Yes, I’ve been slacking at getting this up… here we are, nearly 3 weeks later and I still haven’t pushed past the daily summaries and delved into the pile of things I learned. Oh well. Not like this blog is going anywhere, so without further ado…
- 9:30-10:30am – Continuing Class (Part 5 of 6)
Good information, good discussion, and some great ideas. Memories of the continuing class still blur together, but I have everything typed out on my laptop. Which, I should add, was incredibly useful to have with me instead of trying to write it all down by hand.
- 11:00am – Workshop C: Five Critical Things You Must Do With New Media
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one, and I admit, I chose it because it sounded better than the other things on the list during this time slot. I figured it would probably end up as one of two things: outdated (or just wrong) information, or the pompous ramblings of some tech-savvy youngster. Mercifully, it was neither, and I came away pleasantly surprised. There really wasn’t much that I didn’t already know, but the people around me were learning quite a bit (judging by the facial expressions and questions asked). I suppose you could say I was affirmed in what I’m already doing, and encouraged to do even more with new media.
The woman leading this session was Denyse O’Leary, a Toronto-based journalist who has written extensively on evolution vs. intelligent design, neuroscience and faith, and other scientific topics. She wasn’t the best speaker in terms of grabbing one’s attention, but I gained an enormous amount of respect for this woman as she related to us all the things she’s done to build her own platform in the industry, and how she’s embraced changing technology quickly with each step. I thought, “my goodness, there are so few people of her generation that are as open and willing to changes in technology… she is such a leader in this area!” Not only that, but I plan to track down her books and subscribe to a few of her blogs. A female journalist covering scientific topics intelligently, who embraces new media? Here’s someone to look up to and respect.
- 11:45am – Appointment with Mags Storey
I had to leave the workshop a bit early to head to my second 15-minute appointment, but it turned out that Mags got tied up at the session she was in and arrived late to our meeting (and the one before). The girl ahead of me took my appointment time since she’d missed hers completely, and we decided that I’d track Mags down later for ours. No problem! I headed back to the end of the workshop and finished that off.
I came back around 12:20 or so, and Mags was still hanging around the appointment area, so I was able to sit down with her then. What can I say? Mags is dynamic, personable, and tells it like it is. She’ll talk to you straight (…or maybe just if she thinks you can handle it ?) and lays down what it means to call yourself “a writer”. I’d made the appointment with her because I was looking for some encouragement and direction (and a wonderful lady named Kim, who I met on the first day, suggested I talk to Mags for it), so she went through a summarized version of the talk she’d given the day before in her own workshop (which I certainly would have enjoyed more than the one I was in… sigh).
They started closing up the bookstore as we chatted, and that was when we realized that lunch had started and Mags hadn’t cleared out her room yet (which was supposed to be done before lunch). So, we continued our conversation while Mags packed up her stuff, and then I helped her cart it off to the car. Can’t say I started the weekend planning to be a valet, but I really didn’t mind. During our talk, Mags offered to read my manuscript when I’m ready to let it go… and after talking with her, I felt better about my first completed piece of work being a chick lit novel. That doesn’t mean I think it’s any good (and boy, does it need a lot of work), but the fact is that I wrote it, I finished it, and I now have something that I wrote to work with. How many people go through their lives saying “I’ve always wanted to write a book”, and yet never make time to actually do it? Well, I did. Hah. 80,000 words (approximately) worth of book, and guess what? That was me. I wrote it. It might be crap, but at least I wrote it.
And that was the essence of our discussion. I definitely respect Mags – she’s a very real kind of Christian, and I saw a lot of myself and how I approach being a Christian in her. Plus, she grew up in the Middle East. How awesome is that? *wistful sigh* I really do think I left a part of me (no, not in the organ harvesting way) on that side of the world. I can’t believe it’s only been 4 years since I was there… wow. A lot can happen in 4 years. BUT, I’m getting off track, so I’ll move on now…
Alright, so I didn’t actually get there until well after 1pm, but there was still some food left at the table I found with a vacant seat (full of mostly middle-aged men… the majority of which were professors from Tyndale and/or pastors… honest, I just grabbed the first open seat I found and then tried not to act surprised when I realized where I’d ended up… I wonder if it worked, I wish there was a hidden camera so you could have seen my face!… haha).
- 2:00pm – Continuing Class (Part 6 of 6)
Our final session with Valerie! We finished off the material she’d planned to teach, and left some time for people to stand and share what they’d been working on over the weekend. I was thinking about sharing… seriously considering it… and if there had been time for one more, I would have shot my hand up. Seriously! I’m not just saying that. I had the document open and was reading it through & making corrections as we talked about the last person’s work (but participating at the same time, I can multi-task, so please don’t be offended if it was you!). I was surprised and delighted by the quality of work that was presented, though it became very clear, very quickly, that most of the people there needed to work on their presentation skills.
When you’re writing for children, inevitably you’re going to be reading your story out loud. Not all kids reading picture books can actually read, and as an author, you’d better be scheduling story readings at libraries, book clubs, mom & tot groups, etc, and if you can’t present your story in a dynamic way to those kids, you’re going to lose them very quickly. Your voice needs to be vibrant, colorful, entertaining, and bring your story to life, just like the pictures that accompany it.
But, that was just my own observation. Maybe I’ll write something on authors as speakers sometime in the future…
- 3:30pm – Plenary Session with Ray Wiseman: “Adversity Sharpens Your Pencil”
Ray Wiseman was a great speaker… very entertaining, and refused to let us take notes so that we’d simply listen & absorb what we were hearing. Unfortunately, people absorb information differently, and I need to take notes while I listen to a speaker or else my brain will wander off (yes, even if I doodle instead), so I took some notes anyway. So there. But honestly, he was a great speaker and had some excellent things to share. Here’s the blurb about his talk in the registration package:
“Ray’s journey as a writer has followed a circuitous route. He will show how seemingly random events have coalesced to change him from a dyslexic dropout in the past, to a journalist and author in the present, his life attuned for future adventures. Sometimes our greatest strengths as writers come from life’s discord, hardships, and errors.”
After Ray finished speaking, people were able to share some of the good things that had happened to them this weekend and what the conference meant to them, which was followed by draws for door prizes… and I won $25 for Chapters/Indigo.ca! Whoo-hoo! Talk about a great way to end the conference.
I wasn’t able to stick around and say goodbye to anyone (it seemed like most people were eager to get home anyway), as I had to perform in a show that evening and needed to rush to rehearsal, but all things considered, it was a good day.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Was it exhausting? You bet. Would I go back next year? Without hesitation.
I met a lot of people. I learned a lot of new things. I was encouraged and affirmed in my calling. I made some great contacts, and let’s not forget, had some great food. There were a few disappointing spots, but in all, they didn’t tarnish the weekend’s shine.
Another bonus: 13/15 of my one sheets were picked up, as well as a number of business cards. Does that mean anything? Not really. Mostly, it means people thought my write-up was interesting enough to want to learn a bit more about me, but there are no guarantees that it will turn into additional work (unless you do need content for your website… in which case, contact me!). The simple truth is that my name is out there. In a miniscule, insignificant way at the moment, but it’s out there.
It may have also helped that I chose to wear clothing that stood out all weekend, so that I could be easily recognized as “that young girl from the one-sheets”. I have no idea if it worked, but hey, at least I got plenty of compliments on my outfits! LOL. I figure it’s just “part of my platform”.
And now, to make good use of the things I learned.
I have a long journey ahead of me… but at least I know where I’m going.