Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Literary in Lakeville, Heritage Library

On Sunday, February 24th, I was invited to participate in a program at the Heritage Library called "Literary in Lakeville." There were three Lakeville authors as guests on a panel to discuss a wide range of topics related to writing.

I was joined with author Samuel S. Conaway, a wonderful man who has too many stories to tell in one sitting! He loves the idea of storytelling and wrote a book to promote it to young people, titled The "Tell Me a Story" Book. His stories are perfect for late night campfires, and he leaves the endings for the storyteller to fill in, depending on the audience. Quite a clever idea!

Author Dolores Attias was also on the panel, a delightful woman originally from Cuba. She has written three books, but her "prize" is one called "Dancing with Alzheimer's", chronicling a time when Dolores cared for a woman with Alzheimer's. Dolores-with-an-O, as she likes to say, was afraid she wouldn't know what to say to the audience, but when it was her turn to speak, she charmed the entire room full of people! She is a wonderful woman with a sweet spirit and a captivating accent.

A nice group of people turned out for the panel discussion, many of whom are interested in writing, of course. It was a great chance for the three of us to answer questions about some of the experiences we've had in our journeys to publication. A big "Thanks" to Murray at the Heritage Library for hosting the afternoon event. It was a great joy to meet everyone and talk about my favorite topic!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Southern California Writers Conference, San Diego, CA

For the second straight year I attended the Southern California Writers Conference (SCWC) in San Diego over President's Weekend. I'd have to admit that last year I was a little nervous and intimiated by the level of expertise all around me. This year though, I felt much more comfortable and allowed myself to relax, which made it much easier to connect with people and "have fun!"

I met some great new friends:
Tanya Miller, a teacher from Park Rapids, MN
Brian Frederick, a writer from Long Beach, CA
Charlie Redner, a writer from Laguna Woods, CA
Claudia Whitsitt, a teacher from Saline, MI
Kathryn Dionne, an artist from Fallbrook, CA
Christine Stenstrom, an artist from Poway, CA

As many of you know, writing is a unique bond that really draws people together. The Read & Critique sessions at the conference are a wonderful example of building up each other in our craft. After all, we're all there to learn and grow as writers. The real value of the conference comes in the professional writers and editors leading the workshops and seminars who are extremely helpful and open to questions.

During my one-on-one session with Judy Reeves, a writer and teacher from San Diego, she gave me a suggestion on how to weave in bits of critical flashback scenes into the opening chapter of my new book, Seeds of Salton. It's funny...sometimes I just need someone else to point out the obvious and then I "get it!" As soon as I got home I took her advice and divided up what I had written as one big chunk of a flashback scene and wove it into the first section in smaller pieces. I can already tell it moves the story along much better and builds the tension with a greater sense of urgency. It's advice like this that we hope to find at a conference and I'm thrilled to come home knowing I've learned something that will in fact improve my manscript.

I also spent time with author and screenwriter Susan Arnout Smith, the keynote speaker on Sunday morning. She has a brand new book out from St. Martin's Minotaur, The Timer Game. It's a fast-paced thriller that's "as riveting as a ticking bomb," an excellent read! Susan and I connected at last year's conference and she is interested in writing the screenplay for Hidden Heritage...the Story of Paul LaRoche. Susan is an absolute delight and I'm looking forward to working with her in the coming year.

Some of the other speakers and leaders that I found extremely helpful were author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff, editor Jean Jenkins, and authors Michael Thompkins, Mark Clements, and Amy Wallen. Of course there were many others on staff, but in a conference this size it's impossible to attend all the workshops.

And now that I'm home, I have work to do: I must write!