Conference Fears

Have you ever had the opportunity to go to a conference in your area of expertise, but you chose to stay home? Why? There are many reasons people don’t attend conferences and conventions. Here are a few.

1. Finances… Not everyone has the money to pay out hundreds of dollars for an event they aren’t even sure will help them. If you look around, you’ll find some events are more affordable than others. Check into them.
2. Fear of looking stupid… Don’t even allow this one to bend your brain. It’s not worth it. Everyone who attends a conference has a first time. Why do we keep going? That’s discussed soon enough. But fear of looking stupid is not an allowable excuse.
3. Fear of being found out… All of us feel a little under-educated in our field in the beginning, and sometimes later on. If you’re afraid you won’t know things others know, don’t worry. Plan on letting everyone else answer any questions at your first conference, unless you are absolutely certain of the answer. Silence while paying close attention to the speaker looks good on anyone.
4. Fear of not knowing anyone… Ask around to see who’s going. If you can’t find anyone you know who’s going, and you don’t like to go alone, bring a friend–even if you have to share a room or pay for part of their expenses.
5. Fear of big places or crowds… This one is a little harder to help you through, but if attend with a friend, it will help you focus more on learning and sharing with your friend and less on feeling swallowed in such a big atmosphere.
6. No time… Make time. Most conferences are worth every penny you pay and every minute you give up. Ask a family member to watch the kids for a couple of days. Find out which events are the best in your industry and region. Make it a point to attend one or two of those a year. If you can manage a trip to one or two of the best known national or international conferences, go.

What will you gain if you attend a conference that you can’t gain through a workshop or discussion with friends in the industry? Why do so many others attend conferences? Why do they keep going, again and again? What makes it worth all that?

1. Vital connections… Even if you don’t speak to them (but you should!), you will learn who makes things happen and has achieved the highest respect in your field. When you have questions or needs, you will feel more comfortable contacting them and asking for advice or references.
2. Surprises… Most likely, you’ll know more than one person at the event, especially if it is local. It doesn’t matter if you’re only acquaintances. If they know it’s your first time at that particular event, they’ll often introduce you to other professionals you need to connect with. You may have new friends when you return home.
3. Special offers… Sometimes, just being at an event gives you an opportunity to take advantage of special offers only given to those who attended the conference.
4. Support… A conference is about helping others achieve their highest goals in the field. It is about learning, sharing, and friendships; being part of a camaraderie in a larger field than the one you have been playing in, so far.
5. KNOWLEDGE… When you leave, you will most likely know much more about some things than you knew before. At the very least, you have gained confidence in your own skills and insight and that’s worth the trip, in itself. And that confidence will show in your everyday work, too.

If you’re a writer, editor, publisher, or even a reader who wants to know more about the field, you should attend a good conference or two each year. If you’re around northeastern Oklahoma, I have listed a few of the area events on my LINKS page. If you want to go to the same conferences I’m attending, you can find them listed on my EVENTS page. Let me know if it’s your first time and I’ll gladly spend a little time helping you adapt to the format and meet others who will help you along.

If you’re into people-watching, try sitting near the sign-up tables at a conference and watch as attendees walk near, but seem to be taking in too much at once. It makes many of us look lost, even if we’ve been there for the past three years. So, don’t be afraid to walk up and look lost with the rest of us. We’ll never know you’re a conference newbie unless you tell us. And since we’ve all been there, we understand how overwhelming it can seem compared to how simple it really is.

See you at the next conference!

I am currently packing to attend the Arkansas Writers’ Conference, in Little Rock, Arkansas, this weekend. Will I see you there? I hope so!

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Workshops…

I finally got my workshops listed on the Designing the World with Words website. Click on the link at the top of this page to visit the website. I added a few new workshops for this year, including Writing for Children, Writing Emotion, and Basic Computer and Internet. I had a lot of requests for the last one, so I decided to offer it twice. Those who attend  it may request up to five things they’d like to learn and I’ll do my best to make those five things part of the workshop. I’ve tried to keep the prices as low as possible. Click on the link and see for yourself.

