Writers Conference: Teach Me, Oh Wise One

Saturday morning brought hustle and bustle for everyone.  The first thing of the day was a panel with the Editors and Agents.  The registered guests had written out questions for the E/A previously, and they proceeded to answer them.  It got a little boring for me, and I began to doubt whether I would walk away from this event feeling like it had all been worth it. 
After all the Q and A’s were answered, we headed off to the first of several workshops.  I was planning on attending these five (in this order):
  1. Thrills and Chills
  2. Hooks and How To Use Them
  3. Sex Scene Viagra
  4. Double D’s: Description and Dialogue
  5. Writing Hard to Write Characters- The Easy Way

The problem for me was competition in the workshops for my attention.  In the corresponding time frames were these four:

  1. Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Cry, No Don’t!
  2. Nothing for this one… I knew I wanted the Hooks class
  3. Character, Action, and Theme Create Plot
  4. It’s Not Just Vampires: A Paranormal Panel
  5. Unlock, Unblock!

I chose the Thrills and Chills, with Allison Brennan, over the Laughing one.  I felt my story had more thrills than laughs, which was how I decided on which class to go to.  It was a good class, but unfortunately didn’t meet my needs as much as I had thought.  I did enjoy the presenter and I love walking past her books in the grocery stores now, knowing “I MET HER!”  I want to read at least one of her stories.  Especially in the Lucy Kincaid series.

Off to my next class. Hooks… by Terri Brisbin.  I really enjoyed this class, though I am not sure I would be comfortable with her writing.  It might be a bit to “hot” for me, I don’t know.  I’ll have to give her a shot, just to see.  Anyway, I had more appreciation for her as I had had the opportunity to email Terri off and on before the conference, enhancing her class.  She sent me home with some handouts, giving her teaching a longer lasting impression for me.  One of her handouts provides some plot points to hook the reader.  They would soon match into another class beautifully, without my (then) knowledge!

The class ended and we headed off to lunch.
At this point, I am feeling more positive about my experience.
Without thinking much I walked back to the same class room for the third workshop.
Truly, without thinking.

I sat down, and noticed the lovely blonde lady in the front of the classroom.  She was preparing and visiting and seemed a bit nervous.
As I would be, if I were in here shoes.

As the class started, I loved listening to her.  Her voice was angelic.  She used great fluctuation, and pause and laughter.  She told us she took the idea of a workshop LITERALLY, as they passed out homework/worksheets for us to write on as she taught.

Now, I am really loving this.  Teach me on a personal level as to what and how I can improve my writing! Thank you!

About 20 minutes goes by and we are slightly interrupted by a rippling wave of hysterical laughter.  It’s then that I realize I had missed out on the Sex Scene class.

Now, I know what you might be thinking.

Stop snickering.

I was hoping that class might have something about how to make my bad guys look really bad because of their scandalous behavior.  I want to use it in it’s opposite form– not for entertainment, but to show how immorality is actually ruining society and families.  Because that’s how it is in my book.

So, with a tinge of uncertainty, I held my ground and stayed in my seat, as Martha Alderson, The Plot Whisperer began to work a magic spell over me — so much so as to put ALL my doubts aside. She is the WHISPERER.  She spoke right to my heart.

After her class, I was on such a high.  I had to tell her she’d made a deep impression on me, and had altered my writing, in that short hour.  Suddenly, I desperately wanted NEEDED her book.

I told her I was moved and that she spoke right to my heart.  She seemed happy enough to hear that.  I was glad.  And then I bee-lined for the book store (the one they had set up there at the hotel) to purchase her book.

It was sold out.  (Man, am I having a bit of bad luck at this conference or what?)

Oh well. 

Next class: Dialogue and Description.  I was on such a high from the last class, I don’t think I caught much of this one.  I have no notes and nothing to account for my mental or physical whereabouts for that hour.  Literally, I think I was high, remember I’ve not only enjoyed Martha’s class like crazy, I’m over dosing on chocolate. My mind was wheeling around and throwing ideas and questions at me.  We (my characters and I) were in a high octane conversation.

So when the class ended, I only had notes of my own on my book, and nothing from the Double D class.

Somewhere in the middle of this class, I walked out for my Editor Appointment.
I don’t have much to say about it.

