Category Archives: Writing Conferences

Fall Conference 2016 Recap

What a weekend and what a crowning jewel of an event for this incredible year of the League of Utah Writers. As a committee, we faced many challenges. Biggest of which was having to change both dates and venues mid-year when it was announced that Salt Lake Comic Con was happening the same weekend the Fall Conference was also planned for.

We picked a new venue – with a price tag far higher than originally anticipated – and got to work. It was my first experience on a planning committee for an event this size and it amazes me the things we got done in the three months from our first meeting until the event itself. I was officially the vendor coordinator and kudos must be given to the incredible people who volunteered their time during the weekend to make sure things ran smoothly. They all helped me make it look effortless.

I took only random photos which speaks volumes to how busy I was the entire weekend. It was not my first time as a panelist but it was my first time doing solo presentations and I had a blast. It was humbling when both the room was full and people came up afterwards to either ask questions or tell me they were sorry they’d missed one because they’d heard it was great.

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Commemorating the event with badges for my collection

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Observing the Diversity Panel – which included three friends who did amazing jobs

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We may or may not have gotten a little lit after a very long day. I blame the wine guy at the restaurant who really knew his stuff!

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Best wine I’ve ever had!

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We were so hungry we devoured dinner before I could get a photo of how pretty it was. This is the devastation

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Sitting next to a fellow Infinite Monkey during a powerful presentation on the mindset of money. Had to snap a pic!2016-09-23-14-23-43

The very first panel I was ever on was at a League event and this guy was there. Now he’s a trusted colleague and a great friend. This is us right before the panel on Horror – our favorite subject!

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The “after party” playing makeshift version of Avalon – my new favorite game.

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Passing of the gavel at the end of the banquet. Capping off a great year and looking ahead to more greatness to come.

I’m so proud to be part of the League of Utah Writers – it is an amazing organization.


League of Utah Writers Fall Conference 2016

I’m excitedly preparing for yet another event that has taken a bunch of my time and which I should have said no to. But I couldn’t say no and I don’t regret any part of my involvement in the planning of this upcoming event. The League of Utah Writers has been around for over 80 years and this is the premiere event of the annual calendar. This year’s conference is being held in Provo, Utah September 23-24. It’s going to be a fabulous weekend and I’m scheduled as a presenter on both days of the conference.fallconfluwfinal

Because I’m a tad on the obsessive side when it comes to details (and I have mad skills with a spreadsheet) I got to put together the programming lineup after the committee picked the presentation proposals that would make up the conference. As a result, there is only one offering of the major class tracks during each hour. Which means if you’re there to learn about publishing, genre fiction, marketing, non-fiction or poetry you won’t have to miss anything. Craft classes are offered a couple of times an hour with lost of variety and we’ve got a sprinkling of self-development and other treats. Of course if you want a smorgasbord of everything I can’t really help you there other than to offer condolences since all the classes look fantastic.

The theme this year is “Write Here. Right now”. To support this we have a lounge planned where writers can rest, connect with each other, participate in word sprints, jot down their inspiration from a recent workshop or panel, or work on submissions for the flash fiction contest. In so many ways I wish I wasn’t part of the committee who will be responsible for running the event so I could sit back and enjoy as a full participant. I’m honored to be part of such a community that is going through a revitalization period focused on inclusion and community. Writing is a solitary activity but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s my schedule (subject to change of course…)

How to Scare Your Audience Panel – Friday 2:30PM

Short Stories: How and Why Presentation – Saturday 10:00AM

Maximizing Your Writing Time Panel – Saturday 11:00AM

Writing Groups 101 Presentation – Saturday 4:30PM

 

If you’re a local writer who is interested in attending, you can get details and register HERE.


World Horror Con 2016 Schedule

Here’s my schedule of appearances at World Horror next weekend.

Thursday, April 28th

2:00-3:00pm – Utah Horror (Come see how the horror scene has grown in Utah and where it’s going.)

8:15-9:15pm – Steampunk and Horror: A match made in hell (What is Steampunk Horror, how do you write it and how do you twist the two effectively.)

10:00-Midnight – Utah Horror Writers Party in the Con-Suite – Welcome to Utah!

Friday, April 29th

7:15-9:45PM – Book Signing

10:00-Midnight (Co-Hosting) League of Utah Writers Party in the Con-Suite – come mix and mingle with local authors

 

When I’m not making official appearances, I’ll be around – either manning a table for registration, selling books and talking about Utah Horror Writers Association, or answering questions about The League of Utah Writers.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have an official schedule of appearances at an event of this magnitude. It’s almost unreal but then I remember that I’m living my dreams… Hope to see you there!


World Horror Con 2016 – I’m a panelist!

