Tag Archives: creative writing

Write Club DFW Submissions Open!

Hey all! I’ve been super busy lately, but I wanted to let y’all know there’s a new writing contest going on where you can win a chance to attend the 2020 DFW Writing Conference.

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“Here’s the ABC’s of how it works. When the submission period opens (Mar 18-Apr 14), you simply send in a 500-word writing sample using a pen name (details on how to do that below). Once the submission period closes, all the entries are read by a panel of twenty volunteers (I call them my slushpile readers). The slushpile readers are a diverse group of avid readers and they each will select their top samples. Their selections narrow down the contestant pool to the thirty writers picked by the most judges. Over the course of the next eight weeks, we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting the anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, and then playoffs, quarter-finals, and then ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion. The writing sample can be any genre, any style (even poetry), from a larger piece of work or flash fiction — the word count being the only restriction. It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, receive a ton of feedback, all without having to suffer the agony and embarrassment of exposure. How cool is that?

~ D.L. Hammons

Check out DL Hammons’ site for more information!

 

 

 

 

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Old Magic in a New World – Writing Warm Up

Here’s a quick writing warm up I did, inspired by one of my “warm up characters”.

I’ll go into this type of writing practice in a later post, but I hope you enjoy my quick scene!

As a disclaimer, the practice of modern witchcraft is questioned as authentic in this piece. I know this can ruffle some feathers, but I want to make it clear that I have nothing against Wiccans, neopagans, modern witches, or any other term you might use to identify as. This is a work of fiction and does not reflect my opinions on those in the pagan or occult community, neo or otherwise. Please take this as a creative writing piece where I explore a character, not a stance on a way of life and religion.

 


 

 

The girls in the corner booth weren’t witches. Despite the tarot cards tossed across the table, thick makeup, and black clothing declaring “daughters of the witches you could not burn”, they were as human as they came. If they had even an ounce of magic in them, they would’ve felt the warlock watching them.

Not that Colvus was surprised. It was rare to find a fellow magic user in the modern world.

He missed the good old days, back when magic was more whispers in the dark and less peace and love. When he was a boy, coming from a magical bloodline actually meant something. Now, every normal human with a grandmother who claimed to be a witch in the 60’s was a self-proclaimed “hereditary witch”. But, oh no, they wouldn’t cause anyone harm, or use their magic for “evil”. They were good magic users.

It made him sick.

He gulped his black coffee to feel something other than anger, ignoring the burn down his throat as he watched the girls giggle over the cards spread across the table. It was a disgrace. If they did that when he was their age, they would’ve been burned alive. Their whole families would’ve! Nowadays, they acted however they wanted with their pretty pewter pentacles and fake crystal rings. It was a free country and the worse thing that would happen to them would be a couple of dirty looks.

We should teach them a lesson.” The voice of his familiar cut into his thoughts.

Colvus considered the suggestion as he put his lips to the cup again, hiding his murmur. “Not right now.”

He almost forgot the creature was there. It was an easy thing to do. The demon had been with him since he first touched magic over ninety years ago. The weight of him on his shoulders was almost nonexistent after carrying him for so long, even as uncomfortable as it was. Tiny talons dug into his shoulders as the salamander-like spirit leaned over to lick the rim of the cup still poised in the air.

“You’re no fun.”

Of course he was no fun. He was the voice of reason; the spirit was invisible and had no consequences.

The fake witches let out another shrill burst of giggles, each high pitch laugh a knife between his ears, interrupting his thoughts.

Disgusting, he grimaced. They’re laughing on the graves of great men and women, playing at witchcraft without knowing anything about the power they were trying to tap into.

Colvus hoped they got burned by it.

“More coffee sir?” the waitress asked, distracting him from the scene in the corner.

She was the reason he was here, with her crooked smile and always on her toes to fill a half empty cup. He owed her a favor, even if she didn’t realize it.

“Please,” he smiled, holding his mug out. “You’re always so good to me, Danielle.”

She gave a flirty smile, but it was lost on him. He was over a hundred and fifty years old. A twenty something wasn’t his type. Sure, he still looked like he was in his late thirties, but that didn’t get rid of the fact that he needed someone a little more grown up.