It’s almost time for my annual trip to Louisiana. There’s a cemetery meeting and folks who will be gathering for multiple reunions, as well as a story I want to finish writing at a couple of cemeteries. And I hope to spend a little time with some of my very special family members, too. Nobody is getting any younger and I want to make sure they all know how much I love them. I’m also looking forward to meeting some writers in the area. There’s a critique meeting on May 12th, in Minden. If you’re interested, visit Designing the World with Words and scroll toward the bottom, where you’ll find a link to WONLA.

Did I mention we’re raising chickens? Life has been a little crazy these past two months, but much of the reason is our wonderful flock of chicks: Bossy, Greta, Chippy, Scooby, Chloe, Zippy, Fluffy, and Thelma. I seem to be building chicken runs and over the next week, a chicken coop. I never run out of things to do around here. And just when I think I have a few spare minutes to relax, the chickens tear a hole in their box and I have to do some quick mending. I hope the outdoor contraptions are impossible to escape, when I’m finished building them.

I have actually had a couple of chances to write lately, so I’ve entered some writing contests. I hope my stories win some prize money. I am trying to find a few minutes here and there to enter more, soon.

Do you ever enter contests? Have you won a lot of prize money? What’s the best thing you ever won for a story you wrote?

 

 

Read.Write.Share! Writers Weekend — and Family Appreciation Day

It’s here! I can’t wait to see everyone at this great event. I am driving in from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Will you be there? I hope so. We have some wonderful things planned.

We have Iris M Williams, Brittany Reese, Janis Kearney, and ME lined up for sessions that will give you the head start you need in the publishing world. I can promise there will be lots of discussion!

I may have a very special surprise with me. I’m not sure, yet.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On Saturday, April 9th, Gene and I will be celebrating our “best friends” anniversary. We’ve been best friends for 30 years, now. Because of the trust that grew from that friendship, we will also be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in August. So, we have always called April 9th our FAMILY APPRECIATION DAY and encouraged others to use it for that, as well. Buy a simple, inexpensive gift for each of your family members, or go somewhere special together, just to celebrate how lucky you are to have each other. A single rose, a good book, a tank of gasoline, or just an afternoon free of housework can do wonders for a person. Show them how much you appreciate all of them. Make it an annual event… every April 9th. That’s when you’ll see we are celebrating. Always.

To my wonderful husband… If you happen to read this, I’m still very thankful for every year we’ve had together. I couldn’t think of a more handsome, more wonderful man to spend my life with. (I hope that’s okay with you.) I’m sorry I won’t be home until late, but you will be on my mind all day and I’ll be looking forward to hearing your voice on the phone! I love you!

 

Tulsa – Meet the Illustrators! Monday, March 14th

As the organizer of Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers, I started a new thing, last year. I decided to introduce my writers to some local illustrators  and give them an opportunity to ask questions. It’s back this year and open to the world.


To all authors, publishers, illustrators – anyone who wants to know:

Meet the illustrators this coming Monday evening and bring all your questions! Learn how the illustrators work with your books in different publishing settings. This is a FREE event.

Monday, March 14th, 7:00 PM
Martin Regional Library (Auditorium)
2601 S. Garnett, Tulsa, OK

Website: http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/meet-the-illustrators.html

See you all there!

This year’s event is brought to you by Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers and Designing the World with Words.

New Things

In recent weeks/months:

I’ve been promoted to Children’s Corner Imprint Editor at 4RV Publishing. It has been a wonderful move for me, although I’m still adapting. I love my job!

I’ve got my own car to get around town, now. I love having my freedom, again.

Our son and his family have temporarily joined our household. I love having them here, but it does put a little crimp in my work time. I’m still learning to work around everyone and all the activities.

I have acquired a new “writing room.” When the weather permits, this is my private space to work. It is small, but warm and offers windows and a door to let the sun or breeze in, so the claustrophobia monster doesn’t disturb my progress.

Moments ago, I added a new page with links to books I’ve edited, or helped edit, etc. Click on the Edits link, above, to learn more.

See you again, soon!

