PPWC 2015: Workshops Edition

Hello my lovelies!

Like I’ve said a couple of times now, I want to try and focus on craft during the weekend of conference and based on the list of workshops on the website, there will be a lot of different options to choose from. I never try to over plan what I want to do since I usually change my mind during the conference. What I usually do is try to get an idea of my top picks and then when I get the actual schedule I can work out of a plan of action (which I usually end up changing 100 times).

This year I wanted to try and give you lovelies a look into some of the ones I have some interest in. So, let’s get going on it, in alphabetical order no less:

  • The Art of the Funny Bone — Bob Spiller is presenting this workshop and I’m kind of on the fence about this one — not because of Bob Spiller of course — but because of comedy. My stories tend to be on more of a serious note but I don’t think any of it would be hurt by a little comedy thrown in.
  • Constructing Your SciFi or Fantasy Novel — Presented by Josh Vogt. If you didn’t catch on by the title, this workshop would seem to be focused on world building. I love me some world building but do struggle some with it. I don’t know how to balance the information I give from being just right to over/underwhelming. There have been world building sessions at most of the conferences I’ve gone to but I’ve never found time to go to one, this time I want to make sure I get in on this one.
  • Exploding Plot Points — Presented by Alex Kourvo and with an obvious topic. I want to make sure my plot points as well as the scenes involved in the story are all on point and keeping to a good story arc.
  • Fast Talk: Speeding the Pace of Your Novel — This is presented by Mary Sue Seymour, a literary agent, so she should be well versed in what the acceptable pacing is for different novels. There are some points where I know I need to work on pace.
  • The Foundations of a Freelance Writing Career — This one is presented by Josh Vogt. Like I said in my post about the prequels on Thursday, this is one field I’m interested in. Though not really focused on the actual craft of writing, it is something I think I need to try and myself in the direction of pursuing.
  • How the Process Works: Your Gateway to Hell — Here we have a workshop presented by Liz Pelletier and MK Meredith. Though I doubt this will be focused on craft, it does take you through the publication journey. The reason why I’m trying to sneak this one in during what I hope to be a craft focused weekend is because one of the presenters — MK Meredith — was one of the first people that seemed to be so welcoming when I started going to Pikes Peak Writers Conference so I would love to see her and support her during her workshop.
  • In the Beginning — This one is presented by Laura DiSilverio and focuses on beginnings. I’ve had a hard time with beginnings lately. Since I chose not to do the editing session on Thursday, I’m hoping that this session will — hopefully — give me a jump into a good edit on my first couple chapters.
  • It’s All About Character — Presented by Kevin Ikenberry. We have a interesting session looking in on characters. Sometimes I know my characters can come off as a bit dry, so hopefully going to a workshop about characters will help give me some ideas on how to flesh out the characters.
  • The Loaded Exchange: How to Write Tension Packed Dialogue — Presented by Angie Hodapp. I love getting tips on dialogue. I don’t think I use as much as I should be, hopefully it’ll be another kick in the butt.
  • Making Your Characters Matter — A character workshop presented by Angel Smits. This one is one that seems interesting but apparently I love picking out the character workshops this year, so we’ll have to see which ones I get to actually go to.
  • One Moment in Time: Writing Scenes — This one is presented by Cara Lopez Lee and we have another one for scenes. Again, we’ll see which ones end up being the ones I go to.
  • Part of a Balanced Breakfast: Serials, Series and Keeping Them From Getting Stale — This one interests me on a couple levels. First it is presented by one of the keynotes — Seanan McGuire — and second because of a few ideas that I have floating around in my head are based in the same world as Goddess Born. Understanding how she does series and seeing how to keep continuity going would be interesting.
  • Scenes: Using Every Crayon in the Box — Mary Kay Andrews is teaching this one, which she’s a keynote speaker so it’ll be interesting seeing what she has to say. It’s another one on scenes though, so we’ll see what happens.
  • Seven Essentials for Powerful Fiction — Presented by Brandy Vallance, this seems to be an overall craft focused workshop. It’ll be interesting to see what she considers the seven essentials and how to apply them.
  • Snapping Pictures with Words: The Art of Description — Here we have a workshop presented by Angie Hodapp on description. I think I could use some help here, I think it’s one of those things that really doesn’t have a middle ground. You’re either good or bad at description. I like to think that I’m pretty good for the most parts, but there are some points where I know I downright suck.
  • Ten Absolute, Surefire Ways to Keep Your Pages Moving — Another workshop on pace, this one presented by Andrew Gross. Another one where I have to make a decision on which. Again will all depend on the master schedule that comes out and what happens when. It’s with another keynote so that will be interesting to see.
  • Writing Combat in Science Fiction — Presented by Keven Ikenberry. This one interests me because even though I don’t write science fiction, I do have modern day fantasy/paranormal. Goddess Born takes place during a major war in their world and there is definitely combat. Time Healer will have some combat as well. I think I can take what I learn here and apply it to the fighting in my own stories.
  • Writing the Strong Female Protagonist — Barbara O’Neal is presenting this one. It is a character workshop again but is focused specifically on female protagonists which most of mine tend to be.
  • Understanding Scene Structure — Another one on scene but this one is presented by Pam McCutcheon. I’ve loved previous workshops I’ve taken from Pam and have learned a lot. Maybe I can learn even more.
  • Unlocking Personification and Metaphor to Deepen Emotion — This is another workshop presented by Brandy Vallance. It seems to be focused on bringing out emotions in your readers to feel deeper about the writing. Seems very interesting from the description.

