Posts Tagged ‘pikes peak writers conference’

Conference Going for the Woefully Unprepared

We’re T-minus 2 days (and some change) until PPWC and I am not ready. It is unlikely I will ever be ready. Especially because I have reached that stage where I know I will never be ready and instead of, you know, working to be as ready as possible even if it’s not the ideal situation, I have spiraled down into a mess of unproductivity.

What, doesn’t everyone do that?

I did finish my costume today, which looks like I wanted it to look, so success! Except, of course, that one should argue that the costume that one will wear for a single evening is less important than, say, the query letter one needs to be pitching on Saturday, and one should probably be writing said query letter instead of sewing velcro onto a belt.

(Although, I can supervise the small, mobile ones and sew at the same time, whereas I cannot think and supervise at the same time, so it’s not like that time would have been useful no matter what. This morning, however, when I played Gardenscapes instead of working on said query letter…)

Anyway, here is this list of things that still need to be done (or at least worked on) by Thursday evening:

  • Query letter. This involves writing said query letter (which I am, in theory, going to do after I finish this post), getting feedback on said query, and editing it.
  • First chapter. I talked a few posts back about the first chapter thing and whether I was unsure I should edit it before the conference, or if it was a good opportunity to get feedback from someone who knows what they’re doing. I’m still unsure, but I do have people looking at it at the moment (the opportunity fell into my lap and I know a good thing when I see it) so if I get feedback in a timely manner AND it’s feedback I can easily incorporate, I will edit this monstrosity before the con. Have not decided if I will edit otherwise. With the way things are going, probably not. I’d like to, but I also need to go to the counter store.
  • New draft. I am currently sitting around 45K (out of an estimated 100K) and I am not getting anywhere fast. If I were on track, I’d roll into the con with 55K, which is still not a full draft, but is at least half of one?
  • General conference stuff. This is stuff like pick what to wear, pack my stuff, don’t forget business cards, etc. This is easy stuff. So of course I’m almost done because it helps me not do the things that really matter. Also in this category is picking panels to go to at the conference, and I have selected two for almost every time slot because I’m hoping my sister will go to one or the other, which is probably wishful thinking, but hey! Sometimes it works out. She will probably not go to the marketing panels for me, alas.

Now that the costume is done, I only have one non-conference related project to finish up (and am only waiting on the final go ahead), so I really have no excuse not to do the more important stuff. But will I? Hopefully.

If you didn’t vote in the nonfiction poll, I think wordpress probably closed it, but feel free to let me know your preferences in the comments. We’ll jump back into that once I’m done freaking out about the conference (which might be next week, but there might be residual freaking, so it may be the week after that).

A Poll, a Conference, and an Update

Can you believe it’s April, squiders? And, yes, I realize that we are halfway through April, which almost makes it worse.

At the end of April, I am going to be attending Pike’s Peak Writers Conference (henceforth PPWC). This is my third time going, but it’s been five years since I last went. (My mother and sister went last year, and when they renewed for this year, they bought me a registration too. Really hard to say no to a free conference.) I probably talked about it here on the blog back in the day.

(I checked. I did.)

Part of me is really excited. I stopped going partially because it is expensive (almost $400 for the conference alone) and because I’ve spent the last several years working on indie projects (such as Shards, which came out in 2013, and City of Hope and Ruin, which came out last May, as well as ton of really fun anthologies). I am trying a few projects traditionally again this year, so the timing works out.

I’ve even secured choice assignments–an acquisitions editor at Del Rey for my pitch assignment, and Carol Berg (!!!) for my read and critique.

But I’m also not in a great place confidence-wise at the moment. While I am finally getting somewhere on my rewrite (approximately 35K in at the moment) it’s quite obvious to me that this isn’t the final draft. I’m still worried about pacing in the first part (now that I’m past the inciting incident, it seems to be fine) and the first chapter is just a mess all around.

And I feel like I’m being overly critical of my basic sentence structure, which makes flow hard, and what if there’s not enough description still, and…

Oy. You get the point.

