First let's start with author bios:
Brief Bios for Blog Tour
Professor M. C. Gore holds the doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas. She taught first grade through graduate school for 36 years in New Mexico, Missouri, and Texas. She was a professional horse wrangler and wilderness guide and continues to play clarinet in two community bands. She is Professor Emeritus from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas where she held two distinguished professorships. Her books for teachers and parents are shelved in over a thousand libraries throughout the world. She is retired and lives in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.
Maestro Phillip Wilson was a public-school band director, music teacher, composer, and arranger for 28 years. His primary instrument is the trumpet, and he is also a campañero (bell ringer). Although he is over 80, he continues to serve as Music Director and Cantor at his church. He is a life-long resident of New Mexico and was born in Santa Fe. Although his genotype is Dutch and Scotch-Irish, his soul is Hispanic. He was Professor Gore’s music teacher and band director, and although the loving biological father of seven musical children, he is a soul-father of the hundreds of students he has taught.
Artist Angie F. M. Trotter holds a BA in Religion and Fine Art. Her pen and ink illustrations are a fusion of icons, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass window design, and her spiritual life. She is also a chronic migraine suffer and her art helps calm her symptoms. Her mother was a folk artist; her father was an architect and fine artist, so she has been surrounded by art her whole life. Her work has been compared to the masters of the Golden Age of British book illustration. She lives in Arkansas.
Professor Gore has told us her advice on writing workshops Check out this amazing post.
Attending Writers’ Workshops: Getting Your Money’s Worth
Caveat: I’m not going to talk about the advantages of meeting and pitching to editors and agents at high-dollar conferences far away. I’m not going to talk about the importance of networking. You can find many wonderful articles about those online. And those are important to read about, so read about them.
I’m going to focus on WHAT YOU CAN LEARN at workshops. I’m interested in what you can learn because, dammit, I’m a teacher, so learning is my stock in trade. (And yes, I’m a veteran writer with my nonfiction books shelved on over a thousand libraries around the world and my new picture book that’s won a Kirkus star, which is a huge deal.)
So I’m going to write about what you can learn at workshops such as one I gave for free at our county library last month; the ones our veteran members offer for free or $5 to visitors at our writers’ club; our low-cost regional writer’s conferences; our inexpensive state writers’ conference; or our state SCWBI conference and workshops that are low-cost to SCWBI members (although you can meet and pitch to editors at either the state or SCWBI).
Most writers can’t afford the cost of traveling to major conferences. Airfare, hotels, taxis, $25 hotel bleu cheese with tomato jam hamburgers, and the high registration fees of first-rate conferences (the best from $1000 - $5000 to attend) are simply out of most people’s reach.
But if you look around your region, you’re going to find opportunities to attend writers’ workshops and small conferences. You may think you don’t need to put out the minimal amount of time, effort, and money to go, but you do.
I’ve taken hundreds of college students to conferences and workshops over twenty years, and I always said, “If you learn one thing, ONE THING, at this workshop that you can put to use tomorrow, then you’ve spent your time and money wisely.” And that’s the take-home if you don’t want to read the rest of this post.
So what are some ONE THINGS (sic) you can learn at workshops?
First, you might learn something that you already know.
What? Learn something that you already know? Yep. That’s what I said.
First, you may have known something about writing but forgotten it. You smack your forehead. “How could I have forgotten that? What-an-idiot! (Spoken like Hermione about Ron.) Now I need to go back and re-write that last chapter.”
Second, hearing someone else’s take on what you already know can give you a new perspective. For example, I know that I needed to know my protagonist’s back story, but I attended a workshop where I learned a new technique to understand her better by putting her into a chair across from me and asking her questions like, “Tweed, what’s the thing you’ve done that you’re most ashamed of?”
Third, simply hearing a writer you respect tell you something you already know increases your confidence as a writer. “Hey! I knew that! I’m on the right track! I’m a writer, alright!”
Second, you might learn something that you know that you don’t know.
I know that conflict is central to plot, so I chose not to attend a workshop session on Find Your Conflict, Find Your Story. I knew my conflict: Jake, the 18-year-old son of the biggest rancher in the state, falls in love with Tim, the new hired hand, who’s been dating Melanie for two years.
I also know that a story needs continuing conflict to keep the reader’s attention, but I knew that I didn’t know how to increase conflict in my story. Therefore, when I saw a workshop titled Five Ways to Increase Conflict in Your Story, I knew I needed to go to that session.
I learned that conflicts didn’t have to be earth-shattering to be conflicts. Conflict is simply a barrier to a character getting what he wants. I’d never known that. As soon as I learned that, I was able to think up multiple small conflicts that enhanced my main conflict:
Jake wants to get Tim alone to see if the attraction might be mutual, so he invites Tim to go fishing for the weekend. Jake’s dad thinks that’s a fine idea and decides to join them. That’s conflict.
Tim is interested in Jake, but Tim knows he’s got halitosis from an abscessed tooth, and no money to go to the dentist, so he avoids letting Jake get physically close. Jake feels rejected when Tim stands up and walks off every time Jake joins him on the bunkhouse swing. That’s conflict.
I went to a session to learn what I knew I didn’t know how to do, and in minutes I learned what I needed to know.
Third, you might learn something that you don’t know that you don’t know.
The world is full of things that we don’t know that we don’t know. In fact, we don’t know that we don’t know the majority of things to know in the world.
Beginning writers tell readers everything. They don’t know that they don’t know to show us instead of tell us. They write:
John had a bad temper. He was angry at his wife because she burned the toast. She was afraid of him because he had hit her on many occasions. She was afraid to leave him because she had low self esteem because he’d convinced her that she was stupid.
Somebody shoot me, please!
But even we veteran writers don’t always know what we don’t know.
For example, I attended a workshop about writing screenplays at a conference because I had walked out of a session where the presenter didn’t have her shit together. Nice lady, probably a good writer, but she was disorganized and wasting my time.
I was never going to write a screenplay, but I had nowhere else to go at the small conference. The screenplay session had been running ten minutes when I arrived, and within two minutes, I was cussing myself that I had missed those ten minutes.
I learned from the screenplay writers that dialogue is action.
I didn’t know that dialog is action. And I didn’t know that I didn’t know it.
I thought action was movement, and dialogue was talking. Well, I learned from that screenplay workshop that dialogue is action. Action moves a story forward, and since good dialogue moves the story forward, it’s action.
Ergo, three reasons to go to a workshop are: 1) to learn what you already know; 2) to learn what you know that you don’t know; and 3) to learn what you don’t know that you don’t know.
Getting the Most for Your Money at a Conference
This is the easiest to tell you, but the hardest thing for you to do. Get up and walk out of a session.
If you attend a session and the presenter isn’t prepared, get up and walk out.
If you attend a session and you realize it’s not at all what you thought it was going to be about, get up and walk out.
If you attend a session, you’re a veteran writer, and it’s for beginning writers, get up and walk out.
Don’t worry about hurting the presenter’s feelings. His feelings are not your problem. Your time is limited. Your money is limited. You need to spend both wisely. Go try another presenter’s session. You might find out that another presenter will teach you something that you didn’t know that you didn’t know.
Andast but not least, my review of All Is Assuredly Well.
This book was a very cute book to read. It was fun and entertaining. I would definitely recommend it to any of my friends who have children.
The characters are so amazingly written that I was able to lose myself in the story. I lived the happy ending too .If you can get your hands on this book, I suggest you do so. You're going to love it!!!
Until next time... Later Days and Happy Reading!!!