Wednesday, February 27, 2013

LtUE Symposium: In Review (part 2)

Hello again! This post will be the second part of my review of the Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium. The first part of the review can be found here. So as I stated in the previous post, this part of the review will focus on some of the stuff that I learned at the symposium--and boy, was there a lot!

It was the first writing symposium/conference that I have ever been to. I am grateful that I remembered to bring my writing notebook and pen because there is no way that I would have remembered all of the wonderful things from the conference otherwise. There was just so much information! All in all, I went to 12 lectures. I will try to summarize some of the things that I learned below.

I actually had a HUGE paradigm shift during the conference about the world of publishing. I will admit that before the conference, I sort of rolled my eyes and looked down my nose at self-publishing. Someone who self-publishes clearly was inferior to those who were published through a traditional publishing house. In my mind, the self-publisher was someone who had written a mediocre book and then had a bunch of copies printed which are now collecting dust in their garage. To learn otherwise was a complete revelation! I have since repented for my narrow-minded snootiness.

A few of the panels discussed self-publishing and then a few other panels just happened to have some self-published authors presenting. I learned a lot of tips on how self-publishing can be very successful. Now, I am not saying that those mediocre-sit-in-the-garage-and-collect-dust book publishers aren't out there. I am sure there are quite a few. But there are also a lot of successful authors who make enough money to support a home and family. Pretty amazing! I'm not saying that I will definitely go the rout of self-publishing, but it has opened my mind to the idea. I plan on writing a post in the near future specifically discussing more about this topic. Watch for it!

I also attended a few panels about writing good horror. They focused a lot on writing effective horror without being gratuitous or gory and disgusting without a purpose. They also commented on how the horror genre can be very cathartic and actually be the most redeeming genre because there is such contrast between good and evil. I liked that idea a lot.

Another valuable panel I attended was one that talked about making time for creativity with Sandra Taylor. This woman seems like Super Woman with all she is able to fit into her life. But she gave us 10 steps that made it seem possible to fit in some writing time:

  1. Identify your support group
  2. Have a physical space for your creative endeavor
  3. Understand your bio rhythms (when during the day is best for you to write)
  4. When setting up a schedule, build supports into it (ie what will trigger me to know its time to write)
  5. Master the small stretch--willpower is a limited resource--don't try to bite off more than you can chew
  6. Learn to work in fragments--especially true if you have young children
  7. Ponder the tortoise and the hare
  8. Health and spoon theory (at the beginning of the day, we're only given a certain amount of spoons [energy]--some people get 20, while others only get 2 [maybe because of health issues]--work with what  you have)
  9. Get outside your box
  10. Your system will break--its not because the system sucks, but because life changes so we have to adjust our system

Number 5 is the most important for me right now. I like to tell myself crazy things: "OK self, on Monday, we're getting up at 5:30am, writing for an hour, then exercising for 45 minutes, showering and eating breakfast all before 8am!" Yeah, today I rolled out of bed at 9am when my daughter woke up. How likely will it be for me to magically start getting up at 5:30am, let alone get the other stuff done? HA! Learning to implement small changes until you have your creative system tweaked is valuable info.

Alright, well, this post ended up being longer than I had expected. I could keep going on all the great stuff I learned, but these were the most impactful things. Keep on the lookout for a post about self-publishing in the near future!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LtUE Symposium: in Review (part 1)

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Life, the Universe, & Everything Sci-Fi and Fantasy symposium. The symposium was chock-full of panels, workshops and presentations by authors, publishers and sci-fi/fantasy gurus. According to their site, LTUE is the longest, student run symposium of its nature in the nation. Pretty cool, huh?

I was fortunate to hear about the symposium on Twitter a little over a week before it started. I hopped onto the site and found out that, as a student, I could attend for free! I had no idea what the conference really was, just that some cool authors would be there (Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Dragonlance series for one) and some of the panels seemed interesting. Sign me up!

John, my encouraging, amazing husband, graciously said that he would watch Samantha every moment that he wasn't in class (he even had a few big projects to work on) so that I could go to as many panels as possible. All in all, i was able to attend 13-one hour sessions and a ginormous mass author signing event over the course of the three days. Pretty amazing. My head hurt by the end of it all, but it a totally good way, if that makes any sense.

This was my first time going to any type of writing conference, but I figured I would give my two cents on my overall experience. First, I thought the location was a good fit. It was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Provo (just 2 miles from my apartment) and the layout of the hotel made finding the rooms easy. It was also nice to have a very roomy lounge area with many comfy-looking couches and chairs for breaks in between panels. Unfortunately, because I was running back and forth between home, class, and the symposium, I didn't actually get to do much lounging! But it was cool to see fellow participants sitting, chatting, and networking.

I also thought that the symposium was very well organized. I was able to get right in and get my badge and program (note: I did not get to the conference until about noon on the first day, so I do not know what kind of chaos ensued at the registration table when the doors first opened.) Almost all of the panels that I attended started on time and stayed on topic. The moderators were fantastic as well. There were a few times, however, that technical difficulties (mostly projectors now being set up) made the start of a panel lag a bit)

The symposium was a great place to network. I felt like everyone was very approachable and open to chatting. People from all walks of life were in attendance.

It was especially fun to rub shoulders with the authors. The mass author signing was great in that I met tons of authors, but I wish they would have held it in a larger room. It was just so crowded and loud that I went home a little hoarse from having to nearly shout to be heard. I did have a really neat experience, however, when I had an author ask if I was working on anything at the moment. I gave him a 2 sentence summary of my current project, and he asked to know more! He said that it sounded like a great idea and he then bounced one of his ideas off of me. It was pretty neat, and, I'll admit, a bit of a confidence booster.

All in all, I had a wonderful time I would definitely attend the symposium again. I would especially recommend attending if you are in the area next year.

I'll post part 2 of this review soon where I'll talk about some of the great things that I learned during the symposium--I learned a lot and this post is long enough already!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quick Update

Life has taken over again, and thus I have fallen off the writing bandwagon. But its time to get up and dust myself off.

A quick update as to my writings: I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last November. I decided that I would try something totally different and not plan out my novel. I started with a germ of an idea and on November 1st, I just started writing! This exercise taught me that I just do not work that way! I only clocked about 1,500 words. Abysmal, I know, but it was 1,500 more than I had on October 31st!

I am planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in April and then again in July. My hope is that I will have enough of a story loosely outlined to be successful.

I really like the idea of not having every detail of my story figured out ahead of time. I think that there would be some fun in finding stuff out as I write. But I do like some bit of an outline, just to keep me on track.

I am super stoked for the Life, the Universe & Everything: The Marion K. ‘Doc’ Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy next week! I have never been and this will be my last chance to get in for free. I am excited for all the workshops they will be having, and I am especially excited that Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Drangonlance series will be there! I will make sure to update here with a recap.

As far as New Years writing goals, I came up with one: I want to have 7 working manuscripts by the end of the year. I once read on Jane Yolen's site that she tries to have at least 7 working pieces at a time. that way the always has something to work on and to submit. I think its a worthy goal.

I have also received 5 rejection letters for Sam the Bedlamite.  There are still 7 more out there, but I just heard back from the Shadow Mountain publisher and I felt that they were my best shot. Ah well. Like I have said in previous posts, the mere fact that I submitted the story at all has empowered me. Onward and Upward!

My writing group has started meeting again and they are a great bunch of gals. It is great to get together and toss ideas off one another. Our next meeting is next week. It should be fun. Lots of great writing stuff next week!