Tag: writing conference

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

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

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: 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

 

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Conferences: Where to Go–How to Pick a Conference

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Conferences: Where to Go–How to Pick a Conference

Summer is writing conference season. I hope this four part series will help you to be able to easily navigate the overwhelming mess conferences can be.

The first thing you need to do is pick the conference you wish to attend. And there are thousands of conferences around the country. There are Christian conferences, secular, fantasy, romance, basically anything you can think of, there’s probably a conference for it.

I told you. It’s overwhelming.

Here are a handful of ideas to help you narrow down your choices.

 

Consider the Geography

Conferences are all over the place. And if you’re like me, you can’t easily get across the country. It’s too expensive for one thing, and you might not be allowed to travel on your own.

When you search for conferences, search by area. A good way to start is your state (if you live in the USA). It’s really easy, just type “writing conferences in Michigan” into your favorite search engine.

 

Consider Your Writing “Level”

When picking a conference to attend, you should keep in mind if you are ready for that level of a conference.

You don’t want to go to the most prestigious conference possible if you are just starting out, even if you have the opportunity.

It might be a good idea for you to start off with a smaller conference. My first conference was a one day event in my state. It was tiny, but it gave me more confidence when I went to my first “big” one.

 

Consider Who Will Go With You

Some conferences require minors to be accompanied by an adult at all times. Or maybe your parents don’t want to you traveling by yourself. Perhaps you have a physical disability that prevents you from traveling solo.

It’s really fun to go to a conference with another person, even if they aren’t a writer. I’ve gone with my mom. Maybe you could convince your parents, a sibling, grandparent, or family friend to go with you.

Taking someone you know prevents you from “sitting by yourself” syndrome. It also means you can possibly split up and go to different sessions and then exchange notes.

 

Consider a Christian Conference

My writing mentor told me to be sure to attend Christian writing conferences. She told me she had a bad experience at a secular conference—people talking about inappropriate things.

Christian conferences certainly aren’t perfect. You have different issues to worry about, such as wacky theology, but you (most likely) won’t run into inappropriate discussions.

 

I hope those tips help you narrow down your choices! Tune in next week for some tips to help you prepare for your conference!

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale the Grad
I graduated yesterday! Though the cake topper is a bit to big for Glendale, he enjoyed posing with it.

Glendale the Grad

Glendale the Grad