I am home from the Southern Lights Writers Conference, sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers of Jacksonville, Florida. It was my first-ever out of town writers conference, and I am so glad I went.
The speakers were great. First up was New York Times Bestselling author Cheryl Wilson with a lecture on world building. Since I write women's fiction, I didn't think this workshop would be relevant to me, but Cheryl explained that world building crosses genre; by the time she was finished, I was ready to try my hand at writing a fantasy series - look out, J. K. Rowling! Next, writer Renee Ryan shared twelve steps to writing success. All of her suggestions were spot-on, but one I hadn't considered before was "Study movies like a writer," perhaps even turning the sound off in order to truly understand action versus dialogue. Finally, Vic DiGenti offered tips for spicing up plot using characters, dialogue, setting and point of view. We even did some writing exercises.
Cheryl Wilson also gave the keynote speech, "Preparing for Success." On the heels of an agent pitch appointment that didn't go so well - although she did ask me to send her my synopsis - I really needed to hear Cheryl's words of encouragement. Write what you love. Master your craft. Develop friendships with other writers. Forgive yourself when you fall short of your own expectations. Refill the artistic well. Thanks, Cheryl.
Cheryl Wilson and Pam Asberry
And after the conference ended, there was just enough daylight left for a quick drive to Jacksonville Beach.
There was an hour and a half wait for a table at Joe's Crab Shack, so we dined at Campeche Bay Mexican Restaurant instead. It turned out to be a great choice. I should have taken a picture of my fish tacos but I was so hungry that I ate them before the thought occurred to me. Next time.
During the drive back to Atlanta, Lindy and I discussed our writing goals and put our heads together to come up with ways to better organize our days so we can meet our personal and professional obligations and find more to write. Anything is possible. I am more determined than ever.
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit.