Category: Writing

Oliver Twist: A Lesson on Satisfying Endings+Meet the New Blog Mascot!

Oliver Twist: A Lesson on Satisfying Endings+Meet the New Blog Mascot!

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Oliver Twist and Star Wars: A New Hope.

Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist, is a novel full of darkness and despair. But that evil is lessened by the hope found in little Oliver himself. No matter the tragedy, he maintains his sweet, hopeful innocence.

Because of these incredibly dark themes, the ending needs to be bright and happy. Otherwise Dickens’ readers would be depressed for days.

While I personally enjoy bittersweet endings the most, I was satisfied by the conclusion of Oliver Twist.

How did Dickens pull off this “happily ever after” ending?

 

The Good Guys Win

As humans, we have God’s Law written on our hearts. (Romans 2:14-15) Even an atheist knows that murder is wrong.

Because of this, we have an innate sense of justice. We want to see good win and evil be punished. Dickens understood this and used it to his advantage.

He doesn’t cheapen the ending by making the heroes win too easily. They have to overcome many huge obstacles in order to achieve victory. Oliver finds a home. Rose finds love. Mr. Brownlow finds the long lost family of an old friend.

 

The Bad Guys Lose

The antagonists in Oliver Twist are utterly despicable. They tried to corrupt Oliver, to lead him into a life of thievery. And after 400 pages of watching them spread their influence, we’re ready to see them punished.

Bill Sikes, the murderer, is dead. Fagin, the ringleader, is in prison, waiting to be hung. Mr. Monks leaves the country and travels to America. Mr. Bumble is in the workhouse.

After the last page, we can breathe a sigh of relief. None of these characters will be back to torment Oliver anymore. They are all dealt with. There is no loose villain running around.  (*cough* Unlike the ending of my first novel. *cough*)

 

How can you create the same kind of ending in your own story?

First, determine what your reader wants from the ending. If it’s a romance, they’ll want the two characters to get married. If it’s a mystery, they’ll want the culprit to be found.

Each genre has a certain set of expectations.

After reading the dark themes of Oliver Twist, I wanted a happy ending full of hope for the future.

Of course, there will be stories where you don’t give the reader what they want.

 

Deal out justice to the villains, or at least give them closure. Sometimes killing the villain at the end of the story is not what you need to happen. Perhaps you’re writing a series and he or she needs to return in book two.

If that is the case, be sure the reader leaves with a sense of resolution. Meaning this, don’t let the villain just slip off the page never to be see again until book two. Sure, leave a teasing loose end, the kind that people love, but don’t leave a glaring plot hole.

For example, at the end of A New Hope, Darth Vader is flying around in his Tie-Fighter somewhere. But we still feel closure because the Death Star is blown up. Yes, Vader disappears for the remainder of the story, but the main threat has been destroyed.

In Oliver Twist, Monks goes off to America. He disappears. But the other antagonists, the more active ones, are all dealt with.

 

Don’t just settle for the easy way out by killing off your antagonists. Like I said in the previous point, sometimes it just won’t work to kill them at the end. Sometimes you need to handle them another way.

Maybe they are in prison for life. Maybe they are exiled.

In Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble doesn’t die at the end. His status in life is simply lowered. He becomes one of the workhouse people he had taken advantage of at the beginning.

 

It will take a lot of effort to craft as great an ending as Dickens did, but with a lot of practice we can do it ourselves!

 

 

Meet Oliver!

Oliver the cat, that is. 😉

With his green eyes, tiny bow-tie, and one white paw, what’s not to love?

 

Oliver
Oliver loves to play with the coins on Scrooge’s desk.

 

Oliver
When it’s time to play, his favorite place is Madame Defarge’s knitting basket.

 

Oliver
His favorite place to nap is in the folds of Miss Havisham’s wedding gown.
Taylor Writing Conference Recap!

Taylor Writing Conference Recap!

Last weekend, my mom and I went to the Taylor University Professional Writing Conference again. We went last time and met DiAnn Mills!

And as I usually do, here is a recap post (with pictures).

(header image from last year)

Day One

We left on Friday right after an early breakfast. I drove the whole 3 hours there, including through the maze of construction.

