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The Write Life: July 2019

This month was all about workshops—workshops I attended and workshops I presented.

My first stop was the Orange County Library to learn about world building from Arielle Haughee. Her approach to world building starts with creating maps, ranging from the broad to the more specific aspects of the world. I tend to make maps late in my drafting process—you know, after I’ve written the location of the main character’s house and then written something else that completely contradicts that. With Arielle’s process, I could have those details knocked out in advance and have some potential ideas for conflicts and obstacles presented by the distribution of resources in the world and difficulty of the terrain and transportation. Basically, her presentation knocked my planning socks off, and has encouraged me to go play with the mapmaking app I found a few months ago.

The next stop in my writerly education was the Central Florida Inklings where I hosted Saritza Hernandez, Senior Literary Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Saritza talked to my writing group about preparing your manuscript for submission to a literary agent or publisher and shared tips for writing a query letter and synopsis. Saritza broke down the need for a literary agent (even for self-published authors) and clearly described what will encourage an agent to keep reading your submission. She also talked about ways to research the market, giving me a few additional ideas to work into my process.

My last workshop of the month was back at the Orange County Library, but this time I was presenting. I shared my love of steampunk, breaking down the essential elements of the genre and helping other writers figure out what makes a story steampunk. (Hint: it’s more than just cogs and corsets, gears and goggles.) I covered 19th century aesthetics, technology, and social issues, as well as character and story tropes specific to steampunk. This and other presentations will be available by the end of the year on Patreon for patrons pledging $7 or more.

In news of other presentations, I’m working on finalizing my schedule for DragonCon where I’ll be on four or five panels across two or three tracks. Right now I’m confirming there are no conflicts across the track schedules, but you can guarantee I’ll be talking about time travel that weekend—maybe more than once!

 

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The Write Life: March 2019

In mid-March my friend ran a mini-workshop on branding for myself and two other author friends. In addition to getting away for the weekend and spending entirely too much time browsing through the rooms and rooms of used books at Chamblin Bookmine, we discussed who we each are as authors, helped refine brand statements, and created vision boards to help guide our individual progress. (Spider-Man and Into the Spider-Verse sneaked into my vision board when I realized my cog looked more like a spider-logo—still on brand.)

Talking about who I am as a writer and trying to find a statement to encapsulate both writing about alternate history and writing about the future, as well as writing about robots and gender disparity and all the other bits and bobs of odd sci-fi that surfaces in my thoughts was a bit of a challenge. I had to strip down who I write about and focus on that more than on what I write. It was also a great experience to analyze why the things I write about are important to me. (I mean, I knew already, but being forced to articulate it in a non-glib way was a helpful step in taking myself seriously.)

Even though “branding” can be a scary business word that seems like you’re selling yourself as a product, it’s actually more about figuring out how to articulate what you do as an artist in a bite-sized way. That bite-size isn’t just helpful for selling yourself or your art. It’s also helpful for guiding your creativity and making choices about which opportunities to pursue and how to develop projects. It’s a way to capture who you are as an artist at this point in your career, and I think that’s the thing that I found the most helpful about the weekend.

In the end, I realized I write about various forms of agency. Whether that’s women reclaiming agency in alternate history worlds or robots shucking their programming or proving they are more than their overlords believe them to be, my stories directly deal with characters reclaiming agency and learning to be more human than they ever believed. Since articulating that, it’s been easier for me to write and to capture the story I’m trying to tell. If you’re struggling with your fiction, I apparently recommend working on your brand!

 

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The Write Life: December 2018

I started December by finishing off a final revision of my Clockman novel. (Yes, another final revision.) This pass included addressing some concerns I had about Chapter 12 and then reviewing the entire manuscript for filler words and adverbs to make sure the sentences were as tight as they could be. I used some of the website apps I’ve talked about previously in Writer Resources (available on Patreon) to assist with these passes, which made looking for filler words and adverbs a breeze.

The manuscript is currently off with a friend from the MFA and my MFA thesis director, and I’m doing a final (“final”) hard-copy review wherein I’m discovering horrifying typos and further tweaking sentences (because I. Am. Unstoppable!) Our formerly feral cat Pink is assisting in this work, but he keeps falling asleep on the job (sometimes literally on top of the book).

I’ve also been preparing a presentation on Non-Traditional Revenue Streams for Writers (like Patreon), which I’ll be presenting at the OCLS Writers Conference on January 26. If you’re local to Central Florida, make sure you register soon! (Seats are going fast.)

 

For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.