Writers’ Academy 2013

Last month I attended the WTAMU Writers Academy and it was AWESOME! Yes, that’s an overused word, yes, it’s a cliché. But folks, there isn’t any other way of saying how great it was for me.

I have to admit, I didn’t do very well last year. My fault. My head wasn’t in it. This year? Whole different story! I took Alexandra Sokoloff’s class again.

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Only this time I was excited about my story idea going in. I didn’t have a lot of the plot, and of course, several things changed before we were done plotting. But that’s why I coughed up good money to go…to find out what worked and what didn’t. I have to tell you, I am SUPER excited about this story! Now all I have to do is get it written.

By the time we were through going through my story on Wednesday and Thursday I didn’t even want to stay for the rest of the class…I wanted to go WRITE! But I didn’t. The whole point of the class was to not only get input from the instructor, but from other class members…a give and take, if you will.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not much of a plotter. So to be able to walk away after (basically) four days with a complete plot line is practically unthinkable. I did it, though. So did every other person in the class. Alex paid us the biggest compliment when she said every single story was viable and marketable. Woot!!

 

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Here we all are the last day. Alex is next to me with blond hair. Notice there’s only one guy in our class. Bless his heart, he didn’t turn beat red when we talked about hot flashes, etc. {snort}

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This is a wonderful (and forever) friend, Jolene Navarro and her daughter, Storm. Jolene’s 1st book will be out this October through Harlequin Love Inspired. I KNOW it’s great! Storm writes paranormal and has a bit of a different twist on angels and demons. Can’t wait to read the finished product.

I’ve already dived into the writing full speed and making great progress. We’ll see just how fast I can write a complete manuscript. Keep your fingers crossed while I try to type mine off. 🙂

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Creative Wells

Man does not live by bread alone.

No, we need more. In fact, we creative types have to keep those creative juices flowing. One way or the other. Right now, for me, it’s attending a workshop founded by NY Times & USA Today Best Selling Author Jodi Thomas and Random House Publishing’s Upcoming Star Tim Lewis at West Texas A&M University’s Writers’ Academy in Canyon, TX all this week.

I’m taking the Screenwriting Structure for Novelists class taught by Best Selling Author and Bram Stoker Award Nominee Alexandra Sokoloff. I’m starting a brand new project and I have to tell you, I feel really good about this story! It’s sort of a sequel to Shattered Promises, my story in the anthology Romance – The Spice of Life. The new story is titled Deadly Promises. Does that give you a tiny inkling of what you’ll get when you read the book? I hope so. 🙂

This takes place during the same timeframe as Shattered Promises, only with different characters (naturally). There’s the plane crash and a lot of flawed characters, including: a new sheriff in town, a struggling widow and a stalker. I’m also going to address some social issues.

Like I said, I’m super excited about this. We’ll see what comes out of the class and if they can help me fill in a BUNCH of holes in the plot. I have faith that Alex will be able to see what I’m completely overlooking. Or even go a direction I never would’ve thought of going.

I can’t wait to reconnect with old friends as well as make new ones. Spending a week immersed in writing with other writers is so uplifting and inspiring, it’s unbelievable. I’ll come home completely wiped out and drained, but it’ll all be good. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t crash and burn during this class because she definitely puts you through your paces. Regardless, I’ll have all the plot points worked out by the time I leave on Friday. Yay!

Btw, wish you were here as they have other wonderful instructors, such as: Margie Lawson, Jennifer Archer, Dian Curtis Regan, Mike Bellah along with tonight’s banquet speaker, Linda Castillo. Now how could you go wrong with a line-up like that? 🙂 ♥

Dress Rehearsal

Last Sunday, Jackie talked about me and how I do/act at book signings, which made me think. Do we actually know how much we’re learning when we’re learning it? Do we realize how much of what we see and do while learning the craft of writing is a dress rehearsal for the real thing? I sure didn’t.

I’ve been writing for a long time and just now publishing. I’ve taken online courses, and attended multiple conferences and workshops over the years. To be honest, I like to sit in the back of the room and observe others. i.e. I don’t like to be the center of attention. At least I didn’t used to be.

