TRAVEL HERE: DFW WRITER’S CONFERENCE The DFW Writers’ Conference has a lot more than great classes. There are luncheons, networking and of course, The Gong Show. The Rest of the Story The evening before the conference, after my first vounteering stint, I attended a little soiree for members of DFWWW and the VIP’s. I didn’t have my big-girl-networking-panties on yet, so I didn’t get much networking done, but I was better at it by the time the conference was over. I missed the Opening Remarks the next morning, because I was still volunteering out in the foyer. That meant I also missed the first hour of classes. At ten I tried to get into Chantelle Ozman’s “Quick Pitch” class, but it was full. I’d met her the night before and wanted to hear what she had to say about pitches. Too bad for me. After the classes were over, I walked over to Abuelo’s to have some dinner. I was at a table alone when Nan Amir recognized me as a conference attendee – like because I had on the badge. We, of course, started talking about the conference and I got the equivalent of a free consultation by a very savvy writing coach. Though it was not on the agenda, it was by far one of the most valuable sessions I attended at the conference. To supplement what I learned, I later picked up two of her books, How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual. I’m looking forward to reading them. If she can impart so much information over dinner, I can only imagine what kind of goodies are in the books. After dinner, we returned to the conference cent for the now-famous Gong Show. That’s when a group of editors with gongs listen to query letters being read anonymouslyand bang their gong at the point they’d hit the reject button. Here’s my notes: What they didn’t like: • too stylized • laughing for all the wrong reasons • first person • cliche “man becomes monster” • too many ghosts, demoness, heaven & angels • magical objects or artifacts • toddler with an uzzi • boading school, “The One”, expected direction • mermaids • too much in the soup • far fetched plot motivation • oversell • build-up of phrases, conversational • cliches Things they did like: • the concept of “Watchers” in a YA dystopian future • Art Pirates • Paranomal Volleyball Team • Diversity, if done right Lunch on Sunday was a Networking Lunch where the writers were supposed to select a table based on our genre and agents were supposed to come by and visit. There’s that old genre thing again. There was no general or commercial fiction table. I got as close as I could by selecting women’s fiction, but for most of the time, all we had was an agent who’d already rejected me. I didn’t win a door prize either. Not my favorite meal. Then there were the vendors. I felt good buying a cool quilted shoulder bag from Rapha House, because they fight sex traffiking. I bought a cover for small legal pads from a vendor who uses fabrics woven in jungles of Guatemala by natives my husband helped by building wood stoves. That vendor didn’t have marketing materials and I forgot to ask who she was. My friend Tui Snider was selling her travel guide, Unexpected Texas – a book I love. Then I found two other books that I ate up like candy. One was I Once Knew Vincent by Michelle Renee. The other was Heather Webb’s Becoming Josephine, which I’ve already mentioned. And now, I’ve probably told you more than you were interested in the DFW Writer’s Conference – unless you’re a writer. Next week, I’ll begin a series on a my latest trip to California. You’ll want to read about it!
TRAVEL HERE: DFW WRITER’S CONFERENCE
There’s so much to the DFW Writers’ Conference I could probably write twice as many posts about it as I already have, but here’s the last of my classes.
Cross Genre with Jonathon Maberry
Jonathon Maberry was the Keynote speaker of the event and he taught a few seminars. Lots of folks seemed thrilled to death by his willingness to come, but I have to confess, I’d never read anything by him. I felt a little less guilty about that when I discovered he was a horror/thriller/suspense guy. That’s not a genre I’ve done much exploration in. However, when I found out he knew Ray Bradbury, I did get very impressed. Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine are two of my favorite books.
However, Maberry quickly won my heart when he said genre is a construct of marketing people. He said our goal was to get in the Fiction and Literature department. He’s absolutely right, but the marketing people have been very successful, so the first thing everyone wants to know is what genre I write. He also said that you can’s take risks (and the marketing people can’t take risks on you) if you don’t write well. He charged us to keep studying the craft. He said a whole lot more, but that captures the gist of it.
Since we’re talking about the Keynote speaker, let me tell you about his address, which was quite interesting. He gave a run down of his early life and then his introduction into writing, which included Ray Bradbury – lucky guy. What he learned from Bradbry was that the greatest joy of successful writing was the success you could help others have. So that’s how Maberry has tried to live his writing career. I laughed at some of the things he did to put food on the table while he worked his way to becoming a famous author. Writing instructions for seed packets was one of them. Now he writes whatever he wants and people line up to buy it. You go, Jonathon!
Bookcovers with Russell C. Conner
I went to DFWcon with the agenda of finding everything I could about self-publishing, but I hadn’t been there long, when I figured out that there was a reason I’d resisted self-publishing up until now and that I really didn’t want to do it that way. Still, at ten o’clock on Sunday morning, Bookcovers looked pretty interesting – and it was. Russell, an independent author and publisher showed us the evolution of his self-pubbed bookcovers. I did get some information that was pertinent, however. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. That little smaller than a postage stamp icon isn’t going to convey much unless the artwork is very clean. I didn’t stay for the photography part of the seminar, I had other places to be.
One more post and I think we’ll have this conference wrapped up.
TRAVEL HERE: DFW WRITERS’ CONFERENCE – EMOTION AND CONFLICT SEMINARS
Welcome back to my recap of the 2014 DFW Writers’ Conference. Today we’ll visit two of the craft classes I enjoyed, presented by two of DFW Writers’ Workshop’ best.
Even Heroes Get the Blues by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Now if Rosemary had to pick me out of a crowd, I don’t think she’d be able to, but I’ve been observing her for several years. She’s one of the most generous, helpful authors I’ve had the privilege to be associated with. Her family background is in acting, so emotion and emoting is something she has some expertise in. She had some great tips to share, but instead of me trying to summarize it for you, you can go here and see her handouts. The bottom line is one of those things authors hear over and over and over, but we can’t escape the truth of: SHOW DON’T TELL. That’s concept that I understand theorectically, but Rosemary fleshes it out in her notes and she gave us some great exercises to demonstrate what she meant.
Conflict on Every Page by Kristen Lamb
Another hero and champion of the new writer that I met thanks to DFW Writers’ Workshop is Kristen Lamb. If it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t even be reading this blog. The only thing I knew about social media when I met her was how to post a status on Facebook. Twenty thousand views later, I’d say I’ve learned something from her. If you’re a new writer (I’d say aspiring, but Kristen doesn’t allow that) then start with We Are Not Alone and follow your nose.
At this conference she was all about conflict. According to her, every book needs a “core story problem…proportional to the length of the work.” In other words, this is the why of the book and the more succintly you can describe the core story problem, the better your book is probably going to be.
Most of us know the protagonist is the main character, but we find the antagonist more challenging. But my book really doesn’t have a bad guy, you’re thinking. Kristen pointed out that the antagonist doesn’t have to be a bad guy, just the “Big Boss Troublemaker,” and that could be the protagonist’s best friend, as in a certain movie with orange and white fish in it. In fact, even when they’re not the BBT, best friends can add a lot of conflict, like a certain movie series with hobbits in it.
Whatever the core story problem is, the writer’s job is to “make it worse until you make it weird.” Really, Kristen talks like that. Kristen will help your social media presense and your writing. Go to her blog and start your journey.