Sunday, March 2, 2014

Busy week of writing events…and my head’s still swimming

If any Sunday needs to be a day of rest, today would be it.  On top of all the normal everyday stuff I deal with week on and week off, this week has also been packed full of writing events.

And it’s been a fantastic week in that regard.  This post might run long as I update you on my week so this is your fair warning…

First, I took part in the on-line conference at Indie Recon from Tuesday through Thursday.  Fortunately, it was an on-line conference and one that I could attend whenever my schedule allowed, which was only in the evenings after a full day of work and a little bit of time spent with the family.  The conference involved all subject matters surrounding writing, editing, marketing, publishing and time management.  With a selection of posts to read at my leisure, there were also Facebook and Twitter chats, as well as some video posts from some of the presenters.  Overall, it was another great conference put on by the Indie Recon team.

On Friday, I went to my very first book signing of Pacific Northwest local author J.A. Jance, who is also a New York Times’ bestseller.  I have to admit, I’ve been an avid reader for a very long time but I’m surprised at myself that I’ve never attended a book signing before.  It’s possibly because none of my favorite authors have actually held a book signing near where I live or if they did, I just never knew about it.  And I’m not one to travel across multiple state lines for this type of event so when I discovered a big time author was holding a book signing only five minutes from my office…well, I just had to attend.  Being a new author myself, this is part of the research I need to take part in as I move along in my life as a writer.  How do others do it?  How do readers react to them?  What would I do the same way and what would I do differently? 

The author event was held at a local community college and Jance held her audience captive in a large auditorium at the Arts Center.  She has an infectious laugh, the type of laugh that can make others laugh as well even if the subject matter itself isn’t all that funny.  Jance was good about putting her audience at ease by sharing more than what her characters were about, but also what she’s all about…how she deals with these types of tours, why her dog Bella couldn’t take part in this tour, how and when she fits writing into her busy schedule, how she communicates with readers whether they are offering her praise or protest about her work and where some of her ideas come from.  

Some of her subject matter was light and funny while some is dark and gives me a better understanding of why she has become the writer she was probably always meant to be.  She spoke for a little over an hour and actually ended the event by singing a song – can’t say you could ever expect this from me at one of my book signings.  In fact, I can say for certain you can never expect this from me.  Fortunately for Jance, she actually has a good singing voice and most of the audience seemed to enjoy it.  

Afterwards, Jance moved to another location in the building where she quickly had about thirty fans in line waiting for her to sign their newly purchased books.  I wasn’t able to remain at the event since I was running a half hour late getting back to work and while Jance did say those with mobility issues or those who were late for something else could cut in line, I could not bring myself to actually cut in front of elderly fans whether mobile or not.  Since I had to leave I didn’t get a chance to personally speak with Jance, which is too bad, but during the event she did say she responds to every single e-mail she receives so maybe I’ll just send her a note. 

As if the conference and an author event with a bestseller weren’t enough, I was still anxiously looking forward to Saturday…which involved the long-awaited AWP Bookfair in Seattle.  There is only one word I can use to sum up that event:


That’s it.  Wow. 

Ok, I’m a writer, I know, and I should be more descriptive…

How about, wow, wow, wow?

Really, it was all just so overwhelming, it was hard to wrap my brain around all the booths, all the vendors, all the attendees, all the swag, all the…walking.  I can’t imagine how people felt who actually took part in the conference and bookfair all week long because I was overwhelmed just by the one day.  Granted, I had to fit the whole book fair into one day versus a whole week, which is difficult, but there was just no other way.  I’m glad I went, only to see for myself what it was like.  I’m also glad I went so I could confirm whether the event was a useful tool for me as a writer.  I’ve read various blogs and there are multiple views about what the event is good for.  While it was fun to take part in, I’ve now seen for myself it isn’t necessarily an event that I have to partake in as a writer.  The bookfair involved mostly book presses, journals, reviews and colleges offering MFA courses and writing classes.  I saw very few authors who were signing/selling their books and there were only a few tables relating to upcoming writer’s conference on this side of the coast.  Even fewer still were vendors selling books for writers or merchandise relating to writing.  I finally found one vendor who was selling writing books I had actually planned on buying anyway and with the two books I purchased, I also got some very cute typewriter note cards.  For only $25, that was my biggest and best score of the day.  There was one vendor I saw who had a bunch of funny t-shirts, coffee cups and postcards for writers but that was about it.  Regardless, I did come home with tons of swag and the pain in my shoulder is evidence of how heavy those bags can get. 

Swag from the AWP Bookfair

Now I can say I’ve been there, done that.  I would like to eventually attend a writer’s conference but rather than attempt something like the AWP conference where the multiple class choices might make it even harder to make a decision, I’ll focus on attending something smaller like the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference I missed last year but would love to attend this year.  I love their motto…for writers, about writers, by writers. 

So there you have it…it was a packed week and now I’m mentally recharging so I can get back to my own writing.  While I do enjoy  events like those I took part in this week, I do miss having large chucks of time to write so I look forward to getting back to it this next week.  There’s just too much going on with Jorja Matthews and the other characters to leave them alone for very long. 

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