At the end of March/April I considered switching projects before PPWC. My options were:

  1. Pitch my YA paranormal that I’m finalizing submission stuff for. The novel is polished, the stuff is mostly ready, I could in theory start querying agents any day now. But I would have had to switch my requests for agents, etc., and that late in the game I was not likely to end up with anyone who was the right genre.
  2. Switch to my space dinosaur space adventure story. It’s at about 54K, the draft thus far is very clean, and the approximately 30K left is easy to get done in a month. Plus, no switching on agents, etc. But I would have lost several days to project switching, and there were no guarantees that I wouldn’t have run into issues with the last part of the draft and still would have ended up at PPWC with an unusable manuscript.
  3. Stay with the rewrite.

Which is what I did, because basically I’m not going to be ready no matter what. And here we go, come hell or high water.

I have been thrown into a bit of a panic re: Carol Berg. My first thought was “Oh God that is a lot more major of an author than I expected to be participating in this” and my second was “Oh God my first chapter should be burnt in a fire.” Having thought about it rationally-ish for a few days now, this could be a really good opportunity to get some help on something that has been giving me a lot of trouble. But it could also be an opportunity for me to make a giant fool of myself. Time will tell, I suppose!

Anyway. I’m going to keep the rest of the consistency topics for the book, so it’s time to figure out what we should move onto there.

As such, here is our favorite poll, yet again:

The weather’s been lovely here lately, squiders. I hope you have good plans for the weekend and that things are going well for you.

PPWC and Genre Panels

I seem to be having a bit of an issue getting back into the swing of things post-conference. Brain overload, perhaps? Anyway, my apologies for this entry being so late. Hopefully everything returns to normal tomorrow.

PPWC was a good time again. Learned a lot. As always, a lot of the things are things I already know, subconsciously, but it’s nice to have them pointed out on a level where I can realize what exactly I’m doing and why. And, of course, it’s always nice to spend time talking to everyone.

I will almost always choose to go to a craft workshop over a genre one, but I did manage three genre panels this weekend: a fantasy/paranormal one, a mystery one, and a science fiction one. Part of it is because I like to think I’m fairly well-versed in my genres of choice (see last year’s Subgenre Study series), and part of it is because a lot of the craft panels are applicable to a wider variety of stories. Adding conflict or emotion is just as important in a thriller as a romance as a fantasy.

I hate to say it, but I found the fantasy/paranormal one to be mostly useless. Part of the issue of being on top of things, I guess. But I did learn two things: 1) It is hard to sell a YA paranormal (or dystopia) currently, and 2) Epic/High fantasy is on the way back up. I followed up on the YA paranormal note with an agent later in the day, and she said that the issue is that publishers snatched a whole bunch up all at once and just don’t have any room in their lists for the genre for a few years. On the other hand, let me tell you how excited I am about epic fantasy making a come back. I’m sure we can thank George RR Martin for that fact, but GLEE.

The mystery one was lovely. I do not write mysteries (well, except that one time. We don’t talk about that time.) but I love reading them, especially cozies. (A cozy is where the “detective” is an other-wise normal person who, for whatever reason, finds themselves in the strange position of solving a crime.) But they were lovely, and the notes they gave about red herrings and misdirection will be useful for any genre, as long as you want a little bit of confusion. (And, you know, maybe I’ll give it another go sometime.)

The science fiction one was good, as well. Not just because the panelists got into a fight over the political structure of the Federation (“It’s a communist meritocracy!”), though I admit that sweetened the deal. It was nice and intimate, since 95% of the people at the conference were at Donald Maass’s world-building workshop. And I am not as up on science fiction as I am fantasy. It confirmed some things that I had suspected – such as the near impossibility of selling space-based science fiction (especially space opera) at the moment. The current scifi climate is focused on environmental thrillers and dystopias. Also, a publisher on the panel noted that it was a hard sell for any adult science fiction at the moment; almost everything coming out is YA or children’s.

