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NaNoWriMo Kickoff!

National Novel Writing Month Began Today at Midnight.

Holly Straw, Paula Gill (Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo) and Kyle Pratt

Commonly shortened to NaNoWriMo (na-noh-ry-moh), the event challenges authors to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1st until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30th. That’s about 1,666 words every day of the month. I’ve written that much in a day before, but not every day for a month. If I take my birthday and Thanksgiving off, I would have to write 1,785 words a day. I’m not sure I can do that, but I’m going to see how much I can write in one month.

The kickoff event for my area of Washington State was at the Matrix Coffeehouse in Chehalis. I arrived at 10:30 Friday night and joined with about ten other writers. Until midnight we socialized and watched the strange people, some in costumes, walk by outside. It was during that time that introduced myself and learned everyone’s name and what they were writing. Unfortunately, when I awoke this morning I couldn’t remember most of it.

Just after midnight we began our writing projects. I wrote about 800 words before I left just after two this morning. That combined with what I wrote after waking this morning brings my total to 1695. A good start, but I’m going to have to do better to achieve the 50,000 word goal for the month. 

Looking Forward

The Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference may be over, but I’m still busy!

I said goodbye to Randy Ingermanson, Ben Wolf and others on Thursday. After song and praise, the OCW Summer Conference concluded and, with Barbara Blakey at the driving, headed north toward home. The four days in Portland were a truly an inspiring and fun time.

However, I’m the kind of person who looks forward, not back, and the next occasion before me is the Southwest Washington Writers Conference. This one day event is scheduled for September 13th, at Centralia College. I will be there listening to great speakers, and also conducting a workshop.

My workshop is titled, “Author Entrepreneur – The Business of Writing” and in it I will discuss the skills needed to manage a successful writing business. I’ll cover things like planning your workday, finding a niche, establishing a platform, product funnels, the 80/20 rule, marketing strategies, and more.

Until the conference I’ll be working hard on completing my next novel, A Time to Endure. The release date is coming soon, but more about that on Monday.

OCW Third Day

I should have kept a list—with pictures.

I mentioned earlier that one of my goals for this conference is to meet people and network. I’ve continued my practice of sitting at different tables for lunch and dinner. For today’s lunch, I sat with Jeff Gerke at a table of speculative fiction writers, including a teen working on his first novel.

Randy Ingermanson and Jeff Gerke discuss business trends

Jeff is an editor, author, graphic designer and the founder of Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave Publishing, which is the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. Since I write speculative fiction, this seemed a great place to eat lunch. However, it got even better when, moments later, Randy Ingermanson sat across from me. Eating occurred between talk of what those around the table were writing and trends in the genre.

Unfortunately, I’m meeting so many people, I can’t remember many of the names or most of the interesting books they’ve told me about. I should have taken notes.   

Barbara Blakey receives the Cascade Writers Award for unpublished historical fiction.

As fun and interesting as lunch was, the real excitement for me came later, at the Cascade Awards Banquet. This award, given by Oregon Christian Writers, has ten categories for both published and unpublished works. These include contemporary, historical and speculative fiction, young adult, poetry and more. I had known for a couple of weeks that my good friend and fellow author Barbara Blakey was a finalist. That meant her book was among the top three in her category.

I sat beside Barbara as the hosts, Jeff Gerke and author Susan May Warren, presented the first ten awards. Then it was Barbara’s category. Jeff read the first line of the winning book and I recognized the main characters name. Then he announced that in the category of unpublished historical fiction the winner was, “The Secret of Clara Rose, by Barbara Tifft Blakey.”

 I look forward to reading in print soon. 

OCW Second Day

Tuesday, my second day at the conference, was a 15 hour day.

I study to stay informed about author and book marketing techniques, but as much as I learn, I want to know more. That led me to take Randy Ingermanson Passive Marketing class. This is a three-day class and much of this first morning was on establishing your vision and goals for success. As they say, how can you get there if you don’t know where you’re going? Tomorrow and the next day are more on the specific strategies and tactics.

