“Every writer should make an effort to attend writers’ conferences,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
Boy howdy, were they right!
Caroline (of Cosmos and a Cuppa) and I set out with her husband Daniel and their 15-month-old on Tuesday morning, bound for the Art of Writing Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Before I go any further with this story, allow me to say that Caroline and Daniel are the best, their baby is the cutest travel companion, and that the road trip itself was so much fun! Caroline and I got to discuss our writing and our goals for the future, while Daniel made us laugh and asked challenging questions like, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” (I need people to ask me this question, because I rarely dare to ask it of myself.)
Oh, and we watched Good Mythical Morning while we were stuck in Downtown Nashville traffic. Classic.
First we heard from Lysa TerKeurst, whose opening session was entitled “Reaching the Hearts of Readers.” Here are a few of my notes from her address:
- “How can my book enter conversations people are already having?” = the Right Question we should ask ourselves
- Where my pain meets my reader’s pain = where the journey starts
- Subconscious Narrative: words that give voice to what the reader thinks but doesn’t know how to verbalize. Evoke the emotions rather than stating them.
- “Strangle not that soaring place from which the words come” [part of her Writer’s Manifesto, which you can read here.]
Then we hurried upstairs to the Marketing/Publishing House Pros Share Their Secrets Panel, featuring Steve Laube, Michele Misiak, Dave Schroeder, and Anne Bogel. I learned a lot from this panel. My notes:
- Advice to upcoming novelists: 1) Don’t demand features, 2) Don’t reveal your cover too early, 3) Don’t avoid honest conversations with your publisher, 4) Don’t be afraid to try new things, and 5) Don’t be afraid to ask people to buy your book!
- Don’t waste your time on social media platforms you don’t like.
- Your fellow authors are not your competitors–they are your partners and resources.
- Since there are fewer bookstores now, we have to engage our readers at events, libraries, conferences, etc.
- Have a newsletter, and keep it SHORT and VALUABLE [currently working on this…*wink*]
- Unique stories always start with an idea
- Look at the world in a different way, a little bit askew
- Steal like a good artist
- Be well-read and well-watched
- Unique stories come from deep places…which means you need to figure out the theme of your life. The stories that resonate with you provide the clue. Look for the theme that occurs in each story you love most.
- Unique stories come from creative places. Train your brain. Don’t forget how to play.
And last but not least, Anne Bogel‘s seminar on “Using the Enneagram to Create Fictional Characters” was great fun! I didn’t take as many notes from this one simply because I was taking pictures of her slides instead. (You can view the slides here!)
- Neither you nor your character are a “pure type”
- Myers-Briggs shows how your brain works. The Enneagram reveals your motivations–why you do what you do.
- You/your character don’t change types, but you do change your levels of development (Healthy, Average, Unhealthy)