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Writing Believable Dialogue

This Saturday, August 22nd, I’ll be holding another workshop in Broken Arrow for folks who want a little more insight on writing believable dialogue. Visit the website for more information.

http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/believabledialogue.html

In the meantime, here’s a tip:

Include the setting in the dialogue. Let your characters use that setting. Have them pick up the piece of paper they are talking about, stare at a picture on the wall, or spill a drink on new clothes.

People don’t just talk with their eyes closed, in the dark. There are things all around us. We move within that space and use those things. Let your characters do the same. Let them “experience” their surroundings the same way we do. When you go back to edit your work, don’t forget to make sure you activated all the readers’ senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) through the characters.

See you on Saturday!

Designing the World With Words – Editing Workshops

NothingSetInStone-Mini-Border-DTWW2015

Click on the pic to learn more about the workshops.

Don’t miss Stop the Head Hop on Saturday, June 27th, 2015.

The 2015 Hustle Begins

A lot is going on for me lately. In January, I set up a MEET THE ILLUSTRATORS! Night for a couple of local writers’ groups. We enjoyed learning the information they shared.

In March, I have called together a panel of five area publishers who will answer questions at a MEET THE PUBLISHERS! Night in Tulsa. That event will be at Martin Regional Library (in the auditorium) on Monday, March 9th, 6:30 PM. If you come, bring questions.

On Saturday, March 21st, I will be offering a workshop in Broken Arrow, OK, called EDITING YOUR FICTION STORY. Writers will learn fun, easy editing tricks to expose the real story behind the words. Find more information at http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords

THE ADVENTURES OF DAYTON BARNES – A middle grade fiction anthology to entertain ages 9-12. The submission deadline has been extended to the end of March. A lot of wonderful stories have been submitted. Some have been accepted, some have been rejected. Find more information about submitting, visit http://jespiddlin.com/DaytonBarnes/submit

ANYTHING GOES, VOLUME 2 is a multi-genre, unthemed anthology that promises to be just as good as Volume 1 from last year. The authors are working hard to bring you an exciting collection of stories this summer. Yes, I am editing this volume, too.

I have a few writing conferences to attend this year. Will you be attending any? Which ones? Good luck with any contests you enter and at all the conferences. Learn as much as you can and share!

I am editing a very interesting story for 4RV Publishing that will be coming out in just a few months. I’ll let you know when it is published.

Don’t forget to write notes on the back of people’s business cards that you collect, to help you remember special discussions, etc.. It makes them feel special when you recall conversations and know where you met them.

My NaNo-Notes

Getting ready to tackle the 2013 NaNoWriMo Challenge? So am I. I wrote my first 50,000+ word novel last year. I was shocked, but thrilled at my own success. I had so much fun I’m doing it again.

Here is a list of ideas I wrote for myself in February. I hope it will also help you. Please share a link to this page if you know someone else who could use a little help. 

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Whatever you can do in advance to get a better idea who and what you will be writing about will be very helpful to you when you begin writing your novel.

1. Make a list of things you know a good deal about. Your list might consist of any of these or more:

  •  cooking
  • cleaning house
  • sewing / knitting / crocheting / crafts
  • family history / genealogy
  • swimming
  • travelling
  • reading, writing
  • teaching, learning
  • raising animals – what kind?
  • working on cars, boats, furnaces, pools
  • tornadoes / earthquakes / storms / tsunamis
  • murder investigation techniques
  • making __________
  • using __________
  • finding __________
  • motorcycling, bicycling, walking
  • driving a truck, train, plane, trolly, bus, race car…
  • photography, videography
  • illnesses, vitamins, medicines, medical procedures, etc.
  • wars / military / peacemaking

The ideas above will help you form story lines (sub-plots) you can use in your novels.

2. Make a list of things you want to know more about. Use ideas from the list above or others you can think of. These will be the things you want to study about before it is time to write your novel, so you can easily use them.