I didn’t pitch my book really; I didn’t make a great impression, I’m sure.
I talked about genres and asked for her help on placing my writing into one.
We didn’t come up with anything in those short 10 minutes.
Oh well.

It’s what happened AFTER that appointment that made me glad I took the appointment. As I came out, there was my favorite person of the conference: Martha Alderson.  She was just casually sitting there, and when she spoke to me I am pretty sure I turned around to see the important person she was actually speaking too.

Shockingly, she was speaking to me. (I was so glad I was in that place at that time, or I may never had had the chance to visit with Martha!)

“Well, how did your appointment go?” or something like that, was her question.
From there, I found my bubbly self again and we had a great chat about my book and pitched it to her the way I probably should have pitched it to Jennifer Schober.  Martha asked my WHY I hadn’t pitched it, as excitedly as I spoke about it at that very moment, to Jennifer.

Honestly, I’m not sure.  I wasn’t nervous. I just felt it’s not time to present my work to a real editor/agent.

Further discussion led to Martha using her most motherly skills to get after me about writing the beginning of my story.  “GET TO THE END.  WRITE THE END!” She insisted.  Again, her words were full of encouragement and heartfelt.  I felt that she truly wanted me to see the book to the end.  Not just finish writing it, but to see it in print someday.  Her eyes were alight with a desire to read it, and if that’s not what I was seeing in her eyes, I don’t know what I saw there, and she’s a good actress.

I left her presence again rejuvenated and grateful I was to have had a chance to visit with her one on one, even if it was for only 15 minutes or so.

Ahh.
Just when I thought I was coming down from the high!

Off to my next class.
The Hard to Write Characters.
Can we all just agree now: THEY’RE ALL HARD.

I switched POV shortly before attending this conference.  I’m trying to weave the voice of a 22 year old male into magic.

It’s hard.

So when Beth Andrews began reading a pretty scandalous scene to the class, my ears began to burn. Her heat level was hotter than my ears were used to. However, she made a killer point.

As bad as her guy was, he was the hero to her book.

Right then and there, she had my respect. She knows what she is talking about and was willing to teach us her tricks.  She can write hard characters.  I give her that!  She was spunky and cheerful and I actually grew to adore her by the end of the hour too!

See how cute Beth is!
Okay time to wrap up this post. It’s taken me two weeks to get to it.  Just been crazy busy.  Imagine how slow writing my book is! I’ve put writing on hold briefly as I am reading a very important book. (Wink, wink Martha!)
After the last class of the day on Saturday, I wander around looking at all the authors and their books, feeling desperately jealous for a few moments.  I’m also a bit bummed again that the only book I wanted to purchase for sure, The Plot Whisperer, is sold out.  I see Martha sitting there with NO BOOKS to sign, but still cheerfully greeting and talking to other writers.

I’m not at all afraid to approach her her and tell her again how glad I am for her words of wisdom and how bummed I am about her book being unavailable.  She’s likewise bummed that they didn’t order enough. (She said herself- Note To Self: Order as many books as there are registered guests!)  I manage to steal a photo of us together!

After I was done in the book signing arena, I headed back out to the gorgeous courtyard to veg and enjoy a glass of ice water.  
Can we just take a detour here?
I was offered drinks and coffee lots and I think many were surprise that I didn’t drink either of these substances.  Frankly, can you picture me on coffee?  Not a good idea.
I would be like that woman scientist on Meet The Robinsons. If you haven’t seen her, you should take a look at her.
Back to the break I was taking in the courtyard.  Destiny and I are enjoying the warm sun again when who should bless us with her presence?
     MARTHA ALDERSON!!!!
She spent even more time with us!  She came to us!  Destiny and I were thrilled beyond words to have her full attention and to learn a few intimate details of her life and to share personal experiences with her.  I will recall that memory with fondness for years to come. It was like we were sisters in spirit from the get go.

After she left, we were then tossed into a great working process of writing that felt like high school homework, but was fun and perfect to push those of us who were participating into really thinking and being creative.

