Blogs by F. P. Dorchak
Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2009 - Outstanding!
4/28/2009 3:21:48 AM
Hopes, and dreams, and writing, writing, writing!
This time, I did not go in sleep deprived (see previous year’s post), and it made a difference--until the next day. Just goes to show ya...these things are rough on a body! There’s a lot of intense focusing, and politicking...and throw in moderating sessions, participating in an en masse book signing, and pitching to an editor (with my agent’s consent), well, it can take its toll. But, it was ALL worth it.
Friday started out with attending a session on book marketing and promoting, given by Deborah LeBlanc (do not pronounce the “c”, she’s Cajun; see her website, below). Deborah is...powerful. An energetic, simply phenomenal speaker. When she speaks, the entire room fills with her presence, her life force. She elocutes from the soul, and it’s compelling She was so powerful that the session on the other side of the wall had someone come in and ask if she could tone it down a bit! As much as she tried, it just wasn’t in her. When she speaks, she projects in ways that puts loudspeakers to shame. There’s an extra dimension to her projections, and one cannot help but wonder if perhaps if the dead really are indeed helping her in some cool, metaphysical/paranormal way. In any event, in her first presentation, she spoke of marketing and promoting, and what it takes to push a book to make it work. You could see how she tried to get her point across to everyone in that session, in an emotional, life affecting way.
Next I moderated a read-and-critique session with Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro, where writers read a page of their manuscript and get feedback from an agent or editor. Though in the business for a long time, this was Shelly’s first read and critique. At read and critiques, editors/agents-in-question give readers their views on what was read--good, bad, or ugly. You have to hand it to each and every attendee who read, because they’re really not only asking, but PAYING for the abuse.
Will they hate it?
Not remember it as soon as they stop talking?
And they must take it ALL while everyone else watches you take it (“You’ll take your medicine and LIKE it, Mister/Ma’am!”). Sure, it’s like a critique group, but in this particular group, it’s with a VIP editor, someone who has the power to flatten your soul.
And how graceful will the paying customer take it? Will they be gracious and nod and smile and keep all their comments (not the least of which might be “Hope you rot in hell,” or “What do YOU know,” perhaps even, “Huh--maybe I really should smash that useless computer of mine and burn all my paper...”) to themselves, or will they duel and fight and take issue with everything Mr/Mrs/Mz VIP has to say?
For the most part, the PPWC attendees have been well-mannered and behaved. Yes it is tough to hear stuff you don’t really wanna hear, but you know, that’s part of the growing and learning process. Taking your medicine. Don’t have to like it, but you need to at least HEAR it. Take from it what you will. Shelly Shapiro was outstanding. She impressed the heck out of me. I’ve been going to these things for 17 (one year was a Denver, RMFW conference) years, and she ranks up there with the best of them in critiques (like Denise Little). She’s extremely open-minded and kind and thoughtful person. Gracious. She had something good to say about everyone’s material, and was very impressed with the quality of writing. Way to go, Shelly, and thanks for coming to PPWC 2009. Hope to see you again!
Friday night I got the really COOL opportunity to sit right next to Jeffrey Deaver (he later spoke on Saturday night and was great), an ex-lawyer-turned-author (see link below). It was neat talking to the man who makes people squeamish. It’s always cool talking to the “captains of our industry” to see who and what the face behind the book is really like. He was articulate, personable, and pleasant. Reminded me of my ex-stepfather, who is a lawyer. There is a definite mindset to lawyers--it’s not necessarily a bad thing, just the way they think and act. Very structured and logical. Friday night’s speaker was James N. Frey (NOT the author of “A Million Little Pieces,” see link, below), and his presentation was a powerful and cautionary tale. Words can bring about change. People grow, change, embarrass, fall in love, and die over words. Be careful how we use them...understand their power. Like a sword, both the wielder and the opponent (if I may use that term) can be cut....
Next, was the en masse booksigning with all authors who had books in the bookstore. Since I’d brought some of my Sleepwalkers novel, I was also included in the signing. I hadn’t planned on this signing, but am glad I brought the books, because I ended up selling three! Thank yous to all who purchased and came by to chat. Good to see you again, Aaron! Seriously, it is always appreciated when someone decides to plunk down their hard-earned cash to buy something *I* wrote. Thank you. Hope you all enjoy the story.
