Thursday, June 19, 2014

The 2014 Write Touch Conference

Have you ever been to conference?  I went to the Wisconsin Romance Writers’ Write Touch Conference this weekend and I’m still thinking about what a good time I had. Here are thirteen of my favorite moments.
Kate MacEachern
  1. I got to catch up with one of my long distance critique partners.
Liz Pelletier
Liz Pelletier took us to school. She used the Save the Cat screen writing structure to help us improve our plots. 
Jade Lee
  1. Jade Lee helped us develop our characters and clarify their goals, motivations and conflicts.
Carrie Lofty
  1. Carrie Lofty showed us how the Myers-Briggs personality classifications can help us understand ourselves and also create great characters.
Cheryl Yeko
  1. Cheryl Yeko let me practice my pitches with her.
Leah Hultenschmidt and Rebecca Sherer

  1. I finally got to thank Leah Hultenschmidt for the encouragement she gave me on a one of my first contest finals when I was a newbie writer and wondering if I should continue writing or switch to basket weaving or something.
Eric Ruben
  1. I got to pitch my latest manuscript to Eric Ruben,
Michelle Grajkowski
  1. Michelle Grajkowski, and
Rebecca Sherer and Adam Wilson
  1. Rebecca Sherer. Even though I stumbled through my log lines, they listened and nodded at the right moments. Maybe they were just being polite, but I enjoyed talking with each agent and I think they’d all be great to work with.
Kat and Lee de Falla
  1.  I got to talk with my friends and make new discoveries about them like: Kat’s husband Lee can really play the guitar,
Jody Allen
  1. not only is Jody Allen into history, she likes Steampunk, and
Gina Maxwell and Jade Lee
  1. in addition to writing the romances I love reading, Jade Lee has a fun sense of humor.
Kristin Bayer, Barb Britton, Liz Lincoln and Liz Czukas
  1. There were other awesome workshops, a book sale and all kinds of food I could also mention, but number goes to how seamlessly the weekend--the award luncheon, the pitch sessions, the activities, the discussions, and everything came together. Many thanks to Liz Lincoln and Liz Czukas and their conference team.

I started this post asking if you’d been at a conference. Have you? What was your favorite activity? Please share.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

QueryKombat: Writing Tips

Are you brave? Do you enter contests? I've got one I’d recommend--QueryKombat, an on-line writing contest hosted by bloggers:

I’ve been monitoring the blog posts and the twitter feed. It’s been my obsession for the last week or so.

On Thursday, May 22nd at noon an entry window opened and SC, Michael and Michelle accepted 225 entries, plus some free entries from another blog event. From those, they picked 64 entries. Mine included.

In round one, Kombatants’ entries were paired up to square off one on one, head to head, mano-a-mano in 34 blog posts.  The coordinators tried to match the entries by genre and target audience. Judges visited each pair, made comments and then picked their favorite and many of the judges and Kombatants posted writing advice on twitter.

 Here are thirteen of my favorite writing tips.

  1. One thing I'm learning from QueryKombat. Think about where your story begins. It can make the difference between a "WOW" & a "meh" opening. ~Amy Trueblood
  2. Your query should have your character, conflict (what do they want? What stands in their way?) & stakes (what if they fail?)~ Naomi Hughes
  3. The question isn't if others love or hate your story. The question is, do YOU love your story, and have you told it truthfully? ~Lisa Dunn
  4. Whatever happens, just keep writing!~ Heather Harris-Brady
  5. Voice. Voice. Voice. I don't care what you're selling, if your query has voice, I'll read the hell out of it & want more...~ Ami Allen-Vath ‏
  6. If I don't connect to your CHARACTER, I can't connect to your CONFLICT, rendering your stakes meaningless!~ Lauren Spieller 
  7. All queries need 3 elements, or they cannot succeed. those elements are: conflict, character, and stakes. ~ Lauren Spieller 
  8. Subjectivity plays a huge role in contests (and in publishing in general). Listen carefully to critique, then go with your gut.~ Naomi Hughes
  9. Another QueryKombat observation: The last line of your query shouldn't be a summary, but a tight line leaving your reader begging for more!~ Amy Trueblood
  10. I can tell what the book's about, & what will happen if the character fails...but I have no idea who the character really is!~ Lauren Spieller 
  11. This doesn't mean you should write a query that's full of character development but no conflict. It means you need to IMBUE your conflict with CHARACTER. ~Lauren Spieller
  12. Never give up! ~Ingrid Seymour
  13. Just remember that not all of the light at the end of your quest belongs to a train, your fate and dreams are there somewhere.~ Ramon Ballard

Good advice. My twitter friends have a lot of wise words to share, but I’m guessing you do, too. Want to share some sage counsel? Or share a contest experience you’ve had? I’d love to hear about it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Difference In Perception

By Eilis Flynn

One of my favorite cable shows is Perception, about a crime-solving paranoid schizophrenic neuroscientist college professor (whew!) working as a consultant with the FBI. It’s on TNT, and it stars Eric McCormack and Rachael Leigh Cook. Someone commented that it’s a little bit Beautiful Mind, which is fair, because our hero is by his own admission (and everyone else’s) mentally ill. He even has two sidekicks, one of whom is real (a former student of his, now an FBI agent, played by Rachael Leigh Cook) and the other of whom is not (a former girlfriend, who really wasn’t, but someone our hero created from a barely remembered memory, played by Kelly Rowan). Our hero, whose name is Daniel Pierce, is supposed to be on meds to control the delusions, but often doesn’t take them, and that’s when a lot of the stories take a lot of depth and color. Of course, the delusions that result—from someone wearing an alligator costume to World War II soldiers to old-time baseball players—help Pierce solve the crime of the day.

The episode I was watching recently (okay, I was watching more than one, since the new episodes are starting next month and I was getting caught up) covered the topic of inattentional blindness, making the question of if you’re not paying attention, did you really see it? According to Wikipedia, inattentional blindness is the failure to notice something unexpected in your field of vision when you’re taking care of other tasks that require your attention. It’s not that you couldn’t see it; it’s that you were distracted. Too much to pay attention to, and the mind has to focus somewhere.

There’s a test that researchers use to study this particular phenomenon referred to as the “invisible gorilla” test, in which people are asked to complete a task while something unexpected is sprung on them, and then those people are asked if they noticed anything out of the ordinary during the task. The episode of Perception used a variation of this for a murder that takes place during the period of distraction (and using someone dressed up in an alligator suit instead of a gorilla suit), eventually leading to a serial killer. Anyone who’s ever had to answer the phone while answering the door and fending off a persistent person (child or adult who should be whapped over the head) will tell you that you can’t do it all, not at once, at least. 

I keep thinking about the drivers who insist on using their cellphones as they’re driving (I’ve been known to yell for them to hang up the phone, and none too politely, and sometimes from the bus I’m on)(this is a source of great amusement for many who know me, for some mysterious reason), causing harm to themselves or others. It’s all too common, and even illegal in a number of places, but I can’t help but let my mind wander about the possibilities. What if when your mind wanders during these periods of displaced perception, you actually go somewhere else?

Think about that. What if your mind is truly elsewhere?

Isn’t letting your mind wander a wonderful thing sometimes? The possibilities are endless!

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at If you’re looking for an editor, you can find her at as Elizabeth Flynn. Either way, you’ll find her online somewhere!