roh morgon

~back from my workshop road trip marathon

Yeah, when I look back on the last month and a half, that’s what it was.

4 out-of-town workshops in 6 weeks.

1 work-related, 3 writerly.

Covered six states: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the Central Coast of California (I live in the middle of the state, several hours away).

Drove 3,500 miles in that time and logged over 65 hours behind the wheel. Loved every minute of it.

As for the writerly workshops themselves? Absolutely awesome.

The first one, June 6-11 in St. George, Utah, was the Professional Writers Workshop with sci-fi/fantasy writer David Farland. This workshop emphasized craft and storytelling and was phenomenal.

The second two were in Lincoln City, Oregon and given by Dean Wesley Smith (who’s also written a ton of sci-fi/fantasy). July 9-12 covered Pitches and Blurbs, and July 14-17 was on Self-Publishing. We had a 1-day break between them, so I drove to Portland and picked up my hubby from the airport, then we did a little bit of touristy stuff.

Was it worth it? The money? The time? The wear-and-tear on my car and on my ass?

Hell, yeah.

Those three workshops have given my budding writing career a shot of adrenaline that will propel me light-years ahead of where I was two months ago.

I’ll tell you all about them in my next several posts.

Stay tuned…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 19 July 2011 2:58 pm
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~weekly e-Watch

e-Watch is on break while I’m attending David Farland’s Professional Writers Workshop.

We’ll return next week and catch everyone up on the latest in the publishing world.

Thanks!

roh morgon @ Friday, 10 June 2011 10:50 pm
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~Nathan Bransford, Central Coast Writers Conference & Book Festival – part II

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah. On a rant about an experience I had at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo (see part I).

But that’s not what this report is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about the conference workshops, the cool industry people that were there, the awesome attendees, and the friendships that were formed.

So I almost deleted my previous post, since folk are likely more interested in the conference itself and not my own personal experience of it.

But then I thought about those people who’ve never been to a writers conference and have no idea what to expect. People similar to me. I attended my first one a year ago – this very conference, in fact.

People who might be unprepared for how vulnerable they’ll feel about their writing, how sensitive they’ll be to criticism – no matter how gently it’s given – when it’s delivered in person and face-to-face.

Those dashed hopes, the fear that our writing isn’t good enough, is a part of every conference.

And so is this part:

The part where a professional compliments you, or gives you encouragement, one-on-one, with a smile and a reassuring pat on the back.

Nathan Bransford did that for me. I spoke with him at lunch about my concerns with my novel written in present tense. He smiled and shook his head, then gave me this bit of uplifting advice:

He told me it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s first person or third, whether it’s past tense or present. What matters is the story. What matters is the voice. That’s all. Tell the story and tell it well.

Even though I’ve read this on his blog, expressed in many different ways, I was still surprised by the rush of relief upon hearing his words. I smiled and nodded, and glowing, thanked him and left him to finish his lunch in peace.

So that’s my experience at the conference from a personal perspective.

The rest of the story?

There were some great workshops. Those on writing covered poetry, short stories, mystery, travel, nonfiction, children and young adult. There were a few on getting published as well.

One that I attended was called Poetry: The Heart of the Story and the Story of the Heart. It was  taught by Kevin Clark, a poetry and literature professor at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. It was a wonderful examination on how to weave words that evoke thought and emotion, something that’s important for any storyteller, whether they write poetry or prose.

Another was Writing for Young Readers: Deep Stories in Small Words, given by Kathleen Duey. We ended up discussing MG and YA as well as children’s stories, and she offered advice based on her experiences as a writer of all three. Kathleen has the coolest website, too. This was a great workshop.

But my favorite of the weekend was given by Nathan Bransford. He is the most positive and upbeat guy, one who smiles and laughs – a lot. His workshop was called Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Mad Lib, and it was quite a hoot. He gave us his basic formula for a successful query letter, then divided us up into groups of 8-10. Our task: Write him a winning query – humor encouraged.

