me of my childhood. I read The Fall of Reach and it was okay, but didn't wow me. I think the biggest reason I'm having trouble getting into the books is because there's no character that really intrigues me or makes me want to keep reading. Master Chief has a lot of potential, being badass and all, but it's like he has no personality whatsoever.

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  7. Yeah, that's pretty much the case with the games (and the books, from what I could stand). The Halo universe is so full of potential and merit beyond the...er, let's call it "stigma" and leave it at that...but that potential is never going to be realized as long as the canon is shackled to a character who, in the rough decade since his introduction, has only just now started showing emotion. And even then, it's so understated that it might as well not exist.

    Guess they've gotta save the good characterization for the sequel.

    RE: Goldeneye, however...well, I can't leave with a clear conscience without linking to this little number. You'd best be prepared to throw up those horns, my dear.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3hBlFWb2Y0

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  8. Cool. Send me an invite to one or both of your private queues.

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