Monday, March 24, 2014

Writing for Charity Conference Notes

Hey howdy hey!
For some of you who occasionally stop by to check out my blog, you might be interested in the notes I took at the Writing for Charity Conference I attended this last Saturday. I will try to be brief. I know many of us don't have all the time in the world to read through a long blog post.

How to get an agent
(taught by J. Scott Savage, Matt Kirby, Jenn Johansson, Valynne Maetani, Jean Reagan, Mayrose Wood)
-First and foremost, you need to be professional.
-Know the industry. Do your homework and know who you're querying to.
-Know what you want in an agent. You'll want someone you can get along with.
-Be upfront and honest at all times. Never lie to an agent.
-Ask questions... like...
     *Where do you see my career in 5/10 years?
     *What is expected of me?
     *How often could I contact you?
     *How many authors do you currently represent?
     *How involved are you in the industry?
When you sign with an agent, you're committed. The wonderful teacher who taught this class compared an author and agent relationship to a marriage. Once you've given birth to a book that's signed with a publisher through your agent, then you will share that book with that agent for the rest of your lives. Make sure you get along and can work well together before making that commitment. In other words, don't be impatient and desperate and take the first agent that comes along. Be confident they're who you want.

What can a traditional publisher do for me?
(taught by Peggy Eddleman, Jessica Day George, Lisa Mangum)
The first thing they mentioned on this topic was book cover designs. They have teams of people who spend hours designing, redoing, designing, redoing and designing some more to get the perfect cover for your book. They are professionals and know the market. Nothing can kill a book like a bad book cover.
With that said, I feel less and less in my confidence in being a book cover designer. Don't get me wrong, I still want to go down that route, but I think I'll need to take some professional classes before doing so.
Publishers know the market. They know what books and genres that are hot. You might have an awesome story that you've worked on for years, but it might be years before that genre or story would sell well.
They have teams of people working on all areas of your book so you don't have to. You can spend your time writing instead of focusing on marketing and money.

Writing a satisfying ending
(taught by Clint Johnson, Sara Larson, Jessica Day George, Matt Kirby, and my friend Kim Williams Justesen)
I didn't write as many notes from this class. I guess it's because it's something that I already knew. Anyway...
-Endings have to be satisfying. It doesn't have to be the happiest ending, but they have to at least please the reader.
-Surprise endings are best
-There has to be change. The character has to change in some way.
-Questions have to be answered. If it's a sequel, then most questions have to be answered before moving to the next book.
-Don't end at a climax. Show a little of the character's lives after the ordeal.

Character developement
(taught by Sara Larson, Jessica Day George, Courtney Alameda, Lisa Mangum)
-Ask questions to the character. Make a list. Here's a few... 3 fears, 3 flaws, 3 wishes, 3 qualities
-What's your character's connection to the plot?
-You need to know the villains as deeply as the hero.
-The villain has to believe that he's the hero and he's doing the right thing.
How do I know if my character is lacking? If it doesn't hurt me to kill them off or injure them in anyway.

YA and Romance
(taught by Lisa Mangum, Jenn Johansson, Kristen Chandler, Bree Despain)
How do you build tension between characters?
-Figure out how long to keep them apart. (separation makes the heart grow fonder.)
-Figure out where, how and how long they touch that makes them sigh. (like a light touch on the hand or arm, a brush on the cheek, touch at the small of the back)
-Progress the relationship slowly
-They need to be attracted to more than just their looks.
-They need to have opposing goals or views
-They have to be compatible in some way
-They aren't perfect, but they love them anyway
-In the end have them face hardships together to build the unity.
-They need to grow before ending up together
At the end the panel asked "Good boy or bad boy?"
It doesn't matter if they are the good boy or bad boy, as long as he's complicated.

Outlines vs Pantsing it: Let's Rumble
(taught by Peggy Eddleman, Dene Low, Clint Johnson, Shannon Hale, Bobbie Pyron, Lisa Actor)
When I got home that night and told my family some of the things I learned they thought I'd leaned how to pants someone.
No, this wasn't a class on educating how to pants our neighbors. Pantsing is someone who writes by the seat of their pants (fly by the seat of your pants). It means you begin a story and lets it take you where it wants to go. (This is how I write.)
Outliners are those who figure out the plot, outline the storyline and then begins writing.
-You need to find out what works for you.
-If you start with a character or idea then polish them both so no one can tell the difference.
-It's okay for the process to be different with every book.
-When working with an outline, it's a support, not a constraint.
-If you need to do research then try outlining it. OR... Write your story then research the things you need to.
-You don't need to include all your research in the book
-Remember nothing is wasted. All your writing will give you experience so don't cry if you need to delete a chapter.
-To be a kick butt writer you need to make mistakes--Shannon Hale said that :)
-Give yourself permission to write crap.
-Don't give up.
-Let yourself write what's not going to end up in the book.
-Have you met your writing goals? Where is it falling apart? Fix it or try a new approach.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Right Way to Read the Nutritional Information

It has come to my attention that many people out there don't know how to read the nutritional information on a package. I found this out when I would walk the isles of Costco and pause to get a sample of food. I would ask to see the nutritional information and ask if they knew if it had sugar in it. Before handing it over they would look themselves and answer, "Yes, it does." Then they would hand it over. I would then look at the ingredients and find no sugar listed.
It confused me until I realized that they hadn't look in the right spot.
I'll explain...
Below the nutritional info is the list of ingredients. This is where you want to look. Above is the percentage of sodium, calories, and other things they measure. Most foods we eat have natural sugars in them. The natural sugars are measured and added to the percentage list. This doesn't mean there is any added sugars in the food. If sugar is listed in the ingredients then yes, there is added sugar in the food.
 In the yellow you will see that raisins have 29 grams of sugar per serving, but this is not added sugar. Below in the red you will see the list of ingredients. The only item is organic raisins. No sugar.
So, next time you check the package for added sugar, don't look in the top portion, look in the list of ingredients. There you will know for sure what your getting... at least what we think we're getting.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

My First Dragon

Yes, I know some of you might think that I've broken the rules to dragondom by drawing this picture. It might not look the same as all dragons, but this is what I imagine they might look like in my own world of dragons.

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