Writer Wednesday – Conferences – Are they worth it?

My general viewpoint on conferences is that they should be viewed as a working vacation.  Part of this is because of what I write and what my expectations are.

The big conferences for Romance writers are RT (Romantic Times) and RWA National (Romance Writers of America).   They serve different purposes.

RT is geared mostly towards readers, although they do have some writing classes.  I’ve attended this conference as an aspiring author, published author and a reader.  I’ve always viewed this particular conference as a working vacation.  It was a chance to visit my author friends, Lyn Armstrong and Debbie Cairo.   It was a chance to see a new city, visit friends and attend parties.  I always attend writing classes there and go to publisher spotlights.  I actually met both my publishers (Liquid Silver Books and Resplendence) at RT.

RWA is geared mostly to the business side of things.   I’ve yet to attend this particular conference, even though I’m a member.  I have attended regional RWA conferences including Midwest Fiction Writers and WisRWA.  I found both beneficial to my writing career.  Classes tend to revolve around business, craft, and publishing in general.

Some other conferences I’ve attended are Lori Foster’s RAGT (Reader and Author Get Together).  This is also a reader geared Con, unlike RT it is much smaller and there are about ten readers for every published author.   Lori keeps the author roster small so readers can interact.   Maddy Barone introduced me to this Con and we’ve traveled the last two years together.

I’ve attended two local Sci-Fi con’s since I write Paranormal Romance.  CoreCon and ValleyCon.   I highly recommend if you write in a genre that falls into the genre of SFFP (Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal) that you consider attending a local or regional Con.  It is a great way to meet readers and I find the communities, in general, to be very supportive of creatives.

There are also many Romance Reader Cons popping up.   I ran across this website that might be helpful for those of you writing in the Romance Genre.

http://www.romancerefined.com/list-of-romance-conventions-and-conferences.html

I usually attend RT when I can and if I can rope someone into going with me.   RWA is still on my bucket list.   I’ve attended Lori Foster’s RAGT the last two years.  This year, due to my job loss,  I’ve cut back on my conferences.  I will likely only attend the local sci-fi cons and my annual writing retreat at the end of September.

Overall I love conferences and attend as many as my budget will allow.  If nothing else I get a few classes in, meet a few new authors and network.   That’s a win in my book.

 

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Writer Wednesday – Find your tribe

Writing-GroupOn my writing journey, I know I would not be where I am today without the tribe of writers around me.

Having a supportive partner and family is important too, and I’m fortunate to have that as well.

But when I write myself into a corner, cuz I’m a pantser and we do that, DH is of no help.   But I can call my friend Arden Richards, whose not yet published but is the best plotter I know.

I belong to a number of tribes –

The F-M Word Weavers – This is my local critique group.  Arden is a member as well.  Also in my group are published Authors Maddy Barone and Mary Jean Adams.  The wealth of knowledge in this group is wonderful, and my writing has greatly improved over the years thanks to these ladies.   I found this group on Meet-up and It helps that most of the group is made up of Romance Authors.

Romance Writers of America – I highly recommend this group if you are looking to establish a career in the Romance Writing Industry.   I’ve been a member since 2004 and belong to an online chapter.   I met my first critique partner Holli Winters through RWA.    If you want to learn more about this particular tribe I recommend, if you have Netflix, that you watch “Love Between the Covers”.  First time DH watched it with me he said, “Sounds like your writer friends.”  Yes, yes it does.

Of course there is also Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers or America.  As I do not write in these genres, I’m unfamiliar with their membership. 

Romance Divas – I’ve recently joined Divas, but I have friends who have been members for years and rave about the mentorship and learning there.   It seems too that Divas is on the leading edge of trends within the Romance Industry.    Also they are FREE, so that is helpful for those watching their budget.

Marketing for Romance Writers – Despite the name, more than Romance Writers belong to this community.   If you follow my AuThursday interviews, many of the writers are from this group.  This group is also FREE. 

Writer Zen Garden – I’ve been with Writer Zen Garden for about five years, brought in by my friend and founding member, A. Catherine Noon.   Writer Zen Garden has authors of different genres.   They are wonderful for writers just starting out and maybe not so Romance focused.   To me the focus is very creative and  wonderful  cheerleading group. And Guess what – also FREE.

