Sunday, April 3, 2011

C is for...

I have so many "C's," so we'll just have to see what happens.

Conference.

Sure, let's start with this one. How about a couple tips for the upcoming Pikes Peak Writer's Conference? Some are mine from my sole experience last year, and some I gathered from others.

First, it was in reference to the conference that I discovered you should have business cards as a writer. They're on their way; I was notified they'd shipped. Woo-hoo! I was actually asked for my card today, and I felt like a putz for not having one yet. "Uh, uh, uh, no, but I've ordered some." Ah, well.

What to bring to the conference: your own pen or pencil, snacks, business cards (I will pound this in until you all have cards, as well--not really, but they keep coming up), whatever page requirements there are for a class/pitch/critique you are participating in, your synopsis or pitch, any advertising materials you may have (bookmarks, postcards). If there's anything you don't need in there, don't bring it! You will be lugging it around for hours upon hours. That's no good. I'm sure a lot of people don't bring snacks with them, but I like that one, and I'm sticking to it!

Last year, I showed up that first day with my handy dandy leather briefcase (a big, soft zippable one) with a writing pad, pen, pencil, lead, the first couple pages of my manuscript (which is completely different this year, as I was horribly stuck at that point), a water bottle and a book to read. They provide water (at the Pikes Peak one), because of the high altitude, so don't worry about bringing drinking water of your own. I did find quite a use for granola bars to snack on, though, and apple slices. The food there was fabulous, but it's a long day and a snack doesn't hurt in between those yummy meals.

I was feeling pretty smart and snazzy until, when I walked in with my own bag, they handed me a new bag, complete with a composition book, pen/pencil, chapstick and various other items I no longer remember. I had planned on taking my handy dandy bag again this year in case that was a fluke, but I've been assured that they give that out each year. Cool! I'll probably hide the bag in my car just in case, though, and I'll likely still bring my own pen and pencil for comfort's sake. I will likely not bring a book to read, though, as I think I'd get some writing done if I didn't have a book to read. It's so inspirational there that you just have the mad urge to write, but I was also exhausted partway through and just wanted to sit and half read, half nap with my eyes open.

Another tip is to wear comfortable shoes. The first day, I showed up all gussied up, high heels included. While lovely, I'm sure, it was completely unnecessary. My feet were in agony by the end of the day. I was exhausted, my back hurt. It was no good. The second day, I wore some comfy shoes and my day went so much better. My clothes were also comfortable, though not jeans (there were plenty of other people there in jeans, though, so go for it if you please). Oh yes, much better.

If there is an author or agent you specifically want to sit with, try to work your way in there ASAP and at least establish your seat with a bag or something. This next tidbit comes from a fellow writer: Get in early, get settled in your seat, save the one next to you and when the author/agent shows up, offer them the seat next to you.

That's all I can remember at the moment. I may address this again before the conference at the end of this month, especially if I've gathered some great new intelligence.

C is also for...

Contests.

I'm still trying to get my head in the right place to write a synopsis of my novel for the Colorado Gold contest. I've gone back and forth on entering it, but what does it hurt? Well, my feelings if I suck, I suppose, but other than that, nothing. I should do it. Now to just suck it up and write that darned synopsis!

As far as I can tell, there's not a drawback to entering a contest, especially if you win it. It's a lovely tidbit to include on your bio in a query letter. "Won the Colorado Gold, because I rock." I've found a search online can bring news of contests to me, as well as the news loops and email loops of the writer's groups I belong to. I was inundated with contests last month! Did I enter any? ~Hangs head in shame and shakes it slightly left to right~ No. I went through the motions of printing them up and keeping them in a notebook, and I even started a short story for one (which is at 6 handwritten pages now), but I've been so intent on my novel that I just couldn't let it go enough to work on anything else. The only reason the one short story got worked on was because I was lugging the pad around with me everywhere to work on it when I couldn't do anything else (except read, which I also did sometimes).

How about one more short "C" and I'll just ditch the rest of them?

C is for...

Comments. I'm loving the comments on here! I'm also enjoying commenting on others' blogs. Keep them coming!

Do you know of a good resource online for finding contests? How about tips for attending conferences (I can only attest to my limited knowledge of the one I've attended)? What are the best conferences out there that you've attended or been a part of? Do you have any conference questions you'd like me to address?

Happy Writing!

9 comments:

  1. Never thought of getting business cards, not sure wht should be on there. Obviously name and contact details, but name of book? That you're a writer? Plainan simple, or colourful and fancy? Will have to look into it.
    cheers,
    Mood

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  2. I've only had the chance to go to one writers' conference. It was a one day event that was close enough for me to drive to. I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I even shared my work with a reading circle. Never expected to do that.