3. Make a list of ideas the main story line in your book might be about…

  •  the adventures of a neighborhood gang
  • a couple of buddies who accidentally fall into unsolved mysteries
  • a photographer who falls in love
  • the life of an animal in the zoo
  • a journal of someone’s travels
  • life of a drug dealer
  • a Christian who is looking for love
  • a singer who makes it big and dives hard
  • someone who wants to start their own business
  • a series of murders in a circus company

4. Make a list of the main characters your story will be about. Give each person:

  •  name
  • age
  • color of hair
  • color of eyes
  • body type
  • height
  • health – frequent issues, super-healthy, occasional issues, cancer, etc.
  • personal history – neglected, spoiled, bullied, the bully, etc.
  • results of personal history – needy, easily intimidated, pushy, etc.
  • quirks
  • things they love
  • things they hate
  • habits – bites fingernails, leaves everything unlocked, etc.

5. Determine some other items, locations and other detailed info you will need for your main characters –

  •  car details
  • neighborhood type – safe, dangerous,
  • everyone knows everyone, nobody knows their neighbors,
  • houses on a block, an apt. bldg., farms in the country
  • job or school background
  • favorite places to go

6. Make a list of your supporting cast.

  •  brothers and sisters
  • parents
  • partners – spouses, live-ins, same sex, opposite sex, etc.
  • children
  • classmates
  • best friend(s)
  • co-workers
  • someone they have to see often – banker, store clerk, pawn shop owner, etc.
  • Who are the good guys?
  • Who are the bad guys?

If any of these people need a little more detail about who they are, what they do, etc., go ahead and make a list for them, too.

Basically, you want to get to know your main characters and begin to think of things that might happen in your story line. You will need a main plot — the overall problem and solution the book will be about, and many sub-plots — the smaller challenges or “chapters” that daily life offers us all, once in a while. Lists #1, #2 and #3 will help you design and organize those plots.

When you actually start writing, some of the things you have already decided will change. Don’t let this bother you, but be sure to make the changes in your notes, so you will still have a good reference when your book is almost finished and you need to refer to the info, again. Also, keep a copy of your notes on paper or on a thumb drive as well as on your computer. If your computer crashes, you want to have a backup copy.

Now that you’ve got your story background designed, let your mind wander along the story line you would like to follow until it is time to write. Feel free to make guideline notes (about what will happen when) to keep your story on track when you write it.

You will only need to write about 1,667 words per day to finish your novel in time. If you start doing some daily writing now, you will be conditioned to working in a specific time and place and your family will be used to accommodating your needs. By writing something almost every day, you should have little problem meeting your daily quota during the challenge month.

Don’t know what to write about on a daily basis until it is time to write your novel? Start a journal and write about how your day went. Or, write a fictional story every day. I try to write a factual journal entry most days and a fictional journal entry most days. I sometimes miss a whole week at a time, but I write as often as I can.

Keep yourself focused on private time when you write. No Facebook, no texting, no phone calls or company.

Here is a good place for more NaNoWriMo suggestions: Nano Prep: The NaNo Jar  

 

Writers Need Critique Groups

I love and appreciate my critique groups. The fellowship and support they offer are necessary parts of good writing. Even so, there are times it would be too easy to convince myself to stay home and finish that story I’ve been working on. Here is a mix of serious and lighthearted reasons to attend regular critique meetings:

  1. I’m a good writer.
  2. I need the exercise.
  3. I want my work to shine.
  4. This job can be a lonely one.
  5. My writing isn’t always perfect.
  6. Sometimes, I need encouragement.
  7. I don’t feel like doing the dishes, tonight.
  8. The reader changes and so must my writing.
  9. My peers also need my discerning ears and eyes.
  10. The fuel in my car will turn to varnish if I don’t use it.
  11. I need to see if the world outside my front door still exists.
  12. I need a chance to show off the new clothes I bought last year.
  13. I wrote the word “sleep” four times in three consecutive sentences.

As a writer, I am often my own worst critic. Hearing how others respond to my work can be very encouraging as long as I remember they are not telling me how bad it is. They are helping me see how to make it even better. What group is more qualified to do that than serious writers with their combined knowledge and experience?

Here are some suggestions on how to get more out of your critique meetings. . .

  • Bring at least five or six copies for others to read along when it is your turn. Ask them to make notes for you to refer to, later.
  • If you don’t bring copies, have someone else read your work out loud. Hearing someone else’s interpretation of your work can help identify problem areas.

If you are a writer, check with your library or look online to find more information about critique groups near you.