Before the first session began, Mom and I perused the book tables. While we were doing so, my friend from the last Taylor conference, Rebecca, found us. We had kept in touch and were excited to meet up again. That’s the second time this year I’ve started a writing conference off with a hug!

Rebecca and Allison
Rebecca and me!

After several sessions on platform, plot, and characters, I had a one-on-one appointment about social media. One-on-ones are personal appointments with various speakers, agents, or editors attending the conference.

We talked over my email list numbers and she said they were really good! Thank you all for making that happen! ❤

Bill Myers
One of the keynote speakers, Bill Myers.
Angela Hunt
Angela Hunt, the other keynote speaker.

 

Then we had dinner in the college cafeteria. Mom almost lost her sandal because the floors were so sticky! We sat with a Taylor grad and she said the floors have always been that way. Her theory was they cleaned with soda.

After dinner, Mom and I went to a group meeting with other fantasy writers. There were about 25 other people in the group and we talked about our writing struggles and shared some resources to help with those issues. This was the first time they had done this at Taylor and I really enjoyed it. It was very encouraging!

Mom and I stayed at a hotel instead of the dorms on campus. We were just about to go to bed when the fire alarm started going off.

Mom went out to the lobby to see what was going on and learned someone had taken a steamy shower and set off all the smoke alarms.

Needless to say, it took a while for me to calm back down.

 

Day Two

Allison and Garfield
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you come across a strange statue, you must take a picture with it.

We ate breakfast in the cafeteria. I got a piece of bright orange bread. It was orange creamsicle flavored and I only had one bite.

Orange bread
The orange bread of doom. 

After a couple other sessions, I had another one-on-one appointment, this time with Angela Hunt. She and I talked about my recent struggles with Checkmate, plotting, and some “weasel words,” which are words that add nothing to the story or are simply vague. I had gone to her session on “The Plot Skeleton” and we discussed using that outlining method to fix Checkmate.

Allison and Angela Hunt

I brought a sample from Checkmate and she pointed out some flaws as well as some highlights! It was very encouraging and helpful to get a critique from a professional author.

I also brought one of her books that I had read and got it autographed!

Allison Grace and Angela Hunt

Then it was off to lunch. Angela sat with us! I had a blast talking with the other two young people at our table about writing. (One of them was in the fantasy group the day before.) There was an ice cream machine so I got to make myself my own cone.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed going to Taylor with Mom. I got some good advice and hopefully made some new friends!

Fun Fact: On the way home, we stopped in Van Wert, Ohio to get dinner. Van Wert is named after one of the three men who captured British Major John André, a spy who helped Benedict Arnold. There’s a sign right by the Arby’s we ate at, but I didn’t get a picture of it.


Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Writing is Really Hard (but also really fun)

Writing is Really Hard (but also really fun)

When I was younger, I don’t know where I thought books came from. I remember being frustrated that the next book in a series wasn’t out yet and that I *gasp* had to wait.

When I started writing, I was under the impression that real writers sit down at their computer with a cup of coffee, type up a couple chapters of perfect prose, and finish their book in a week or so.

It all seemed so simple. I knew how to type. I knew how to construct sentences. I’d read a bunch of books. How hard could it be?

Really, really hard.

And if you, like me, have believed the lie that writing is easy, I want to encourage you with this truth:

Writing is incredibly hard.

Super encouraging, right?

Writing isn’t for the fainthearted. Just like learning an instrument, it takes dedication, passion, and persistence.

Some days I’d rather clean the bathroom with a toothbrush instead of writing. Some days all I write is trash and deserves to be thrown into a bonfire.

But if that was the end of the story, we wouldn’t have any writers.

Since there are thousands of writers out there, obviously there must be a better side to writing life. And lucky for us, there is.

Writing is incredibly fun.

Some days I can’t stop writing. The words just flow from my fingers. Some days every sentence I write is pure gold and I’m sure my novel is better than any that Dickens or Lewis wrote. Some days I’d like to forgo eating so I can keep writing.

Days like those make me think that writing is easy. I feel like a “real writer.”

But then the next day comes and with it storm clouds that black out the sunshine of inspiration. Every sentence becomes drudgery. Discouragement swallows up all our confidence. Writing sucks.

This is the point where writers groan, “Why isn’t this working?” And here, many people give up.

