Of Secrets and Plans…

So, some of you that follow me on other social medias know that one of the big things that I have been working on these last several months is trying to figure out budgeting in a way that works with me and my life.

 

Things have gotten pretty well set up in a way that I’ve been able to plan things out in a better way.

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So what does that have to do with secrets or plans? Well, in the end, 2017 is going to be full of excitement and sort of experimental year. It is really going to put my budgeting to the test.

I’M GOING TO TWO CONFERENCES NEXT YEAR!!!

Or at least that’s the plan. Usually this time of year I debate between two o the conferences that are close by (or basically the two conferences I know that a bunch of my writerly friends go to). Usually PPWC has won out every single time because it was the first place I went and it’s like family.

The Colorado Gold Conference (put on by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) is still an amazing conference that offers similar things to PPWC and the only reason that really stopped me was he fact that I didn’t have the money to go to both so I let my heart lead me to PPWC each year.

So with my crazy begetting and as long as nothing else breaks (I’ve not had good luck when it comes to appliances this year) it should all work out for me to go to both! So, yay!

But why do two conferences rather than put that extra money to something else?

Well there are a couple of reasons that swayed me outside of the standard “I have money, weeeee!”

First — those friends that I’ve talked about before. My writing family, friends that I’ve mae through the years that go to Colorado Gold now or more often than PPWC so it’ll be nice to reconnect with some o those people who I haven’t seen in a couple of years.

Second — the keynotes this year made me really thing about planning to go to both as well! They’re always great, just like PPWC, but this year there is an author that I’ve read for so, so many years and they are going to be a keynote this year at Colorado Gold. I have seen this author at signings but I am excited to see her speak on the writing side of things.

Third — location played a key part in making this feel “okay” to do to conferences this year. Being a single car family right now, it was a little more complicated planning on travel arrangements to the Springs and back. Colorado Gold takes place in Denver so it was more feasible dealing with travel arrangements.

And finally the last reason for finally pushing me into the “YES!” category is all about timing. PPWC takes place at the end of April and Colorado Gold takes place at the beginning of September. This gives me plenty of time to make sure my budget is all set for both events.

This is a test to see if this is going to be something I can do more than once.

I’m excited for all of this to fall into place. So, just like with PPWC, look for updates about the keynotes, workshops and recaps as things get closer.

What are your conference plans for 2017?

Things are getting exciting

This time of year I get all excited because I’ve registered for Pikes Peak Writers Conference and despite it being near on five months before it comes around I am still so anxiously planning for the event.

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So, I’m going to plan on doing a bunch of conference updates and plans — kind of like I did for the 2015 conference — so you guys can have as much fun as I do. Almost like you were going with me.

 

I’m looking forward to really jumping into the conference world after taking a year off from going.

 

I’ve been making ALL THE PLANS to get ready. I’ve got my reservation for my room at the hotel, my registration is all squared away, and I’m all set (or pretty well set) with my travel arrangements.

 

I can’t wait to see all my writing friends that I get to see at conference. I’ve missed all of you this past year. A part of me was really missing in April and I really realized how much you guys have all become such a large part of my life.

 

I did need this past year to really get a handle on myself and everything that has happened in the last several years.

 

Is everything perfect? No, definitely not. But I wasnt aiming for that. I was aiming for reasonable and I got good to great. I’ve really been in a good place and have spent time getting my life in order.

 

So in the coming weeks and months I’ll make sure we dive into my conference experience. I’ll talk about my planning and how I get things organized, I’ll talk about people and I’ll talk about workshops.

 

During the conference I hope to get some daily recaps with a little more depth into what I did and learned. Hopefully some pictures as well. I’ve been bad at pictures in the past and really want to get better with that.

 

Let me know if you’re going to PPWC 2017 and we can try to meet up. Maybe some plans for some late night write-ins!

23 Conference Tips and 4 Conference Don’ts

After going to conferences for the last few years, I thought I would share a few tips I’ve gathered through the years.