At my very first book signing, I stood in front of a room full of people and gave a short talk. They were all family and friends and the people I didn’t know when I got there, I knew before they left. In other words, I’ve lost my ‘back of the bus’ mentality. For signings, anyway. This wasn’t a conscious decision—it simply happened. If I want to see my book in the hands of others, I’ve got to put it, and myself, out there.

But that isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The comments I’ve received from others (friends, family and total strangers), have convinced me that I actually have learned quite a few things about the craft of writing. I hadn’t realized (at the time) how those monthly critiques, or comments from contest entries, have helped me grow as a writer. The information I gleaned from conference workshops, or rejections from editors and agents, have helped me see what I was doing right and wrong has been immeasurable.

I don’t think it matters where you are in the craft, you can always learn more. I sure know I need to keep learning! If you’re new to the craft, my best advice is to become a sponge. Soak up as much info as you possibly can. Pay attention when more experienced writers give you advice.

Watch.

Listen.

Grow.

Because eventually you’ll find you’re no longer in the middle of a dress rehearsal, but the main performance and you’ll be center stage. Start learning those lines! 😉

No Coasting Allowed

Last week I attended a workshop at West Texas A&M University. It’s a Writers Academy and the class I took was Screenwriting Structure for Novelists by Alexandra Sokoloff. I’ve been a pantser in the past but have figured out I need a bit more ‘structure’ in my writing. Alex’s techniques have filled in the gaps for me.

This class was exactly what I needed for my next story. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do in it (can you say extremely vague?), but didn’t even know where the story would end. That’s highly unusual for me. Now I can say I know not just where the story will begin (NOT where I’d originally thought, btw), but also where it’ll end. And boy is it a dynamite ending! 😉

Did I mention I made some fantastic new friends? The members of the class were great. They helped work out plot points for everyone else’s stories, along with Alex. I have to give a big kudos’s to her. She managed to pull minute details out of all of us, no matter where we were in the story or in our writing careers.

By Friday afternoon I was totally brain dead. LOL That’s okay, though, because I’ve got tons of notes and the basic outline of the sequel to Grave Secrets. Yah!

Thanks a lot, Alex! Couldn’t have done it without you. I REALLY appreciate your work…and patience with me. You made me step up to the plate and I feel so much better for it.

Linda Trout

Seriously?

Linda here.

As I stated last week, I attended the Writers Academy at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX, taking Jodi Thomas’ class. Honestly, I wish you’d all been there with me. To spend an entire week with other writers, immersed in writing, is unbelievable. Yes, many of us have attended National (some will be there this week), but this wasn’t the same. You don’t sit and listen to speakers, you participate. We had to think and work at our writing.

Which made all the difference.

While there I realized how blessed I am to be part of RWI, to be able to meet monthly and to be part of a critique group. Several in the class had no one. One woman said how much being a part of the class, how being around other writers who “understood” her, meant to her. Guess she found out ALL writers talk to themselves. And wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

I’ll post more detailed info on my personal blog (www.lindatrout.com) in a day or two for some of the fun things we did during the week. I came home exhausted and so pumped! And ready to jump back into my writing full force.

The last day, a few minutes before the class ended, Jodi told us we took our writing seriously. As we should. However, we shouldn’t take ourselves seriously. To make her point, she passed out red noses for everyone. This is Jodi and I smiling for the camera.

Ain’t we cute?

I can almost guarantee I’ll be going back next year. Wanna’ come?

Linda Trout

 

Conferences

Love or hate them? OWFI is this next weekend, and I won’t be going due to assisting with Open Water check-out dives for my students. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this conference. What an eye opener, a heart breaker, an opportunity to grow. It was this same hotel where I met the man who changed my life. That’s another blog topic.

RWA National is just around the corner and I won’t be attending that one either. The crowds, BS, and workshops do not justify the expense of attending no matter how many free books or potential for learning. I was overwhelmed by information overload.

At our conferences, I ended up doing more work, becoming exhausted and wishing the entire thing was over. I had more fun during the drives to the airport. Each year, I promise myself that I will go to a few regional ones, but don’t. Other things get in the way, even for our awesome our RWI retreats!

So. . .do you love conferences or can do without them?