World Horror Con is just around the corner – two weeks away now. I’ve been excited about this Convention for a long time. Horror is really my home and this is the first World Horror in my backyard. I’ve know for six months that I would be attending both to help promote the Utah Horror Writers Association chapter and the League of Utah Writers. This week I learned that I’ll also be a panelist. Proof that the answer is always ‘no’ unless you ask. This is the year of putting myself outside my comfort zone as a professional author and it’s paying off all over the place. I don’t have the final programming line up but I’ll share it when I do.

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The convention is closely associated with the Horror Writer’s Association so, thanks to my membership, I’ve been heavily involved as a volunteer on the convention committee behind the scenes. It’s fascinating to see how something of this magnitude is planned and how many people it takes to pull it off. There are some amazing folks giving a lot of their time to make this a fabulous event.

I’m also a party organizer with The League of Utah Writers. If you’re attending, make sure you pencil in the Friday night party to mix and mingle with local authors. It’s going to be great fun.

If you’re planning on attending World Horror, make sure you say hello. I’ll be the extroverted writer talking to everyone!


Evolution of a Writing Conference Attendee

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The premier writing conference in Utah (if you write science fiction and fantasy) is arguably Life, The Universe and Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Symposium (LTUE) that happens every February in Provo, Utah. This was my third year attending. When I sat down to recap the experience, I compared this year’s attendance to the prior conferences and found that each year was markedly different.

My first year, 2014, I was a new writer, relatively speaking. I had been writing for several years without knowing there were such things as writing conferences where I could learn from more experienced authors – three days of multiple panels to choose from every hour, in fact. That year I was wide-eyed and hungry for knowledge. I wanted all the inside secrets, all the things I didn’t know yet, on the craft of writing. I gobbled up the how-to and the writing craft panels and left with what I needed to take my writing to the next level, beyond hobby writing. This was a business and I’d just found the insider track.

I spent a year applying what I’d learned, networked and joined professional organizations, wrote short stories and gotten published in my first anthology. At LTUE 2015, I was focused on the excitement of launching the book as part of the conference and didn’t put a lot of thought into the conference itself, other than being there. I did the same thing as the first year, picking panels on the craft, and was disappointed that I didn’t get much new information out of the ones I attended. I left feeling the conference wasn’t as useful as the year before and wondered if I’d already grown beyond what it had to offer.

This year, I was a seasoned conference attendee committed to getting the most out of the three days of programming offered. I’d also spent the last year getting to know more successful authors and learning there are tricks to conferences. I analyzed the offerings every hour and picked only the panels that applied to where I am currently with my craft and my publishing path/career. Turns out there are so many choices because there are so many ways to look at the business of being a writer. (Those whose job it is to put together programming at this thing are genius.) Here’s the ones I attended:

  • “A Glimpse of Horror” showed me how to grab and amp up the emotional response of my reader through the different levels of horror.
  • “Ten Things Every Writer Should Know About the Brain” taught how to write so my work is appealing to a reader’s brain without them knowing why – I didn’t get in because it was full, but I got great notes from a writing pal.
  • “Time Travel and the Nature of Light” gave me details on such incredible science that my brain has taken off plotting about three different story tangents that I could write as either novels, novellas, or short stories (or all three).
  • In the keynote address, Shannon Hale talked about the unconscious bias of sex in literature affecting both women and men (when boys can’t read a story because it’s too sissy or women authors don’t get read because they are women) raising awareness in order to fight it. It changed the way I look at what I offer my kids to read.

This year, I also did something new. I spent a lot of time writing – soaking in the vibes of all those writers and their creative energy over the weekend. In the past I was away from home taking little advantage of the distraction-free time that opportunity offered. I’m drafting a novel now and it was great to continue making progress instead of pausing for almost a week while I attended the conference. (I also started writing a short story because it was screaming at me from the depths of my subconscious and wouldn’t go away until it was at least a living document on my hard drive…) This addition to the conference activities was uniquely valuable to me since I have to squeeze every moment of writing time from an already full schedule. Finding large chunks is not easy but I found at least three of them while attending this year.

Another addition this year, I was honored by a friend and fellow writer who asked me to fill in for him on several panels when he was unable to attend last minute. I moderated two panels – Marketing Through Book Signings, and Hooking Your Reader – and got to talk about upcoming scifi/fantasy/horror movies as a panelist. It was so much fun, a lot of work to prepare last minute, and something I would love to repeat in the future. Who could have predicted that I would be one of the seasoned veterans others come to learn from in just three years but that’s what happened. I hope I helped someone like those veterans helped me in years past.