This is the greatest juxtaposition of the writing life.

I like to describe it like the waves in the ocean. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know that the sea is never still. There are continuous waves. Some have enough power to knock you down and others barely lap at your feet.

Writing is like that. You’re trying to build a sandcastle at the edge of the sea.

Between the waves, you make a lot of progress. Little bouts of discouragement sweep away some of the sand. Then a big one comes and destroys your motivation to keep building, to keep writing.

And here you have two choices:

  1. Give up
  2. Keep going

You can just abandon the sandcastle to the waves. Or you can build a wall around your castle to protect it from the water and keep going.

Sometimes there will be longer times when writing is nearly impossible. It’s like at high tide. You can’t get to where you were before. You might even be back to where you started your writing journey. And sometimes, high tide will last longer than expected.

But the ocean always returns to low tide. You won’t be stuck in the hard part of writing forever. Soon the moon will draw the waters back and you’ll enjoy writing again.

And the discouragement of high tide makes the productivity of low tide even sweeter (though it’s still salt water).

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Plot Twist! A Writing Update

Plot Twist! A Writing Update

Good morning, friends!

Just like a good book, life has unexpected turns and “plot twists.” And recently, I had one of my own.

After much prayer and thought, I have decided to lay off working on Checkmate for a while.

Let me explain why:

When I first started writing CM, I had very little knowledge of writing. I was arrogant and rejected a lot of the advice that I received. I wanted to do it my way, so I did.

They said don’t write fantasy for your first book. I wrote fantasy.

They said don’t have more than one POV for your first book. I had four.

They said outline, it will make it easier. I scribbled out an outline to say I did it, then threw it out the window.

While I don’t regret writing fantasy, I do wish I had stuck to one POV and spent more time plotting. I took on too much for my first attempt at a longer project.

One of the main flaws in my thinking was this: “Because I’ve read so many books and seen so many movies over the years, I don’t need to study plotting.”

Wrong.

Some of my friends can testify to me saying that to them. But as I started editing CM and looking at it from a critical perspective, I started to notice the flaws.

Because I hadn’t plotted, the storyline isn’t correct. And I also realized I had the wrong main character all along. I had never connected to the supposed main character, but really liked a secondary character. It turns out that the secondary character is the actual hero of the story.

While I’m sure that at some point I’ll be able to fix the problems with CM, I can’t do it right now. And there’s a point where trying to fix it will just make the issues worse, much like trying to untangle a pile of yarn—the more frustrated you get, the tighter the knots become.

I haven’t spent as much time as I should have studying the craft and learning about writing. There’s a lot of things I don’t know and a lot of things that I need to practice before I would try to implement them into CM.

I’ve been working on CM for two years. And I love every second I poured into writing it.

I’ve learned a lot and had tons of fun creating characters, crafting plot twists, and just simply writing. I learned how to write consistently, how to write when I don’t feel like it, how to bounce back from burnout, and many other valuable lessons.

While I’m really sad about giving up CM, I know taking a break will make me a stronger writer. In a few months, I plan on re-evaluating and see if my thoughts are still the same.

 

So, what will I be writing now?

Well, ever since I started this blog, it’s taken a backseat to CM. It’s time to invest more time and energy into writing posts. I’m tired of scrambling to write posts Friday so they can go up on Saturday.

But no more.

I’m working on a “vision statement” for blogging, to help me hone my focus and serve you all better!

Nonfiction writing is going to become more of a priority for me. I’m hoping to guest post more often and maybe get published on theReb again!

I’m also going to start brainstorming a new novel idea to practice on. I want to work on something without any tangles already in it so I can get better at writing. Then I can take what I learn and apply it to future novels, or maybe even CM!

I’m certainly not going to stop writing!

 

I hope you continue to walk this writing journey with me, plot twists and all!

 

 

Where’s Glendale?

This will be the final “Where’s Glendale?” post. Since he’s from CM, Glendale is also going on break. But this part of my blog isn’t leaving! In a couple weeks, there will be a new “blog mascot” up to the same antics as Glendale.

 

Glendale's "Glowing Away" Party
After a library program, there were a few tiny glow sticks left over. So I brought them home for Glendale, who decided to have a “lightsaber” duel with Yoda.

