Posts Tagged ‘ppwc’

PPWC Session Wrap-up, Part 1

Good morning, Squiders. I’m back from PPWC, and now that I’ve gotten some sleep, I am vaguely functional again.

I’ve gone to PPWC before, and I’ve done conference write-ups after the fact for all of them, so I thought I’d do something different than just retread the same ground again and talk specifically about the sessions I attended throughout the weekend so those of you who haven’t been to a writers’ conference before can get an idea about the sort of things offered.

The sessions offered this year seemed to be mostly craft or marketing. There were less genre-specific sessions than I’ve seen in the past.

(Disclaimer: What’s offered will vary conference by conference, year by year, presenter by presenter. So you may find that your local conference works slightly differently.)

PPWC has 15 sessions over three days (6 on Friday, 6 on Saturday, 3 on Sunday), plus an optional add-on Thursday session that involves more in-depth workshops (I never get to go to Thursday because alas, responsibilities. Also it is an extra $90). There are also occasionally some extra add-ons within in the conference itself, such as this year’s Write Drunk, Edit Sober program.

So, let’s dive into Friday, shall we?

Unforgettable Characters (Carol Berg)

Friday morning, for some reason, I picked all character craft sessions. Carol Berg is a bestselling fantasy author, and this panel was well-presented and did an excellent job of breaking down what different level of characters need to do and what you, as an author, need to know about said characters. She also tied characterization into plot and talked some about how to actually introduce and use characters from a technical standpoint.

Using Setting to Reveal Character (Laura DiSilverio)

I also considered going to a panel called Finding Your Inner Extrovert about learning to communicate face to face about your book but my sister convinced me this one would be more beneficial. I’m not sure that’s true. Laura DiSilverio is a mystery writer whom I’ve taken mystery-specific classes with at previous PPWCs. Laura broke down the topic into two different subtopics–using setting to reveal things about characters based on their choices for their own environment and to reveal things about characters based on what they notice in an environment. Good information, little bogged down in audience participation (since some people didn’t seem to be following the topic so well).

Bringing Characters to Life on the Page (Stant Litore)

I know Stant from MileHiCon, so, hey, it was nice to see a familiar face. This session was excellent. Stant used a series of exercises to help explain how to add emotion into your story without being obvious about it and did a fantastic job of tying emotion to characterization. He had a lot of examples to show how this works. I was so impressed I went and bought his book, Write Characters. This was probably my favorite session of the whole conference.

And then we had lunch! I don’t remember what it was. Oh, salad.

Read and Critique with Carol Berg

So, after lunch, I had my first two pages read and critique, which they had in a room on the second floor. That was a bit harrowing because the elevators were slow and there were a lot of people going places at any point in time, and I hadn’t found the secret staircase yet. My sister and I were up til 2:30 the night before working on our first two pages (I cut out almost 1000 words from the very beginning of chapter one). So there were eight of us, Carol, and the moderator (who was timing how long each person had). In turn, everyone read their two pages out loud while Carol took notes, and then Carol would give us her feedback. She was very good about it–always started with what was good about the sample before going into the issues. (She told me later that the R&Cs make her nervous before it’s hard to think that fast.) I’m not sure, in the end, that it was that useful unless, of course, you’re on your final, polished pages and want to make sure they’re hook-y enough. The guy next to me had an awesome opening that I totally dug, though (and I told him so later, but that’s another time), and Carol was very nice.

(Oh, and she was actually very complimentary about my pages, and complimented my description, which if you guys have been around here for awhile, you know is a weak point of mine, so woot.)

Seducing the Reader: 4 Essential Elements of an Opening (Darynda Jones)

Darynda Jones was one of the keynote speakers, and she actually has 5 essential elements but never got around to changing the title of the class. Also, my Friday panels are very telling about what I’m feeling weak in craftwise lately. Darynda laid out the elements in a way that made sense, and she also provided examples, which I am always for. (I’m a kinetic learner.) She also recommended some writing books, most of which I have heard of before (and one of which I’ve read and own, but it’s probably been a decade since I read it, so maybe I should do so again).