“Only because you’re my favorite customer.” She winked as she went back behind the counter.

“Her?” The spirit in Colvus’ ear scoffed. Colvus tried to wave him away like he was shooing a fly. “Don’t ignore me! Why her?

“She’s the last descendant of Torvald.” He murmured, looking down at his book. “If I’m ever to pay his bloodline back, it’ll be through her.”

“She’s not even touched by magic,” he snorted. The great red salamander crawled down his arm and curled up on the table to watch the human behind the counter. “Are you sure she’s Torvald’s bloodline? He was more powerful than you at one point. I expected better from his blood. ”

Colvus gave him a cold glare, turning the page of his book, but not responding.

The spirit smiled with green eyes the same color as the warlock’s, his thick forked tongue coming out and flicking at him. “Fine. I will give her a gift. But you will pay for it later.”

As if he didn’t know that already. That was the rule of his spirit. Favors were repaid with favors, even if they were done for other people.

Colvus watched the spirit slid down the table with the ease of the amphibious creature he resembled and moved with an uncharacteristic speed for his thick tube body up to the counter. It always impressed him when the spirit worked. In all his years, he didn’t understand how demons pulled the strings of the world they lived in, no matter how many books he read or mentors he found.

Not that there were very many books or mentors left these days.

Colvus frowned at that and took another sip of his coffee, watching the spirit’s porous hands weave red threads from thin air, one leading up around the girl’s throat, another heading out the door. With a tug, the girl coughed, more tiny threads coming out of the spirit’s hands now. He braided them carefully with the other silk-like strands in his free palm, the gossamer glowing brighter with every jerky movement. When he was finished, he gripped the thread going out the door, took a smoky breath, and pulled hard.

Whatever happened on the other end, Colvus couldn’t be certain, but he knew the spirit started something in motion. With another firm tug on the braided middle strands and a determined nod, the spirit slunk back to him, his gaze hungry as he eyed the giggling girls in the corner and curled back up on Colvus’s shoulder.

“Is it done?” Colvus asked him, turning another page.

“What do you think?”

He nodded and went back to his coffee, still aware of the spirit’s focus on the girls.

“Do you think you could take another apprentice again? It’s been so long.”

He didn’t respond, the request was one the spirit already knew the answer to. When Colvus stayed quiet, the spirit sighed out a puff of sulfur.

“Too bad. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent sized lunch.”

Colvus still didn’t speak. Maybe it was his old age, maybe it was the growing suspicion that he was the last one of his kind left, but he was tired of letting his spirit have his way with humans. What was the point anymore?

“Here it goes.” The spirit caught his attention again.

A man, maybe in his early twenties, walked in and went right to the girl behind the counter. Colvus couldn’t make out the conversation, but it was clear she was a giggling mess by the time she was writing something on the boy’s hand. Colvus looked at the spirit quizzically.

“You got her a boyfriend?” he asked, ignoring a glance from one of the patrons as he talked to what the human would see as an emptiness above his shoulder. “I meant get her a new job, not help get her laid.”

The spirit hissed a giggle with a smile. “You should’ve been more specific.

Writing Warm Up – Favorite Descriptive Word

Warm up – Pick one of your favorite descriptive word, describe how it sounds when you say it, and provide examples of how it’s used.

 

Frayed

((Warning: this post contains adult subject matter that might not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised))

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Frayed. Say it slowly, and you can savor every part. The a rests on your tongue, starting at the back of your throat and coming to a halt in the middle of your mouth. The ending of the word, the ed, shreds the a into ribbons. Say it fast and it sounds like a child trying to pronounce afraid after they misplaced the first letter of the word.

It’s a bikini top worn by a woman who was only a girl a few years before, bright blue against her tan skin as she proudly struts her new body across a beach, each strand bouncing with the sway of her breasts. It’s harsh and ugly in the form of a rope cut by the hands of a father as he pulls the rough material from his son’s purple neck and tosses it from the boy’s body. It’s beautiful and nostalgic, like a hole in the pair of well loved jeans, or the grass after being cut on a summer day that entices a happy dog to roll about. It’s loving, like the corners of your favorite book that’s been read and reread so many times, the paper is starting to pull apart.