My only complaint was by that time of night, after hours of workshops and mental homework, my brain was exhausted.  Being creative had come and gone and I fear I wasn’t very good at the exercises, but I had a great time!
I met a few more fun people, such as Monique and Becca.  
By the time we went to bed, we were drained, but I forced myself to finish the book I’d picked up to read. I stayed up to late, again, but was enjoying dissecting the book I was reading based on the information I’d just swallowed.
SUNDAY MORNING.
We dashed off to the last of the conference.  The keynote speaker was, wait for it….
She passed homework sheets around, and we started working on them as she step by step told us what to do, and TWO HOURS later I was experiencing heaven on earth in the world of writing.
She pointed me out, during her presentation. I’m guess it made the introverts in the room probably cringe, but it made me feel *special*. Truly, I felt like I mattered enough to her, to take a moment in her presentation to say, “I’m talking to you.” as she pointed right at me.
Bless her heart.
I even had a lady or two mention that they hoped I wasn’t “too embarrassed.”  Ha!  As if!
The rest of our Sabbath day was filled with dashing off to a Sacrament meeting (Destiny and I are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka The Mormons , and aka LDS!  (Three names, two nicknames, one church…. I know a few people who get that all mixed up.  Nicknames do that.) And then we hurried off to grab a bite to eat and return our rental car.
We flew off to Las Vegas and I had my first sip of that culture.  Not nearly enough!  Destiny- I’m coming to visit, I swear, the next chance I get!
My flight home Monday morning was uneventful, especially as no one would look me in the eye at 6 am.
I think my kids were pretty happy to see me, as their little arms wrapped around me and they held on tight for longer than normal.
Kyle looked a bit drained from filling the rolls of father, mother and bishop, so I know he was glad to see me.
I was overwhelmed with the help from my neighbor Kambria and to the grandmas, Cindy and Mac, and my house was pretty darn clean.

These are two of the worksheets Martha handed out. 



EPILOGUE
I had a dream that Martha unearth a copy of her book, and while she truly didn’t have a copy for me at all, I still told her my dream.  She laughed and then came up with an idea that was just perfect.  She said she did have a copy of her book at her home in California. One that she’d been autographing for someone, and she accidentally misspelled the lady’s name.  Well, you just can’t give a book like that to someone, when their name is spelled wrong.
Unless that person is me.
Because I would have been happy with however she had spelled my name.
BUT, she gave the lady a proper copy I’m guessing, with a correct spelling of the woman’s name, and now there was this copy of her book, living at her house, with an inscription that just wouldn’t work for anyone.
Until she met me that is.
Martha offered to mail it to me.   OF COURSE SAID YES! 
 Just cross out that lady’s name and write mine in it! I humbly asked.
When I got back to good old Idaho, I found that she’d already blogged about Destiny and I {the part where she says ‘two young women writers, is us, as she messaged us to confirm that!} and she’d friended me on Facebook. (I just don’t have wireless technology that travels with me. Remember, the Nook I DIDN’T WIN?)  She totally beat me to the punch on the blog part, and I was shocked that she’d friend me, only because she said she wasn’t on Facebook much to all the guests of the conference.
Just a few short days later, a package arrived for me.
Now isn’t that a great story to share behind the inscription or what!
Talk about a wonderful gift!

 

Sisters in Spirit: 
Martha and Me

If I wasn’t up to my chin in her YouTube videos and her book, I’d be missing her like crazy.  But since I am watching her on YouTube and reading her book, it’s like she moved in with me. She’s in my house any time I want. Love that.

Plus I have her blog, which you can read and follow to should you be writing…. HERE.

And I am glad that she has messaged me a few times on facebook, with a warm wish to a life long friendship.

Those words are like gold.

{I have a few more posts to go on this conference!  Hang in there with me, we’ll make it! Leave me a chilling comment!  I love those.  Or just say HI, that works too!}

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4 thoughts on “Writers Conference: Teach Me, Oh Wise One

  1. GINA!! It sounds like a fabulous time indeed! I'm so happy you got to go and had such a wonderful trip. Cant wait to read that book of yours. Hurry and finish it will ya? It will be super fun to have a famous friend!! 🙂

    Like

  2. Thank you, Gina! I love reliving the RWA conference through your eyes. You helped make the conference one that brings a smile to my face every single time I think back on those 3 days. I'm going to bookmark your post so I can always revisit and remember the fun with you and Destiny.
    Lots of love,
    martha

    Like

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