Tag Archives: Writers Conference

A Whole Lot of Being Nice – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: What does it take to get the most out of a writers’ conference?

 Answer: “What it takes is a whole lot of being nice.”

Hug imageI put that response in quotation marks because I heard those words from another author. Sabrina Jeffries giving an uplifting talk at – you guessed it – a writers’ conference.

Summer is conference time. Small retreats and huge gatherings punctuate June through August for many writers. Civilians – as in non-writers – are off to the shore or the mountains or the campsite. But we pack up our notebooks and our hopes and head for a convocation of scribes.

What most of us are hoping is that we’ll find the key to getting our work published or better published. I say that isn’t the most important thing we find at these gatherings whether they take place in a grand hotel or a modest cabin or anywhere in between.

The most important thing we find is each other. We make the most of a writers’ conference by maximizing that discovery. We writers are our own most natural allies. Why is that so true? It’s true because we understand one another from the inside.

We understand what it’s like to labor in the formidable publishing marketplace. We understand what it’s like to struggle toward getting our work published and keeping it published. We know how it feels to suffer rejection and disappointment. We also know how it feels to experience the joy of our accomplishments whether they’re large or small.

We also understand we need support in these hard struggles we’ve chosen. We understand that because we need the same support ourselves. With this understanding comes an obligation. Our obligation is to reach out and give what is needed – a little bit of niceness to our writer friends.

All it takes is a few words in a few sentences of encouragement and kindness. Over the several days or even the single weekend of a conference these few words at a time will add up to what Sabrina inspires us toward – a whole lot of being nice.

Our need to succeed tells us to be nice to the max to the agents and editors and instructors we line up for to pitch our projects or sit in front of taking notes. We long to recruit them to become our allies on the inside of the publishing world. In the meantime let’s not forget the allies we already have on the inside of the writing world.

Give what you can. A word of advice or a commiserating ear or a shared laugh – and definitely a hug. As you scurry from class to class or from appointment to appointment take a moment to touch another writer ally with your own whole lot of being nice. I guarantee you will experience a whole lot of feeling good in return.

RR

P.S. My biggest writers’ gathering gig this summer will be teaching a course titled How to Stop Shooting Career in the Foot. Six sessions of sharing everything I know about how to get out of your own way and get what you need out of writing and publishing. That happens July 24th through 31st at the International Women’s Writing Guild 38th Annual Summer Conference in Litchfield CT. For more information visit www.iwwg.org.

RR

My next novel is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Launching with summer on June 22nd at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 13th novel and I couldn’t have done it without a whole lot of being nice from my author allies. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

In Praise of Fierce Women – Orr What? Wednesday

There’s no force as fierce as a woman with a purpose she’s determined to fulfill. This was true as ever last weekend at Liberty State Fiction Writers’ Conference in New Jersey. So much impressed me there but I was most impressed by the fierce women who made the event speak to me in ways I needed to hear.

The first of these women was Rayna Vause the Conference Organizer – fierce with service from my initial sighting of her in the morning until my last after the final workshop was done. Rayna tends to be mild mannered but ferocity is mostly about dedication to a goal rather than personality. Rayna’s goal was to help the rest of us.

She was answering someone’s question when I first spotted her and doing the same when I saw her again at late afternoon. In between – the day Rayna had orchestrated spun around us all. She was fiercely determined that we would have an amazing experience and we did.

After lunch I moderated a workshop titled “Raiders of the Lost Arcs” with Kathryn Craft – a woman who is fierce with knowledge. Her complex subject was story structure and lunch had run long. Kathryn had to capsulize a lot of information into an impossibly short time and she did.

I took so many notes my wrist hurt. I also had an epiphany about my own writing process and how emotional arcs keep a story moving. Or slog to down if not artfully portrayed. Kathryn was determined to enlighten us and we were enlightened.

It was dinnertime when Liz O’Connor – who writes as L.G. O’Connor – joined us at a corner table in the hotel restaurant. Liz and I had been alphabetically slotted next to each other at the book fair earlier. Her energy and enthusiasm were evident from the start and continued through our dinner conversation where I discovered that Liz is fierce with encouragement.

The two other authors with us are at the beginning of their careers. Liz couldn’t have been more generous with her long experience and fund of facts about both traditional and independent publishing. Liz was determined that these new writers would be armed with information for the battle they must wage to become published and they were.

On the train back to New York City I was tired but filled with my own ferocity. Fierce with gratitude for the women with fire in their spirits that sets the rest of us aflame.

RR

My latest story is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – Matt & Kara’s Story. Available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. This is my 12th novel and the heroine is definitely a fierce woman.

 Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com