Over the weekend I attended the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference and went to some great workshops. When I tell people I’m going to a writing conference, some of them say, “Why? You’ve already published 20 books, what else do you have to learn?”
I’ve always said that when you stop learning and listening and exploring you might as well hang it up. Yes, as an established writer I know about point of view and I think I’ve pretty much figured out how to create characters – but attending writing conferences is more than just about learning how to write a book or plot an outline, it’s a way for writers to connect with writers and talk to others in the industry. Writers understand what it’s like to “have people in your head”, to get stuck on an opening line, or agonize over a title.
The workshops were interesting and offered something for everyone – regardless of the genre you’re writing (and whether you’re just starting out or more experienced). I got a refresher on How to Hook Readers with a Fabulous First Line from Sarah MacLean, a reminder that There is No Writers Block from Hank Phillippi Ryan (and a great list of questions to ask yourself if you feel like you are getting stuck), and practical advice from “Jen Squared” (Jen Talty & Jennifer Probst) on creating a platform through social media.
But for me personally, the highlight was horror/thriller author Jonathan Maberry. I first met Jonathan at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference back when we were starting out in the early 2000s. In a long-ago workshop Jonathan gave me some sage advice I still stick to today (don’t use a pen name!) and encouraged writers to write and have fun while doing it.
Many books later, his advice still holds true. Jonathan gave a motivating and funny speech at lunch and also hosted a workshop entitled Constructing a Nail Biter of a Thriller. The workshop covered timing and pacing, the heroes journey, genetic research (“SpiderGoats” anyone?) and raising the stakes for characters as the clock ticks down to big trouble. After the conference I found myself motivated to work on a few supernatural thrillers that I’ve had in the idea stage for ages.
Thanks to the presenters and organizers who made the conference possible (and fun!). And thanks to everyone who visited my little portion of the swag table and signed up for my newsletter. (Everyone who did will win a free ebook.)
I came away with some valuable new information, a few refreshers, and ideas for new projects. At some point, every writer needs to take a break from the work and go out into the world and see new things, have new experiences, and socialize. The conference was a great way to do all that!
And now? I’m back to working on a follow-up book to A Midsummer Night’s Delights & A Midwinter Night’s Delights. (You can read more about them and my other romances on my new site: www.KelliWilkins.com).
In my next blog, I’ll be sharing more about my historical/paranormal, The Viking’s Witch!
Until next time,