Writing Tips

Almost anyone can write: only writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into the professional. William C. Knott, Freedom With Writing

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hope Clark Talks Conferences

Hope Clark is always welcome at Lyrical Pens. She brings her extensive experience in the writing world to the page, and today shares with us advice on how to approach a writing conference to get the most bang for our buck (and as we all know, bucks can be short for writers) a subject near and dear to our hearts. 

Be sure and check out Hope's new mystery series set on Edisto Island, a place near and dear to my heart. I used to own a condo there and wish I still did. Beautiful beaches, beautiful scenery, and beautiful people. The first book has just been released.

 You Signed Up For A Conference - Now What?

You paid your conference fee and reserved your motel room. You're finally going to a writers conference, but once you think about it, you aren't sure what to do once you arrive.

First, make sure this is a conference that suits your needs. If you are unpublished and seeking agents or publishers, then don't stick to a conference that focuses on craft, and vice versa. Make sure the majority of the classes fit your goals.

Second, while you're researching, dig deeper and research the teachers, agents, and so on. If you see teachers that really haven't published much, yet they’re talking about publishing, think twice. Anybody can teach. You want teachers who have experience, as well. And make sure what they are teaching is what you want to learn.

Third, participate in at least one critique or pitch session. Unless you are green as a gourd and just dipping your toe in the water, you have a piece you've been working on. Toss it into the fray and see what feedback you get. They might rip it up, but that's okay. You show you've got guts and you walk away much more educated.

Fourth, plan your agenda. Don't wait until you get there to decide what you want to attend. They publish that schedule ahead of time for a reason. Map out your days and evenings to include the questions you want to ask and the goals you hope to achieve. Get the most of your sessions.

Fifth, meet at least one new person per session. Speak to those at your table or seated around you. There's a wealth of networking opportunity available to you at a conference, and that networking might be the biggest plus you come home with. I once sat next to a self-published young woman who saw my nametag and FundsforWriters and whispered she knew nothing about money. She’d made $30K the previous year and $300K in the present, and it was scaring her.

Sixth, plan your clothes. Sounds like a woman thing, right? Wrong. You'll be sitting for long periods of time. You might have to trek up and down stairs or from one end of the motel to the other to make classes. Look sharp but make it comfy. Throw in a scarf, the boots, or those special pieces of jewelry. Give the person you meet something to remember you by.

Seventh, plan your one-liners. If you've read The Shy Writer Reborn, (http://chopeclark.com/shy-writer-reborn/) you know that I'm keen on one-liners. Plan for those expected questions someone will ask like: what do you write, what's your current story about, why are you at the conference, what have you published, etc. Come prepared with succinct answers. You'll sound smart, trust me.

Eighth, pack your writing stuff to include:

=> two copies of your WIP (just in case)

=> business cards (don't say WRITER/AUTHOR on it and avoid Vistaprint templates)

=> notebook - You'll not only take notes, but you'll dabble on your WIP as these productive ideas come to you in class. I've rewritten chapters in class as the teacher led me to a new concept.

=> name tag - They'll give you one, but consider having a permanent, professional one made. I have two: one with a magnet and one with a pin, so that they can go on anything I wear. People remember tags, and if yours is unique, they'll remember you more.

=> one-sheets - See this article on one-sheets. These are marvelous if you are pitching and speak volumes about your creativity and professionalism. http://www.fundsforwriters.com/something-to-remember-you-by/

Ninth, before the last day, take a moment to go over your notes and goals and determine what you're lacking, then approach the teacher, writer or agent while you can. Walk up and ask the question. That's why they are there, and what you paid for.

Tenth, You can do this! And you can do it better if you go prepared.

 Been to a conference lately? We'd love to hear about it. Mahala

BIO: C. Hope Clark’s is the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series, and editor of www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com   FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 14 years. When she’s not walking the sand of Edisto Beach, she’s dipping her toe in the waters of Lake Murray, SC.

The Edisto Island Mystery Series

Murder on Edisto debuts this series in September 2014. Set on historic, scenic, intriguing Edisto Island, one of the South Carolina sea islands, the Edisto Island books feature former detective Callie Jean Morgan. Dragging a tragic past with her, she relocates to her parents’ vacation home on Edisto Beach only to find that murder and mayhem happens in paradise, too. She had no plans to return to law enforcement, but for some reason, Edisto thinks that’s what she was sent to the shore to do.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Surprise finds and research rabbit holes

cj Sez: Meandering around my computer folders last week, I happened upon a “webarchive” document with info about some of my ancestors. It had been downloaded into my writing flash drive on Sept 2 . . . except I don’t remember doing that. Not only do I have a separate family history folder for things that I find, but I don’t have access to a Swedish church registry. Where did it come from? A computer ghost, no doubt.

The discovery started me down a rabbit hole of Googling for more information. After a few days, I found a Swedish forum conversation from 2007 that mentioned my great aunt’s name and asking for any U.S. information. So of course, I clicked on the file and sent an email to the writer, fully expecting my note to go to the little bit bucket in the sky. Guess what? I got a response! Now what? I get to develop an exciting, new relationship with a hitherto-unknown distant relative is what.

The thing is: Days and days of Google searches are pretty much how I write my novels. I like to play hide and seek with my characters. I hide an obstacle in someone’s way then seek out a logical/believable solution to it. That can take days and days of online research. The process keeps the storytelling new and exciting for me because I learn all kinds of neat things (learning something new every day is my personal goal). I admit I’m not a pre-write outliner or plotter. But once I’ve told the story, I go back over it chapter by chapter, scene by scene to chart the plot points, polish, add or delete as necessary, and make sure I haven’t dropped any threads that need to be tied up as the novel ends. I do the same thing with developing my characters, working to make them well-rounded and believable individuals.

Every writer has a special writing style. What’s yours? I’d guess that you’ve read zillions of ideas and advice on how to improve it. My advice? If it works for you (that's the key thing), don’t mess with it. 

That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


The toon is from my Facebook page . . . love it.