Saturday, July 23, 2016

Get to the Con: It Might Charge You

The title is a bit misleading. I'm not going to teach you how to con people. There are plenty of movies and books out there if you wanted to learn this. Instead, I'm encouraging you to go to a writer's con (conference). I recently returned from one and it’s a writer’s life altering experience.

Going to a writer's conference was at the top of my list wish for the last ten years. Something always seemed to come up; I didn't have the money, the time or distracted with falling in love. In July 2015 I decided I was going to go to one. I picked a conference, paid to register and booked my hotel room.

I picked the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) in Washington DC. I learned about the GCLS through a fellow author's blog. GCLS is a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is education and the promotion and recognition of lesbian literature.

I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew was there'd be other LBGT writer's, it ran from a Wednesday to Saturday night and consisted of workshops, panels and author readings. I arrived to the hotel where the conference was being held and witnessed other conference goers greeting each other with hugs, screeches and laughter.

I thought, "Okay, I'm going to be an outsider here, keep to myself, learn and hop back on the plane."

That was further from the truth. The Board and conference goers were very welcoming. (I mean stumbling over each other to ask you to eat lunch with them, inquiring daily how things were going, etc) The workshops and panels were full of useful information and quaint and family atmosphere, despite the 350 participants.

The second day of the conference I woke excited to face the day. I can't remember the last time I woke up that energized for a day that wasn’t a weekend or vacation day. That's when I knew that I was doing something consequential for myself.

It wasn't only the teachings and witty banter of the presenters. It was amazing being in an LGBT friendly environment and being surrounded by fellow writers and authors.These two factors together made the whole experience surreal.

The people there were living in a world similar to me, a writers world. I found myself nodding along and smiling at them talk about where they write, how they find inspiration in the smallest detail and how they deal with family members, friends and spouses who don't seem to understand their writing process.

List of Some Things I Gained from the Conference:
1. Sense of Belonging.
2. Validation.
3. Meeting two author/ idols of mine- Rita Mae Brown and Katherine V. Forrest.
4. Networking.
5. Learning writing, marketing, editing, and research skills.
6. Ideas for new books.
7. Energy and motivation to write more.
8. Courage to write what I don't know. (Using research to expand my writing.)
9. The knowledge that writing lesbian literature is important LGBT youth and adults.
10. Stronger appreciation for my fiancée's support in my writing journey.

Being at the conference to me was like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts... okay not as dramatic as that but pretty darn close.
Look for more posts from me about conferences. Have you thought about going to a conference? What's your favorite writer's conference? What did  you get out of it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I'm absolutely in love with the cover of my latest book "Her Feet on Fire." The book's in the polishing stages and should be published late summer or early fall.
It's about a woman trail runner Maisie whose job is to run outside the boundaries of town in order to protect the town from outsiders. She runs miles and days away from the town with her trustee dog Mali at her side. One trail running trip, Maisie runs into a problem putting herself and perhaps the town at risk. She meets a mysterious woman named Edison who helps Maisie and seems to change Maisie's perspective in life. Still, living in a post-apocalypse has it's trouble that nobody is immune. Maisie finds herself in center stage of her town's latest danger.
I've written romance, general fiction, Young Adult and now this is my first attempt at a post-apocalyptic novel. In this novel, I try to stay away from focusing on the apocalypse and more on the lives now of the townspeople.
In "Her Feet on Fire" the townspeople struggle to find some normalcy yet are reminded every day that they need to focus on issues of basic survival. Food is scarce, strangers are a real danger and protecting the town is a number one priority.
Maisie is a small town girl with amazing running and navigating ability who unlike her neighbors, enjoys leaving town. She's the product of a post-apocalypse tragedy. She's surrounded by elders, peers and friends who look up to her. The town leader Jeffery watches her every step for a chance to reprimand her. Somewhere in this busy, dangerous world, Maisie stumbles upon a budding romance.
This book has a lot to offer my readers. It has adventure, action, strong lead characters, romance and a dog.

When People Ask: "How do you write all that?"

I've often been asked by families, friends, fans and people sharing my jail cell, "how do you write so much?" Then the person goes into how they struggle to write a paragraph, a letter, a note in a card or their papers in high school and college. They don't 'get me' and I don't 'get them' because we view writing in a different way. They see it as difficult or chore; it give me freedom, enjoyment and it comes natural to me. If a non-reader has to find just the right book, I wonder if someone who doesn't enjoy writing has to find the right muse.
I've always written. I filled my unlined journals with stories until my aunt gave me more, I wrote long letters to a pen pal in California for over a decade, I wrote long love notes to my best friend in junior high (until an evil music teacher snatched, read it all the while shaking her head). I've written 40 page research papers, although it wasn't as fun as fiction or social writing.
So far, I've managed to tell you that I love writing but haven't explained how I write so many words, pages and books. I guess loving what I do explains a lot. Once I sit down to write, my fingers move across the keyboard as my thoughts come to me. Rarely, I use an outline. Although having an outline has helped me to stay organized in my writing.
I just write. I'm transported to that setting, in the characters' heads and I just write. Most of the time, I don't know what's going to happen next. That keeps me hooked to keep writing until I don't know what my characters are going to do next or until someone or something in my world stops me from writing. (Usually my dog wants attention or my boss would like me to show up for work.)
I love writing without having to worry about a number of pages or words. It's when I'm limited in the amount of words I can use that slows me down. I get hung up on giving brief descriptions of my book to be put on Amazon or a few paragraphs for the dedication page of my book.
It's the difference between hiking with plenty of food and water with no time constraints versus hiking with little provisions with a place to be at a certain time.
Some people like that kind of writing. One of my kids had the hardest time writing an essay about "What he did this weekend". If you told him to write about his winning goal in soccer,  or about how his dog almost caught a rabbit, that was specific enough that he could be successful.
Now that you and I have come to the end of this post, I'm not sure we have learned anything. I JUST write, I just do it. I have a lot of technique to learn but it comes natural and I'm absolutely in love with it. It's the one thing in my life that has stayed constant.