So those the ones on my highlighted list. Though there are a few that I am looking at for back up. Maybe, depending when they release the schedule, I’ll let you know what my initial plans will be for the conference.

You should all check out the list in the link above. Tell me what y’all think of the offerings. If you’re going to PPWC and planning on hitting any of the ones I listed, find me and say hi.

Until next time my lovelies.

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PPWC 2015: Thursday Prequel

So the funny thing is: while editing this blog, I decided to change which morning workshop I wanted to go to. I’m actually writing this at work and decided to go back into my registration and change things up on one of my breaks.

For those of you not familiar with PPWC, the conference gives an optional Thursday program. It’s divided into two long workshops. It’s pretty intense but it’s been great each time I’ve gone. They usually have one that is a two-parter and a handful of others divided between the AM and PM options. I haven’t done one that lasts the whole day with one session since my first year which had a day long workshop on Young Adult and Middle Grade writing.

What has always interested me about the Thursday option is that you have the option to do it by itself as well. So if you don’t have the funds – or the time – to do a weekend long conference then they do a great deal on just the Thursday event that gives a wonderful amount of information.

So I’m planning on doing these two:

  • Morning Option – Author 101 – The description for it is “You’re writing a book. Congratulations! But with this ever-changing industry, you need a primer to the process. Enter Angel Smits and Bob Spiller. These established local authors can guide you through industry terminology, critique groups, the process of querying, the editor/author relationship, and of course the daunting divide between indie and traditional publishing.” – I decided to devote my Thursday to being an author. Learning about what it truly means to be a part of the writing community and attempting to get published. So I decided to start here.
  • Afternoon Option — Queries With Claws – The description: “Agents and editors see thousands of queries a year. The query letter has the power to determine if your manuscript will get read or even published. Andrea Somberg, a literary agent with Harvey Klinger, Inc, will show you how to write the perfect query letter and leave agents and editors eager to read more.” – I need to learn how to write a query letter. I figure an intensive day of talking it through would be extremely beneficial. I plan to rewrite the very rough one I have right now. That way, maybe, after conference I can really start this querying business.

Like I said in my little aside at the beginning, things switched around when I was pre-writing this out. I originally wanted to do the Editing workshop but decided against it. See below for why.

