Archive for the ‘Workshops and Contests’ Category


LTUE – Feeling Fake

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This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

Jason Alexander, Ami Chopine, Sandra Tayler, Chris Weston, Stacy Whitman

Imposter syndrome.

Reality –> everyone is making it up as they go!

Part of it is humility – knowing you don’t know it all.

And that is good –> willing to learn

Fear can keep you from what you need to do.

It’s okay to get it wrong. Get it wrong and move on!

No about smart, it’s about hard work.

Look at the evidence that you belong – of your own competence.

Write every day.

Spectate on the feelings you have in the moment.

Set goals.

Have somebody be your sanity check – honest affirmation.


LTUE – From Idea to Story

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This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

Jess Smart Smiley

Developing an idea into a story.

Do a mind map, lists, notecards.

Take one bubble and combine with another. Repeat.

Then take time away from the ideas and let it all germinate.

Get a solid concept.

Notecard method: split into 3 sections – Begin, Middle, End. Put B, M, or E on notecard.

Write 3-5 sentence description of what happens on each card.

Then add 2 cards to each one. Create a middle and end for each section – 2 sentences.

Then build what goes in-between.

Make the process as much fun as the book when it’s done.

Then, Rough Draft.

What story looks like, pacing, get to know story better, see what up against.

Finish rough before editing.

Next draft.

Final Edit.


LTUE – eBooks

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This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

This one did not have lots of notes from me because I knew a lot already. But here they are:

iwritenetwork forums for bloggers


createspace (amazon)


LTUE – Queries and Pitches

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This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

Donna Milakovic, Lisa Mangum, J. Scott Savage, Chris Shoebinger, Kirk Shaw

Different types of queries – with manuscript, without, requested, slush

Different types of pitches – verbal (elevator pitch), high concept (take small idea and make it your hook, make it big). What makes your book different? Be enthusiastic about your story – infectious.

* – good info on pitches

Make sure to tell the ending. Position it for them – take subgenre and associate your book with titles there (not necessarily A-list titles).

Be simple, memorable, powerful, then stop talking!

4 sentences is about right.

Think of ways to increase your value to the publisher (in publicity, marketing)

Have others give honest reviews before sending your manuscript.

Publishers are more interested in building a brand.

After writing 1st book in a series, start a new project. This is so that if the 1st one gets rejected, the 2nd in the series is useless.



LTUE – What Exactly Does an Editor Do?

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This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

Lisa Mangum, Joshua Perkey, Kirk Shaw, Rick Walton, Stacy Whitman

Editors are not really copy-editing. Work on bigger picture.

Editors are a writer’s biggest advocate.

Get to know editors. Social media too.

Editors facilitate communication between reader and author.

If editor suggests a change, you can come up with your own solution for solving the problem.

Editors are starting to allow simsubs (simultaneous submissions).

Important to keep the reader hooked after the first few chapters.

Some writers start in the wrong spot – editors may be able to help.

Editors can help fix characterization, pacing, plot. But, they don’t want to have to fix everything!

Editors can’t fix voice.


LTUE – Marketing and Publicity

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This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series LTUE 2012

I have been so busy and such a procrastinator that I have neglected to put my LTUE 2012 notes up here. So, I will be posting them all over the next several days.

LTUE was February 9-11, 2012. This year it was held at Utah Valley University (UVU), and it was a great event.

So, on to my notes . . .

Marketing and Publicity

Bree Despain, Lynn Hardy, Jenn Johansson, Elana Johnson, Chris Schoebinger

You can pitch ideas to your publisher.

  • Bree’s nail polish
  • LibraryThing and Goodreads – giveaways (free ebooks) (goodreads giveaways require hard copy)
  • Amazon Kindle Forum (don’t talk about your own book)
  • Charity Work (donating proceeds from book)
  • Bridge book – combine book/paper with eBook (prequel? bridge story?)

* Marketing is about throwing stuff out and seeing what sticks.

  • Good Things Utah, Utah Valley Magazine
  • Build your platform – be interesting and entertaining, even a group blog. social media, book bloggers.
  • Publish more each year. Multiple releases. Anthologies.
  • Check out what others are doing.
  • Conferences
  • * Pick a couple things you enjoy and can make an impact with.
  • * Sandra Mitchell – marketing blog. Timeline. Postcards.
  • “I wanna get my books in the hands of kids for a reduced price”
  • Signings aren’t great except maybe in release month. Launch party. Presentation beforehand?



Lessons from LTUE

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I learned lots of different things at LTUE this past week, despite having gone for the past several years and attending some of the same class sessions and panels before.

It was awesome to hang with some other writers and to make new writer friends.

