Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance of Writer Conferences

I had the most incredible week.

Seriously, ask anyone who was there. I. Was. Flying.  It might have had something to do with attending my first conference. Or meeting all my online friends. Or all the awesome workshops I attended. Or not having to cook for myself. Or make my own bed. Or maybe it was getting so much help on my pitch and query. Or having people squeal with me when my pitch went well. REALLY well. :)

I had planned to make the most of this conference. And looking back on it all, I'm pretty sure I did.

  • Query and critique camp. 
I was preparing to pitch my book at this conference and knew I could use all the help I could get. And man did I ever get it.  Getting with other writers is so essential. I learned so much from them and received so much encouragement.  Our presenter was Lisa Mangum, and what an awesome lady. Can I just tell you? All sorts of awesomeness rolled into one.  And my night was made even more exiting when Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series, walked into the room. People, I literally squealed.

From author sighting to a picture together.
My kids were ecstatic. Okay, so was it. :)
Yes, there were witnesses and yes they got a kick out of my display. This guy is one of my children's favorite authors and I won big points with them by getting to meet him in person. :) He is SUCH a cool guy. And what a great laugh. Seriously.

  • WINNING A BOOK! If you follow me on Facebook you saw all my pictures. They were not only part of making memories but of a scavenger hunt. I like winning things. Just so you know. :) Some of the pictures I've reposted here. And some I've spared you. :)

  • Free M&M's at the front desk. This is epic. Just epic. What is a writer's conference without chocolate!

  • Meeting your heroes.
    • Sarah Eden's books are not only fantastic, but they played a major role in my staying sane during my difficult pregnancy with the twins and then subsequently their loss. Her stories brought laughter into my laugh and hope to a person who was struggling to hold on to every bit she could.  Meeting Sarah in person was a dream and what an awesome gal! She was just as wonderful as her writings and her classes had me in stitches. I am forever changed for knowing her.

My first award!!!

  • I WON AN AWARD!!!  Conferences are great opportunities to enter contests and let your work be seen and judged. I placed 2nd in the Young Adult category for the Beginning of Book Contest. What an honor! And yes, I was shaking for a loooooong time afterwards. Can you blame me? It's cool!!!

    Stacy inspires me. So many wonderful friends here!

  • Friends who inspire me. 
I have met so many incredible people on social media, but there is nothing so amazing as meeting them in person and experiencing their energy and friendship. No comparison. Trust me. I MISS YOU ALL ALREADY!!
My roomie Stephanie Abney!! What a kindred spirit!!!

Critique buddy Wendy Jorgensen and Me!!!

    Kari is such a dear friend. She has such a happy smile!

    • Galas

    There is something awesome about dressing up and becoming characters in books. You can do it at home, but I'm sorry, it's just not the same. 
    Ms. Havisham through the ages. 

    • Workshops
    I could write an entire blogpost on everything that I learned at the conference, but it's better to just say, "GO TO ONE!" Experience the energy of the speakers. Ask questions on how to become a better writer,  or how to best "Harness the crazy," as Brandon explained.

    Sarah Eden getting ready to work her "magic."

    That's us. Crazy. We spend our time day dreaming and making up stories to help others escape, give them hope, laugh, cry, or to share personal experiences we think will help someone. Besides ourselves.  I need to write. It's a need, not just a want. And after this first experience, a writer's conference has gone from a want to a need.

    Happy Conferencing!!!

    Thursday, April 24, 2014


    I have nine children. Seven that I juggle on a day to day basis. :) I love them all. So much.

    And yes, seven takes work to keep up with AND do it well.  There's never enough time for each one. Each day. We do our best, but sometimes a child needs more. So we run errands together, talk by bedsides, do dishes, and make cookies together. 

    But inevitably there's a lot of noise to compete with. Nay, lovely excitement. :) I don't consider the love here noise. Not really. But it does make it hard for the ones with trials to get some of the talk time they need. And even when they do, they seem to forget all those happy thoughts when they are caught in another hard spot and I'm not there.

    So they have journals. Like this one.

    10 year old's brand new journal
    And we write back and forth to each other. They tell me everything they want me to know, and then I write back all the words of comfort I can. They reread it. They treasure it. Or so I'm told. :) Through the journal writing they have my undivided attention, and through our correspondence we console one another. Mostly the consoling comes from me. :) 

    Kids are faced with so many trials, ones I've already been through and thus can help lend support. They make me glad I had those trials of my own, so I have SOME knowledge to help lift them up. Or just tell them they are loved and not alone. Worth my time.  TOTALLY worth my time. Always.

    How do you help support your children? What challenges do you face in the world today?

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Never too old...

    Our dinner table is always full of lively conversation, and the other night was no exception. Except for one thing.

    Our usual dinnertime "topic" conversation posed the question to the table, "What was your favorite bedtime story as a child?"