Sometimes you can’t touch it. It becomes a broken heart after a lover leaves. A patient’s hope can unravel as the ends of their hair split and crack before falling out completely. Rage can strain against the ropes of patience till they almost snap under the pressure.

Frayed.

You can see it, you can feel it, and if you say it slowly, and you can savor every part of it.

Antagonists and Their Pet Peeves

I am, without a doubt, a character driven writer.

Leave me alone with a character idea and chances are I’ll have their backstory, personality, and secrets the reader will never know in a couple hours. I even do unnecessary things like create quick aesthetic boards on pinterest and line up some music to write to.

One thing I love to do over all of this, however, is come up with tiny things that annoy the antagonist.

Whether it’s my main baddie in Flightess, Abram, with his annoyance at people bringing up his past faults, or my new antagonist (who’s also my main character), Colvin, who hates it when people start sentences with the word “Actually”, I think villain pet peeves need more love.

So tell me what annoys the hell out of your antagonist! What gets under their skin more than anything else?

Not writing anything with a baddie? Who’s your favorite villian, and what drives them up a wall?

Godless and Writing Opening Scenes

Godless is a limited series released by Netflix in 2017. It didn’t gather the popularity of other “originals”, such as Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black, and when all is said in done, it’s not a particularly ground breaking show. I liked it fine, but it’s not the first thing that pops into my mind when someone asks for something to binge watch over the weekend.

So why can’t I stop thinking about it’s opening scene?

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If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. If you don’t have time to watch it, here’s a brief run down of what happens. But really. Go watch it.

Continue reading Godless and Writing Opening Scenes

DFWCon Reflections – Guest Author Mason Carroll

Today’s guest author, Mason Carroll, is the final in this series, but he wraps up with a bang. We’ve spoken off and on since DFWCon, and I’m happy to feature his work here on my blog. I hope you enjoyed his writing as much as I have. 

 

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DFWCon Refections

by Mason Carroll

It’s been over a month since DFWCon and I’m still processing all that I learned.

Yet, that’s just it. The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t really learn a ton. It’s not that there was nothing to learn, it’s that the things I learned were things I already knew.

Call it a reeducation or a reminder. Call it a reawakening.

The truth is, I was scared to go to this convention. In his book On Writing, Stephen King seems to have what I would describe as a negative opinion of conventions or writer’s gatherings. I, for my own reasons had similar thoughts. “Seriously, how many famous authors ever went to a convention and suddenly became the great authors we all know and love?”

No matter the answer, regardless of the truth, I went. A slight nudge from a dear friend helped me make the choice, and I’m truly happy that I did go. Despite all my apprehension, despite that I really didn’t learn anything -new-, even if I never get published, what I discovered at DFW Con is worth more than the couple hundred dollars I spent on the ticket and gas.

I met some wonderful people. To name but a few, Krystal Sanders and Gregory Attaway, with whom I now meet once every other week for a writing group. We read each other’s works in progress and offer our criticism and praise. (My first submission will be read this Thursday and I’m a nervous wreck.)

Andrea McAuley, a fellow fantasy writer who provided the impetus for this piece and with whom I spent two hours writing word sprints just weeks ago. (The words were terrible, but I credit her asking for a writing partner and those two hours with getting me past a rough spot in my novel.)

I met several other people, all of whom were wonderful but I feel I should give a special shout out to literary agent Lauren Spieller. Despite it being late in the evening and the end of the mixer on Saturday, she took a moment out of her night to listen to some awkward geek share his idea for a story. After my sputtering attempt at a pitch, she seemed genuinely interested.

“I’ll tell you what, whether it’s six months or two years from now, contact me when you have a full manuscript. Just remind me it’s the fantasy story with the bad ass, dress wearing lady.”

I am scatter brained. Absent minded, even, but I’ll still remember those words until the day I die. She handed me her card, which I still have taped to the left side of my desk. I remember it well.

And that leads me to what I discovered. Beyond the self-doubt class and the distancing words class and all the others, I learned more about myself than I did about writing.

I’ve always considered myself a ‘self-taught’ writer. I didn’t take many classes on literature or writing, I just wrote. I took what was in my head and put it down on paper. When I was at my best, it came from my heart.

When some big-time agent showed just an ounce of interest in my story idea, when she gave me a hug when I told her about my mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, I understood. Just write.

