Friday, October 31, 2008

5 hours...

and counting!

Getting together with a group of my fellow WriMo's at IHOP later tonight. We're going to sit around and chat for a while, and when the clock strikes 12, we're going to start writing our stories. Laptops, notebooks, pens and lots and lots of coffee (for those who can tolerate the stuff). After an hour or so, some of us will head home and the die-hards will keep writing away. I'll probably head home after the hour is up...that is, if I make it to midnight! I might have to be there in spirit, but I WILL BE WRITING AT MIDNIGHT!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 3

Put a fork in me, I'm done!

That was probably the most intense two and a half days of instruction I've ever gone through, but it was sooo worth it! Some workshops were a waste of time--in some cases it was because the "faculty member" didn't do a good job and in other it was because I ws in the wrong class. But all in all, it was worth it and you aspire to a career as a writer, whether it's fiction, non-fiction or poety, I highly HIGHLY recommend going to a writer's conference.

Be smart about it, talk to others who have attended a particular conference and see if it's right for you before you go. I didn't but got lucky because it worked out so well for me. From what I understand, there are other conferences that aren't quite so good, so be careful. I just kinda figured any conference that could get Michael Connely, James O. Born, Derek Nikitas and Irene Goodman, among others, must be pretty good.

I'm definitely going back again next year.

Oh, oh, and the best thing I think happened this morning. At breakfast, my critiquer sat down at my table with me and a couple others. I was mostly talking with Donna, another attendee I had met, and Beth was talking with the other two guys at the table. Before she left she made a point to tell me how much she enjoyed meeting me, a compliment I of course returned. I told her I had already taken out the "B" word as she suggested and she was glad. She then told me to keep in touch, that she'd like to hear from me, and left. Donna was pretty impressed, and truthfully, it embarrassed me a little bit. She asked her critiquer if she could resubmit with the changes her critiquer had suggested, and she had agreed. Beth's offer was completely spontaneous. I'll be cool about it...I'm not going to inundate her with questions. I'll probably just send her a Christmas note and let her know how I've been doing and maybe once or twice more. I don't want to make a pest of myself...I'm still grinning over that.

Well, I'm half-way home now, staying at a hotel, and I'll head for home tomorrow. I'll time it so I hit Charlottesville around lunch time and do a little research there (since that's the setting for my book) and be in Winchester by about 3 p.m. It'll be good to get home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 2

and I'm exhausted.

Four sessions today, two of which were good, one was a waste of time and one was an interesting discussion, but I didn't learn anything. One thing about this conference is that if you don't like what's being taught in your session, you can leave (quietly, please) and join another session. Everyone signed up for sessions when they registered, but--as I now know--that was primarly to see how much interest there was in different sessions. Unfortunately, the session that was a waste of time, I got to late and took a seat in the very back of the class, so leaving quietly was next to impossible. So I toughed it out.

One thing I can say, they certainly feed us well at the Hilton. Large breakfast buffet, snacks--bundt cakes mostly--between morning sessions, full lunch with dessert, coookies between afternoon sessions and full dinners with desserts. I've never eaten so much in such a short amount of time. I almost skipped dinner tonight but since I wanted to hear the keynote speaker, Michael Connelly, I went. Unfortunately, the gist of what he had to say I had heard in an earlier session with James O. Born! Ah well.

And my critique went fabulously! Now, I never told my critiquer, Beth Webb Hart, that I had written my first three chapters through a writing course and that my instructor was a published author, so I actually already had a professional critique. But this was someone who had held my hand through the creative process and I was following her direction, so of course she would like it. I wanted to hear what someone else had to say. And she liked it! She had a few specific points, which I had actually heard from a friend who had read my work, so during the break between the last session and dinner, I edited those parts out. She also had some other points to keep in mind while I did a little bit of editing and as I progress. So I'm feeling really good, like I'm on the right track and I'm doing well!

So now I have two more sessions tomorrow, one of which deals with editing (spinning dross into gold, if you will), and my open session. I may attend a slush-fest, where others have already sent in their work and will have it openly critiqued for everyone attending to hear. All anonymously, of course. From what I've heard from other attendees of slush-fests, they're brutal, and there's a small, sadistic part of me that wants to see the blood bath. Especially since my work won't be on the chopping block. I'll make that decision tomorrow.

So now I'll just clean up, get ready for bed, watch the rest of the Bourne Supremacy on TNT (like I haven't seen it a dozen times already--cripes, I can quote dialog!) and go to bed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm here...

and I haven't lost my mind yet!

This writer's conference has been a great experience so far. I've had two classes and learned lots about how to construct plot and characters, and how to create conflict between those characters. We also had a poetry reading after dinner by Pamela Smith. I'm not much for poetry, but her work was excellent. Unfortunately, it's rainy with about 30 mph winds, so no night walk on the beach, or morning walk either as it's supposed to rain all day.

