The 2011 edition of the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group “I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book” Conference is over. I had a wonderful time, met a lot of great writers, spread the word about our group and gave a fun, interactive workshop on plotting. Jacqueline Carey gave a warm, funny and inspiring keynote speech, and literary agent Michelle Grajkowski took pitches from a lot of our authors and requested many proposals.
I continue to be impressed with the group of our writers and am so, so glad we had a chance to showcase them this weekend.
Thanks again to the conference committee. You made the impossible happen. No one should underestimate the power of these six women.
I look forward to working with them on the next conference.
I know the distractions of everyday life. Probably not as much as a few years ago, when I had two children at home, but I sympathize with writing mothers who never have enough hours in the day. To find a few minutes to write is next to impossible. Therefore, my hat goes off to the women of my writing group, Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (http://bit.ly/GRRWG). Most of them have children at home. Some of them work full-time. All of them are short of time. But they continue to write. And critique, finish manuscripts, submit said manuscripts, and sell. I don’t know the percentage of published writers in our group, but I’m willing to bet it’s over fifty, if not closer to seventy-five. I’ll have to run a poll.
They’re a very dedicated group. While everyone doesn’t make it to every meeting (the second Saturday of the month at 11:30) they come often enough that I’m worried we’ll soon outgrow our meeting space (Grandvilla Restaurant, 3594 Chicago Dr, Grandville, MI 49418 (616-538-1360). I read once that the average turnover rate for volunteer organizations is 40% per year. We laugh at that figure. Our membership is slightly over last year’s and we continue to host guests each month.
We hold ourselves to high standards. Along with setting monthly goals, we’ve split into several critique groups who meet outside of the group. The synergy is awesome.
But that’s not enough. This group, who continues to write and sell, wants to take our mission a step further. Come October, we’ll host the “I Always Wanted to Write A Book” conference. A major keynote speaker will be announced soon (shh! I can’t tell) as well as the other speakers and schedule.
I’ll leave that to later. The point I want to make is that the typical excuses don’t apply to these women, and they shouldn’t apply to you. If you have a story you want to write, why aren’t you? If you need support, look around. And if you have nothing to do this Saturday, join us at the Grand Villa Restaurant, 3594 Chicago Dr, Grandville, MI 49418
(616-538-1360) from 11:30-2:30. We’ll be happy to help.
And we’ll be writing.
My writing group (http://bit.ly/GRRWG) is all for writing challenges, such as National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), fondly referred to as NaNo. We’re not particularly crazy about the timing – during the busy month of November. Last year, we moved it to the winter. It was such a success, we’re duplicating it. Between meetings, February 12th to March 12th, we’re challenging each other to write 32K. A gift certificate is on the line for one of the finishers. This year, as a fundraiser for our “I Always Wanted to Write a Book” Conference in October, we’re asking for a small entry fee, with a prorated monetary “contribution” for every 1K not written.
I’m very excited about the story I’ll start next month. I know the purpose of NaNo is flat out, no-holds-barred writing, giving the subconscious a chance to go off on tangents and bring brilliance to the story, but I like to have some structure. So, I’ve loosely outlined “Ghost Lover” in a way that won’t squelch the creative process. It’s not quite “pantsing” but it’s a far cry from my usual spreadsheet micro-controlling way of plotting.
Here’s what I’m doing:
- Determine names. Clare and her sisters Julie and Anna. The hero is still nameless, but it begins with an “A”due to this complex, illogical naming system I have.
- Pick the hero and heroine’s occupations that fit the plot. Clare is a caregiver. “A” was more difficult, but I asked the muses/destiny/collective consciousness and they came through with a court appointed legal guardian.
- Do ghost research. By studying different cultures and case studies, I now have the foundation for my worldbuilding.
- List the things that “have” to happen. Clare has to do this, this and this. “A” has to do this and that. By writing down the important events in their story, I can put them in rough chronological order, which will give me logical structure as I’m blowing through 32K in four weeks.
- Get back in the habit of writing every day. Whether on the laptop or with a legal pad and pen, I’m starting to dedicate a specific time every day to the writing process.
- Get a manicure. Sure, it sounds trite, but I’m going to be spending more time on the keyboard, so a nice manicure (in Senorita Rosalita by Opi) is a self indulgence I’m willing to pay for.
What about you? Are you starting a new book soon? What do you do to prepare for it?
You’d think, at this time of the year, I’d be busy planning for Christmas and New Year’s events. Luckily, we’re planning a low key holiday season, and most of our celebration will not require any more thought than what restaurant to chose.
So what am I planning? My writing group is hosting a one day conference next fall. Another member and I have been chasing down a venue and keynote speaker. You’d be surprised at how hard it is to pull information from hotels. You’d think they’d have all the information on their websites, as transparent as glass. But no. Like a salesman, they want personal contact. Emails have been flying in and out of my yahoo account, and I’m still missing information from some of them (really? You can’t tell me how much a buffet breakfast costs?) And don’t think I don’t know about the 20-22% “service fee” and the sales tax that you’ll add to the cost of conference rooms. Your banquet room costs how much? But your competitor is giving it to us for free.
Of course, price is only a part of what makes up a great writing conference. Does it have an inviting lobby? Clean rooms? An ambiance that matches our group? And, most importantly, what’s the bar like?
We’ll have a decision soon, after we run it by the rest of the committee. In the meantime, think about visiting West Michigan in mid-October. We can’t wait to meet you.
I’ll have more announcements soon.