Write.

Let me write that again.

Just write.

Sometimes, my anxiety tells me that it’s pathetic that I needed some random person to like my idea for me to understand that I’m not as terrible at writing as I think. Sometimes, my anxiety tells me that my few beta readers are just telling me I’m good to make me feel good.

At DFW Con, I learned to tell my anxiety to shut the hell up.

I learned that I just need to write. Every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter makes me a better writer.

Even if Lauren gets my manuscript and decides it’s not for her, or not good. I’m still going to write. Even if my novel/story idea does suck (and let’s face it, how many novels get published?) I’m going to write.

I’m going to write because how many people do you know have finished writing a novel?

I’m going to write because the more I write, the more I fall in love with my characters.

I’m going to write because the more I do, the more real my world, the cultures, the people and the history becomes.

I’m going to write because I want to share my story ideas with people.

I’m going to write because the more I write her, my main character (her name is Flavia) reminds me more of my mother before dementia robbed the world of her brilliance. She reminds me of my sister, my aunt and a hundred other strong women in my life who don’t get the respect and credit they deserve.

I’m going to write because the other main character (who has yet to appear) reminds me more and more of myself, in ways I love and despise. He’s what I aspire to be, what I hate about myself, what I wish I could be, and most importantly he represents my hope that all good people deserve a happy ending.

I’m going to write because I love it, because I believe that’s what I was put on this earth to do.

I’m a story teller, and that’s what DWFCon taught me.

 

 

Small Touches – Guest Author Daniel Link

I met Daniel at the DFWcon mixer, and hit it off right away. I had the pleasure of listening to him do a reading during a read and critique and was blown away so I knew I had to introduce myself to him. A month later, I’m still in touch and am very pleased to have him featured on my blog. Enjoy!

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Small Touches

by Daniel Link

 

DFWCon was not my first conference, so I thought I knew what to expect.

There were some pleasant surprises, things I hadn’t seen before. For instance, the sign-up slots for the Read and Critique, or Fix My Manuscript. Then there’s the ten-minute agent sit downs. The laid-back Texas vibe made talking to people easy, and that was most evident at Saturday night’s gala, which may have been the biggest surprise of them all.

First, the special sign-up opportunities. Fix My Problem was great, but my favorite was the Read and Critique. Those were fantastic, and I hate to say, underattended. I sat in on a Read and Critique Sunday with only five people there to read their work.

I get it, we’re introverts. We don’t like people all that much, and the idea of reading to them is terrifying. What we do love, however, is words. You have a chance to read your words to other people. How many chances to do that do we get? To walk into that room and see it empty, with two hundred and however many authors outside, some of them spending their whole conference in the lobby talking about getting to work on their book instead of doing it, that got to me.  If we won’t champion our own words, who will?

Sure, it’s important to touch base with people. It’s important to build that platform. It’s good to have a social media presence and a website and all that cart-before-the-horse nonsense.  Don’t get me wrong. When you’ve got your book in hand and you’re ready to promote it, when your baby is as polished as you can make it and it’s time to find an agent—that’s when it’s time to put on your business hat. Before that, though, there’s the all-too-important business of writing your best work. Don’t overlook that.

Another surprising aspect of DFWCon was the ten-minute sit down with an agent. I’ve attended conferences where the whole weekend is centered around pitch writing, pitch polishing, then group pitch practice, until you’re so pitched out you don’t even like the premise of your book anymore. The whole experience funnels you toward a fifty-minute speed dating session, three minutes to pitch an agent. It’s a whirlwind of shoving and flying elbows and an overall vibe of competition that I never felt at DFWCon.

The luxury of talking to an agent for ten minutes was a strange experience. I got to shake his hand and tell him my name, and I didn’t have to boil a year of my life into a ninety-second commercial or use cross-comps like Game of Thrones meets When Harry Met Sally, or Flashdance meets the Godfather. The downside, of course, was that I only got to talk with one agent. Then I got my biggest surprise—the gala.

