Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scary Beginnings

No, you have not stumbled onto Stephen King's blog by mistake, it's just that this is my blog - my first blog - my first day of blogging, and to me, it's much scarier than an alien spaceship buried in the woods . . .

A month ago on the day before my birthday, I left for what would turn out to be one of the best trips of my life. Krista, Norma, Leah & I took off on Wednesday afternoon for the ldstorymaker's conference in Salt Lake. After a stay in Rock Springs, we drove into town the next morning, ate lunch, met our friend Sue, and  settled in for Boot Camp.

My romance group leader was Julie Bellon and at first I thought she was very tough, then I discovered that she was very good. Not only did she help calm my nerves, but because of her, I finally understand what a hook is and what it does for the first page of a story. Thank you Julie!

Since that day was my birthday, our group went to the Blue Lemon for dinner and then walked around temple square where the flowers looked and smelled wonderful. Even though we missed out on pie at the Lion House, it was a birthday to remember.

From the first moments of Sarah Eden's humor on Friday morning, to the last on Saturday afternoon, I loved every second of the conference. Because this is part of my record of the year I became a professional writer, I'm going to mention each class I went to, and the main thing I learned. If you're interested, okay, if not, maybe by the end of the year, I'll be better at holding your attention . . .

I started the morning right with Clint Johnson's class on Conflict and Mechanism of Story. I learned a couple of things from Clint - first, that sometimes really good things come from really bad things - like writing coming from debilitating insomnia, and second, how to take anything and make it into an interesting story. His method of increasing the stakes and getting us to help make the story more and more exciting, was like watching a master magician perform. Loved his class - and he's a nice guy, besides.

Jeff Savage & Deanne Blackhurst presented their class on creating a character bible. They taught me some valuable things about protagonists and what makes them the hero. Even, though I'm a fan, I very much enjoyed the jabs at Harry Potter, especially since I could have sworn JK Rowling was behind me, reacting to each zing. It was fun. My protags will know who they are from now on.

If I'm ever in a life and death crisis, I would like Dave Wolverton to be sent in to rescue me. His quiet voice is calming, yet authoritative and you just know he's got wisdom to spare. It's because of Dave that I decided to make this the year . . .He told me to get serious, and since this is life and death - I'm doing what he says.

Pause here for a mention of the food, entertainment, agents, publishers, authors, etc. that made the conference all that it was. If I'd won the do it yourself shrine kit, I'd have a pillow to bow down to you on. I bow to you anyway - what a great job! Oh, and best chocolate pie ever.

Little sleep - exhausted, but exhilarated - next day

I have lots of writing books - ask my friends - I mean, a lot of writing books. I now have the one that is going to get me a publishing contract. In Story Engineering - Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, Larry Brooks writes, just like he talks, which I like. In his class, the thing that grabbed me was his 4 part story structure - even though I didn't understand it. His books were sold out of the bookstore, so I had to wait until I got home and ordered from Amazon . . . but it was worth it. I read it through, then went back to the specific story structure parts and know that this is what I have needed to make my stories publishable. When I get published, it will be Larry Brooks' fault.

Eric Johnson taught me not to trust anyone. If you were there, you know what I'm talking about. Oh, and he was very funny.

I had submitted a query letter ahead of time for the Killer Query class with Elana Johnson and she gave me great suggestions and comments on that. Thanks Elana. Unfortunately, I had a coughing fit at the beginning of her class and spent the rest of the afternoon roaming the halls. She was kind enough to send the presentation by email the next day and that was great.

Because I was lurking in the halls, I got a chance to peek in on Sarah Eden's romance class and got to share a Colin Firth moment with her. Ahh . . .

After several minutes of picturing that look Darcy gives Elizabeth when she jumps to Georgianna's rescue at the piano . . . I'm back.

The last class I got in on, and the reason I decided to write this blog, was Sara Megibow's Acquiring a Literary Agent. Wow. High octane stuff. Content from beginning to end. When Larry Brooks makes my book publishable, I want someone like Sara to sell it. She is awesome!

So, the only thing left I guess, is that on Sunday morning, we drove the 9 hours home, each of the four of us discussing our works in progress and brainstorming on them. Don't get me wrong, I love my family a ton, but this was my idea of a greeeeeaaaaaat Mother's Day.

The last month, I have spent a lot of time writing and reading (including Courting Miss Lancaster which Krista gave me for my birthday and that I'm loving) and planning for this year of my life. I don't plan to post my specific goals here, I have them in front of me at home, but they are rather huge. I will report on my progress as I go. I plan to blog most days, and if you've stuck with me this far, I promise, they won't usually be this long.

Thanks for stopping by . . .



Krista said...

Carla, I am so excited about this blog! Your voice is clear here and more people need to hear it. I'm looking forward to reading your posts and sharing this next year right alongside you! Yay!

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