Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Interrupt This Blog Silence With An Announcement...

I am World-building.

Here is a picture of my world. Sort of.

Why is the most exciting and fun and can't-stop-thinking-about-it thing also the most exhausting and crazy difficult?

I feel like I need a Panem movie to tell my world-building for me. I mean, seriously, Suzanne Collins with the mandatory clarifying movie before the reaping: brilliant. I have no way in my WIP to have a propagandist movie to explain my world. So...I guess I have to do it the old fashioned way: a little bit at a time, but smooth and flawless. Information that my readers don't even realize is information.

Why is this so hard?

Another thing I learned from The Hunger Games: Ms. Collins uses the even chapters in the first part of the book to world-build. The odd chapters are more action. Don't believe me, go read it again. It's quite a pattern and, pretty brilliant. Every time I started an even chapter and realized it was more world-building I whooped with excitement. I love patterns.

Tell me, what ingenious ways have you read or written to build your worlds?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Marine Layer

Might be covered by Ocean in my dream, or in the near Globally Warmed Future.
This morning, when I woke up early to go swimming, a thick marine layer of fog had covered our little valley. This happens, in the summer, every few days...but this is the first of the year. I love the fog. It's thick and smells of the ocean--and it acts like nature's air conditioner.

At swimming, one of the other swimmers said, "I love this marine layer. I feel like I'm in Santa Cruz." And we all laughed and smiled and were just being humans together. And then he said, "Whenever the fog comes, I feel like I'm on vacation. Like I'm living in a different place."

And...he nailed it. His observation is exactly how I feel about the fog, even though I'd never thought of it in those terms. And it reminded me of a dream I had. I dreamed that the vineyard, behind our house, had turned into the ocean. The ocean, right in our backyard. And instead of Shakespeare festivals in the grape vines, we sailed in the foggy gray waters. And it was like we were living in a vacation home, instead of our real home.

I love when people wax poetic, especially when they're not writers. I guess everyone has the powers of observation, but real people saying things that are meant to be written down and remembered is just magical.

Have you met a 'character,' out in the world. You know, one you didn't make up?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What I've learned at Writing Conferences

So. Last year I went to my first writing conference. It was this one and it was amazing. Here's what I learned:
My MS needed more work than I thought.
The hook is the hook, so don't introduce it thirty pages later. Introduce it on the first page.
My MS was better than I thought.
How to critique others' writing in a way that's helpful to them.
Published authors are very generous with their time and advice. Always take notes.
Also, published authors are people.
Editors and Agents are only slightly less scary than I imagined. (Okay, they're cool. And people too.)
How to bring a book full circle.
But the greatest thing about going to this conference, hands down, was meeting my critique partners. Meeting them has been the greatest thing for my writing since I learned how to write in first grade.

This conference put me six months to a year ahead of where I might've been if I'd only had books, blogs and articles to direct me.

I'm going again this year as a seasoned veteran and am so excited for what more I can/will learn.

Now, having said all this, it is possible to attend a conference that may not be as fantastic. I attended a different conference (which will remain nameless) that was not as helpful. The agents there were not as accessible and the crit groups not as useful. Also, there was a query session that was downright unprofessional and, well, rude. In fact, one of my contacts from this conference recently emailed me and told me she quit writing after the query session because it was "confusing and intimidating." And, if anything, conferences should encourage and teach, not discourage.

However, I also met some great writer friends (conference attendees and published authors) who were amazing people and generous with their advice. And for that reason alone, the conference was worth it.

Definitely my favorite part of both conferences was meeting people like me. People who understand what it's like to cry over made up characters and stay up until all hours of the morning to get that scene right. I loved that we would discuss for hours about people and situations that had found its genesis in one of our heads. That, to me, was priceless.

So, what are your conference stories? Have they been good experiences, not so good experiences, or horrifying? I want to know.

Meanwhile, can't wait to see anyone who will be attending WIFYR this year!!!