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Posts tagged ‘Literary festivals’

DC Author Festival 2019

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the DC Author Festival. This event was free and open to the public at the Library of Congress. There, I met a few fellow writers, saw some former classmates of mine, and listened to some great advice.

A few days ago I talked about being a good literary citizen. Whether you are a reader or a writer or both, these kinds of festivals are fun and energizing. I learned some great tips about writing and publishing. My friends and I both agreed that this event was well worth it and even better than some of the other conferences we paid for in the past.

Got to see my friend Jennifer Ryan on her panel about publishing and marketing. (She’s on the far right.) So great to see her giving out advice about her experiences in the publishing world. The best advice comes from those who are living the life. Jennifer is a full-time fiction writer, who is a fellow JHU alum, and has a new book out in June. (Check out her website.) I found her a fellow panelist Susan Shand offered great advice to those embarking on the road to publishing their books.

Next month there are a few other events I want to attend. Definitely looking forward to that!

Be a Good Literary Citizen

Spring time signals the start of literary festivals. This weekend a lot is going on in the DC area. I will be at one of them (I’ll post pics on Sunday.) and I’m going not just to support my friends who will be on various panels, but also to surround myself with like-minded people.

The old saying goes, “Tell me the 5 people you spend the most time with and I will tell you who you are.”

Literary festivals are great for supporting authors, introducing you to new ones, and getting a free tote bag. (Those bags are everywhere! Snag one!) They are also great for inspiring you as a writer. Maybe you are feeling burnout? Or maybe you are tired of staring at the wall as you look for inspiration? I’m as introverted as the next writer, but there is something nice about surrounding yourself with other readers and writers. It’s your tribe.

My Stuff From AWP 2017.

Most of the time I go to them expecting to hear the nuggets of info about the writing life. You can find basic information about writing and publishing from books and blog posts. But the small, everyday stuff, I only hear about it when the writers are in front of people and the casually mention their inspiration or strange writing quirk. Those are the moments I live for. Often they are relatable and kinda funny.

Usually there are panels about publishing too. Again not new info, however sometimes I need to hear it again. I always bring a notebook, so I can jot down a piece of advice here and there. I find them good for getting me in the right frame of mind.

If you don’t find many free festivals around you and you are short on funds to attend, you can always volunteer. You won’t get to every panel, but you can see a few and maybe meet one of your favorite authors.

One of my goals this year was to attend more writing events and be a better literary citizen. I wanted to support more writers, festivals, and literary journals and magazines. I think this is a good start.

Poetry Month 2019

April is National Poetry Month. As a writer, I think there is no better inspiration than reading or hearing some poetry before you write. It doesn’t have to be everyday. Once in a while will do. As I’ve said, I write bad poems, so no submitting for me. However, I still like being around poets and their writing.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. Wow, so fun. I sat through so many readings from some of the best poets like Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, and Rita Dove. My mom was with me and snagged some autographs too. (I wasn’t so lucky. I went to see other poets read instead. Although I did snag Rita Dove signature when she came to the National Book Festival.) One of the best moments? Seeing all the people attending. If you think poetry is dead, go to a big festival with nothing but poets. They come out of the woodwork for these things. Sure it’s not like some other big writers, but the crowd was impressive.

So this month, take some time to enjoy some poetry. Go to a reading at your local bookseller, or write a couple of bad poems yourself. Either way, appreciate the art form and what it does for you.

Happy Reading!

The Power of Intentional Intensity

Here I am at the end of February and I’m almost debt free. Crazy to realize this, but I’m so close, I can almost feel it. A year ago, heck 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. It felt impossible. I remember day dreaming in August and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if by my birthday all my debt was gone?” I was just dreaming then.

Now, I’m awake.

In June 2016, my debt was about $12, 700. Now I’m at $4,900 and it’ll get even lower in a week or so. (Once I get my next paycheck.) For anyone out there who is struggling, just know that it is possible. I didn’t win the lottery, or sell a kidney. I just worked, sold things, and sucked up my pride and moved in with my folks. After a bit of a shock of living together again, things are going well. Still, I’m itching to have my own place again. This time though, I’ll be an owner.

One drawback is my writing time. I just haven’t had a lot of it. My novel sits untouched these past few months. I have neglected it. Morning time to write is no longer available. My mother is an early riser, so by the time I get up, the house is alive with sounds. But like I said in August, if the old routine isn’t working – Change. I may end up carving out a weekend writing schedule and the rest of the week is devoted to publishing business stuff. I’ll try it. My work may take longer to get done, but I’d rather have something written than nothing at all.

