Monday, August 28, 2017

Writer's Digest Conference 2017

I was excited to attend this year’s Writer’s Digest Conference (known as #WDC17 on social media).

Loved the genre buttons this year!

The energy in a gathering of writers, readers, and lovers of all things bookish is quite magical. We encourage and inspire each other as only fellow writers can because we understand everything -- the passion, the fears, the effort. And the speakers at the conference sessions are like gurus; they've been there, done that, and are here now to motivate. I was touched by their genuine generosity of spirit (what we would call gentilesse in the medieval code of chivalry). They all truly wanted to help the aspiring writers before them.

The whole conference was a wonderful experience, but there were a few stand-out moments. My absolute favorite line at the conference came from literary agent/ author Paula Munier: 

The best stories are tapestries, all woven together.

The Unicorn Tapestries, the Cloisters

I have to admit, I do love a good outline, but I've been feeling a bit constricted by my need to plan ahead in my writing lately. Author Stephen James taught two excellent sessions that refueled my well and emboldened me to trust my creativity and the story itself. And he threw papers at us. Brilliant! I wish I had done that to my students.

Author Tabitha Lord, who won the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award 2016 with her space opera Horizon, held a fantastic session on indie publishing. She inspired me to really organize my time for the upcoming autumn and back-to-school, including writing along with house/family matters and self-care. I can see how scheduling these things give them weight and helps you honor your life reality and be present in each moment, no matter what aspect of life it is. 

I was so happy to have all three of the above sign their books during the cocktail hour on Saturday and chat with them a bit. 

There were three keynote speakers, but my favorite was Lisa Scottoline. She was so down-to-earth and honest. Writing is hard work. (Oh God, yes.) But I think it’s safe to say that her life story inspired all of us to keep writing, keep persevering. And she had us belly-laughing as well!

Round Table Companies (RTC), the main sponsor, hosted a Vulnerability wall (shown below) and question game played in the lounge, which I’m so glad I joined. I met a group of fabulous writers across several genres, and we all went out to dinner together afterwards! I’m so grateful to have met them and look forward to continuing friendships.

Overall, WDC17 was a successful learning and professional experience for me. And my bonus was a lovely Anniversary dinner with my husband at one of our favorite restaurants, The Palm. (Our marriage is sweet 16!) I'm looking forward to next year's conference.

*Middle three pictures are from Pinterest. First and last pictures are my own.*

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Through the Oak Door Book Launch

On Sunday, June 25th, we celebrated the official launch of Through the Oak Door at the Knockdown Center, a renovated door factory that is now a unique venue for art exhibitions and events. It was the perfect place for the launch, both physically and symbolically.

As I wrote in my post series Sacred Groves and Writing: On Ogham and Oak :
In Love Lies Bleeding, the word marker between sections is "duir," which is the Ogham symbol for the letter/sound D and the oak tree. It carries the same root as "Druid," which means "one with the wisdom of oak." In fact, the root of "duir" actually holds three meanings: oak, door, and stag.

So holding the launch in an artist space that was once a door factory was definitely the universe conspiring to create magic!

The Ready Room of the Knockdown Center is a spot perfect for book readings. It has gorgeous open-brick walls, plants, artwork, and a bar for refreshments! The entire staff was wonderfully accommodating and genuinely happy to have the book launch; it is obvious that they are committed to being a patron of the arts in the community. Check out their website here:

Once everyone settled in with a book I took the podium. (By the way, I LOVE PODIUMS. I haven't been at one in years! I want one in my house. Think that will go over well?)

As I was reading the first few pages of Love Lies Bleeding, haunting music began to play from an exhibit setting up in the next was actually very atmospheric! Some of the audience even thought I had it piped in from somewhere on purpose. (I did not! But it worked!) Here's a clip:

I also read from Songs Within Stone for the first time ever! In the Q&A session afterwards, one comment really struck me: How my character William reminded the listener of Michelangelo, in the sense of an artist feeling like a power is moving through them into the art. I was so thrilled because this was spot-on part of what I was writing into William, although in a Celtic mythological sense. And really, isn't this what all artists of any medium, including myself, feel when they are creating?

Then I had lovely chats with my audience during the signing. It really was a happy occasion, and I am so thankful to all who participated! 

Special thank you to Tyler and Alexis at the Knockdown Center, and to my ever-supportive friends who bought me those gorgeous roses in the picture and the wrapped bottle (it's St. Germaine -- they know me well). And the most gratitude goes to my husband, kids, and parents, whose presence at the launch were priceless.