One of my goals for the conference is to meet people and network. People tend to sit at the same table for meals but, at conferences, I make it a point to sit at a different table for each meal. Today, for lunch, I sat at a nearly empty table. Gradually the table filled. As we talked I learned the man on my right was a newspaper editor. A woman on my left had just finished writing her first book.

Frank Peretti and Kyle Pratt at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference

Just before the meal was served, only the seat directly across from me remained available. Moments later, a gentleman sat there. I thought he looked familiar so, I glanced at his nametag. It was Frank Peretti, one of the best-known contemporary Christian authors. I can still remember reading his first adult novel, This Present Darkness when it came out in 1986, and the sequel Piercing the Darkness, two years later. He’s written ten novels and sold over 10 million books. I told him I was a longtime fan, asked him about current projects and got this picture with him.  

All of that happened before noon. There were still two classes on public relations, an editor’s panel, an author’s panel and another class with Randy Ingermanson on Scrivener software to attend.

I didn’t get back to my room until after ten o’clock. I don’t think I could survive many conference days like this one. 

OCW First Day

Dinner was the most interesting part of the first day of the conference.

When I say it that way it sounds like a bad thing, that the first day of the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was a bust, but that isn’t so. The time spent around the dinner table was simply the best time.

After getting checked in, and receiving my obligatory nametag, (I’ve never liked wearing a nametag) I found my room, but was only able to relax for a few minutes, before trotting off to the conference.

The first item was a panel discussion with literary agents. There were probably more than a hundred people in attendance. Every seat was used and they brought in more. Agents are important to writers. I listened to gain insight on their perspective, but I don’t need an agent right now.

Next was a panel of magazine editors. I don’t write for magazines, but I was willing to hear what they had to say. Ben Wolf of Splickety Magazine, intrigued me. His magazine specializes in flash fiction, entire stories told in 1,000 words or less.

Several years ago, my son James had written several flash fiction pieces. That was my first introduction to them and I had no idea where or how to market them, but here was a man asking people to write them. I wanted to tell James.

Randy Ingermanson, Kyle Pratt and Ben Wolf at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference

Next was dinner in the banquet room. I saw my friend Julie Zander and we walked in together. Each table had a centerpiece with the name of a speaker at the conference. The named person would sit at that table. I noticed the table with Ben Wolf’s name on it. We sat there with Julie on my right.

Ben arrived moments later and sat one space over on my left. The chair between us was empty. I had just starting talking with Ben about his magazine and what type of submissions they were looking for when Randy Ingermanson sat between us. I’ve read several of Randy’s books including Oxygen and The Fifth Man. Julie knew Randy. Randy knew Ben and Julie and for the next hour I got to know both Randy and Ben as we talked about Amazon, the future of writing and magazines.

It was a great start to the conference.  

Exciting Events

I’ll be attending writer’s conferences in both August and September.

On Monday, August 4th, I’m heading south to Portland for the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference. This four day event is jam packed with nearly 30 workshops, more than a dozen coaching class and opportunities to network with many publishers, agents and fellow writers. I’ll be blogging, tweeting and posting to Facebook each day of the conference.   

Click to enlarge

Even more exciting in some ways is the Southwest Washington Writer’s Conference on September 13th. This one day event will be held not far from where I live, at Centralia College, and I will be conducting one of the 12 workshops.

Even though it is only a one day event it’s loaded with great writers and exciting workshops. New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni will give the keynote address, This Day We Write, at the conference. Others who will be speaking or giving workshops include the Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen, award winning author Melanie Dobson, and friends and fellow authors, and friends, Barbara Blakey and Shannon Winslow.

My workshop is titled, Author Entrepreneur – The Business of Writing. I’ll be blogging more about the Southwest Washington Writer’s Conference, and my workshop, after the Oregon conference.