Remaining 2020 Online Conferences/Workshops

 

Covid-19 is changing the way that we have done things. One of the biggest changes is in group gatherings.

Yesterday, I attended my first online writer’s conference. Usually held in person in Arizona, the Desert Sleuth’s Conference was full of information. It was also free. I couldn’t pass up that deal.

They did a good job of everything, from their selection of presenters, topics, advertising, and making their audience feel included and valued.

For the foreseeable future, virtual meetings may be the way to go. So, I compiled this list of remaining conferences you might like to “attend”online this year. (I am sure if you research a bit on your own, you will be able to add to this list).

AGENT ONE-ON-ONE BOOTCAMP: September 22-25. How to Craft Query Letters & Other Submission Materials That Get Noticed Boot Camp.

AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE:   9/24-26

Writing Day Workshops: 

Boston Mass. on 10/3

Philadelphia, PA  on 11/14-15

Washington, D.C. on 12/5

 

SELF PUBLISHING ADVICE CONFERENCE 10/17

JANE FRIEDMAN CLASSES:

Oct. 7: Blogging Strategies That Work in 2020 

Oct. 25: The Foundations of Getting Published 

She has many more affordable online courses available for

  individual study.

WRITERS’ DIGEST ON DEMAND WEBINARS (Sign up and choose your date). These are offered on many topics, including How to Write Short Stories, Writing the Historical Novel, How to Attract an Agent, and many more.

GOTHAM WRITERS’ WORKSHOP: Based in New York, see their online catalog for a listing of workshops and classes.

A Fun Interview

 

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Recently, my author friend, Jen Cary, interviewed me for her monthly newsletter. Some of the questions she asked got some buzz, so I thought perhaps you would find them interesting, too. I am including a few of them here:

Question 1:  Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.

My husband and I have  renovated 26 homes in 28 years. We also built our own log cabin. We are not flippers. We actually live in each home. At about the one year mark, with the work completed, we get the itch to find another house that “needs us.”

Question 2:  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think I was born wanting to write. I sidelined my love of writing to become an elementary school teacher. After retiring, I revisited my dream of writing a book. Runaways: The Long Journey Home, was published in 2015. So far, I have written seven others (three are Interactive Picture Books for Alzheimer’s patients).

Question 3:  If you could be anything—except a writer—what would it be?

I would love the chance to do a variety of jobs I find interesting. I think it would be fun to be a restaurant owner and walk around mingling with guests. I’d also like to be a cashier, a receptionist, a watercolor artist, a photographer, work at a carwash (yes, really), or work at the White House or other famous site as a tour guide.

Question 4:  What is the funniest thing to happen to you as an author?

Last year, when shopping at Goodwill with my sister, I ran across a copy of Runaways. I guess you’ve made it big if you find one of your books on their shelves. My sis bought the copy. (She’d loaned hers to a friend and it hadn’t been returned). We had our picture taken with the book in the store. I’m sure other shoppers wondered what these two crazy ladies were doing…

Question 5:  What do you do for relaxation?

I enjoy movies, shopping, and eating out. But my real passion is reading. I read a couple of books each week. I taught myself to read before I was old enough to attend school.

Question 6:  Cheetos, fried or baked?

Ah, a trick question. Fried, of course! (Tip: try them crumbled as a crunchy topping on scalloped potatoes or baked macaroni and cheese.)

 

 

Tug of War

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My fifth novel, Tug of War, just hit Amazon yesterday. It’s the third book in a series of four.

But, before it got to that point, I visualized it in my hands. I saw the cover, I turned its pages—even before I wrote the first word—and then I got to work.

Months of writing. Working with a critique group and beta readers. Editing. Rewriting. Cover design. Formatting.

Yes, a lot of work. And when the writing was difficult and things took a lot longer than expected, I always thought back to that moment when my book was nothing more than a concept. An idea. A dream.

I remembered what it felt like to hold the fruits of my labor in my hands…

The smoothness of its cover, the smell of new print, the weight of its pages, my name in bold type—all of these reminded me that it would be worth it.