 

Writer’s Jargon: A Basic Dictionary

Writer’s Jargon: A Basic Dictionary

When I first joined the writing community, I was pretty much clueless when it came to writer jargon. When people talked about MCs, word sprints, and ships, I just skipped over those posts until I finally got enough courage to ask what those words meant.

Once I learned the terms, I started using them in my everyday conversations with my family. Then they had to ask me what they meant. 😅

So, I hope this quick guide will help you (whether you are a writer or not) to understand some of the slang us writers throw around.

 

Character Arc—A super basic definition is the inner change a character goes through over the course of the story. For example, in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, Edmund goes from being a brat to being a noble king.

Charries—Slang for “characters.”

50k—Writers like to share word counts and the most common way is in the thousands. A book hits novel status around 60k.

Love Triangle—A love triangle happens when there is one girl who has two boys she likes (or who like her). Then she has to decide who she wants to be with. Or vice versa, one boy who likes two girls (or they like him). I’m not a fan of these.

MC—This is one I use all the time. It simply stands for “main character.”

NaNo or NaNoWriMo—A yearly event in November where writers try to write 50,000 words in a month.

Pantser—Someone who writes without an outline, i.e. by the seat of their pants. (more on pantsers)

Planner—Someone who outlines. (more on planners)

Plantser—Someone who is a combination of planner and pantser. (more on plantsers)

Ship—I personally don’t use this one, but I know lots of writers who do. A ship is when you take two characters you think should get married and mash their names together. For example, there are a lot of people who think that Kylo Ren and Rey are falling in love (they aren’t, they’re either siblings or cousins 😉). So, they call the ship, “Reylo.” Weird, right?

WIP—Work-in-progress. This is whatever the writer is working on at the time. Sometimes, we have multiple WIPs at the same time.

Word Sprint—Now that I know what these are, I love doing them! Word sprints are when you and another writer set a time to write together (usually around 30 minutes or so), then after the time is up, you share word counts. Some people view them as competitions and try to get more words than the other person. Others use them for concentration and accountability purposes.

Word War—The same thing as a word sprint.

 

While this certainly wasn’t an exhaustive list, I hope it helps you understand more of the “slang” in the writing community.

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com


 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale plays cello
After abandoning his attempts at piano, Glendale found an instrument his size–a cello! Just don’t tell him it’s a Christmas ornament.
The YDubs Conference 2019

The YDubs Conference 2019

(Featured image and this photo credit: Amie)

I still can’t believe that I actually got to go to the debut YDubs conference in North Carolina last week. It was a dream come true. (If you don’t know what YDubs is, go here to check it out!

If I had to describe it in one word I’d say: SPLENDIFEROUS!

Everything about it was so inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting. For the first two days there was nothing but laughter and smiles (and lots of hugs). The last day included more laughing, smiling, and hugging, but also some tears.

But enough words, let’s have some pictures!

Simon in my backpack
While I was packing, Simon decided my backpack would be a good place to nap.

Day One: June 11

It took us 8.5 hours to drive down. Thankfully I had plenty of books to read and my laptop so I could write a bit. My brother and I watched “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

Allison Grace
My face is glowing with excitement as we near the JAARS campus.

As soon as I walked in, I was attacked hugged by one of my best YDubber friends, Chloe!

Allison and Chloe
(I’m on the right. Photo credit: Chloe)

 

 

Then I got to talk to Josiah DeGraaf, one of YDubs writing instructors and editor of Story Embers! I was really nervous, but managed to not make a fool of myself.

Josiah DeGraaf and Allison Grace
(Thanks, Julia, for taking the photo!)

 

After playing an ice-breaker game, we all settled down for the conference.

Tessa Emily Hall
This is Tessa Emily Hall, author and agent.

 

Kara Swanson and Allison Grace
Between sessions, I got the chance to talk to Kara Swanson, YA author and YDubs instructor! She signed my copy of “The Girl Who Could See”!

 

Josiah DeGraaf
A blurry picture of Josiah talking passionately about creating emotions with your words.

 

Pizza!
We had Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner! I took all my notes with that pen and notebook.