One of the best parts of any conference is talking to people. Having the support of fellow artists and creative folk who understand the struggles we face as writers is invaluable. This year I consciously helped foster the kind of community I want others to have available – you know, Madam President and all that… Most creative writers are introverts, more comfortable walking past a stranger than engaging in conversation. I’m a rare “extroverted motivator” (according to one of those self-help business books my boss made me read a couple of years ago to find my five greatest strengths) who happens to be a creative writer.  I used my powers for good and collected groups of people to sit and talk craft and foster friendships. It was nothing short of amazing.

If you’re a writer and you’re not attending writing conferences, find one in your city or close to you to attend. They are invaluable no matter what stage of writing you are in or what your goals are. If you’re in Utah, LTUE is a fabulous and affordable conference to attend.


2016 World Horror

You guys. It’s no secret I’m a lover of all things dark and scary. But did you know there is a convention for people like me? It is called World Horror Con. As part of my membership in the Utah Horror Writers chapter, I have the privilege of knowing some of the organizers. The more I hear about all the things they have planned, the more interesting the weekend becomes.

A discussion of all the ways you can kill people with food? Panels about police procedures? True crime discussions? Whether you’re a writer looking for inspiration and specifics or if you’re just a fan who wants a glimpse behind the scenes, this is going to be a killer convention. (No pun intended, of course!) It’s being held this year in Provo, Utah – my back yard. As a bonus, if you’re into art, the art show and vendor booths are open to the public.

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Here’s the official press release. I hope you’ll join me! This Con travels all over the country and there are no plans for returning to Utah – let’s send them on their way with all the love! (And if you’re out of town, think about a nice weekend in Utah. It’s a beautiful place and we’re having a hell of a ski season that should still be in full swing then!)

Horror Comes to Utah!
Provo, Utah.

The World Horror Convention, an international gathering of horror writers, artists, editors, filmmakers, and fans, will converge on the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Provo, Utah, April 28 to May 1, 2016.  This premiere event has been to Salt Lake City twice.  For the third, and final, appearance in Utah, it will be in Provo.

WHC, a semi-professional conference, will have panels and presentations featuring professionals in the field on subjects as diverse as current literature, true crime, horror poetry, dark fantasy, horror art, Vincent Price, the developmental stages of a serial killer, Cracking the Story Code, Police Procedurals for Writers, and the dark side of Disney.  A special “killer tea” will feature a keynote speaker who will help authors find creative ways to kill people with food.  The event includes an art show, vendors’ room, horror film festival, kaffeeklatsches, and book signing by 100 horror authors.  Workshops and pitch sessions will be available for writers and an artist alley will showcase artists at work.  Guests will also have the opportunity to go on a real ghost hunt.

The event will feature some of the top authors in horror fiction, including Darren Shan, Sarah Pinborough, Jack Ketchum, Joe McKinney, Brian Keene, Kevin J. Anderson, Michaelbrent Collings, Michael Arnzen, and Dan Wells.  It will also feature poet Linda Addison, cover and concept artist Keith Thompson, graphic novel and cover artist, Carter Reid and scholar, editor and author, Michael R. Collings.  In addition, Victoria Price, daughter of famed actor Vincent Price, will do a presentation on her father and have some of his work available for sale.  There will also be a number of academic presentations on true crime.

The World Horror Convention, established in 1991, is the premiere event for horror fans and professionals alike.  It is held in a different location every year and celebrates the horror genre.  The 2016 World Horror Convention will showcase a growing community of professional authors and artists in Utah as well as a number of guests from around the world..

Help Utah welcome the world to The ZomBee State!  Go to http://whc2016.org for more information on the convention and how to become a member.


Writing tips from Julie Coulter Bellon

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the presenters at UAACon15. Check it out HERE. Julie presented an amazing class on self-editing and revision today.

Sometimes saying ‘yes’ when I really am too busy comes with great returns!


Business versus Craft – the 2015 conundrum

There are only so many hours in every day, no matter how effective you are at using them wisely. I’m not sure whether it was a funk I was in over the holidays while I grieved celebrating without my mom, or a mild case of burnout. More than likely a tad bit of both. I spent the last week making a conscious effort to get myself refocused. For the first time, I wrote down writing goals for the year. Measurable ones with dates and everything. Which someone said makes them far more concrete. I’m not really a written goal kind of girl but yearly goals are part of my corporate job which shapes my efforts over the course of the year. It was not surprising to find myself in the same kind of mind-set thinking about my writing. I have taken my hobby to a professional level and it just flowed naturally to set yearly targets for productivity.

I have some lofty goals for 2015: two novels and several short stories by the end of the year.