The idea of the gala is nothing new. Another conference, one I will not name but takes place in a city in California by a bay, has a gala. Meet the agents and editors, the program said, so I put on my shiny shoes and got ready to mingle. It was in the bookstore downstairs, and the place was packed. A quick scan of the badges revealed that everyone in attendance was either a writer or a conference volunteer. The agents were all tucked into bed or out on the town laughing at everyone fooled into attending the gala. When I asked a volunteer where the agents and editors we were supposed to meet were, she disappeared in a puff of smoke like an 80’s movie ninja. When word spread that people were looking for the agents, the rest of the volunteers fled, leaving a hundred or so writers holding plastic cups of wine while tumbleweeds rolled through the bookstore.

The gala at DFWCon this year was the opposite. I arrived as it was starting, and the first person I ran into was Marisa Corvisiero. We talked for a few and she never used a smoke bomb to escape. Then I met Uwe Stender in the corner by the bar, where I talked with him for ten minutes or so. I moved on and mingled with other writers and geeked out properly for a while, then ran into Kevin O’Conner and Patty Carothers, both of whom I talked to at length. By the end of Saturday night I’d spent more time talking to agents than I had in two years at Unnamed City by the Bay Con combined. It was a great environment to try on that business hat—a pressure-free place to practice pitching and see what others think of your ideas.

As well as things went for me at DFWCon, I didn’t get everything right. I didn’t take enough pictures, didn’t post a single one to social media. I didn’t exchange numbers and business cards with all the wonderful people I met. The weekend got away from me, as it’s sure to do. If I’d been more on the ball, I’d have recorded my ten-minute sit-down with my agent. He gave me a lot of advice that I sort of remember. They wouldn’t let me take note paper in, but I did have my cell phone. We’ll try that again next year. And as for the people I didn’t connect with on social media, I hope they signed up, too.

My experience was a positive on a number of levels, enough so that I took advantage of the early enrollment for DFWCon 2019. The people were so pleasant and the price so reasonable that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Next year, I’m going to try to sit in on as many of the special classes that I can. These small touches are what set the conference apart.

There’s no better place to share your ideas, make contacts, and learn about trends in book marketing than writer’s conferences. Everyone should go to one. Then after you’ve been to one, been overwhelmed by the constant information and handshaking and notetaking, you need to do another one, then maybe one or two more for good measure. Do one of the Read and Critiques. No matter how scared you are, you’ll be glad you did. Then, once you’ve gotten over your fear of reading your words to strangers, you need to do it again. You’ll get better at it. Things will slow down. Until then, keep writing, keep championing your work, and getting it ready for next year.

 

 

Want to learn more about Daniel Link? Check out his website!

JK Rowling is Wrong (and so are a lot of other people) – Guest Author Rebecca Paddock

Today’s guest post is continuing my theme of writer’s conferences but I decided to host a few other writers’ opinions. Rebecca Paddock attended the 2018 DFW Con and wanted to share her experience. Enjoy! 

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JK Rowling is Wrong (and so are a lot of other people)

By Rebecca Paddock

 

JK Rowling is wrong. That’s my takeaway from DFWcon 2018. Not on everything, she’s undoubtedly right about a great many things. Maybe even most. But she’s definitely wrong about one of them. During an interview, she described writers as “observers.” I disagree. Writers are engagers. Or maybe questioners.

Other people are wrong too. That’s part two of my takeaway. Prior to the conference, I heard (and, via Facebook, saw) a whole lot of noise about writers being introverts. No way. No how. Not at DFWcon. At least, not from what I experienced.

You want to experience introverts at a conference? Go to one of the International Council of Systems Engineering events and use your ears. They’re half the volume for twice the people.

One step into the venue and the overall lack of introverts was apparent. Before I even made it to the credentials table, I’d been greeted (with smiles, no less!) by every person I passed. Anything from a simple “Hey, there” to a hearty “Howdy!” People were talking everywhere. If these folks were introverts, they were really loud, really animated introverts. People stood in small groups, twos and threes. Maybe a group of four, here and there. If these were introverts, they were introverts with a lot of very deeply established cliques.

Only people moved from one place to another. Which isn’t very cliquish at all. It’s not very introverted either.

No one had their face buried in a cell phone, laptop, or any other form of electronic distraction. No one was standing alone. No one had that wide-eyed get-me-out-of-here look. No one.

Might as well have been a cocktail party.