 

Amie, Chloe, and Allison
Two of my dinner buddies! Amie and Chloe!
Cupcake
For dessert, I had this adorable typewriter cupcake! The frosting was even YDubs blue!

 

Pyramid

After dinner, I stayed inside and tried to write. (I wound up watching two YDubbers both named Sam trying to get another YDubber’s little sister to play with them. XD) Meanwhile, the rest of the group was building a writer pyramid. (Photo credit: Leah)

 

Group
From left to right: Me, Saige, Robin, Savannah, and Olivia.

 

Day Two: June 12

Wednesday was the only full day of the conference, and boy, was it a blast.

 

Kara Swanson
Isn’t Kara’s laptop sticker cute?

 

Tessa Emily Hall and Kara Swanson
Real life author and agent duo, Kara Swanson and Tessa Emily Hall!

During the lunch break, Julia (violin), Maddie (flute), Parker (piano), and Sam (viola) had an impromptu concert. They played “In Christ Alone.” It was amazing!

YDubs Concert

 

Savannah, Chloe, and Allison
My lovely lunch buddies! Savannah and Chloe! (Amie ate with us too, but she playing violin with Julia at this point.)

Before we ate, Savannah and I explored the JAARS campus gift shop and I bought some handmade earrings from Uganda, a couple gourd animals from Mexico, and a couple postcards. I went back later and got a purse I had my eye on. 😀

 

Q and A
Q. and A. session with Marita Wilson, Tessa Emily Hall, Josiah DeGraaf, and Kara Swanson.

 

During the dinner break, we had another concert and this time I got to play!

It started with Parker playing hymns on the piano. Ever so slowly, everyone in the auditorium gathered around, taking pictures and videos. He’s a phenomenal pianist.

When Sam and Julia got back from dinner, they got out their instruments and started to play. I asked Maddie if I could borrow her flute and she let me!

The four of us played “It Is Well” in the key of D by ear. I think we did pretty good for never having practiced together, plus no music!

The “concert” might be my favorite part of the conference. Music has a way of drawing people together.

Concert
Sam was pretending his bow was a sword and attacking Julia.

 

Alexis and Allison
This is me and my new friend Alexis while we listened to the concert before I joined in.

 

Allison Grace at YDubs Conference
Me! (Photo credit: Alexis)

 

It was raining, so we couldn’t take our group picture outside.

Group Photo
I believe it was Addison who brought the photo mats for all of us to sign (a fantabulous idea). I’m in the very front row in the middle with the blue shirt that says “YWW.” And yes, if you count there are only 6 guys in the huge mass of girls.

 

Day Three: June 13

While this day was as fun as the others, it was also very sad. I think we all would have gladly stayed another few days (or months) and kept writing, playing music, and laughing together.

Marita Wilson
Me with Marita Wilson (a.k.a. an incredible person), another YDubs writing instructor. (Thanks, Addison, for taking the photo!)

 

Tessa Emily Hall and Allison Grace
Me and Tessa Emily Hall. She signed my copy of “Coffee Shop Devos”!

 

Costume Day
Thursday was also costume day. I didn’t dress up, though. (It also stopped raining so we did get a group picture outside! I don’t know how it came out yet.)

 

Cami, Maddie, and Chloe
Cami, Maddie, and Chloe in their costumes! (Photo credit: Maddie)

 

Allison Grace
A wacky selfie I took while no one was paying attention.

 

YDubs Conference
I took this photo just before the last session. I almost cried through the whole thing.

 

 

The conference has been the highlight of my year so far and I really hope if there’s one next year that I can go again. It was so much fun and I made many wonderful memories. (And next time, I’ll bring my flute. XD)

 

Where’s Glendale?

So, I brought Glendale with me and he sat in my backpack during the entire conference. Did I remember to get him out and take a picture with him?

No. Of course not.

So here is Glendale, in the line for an Arby’s in West Virginia on the way home. (They gave us 22 ketchup packets for four sandwiches.)

Glendale in West Virginia

Arby's Ketchup

English Sonnets and Baseball Games

English Sonnets and Baseball Games

My last semester of high school, I studied Shakespeare’s tragedies (Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear) and various sonnets. One of my assignments was to write my own English sonnet.

I was inspired by the Irish tune “The Foggy Dew.” It’s beautifully haunting and one of my favorite pieces to play on my flute.