    This A to Z challenge has been great for getting to meet new people and their comments and their blogs. I'm loving it too!


    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

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  3. Conference, contest, comments. All wonderful C words for the challenge!!!

    I've never been to a conference but always wanted to go. I'm just a chicken and need to tag-a-long with a friend.

    Contests rock my socks off especially when they're for books.

    Comments I adore!!! Giving them, receiving them, stalking them. The works, I love them all!!!

    Great blog! I stopped in to welcome you to the A to Z challenge! I'm a co-host should have any questions just ask away! I do hope you'll stop by for a visit! We're also having fun on twitter (I'm @jenunedited and we're at #atozchallenge)!

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  4. Shannon, thanks for the tips about Pikes Peak. I've also been to Pikes Peak in the past and your tips are spot on! :)
    I also agree that the synopsis is one of the toughest things about entering the RMFW contest. Good luck!

    As for tips for other writers conferences, your experiences from Pikes Peak are pretty typical.
    Of course, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference, Colorado Gold is awesome! (see: www.rmfw.org/conference)
    Many writing conferences have contests associated with them--as you've already discovered.

    As for contest resources, there are a lot (too mnay?) online.
    For example: "Writing Contests" http://www.writers-editors.com/Writers/Contests/contests.htm

    and from Poets and Writers:
    "Grants & Awards: Your Guide to Writing Contests"
    http://www.pw.org/content/grants_amp_awards_your_guide_writing_contests

    and from wordpress: "Creative Writing Contests"
    http://writingcontests.wordpress.com/

    But you do want to be a little careful about contests:
    from SFWA: "Contests and Awards"
    http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/contests/

    Good luck!

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  5. Hi Shannon,
    Nice to meet you! Another A-Zer here too, and it IS fun going around and meeting so many other people!

    You've given some good advice about conferences. One thing I would add is, if you're a writer trying to break in, dress more business than casual. (Though flat shoes are a MUST!) Editors and agents are looking for people who take their work seriously -- and how you dress is all part of that package! (That's what I learned after my first conference, anyhow!)

    A great (though scary) conference to go to is the World Fantasy Convention. This is a literary convention, and absolutely tons of authors, editors and agents go to this thing, to do business and have a few laughs. I think it's full this year, but it's definitely something you should check out.

    Contests are fun -- but anthologies are another good way to get writing credits. Go to the Duotrope (duotrope.com) website for a TON of information about upcoming anthologies and other markets.

    Nice to talk to you.

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  6. I haven't really entered a whole lot of contests, mainly because I'm trying to focus on finish my WIP. But I have some writer friends who have and the rush of winning is prize enough in itself they've said. :D

    I haven't been to any live conferences, but I did attend WriteOnCon's webcon last year. You can check them out at http://writeoncon.com/. They have a whole bunch of guest speakers that do live Q&As and helpful articles in their archives written by published authors and agents.

    Good luck on the challenge! :D

    ~Ani

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  7. I've never been to any kind of writers' conference. I'll have to see if there's anything in my area that won't cost my a limb or three.

    There's so many things I need to get set up that I haven't even thought about business cards, yet, although I have been asked for them once or twice. But, you know, I still don't have a real website or a... well, nevermind. You could send some of your cards my way, though, if you want. :) I'll just cross out your name and write mine in. >grin<

    http://strangepegs.blogspot.com/

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  9. Mood, the cards I looked at have author name, phone number (if you so choose, but many do), website, email, blog and either "Writer" or "Author." They are pretty basic. I haven't yet seen one that has a book name on it.

    M.J. I have not been brave enough to do anything like share in a reader's circle yet!

    Jen, I was so nervous about going that first time. I felt the same way about needing to go with a friend, and when I registered I did have a friend who was considering going who ended up not going. I'm not sure what it would have taken had I not initially thought she was going to be there. BUT everyone was so friendly, and I hit it off with several people right away. I'm pretty shy, but a lot of people aren't, and they're there to meet people and talk, so they just sort of draw you in.

    Lesley, thank you for all those links! Great to "meet" someone who has also been to PPWCON.

    Eileen, thank you for the tip on dressing nicely. You're going to the conference to rub elbows and hopefully be lucky enough to make some good impressions. Thank for the duotrope link. I had not heard of the World Fantasy Convention, but it sounds like something a fantasy writer should be checking out, eh?

    Ani, I'd never thought of there being a webcon. Very cool! Thanks for the link.

    Andrew, (I deleted his second post as a duplicate, lest anyone think he wrote something inappropriate) I've seen some one-day gatherings that are like mini-conferences before, so that might be a good option. And hands off my cards, man! ~gathers them to herself, greedily~

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