I would have done some more research on the phenomena, tested a theory or two, but I was waylaid by the person next to me.

“This is my first conference. I’m so excited,” she said, practically bubbling over. “What do you write?”

That was the common refrain: what do you write. Kind of like being in college and folks beginning every conversation with: “what’s your major?”

What do you write? And, the thing is, these folks really meant it. They really wanted to know. It wasn’t a polite lob into a conversation they’d rather not be having. It wasn’t an excuse to fill an uncomfortable void. It wasn’t trying to eek through a stressful situation before finding solace in some alone time. Each word was filled with interest.

“Satire. I write political satire,” I’d respond.

Then the questions came in earnest.

Which is not usually the case. If I tell the average Joe that I write political satire, they usually get that deer-in-the-headlights terrified look, take two steps back, and do their best to change the subject post haste – preferably before limbs are lost. Not these folks. They’re writers. Writers dig in.

Is there much of a market for that?

How do you handle the biting humor?

Is there a specific format (or set of rules) for satire?

What’s the expected word count for that genre?

Questions. Lots and lots of questions. Even when the person wrote Romance. Or Thrillers. Or Suspense. Or even Westerns. No matter their genre, people were interested. Even better, they were fascinating in their own right.

No one word answers to be found. Everyone was happy to share, explain, and provide insight into their perspective. I ran into a couple folks who write Science Fiction. Asking questions about how they develop their backdrop netted me some great tips for worldbuilding. Asking questions of Romance writers got me a neat little trick on establishing the closeness of an emotional connection without ever having to talk about it directly. And one of the Suspense guys was a hoot. He gave me some interesting insight into how he weaves comedy into suspense. Which means I could use the same technique to weave suspense into comedy.

That’s just the attendees. The classes were much the same. People breaking things down. Not spending an hour talking about why something was important. They spent five minutes on the why, maybe another five on the what, and the remaining time was spent on the how. Giving specific techniques for actually making a manuscript come to life. Practical. Expedient. And, even better, something for everyone. Even experienced/published authors came away with useful techniques to tackle their tantalizing terrors.

The instructors didn’t go away and hide either. They talked to anyone who came up and asked a question. Or they tracked you down and ask a question themselves. (I heard you write political satire…) They  attended classes. They participated, offered advice, listened, asked questions … you know, do stuff that non-introverted people do. Only … drum roll please … they’re writers.

There were even translation classes. Where knowledgeable agents and authors got together to translate rejection speak into actionable bullet points. Not something the average introvert would sign up to do especially since there was no way to prepare. The best part was, the non-observers did more than translate, they gave tips on how to approach the modifications. A couple of which helped solve an issue or two in my current manuscript.

And so, in spite of all the hype prior to the conference, I found that writers aren’t different. Writers are like any other group of passionate people. They engage. They might not engage by stepping up to a mic, kicking a soccer ball, or screaming at a ref, but they engage nonetheless. They ask questions. They pursue information. They search for cause/effect. And they consider.

Writers are always considering. Is there a better way? Can I be more succinct? How do I make this passage come alive? What’s the best way to increase the tempo, change the cadence, or create a flow? What would happen if…

Writers aren’t introverts. And they aren’t observers.

Sorry, Ms. Rowling. You’re wrong. You didn’t observe, you engaged. You tested. You pursued knowledge, built a world, played with the tension in relationships, explored cause/effect, questioned humanity, and discovered unplumbed decency in someone thought to be irredeemable. You, Ms. Rowling, are an engager. A questioner. Maybe even an explorer.

And so are the people who attend DFWcon.

What I Wish I Knew About Writing Conferences

Back in 2016, I made a shift. I decided if I was ever going to become a writer, I needed stop buying “how to” writing books, fancy pens, and themed journals and actually write. I know. Revolutionary idea.

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Don’t get me wrong, “writing swag” is great, but at the end of the day, the supplies gave me the illusion of productivity. I needed to write to become a writer.

Now in 2018, with one completed novel under my belt and a net of query letters out to a sea of agents, I decided writing wasn’t enough. I needed to learn more about the craft of writing that books couldn’t teach me.

That’s where the Dallas Fort Worth Writer’s Conference came in.