 

 

Midsummer’s day looked over war,
And now the soft shadow of night doth fall
Where long grass once rolled with heath of the moor.
Now death’s gentle cry rings out a chill call.
The haunting pipes long since ceased weeping,
Éire’s bold colors no longer sway proud.
And yet the fog comes quietly creeping
As if its dew could become the dead’s shroud.
Some hardly men from mother’s hearts torn,
Young they were, yet this world undeserving,
For many more dark nights their lovers mourn,
For true courage is always unswerving.
The dead have left this trembling jar of clay,
To live, to fight, to face another day.


Next week, I’ll be at a writing conference! When I return, I’ll share some photos and things I learned while there.

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Where’s Glendale?

 

Glendale at Progressive Field
Glendale got to attend his first baseball game at Progressive Field (home to the Cleveland Indians) on Wednesday! While we couldn’t stay for the entire game, we watched most of it. The Indians wound up winning! (Hooray!)

 

Popcorn
As we left during the rain delay, we passed this statue. There’s a spider web over the guy’s face. Someone apparently thought it would be a good idea to stick a piece of popcorn in it! I don’t think the spider is too happy about it. XD

 

 

 

The Ultimate Writing Conference Guide: You’re Finally Here–What To Do At The Conference

The Ultimate Writing Conference Guide: You’re Finally Here–What To Do At The Conference

You walk in the door of the conference and are instantly surrounded by the buzz of conversation and clusters of strangers with name tags.

Oh boy. What was I thinking? I can’t do this thing. Maybe I should go back to the car.

But you paid for it, so you decide to stick it out for the afternoon. Maybe you won’t come back tomorrow.

 

Most writers are introverts. (I am!) Conferences are scary. There are a bunch of strangers and most of them seem to know each other, leaving you by yourself.

Going to a writer’s conference gives you the chance to rebel against the stereotype. You get to leave the introvert at home. You finally get to see what it’s like to be your super extroverted character.

In reality, pretending to be extroverted is hard. Exhausting even.

Trust me, you aren’t the only introverted writer wishing the ground would swallow them up. Someone else is lonely and afraid. Your closest writing friend just might be the girl sitting by herself at lunch. You’ll never know if you don’t talk to her.

That brings us to the first point.

 

Don’t skip the meals

It’s tempting, I know, to just eat a cold sandwich in your hotel room instead of coming to the cafeteria for warm bacon and eggs. The food isn’t as good in your room, but there aren’t other people around.

But meals are a wonderful time for you to network. It’s not as intimidating as it might sound. Networking is just meeting other writers and building relationships. And it’s not just meeting other writers, it’s anyone you meet—your family, friends, co-workers, etc. If people know who you are and what you do, they might be able to pass on an opportunity to you. Then you do the same for them. Relationships aren’t just one-sided.

Besides, you might get to eat dinner with a faculty member! Just don’t shove your way to the table where the author is sitting. Don’t be pushy or obnoxious about it.

 

So, I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to join the dinner crowd. Now what?

Ask the Golden question, “What are you writing?”

That is almost guaranteed to get people talking. Everyone here at the conference is a writer. And often you even write the same genre (sci-fi, fantasy, historical, etc.) or category (non-fiction, Christian fiction, secular fiction, etc.). You’re among kindred spirits.

This is when you’ll need to know what you are writing about.

Sometimes, people hesitate to share their ideas, thinking someone is going to steal it. While you certainly don’t want to share every little detail of your work-in-progress, you don’t want to sit there in silence.

Sure, people might steal your idea. But most writers have tons of other ideas that they came up with that they would rather focus on. And if you just share the basic premise or themes, even if they take your idea, the stolen story won’t be the same as your original idea. Besides, they’d have to pour hours into fleshing out your idea and writing it.

 

Don’t forget to exchange contact info!

If you meet someone really interesting over lunch or maybe in line for the bathroom, exchange emails. Be sure to write your name on a slip of paper along with your contact information, particularly if your email is something like ilovecookies@myemail.com. Or if you brought business cards, use those!

It might be a good idea for you to take note where you met the person and if you were supposed to email them something, like your first chapter or links to your blog and social media.

You might find long-lasting writing friendships this way!

