Sunday, July 01, 2007

Live and Learn

Howdy conference go-ers! Wrapping up conference week is one topic that's truly dear to my heart---workshops!

I have to admit: I love conferences. Networking, food, chilling with writer friends, coming up with new book ideas...and mastering the craft. This opportunity to pick up tips and tricks from the best in the biz is like Christmas for me.

As soon as the workshop booklet arrives on my doorstep. that's my cue to work out the workshop schedule I plan to follow.

Priority Queue
- Workshops relating to what I write. Example: I write multi-cutural YA fiction, so I would go through the booklet and find classes on YA writing as well as ethnic/multi-cultural writing. This year, both of my friends Simone Elkeles and Nadine Dajani are giving workshops on these sessions and these are my number one pri 1s!

- Workshops that look interesting that will NOT be recorded. In general, after the conference, I make sure to go order all the sessions on DVD so I can review them at home. I confess, there are years and years worth of DVDs that I haven't *quite* gotten around to perusing...but it's like an addiction.

- Workshops relating to where I am in my career. Three years ago, I attened every workshop I could find on plotting and dialog. Those were issues I was struggling with. Last year, I hit up every workshop on characterization such as GMC and Motivation by Shrek. After selling earlier this year, I realized I have no idea how to market a book. This year, I plan to hit all the marketing and branding sessions.

- Workshops on things that I might not be interested in, but the speaker sounds great. I attended a talk on screenwriting and while that wasn't something I was interested at the time, I picked up some real gems in terms of how to write a good character through their actions and dialog and how to write movement in a scene.

So that' s my methodology for choosing what to go to. I recommend the usual tips.
-For classes with high-profile speakers like Deb Dixon and Jenny Cruisie GET THERE EARLY.
-For classes you may or may not be interested in, sit in the back and slip out of it doesn't fulfil your needs.
- If you can't make a workshop because you met some really cool people and you're just hanging and having a great time...enjoy it! The best things I've learnt about writing were from doing and from listening to my friends.

I'll be the one dressed predocminantly in red with a huge smile on my face.
Come say Hi! This year, my goal is to make as many new friends and possible :)

Happy conferenceing!
Dona Sarkar-Mishra
HOW TO SALSA IN A SARI - January 2008 from Harlequin's Kimani Tru


Tera Lynn Childs said...

Great tips, Dona! I do almost the same thing (including poring over the conference supplement as soon as it comes). My only difference is that my *first* priority is the speaker. First, I go through each time slot looking for an editor who publishes what I write (or want to write), authors whose careers I respect (whether in my genre or not), and of course friends (like Simone's workshop). Then, once I've highlighted all of those I go through pretty much your same approach.

And I'm minorly obsessed with marketing at the moment (read: majorly obsessed) so I bet we wind up at a lot of the same workshops.


Kiki said...

Since I can't afford to go to Nationals, I'm one of the obsessive CD-ordering people.
Funny to see that I still employ a similar tactic (minus the "This stuff won't be recorded" workshops, obviously) in prioritising what I want to listen to.

I just wish workshop presenters would keep in mind that they are being recorded and that I might have some trouble following what "See how this one looks much better" might be.

Please tell me SE and ND's workshops will be recorded!

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Kiki: Will keep my fingers crossed for you, else will post my notes from their sessions on this blog.

TLC: Woo hoo for marketing! I hope Teresa Meyers does a branding sessions again. I totall forgot all the great tips from Reno!

stephhale said...

Great tips, Dona! I also love pouring over the supplements when they come! I have a feeling most of us will be going to a lot of the same workshops. I can't wait to see the "lady in red"!