Old Dog; New Tricks; Any time Surprises

Kent District Library puts on writers conferences in Grand Rapids. I attended once before, spoke on marketing another time, and decided to go again this spring. Realizing the conference is mostly for newbie writers, and having nine books published, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it. Then came the emails of the waiting list, and to let them know if we were unable to attend. I thought to give up my spot, but something compelled me to go, not for what I could get out of it, but what I could give to others.

The physical conference set-up was different from my other times. Attendees sat around tables, six per table. I sat with six strangers. Previously, we were packed in rows, where I only socialized with the persons on my right or left, and everyone was on their own for lunch. This time, all morning and during the provided lunch we six were able to get to know each other. One had never heard of critique groups. Connections and invites were made. Towards the end of lunch I finally confessed that I was published, but…and then I rambled a bit about the confusion between author Sandy Carlson (for my MG historical fictions) and author S. L. Carlson (for my YA fantasies). I gave them each my business card (I was the only one with any), but warned them my website needed some serious updating. From their feedback, I realized I ought to set up a separate website for S. L. Carlson. It meant additional research and work, but what an unexpected epiphany… coming from newbies! This old dog learned new tricks from young pups. I thank you! Woof.

The breakout session on podcasting was eye-opening-new to me as well. Yet another reason to attend writers conferences: to keep updated on the industry’s technology.

Keep on writing. Keep on learning. Woof-woof!

 

Post Writers’ Conference Weekend Evaluation — The Punchline (i.e., Part II) – Intellectual Property

It’s now two weeks after the SCBWI-MI fall conference on Mackinac Island. It was time spent in a lovely location, thinking about my writing, learning new things, and networking with old and new friends.

One thing I used to do after each writers conference or listening to an author speak, was to share that experience and knowledge with others. That was intended to be today’s post. However, these days, more and more, intellectual property is flicking it’s finger on my temple letting me know that is no longer acceptable; that if people want to hear the speakers, they need to pay to go to the venu. So now I wonder what I can share outside of “I learned so much and I networked with fellow writers and illustrators.”

One of my friends spends a lot of the conference time in her room, writing. It is quiet time away from family and her busy lifestyle, surrounded and inspired by fellow writers. My goal was to speak at the conference and help others understand the pitfalls and successes of self-publishing and ePublishing, and to do island research while there.

When a big name speaker talks mostly about him- or herself, I tend to get a bit ho-hum-y. I could read about that information elsewhere. I’m at the conference (paying the big bucks for their intellectual property) to find out what’s current in the book industry, what works for them, and if they are an editor or agent, what tickles their fancies so if I have a story I think will match their likes which I can submit to them later. Mostly, I think success in this industry is a matter of luck — of outstanding writing, of course, but also luck. Constantly develop your writing craft, and be lucky.

I did learn things at the conference, but since I’m unable to share this information, I’ll let it marinate for a while and perhaps it will be tweeked and transformed someday into Sandy-speak.

Or maybe I’ll just write. There are always three or more stories I have in progress at any moment.

Whether you are able to attend a conference or not, keep on reading about craft; keep on bettering your writing. Every six months you should be a better writer than six months earlier. Read. Write. Learn. Wishing you each the best in your writing endeavors.