    Our children's eyes immediately lit up, while our daughter's boyfriend shrugged his shoulders with a polite, "I don't know. I wasn't really read to as a child."

    Now before you begin a rant about poor parenting or some such opinionated statement, you would need to know this particular fellow and his devoted parents.  I won't go into it, because that's not really the point of this post. The point is...

    You're never too old to enjoy a children's book.

    My oldest daughter truly has fond memories of bedtime stories, practically has the books memorized.  So I decided to step up the conversation by grabbing her most favorite and reading it to the entire table. Inside a barn in the country.  She insisted I do the voices as well.

    The low chuckles accompanied that of my high-pitched giggling daughters and the mid-range laughter of my 13 year old son. :)  I got a certain thrill at hearing their thorough enjoyment.  I think there was clapping at the end.

    We read MY favorite bedtime story next.  Well, Tuesday isn't so much something to be read, as is something to be experienced. There are like six words in the entire book. It's mostly pictures.  And yet there was a story behind the pictures that magically changed from night to night as my husband "read" the books to our children.

    It was precious to see the effect the books have had on my children and their continued love of reading.  I also realized that my littlest ones didn't have a favorite one, nor are they read to as much as the older ones were.  A product of a busy household I suppose (and yet hasn't dampened their enthusiasm for reading books themselves).

    But I'm not worried about spending more time reading to them, because...yup.  You're never too old...

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Just Start

    Two little words, yet so hard to do sometimes.

    Will I regret my decision? Will I succeed? Will I be able to finish what I start?

    I have two words in response: Who cares? You will never know what you can do, if it's worth it, and whether or not you will fail if you don't even start. 

    I can't count how many crafts I've never finished, or stories that are waiting their turn to be told. Whether or not I'm afraid of failing should be irrelevant. But it's not. It's real. We don't like committing ourselves to things we're not sure we can finish. Why start if we have little chance of finishing? Nanowrimo anyone? 50,000 words in 30 days. Why? Why I ask you?

    Because the joy is in the journey, not the end result.

    Why do we feel so accomplished when we achieve a goal we've set? Because we finished what we intended, obviously. What if our goal was to simply have joy along the way? It wouldn't matter if or when we finished because our goal wouldn't be determined by an end result, but rather an ongoing love for what we are doing.

    This has been a profound concept for me this year and is at the heart of my Nanowrimo story. It was also the means to my taking on a difficult task both physically and emotionally: my boys' Christmas stockings. Each of my children have one, and so will my boys. They take around 70 hours to complete. Each. So you can imagine how daunting it is to start, not to mention the feelings of making something your boys will never actually use. 

    But WE will. We have a special plan for them, and it's pretty wonderful. But that's another post for a later time.  Meanwhile...

    I started.

    Friday, November 1, 2013



    Nanowrimo. Say it with me....naaaaa.....noooo wrimo.  It's not hard to do. Well, yeah, kind of.  I mean, 50,000 words in 30 days? Yeah, it's some of the hardest fun you'll ever have.

    Here's how it works:

    • Pick a plot (hopefully you've got an idea or rough outline going into it. Unless you're like me. :) I'm a total pantser. Don't worry though, at this stage I'm the only one who gets to see the embarrassing, ugly polka dot underwear. You get to see my daily word count. :)
    • November 1st start typing like mad. You need about 1667 words a day to make it to the 50,000 by the end of the month.
    • Chat on the forums!
    • Read comics on the main page!
    • Shop at the store and buy cool t-shirts and mugs!
    • Waste time playing Candy Crush!
    • Facebook like crazy!
    • Find Writing Buddies and distract them--I mean help them!
    • Try and get back to writing. *sigh*
    • Discover amazing plot twist and fist pump the room. 
    • Eats lots and lots of energy snacks. Is this why it starts right after Halloween?  Hmmmmm
    • Type and type and type some more.
    • Think about Thanksgiving Day looming and type faster. 
    • Finish! Validate! Claim your prizes. Seriously. Since I started in 2005 the folks at Nanowrimo have really pulled in some awesome prizes for us to claim. Soooo cool.
    I've been nano-ing since 2005. There was a couple years in there that I was working on my senior Honors Thesis and trying to graduate from college, so word count was wrapped up in term papers and such.

    Times and seasons. 

    It's a tough month for me to do Nanowrimo. Okay, okay, every month is hard when you're a mom of seven and especially right now as I work to recover from a difficult and painful summer. But being a writer means that NO time will be perfect for writing. You have to carve the time out to do it. Life won't stop for us. And quite frankly, writing is better due to our experiences. It's the stuff that gives us something to write ABOUT.

    So what are you waiting for?  Go! Sign up! NANO!!!!  And come be my buddy here. :)

    Happy Writing!