So, those are the two that I’m doing. Here are the ones I chose not to do:

  • The Two Parter – Life After Death – Part one is described as “Hunting ghosts or talking to spirits sounds like a day at the beach, right? Not so fast! Meet these professional ghost hunters and mediums who are eager to talk about the technology, the science and the skills behind the work they do. Get the skinny on haunting, spirit readings, ghost myths and misconceptions.” Part two is described as “We live. And then we die. But what happens next? Funeral director Jim Snell has all the facts on the physical: embalming, interment, cremation, everything related to the body. And our group of religious experts will present their faiths on spiritual matters, heaven and hell, reincarnation, and the destination of the soul.” – Why am I not doing this one: I have no interest in it? I mean the first part sounds somewhat interesting, but nothing I’d want to spend the whole morning on. A shorter workshop? Maybe if I didn’t have something else I wanted to do. The second part? Would have no basis in my world. I’m Atheist and my non-belief might have an interesting point here, but this seems to be advertised as something based on the religious beliefs of afterlife.
  • Morning Option – Reading Like An Editor – Here’s what the brochure says about the workshop: “Freelance editor Bree Ervin provides a hands-on workshop that will walk attendees through the self-editing process. Get equipped with the tools, the questions, and the discipline you need to take your rough draft from brain dump to polished manuscript.” — Why, in the end, I chose not to go with this option: I apparently LOVE editing workshops. Going back through my previous workshops, I almost always pick them. Why? Because I dislike editing. I don’t feel like I know enough and most of the time I struggle through it. I was going to use this time to get assistance in editing my first two chapters since it told us to bring up to 10 double spaced pages. I decided that I know plenty and can get that editing done myself. I might see if I can connect with someone who goes to this one and see if there is anything that is interesting though.
  • Morning Option – Blueprint for Building a Dream – The description is “Do you want to turn your life’s passion into a writing reality? Then you need to know your foundation, how to write what you know. You need a blueprint for breaking into freelance writing. You need to construct a solid proposal or query. And you definitely need this workshop by multi-published nonfiction author JL Fields to help you build your writing dreams.” – As much as I would love to get more into the freelance world of things, I felt there was other things I needed to focus on first.
  • Afternoon Option – The Resonance of Writing – The description is “Can’t find your literary voice? Tripped up on tone? Let Trai Cartwright refine your notions of genre, tone, and voice, and then learn how to intertwine these elements to build the core theme of your book and enthrall readers.” Why I didn’t choose this one: Well, like I said, I wanted Thursday to be more focused on the “what happens next” aspect, as well as the stuff behind being an author, that way I can devote the rest of the time to craft itself. Though I did enjoy a previous workshop by Trai, so I may try to catch another of her workshops that weekend.
  • Afternoon option – Romantic Fiction Bootcamp – So the description is “The romance genre is sizzling hot – there is no other genre more lucrative or enduring. From emotional story arcs, tropes, cliches, publishing options, and even love scenes that won’t make you cringe – Barbara Samuel’s boot camp will explore everything and seduce you into the world of Romantic Fiction.” Why I chose not to go to this one: Well, I don’t currently write romantic fiction and I really don’t have any plans to right now. Though there are romantic elements to the stories I do write, I don’t focus on those elements. Plus, again, I’m not trying to focus on craft on Thursday.

So, that is what I’ll be up to on Thursday – and what I won’t be up to. If you’re going to be in the Springs for the conference this year, I hope you enjoy yourself at what ever you pick for your options. Otherwise, I hope to have a recap of my adventures during that weekend.

PPWC 2015: Keynote Speakers

So, this year, I know one of the keynote speakers, but I look forward to hearing each of them talk. But here we go with the round up (all pictures are from the PPWC website:

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews (aka Kathy Hogan Trochek) – From what I’m seeing here she writes romance (as Mary Kay Andrews) and mysteries (as Kathy Hogan Trochek), so that’s cool. I’ve always loved a good romance and mysteries are starting to become more fun for me. I may have to check out some of her stuff before leaving for the Springs this year.

Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross – He’s a thriller writer and used to co-author with James Patterson before going out on his own. I’ve never been much of a thriller fan, but I still may end up picking something to get a feel for his style before conference.

Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) – Wow, this girl puts a love of writing to a whole new level. Per the profile on PPWC website, she puts out 3 full length a multiple pieces of short fiction each year since 2010. When I look through her biography on my go-to Wikipedia articles, it looks like there’s some fantasy and science-fiction under the name Seanan McGuire, and some more thriller type under Mira Grant. Some of this thriller type is zombie based and since I love me some zombies, I may pick up that trilogy before conference.

R.L. Stine

R. L. Stine – Well, if you don’t know who this is, I’m sorry. I grew up in the age of Goosebumps and I believe I have some old copies floating around in the girls’ rooms, like most of my childhood books. In case you aren’t aware, they are horror type stories for kids. He also had another series aimed toward a slightly older audience called Fear Street but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually read any of them myself.

So those are the four keynote speakers this year. I remember last year when they’d been hinting at who was coming, R.L. Stine was the one that I caught onto with the hints and was really excited since I’d always loved those books as a kid. I think this year is bound to be full of fun keynote speeches this year!

Well, lovelies, I hope you enjoyed my take on this year’s Keynote speakers. I’ll talk at you later. 🙂

PPWC 2015: Choose Your Writing Adventure

It has come to that time of year for the awesomeness that is conference time. This year will be my 4th year I believe, maybe my 5th and I’m looking forward to it just as much as my first one.

As I said in my “what the heck has Cara been up to” post, my life has a bunch of newness in it that has really made my mindset a little different this year. Life is a bunch of juggling with a family of six and that’s without the craziness of being out of town. Both my hubs and I have conferences this year. So this will be an interesting set up to see how things go.

I’m also excited to catch up with some old friends and being slightly extroverted enough to make some new ones. Last year I did a little experiment which I made up after a weird dream. I called it the Red Folder Experiment. Basically I put a red folder with “steal me” on it to see if anyone would talk to me or try. I gave out Starbucks gift cards to those that did and I made a few new friends.

Should I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just work up the nerve and talk some more to people. I love this community, I want to be more a part of it.

What do I want to focus on this year? Craft probably. Though my Thursday prequel ones are not on craft but I’ll go over those more when I do a post specifically about them.

Why craft this year? Well, I need to get out of this recent funk of mine. I keep falling back into this “I can’t think of how to write this, lets go and tweak my finished WIP” cycle which is causing me to not get much of anything else produced. I think maybe if I focus more on craft rather than the “what to do when you’re done (if you ever are)” portions then I can get out of this rut. I have so many ideas written down that I need to get my butt in gear and work on them.

Also, I plan on taking my laptop with me this year. If there are periods where I don’t have a workshop, or find myself with some spare time, then I want to try and get writing in during those portions. I also want to do a better “what I did at conference” post this year. I usually bring a pen and paper (which is my usual when I write first drafts) but I tend to forget to do anything with it.

Will I this year? I do hope not, I want to be successful this year. I want to get work done. I guess you’ll see how successful I am at the end of conference. If you see a good post on workshops and what I did, then I probably was a bit successful.

So the round up of what I plan for conference this year: catch up with people I’ve met before, make new friends and really focus on my craft.

For those of you who follow me that are heading to PPWC this year, find me and say hi. I hope you enjoy the conference as much as I know I will!

Shiny New Toys and A Blog Schedule

Hey guys, for those of you who know me you know that it isn’t very often I get myself new toys. I may drool over them and say “one day,” but most of my money goes to things for my family. Or food. A family of six eats a lot of food.

But something happened a few months ago. With three school aged kids in the house, we have a lot of fighting over laptops or computers. At one point I thought we had more than enough machines in our house. When we got custody of the girls back, I was proved wrong. Our oldest is “home schooled” (I put this in quotes because it’s actually a virtual school in our school system here) so she is on the laptop a majority of the time working on her work. Then they all like to play games and watch videos so there is a lot of turn taking and I was finding myself left out of the rotation.

