This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the ANWA (American Night Writers Association) Time Out for Writers Conference. I was honored to be among authors selling and signing books and it was a great opportunity to learn from successful authors, editors, and agents. I also loved rubbing shoulders with aspiring writers, book bloggers, and book enthusiasts. I can’t wait to hear what Middle Aged Mormon Man thinks of Eruption!
No matter what stage you are at in your writing career, I highly recommend joining an organization like this. Writers benefit from sharing their talents and experiences with each other.
My good friend and mentor Janette Rallison played a big role in organizing this year’s conference, which included keynote addresses and workshops by Brandon Mull and Regina Sirois. Local friends can meet Janette Rallison at a group book signing in Goodyear on March 7th. Check back on my Events page for future signings around the valley.
I was really touched by Brandon Mull’s story about a child whose dying wish was to hear how the Fablehaven series would end. His story made me realize that it is easy, as a writer, to become caught up in trying to please the critics. Brandon’s advice to “give them you until you is what they want,” really struck a chord. He said that writers should take criticism and improve their craft, but ultimately, we should keep writing about we think is cool, or interesting, or funny. Someone much more important than a critic might need your writing to take them away to a different world for a while when this one becomes too much to bear.
I missed Regina’s address, but my sister Marnae came in my place. Regina spoke about the different mountains we climb in life. It was just what Marnae needed to hear as a busy high school senior. It isn’t about comparing where we are at with another person’s mountains of accomplishment, it’s about our own personal climb and looking to that next mountain.
Local author, Betty Webb, taught one of my favorite workshops Arc of Action. I came away from the class with a great outline for my next novel.
Lisa Mangum’s self-editing tips will make my editor’s job much easier in the future. Her class covered everything from identifying plot holes to tools that help uncover repetitive words and phrases. Three online resorces she recommended are Editorium, Smart-edit, and Autocrit.
All in all, this conference exceeded my expectations. I knew I would benefit from what I learned, but I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy connecting with other writers. Creative energy is contagious. I’m looking forward to next year already.