Now, I thought I was pretty prepared for my first conference. I picked out what classes I wanted to go to, signed up for special discussions, and headed out at 5:30 in the morning to be there by the time the doors opened. But here’s what I wish I knew, that I didn’t see anywhere online.

Writing conferences are less about the classes and more about the connections.

Maybe this isn’t true for all people, but it was extremely true in my case. While the classes were amazing, I realized I was woefully unprepared for the amount of networking I was going to be doing.

How do you make the most out of your networking and socializing experience? 

 Get a hotel near the conference center. Mine was 30 minutes away, to save money, and I missed out on so many fun get togethers.

If someone’s planning to do a dinner, go eat with a group.

If you find one group, don’t be afraid to go and hang out with other people, but know you might feel left out if your first group you hit it off with goes and does something else.

Order business cards and keep in touch with people after the conference is over. I’ll talk more about this in my “making friends” portion of this conference series I’m doing, but definitely do this.

Reach out to people before the conference. I met some wonderful writers online through facebook and online contests so when I got there, I already knew who to touch base with. In fact, if I hadn’t had so much fun talking to D.L. Hammons I probably would’ve been lost for the first hour.

And lastly, if you can pitch to agents or editors, DO. I was only going to use my free agent pitch but decided to buy two, and I learned more in those 20 minutes about the pitching/agent process than I did reading any book. Both people I pitched to eased me into the situation and asked me to email them my work. Come to find out, one of them was only accepting work through that conference, so trying to pitch to her online would’ve been impossible (or at the very least rude).

 

These are just a few things I wish I knew about the whole networking deal. I’ll go over what I learned about classes, making friends and the downsides to conferences (there are some, albeit small ones) in other up coming posts, so keep an eye out.

 

Is there something you want to know about writing conferences? This was my first one, so I’m not all knowing but I can definitely give you tips if you’re a newbie! Comment below and let me know.

Write Fight Club Reflections

When I first started writing, I wasn’t scared to submit to contests more than I was to submit to agents.

Agents are less intimidating to me. While people consider them the gateway to getting published, I always saw agents as people who are looking to create a business partnership. Submitting to contests, however, was someone actively judging my work. And not just judging. In my imagination, the organizers were gods, scrutinizing every word, looking down on my poor unfortunate writing and laughing as they sang a song about how stupid I was to even consider submitting.

come_on_you_poor_unfortunate_soul_by_arielfan90-d9auywm.gif

Then I found Write Club, and my thoughts on the subject changed.

What is Write Club?

As a quick explanation, Write Club was started by D.L. Hammons, loosely based off the movie Fight Club. You anonymously submit a 500 word story with a pen name into a slush pile. From the slush pile, it gets narrowed down to 30 writers, and then other people online vote for their favorites in 15 bouts. Over time it’s narrowed down to finalists, and the winner’s announced at the DFW Writer’s Conference.

Write Club Soap 2

This is a very bare bones definition of Write Club, and if you want a better idea of it, check out the link above.

Why did this contest change my mind about submitting to contests?

The idea that no one would be able to associate my writing to me took some of the stress out of it. I always saw contests as being judged as a good or bad writer. Instead it turned into “this work isn’t as enjoyable to me”. If someone didn’t like my work I didn’t think it would reflect on my abilities, it was just a matter of taste.

Then when I saw the entries, I realized it really WAS a matter of taste. I would read a piece and think, “This person is clearly the winner!” but then I’d see other people voting for the other person. I was baffled at what they saw in the other piece, but that was just the nature of the game.

And that’s when I realized that ALL forms of submissions were a matter of taste. There are some books I can’t stand that get published and hit top of the sales charts, and there are some books I love that never get noticed.

Write Club cured me of my submitting to contests fear, and I have to admit, I’m already editing my piece for next year’s contest.

Write Club
Host, D.L. Hammons, with a few participants /raffle winners at the 2018 DFW Writer’s Conference. (From Left to Right, with Twitter screen name) Mike Hilton (@5hourninja), Wanda Woodworth (@wandawoof), D.L. Hammons (@DL_H), Dannie Olguin (@DannieMOlguin), and myself (@aemcauley)

Would you like to join in Write Club?

Submissions are open March 12th until April 1st or just check out DL Hammons’ page and follow his blog.