Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Day at Deer Creek

The day after attending a writers' conference is a time for reflection. I've spent this morning clearing the dust off my desk and the cobwebs out of my mind. So much information was gleaned yesterday and the time to implement new writing techniques is upon me.

The Ontario Writers' Conference at Deer Creek Golf Club started early and ended late. Here's a brief recap of my day.

8:30 a.m. Arrived and ate breakfast with members of DWO, Chris and Tina. Table hopped, greeting old friends and colleagues- Ruth Walker, Dorothea Helms, Gywnn Sheltema to name a few.

9:30 a.m. Went downstairs for my first workshop, An Editing Primer with Gwynn Scheltema, who is always a pleasure to hear. Gwynn's presentation concentrated on taking the completed first draft to the next level. She put us to work on three writing exercises as well as discussing how to edit a novel bit by bit.

11:00 a.m. Coffee and cookies. Yum!

11:15 a.m. Second workshop with Robert J. Sawyer's Science Fiction as the Literature of Ideas. Rob is a fabulous speaker and I wrote copious notes, but the most important thing that he said was: The most successful books are the ones that can be described in one sentence because, when editors are pitching ideas to publishers, they only have a few seconds to promote unknown authors. He also said that great books are about issues, not characters or plots.

12:45 p.m. Lunch buffet with speaker, Robert J. Sawyer. This time he spoke about Robert A. Heinlein's 1947 essay on writing rules, which are:
1) You must write.
2) You must finish what you start.
3) You must put it on the market.
4) Refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
5) You must keep it on the market until it is sold.
Rob added one more rule to the list by saying that you must start writing something else while waiting to find an agent/publisher. He also said that out of the 100 writers in the room, only 50 would ever finish anything. From the 50 who complete a novel, only 25 would put it on the market. Of the 25 seeking prepresentaion, only 12 would keep it circulating and only 6 out of the 12 would sell their work. So those are the (not so great) odds we're up against, fellow writers.

2:00 p.m. Third workshop with Terry Fallis on Shameless Promotion. I had my Blue Pencil Session with Robert J. Sawyer at 3:00 and was quite nervous. He had good things to say about my four pages and told me to look for a US literary agent when it's completed.

3:30 p.m. Coffee and cookies again.

3:45 p.m. Publishing Panel upstairs in the dining room. Some useful questions and answers, but one of the speakers was too wordy for my liking.

We had a walk outside before dinner and admired the lovely wedding party.

6:00 p.m. Dinner with speaker Catherine Gildiner, a wonderful writer and speaker.

7:30 p.m. Author readings began with Wayson Choy. Our Chris won one of the door prizes! A lovely gift basket with two bottles of alcohol, chocolates and other goodies.

We mingled until shortly after nine and left, tired but exhilerated from a wonderful day.

Of course, I've left out lots of details that we'll discuss at the next meeting.

My blue pencil session with Robert J. Sawyer led me to believe that I have a winning novel. So I must buckle down and complete the first draft. Easier said than done!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This Made Me Laugh

Found this over at agent Janet Reid's site this morning:

How many agents does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Agent 1: Sorry, we're not accepting screw in light bulbs anymore. Bayonets only, and we only get them from the store.

Agent 2: We considered your light bulb but it's a bit too modern. Have you tried turning it into a candle?

A3: Loved your light bulb. Great light. Lots of illumination. Unfortunately, the agency's decided to remain in the dark indefinitely.


Friday, January 22, 2010

A New Beginning

The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection and resolutions. I ask myself: How much did I accomplish in the past twelve months? Should I make the same resolutions for this year or do a reality check and scratch a few things off the list? I never beat myself up if I haven't achieved last year's goals, mostly because I usually set too many!

I love to sit down during the first week of January and plan (on paper) what I want to accomplish during the new year. Not only my writing goals, but personal ones as well. This year I feel I have a good chance of attaining most, if not all, of my goals. Okay, I'll admit I usually feel optimistic about my writing in January, but pessimistic writers just sit at their desks and moan.

Personally, I would like more time to write and I hope to take some time off in the spring to do so. A month off work would allow me to get a good head start on the novel that needs to be completed. I have another completed novel that needs a little tweaking before I begin querying agents.

In the last week, I've heard from two of my editors in Great Britain, who publish my short romance stories in their magazines. I didn't write any last year, and subsequently, I didn't have any published, which was a major disappointment to me. I have a few ideas kicking around and I've added them to my list of goals.

There's another novel (actually it's a quartet) that I intend to start this year, regardless of my other goals--even if I have to start it on December 31st. It's the one that everyone keeps telling me needs to be written, including several psychics I've encountered throughout the years. How the heck they know about it beats me!

January is almost over and I'd better get cracking if I want to accomplish my list of goals.

I think I need to sit down and make a writing schedule. Or maybe I should just sit down and write!