When I finally got my hands on my normal machine and realized all the crazy adds were the result of crazy malware from the flash sites that the girls use (mostly the two younger girls – not counting Piper) I decided it was time for Cara to get a new machine that would be just hers. No crazy flash sites allowed.

So started my journey of figuring out what I wanted to get. Let me start off by saying it has been seven years since I last purchased a laptop, and even that one was by suggestion of Todd. The last one I picked out myself was a present for my high school graduation from my parents. That was ten years ago.

Let’s just say a lot has changed since then.

When it comes to deciding on new tech in my life, I tend to get a bit obsessive. It tends to go this way: do a standard Google search of “best laptops of (insert year)”, then I look at reviews and specs of the machines. What was awesome about the time of year I started looking was that CES 2015 was happening.

In case you don’t know what that is, it is the Consumer Electronics Show. Basically it’s where all the new and improved tech gets shown before its release so everyone can get excited and start counting down with anticipation to release dates. There were a lot of nice laptops previewed this year.

There were a couple things I’d wanted in a new laptop:

  • Portability – my old machine was a beast. It was a 17-inch laptop and weighed a bunch. I wanted something a little smaller and lighter.
  • Prettiness – Okay, I’m pretty shallow. I didn’t want some clunky brick, I wanted something stylish. I’ve always liked the looks of Macs, but hated the OS. So I was hoping to find something sleek like that.
  • Windows OS – I know a lot of people complain about it but I am most familiar with Windows, even if it can be a pain. This also sparked a side research line of Windows 8 upgradeability to Windows 10. And woohoo it’ll be free. Microsoft has started to learn how to behave in a world of free upgrades and software.
  • Touch VS Non-Touch – Now-a-days, almost everything is touch. I’m not a big fan of it. I’m alright with it with when it comes to my phone. But I like having a keyboard and mouse and don’t want to deal with a touch screen for my laptop. It’s one of the reason I got annoyed with using my tablet (which – funny story – is now the night light and music box for Piper…)
  • Enough Space – There was a lot of debating of what I was going to do for space. I didn’t really understand the difference between a solid state drive (SSD) and regular hard drive, so it took a bunch of research on my parent – mostly of me annoying the hubs about this and that. I don’t save much except documents and some programs, most of my big stuff (movies/TV shows, pictures and videos) all go on one cloud or another.

  • Battery Life – I wanted something that was easy to travel with which means that has a decent battery.

Those are the basics. At least that I can think of right now.

So, there was a big buzz about a new Dell receiver for their XPS line. Todd’s old machine was a Dell XPS and I liked the use of it. But his was really bulky.

But oh my god the reviews were amazing. Also it was a gorgeous machine. At least online. I found out that there was one of the new versions at the Microsoft Store and decided to go and check it out. I fell in love. What was even awesome the non-touch version of the machine was averaging a 15 hour battery life.

So, I’d decided on getting that machine and so I saved my money and got it.

See my pretty:

Soooo pretty!

Soooo pretty!

So shiny

So shiny

So, now I have a very portable laptop to take with me. I bring it everywhere with me so I can pull it out whenever I need it.

As the post also states, I want to try and do a new schedule which I can hopefully stick to. It’s going to look something like this:

  • Saturday/Sunday – Updates about family or life in general. I’ve learned that sometimes I can’t stop talking about them. This one may not – and probably won’t – be every week.
  • Tuesday – I’m thinking of doing a “fun question from Quora” post. If you don’t know what Quora is, it’s a website full of questions where there are a bunch of people asking and answering questions on a variety of topics. It’s fun. I’ll be trying to keep it writing focused but there might be others that interested me in there as well.
  • Thursday – Writing focused. I’ll try to keep my posts focused on writing here, whether it is my current WIP, ideas I have going, or even the coming up conference.

So that’s what I’m thinking on a schedule. That keeps me to two to three posts minimum a week. I think I can stick to that, especially since the Quora one will be a really easy one to take care of.

Yay for plans!

Well, all my lovelies I think that’s all I have for the day. I’ll talk to you another day!