 

Before Conference Prep Tips:

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  1. Most conferences will give you information on speakers at the conference – do a little research before the conference. I found this was really helpful the first year I went to a conference because it made these important people real. It made it easier for me to talk to all of them without as many nerves.

 

  1. Look over the brochure or schedule – make a plan of action but be open to change. If you know what is going to be happening you can avoid the panic when staring at the schedule right before workshops start.

 

  1. Confirm your reservations have easily accessible copies – anything that you may need to reference: conference registration, hotel reservation and flight/travel information. That way if you need it you’ll be able to have it. I save them to my phone and keep paper copies as well.

 

  1. Get simple business cards – you can get several for reasonable prices at places like vistaprint.com or www.moo.com. There are different people out there that say you should put a variety of different things on your cards. I can tell you what I have on mine: name, contact information and social media platforms.

 

  1. Learn the conference hashtags and follow/like the Facebook page – this will help you connect with other conference goers before the fact and meet up when there.

 

During Conference Tips:

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  1. Wear your badge – every conference I have gone to, whether it be for writing or otherwise, has had some kind of badge or nametag system in place. Make sure yours is visible to make it easier for people to remember your name. Everyone is meeting hundreds of people and that can make it hard to remember names, even if you remember the faces.

 

  1. Spread those social butterfly wings – I don’t know about you but I do know that I am a very introverted and shy person and it was very difficult to put myself out there with a bunch of strangers. But you do want to try and make the experience fun. The likelihood is that everyone else is nervous and introverted, so putting yourself out there will work out well for everyone.

 

  1. Try to go to as many workshops as you can – but don’t exhaust yourself! If you find that you are wilting around the edges, take an hour or two to go and get a nap in. Don’t push yourself too far and miss out on more when you really crash. There will be someone you can befriend that will be going to ones you miss that can pass on notes. Or most have audio recordings that you can order as well.

 

  1. Bring snacks – trail mix is my personal favorite because it is a mix of salty and sweet and you can get that little boost of protein as well from nuts. I make my own mix that way it has things I enjoy in it. If you pay attention to what is in it, it’s a healthy alternative to chips and candy.

 

  1. Wear layers – hotels and convention centers are notorious for having varying temperatures. Layering up will open up the opportunities of being comfortable.

 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll most likely be walking a lot and having shoes you can put some distance into is a good plan.

 

  1. Dress nicely – business casual is best. Remember that these are people that work in your industry and you don’t want to roll out of bed in your pjs and a rats nest of hair. Be presentable.

 

  1. Use social media – live tweeting one-liners from your workshops or making plans for end of the day meet ups happen here. Use those hashtags you learned earlier and the Facebook page to see if there are different things not necessarily put on by the conference that other attendees are putting together. Some of those events are the talk of the conference the next day and make you friends for life. Put yourself out there!

 

  1. Take notes – whether it is handwritten with a pen to paper or you use your laptop, you are going to be getting hit with a bunch of information, taking notes can help you retain that information. That way after the buzz of the conference wears off you don’t just forget everything that you learned!

 

  1. Remember to bring and use your chargers – whether its just your phone or you have brought your laptop, don’t forget those important chargers so you don’t have your devices past day one.

 

  1. Sit at a different table at every meal – I don’t know about you but when I make connections with people I have a habit of flocking to them because of the familiar. Don’t be afraid to sit somewhere new each meal and make more of those friends. You can make plans to connect with them other places and at other times as well.

 

  1. Have a sturdy back up bag – most conferences give you bags now-a-days that you can use, but it’ll be the same as everyone else’s bag. Sometimes having your own tote will help you because if you leave it somewhere it’ll be easier to recognize and can be brought back to you.

 

  1. Have a reusable water bottle or coffee mug – you want to keep hydrated and caffeinated. Having something to bring along with you is helpful.

 

  1. Use those business cards you made – this is a good way to remember to follow up with the new friends you make.

 

  1. Know how to talk about your writing – be it a nailed pitch or just being able to describe your book. Knowing how to talk about your book is going to make attending a writing conference a better experience since that’s what you’re there for.