And, it is.

Can You Define Anthropomorphism?

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Here are three more literary devices you should know about:

1)  Anthropomorphism- something nonhuman, such as an animal or object behaves like a human. Cartoon characters are good examples of this. They are made to talk, sing, dance, engage in battles, and so on. Authors of children’s books are especially adept at using this literary device.

2)  Colloquialism- This term refers to the use of informal language or slang in order to lend a sense of realism to dialogue. “Gonna” for example, is not considered real word. This device removes the formality from conversation, making it more relaxed and believable.

3)  Euphemism- This refers to words or expressions that are used instead of a more blunt word. For example, a doctor might that say a patient “didn’t make it” instead of “he died” when talking to family/friends.

Critiques, Endorsements, and Reviews

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A beginning writer asked me what the difference is between critiques, reviews, and endorsements. 

Let’s review what each means in relation to the craft of writing:

Critiques: These are critical evaluations of a person’s literary work. If you are writing, you are likely to be in a critique group where you share your work in progress with other writers. You point out errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation. You also talk about sentence structure, characters, conversation, and many other aspects of the writing craft. The idea behind sharing critiques is to help your fellow writer. Think of these as peers helping each other.

Reviews:  a critical consideration of something. We are familiar with writing reviews of restaurants, businesses, and products. Movies, plays, and events are often reviewed. In regard to books, one writes a short analysis, stating positive and negative aspects of a person’s work. Sometimes the reviewer is also asked to rate the book in terms of “stars” or “happy faces.”

Endorsements: an act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something. Endorsements are often written on one of the first pages of a book or on the cover. These are often read by consumers prior to purchase to help them decided whether to buy a particular book—or not.

Journey Thru the Genres

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This week, our focus is on four additional genres: Drama, Crime, Horror, and Science Fiction.

 

Drama:  Mostly written for the movies and theatre, this genre makes use of prose, verse, and/or scenes. (Think of Westside Story and Julius Caesar).

Crime: The focus is on how the criminal gets caught. Action and dialogue are used to express conflict and emotion. (Notably Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky).

Horror: the goal of this genre is to create feelings of fear and dread. Any technique that creates those feelings is fair game. (Fahrenheit 451 and Dracula).

Science Fiction: As a stand alone, or included to some degree in other genres, science fiction examines the past, current, and future impact of science on our culture and society. (Current: Black Autumn and Catalyst).

Next week, we will continue our Journey thru Genres.

Haircuts and the Writing Cycle

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I hate my hair the first week after getting a haircut. It is shorter than I like and it doesn’t style easily. Each hair wants to do its own thing. 

The next two weeks, my hair seems to go into place without a problem. I love my hair during this period.

Weeks four and five are a gradual downhill decline. My hair grows longer and is “top-heavy.” I have to put more and more effort into styling to get it to look halfway decent.

Then, there’s the day of my next haircut appointment. All of a sudden my hair does me proud and I question whether I should keep the date with my stylist.

This morning as I glared at my recently-cut locks in the mirror, I thought about the writing cycle and its similarities to hair growth/cuts.

Even though I am excited when I begin a new book, the process isn’t without its problems. The first chapter is the hardest because it sets the story up and builds the momentum. Characters need to be developed and “gel” with each other. I inevitably spend time taming them all down and helping them find their “place” and “purpose.”

The following chapters are pure fun. As one officer on the television show SVU says, “I love it when a plan comes together.” It is so rewarding when those puzzle pieces fit together and become a beautiful picture of life as I imagine it.

Nearing the end of the book, I get a bit testy. Writing the conclusion, weaving in the lesson learned by the characters and preparing to write a satisfying epilogue are more difficult—and although I enjoy editing someone else’s work—the editing process is slow and laborious when it comes to my own. 

As I wait for comments to come back from my Beta Readers, I reflect on the multiple edits and rewrites I have done myself. I think about how much time and money I could save if I would skip the formal edit and go directly to PUBLISH.

