Posts Tagged ‘writing retreats’


     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