Dramaquill's All Things Writing

August 11, 2014

Writing conferences: Online or in Person?

I’ve attended conferences both online and in person in the past five years.

Online has the 24 hour convenience of being able to read, write and participate any time of day or night.  You can wear anything because nobody can see you.  If you get interrupted, you can come back and pick up right where you left off.  You can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Going to a conference in person allows you the excitement of seeing people in person and interacting with them during lectures, workshops and even meals and coffee breaks.  You can make eye contact and banter back and forth.  And yes, you can meet new people, including editors, authors, publishers and even agents.

Online conferences don’t cost as much and in fact, many are even free.

Going in person means packing, traveling, staying in a hotel and making a commitment to a block of time set aside for the conference.

To me, both have their pros and cons.

I like the convenience of the online conference but the interaction in person cannot be replicated in the online venue.

Whichever you choose, writing conference do teach, excite and inspire us to be better.

Which do you prefer:  Online or in Person

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November 29, 2013

Writers – What Are You Thankful For?

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 11:40 AM
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Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the United States. That got me to thinking. As a writer, what am I thankful for?

1. The internet
It no longer matters where you live. You can write from
anywhere and be connected to publishers, editors,
agents, critique groups, book clubs, ezines…anything you
need.

2. A computer
Although I do love writing with pen and notebook, being
able to create my documents on a computer and email
them, rather than print and mail them, is not only handy
but also saves me money.

3. Brick and Mortar Book stores
As much as the world seems to moving into a more
digital direction, nothing is more of an indulgence than
wandering through a store with shelves brimming with
books of all kinds.  Book stores are definitely one of my
guilty pleasures.

4. My Day Job
Yes, I’ve been known to complain that I don’t always have
enough time to write my books because I have to go to
work, but I’m also very lucky because part of what I do
in my job is writing (playscripts & business correspondence).

5. My Followers
Being online can sometimes feel very impersonal and
blog posts can seemingly be lost out in cyberspace
somewhere. How thankful I am for my blog follwers.
Some comment. Some contact me. Some simply read
my posts. But…I know you’re out there and that keeps
me motivated to keep blogging.

Writers – What are you thankful for?

September 17, 2013

Writer’s Block Tip

Filed under: Writing — dramaquill @ 2:30 PM
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No doubt every writer has, at one time or another, suffered from a bout of writer’s block.  

Empty page…cursor blinking…
White notebook page…pen in hand…

…and nothing!

The crisp fall air reminds me that there’s inspiration everywhere.  

For example, what did you do all summer?  Did you have company come and visit?  Did you go on a trip somewhere?  Were there special occasions to celebrate?  Did you meet new people or reconnect with those you hadn’t seen for a long time?

Fall is the perfect time to use something from summer as an inspiration to begin writing something new.

Or…just look out the window at the beautiful colours and the people buzzing around with their hectic schedules and let one of the scenarios unlock your creativity.

What’s your best tip for getting past writer’s block?

August 9, 2010

How to get the most from a critique group

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I’ve belonged to several critique groups over the past ten years.  Each one operated in a slightly different way but basically offered the same thing:  a forum for posting my writing and receiving feedback.

How can one get the most from a critique group?  Here are some things I’ve learned from my participation over the years:

  1. Decide what you need from a group and what you have to offer in return.
  2. Make sure that the group has writers of a compatible level, ie, if you are an intermediate writer, and seriously working on publishing a book, don’t join a group for beginning novelists.
  3. Develop a rapport with the members – get to know them as people.
  4. Be open to criticism.  After all, that’s why you joined. 
  5. Don’t get defensive.  Critiquing is subjective.  If you don’t agree with something someone else has said, then pass it by.
  6. Respect the opinion of all members as just that – their opinion.
  7. Realize that you don’t have to implement every suggestion.  Only use what you feel makes your writing/manuscript better.
  8. Be honest but not mean.
  9. Learn to disagree and move on.
  10. Accept that some groups may end up not meeting your needs.  It’s okay to leave and find another group.

In all my groups I have seen success come to a variety of members in everything from being published in magazines to book deals. 

But most of all, I’ve enjoyed the journey of meeting writers from all walks of life and in various stages of their careers. 