Today’s Marketing for Yesterday’s Author (KL Cooper)

Marketing! I figured I should probably go to some marketing panels, but I think I only hit two all weekend. Ah, well, priorities and whatnot. I think my sister hit more and she doesn’t even have any books out, har har. I probably should have gone to the Putting Clever Twists on Common Tropes panel. A lot of basic marketing info, most of which I already knew, though she did offer specific services to use for some things, so that’s helpful, and she did mention a few things that I’d not heard before and will need to look into.

Friday night was dinner (excellent chicken for me, and chocolate pie for dessert) as well as the costumes, which we wore to dinner and then had a contest for afterwards. My Rainbow Brite costume was well received, though apparently people who were fans of Rainbow Brite still didn’t recognize my sister as the evil princess (her costume was really awesome in the end). Alas. We sat with Carol Berg, who, as I mentioned above, is a lovely person and I like her quite a bit. My table tried to nominate me for the contest but I threw one of my sister’s friends, dressed as Anne of Green Gables, under the bus instead and successfully lured most of the table with me. Oh, and the key note speaker for the meal (we’ll have one for every subsequent meal) was Darynda Jones.

After dinner, which went quite late–9:30 or something?–we went and worked on finalizing our query letters and then ran out to FedEx to print them around 10:30. PPWC has BarCon, which is essentially where everyone hangs out in the bar after dinner on Friday and Saturday nights and “networks,” but we were so tired by the time we got back to the hotel that we just hung out in our room and then crashed.

So, that’s Friday. I hope it’s of interest to you guys! Let me know what you think.

And Now For Something Completely Different

We’re about a week away from PPWC (oh God, I just realized that and I am not ready! ::flails about::), so on top of the writing and the getting ready for pitching and whatnot, I’ve also been working on my costume.

I believe they either started the costume dinner tradition five years ago (which is the last time I went, if you remember) or maybe they only do it every five years (on the 5/10 anniversaries), but one night everyone is encouraged to dress up according to the theme. Not sure what it was last time. I was eight months pregnant so I went as Mother Earth, but my sister and friend went as Capital people from the Hunger Games.

This year is Heroes and Villains, so my sister called me up to ask me if we should do Murky and Lurky from Rainbow Brite (which was a cartoon show from my childhood that my sister and I both remember fondly). They’re both villains, and we ran into issues with who would be who, and eventually settled on me doing Rainbow Brite and her being the evil princess from the Star Stealer movie. (You look at that princess and you know exactly what era that movie is from.)

In the olden days, I would have made as accurate a costume as I could manage, but I don’t have time for that anymore (especially since I didn’t realize there was a costume dinner until my sister called), so what I’ve done is bought a white sleeveless dress and dyed it blue (more on that in a moment), and have ordered rainbow socks and arm warmers, which should get here today.

And then I will need to make a rainbow belt and get a purple ribbon for my hair, and probably hunt down a purple facepainting crayon. I’ve seen people typically wear red converses with Rainbow Brite costumes, but I don’t have red shoes (I can buy a pair for $20 at my local Payless) and am not sure I can be bothered.

Tuesday I went up to my mother’s to dye the dress (my kitchen is currently MIA) which proved to be a bit more work than expected. (Also, my fingers are still slightly blue on one hand.) I bought supplies from Dharma Trading, which is a lovely company that specializes in dyes and things to dye (I suspect their target consumers are artists that dye large amounts of things to sell) and specifically got what looked like their least complicated dye (pour in water, put in clothing, stir for a while), but the powder was a bit messy and a single grain made an awful lot of dye.

The color is perfect, though, I did notice a small hole in the back of the dress. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

It’s been kind of fun to work on something creative that isn’t writing, even if it’s just making a mess of my mother’s kitchen and ordering stuff off of Amazon.

I wonder how my sister’s costume is coming along.

What have you been up to lately, Squiders? Any fun projects?

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.

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.