But, just like the times I’m facing the haircut/no-haircut dilemma, I know I will contact my editor and set the appointment. 

After all, I want to like what I see in the mirror.

  

 

Reach for the Moon

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From the dreaming to the writing to the publishing and marketing, there is far more to getting your book ready for the consumer than you probably ever imagined.

Think back to the day when the desire to write was born within you.

Now, remember the books you’ve read, the conferences you’ve attended, the podcasts you have watched, the associations you have joined.

Consider the people you have met along the way and their influence on you, the bookstores and libraries you have visited as your dream took shape.

The average reader probably has no idea how many hours you have spent writing, how many nights you stayed up late, how many early mornings you drug yourself out of bed to write while your family remained snug in their beds.

Someone once said that the harder you work for something, the sweeter the reward. 

That person must have been a writer.

The reward isn’t always monetary. Sometimes it is simply in a job well done… a knowing that you persevered… that you saw the task through to THE END.

Sometimes it’s a particularly meaningful review. Perhaps it’s a note of thanks from someone letting you know how your words impacted their life.

Don’t give up.

Keep on Truckin’.

Hang in There.

Because one day you’ll be doing that Happy Dance.

It will have all been worth it.

Are You a Dream Chaser?

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I remember a few years back there were a handful of movies about storm chasers. They are guys who want to experience, write about, and take pictures of major storms around the world.

It is about the thrill of the hunt…the flow of adrenalin…the brush with danger.

There are a lot of chasers in life. And they don’t all realize their dreams.

Are you a dream chaser?

You’d be surprised how many people want to write a book. They often go to conferences and classes, but never seem to commit anything to paper.

Others actually do get their books written, but spend endless hours writing query letters and pursuing agents and publishers. Only a handful of these ever get “accepted.”

We authors and “would be” authors live in such an exciting time. We don’t have to succumb to being dream chasers.

In the era of self-publishing, we don’t have to wait to be discovered or be awarded a publishing contract. 

We can take control of our dreams and get our words—our message- out there in ways that weren’t possible even a decade ago.

Self-publishing isn’t easy. It isn’t cheap. I’m not suggesting that it is.

However, if you are persistent, you can learn the ropes. You can surround yourself with Beta Readers, editors, cover artists, and so on. You can learn to market your book (bearing in mind the limitations of your pocket book).

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, intend to write that one stand alone book or a series, there’s no time like the present to achieve your goal and turn your big dream into reality.

I know it is popular to say, “It’s the journey that’s important; not so much the destination.” But, I believe both have value.

The whole writing process can be invigorating and give writers the opportunity to learn a lot about themselves and the writing craft. It can be enjoyable and even addictive.

But in the end, the quality of the finished product is also important. So doing a professional job is essential.

Self- publishing gives writers the opportunity to reach their target audience with their message. The written word gives writers the the opportunity to change opinions, present ideas, entertain, encourage, and influence the lives of readers.

As characters evolve, face life’s situations, and reach their potential,  writers themselves share in their joy and triumphs and are forever changed, too.

Dream chaser, or dream maker?

Unlike any other time in history, the choice is yours.

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Domain Names

 

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I’m always one to pass along what I’ve learned, so here is a little tidbit from a guest speaker (Liz Johnson) I heard, yesterday. It is one I am going to try out this week.

Liz stressed the importance of having a website domain name that ends with author, writer, books, or something else that is related to writing.

I had thought about doing this before, but I wasn’t wanting to go through the hassle of having to notify everyone of the change, reprinting my business cards, etc.

However, she said you buy the “new” domain name and then it is linked to your previous domain name so that no matter which one is clicked on, it gets to the right place.

So, my website address is: www.brendapoulos.org. When I purchase  www.brendapoulosbooks.org, or www.brendapoulosauthor.org,  none of my followers will notice the difference. New friends, however, will have an easier time finding me. 

So, if your website address doesn’t end this way, or if you don’t have a domain name, yet, consider a simple addition to make yourself more accessible.