My critique is tomorrow, and it's going to be interesting. I don't know if I told you anything about my plot, but I had started with one with a hole in it big enough to drive a semi through. I changed it, but I was never very happy with it. That's the plot I sent in. Then, later that day, my mom and I were driving to Pennsylvania to visit my sister. We were listening to a book on CD and listening to that story, I suddenly figured out how to fill that gaping plot hole! So now I'm going to have a critique on a story that's already been changed. I'm still going through with it, however, because the first ten pages that she has won't change much if at all.

Still trying to settle on my NaNo, trying to decided if I'm going to a midnight write-in on Halloween. My local group is having one, but not sure yet if I'm going. It's a bit late for me, but it may be fun.

It's late and I need to get to sleep. One problem with these conferences is that every minute is tightly scheduled and jam-packed, so I can't sleep in. Too bad, because the bed is very comfortable.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Latest & Greatest

Haven't updated in a little while, so I figured I'd better stop by...

NaNoWriMo starts in 12 days and I don't know what I'm going to write yet. I have two plots running through my mind and they won't settle down and let me choose one. They're both good--one's a 40-year old mystery involving the Viet Nam war, the other is a post-apoc story involving the Hadron Collider. I suppose it would help if I spent a little time and outlined my plots, to see which one has more meat and will give me the 50,000 words in 30 days, but who has the time? Between work, monitoring the election coverage and getting ready for my writer's conference, I just haven't had the time. I need to find it, though.

The South Carolina Writer's Workshop starts this Friday. I'm heading to Myrtle Beach on Wednesday, I'll hang out on Thursday and head over to the resort bright and early Friday morning. I'm excited, because I'll be meeting new people and learning how to hone my craft, but I'm also a little nervous because I've never done one of these things before. Sure, I've been to conferences before but none like this. I guess what I'm really nervous about is my critique. A professional author is reading my work and will tell me what she thinks. It's the first ten pages of the story I was working on in my writing class.

Here's the thing...I had one plot in mind when I started that class, and as it progressed, I found the motivation for my protagonist wasn't good enough, and I couldn't think of a way to strenthen it. So I abandoned that plot and came up with another, which was good, but a bit cliche. I kept going with it, even as I had some doubts. Well, I sent off the manuscript for the critique and literally that afternoon, I came up with a much better plot that was closer in line to my original plot! Aargh! Now what do I do??? If she says anything about my plot being weak or cliche, I'll just tell her that I want to change it, but it was too late because I had already sent it in. Yeah, in other words, I'll wing it.

Gotta get ready for work. The Redskins won yesterday (yay!) and Papa John's gives discounts on pizza when they win. At work, when someone has a birthday, we cater lunch that day. I decided that we would do Papa John's if the Redskins won and George's Pizza if they lost. My choice, because it's my birthday.

Happy Birthday Me!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Take the Test!

Do you know who you're going to vote for? Still not sure which candidate best fits your personal views or philosophies? Then I have the test for you!

Click here to take the ABC News test.

If you read my previous posts, you already know which way I'm going. This just kind of solidifies it.

So what have YOU been up to?

Seems these days I'm only posting links or pictures. I don't really have much to blog about lately. I've been focusing on getting ready for my writing conference--still need to watch L.A. Confidential--but I did do something a little crazy...I signed up for a critique.

I didn't want to in the beginning. I figured this is my first conference and I don't know how things are done, so I'll go and observe certain...things...and next year I'll do more. But for the past few weeks, say from the first of September, I began to wonder if maybe I should have signed up for one. The opinion of another professional (not just my instructor, who is a published author) can only bolster my confidence, right? Or, yeah, tear it down, I know, I know. I'm trying to think positive here. So I thought about it for a while, and finally decided that I would bring a couple extra copies of my work and see if I could sign up for one at the conference. See, if they say no, then I can say "I wasn't able to get an appointment" rather than "I was too chicken to sign up sooner." Weak, yeah, but it worked for me.

Anyway, on Sep 30, I get this e-mail saying "There are still open slots available...sign up now with the following critiquers!" And of course, I read through the list. And of course, there's one--only one--person on the list who is in my genre. I agonized for about ten minutes "Should I? Why shouldn't I? Why should I?" etc, get the picture.

One of my co-workers walks by as he's leaving and asks what's wrong. I tell him I'm trying to make a decision. "Easy," he said. "Don't do it."

"That's the wrong answer," I told him.

"Then that's your answer," he said. "You want to do it, so do it."

And he was right. I picked up my phone, called and booked the appointment. By the end of the week, I sent out my synopsis and first ten pages of my story. I've taken the next step on my road to becoming an author.

So what did YOU do this week?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How unique are you?
LogoThere is
person with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I'm not posting my real name here, but my first name is well known - I share it with a very popular former first lady, bu my last name, while not uncommon, has an unusual spelling. Put them together and you get...ME!