So, what did I learn?

It was reaffirmed to me that I need to really commit myself. I’ve let job and teaching be my excuse for not writing every day. That needs to stop. I am making a goal, right now, of finishing my book this year by writing for at least an hour per day (probably at work during lunch), six days per week. Another goal is to write 2 new short stories and to keep submitting old and new ones this year. My ultimate goal is to be writing full-time by 2015.

Speaking of which, I learned a lot about how to structure short stories. I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to end a story. I figured that I was just more cut out for novel-length writing. While most of my ideas do tend to run to longer works, I just was too influenced by the literary sensibilities of short story writing (which doesn’t work well when writing genre fiction).

I thought Dan Wells’ session on How to Scare People was especially awesome. I am not planning on writing horror, but I do want to build more suspense into my novel. I liked the idea of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” in story-telling (from the story about the guy whose upstairs neighbor would always drop both shoes loudly on the floor at night until one night when only one is heard).

Paul Genesse had some great sessions too. One was about hard science concepts and how to present them (presented with Eric James Stone). I liked the idea that Quantum Mechanics equals magic! I was stuck a bit in my novel about how to handle the engine, and the stuff they talked about helped point me in a good direction to solving the problem. Paul also had a nice discussion about the importance of using character as your starting point and plot seed.

The session on Dystopia helped me classify my novel better.

Marketing and Promotion was completely made of awesome! I’ll have to post more about that later. Bree Despain is an amazing marketer – very impressive. I bought her book because I was so impressed.

I learned about the value of music with writing. In the past I’ve not listened to music, for various reasons. But I want to start using some of the ideas to see how things go. It seems to be working well for Stephanie Meyer.

The Romance versus Story with Romantic Elements was very helpful in getting me thinking about those parts of my novel and how to improve the character relationships and the sexual tension.

I haven’t really thought about sequels, but they brought up some great points that I definitely need to consider.

Dave Wolverton (aka David Farland) had a great session about Editing and Revising. Some of what he talked about will be on a to-be-released-episode of Writing Excuses. I especially appreciated the idea of doing a triage edit first.

John Brown’s Lessons from the Hunger Games gave me lots of stuff to think about with that series, especially considering my initial reaction to the story.

And so much more.

I’ll get stuff up here within the next week to share some other lessons and to be more specific about how I want to apply what I’ve learned.


Second Rejection

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I got the rejection letter yesterday from the Writer’s of the Future contest. I wasn’t really expecting to win, so I’m doing okay.

In fact, I just sent the story off to Intergalactic Medicine Show. I hope they at least give me some comments on it if they don’t like it, because I can’t figure out what to do to fix it, except make it longer by resolving the whole plot. And that would probably put me into novella territory.

I am also gearing up to start working on my novel. I have a deadline of October, so I need to get moving on it.


Writers of the Future

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Well, things have been pretty busy for me lately.

I finally have the plot down for It is going to be awesome, if I do say so myself (and I just did). I had lots of trouble figuring out a way to make the protagonist actually win in the end because I had such good ideas for the antagonist. I suppose that is a good problem to have. I don’t want it to be an easy victory, after all, especially given my small criticisms of the endings of the Twilight saga and The Host. I need to post more on here, and plotting would definitely be a good topic (note to self).

But, what I’m really writing about today is that I submitted a story to the Writers of the Future contest. I got it in before the end of March, so I still have a month and a half or more to wait until I hear how the story did. I am not getting my hopes up too high, but I feel like I wrote the very best story I could. It was the Bamboo Lessons story that I started a couple years ago. I’ve had my writing group look at it a couple times, as well as a few other friends and family members to get feedback. It really helped to bring the story together and to tie it up better than I could have imagined.

I like reading short stories, but I’m not sure if I am a short story writer. I don’t think I always have the right idea for what a complete story is. And, I love to spend time with characters and situations that just can’t be done easily in a short form. So, if I don’t even get an honorable mention, I will probably stop working on short stories and spend more time on novel-length works. Not that I couldn’t learn and do better next time, but I feel like this story is the best short story I can do right now.

On the other hand, if the story does well, I’ll still work on novels, but I’ll start more in earnest on revising my short stories and getting them out to publishers.

I’ll post an update as soon as I know.



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Codex Writer’s Workshop.

I anticipated this event for a long time.

The first few days were for critiques of novels and short stories, as well as some class sessions on writing and being a writer. We had the famous Ellen Datlow critique our short stories. She was very insightful and gave lots of comments to everyone. We also had David Coe come for dinner one night; after which we picked his brain with questions.

The last week or so was just a retreat time where we could relax and write and explore Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I’ll post more later about what happened and what I learned.