I’ve seen how the small steps add up over time. I see it with my writing, getting my education, and paying off my debts. Slow and steady will make a difference. It’s a hard lesson to learn and I have had set backs. From getting furloughed at my job, to getting lots of rejections, sometimes I want what I want when I want it. And the universe usually pats me on the head and then knocks me around. I felt this the hardest last summer when I wanted to buy a house. The universe was not having that. Looks like it was right to stop me. This way is much better.

Went to AWP a few weeks ago. Gosh, it has been so long since I’ve gone to a writing conference. This one was HUGE and I only went for one day. My fellow writers and I sat through panels, walked the book fair and I saw plenty of other folks (even a few famous writers!!!). Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you are in a community and surround yourself with other like-minded people. I know it gave me a bit of a jolt to see so many of us in one place. The saying is true – Writing is a solitary act. Often we are so wrapped up in our own work, we forget to be part of a community too. Celebrate your fellow writers! Go to their readings. If you have the money, go to the conferences and book fairs. AWP energized me and reminded me that it not just about the work.

It’s about living in the world and creating work from those experiences.

Book Festivals 2013

I finally have a moment to gather my thoughts.  After a too quick break between the summer and fall semester, I found myself right back in the grind of work and school.  So far this new class is going well, but it is very different from the last two classes I have had.  In my previous workshops, the focus was on character development, verb usage, and a lot of your typical examinations of a story (plot, pacing, structure, imagery, etc.).  This new class is more about atmosphere, language, and tracking the emotional arch of a character.  The hard stuff! I fully admit, there are a few moments when I am lost.  Not because I don’t think about those things when I write, but because I don’t think about those things when I read.  At least, I don’t think about those things on a conscious level. This is all under the surface for me.  I’m aware of the reaction I get from the story, but sometimes I don’t register how the writer got me there.  That is what I need to work on this semester.  How does a writer manipulate a reader (for better or worse) and do it well.

September had a nice moment for me and my book collection.  Margaret Atwood came to the National Book Festival (She is promoting her new book Maddaddam, which is awesome!). I stood in line for 2 hours and was rewarded with a signature on my 1st edition Handmaid’s Tale.  I wish I could’ve gotten more signatures, but I understand.  The line was long and she wanted to get everyone a chance to have their book signed.  I was so nervous when she was signing my book, I blurted out, “You’re my favorite writer, I just wanted to say.”  She smiled at me and said, “Oh thank you.”  Yes it was a nice little literary geek moment for me.

Oddly enough, the line for Linda Ronstadt was pretty long too!

Margaret Atwood Signed Copy

Margaret Atwood Signed Copy

The literary stories don’t stop yet.  Last weekend, I attended the Washington DC Science Fiction Writers Association annual conference called Capclave.  Guest of honor was George R.R. Martin.  I heard him read from two of his forthcoming works (one of which is the next book in the Song of Fire and Ice saga). He was funny and engaging and it was a pleasure to hear him read.

Not the best pic of George R.R. Martin, but you get the idea.

Not the best pic of George R.R. Martin, but you get the idea.

There were also some other great panels as well.  I heard Sharyn November speak about publishing, YA books, and her editorial career.  I also went to a couple of panels on diversity in SF and Fantasy literature, a really great panel on faery tales, and one on the short fiction market (always good to squeeze in the industry info panels too).  I also met author (and JHU alumn) Alma Katsu.  She was kind enough to sign my book and chat with me a little.  Her book was great.  It reminded me of old school Anne Rice with their gothic, sexy, mood.  Her stories aren’t about vampires or witches.  I have read The Taker and can’t wait to start the next one and get the third when it comes out next year.

Speaking of books, I held myself back at the dealer’s room and only bought one book.  Yes, I am on a tight budget so one splurge was enough.  It was Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops: Control Point.  I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, so I treated myself.  (I think it might be signed, but honestly the signature is so odd, I’m not sure.)  Next year, I will save up ahead of time and then Christmas will come early for me!

A Signature or No?  Still not sure.

A Signature or No? Still not sure.

Capclave was fun.  I look forward to next year.

Nothing much else to report.  I’m still writing, writing, writing.  Still submitting like a fiend, but so far just rejection letters.  We’ll see if my New Year’s Resolution comes true. (The one where I wanted to sell something this year.)

Cross fingers for me!