I’m kind of awkward, sometimes talk too much, sometimes don’t talk at all, often wish I hadn’t spoken when I do, and also talk and write in run on sentences!
I’m a writer.
I’m also kind of emotional, ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you, I’m not afraid to scream with excitement, cry when I’m hurt, or even with joy. I’m not afraid to feel, orshare my feelings, sometimes I’m too open with how I feel…however, when it’s something big…something I haven’t experienced before…something for which there’s no training, I freeze. I don’t react. I hold back, waiting for instructions, waiting for someone to tell me what the right thing is to do. Because, I wouldn’t want to do the wrong thing.
So, when my editor told me I needed more emotional description, I was surprised, everyone knows how I feel, and surely everyone could see how my characters felt. Right?
But I worked on it, I fixed it…I thought. Then, this weekend, at the California Writer’s Conference, during a critique with author, Barbara Ankrum, I had to do some self-reflection after I was told that she could see how my other characters felt, but not how the main character was feeling…and as we all know, our characters, especially main characters, while fictional, have elements of the author in them. So why am I not getting her feelings across?
Why, when Violet, who always does the right thing, is confronted with the unimaginable, am I unable to show how she’s feeling? Why can’t I get her emotions on the page. And then I realized what it was. Violet behaved exactly as I did, she froze, she didn’t know how she was allowed to react, she didn’t know how she was supposed to feel. And confrontation is ugly, dirty, and might mess up her hair.
Now some of that might surprise those who know me because, well, I’m not an ‘every hair in place’ kind of girl. I’d like to be, but even in the 80’s with my hair shellacked with Final Net, I didn’t have every hair in place, but inside I feel like I’m supposed to. Inside I know that every hair should be in place, the bed should be made, and no dishes should be left in the sink.
And then I realized something that I hadn’t realized before. I’d actually been in some of the situations that Violet was in…not exactly, of course, again this is fiction, but similar, and in writing Violet, as in real life, I shut down. I froze, I couldn’t share exactly what she felt, I held back, she held back waiting for instructions.
Again, Violet isn’t me. She’s an oil heiress and former Rose Queen in 1928, a fictional character, real only on the pages of my manuscript. But it’s my job, to bring her to life, to help readers to feel what Violet feels, and see things through her eyes.
So I’m back to work. I don’t have to change Violet, her reactions are real, I have to help the reader to understand how she feels. Now, thanks to Barbara, I have instructions, I believe I know what to do, but ultimately, you’ll have to decide.
Which authors make you experience the characters feelings? Who brings their heroines/heroes to life for you? I’d love to know!
Writing conferences rock.
Mostly. Whether you’re a writer or reader or both, I can recommend that you attend one or several each year. You can learn a lot—and have fun doing it.
This year is one of my busy ones for conferences. Since I write both romances and mysteries, I belong to a lot of writing organizations and attend conferences that specialize in both.
This year, I’ll be attending Malice Domestic, featuring mysteries, in May, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Romance Writers of America annual national conference in New York City in July.
In addition, I’ll be at the California Dreamin’ conference held by local Southern California Romance Writers of America chapters in April, and California Crime Writers, held by local Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime chapters in June. These two conferences are both held every other year locally to me—and they’re always the same year!
So, this is one of those years that I’ll attend four conferences. I enjoy doing that, partly because it’s a wonderful way to network both with other writers in the genres I love and with readers, too, who attend.
Sometimes I participate by giving talks or being on panels. Not so much this year, although I think I’ll be on a panel at Malice.
There are a lot of other conferences, too, that I sometimes attend. Some of the mystery-oriented ones that I’ll miss this year are Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon, both excellent conferences—but I unfortunately can’t attend them all!
And yes, in between all of those conferences I need to get some writing done. Travel now and then with family. Attend local chapter meetings of some of those organizations. And, of course, take care of my dogs.
So it appears that 2019 has started out busy and will only get busier.
And you? Do you attend book-related conferences? Which do you like most?
The Twelve Days of Christmas have almost passed, but there’s still time for you to register for the California Dreamin’ Conference, at the regular rate, before prices go up on January 15, 2017.
Your California Dreamin’ Committee is working hard to make this year’s conference the best ever. We’ve lost some presenters for business and personal reasons, including OCC member Kitty Bucholtz who is now residing in a beach front home in Wellington, New Zealand (tough life, right?!).
But, we’re excited to announce we’ve added a new speaker, Robin Blakely, a top business coach, who’ll present a workshop STORYography Cards: From Big Idea to Marketing Success.
Here’s part of the blurb for her workshop:
Writers, you CAN make a solid living from your talent. But first, you have to write or re-write the storyline for the success of your talent-driven brand. Top business coach Robin Blakely, CEO of Creative Center of America and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, shows you how to bring structure–and a sense of peace–to the common chaos of your creative career.
And there are still spots available for Debra Dixon’s Book Camp on Friday, March 24, 2017.
This pre-conference add-on provides valuable tools a writer needs to pull a book together. The intensive workshop covers the three most important elements of popular fiction-goal, motivation and conflict (GMC), and how those elements work with the mythic structure of Joseph Campbellâ€™s Heroâ€™s Journey to help writers conceive and create strong plots and compelling characters.
Book Camp is available as a single purchase for those not attending the conference. Writers from any genre will benefit and are most welcome.
If you have questions, check out the conference FAQ page, or come speak to me or Jann Audiss at the January OCC meeting.
Alina K. Field
At the last OCCRWA meeting, Jann Audiss and I updated everyone on the latest plans for the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference.
Ready for your Headshot?
Even putting aside holiday distractions (who has time to bake cookies?) committee members are working away, ironing out details for the upcoming conference. As we announced, in November, Jann and I met with VJ Dunraven of Period Images and her two top designers, and we’re happy to announce that they’ll be providing custom head shot services on Saturday of the conference. They’ll even bring along makeup and hair experts to give clients the best camera-ready look possible.
Calling all Readers
I also want to mention that reader signups have opened for California Readin’, the Barbara Vey Event for Readers. Do you know an avid romance reader? Invite her to sign up for this event here. Tickets are $5, and each attendee will receive a bag of author sponsored swag and a $5 coupon to spend at the book signing that follows the event. Also, everyone is welcome to participate in the weekly Facebook parties at the California Readin’ Facebook page for a chance to party with authors and score some giveaways.
Saturday Night Parties
Some of our special presenters will be holding special Saturday night events for the lucky winners of our opportunity drawing. Here’s the lineup:
All of this is on top of our lineup of workshops, running from Friday night through Sunday morning. Get a peek at our workshop lineup here.
If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Jann Audiss or me, or better yet, submit your questsion to http://caldreaminwriters.com/contact-us/ and a committee member will get back to you.
There’s still time to register before the price goes up on January 15th, so why not put this conference on your holiday wish list!
Wishing all of you a wonderful December and the happiest of holidays!
Alina K. Field
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