Today, me and my friend Joe attended the League of Utah Writers spring conference at the Bountiful Arts Center.  Writing conferences, workshops and retreats are quite varied in their range of possibilities.  Some of these events are overflowing with writers, publicists, agents and publishers, while others are smaller and more limited in their scopes of activities and purpose.  I have attended several of these conferences in the last year and, for a couple of reasons, the one I attended today was one of my favorites.

     The spring conference began at 9:00 a.m. and ended at about 3:30 p.m.  The first speaker was Jennifer Nielsen, author of Elliot and the Goblin War, with Sourcebooks Publishing.  The next in the series, Elliot and the Pixie Plot will release in May and a third will follow this fall.  Jennifer Nielsen opened with a great speech on the psychology of characterization.  In this segment, we learned how to understand the psychology of our characters through a series of different exercises.  Jennifer was an awesome speaker and presented the material in a way that was both fun and informative.

     John Brown, author of Servant of a Dark God series by Tor Books was next.  From him, we learned the secret of story structure and how to develop a killer story.  In the secrets of story structure, I was struck, as I often am when I am talking to a real-life published author, by his no-nonsense and simplistic approach to the art of storytelling.  There are so many convoluted myths and “formulas” out there that it’s always nice to hear  a successful writer tell you, as John did, that in order to be successful, you don’t need to follow any specific confusing formula, be an alcoholic, suffer from any mental disorders, be especially blessed by the talent gods, be inordinately gloomy and moody, or wear funny hats.  Instead, what he (and so many other published writers) believe in is practice, self-discipline, goal-setting, the tenacity to continually improve your craft, and the courage to press onward in a business that is highly competitive, persnickety and often seems unfair.   John Brown was a passionate, enthusiastic and incredibly funny speaker.  He is someone I’ve decided I would really like to get to know.

     After him, Margot Hovley, whose first novel will be released in summer of this year, spoke about the ten most important rules of (good) writing, and finally, Marion Jensen (who writes under the pen name Matthew Buckley), author of Chicken in the Headlights and Bullies in the headlights, spoke on using social media in the writing process.  From him, we learned the importance of, and the most advantageous ways of using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and myriad blog sites for networking with other writers, promoting our work and utilizing the kind of content that will attract the kind of following you want.

     This conference is one of several I have recently attended and what fascinates me is the fact that it hasn’t become dull to me.  Each time I attend a conference, I learn new things, meet new and fascinating people and leave with a stronger sense of confidence in my writing as well as a firmer belief that I am doing what I should be doing, that I am right where I belong.

     My friend Joe just signed up with the League of Utah Writers last Tuesday.  This was his first conference, so it was very cool for me to get to be there.  Joe is an incredible writer who seems to be in that same frustrating place I was in a few years back~ I knew I wanted to write, knew I was good at it, but wasn’t quite sure exactly how to go about it.  At that time, the whole thing seemed so overwhelming.  It intimidated me and vexed me to no end.  Then, after much hesitation, I decided to check some of these conference things out.  What I didn’t realize until I started attending was how important these conferences are, and how many doors they can potentially open.  Don’t get me wrong… I am still frustrated, vexed and intimidated, but now, I understand how very normal these feelings are in this business… and that I am not alone, and that makes this all a whole lot easier.  Not to mention, I have met some incredible people, been given some awesome opportunities and had a damned good time of it.  I hope my friend Joe finds the same things.  He seemed interested throughout and afterward, said he had a good time and said we should do it again.  So Joe… good luck to you!  And yes… let’s do it again. 

For more information on the authors, check out their websites:

www.johndbrown.com

www.jennielsen.com

http://www.appendixpodcast.com

www.marionjensen.com

www.margothovley.com

www.luwriters.com

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Comments
  1. Mimi Williams says:

    I’m so sad I had to miss this. I’m looking forward to you sharing more details with me.

  2. Joe Ostler says:

    Good times. One thing I half-expected but still surprised me was how many people there are who are writing. So many people and so many of them much much further along in the process than me. That much is a little intimidating. A lot of encouraging things too though. It was definitely worthwhile to go to. Now I just need to find a critique group.

    • It was good times, Joe. I am glad you came. Don’t be discouraged by the people and their places in the process. I’ve read enough of your stuff to know you’re already a step or two ahead of the rest. It is intimidating, I know… and that never goes away entirely, BUT… keep writing and keep writing and keep writing…
      As for a critique group, I say we form our own!

      • Hey, thanks for the shout out. By the way, if you guys really do form a critique group, I know of a guy in Davis County who is looking for one to join. As a matter of fact, he was one of the attendees at the Spring Workshop.

      • Hi, Margot! You’re very welcome. Congrats on your book. And great job on the conference! I don’t actually live in Davis County but it’s not that far really… hook me up! Thanks for reading. Keep in touch!

  3. Linda Bennett says:

    Another interesting blog and Yes, Jared you are right where God wants you to be. I whole-heartedly believe that you will succeed at what you are so good at. I am so happy to say that you are my friend. God Bless you!!!

  4. Linda Bennett says:

    Jared, You are most welcome, that is what true friends do. They stick by each other.
    .(*_~).

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