I continue to join groups as I see what they have to offer and if it is a good fit for me.   I highly recommend that if you aren’t a member of a tribe that you join one.   There is something about the writing journey that shouldn’t be done in a bubble.   I mean you can, but there are so many options to connect with people and learn, why wouldn’t you. 

The groups above have helped me through Writer’s Block, Rejection, Plotting, Marketing, Networking, and supporting me through my writing journey.   I can’t imagine writing without my tribes. 

~Tina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Wednesday – Retreats

My apologies for missing last Writer Wednesday.  I’d returned from an annual Writing Retreat for the Founders of Writer Zen Garden, and found myself forgetting.

I’ve attended this Retreat annually and the theme or tone of the meeting varies from year to year, depending on where we are at in our lives.

This year before meeting, one member suggested more writing time, and I’m so glad she did. 

We routinely do Morning Pages, Free Write and a CRAFT.

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WZG 2017 Craft

This year we added in Writing Prompts, Mind Mapping and Creative Journaling. 

The Mind Mapping and a prompt on setting were exactly what I needed.  I tend to write dialouge heavy, so this was very helpful to help me find a balance. 

If you are planning on hosting a retreat, Even a self-retreat, there are a few things I would recommend: 

  1. Have goals – This is reason for the Retreat.  Finish a book, commune with like minded writers, relax.  Whatever it is, even if each writer has different goals, this will help with making a plan, so everyone walks away with what they want. 
  2. Have a plan – Get input from all people attending your retreat.   Pick a location. Create a schedule.   Share it.   A plan will give you framework for your retreat to ensure everyone has fun. 
  3. Have Fun – So you can’t hit the park, because your location has suddenly been deluged by rain.   You spent more time chatting and less time writing – been there.  If you think of the plan as a framework and not a schedule, you can better roll with it. 

Last year I hosted the WZG Writing Retreat on my Farm.   I’ve toyed with the idea of coordinating a spring retreat for local authors at my farm or at The Smokey Hills in Minnesota. 

The goal for me has always been to catch up with authors about what they are writing and trying to re-energize my own writing.   This is for both retreats and conferences.  Before investing time and money into any event, be sure you have a goal.  My goal helps set the expectations and I can measure sucess from it. 

My goals were met, so I would call the retreat a success. 

Here are some other great blogs on planning retreats:

http://rawdogscreaming.com/8-things-learned-planning-writing-retreat/

http://www.alexrwhite.com/how-to-plan-a-writing-retreat-part-1-goals-and-rules/

https://www.janefriedman.com/value-writing-retreats/

https://jenniferlouden.com/create-your-own-writing-retreat/

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/do-it-yourself-writing-retreats

Join me next week as we continue my query journey.~Tina

Writer Wednesday – Rejection

I got my first rejection from an agent last week.  Less than 24 hours after I sent my query.

Was I surprised?  Yes and No.   Yes that it was so quick, and No that it happened.   It was a form letter and I likely received for one of two reasons:

  1. The agent is not  acquiring new authors
  2.  My packet wasn’t proper.   And my packet was incomplete…I noticed after I hit send.

I can not stress the importance of following the rules when agents and publishers lay them out for you.   In my case the agency wanted the first 5 pages and I misread it to be query letter only.    Now was I rejected for not following the rules, possibly.  I’ll never truly know, but I guarantee I always wonder.

Some of you may think this is nitpicky on the publisher’s or agency’s part, and maybe it appears that way.  But the rules are an indicator of what will maximize an agent or editors time.   And truthfully if my query sang all on its own, perhaps I would’ve received a gentle reminder about the missing pages.  Or I stated my query well enough that they knew a Stempunk Romance was not on their #MSWL.

Unfortunately for me, at this agency, a rejection from one agent is a rejection from all.  It is too bad, as the agency represented many authors I love and respect.  Sigh.

There are more agents ahead, and I assure you I will be diliegent in following the rules going forward.   🙂

~Tina