Carolyn Yoder, Elizabeth Partridge, Highlights Founders Workshops, John Lescroart, Nancy Bo Flood, no name baby, PCCWW, Peggy Thomas, Susan Bartoletti, Writing, Writing Conferences

Invest in Yourself. You’re Worth It!

Thought for the day: The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.~ Robert Cormier
My daughter Maggie sent the following link. It certainly is food for thought. Don’t be put off by the fact it starts out talking about music. It is really for all kinds of artists – like writers! Just thought you might find it interesting.

A couple weeks ago I announced Megan had won an autographed copy of no-name baby by the incomparable Nancy Bo Flood. Megan, I’ve tried to contact you three times and haven’t heard back. Please contact me so I can send you the book. Readers, if I don’t hear from Megan by the next blog post, I will draw a new name from those who commented on that post. I also have winners to announce from my last blog post. Jennifer Rumberger was the first to have her name drawn, so she will be receiving The Bell Bandit, and Barbara Watson’s name was also drawn, so she will get a copy of The Secret Tree. Congratulations!!!
When I retired a few years ago, my good friend Jan Paluch, who had listened to me talk about how I wanted to get serious about my writing, sent me a brochure for the Sacramento Writer’s Conference. I plunked down some money and spent a couple of days rubbing elbows with the likes of Erin Dealy and Patti Newman, and John Lescroart.(Yes, THAT John Lescroat!) I met some other newbies and learned a great deal. Out of that experience came my first critique group. I was on my way. I went to the conference again the next year, but it was pretty repetitious, so I started looking around for other ways to further my writing. I took the ICL course and went to workshops and conferences and joined SCBWI. I got better and better at my craft. Every year I invest in myself. I find the best workshops and conferences I can and spend the time and money to make myself a more accomplished writer.
Peggy Thomas
Last week I was in Pennsylvania at a Highlights Founders Workshop. This was my fifth time going to Boyds Mills to learn from the best, and it is paying off in many ways. I have sold some work in the last couple of years. No books yet, but YET is the operative word for me. I know that I will sell some of my books. And that is happening because I continue to invest in myself.
Last week’s workshop was Whole Narrative Non-Fiction. I spent a week with Peggy Thomas, Elizabeth Partridge, Susan Bartoletti, CarolynYoder, Nancy Bo Flood, Barbara Krasner and a wonderful group of attendees. Look at the names on that faculty list! Imagine just being in their presence for a week! I’ll bet between them they have close to a hundred books published. Amazing. We had hours of workshop time every day as well as hours of quiet writing time. In addition, we had all our meals together as well as cocktail time. (You’ve got to love the cocktail hour at Boyds Mills.) In addition, we had an individual talk from most faculty members sharing how the writing process works for each of them.
Nancy Bo Flood
This is a new workshop for the Highlights people and it wasn’t perfect, but they listen well and I’m confident the next time it occurs it will be close to perfect. But I came away from that week with a non-fiction book manuscript I believe will be ready for submission very, very soon. It’s miles better than it was when I showed up. I had lots of help from almost all the faculty. (I didn’t happen to get much time with one faculty member, but had good amounts of time with everyone else.) Nancy Bo Flood also spent a lot of time with me on a poetry project I’m working on. She has such great expertise in that area and was happy to share her time and knowledge with me. I think that project is now almost ready to submit. (Thanks, Nancy!!) I made the comment while at the workshop that if I didn’t have grandchildren in California and if money were no object, I would go to all the workshops Highlights offers. I’m not kidding. They are that good. Check out their offerings HERE.
I received an email recently from Nancy Sondel, founding director of the Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Workshop.  She is contacting people for her Fall 2012 workshop and said she hoped I could join them. I wish I could afford to go, but I just came back from a pretty expensive workshop and am already committed to another later this year. Maybe next year I’ll return to the PCCWW. I went to one a few years ago, and it was a great experience. There are different levels you can sign up for including one which includes a full-novel critique from one of the faculty. This year’s faculty includes editor Simon Boughton (senior VP and publisher; Roaring Brook Press and Farrar, Straus & Giroux), agent Emily Sylvan Kim (president, Prospect Agency), and agent Joe Monti (Barry Goldblatt Literary). WOW! For more information, check out the site HEREI really think this is worth your time to explore. I learned so much when I attended and, again, had a great deal of time with wonderful faculty members.
Not all writers’ workshops are as good as these are. One year I attended one of the Big Sur Writers’ Workshop. They are pretty popular. After all, it is Big Sur. They do them twice each year. These workshops are put on by a literary agency, are expensive, and don’t return much on your investment, in my humble opinion. Others may have a different view.
I make sure I attend at least a couple of conferences each year and go to a couple of workshops or retreats as well. I really like the one-day local SCBWI conferences and workshops. They are inexpensive and they seem to draw excellent faculty. And the SCBWI regional people work really, really hard to put on great events. I’ve never been disappointed. Ask around before you make any decisions. Talk to all your writer friends and see what experiences others have had. Invest in yourself, but invest wisely.
My next post will be back to some book reviews and probably some giveaways, so please tune in. And please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.

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