 

After the conference tips:

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  1. Follow ups – if you made arrangements to follow up with at the conference, don’t flake on them. Whether they are friendships you made or you got an offer from someone to send in your project, make sure you follow up in a timely manner.

 

  1. Organize the items you received and brought back – whether they’re notes or business cards, books or other documents. Get them stored away and easily accessible when you are going to start digging in to them.

 

  1. Make sure you bring cash as well as cards – and budget if possible so you don’t just jump into spending all the monies even though it’s tempting. Having a mix of payment options will make it easier to put cash toward that one presenters limited copies of books or buying a quick drink from a vending machine.

 

A handful of things to DON’T do at a conference:

 

  1. Don’t lug around your manuscript – even if you get an offer to read your project most of those offers are going to be for you to follow up and send it after the conference. Especially if they aren’t people local to the area, they aren’t going to want to travel around with all that extra bulk.

 

  1. Don’t stalk people before, during or after the conference – yes, it’s cool to do a little research, but don’t leave that scary impression.

 

  1. Don’t forget to take time for yourself – this ties to that making a plan thing above. Make sure you give yourself some you time and decompress.

 

  1. Don’t forget to check in with those back at home – if you have spouses or children at home, sometimes we (now let’s not be kidding I) have a bit of guilt leaving them behind. I try to make a habit of calling at last once a day, and texting throughout. Just enough that I am keeping that connection going without guilt but still able to enjoy the conference.

 

Hope some of these help!

 

NaNo Week 5 and Wrap Up

And so November has come and gone and we are now into the last month of the year. So how did everyone do on Nano (whether it be the standard 50K or some personal goals)?

 

We’ll go ahead and start things off with the stats:

November 28-30 goal: 4,991

November 28-30 actual: 4,366

November goal: 50,000

November actual: 52,102

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As you see, I’m a winner! Woo-hoo! This weeks words were made more difficult with the simple fact that there was an incident that happened.

Water and laptops do not mix well and because of that I had to struggle to get words together and reported in time to document the win. I have no problem hand writing, sometimes I actually prefer it but when the struggle to get the project I was working on off my machine (as well as all of the other documents I needed to try and recover with the water damage) became the primary concern during this past week.

I was also dealing with the stress of having to determine what I was going to have to put out to replace my machine so I had something to use. I have been budgetting SO much these last few months because it was really needed. A new laptop really hadn’t entered that budget as of yet.

The nice thing is that I won a prize at work that I turned around and sold. It was a nice prize and I got a couple hundred out of it. Enough to go and buy a decent placeholder laptop while I save up to get something newer and more fitting with my needs.

Honestly though, this new machine (though I have to learn its tweaks) has actually been really nice. It’s a refurbished floor model of a Lenovo 100s 14″ and has an amazing battery. It’s slower than my old machine but that’s okay for now.

So since I got off track from the NaNo discussion, let’s get back to it. I wo Nano but I still have a decent amount left of the story. I am probably looking at another 20-25K left to do but I am still on a good track.

Now, I want to try and set up a good writing schedule and writing goals for going past November. Maybe not something as intense as the 50K a month goal of November but I think I can find a reasonable goal to accomplish every day.

 

So, what are your post-NaNo goals?

NaNo Week 4

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Alright, NaNoers, we’re reaching the end stretch here. We have three days. I hope all of you are getting close to your goals, whether they be the 50K that NaNo looks for or any other personal goals you’ve set for November.

My biggest goal for this November was to get my butt writing.

I accomplished that goal.

Not only did I accomplish it but I feel back in a good groove to keep it going. To not just use November as a reason to write but to start myself on a pattern and to stick to it. I can do this, I can write and keep it going without issues.

But I know some of you want to know where things stand right now:

November 21-27 Goal: 11,669

November 21-27 Actual: 8,005 (but this is without my actuall words tonight. I hope to get a couple thousand in tonight but we’ll see what happens.)

