Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brandon Sanderson's Keynote Address

"Ten Things I Had to Learn Before I Could Sell a Book."

That was the title of the keynote address by Brandon Sanderson at the Book Academy conference last week. I got there early enough to grab a seat right up front. The speech was probably the highlight of my day. Here's a recap of his ten things:

1. Everyone is different. Learn what works for you and what doesn't.
2. Writing can be learned. Fill your writing toolbox with all you learn and then use the tools that work best for you.
3. Write what's in your heart. A lot of people can tell you what kind of book is or isn't selling at the moment, but what's always selling is a good book.
4. Pay attention to the market. You don't have to chase the market, but a part of you has to be a business person that thinks about how to exploit the art that the creative part of you is busy creating.
5. To begin is human. To finish is divine. You have to finish stuff before you can sell it. You have to practice finishing. You need to develop good habits, and if something's not working, try a new habit. Shake things up, offer yourself a reward, try something different.
6. To begin is human. To finish is divine. To revise is hell. But you have to do it. Great writers are even better revisers.
7. Nobody starts off perfect. It's okay to suck.
8. Keep at it. Be a little arrogant. Believe you are going to make it.
9. Luck happens.
10.You can improve your chances drastically. Just by doing something as simple as following the submission guidelines, you can get ahead of 50% of the manuscripts submitted. Learn to write well, to revise well, and you get ahead of 75%. It can be tough, but it can happen!

To conclude he said, "You can get published. Everyone in this room. I did it. If I did it, you can do it . . . You will make it. Go learn and write!"

I found it so inspirational and helpful after my awful feelings of discouragement and doubt. Since I had a seat up front, I plucked up my courage and went up to him after the speech and told him how much I appreciated it. This is so not like me, but I really wanted to talk to him again. You see, I had just met him in person at church. His in-laws live in my ward (and are some of my favorite people). I was so nervous at church, that I felt like I must have come off as a total dork. I'm not sure I came off any better at the conference, but it doesn't really matter. He's a super nice, approachable person, not to mention a terrific writer, and I really enjoyed hearing him speak. If you haven't read any Brandon Sanderson, you really should!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Academy Writers Conference

I had a great time at the Book Academy on the 24th. I'll give you the general overview today, and do some future posts about the classes I attended and all the terrific things I learned. I heard about the conference a few months ago, and knew right away that I had to go. I arranged (begged) for my husband to take the day off work so he could be with the little ones, and he graciously agreed. I've been looking forward to it ever since, but then something happened last week that took the wind out of my sails. I was devastated, to be honest. I didn't want to go to the conference anymore. I didn't want to be with other writers; I didn't want to have to listen to the real writers lecture me about stuff I already know. Fifteen years I've been at this. Fifteen! Bitterness, jealousy, resentment. It wasn't good. I am embarrassed to admit to feeling that way, but I was. However, I had paid my money and I was going to go anyway. I worked hard to change my attitude. A couple of really great posts on other blogs helped. I prayed a lot. I asked for grace, and I received it. By the time the conference rolled around I was excited and feeling (mostly) better again.

Boy am I glad that went! I was blessed to be able to let go of resentment and jealousy. The speakers and classes were motivational, informative and fun. I stopped thinking about myself and what a dork I am, and decided to talk to as many others as possible and met some really great folks. I even got to meet Windy in person. I especially loved Brandon Sanderson's keynote address and James Dashner's class. I left feeling good about carrying on with this crazy, difficult, heartbreaking and yet exhilarating journey of writing. I wasn't even too upset about my parking ticket.

Before I go, I want to thank Nicole (Struggling to Make It) over at Chapters for awarding me a Kreativ Blogger award! I really appreciate that. Since I just recently passed that one on to others, I'm not going to it again, but I am grateful that you thought of me. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three Cheers for my Followers!

I just reached 70 followers. Yeah! Cookies for everyone! I sure appreciate you guys following the blog. Here's my "Welcome to the blog" post that I did a while back. I have a lot more to welcome now!

Just want to say HI and welcome to all the followers who've joined recently, and to those of you who have been following for a while. It's great to have you here! Be sure to check out the links to my fiction there on the sidebar, and while your at it, enjoy some more great reading over at Mindflights Magazine. Want to be my friend on Facebook? I'd love it. I appreciate all of you following, and I'd love to see your comments. Come back often!
I'm curious. What are some of the other blogs that you follow? Do you have any favorites? I always love finding great new blogs to follow and read, so let me know which blogs you love.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hooray for Dr. Seuss!