(Tip: Contact everyone you exchanged info with as soon as you get home. They’ll have a better chance of remembering you that way. This is a good place to say, “Hey, we sat next to each other during DiAnn Mills’ keynote and talked about YA fantasy.” Just remind them who you are, and include anything you were supposed to. This shows you are responsible and eager to interact with them. Don’t be upset if you don’t get a response. It’s happened to me.)

 

Above all, remember to be kind.

Sit with the lonely people. Talk with the people no one else is.

Show yourself to be a different kind of person.

People remember kind words and actions more than you realize.

 

A final word before I wrap up this series. I’m not saying you have to be friends with everyone at the conference, exchange emails with everyone at your lunch table, or that you have to attend every activity.

What I am saying is that you need to break out of your comfort zone. Set little goals for yourself before you go. For my first conference, I set the goal of “talk to at least two or three people.” You could decide to try and ask a question in at least two sessions.

Having little goals like that can help you to get the most out of your conference experience.

 

Writing conferences are exciting steps in your journey as a writer. Going to one shows you are committed to your craft and that you are eager to learn and make connections.

They are nerve-wracking, and sometimes occasionally horrible experiences. But don’t give up on them. Every time you will learn something new.

Just remember to have fun. Go with the flow and don’t get upset if you make a mistake or miss a session.

Good luck!

 

 

Did you miss the previous posts in this series? Find them here!

How To Pick A Conference

How To Prepare–What To Do Before You Go

What To Pack–The Essential Tools

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale with "The Way of Kings"
Glendale with my latest achievement–The Way of Kings. It’s 1258 pages long! And yes, I did accidentally crack the spine. ;D
The Ultimate Guide To Writing Conferences: What To Pack–The Essential Tools You’ll Need at a Writing Conference

The Ultimate Guide To Writing Conferences: What To Pack–The Essential Tools You’ll Need at a Writing Conference

It’s time! The conference is almost upon you and it’s time to start packing. But you freeze, unsure of what to take. You certainly don’t want to forget anything.

Here are some of the essentials:

 

Backpack or other sturdy bag

You’ll want a nice big bag to carry your papers and books around in at the conference. Take something that zips so you don’t dump your stuff all over the floor.

 

Comfortable shoes

Wear some shoes you don’t mind running in. (i.e. not high heels) You’ll often be cutting it close to get to sessions (particularly if they are in different buildings) and you don’t want to be tripping over yourself.

 

Nice clothes

It’s a good idea to dress up a bit for a conference, but it depends on the event. Some are definitely dressier and with others, like Realm Makers, you can get away with being a bit more casual. Generally, you don’t want to wear T-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings, or ratty jeans. The best thing to do is see if there are any pictures on the site of previous conferences. You’ll want to imitate what others are wearing.

If you still aren’t sure, a nice top with jeans is a good middle ground. For girls, a skirt is also a good choice.

You’ll be around authors, agents, editors, and other writers. You want to leave a good impression.

Dress in layers and take a jacket. You never know if the air conditioning will be broken or turned up way too high. Or it might be raining as you run from one building to another. Be prepared for anything.

 

Camera

You’ll want to capture your experiences at the conference. The camera on your phone is a good choice.

 

Paper and Pencils/Pens

I know some people like to take notes on their laptops or tablets, but it’s a good idea to take some paper just in case your battery dies. Or your tech breaks down. (Totally never happens.)

 

Business Cards

If you have business cards, you’ll want to take them. You can exchange them with fellow writers or even with an author!

 

Folder and/or envelope

This will keep all the handouts, flyers, and business cards organized instead of in a scattered pile at the bottom of your bag. (Tip: pick up all the free things. You can sort them when you get home. You’ll never know what you might pick up!)

 

Books you want autographed

If an author you love is going to be there, by all means take their book! They’d be happy to sign it. (Don’t forget to ask if you can get a picture with them!)

 

Money to buy more books

Conferences have tables of books written by the faculty and sometimes by other attendees. Take cash (they might only accept cash or their credit card machine might break) so you don’t spend your entire checking account. Create a budget and stick to it!