Total goal end of week 4: 45,009

Actual word count end of week 4: 47,274

 

Obviously still a little ahead of schedule. I would love to actually hit 50K tonight, but I’m not in a hurry. I want to “win” NaNo and hit the 50K by the 30th and since I have less than 3,000 left I think that is totally able to be accomplished.

The book won’t be finished. I still have a good 20K to 25K left to write to round out the end, but it is getting there. I’m getting into the fun stuff. Where plans are falling into place and completely falling apart for my MCs. I can’t wait to torture them and push them as far as they’ll let me.

One of my biggest concerns is that this story is supposed to be YA and there are definitely a couple scenes that are really pushing that line. Really trying to keep things within those classic lines and a little editing can really help. I need a refresher on the YA genre again before I jump into editing on this little treasure. I need to dive into some of my notes on previous workshops and just start reading some YA again to get back in that headspace.

Can I take some of those borderline scenes out and keep the integrity of the story?

Probably.

Will it take some of the things I find necessary out?

Probably.

But I will make this story work.

 

Anyways, this got pretty much on the rambling path so I am going to wrap this up. I hope your writing is going well!

Next week will be the final recap and I hope I can give you some goals that I have going forward.

I love you all and, in the spirit of the season, am thankful for all of you!

NaNo Week 3

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Hello my fellow NaNoers and writers!

I still have some words to get in tonight before I meet the weekly goal that I was supposed to hit this week. I wanted to get this out of the way with the words I do have written and give you an idea of where I stand with things and my goals.

It has been another stressful week, a few additional adulting things that I had to get out of the way, and just life steppig in and taking over my writing time.

So, some stats!

November 14-20 Goal: 11,669

November 14-20 Actual: 10,669 (interesting that I’m exactly 1,000 off. I might be able to get those done before I actually turn in for the night.)

Total goal end of week 3: 33,340

Actual word count end of week 3: 39,269

 

I did better this week, very close to hitting the goal that I had set for this number of days. Hopefully I can round up that last 1,000 words that are missing, if not more and really set me ready for the last week and change that are left. The rate that I’m going, I hope to hit 50K by this week. Everything else will just be padding.

I love that the NaNo Dashboard actually has me at less than a thousand words a day going forward. We have 10 days left and a little over 10K left to right. With it being a holiday weekend and me hosting Thanksgiving, it’ll be tough. I already have plans for that though, like the fact that most of the prep and cooking will be done Wednesday night. I have a long weekend this week and that will mean I need to pull out my writing shoes and not procrastinate.

 

How are your goals treating you? Those that are NaNoing, are you on goal to hit your 50K? Have you exceeded it? Are you taking it easy?

 

Get those words down and we can play the compare where we’re at game later!

 

Good night!

NaNo Week 2

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Pretty much how I’ve felt all week. Picture courtesy Google Search-Foo.

So this past week was full of busy-ness which kept me from getting a lot of words in except for a couple days here and there.

After my last update on week one I did get some extra words in and I rounded week one out at a whopping 17,201 words. Which I am grateful for considering the fact that I had a kind of slacking week this week.

I had to do all the adulting this past week so that made things a little more difficult. This election kind of threw me into a funk, but I am at a point where I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. I am sick of seeing posts about it and I am ready to us get back to a semi-norm as we’re in this transition.

But let us get to the fun stuff:

November 7-13 Goal — 11,669 words.

November 7-13 Actual — 8,949 words.

Total Goal End of Week 2 — 21,671 words.

Actual Words End of Week 2 — 26,150.

 

Like I said, only a little over half of the words that I wrote the first week. Which is really sad considering last week it was only 6 days when this recent week was a full 7. I will say that I am going to be working on some more words tonight so I’ll bump that up a little more, hopefully hitting the 10K mark for the week.

I do like that I still have a little bit of a leeway right now. Not much of one, but a bit of one that gives some of these crappy days a little padding to fall back on.

Alright then, the game plan is to meet and exceed every day this coming week. But for now I am going to go play with dragons.

Happy writing to you all! See you next week!

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