Don't you just love Dr. Seuss? I do. I think he's one of the greatest writers ever. What other author gets his birthday celebrated around the country every year? He taught us how to read. What's not to love?

What truly inspires me, though is when I learned that his first picture book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 different publishers. 27! He had about decided to give up on writing children's books, when he ran into a friend who worked for a publisher. The friend offered to show his manuscript to the big bosses, and they decided to publish it. So, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the world was not deprived of Dr. Seuss because of a boatload of rejections. I try to remember that when I feel discouraged about this whole process. What if he had given up? I shudder to think of it.

Just remember what Dr. Seuss himself said:

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!” (from Oh, the Places You'll Go.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Congratulations, Elana!

My friend Elana has a new book out today, From the Query to the Call! How exciting is that? You should also check out her new Query Ninja blog.  Sounds awesome! Can't wait to get my copy. Way to go, Elana!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Have you been to Mindflights lately?

As you may now, I am an editor over at Mindflights Magazine, so I'd thought I'd give it a little plug here. At Mindflights we strive to publish fiction that is entertaining, enlightening, and uplifting. From our vision statement:

All flights have a destination. Mindflights' journeys are speculative—science fiction, fantasy—and our ultimate destination is truth.
We believe some truths are universal. Some truths are there for all persons to find through observation and pondering, with inquiry or with introspection, with stillness or with debate. Other truths must be sought, hunted, and they are more difficult to capture. Both can inspire stories and poems.

I have been with Double-Edged Publishing, first with The Sword Review and then with Mindflights for over four years. We have published many fabulous stories and poems during that time. Here are a few of my very favorites:

Singing Me Home by Jenny Schwartz

The Bone Setter by Suzette Saxton

Quite the Character by Joanna Mallory

Grubs by Steve Miller

And many others! So, come check out our current contents and browse through the archives for some great, family-friendly reads.

Mindflights is a non-profit organization and everyone on the staff is a volunteer, because we believe in what we can accomplish through uplifting speculative fiction. If you do like what you find on Mindflights, consider making a small donation to help us continue bringing you high quality work. It would be much appreciated!

We'd love to see your work, too. We are currently closed to submissions, but we'll be opening to subs again in October, so send us your best!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks Again!

A great big thanks to Michelle at The Surly Writer for recognizing me with the Honest Scrap award. I really appreciate that!

 I've been feeling overwhelmed with all the awards (in good and bad ways), and so I'm playing fast and loose with the rules (sorry), and I'm going to drop a zero and tell you just one honest thing about me that most people don't know and pass on the award to one highly deserving blogger, so here goes:
About me:
I almost died of Toxic Shock Syndrome when I was fourteen
And my pick for this award:
Nisa at Wordplay, Swordplay, because she's just awesome!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sand Through the Hourglass

First of all, I have to thank Anna C. Morrison for the Splish-Splash award for a dazzling blog. Wow. I don't know if I deserve it, but thanks so much! I'd like to pass that award along to Bethany and Suzette at Shooting Stars and Elana at Elana J. Author whose blogs continue to dazzle.

Now on to the post:

One of my pet peeves when I'm reading is when a character thinks something along the lines of, "Was that only three days ago? It feels like years." Um, no. That feels unauthentic to me. Just because for the author it was, in fact, years in between those three days does not mean that's how it feels to the character. It certainly doesn't feel that way to me as the reader. My perception of time is usually quite the opposite. (It's September already? What happened to August?) I suppose this stems from a desire to illustrate the great changes in the characters life during the course of the story. I'm not sure using time is the most effective way to do that, however. My most recent unexpected and life-changing event was the birth of my last child, over a month early and while on vacation in Vegas. I do remember thinking, "Gee, our other boy's birthday party was less than a week before the baby was born." I didn't feel like the party had been years before, but I was surprised at how fast everything had changed.

Anyway, it's got me thinking. How do the characters perceive the passage of time? I know children see time differently than adults. Young children have no concept of time at all. My five year old still has trouble with "today" and "tomorrow." She usually refers to tomorrow as "next day." For me, time is always flying by way too fast, but then there are other times, like the two weeks that my preemie baby spent in the hospital, that drag on and on. Is it worth thinking about how the characters feel about time? I don't know if I ever consciously have, except to avoid the temptation above. I think the passage of time, or the perception of it, is worth considering. Not that it needs to be deliberately included, but it seems to me one more way to add depth and realism to the story. Any thoughts?