I then attended Deborah LeBlanc’s paranormal investigation sessions, two hours, back to back on Saturday. Once again, this woman’s presence is extraordinary. This time it was about her ghost hunting experiences--and it was fascinating. As fascinated as I am about the paranormal and supernatural, I’ve never really been much around ghosts and their ghost-hunting ilk (I like that word, “ilk”...). Was cool seeing and handling some of the equipment, such as the dowsing rods. Never’d handled those before, and they by-God seemed to take on a life of their own (as soon as I grabbed one, it begun spinning in my hand like a helicopter--is that normal?). Deborah later instructed me on their use, and it was almost scary how immediate they reacted to my thoughts. Have to do some more research on them. I liked Deborah’s mindset on whether or not she’d photographed ghosts: “Is this a ghost?”, she’d ask of the spheres and colors she’d present in pictures she presented in her slide show, “I don’t know, “she’d continued, “but they sure make for cool pictures!” Yes, she believes in the paranormal, but she’s also got a healthy questioning mind.
I then moderated two sessions spotlighting the publishing industry with Leslie Wainger, Shelly Shapiro, Kate Harrison, Annette Rogers, and Rose Hilliard, then also moderated what agents can or can’t do for ya, with Nathan Bransford and Ginger Clark (I always wanna keep saying “Rogers”...). I love to hear from the VIPs themselves about their views on publishing and agenting. Doesn’t matter about the state of economy, it’s always terrible. I just choose not to let what they say bother me. I gotta do what I gotta do, and that is, simply, to WRITE. Like they also always say: good writing will always, eventually, makes its way to the top. Take THAT away with you.
About this time I had a pounding headache. Sure, I live in Colorado, but what invariably always happens is that I get so dang busy at the conference that I miss sucking down the water like I should, and with the booksigning, then setting up and moderating two sessions back to back, I wasn’t able to properly keep myself hydrated, and the end result (also given just the basic stress of conferences, for all their fun) was a headache. My wife and I were actually trying to leave early Saturday night, but because of the terrific company we were keeping (Karen Lin, Margaret Yang, and a new individual to our gathering I only recall as “Richard”), I just couldn’t leave and toughed it out. Every time we get together, we just howl it out and about things better left unsaid, but the point was, we were having a great time. Yes, the old adage about “no pain, no gain,” is true!
On Sunday I attended Deborah LeBlanc’s creating unforgettable characters. Again, SRO out into the hallway. Dang, how she keeps her energetic pace, is impressive. I like how she can talk about dead people then talk about marketing, promotion, and the mechanics of writing. Well versed, is she. I also sat in on A.C. Crispin’s writing and submitting science fiction and fantasy in today’s market. Like fiction in general, SF/F is also never seeming to do well. I think its heyday must have been when I was a kid growing up in the 70s, and I fueled their coffers with all my allowance money. Thought I am not an SF writer (NEVER call it “SciFi,” despite that television channel of the same name), I did write one SF manuscript, which my agent is currently shopping around (I write about gritty paranormal and supernatural, like remote viewers and supernatural mass murders--but UFOs currently have my interest). But I wanted to get a feel for its current state. And to wrap up the weekend, I attended Linda Seger’s Expressing the Theme session. I’ve seen her talk before, and she is so well practiced and articulate about her craft, it’s just cool to watch her PRESENT. But, yes, her content is king/queen as well. I especially liked how she described the various stages of issues humans go through. Might have to incorporate that....
Yesterday, Monday (which is why I’m late in getting this posted) was spent talking with my agent about another manuscript she read of mine (and liked), and she gave me comments to correct. Se also requested another manuscript which I had to package up and send. This latter effort took me a little longer than anticipated, since Word does not like to play well with me regarding different styles of page numbering (Roman numbers don’t play well with regular numbering, I find, let alone start numbering “here,” but NOT on the very front title page!!! Hair pulling! Hair pulling!).
PPWC 2009 was a blast. It was great seeing everyone again--Terry Banker, all the Chriss, Lauras and Debs. Ruh! Christian. Brett. Mark and Gordon. Ron. Bonnie. “Robin Joy”! Jodi, Karen, Martha, Pam. Maria. Charlie--was GREAT seeing you, again! Apologies for not getting everyone’s name in here, but thank you all for the outstanding efforts put and sustained throughout the past year, and I REALLY have to stop writing this thing....
All Writing Helps All Writing
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