The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Here is a quick recent author appearances recap. First, I attended the Cirque du Livre Writers Conference in Mesa, where I presented on with Alan Black, Deena Remiel, and Tom Leveen on topics that included creating antagonists readers love to hate, the best path forward on your publishing journey, and my process for developing a strong reader pitch. I also co-presented a first page read panel with Tom Leveen, where we gave on the spot critiques to writers. Of course, I also attended some great sessions on dialogue (Tom Leveen and Bruce Davis) and marketing (Deena Remiel and Alan Black) to name a few.
I have two major event appearances coming up quick. The first is the debut Cirque De Livre Writer’s Conference in downtown Mesa, Arizona May 27-19, 2016. I will be doing panels, signing books and hanging out with a lot of great authors, editors, illustrators, booksellers, screenwriters, etc., etc.
Here are the event details: Cirque de Livre
Here is my list of panels:
Spontaneity is not really my strong suit. With as busy as I am I have to be proactive. In order to manage all of my responsibilities I need to plan ahead. So, it is difficult for me to do anything on the spur of the moment these days. There was, however, a time when I was not as structured, when I did impromptu things, to use a cliché, at the drop of a hat. The odd thing is that the last place I would have expected to experience that kind of spontaneity would be US Navy Boot Camp.
Sometimes, the writing chugs along like a well-oiled airship and sometimes it clanks and stutters like a rusty steam engine. And then there are those other times, when the writing isn’t the challenge, but the turbulence of life and the business of books take over and challenge me to navigate my way through the choppy air while trying not to look down.
You are a writer. You either write, or you want to write. And if you are truly serious about it, you study and hone your craft.
You go to the library and check out all the writing books. Especially the ones written for your chosen genre. You read about plot and character development. You learn about manuscript formatting and submitting to agents. You learn the difference between active and passive writing.
Since the beginning of this writing journey, I have wanted to write a picture book. And, like many authors, I have more than one abandoned picture book manuscript to my name. I sometimes imagine them huddling together in a drawer somewhere, trying to keep warm. Out of sight, but not necessarily out of mind. I still love the ideas for those stories deeply, but I just could not figure out how to make them work.
While writing novels is not particularly easy, I found myself better able to figure out the structure of the longer format. I still had to study my craft, and learn to edit with an iron fisted pen, but it has always felt more natural to me than the shorter, “easier” children’s picture book format.
Plot points, crisis, and climax, oh my! I have been reading up on plotting, taking a deep dive into process and techniques, attempting to distill the information that others have provided in books like The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen, and The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman into something that I can easily absorb and make part of my ingrained writing process and inform my teaching process, as well.
This is not the first time I have delved into plot at this level. A couple of years ago, I published an essay about plot called “Plot Isn’t Just a Four-Letter Word,” You can find it on line here for free.