 

Take a sample of your writing

It’s a great idea to take the first chapter of your work-in-progress with you. If you don’t have a first chapter, take an article you wrote, a blog post, or even an outline! Then if you’re talking to someone and they say, “Hey, that’s an awesome idea. I’d love to read it someday,” you can reply, “I actually have the first chapter with me. Want to read it?”

Be sure you take at least two hard copies with you. That way if someone forgets to give it back or they write on it, you have another copy.

 

I know that’s a lot to remember, so here is a free, downloadable packing list!

Click the link to download! Writing Conference Packing List

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale with Simon
Simon wasn’t very thrilled to be drafted into posing with Glendale. Particularly as it interrupted his nap.

 

Reese
Reese was jealous of Simon getting all the attention. So I had to take a picture of her too.
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Conferences: How To Prepare–What To Do Before You Go

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Conferences: How To Prepare–What To Do Before You Go

Welcome back! Today we’re talking about preparing for a writing conference. If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here: How to pick a conference

After you have picked the conference you wish to attend and registered, there are a few things you should do before you arrive.

 

Conference Schedule

Print off the conference schedule, which should be easily found on their website and/or social media.

Then, take a highlighter and pick what sessions you want to attend. If you can’t make up your mind yet, don’t worry! Sometimes sessions are moved or canceled, making the choice easier for you.

Looking over the schedule beforehand helps you to be better prepared when you actually arrive. It prevents you from rushing your choices while standing in the lobby, five minutes before the first speaker starts.

Be sure to take your highlighted schedule to the conference. They’ll give you the most recent one when you come in, but this way you can quickly mark your new one with all the sessions you wanted to attend. Always follow the schedule they give you at the door. You don’t want to get caught off guard with canceled or moved sessions.

This is also a good time to schedule your author/agent/editor appointment. Not all conferences have these, but most bigger ones will. You’ll want to grab your spot as soon as possible. Be sure to read the short bios about who you could meet. You certainly don’t want to show up to talk about your YA fantasy to a guy who said he only wanted to talk about devotionals for children. (Tip: a week or two before the conference, check out the sign-up sheet again. You might be able to get a bonus appointment.)

 

Research the Speakers

This is pretty fun to do. On the website, there should be a list of all the professionals attending. They are sometimes called the “faculty.”

You’ll probably want to print this off too.

Study the brief bios and link the headshots with names, so you can recognize the faculty. This will help you feel a bit less nervous. If you know what an agent looks like, you won’t sit down at your appointment and wonder who the strange man sitting across from you is.

Take extra time researching the person you have a one-on-one appointment with. Go to their website. If they’ve written books, read one, or at least study their summaries. Follow them on social media if you can.

Learn as much about them as you can and always remember, they aren’t superheroes. They are human too. If you get a chance to casually talk to them (over a meal, standing in line, before a session) try asking them about their dog or something unrelated to writing. Show a genuine interest in them.

 

Prepare Your Questions

If you have a one-on-one appointment, write out the questions you want to ask before you go. Make a crazy list of every question you can think of, serious or ridiculous. Then, organize them by importance, deleting the really dumb ones (like “Do you like Star Wars?” I wrote that one down once while brainstorming questions.).

Take your list to your appointment. Don’t be upset if you don’t get through all of them or if you get off track. That’s why you put the most important questions at the beginning. If you have follow-up questions, ask them! If you don’t understand something, ask them to clarify. And don’t forget to take notes—write down writing tools they recommend, websites, publications, books, etc.

 

Know What You Are Writing About

When someone asks you what you’re writing about, it’s super easy to freeze, then mumble, “uh, it’s about an elf and a bunch of humans in the woods.” Be prepared, don’t worry about memorizing anything, just be sure to have a good grasp on the gist of your story. For example, with my WIP, I could say, “It’s a YA fantasy about a group of humans and elves trying to put the true king back on the throne after he was ousted from the throne by his younger brother.”

 

I hope these four tips help you to be better prepared when you attend your writing conference! The most important thing to remember is to be confident, no matter how much you prepared. Just because you know a bunch of facts about the faculty doesn’t mean that the conference will go smoothly for you. But being prepared lowers the chances of a bad experience.

 

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale listens to music
Glendale would like to inform you of the best way to listen to epic soundtracks. He says you can feel the sound in your entire body, even your feet! I wonder why… ;D