The results of this were hilarious. My group chose ‘historical sci-fi’ as the genre of the novel, with a hero named ‘Caesar Lightyear’ whose goal was to recover the Mayan calendar and save the world from the evil Brutus. It was ridiculous.

There were a number of silly queries with ludicrous plots and over-the-top heroes. The winning entry was a vampire story! Cracked me up (since that’s what I write!). Who says vampires are dead?!

One of the best things about a conference is meeting folk that are passionate about writing – on both sides of the publishing fence. I ran into a couple writers I’d met last year, and made the acquaintance of a few more. One of these was Anne Allen (hi Anne!) who told me that I’m on the right track to getting published by blogging and going to conferences. You can read her take on the conference here.

So overall, it was a great conference, and its moments of downs were vastly outnumbered by the ups. The only other thing I can say is…

Go to writers conferences, get a taste of the real world. Put them in your budget and at the top of your to-do list.  Think of it as an investment in your writing career – the payoff can be well-worth the expense.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 9 October 2010 2:21 pm
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~Nathan Bransford, Central Coast Writers Conference & Book Festival – part I

Wow. I can’t believe how time gets away from me. It’s already been over 2 weeks since I attended the Central Coast Writers Conference. I’m not going to rant about the passage of time – been there, done that, will probably do it again.

But not now. Now I’m going to give the report on the Conference that I promised.

It was my second year at the CCWC, and, like all conferences are for me, quite a roller-coaster ride.

This day-and-a-half conference is held in gorgeous San Luis Obispo, CA, which is a thriving university town and my old stomping grounds. Its community college, Cuesta College, provides just the right setting for the examination and promotion of the literary craft.

The keynote speaker this year was renowned blogger and uber-agent Nathan Bransford of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency. His positive message to the audience was upstaged only by his open and friendly manner. The Nathan I saw at the podium was the Nathan I’ve seen in his blog – helpful, caring, supportive – EXCEPT he was in 3-D!!

Couldn’t get any better.

The first session was Friday evening after the keynote. And that’s where my car on the rollercoaster dropped out from under me, leaving my stomach in my throat. When the industry professional read the opening from my unpublished novel, Watcher, she started out by complimenting me on my writing. But halfway through my piece, she derailed my elation when she commented that present tense doesn’t work, that no one likes to read it and no publisher will buy it, and that I should re-write my novel.

The audience protested on my behalf, shouting out, “What about The Hunger Games?” Her response was that she hadn’t heard of it, nor of any of the other recently-published titles that the audience continued to mutter.

All I could think about was the gargantuan task of re-writing a first-person present-tense novel (and its half-written sequel) in past-tense.

No way.

Yet the nausea continued to grip me as I thought about the last year-and-a-half of my life that I’ve dedicated to this story. A story that refused to be written in third person, or past-tense. A story with a character that insisted on telling it HER way, writer be damned.

And so I went home, deflated, angry that once again an industry professional had dashed my hopes against the hard rock of publishing reality.

The same thing happened at last year’s conference. Different professional, different reason. But I listened to her, and made her recommended changes, and improved my story.

But re-writing the whole thing?  That was going to take some deep thought.

(to be continued)

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 6 October 2010 4:22 pm
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new home

Wow! A new home!

I think I can stretch my wings and do a little writing here.

But before I begin, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to CHRIS of the Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers for setting this up for me. His countless hours helping me build an online presence are greatly appreciated.

Chris, you are definitely The Man. <bows down>

This format, besides looking pretty cool, will allow me to update my blog on a more regular basis.  Hopefully I can find a way to archive my older posts from my first and rather limited blog ( I did – check the archives).

But for now, I have a little rewriting to do in preparation for a 6-hr workshop with DONALD MAASS, accomplished author AND literary agent. I’m sooo excited…

roh morgon @ Saturday, 6 February 2010 11:05 am
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