The reality is, if I want to achieve these goals I am going to have to step things up even further this year. I’m going to have to start saying ‘No’ to things… I’ve been involved in creating a new non-profit organization the past few months and it took a lot of time. Time I could have been writing. (No surprise that I’m also on the pro tempore Board of same, right?) But it was because of my involvement with that group that my first story will be published so I have to believe it was worth it. I’ve been trying to juggle so many things that some of the balls I’ve got in the air are bound to fall on the ground, try as I might to catch them. Gone are the days where I could say yes to everything that I spontaneously thought sounded fun and then find a way to work out all the details. Now, it’s called prioritizing and I have to do it before the fact. Instead of lamenting, I’m thinking how great it is to have these business-related problems. It means I’m a professional which will help in getting to the next level. A level I can’t fathom at this point but which I welcome nonetheless.

I’m working on a new ITIL certification at my corporate job called Service Strategy (it’s an IT thing, it’s okay if you don’t know the reference, google will). One of the principles I thought fitting for my current situation is: ‘Strategy is deciding what not to do’. Basically putting what your business plans to do in perspective of what you have time, money and resources for, and what you don’t.  I never thought I’d be using my corporate job skills in my writing career but here I am, doing exactly that. Hours of time to allot for writing is the most precious of commodities right now for me. I can either use them for writing or networking or marketing or creating new and exciting ventures that benefit the community and advocate literacy. But I won’t have the time to devote to each of them that I want. Maybe I’ll win the lottery and I won’t need the corporate job anymore. I find myself day dreaming about how much I could get done at work if my only job was my writing. But I can’t dwell on things as unlikely as wining the lottery.

As a result of my introspection, you won’t see me at FanX, probably not at ComicCon either. Plus, I’m being selective on which writing conferences I attend this year. Because that gives me three more weekends to devote to marathon writing sessions where I practice the craft that helps me excel in my business. Truth is: without my craft, there is no business. If I’m not writing and producing products intended for consumers, all the rest of my networking and marketing efforts will be fruitless in the end.

Now, more than ever, if you need me I’ll be writing. I’ll sure miss watching football, since I’ve already given up the rest of television. Perhaps I should buy stock in a coffee supplier just for safe measure? I will certainly need my share of caffeine in the coming months while I watch 2015 unfold. Stick around, there’s always hindsight when we can’t have a crystal ball!


Being a Writer – a new perspective

I just attended Life, the Universe & Everything (LTUE) – a science fiction and fantasy symposium geared mostly toward writers. It was my second writers conference and the first I’ve attended in its entirety. I went with my amazing writing group so it was also one of the funnest girls weekend trips I’ve ever taken. I came away energized and excited about writing in a way I never have been. I attribute this to two reasons.

First, because I got to be the nerdy geek girl I really am at heart. And I mean got to be her FULL OUT. For an entire three days. From sunrise to sunset. I’ve read science fiction since I picked up “Battlefield Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard when I was in sixth grade and it changed me forever. I found fantasy and horror not long after that and never went back. I loved being able to gush about being literally feet away from my favorite fantasy author (Brandon Sanderson of course). Got to hold in my hand a copy of his latest book that no one anywhere can purchase yet like the holy grail it is. And no one thought I was weird for doing any of it. I was surrounded by my people. And it was heaven. I even ventured into fan-girl insanity by dressing up as a character from one of my favorite novels at the banquet. Which paid off when Brandon Sanderson himself stopped in the middle of his toastmaster address to say “I’m sorry, are you wearing mist cloaks?” and proceeded to complement and make inside jokes about not ‘dropping coins’ or ‘licking the dinnerware’ while my writer’s group stood for all to see how cool we were. (Sorry if you aren’t a nerd and don’t get the references. If you want to, read Mist Born!)

Second reason is the perspective I took away from the panels I attended. I realized I’ve been envisioning this whole ‘being a writer’ thing in an entirely wrong fashion. Being a writer always looked like: me at a desk in my house, by myself, working hard, and then someday selling books and “making it big”. What a bunch of vague and empty terms with no specifics! What I learned is that being a writer – at least the kind where you get paid to do it and make your living solely by writing – can be summed up on a very basic level. IT IS A JOB. Which means you have to build your skill set, start at the bottom, get a ton of experience to put on your resume so you can get the best job. [LIGHT BULB] Just like trying to get a corporate job. Which I already know how to do!

After I appeased my OCD by transcribing (and color coding and organizing for action items) all my handwritten notes from the weekend, I sat down with Hubby and made sure he was on board with me taking on a part time job. Because that’s what I’m going to do from here on out. I already proved as recently as this past November that I can have a life and still write fifty thousand words in a month. So, I’ll continue to do that every single month from here on out. I’ll further tune and hone my skills then build my resume until I land a position with an agent willing to sell my work to publishers. Because those are the nitty-gritty specifics of what it really takes to be the kind of writer I want to be. Finally a project plan for my writing!

Wouldn’t it be super cool if one day I was on one of those panels at LTUE? Look out world, the ultimate overachiever has taken things to a new level. If you need me, I’ll be somewhere with my hair on fire I’m quite certain!