So I guess I should hold off on that science fiction series I’ve been planning for a while longer.

Last year I came out of PPWC feeling energized and motivated – this year I feel mostly tired and a little discouraged. Not really sure why.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference This Weekend

Last year, I went to my first writers’ conference – Pike’s Peak, down in Colorado Springs, CO. To summarize, I was terrified that I was either unprepared or would come out of feeling dejected, but I had a lovely time, learned a lot, and promised to go again.

So we are.

I made a list of things to do different this year, last year:

  • Register early so I can get pitch appointments with people who represent my genre
  • Try to get the panel critique instead of the individual critique
  • Bring earplugs and shoes that are not boots
  • Get business cards earlier than the day before (where Ian and I were, literally, at Kinko’s at 10 PM)

For the most part, I have done all of the above. I got the pitch appointment I wanted and the panel critique (though, alas, at 8:30 am Friday morning – very first thing). There is a circumstance I am not talking about here on ye olde blog that means I am staying at my sister-in-law’s instead of stuffing in a hotel with three of my friends, so the earplugs and not-boots are less necessary. And I ordered my business cards last week. They are supposed to get here today. Not the best, but still earlier than last year.

On the other hand, I still feel unprepared. The book that I’m pitching this year is not as ready to go as the one I pitched last year (that one’s in ABNA at the moment). I hoped to be further through my edit than I am, but alas, I am not. I’m far enough for pitching and first-page critiques, but if I do get partial requests, well, there is yet more polishing to be done.

I don’t know what workshops I want to go to, and I need to figure out when I’m heading down. I need to pack. I need to print out all sorts of things and wonder why UPS has yet to bring me my business cards. Instead I will probably run around for a bit, flailing wildly and babbling incoherently. Somewhere out there, there are writers who have been ready for weeks.

I dislike those people.

Wish me luck, Squiders. Oh, and by the by, no Friday update here as I’ll be busy learning (and possibly panicking). But except fairly regular tweets from the conference itself, assuming there’s decent wifi.

Tales of a Writers’ Conference Newbie – Aftermath

So.  PPWC WAS AWESOME.  I will try not to randomly glee all over the place but believe me, it is hard.

I kind of want to sign up for EVERY WRITERS’ CONFERENCE EVER now but I shall try to refrain.

First of all, everyone at PPWC was nice, friendly, and encouraging, from the people running the conference to the guest authors to the agents and the editors.  The other attendees were easy to talk to and most of the workshops I attended I thought were useful (though I did learn that no one really understands what the cut-off between YA and MG is).

Things that were awesome:

1. Going with friends.
I am a shy cookie, and so it was nice to have friends with me.  Sure, maybe if I had gone alone I would have made more new friends or been a little braver in general, but I have no guarantees.  But the best part?  Divide and conquer on the workshops.  Then we could go over notes later and get information that it would have been impossible to gather on our own.

2. Interacting with Agents/Editors Face to Face
This is probably the best thing about the conference – being able to talk to agents/editors, some of whom represented my genres,  talk to them about my novel, and get direct feedback from them.  And the fact that they were all lovely, encouraging people helped.   I feel more at ease with submitting in general now.  Plus the feedback is invaluable and will help me in the future.

3. Workshops
Most – though not all – of the workshops I attended I found extremely helpful, and I’m looking forward to implementing what I learned in my projects.  There were a few that were too basic that I would have avoided had I known, but overall I came out of things with a ridiculous amount of notes and a slightly heady feeling.

I will do some things different in the future.  I will register earlier so I can get the pitch appointments I want.  I will try to get the panel critique instead of the individual critique.  I will remember earplugs and to bring shoes that are not boots in case I need to wander the halls in the middle of the night.  I will remember to get business cards earlier than the day before.

Overall, PPWC was completely worth my time and money.  I would do it again.  I will do it again.  I will probably talk annoyingly about it for months to come.

But, for now, I’ve got a couple of chapters to make sure are ready to go.