Pardon My Language! (Writing Workshops, Part Deux)
Whew! August was a God-awful month, not only was it hotter than Hades over here in Northern VA, but I accidentally signed up for more writing workshops than I could shake my proverbial stick at, and it was a real bitch trying to keep up. Despite that, I learned a TON. So here’s the 411 (And for my previous workshop rundown, click here):
- Social Networking for Unpublished and Published Authors with Beth Barany – Okay, Beth is awesome, Y’all. I’ve taken a handful of social networking/PR type workshops, and I thought they were all good. Some of them were a little high-level or a little jam-packed though and instead of actually doing any of the stuff suggested, I filed it away and vegged out in front of youtube instead. 😛 So Beth keeps the focus primarily on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging (with a smattering of other stuff like LinkedIn), which of course are the biggies and thereby helps steer us all away from confusion. She helped with specific technical questions, and was infinitely patient with those of us who were all “Umm, where do I click to make that thing do the thing you said it’s supposed to do?”. The workshop had a vast array of experience levels and it seemed like everyone was able to learn something. I, for example, got over my fear of Twitter and discovered its many magical joys (like being able to follow Adam Lambert’s tweets). Ahem…Beth also does creativity coaching for writers and offers tons of services like one-on-one coaching, in-person workshops, and has tons of informative articles on her Writer’s Fun Zone blog (I love the name of her blog, btw – good medicine for those of us who get all angsty and up in our heads about writing). So Beth will probably be hearing from me again, when time and money is available, because she rocks. AND best of all? She’s generous with her time and super sweet! I recently took a workshop from a writer who I will not name, who I felt got a little…harsh with some of us in the workshop, and it made it hard for me to learn and enjoy, so I probably won’t go back to her again for help. I know some authors feel that they should help thicken us pre-pubbed writers’ skin, but I feel like I get enough of that stuff from the agents I query.
- Public Relations with Marcia James – Apparently I had PR on the brain when I signed up for stuff last month. This was a great workshop, though I admit I was a little overwhelmed by all the material. As a pre-published author I felt like some of it was premature, talking about SWAG and book signings kind of went over my head, but I still felt that this workshop was very worthwhile. First of all, Marcia was great. Funny, nice, very responsive. She was even good enough to check out each participant’s web site and make individual suggestions. There were (I think) something like 16 lectures crammed into a 2 week period, her suggestion was to just print them all and save ’em for later, which is what I did because a few days in my head was spinning. The lectures were all by guest lecturers in the industry though, so I found that the various perspectives were helpful, and as part of the class Marcia offers a 300 page file of various PR options, everything from blogs to visit and where to get cheap business cards to where to get your book reviewed.
- Prose And Contests: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Writing Contests But Were Afraid To Ask by Amy Atwell – If you enter writing contests or have been thinking about it, this is a REALLY great course. I entered a couple this year, and I see there being a few really big pluses: you get your work critiqued, you get potential exposure with agents and editors, and potentially something cool to put on your resume. Unfortunately, I felt totally confused so after entering two I stopped, not wanting to waste my time and money on something I was pretty sure I was doing wrong. Some chapters just don’t give much in the way of guidelines, either. Amy’s course went into great detail about contests, everything from how to format your entry to interpreting your scores and all the stuff in-between. She’s teaching the course again next month and then not again until next year (click here for her workshop schedule) so strike while the iron’s hot!
- Nuts and Bolts of Publishing with Misa Ramirez – Misa teaches a variety of workshops, this one covers the publishing industry in a kind of broad way, but she starts off asking what specific questions the participants had about the industry so she can tailor the material and that was nice. She also covers some helpful topics like web presence, author bios, and was nice enough to critique anyone’s bio who asked.
- Deep POV with Jill Elizabeth Nelson – Personal opinion, improving your skills with deep POV is one of the best things you can do to make your writing stronger. Jill’s workshop format was old-school to me in a good way. She’d give an example, then homework exercises, then a critique, kind of like back in grade school. A lot of people learn really well with this style and I got a great deal out of the workshop. She also does a critique of a small passage of everyone’s own work at the end. My only issue (and this was ME, not Jill) was that I felt a teensy bit uncomfortable sending samples of my work, salty verbiage and all, to a Christian writer, and I kept feeling the need to apologize for all the bad language. She was extremely gracious about it though. I also took a deep POV workshop with Carrie Lofty and it was great too – different teaching styles, both very good.
- The Book Factory with Kerri Nelson – This one is all about how to amp up your productivity and produce multiple novels a year. Kerri is a super mom and super writer, plus she does a bunch of other stuff like one-on-one critiquing, with three kids roughly the same age as my own three, so I figured I could learn a lot from her. I was right! I am still having a little trouble implementing her methods but I already feel that I am getting more done, and her teaching style is friendly and straightforward. According to her workshop schedule she’ll be teaching this one again in January. I took Kerri’s pitching workshop earlier this year and loved it as well (and her technique is effective, I got a full submission request from the pitch I developed in her workshop).
September is shaping up to be another busy month, more workshops I signed up for and then forgot about, including one on Erotic Novellas (my last MS was 100,000 words so I am VERY excited about this one) so stay tuned!!