Michaeline: Connections, connections

Four hermit crabs under the sea, in different stages of coming out of their shells.

And so, Micki came out of her shell and waved hello to the others. (Via the Internet Archive)

You never know where a new direction is going to come from. Could be north, could be east . . . could be straight up from the ground, or pouring down from the heavens.

In my case, an old friend sent me an email out of the blue regarding a writer’s conference in Japan. I suspected there were a lot of writers in Japan (there certainly are a lot of bloggers!), but I felt like we might all be like hermit crabs, hiding in shells of English Teaching or maybe IT Endeavors. You really can’t tell who is a writer and who isn’t just by sight.

But now, the internet is a miracle for peeling off those shells and saying, “Hey! Here I am!” Some savvy person got a notice for the 2018 Japan Writers Conference into a little newsletter based in Sapporo, and my Sapporo-based friend sent it along to me (the hermit crab by the sea). And then when I went looking . . . wow! The conference has a social media presence! Here’s the tweet about the conference, and there’s a Facebook page, and there could be more. (-: Not in the first two pages of Google hits, but still. Their Social Media Presence Can Be Felt.

Looking at the tweet also provides a lot of information – for example, information about the Twitter accounts of 14 people who liked the tweet. One of them has written about mermaids in Lake Michigan, for goodness sakes! (I’ve got a mermaid seeking revenge in a fictional lake in upstate New York. Writer-soul mate? Maybe. At least, I’ll follow and see what happens.)

I don’t know if I’ll be joining them in Otaru this year, but it’s just exciting to know that there are fellow strivers in the room. I mean, I guessed. Now I know.

What’s your local writing scene like? What do you get when you google “My Area Writers”? Is it all black and white photos of writers dead and gone? Or is there a living presence of scribblers like you? Let me know! I’m so curious.

Jeanne: Dear Contest Judge

(This is supposed to be a Christmas story using a list of words provided by Elizabeth, but since I’ve only recently started contributing to the 8 Ladies blog on a regular basis, I missed the memo. Next year. )

Recently, I received my scores back from an RWA chapter contest for Girl’s Best Friend, 

the contemporary romance I’ve been putzing around with in my spare time.

I always send at least a generic thank you to my contest judges. I judge contests, too, and it’s a lot of work, especially if you’re going to do it well. But this particular contest was set up to allow the entrants to thank each judge individually, so here are my individual thank you notes.

Dear Judge #1,

Thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise to judge my contest entry. The great score you gave me was gratifying and your comments made it clear you truly enjoyed my story. Writing is such a solitary occupation and a little encouragement really helps.
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Jilly: Three Things I Learned at McKee’s Story Seminar

I promised to report back on last weekend’s craft marathon, otherwise known as Four Days of McKee—three days of the legendary Story seminar and a further day dedicated to the Love Story.

It was physically grueling. I can’t remember the last time I spent four eleven-hour days in a row sitting in a lecture theater, and it’s been more than thirty years since I had to take notes longhand. I treated myself to a new notebook and pen for the occasion.

It was mentally challenging. I had mixed feelings about Mr KcKee’s teaching style (to say he has strong opinions, robustly expressed, would be to understate the case), but no reservations about the quality of his analysis. Even though much of the material was familiar to me and I only made extended notes where I thought it necessary, I still filled more than sixty pages and went home every night with a head full of new ideas.

I could blog for the next year or more about the things that I learned, but three nuggets top my list of things to chew on, because I think they will be especially useful to me when I get on to writing Alexis’s prequel story. All three were superbly illustrated during the final session of Story—a six-hour scene-by-scene analysis of Casablanca and again during Love Story’s breakdown of The Bridges of Madison County.

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Jilly: What I Learned at Gollanczfest

Good writing craft workshops are like London buses—you wait for ages, and then three come along at once. Today I’ll be finishing up my second workshop in as many weeks: the fourth and final day of Robert McKee’s legendary Story. It’s an add-on dedicated to Love Story.

All being well, I’ll report back on my Four Days of McKee next weekend. Today I promised to report on my takeaways from Gollanczfest (click here for my previous post about the event.)

Firstly, and most importantly, I had a fantastic time. I made a note to self that it’s worth attending some kind of writing-related event at least once or twice per year, simply because it’s inspiring and energizing to spend time with other writers.

Last weekend the writers were all about sci-fi and fantasy, so the talk was of worldbuilding, dragons, AI, dystopia and space opera. The discussions around process were entirely familiar, likewise the challenges of plot structure and character building. It felt strange that nobody made much mention of community or relationships. Continue reading

Jilly: Gollanczfest

Are you doing anything special this weekend?

While some of the other Ladies are NaNo-ing, I’ll be spending a chunk of November in writing craft workshops, and I’m kicking off the fun this weekend by attending the Gollancz Festival—a celebration of all things science fiction and fantasy hosted by the publisher and supported by a galaxy of their authors.

I’m writing this post early, because I plan to spend Saturday in London at the Gollancz Writers’ Day—a day of workshops and talks focused on the mechanics and skills needed by the modern writer.

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Kay: After the Conference—Now Comes the Hard Part

Unknown weight lifter competing in the 2016 Olympics, held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Jonas de Carvalho.

Along with others of the Ladies, I went to the RWA national conference in Orlando last week, and like everyone else, I seem to have returned home full of good ideas and better intentions. Elizabeth mentioned yesterday the workshop that Damon Suede presented and several of us attended, in which he described a technique for keeping your characters consistent throughout your manuscript: the power of a single verb. That was a great idea—and fun to see it in action. I’m revising with that in mind.

Several of the Ladies plan to embark (or have embarked) on an indie publishing career, and many of the workshops spoke to that. Resource ideas were everywhere. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Ah-ha Moments

Last week’s RWA Conference in Orlando was a bit unusual for me.  I’ve been to writing conferences before and I’ve even heard some of these same speakers speak before, but what was different this time around is that, when the end of the conference rolled around on Saturday afternoon, I was actually a little disappointed that it was all over.

That never happens.

A number of things made this conference a little different, not the least of which was that Michille and actually I got to meet one of our blog followers live and in person.  Writing here on the blog can feel pretty anonymous, so it was very exciting to have a follower recognize us and seem so pleased to meet us.  We only wish we had had the presence of mind to take a photo.

My primary reason for attending this year’s conference was to spend some quality time with the rest of the Eight Ladies, and we definitely did that.    Over the course of almost five days together, there was plenty of time to talk story, to brainstorm, and to plot and plan.  As I had hoped, that left me re-motivated to get back to work on my current mystery draft.  It was also nice to get some confirmation that the story seems to be heading in the right direction, especially since I was starting to feel like I was losing my grasp on the plot.

Equally helpful Continue reading