Whether you meet in person, or online, I believe belonging to a good critique group is invaluable for any writer.

May 25, 2008

What’s the SCBWI?

Are you a children’s book writer or illustrator?  Even if you aren’t published in the kidlit genre, the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) is an organization you should become familiar with and consider joining.

For the aspiring writers & illustrators looking for their first break, the SCBWI offers a plethora of resources including:

* writing conferences (international and regional)

*a network of writers/illustrators/publishers/editors/agents/librarians/teachers/
  booksellers – all available to offer valuable information to SCBWI members

*a bi-monthly newsletter

*grants/awards (Golden Kite award)

*a website filled with constantly updated information for anyone seriously
  considering writing and/or illustrating children’s books (online discussion groups/
  current market listings/critique exchange opps/links to member’s websites
& so much more

And there’s one other benefit that I feel is really an important one for writers looking to get their first book published.  Let me explain.  Many publishers’ guidelines state that they only accept work from agents.  But how does one get an agent without being published.  It’s such a catch-22. There are some publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts but there aren’t as many of those these days.  However, many publishers (even those who prefer agented subs) will look at packages from unpublished writers if they are members of the SCBWI.  So, belonging to the SCBWI could get your foot in an otherwise “private” door.

And the best part is that there are two different membership levels:

1.   Full membership (writers & illustrators commercially published or
produced as well as agents, publishers & editors)

2.  Associate membership (unpublished writers & illustrators or those
published in a field other than kidlit)

Full members can have a link to their own website, too.

I’m a proud member of the SCBWI, and have been for the past four years.

Check them out online at:   http://www.scbwi.org/

 

March 27, 2008

The Power of Chocolate

With Easter just behind us and several chocolate eggs still sitting on my counter, I am reminded of the many comments I’ve read over the years on writers’ forums and listserves.

A writer posts the sad news of yet another rejection.  His/her fellow writers chime in with supportive comments and one common suggestion:   Eat some chocolate.

Another writer posts the jubilant news of an acceptance or even better, a payment from a publication.  His/her fellow writers chime in with congratulatory comments and one common suggestion:  Eat some chocolate.

As I stare at a small pile of brightly wrapped chocolate eggs, I begin to wonder why chocolate seems to be the treat of choice, whether it’s to console the rejected writer or help the published writer celebrate a success. 

What exactly is the power of chocolate?

One site online suggests that chocolate effects the same parts of the human brain as marijuana, however, it would likely take 25 lbs. of the yummy confection to create the same buzz as smoking one joint.

Another website tells of a study where the results suggested eating chocolate might actually enhance cognitive performance, including verbal and visual memory.

And I’m sure we’ve all heard that dark chocolate, in small doses (like the equivalent of 2 Hershey kisses/day) is actually good for our hearts.

There are even studies debating the positive and negative effects of chocolate on our moods. 

But as writers, does any of this apply to our reasons for eating chocolate as we are subjected to the ups and downs of the writing biz?
I don’t think so!

The power of chocolate is that it makes us feel good – at least temporarily. 

Now put down that chocolate easter egg and get back to the business of writing.

January 11, 2008

Something fun to try

Blogs are a great way for a writer, published or unpublished, to create a web presence.  Some are very pointed and specific while others run carefree. 

 I recently read somewhere (I know, as a writer I should have written down so I could cite it properly for all my readers) that some authors use blogs to allow their characters to speak out.

And I thought – HEY, what a cool idea!

When I first started this blog, I talked a lot about my adult suspense novel.  I’m still hot and heavy into the final (yeah, right) revision and I wondered if my heroine, and my villain, might have some things to get off their minds.

So, don’t be surprised if they start making an appearance here shortly.

October 2, 2007

For me, a messy office is a productive office

Hard at work

As long as you know where everything is, not every writer feels peace with a clean desk.  I need to know where everything is and have it right where I can grab it.  Once I put it all away, the “out of sight – out of mind” principle takes over and I never seem to find it again.  I feel stifled by a clean desk, not energized and ready to go.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

How do you keep your office?  Are you productive? 

I say, try spreading out and surrounding yourself with everything you need tomorrow and see what happens. 

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