While driving home from this past Sunday’s awesome ABC event, I had an interesting conversation with my co-pilot, Lona Queen.
Do published authors still find it necessary to go to conferences or workshops?
For me, the answer is yes, YES, I still need conferences, I will always need conferences, and even if a class is geared more toward beginners, I feel like a beginner every time I start a new book, and it doesn’t matter if some material is repetitive–it’s the way the presenter delivers it that matters, or if they say it when I need to hear it the most.
Whew. That took a lot of breath.
So I’m very glad I went to Mary Quattlebaum’s amazing ABC event this past Sunday at the Germantown, MD Library. She taught me a very important lesson that I needed to re-learn!
Mary started off by giving a much-deserved thank you to Naomi Milliner for all her hard work into putting together these wonderful, free events.
Thank you, Naomi! 🙂
Mary then began our relaxing, informative writing journey by discussing those wonderful moments when authors have a revelation or a sudden blast of inspiration so powerful it gives them chills or makes their scalp tingle. But when she asked how I react to these moments, I was stumped at first because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good “A-Ha” moment.
She also discussed three things that editor have told her they have problems with:
1. Manuscripts that aren’t original; something they’ve seen before.
2. Generic settings.
3. Lack of story problem or conflict where the characters hardly change.
After more discussion, Mary then lead us into our first of two exercises. We were told to close our eyes, put both feet on the floor, relax our shoulders, and deepen our breathing. Imagine all of us . . .
. . . with our eyes closed! Mary asked us to think of an event in our childhood that we either love or hated. With her soothing, comforting voice, she then made us very aware of our senses. What did we see? What did we smell? What did we hear, taste, and feel?
After a few moments, we were told to open our eyes and without leaving the moment, write down the scene, using at least two of the senses. Once we were finished, Mary asked for volunteers to read theirs. Uh, no thanks, my hand stayed down, but another gal–whose name I don’t have so please identify yourself in the comments–blew us away with her writing!
After another lovely piece was read, Mary led us in the second exercise. This time, we were asked to think of an object we either hated or loved as a child. For some reason, I thought of my Baby Chrissy doll. I loved Baby Chrissie! At first, I thought Mary was going to have us write about our feelings about object, but she threw in a twist: Write what someone else thinks about it! My brother hated Baby Chrissie. So, I began to write something from his perspective, but as a sister instead. Emotions flew out of me and once I was finished . . . there it was.
The A-Ha moment.
My heart pounded. My breath was quick because Mary had made me realize something very important: Lately, I’ve been writing with my head instead of my heart. I’ve been focusing too much on editing, plots, and which manuscript has the most sales potential instead of focusing on the love of writing.
It was a very good A-Ha.
Afterwards, Mary talked about her own writing and the stories behind several of her wonderful books including Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns:
and Pirate Vs. Pirate!
We then broke for a snack break and book signing session.
Afterwards, Mary led an informative question/answer session covering such topics as submissions, blogging, and what to do if you feel as though you’re going nowhere with a novel. (The last one was from me!) All in all, it was another great successful ABC and by the time we were finished, it was way after the 4:00 cut-off, and I was seriously pumped for a new week of writing!
So thank you, Mary and Naomi!
Also, be sure to mark your calendars for our next ABC Event on September 10, 2011 at the Pikesville Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library featuring Jane Conly, author of MURDER AFLOAT!
And if you haven’t signed up already, be sure to send in your registration for our upcoming “Staying on Track” Regional Conference on July 16-17, 2011 in Buckeystown, Maryland! There will be tons of potential A-Ha moments for everyone. 🙂 Also note that it’s not a requirement for you to bring a manuscript for the workshop sessions. That decision is entirely up to you and your comfort level!
Have a great evening, everyone, and we hope to see you at the conference!