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My new workshop for the OnConference

In October, I’m leading an interactive workshop at the Writer Unboxed OnConference called “Losing the Plot: Writing by the Seat of Your Pants.” It’s the workshop I’ve always wanted to see at a conference, and when I gave it at Pike’s Peak Writers in May, the feedback was excellent.

One attendee called it “group therapy for pantsers.” I’m not a therapist, but I agree. There’s value in feeling seen, and in an industry that pushes plotting really hard, those of us who don’t/can’t plot often feel like we’re in the minority or doing it wrong. Spoiler: we’re not!

I’m excited about the OnConference. Therese Walsh of Writer Unboxed has put together an incredible line-up of writers and industry folks, including literary agent and craft expert Donald Maass (teaching new material from his upcoming book), novelist and playwright Desmond Hall, and editor and authenticity reader Grace Wynter.

Not only that, but the format is different from the typical all-day cram fest. The sessions are spread out over several weeks—and recorded—so you don’t have to drop everything else in your life to attend. The platform is open 24/7 to allow writers to virtually hang out at tables, and even make their own tables by topic.

Sound good? Click the image below to check it out. Discounted early bird registration ends August 31st, so don’t delay if you plan to sign up!

Finish Your Book (and a whale sighting!)

man with head facedown on laptop with squiggles drawn over his head
If you're struggling to finish your #$%@& book, check out the free preview of the Finish Your Book Summit led by popular story coach Jim Woods, which starts today.

Finish Your Book Summit graphic

You'll find helpful tips from amazing authors like Jeff Goins, Jon Acuff, and Jennifer Blanchard. And me. 😉 I'm honored to be in such amazing company! My session will be live for free on August 30th & 31st.

If you just can't get to “The End,” you owe it to yourself to check out the summit today. If you decide you want the paid version, use code GWEN at checkout for a $50 discount.

Orange button that says Finish Your Book

P.S. In case you missed it, I saw a whale during my bike ride yesterday!! Pretty sure it was a humpback, and it was awesome to see it so close to shore. Here's a pic of its fin, and a short video.
whale fin above water

The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop

If you’re in Northern California and looking for an inexpensive, one-day workshop for writers, check out The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) on April 22nd. It’s sponsored by the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, but the topics are relevant for any fiction author.

The lunchtime keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

And, I’ll be there, talking about—what else?—Scrivener. 😉 I’ve cut back on appearances since the move, and this is my only scheduled in-person workshop (so far) this year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

SINCC conference flyer

By the way, if your group or conference would like a Scrivener presentation, contact me about putting on a one-hour or half-day workshop. I’m also available for group presentations via teleconference.

Don’t be a dream killer

Several years ago when I was a manufacturing engineer in a semiconductor plant, I worked with a guy I’ll call Frodo. He was a maintenance tech who took care of the giant machines.

Frodo spent every spare minute of his day—breaks, lunch, and downtime waiting for a process to finish—typing on his laptop. Turns out he was writing a book. A series, actually. Some kind of fantasy with elves and otherworldly creatures.

I was both fascinated and skeptical. As someone who’d always wanted to write a book myself—in that vague, “wouldn’t that be cool?” kind of way—I wanted to know more. But I wondered what made him think he might actually get published. I mean, delusional, right?

My thoughts were probably something along the lines of (cue sarcasm) “Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.”

I’m happy to report that I didn’t say that out loud. Hopefully, all he saw was the part of me that marveled at his audacity and creativity.

Now that I’m on the other side of the “what are you working on?” conversation fairly often, I think Frodo probably wouldn’t have been surprised by my doubt. And if he was surrounded by supportive writers, many of whom have gotten “the call”, as I am, he probably wouldn’t have cared much.

But the experience has made me more careful. Especially with my kids. If my son tells me he wants to be a professional athlete or astronaut or President, I might feel the need to point out the statistics and requirements (I’m still practical by nature), but who am I to say he can’t be one of those who makes it?

Someone has to.

Why would I kill his dreams when my own are just as far-fetched?

Photo credit: By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Still in the ballpark

In an effort to stay positive, I decided to celebrate my writing hits for 2009. I took the misses into account when writing my daily plan and 2010 goals, but today's post is all about getting, and staying, in the game. Even if I'm not batting a thousand. (Sorry, I'm having too much fun with baseball metaphors…)

  1. Started writing in January! Joined RWA in March.
  2. Completed two manuscripts (When You're Not Looking and Counting on You) and started Floater. (Also wrote about 100 pages each of two others that may or may not be revisited. The characters, however, are eager for my return.)
  3. Entered Counting on You in three contests. Received helpful feedback, and took 1st place in one contest. Also entered it in the 2010 Golden Heart.
  4. Joined Southern Magic RWA chapter and met some great, helpful authors and aspiring writers.
  5. Met my great writing friend and most awesome CP, Christine, thanks to unlikely mutual acquaintance, Marie.
  6. Queried four agents with Counting on You. Got two standard rejections, one partial request, and have one still outstanding.
  7. Got my PRO status with RWA.
  8. Started writing romantic suspense–the genre I really want to write, but was afraid to try–with a little (friendly) push from Laura.
  9. Attended a fabulous reader's luncheon where I mingled with cool authors like Lynn Rae Harris, Christy Reece, Kimberly Lang, Anne Stuart, and many others.
  10. Started an almost-daily blog.
  11. Judged a contest for the first time and got all my entries done on time, complete with comments on the score sheet and the MS.
  12. Read eight craft books and took one online class.

It's been a busy and exciting year. I can only hope that with my goals written down, and the continued support of friends and family, 2010 will be even better!

Getting an agent would be a nice start, but first I have to finish the book, revise it, get my CP to look it over, revise it again, polish it, send out queries…

The Daily Squirrel: Eden, part II (a different coworker's viewpoint)

Eden really knew how to light up a room. She had a smile for everyone, and her colorful suits were a bright spot in a sea of gray and black. When some of us asked for help with our own wardrobes, she happily shared tips for dressing professionally without being boring.

During meetings, she had a way of keeping everyone on track without ruffling feathers, and always had a humorous quip ready in case the mood turned too serious.

Most of all, though, what drew me to Eden was her generous heart. When she heard my husband was in the hospital after a car accident, she brought over homemade dinners for a week so the kids and I could spend more time with Rob. That was even before we were friends.

Eden was a beautiful woman inside and out, and I always enjoyed work more when she was around.

RWA: Playgroup for romance writers

When my boys were toddlers, I eagerly looked forward to weekly playgroup time. It was great for keeping them entertained and wearing them out, but the biggest benefit was for the moms.

Your child is almost three and still not potty trained? No, that’s not weird. Others have been there. There’s a sense of relief in knowing that others parent like you and face similar struggles.

The same is true with writers. At the readers’ luncheon in Birmingham yesterday, I was reminded of why I joined my local chapter of RWA. Because writing is a solitary pursuit, and being around other writers assures you that you’re not alone, or (too) strange.

During Anne Stuart’s speech, she discussed why she likes being a writer. For example, she could lie down on the bed in the afternoon and tell her husband she’s working. I totally do that! Sometimes when I’m thinking about where I want to go next with the story, I just need to close my eyes and daydream.

And, it turns out that plenty of published authors are pantsers, just like me. During the luncheon, I sat with Lynn Rae Harris, an author for Harlequin Presents, and she assured me that the editors are used to working with pantsers. Whew!

The best thing about being around other authors is that everyone is supportive and willing to share their stories and advice. From novice to long-time-published authors, we support each other.

Just like being a mother, writing is more fun when you don’t have to go through it alone.