Surrey International Writers’ Conference (of Awesome).

This weekend, I went to work – and it was awesome.

No, I didn’t teach this weekend. Instead, I learned. I paid for my learning, however, with work. It was kind of like paying for your meal by washing dishes when you don’t have the money, but instead I helped to keep a writing convention running smoothly in return for getting to sit in on a few workshops.

Over the course of three days, I introduced award winning writers and editors, monitored workshops, signed aspiring authors in for pitch meetings, assisted at registration, and generally ran around, helping out where I could. And I learned a lot.

The first thing I learned was that apparently years of customer service experience stay with you. I thought for sure that I’d lost my touch somewhere between calling teenagers on their antics and having my brain turn to mush by 3PM daily, but I’m pleased to say that my manners and courtesy are stored somewhere for keeps – can I give myself a gold star for that?

Even if giving myself a sticker might be weird, I do wish that I’d had a book of “Good job!” and “Great work!” stickers to give to presenters this weekend – and that they wouldn’t have thought I’d lost more than one of my marbles had I given them one. But, alas, I did not have stickers. I do have a blog, however, so they get kudos here.

I could ramble on and on about each workshop, but instead I’ll give you the biggest realization that I had during the sessions.

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Hallie Ephron – Why I Stop Reading

Crap. I have a big scene to re-write. It was so easy the way that I had it, but it ranks pretty low on the believability meter. If it wouldn’t happen in real-life, don’t try to make it happen in your contemporary fiction. Got it.

Janet Gurtler – Clichés in YA

I need to get the Emotion Thesaurus. Also, I’m darn lucky that I enjoy writing YA given that I’m around teenagers all the time. If I’m having a bad day at work, I can just call it a study in teenage behavior and use it in my writing later. Yes.

 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Adrienne Kerr – Queries that Work

I had the pleasure or introducing Adrienne for her workshop, and I’m not sure that my 9:30AM reading of a prepared speech did justice to the tips that she gave. I’m now desperately searching for other contemporary YA novels with a political slant (anyone?) and working on getting my plot line summarized in twenty-five words or less.

Jim C. Hines – Blogging, Social Media, and Self-Promotion

I got to introduce the hilarious Jim C. Hines and was thoroughly entertained throughout. What did I learn, through the giggles? Be consistent with your online presence. So…hi. Here I am again. I’m also supposed to be interesting, but I’m pretty sure that some of the more interesting things I could come up with might interfere with – or eliminate completely – that day job I like so much…

 

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

JA Pitts – Evolution of a Writing Career

Make your own luck and stay true to your craft. Deal.

Pam Binder – Secondary Characters

Secondary characters need to serve your protagonist, plot, and theme – they aren’t just there for fun. I gave myself some pretty firm self-fives during this workshop (mentally, of course, of I would have had to kick myself out, and that just would have been awkward). I think I’ve done something right.

It’s been an exhausting and exhilarating weekend, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Now, back to that manuscript…