Tag Archives: writers conferences

10 Links To Inspire Love and a Larger Wordcount

There have been some great blog posts lately, all of which are motivating me to stay focused on my goals. I hope to be 3/4 of the way done with edits by my April writers conference. I’m also working on author branding and hope to create new business cards as well as start up a pinterest page. Any advice from you all is greatly appreciated.

I know many of you are hard at work on your own goal list: figuring out which conferences to attend, starting new novels, finishing drafts, or maybe just planning a romantic night out with your honey.

If so, I’ve got you covered! Pull up a chair, wrap your fingers around a mug of your fave beverage, and happy reading!

In Preparation for Valentine’s Day:

I made a Valentine's picture, but the rings are so big they look like handcuffs. Haha!

I made a Valentine’s picture, but the rings are so big they look like handcuffs. Haha!

  • Emma Meade interviewed erotica author Kitt Crescendo on her latest release (of the literature sort) in Blogger Pal and Author of Steamy Fiction. *Bring a glass of water to cool down after you read Kitt’s book excerpt!
  • Shannon Donnelly guests at Writers in the Storm to answer What Makes a Romance? with seven tips for helping anyone on the fence about whether their book fits.
  • Liz from Be.Love.Live. is celebrating February by Learning to Love Yourself Through a Photo a Day. She’s hosting a photo a day challenge to take 28 selfies that share something beautiful about you! Aww.
  • Shameless plug: Stay tuned for a Valentine’s Day guest post from pet behavioralist and thriller writer, Amy Shojai, right here on the Happiness Project!

Writer’s Hub:

  • Adam from Roof Beam Reader gives his take on the J.K. Rowling interview in J.K. Rowling Can Say What She Wants. Have you heard about this?! Rowling was interviewed (by Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films) and commented that intended for Hermione and Harry to end up together in the end, NOT Hermione and Ron. It’s a fascinating conversation and I would LOVE to hear your opinions on it.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, author Ginger Calem’s daughter snapped the cutest picture of a Harry Potter fan ever. Check this adorbs out! And follow Ginger on Instagram!

Is this cute or the cutest?

  • Piper Bayard and co-blogger/author, Holmes, kidnapped invited bestselling author Ellie Ann to their blog to discuss the Steampunk trend as well as Enhanced Books. Fab interview on these new medias. Steampunk and Books That Sing
  • Julie Glover discusses the power of book’s first line with great examples from both classics and her own works. I love that she includes Daphne du Maurier’s wicked character Mrs. Danvers to illustrate! Kickin’ It Off Right: A Novel’s First Line
  • Bradley Somer posted in Wordbitches What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Writing, which is filled with great tips for anyone who has, or wants to have, speaking engagements like book readings or presentations.
  • Kristen Lamb shares Why All Writers Should Attend a Writers Conference which is full of useful networking advice, tools and updates on the publishing industry, as well as information about an upcoming online conference!

What goals are you working on? What are your Valentine’s plans? And what blog posts inspired you this past week? Feel free to share links!

Why I Decided NOT to Go Back to College

I’m fresh off of WANAcon this weekend which was AMAZING! Seriously, if you get a chance to go (and it’s all online, so there’s no reason not to) you should go!

Rumor has it there’ll be another one in February…

WANAcon is an online writers conference hosted by social media guru and writer shepherd, Kristen Lamb. WANA stands for We Are Not Alone, which is the title of her first book. Big thanks to Kristen and her partners in crime – Jay at Tech Surgeons and Jami Gold – for helping host WANAcon this month.

The conference had a mixture of craft and business classes for writers with a slew of awesome presenters. One class alone made me sign up.

*****

Several months ago I made the drastic decision to quit my job in sales management with the intent of getting my Master’s Degree in writing.

Like a good little student, I researched schools and programs, made lists of extracurricular writing opportunities, and talked to people who had completed the programs.

Then May rolled around and I jetted off to the Dallas/Fort Worth Writers Conference. Over lunch one day, with several of the WANA tribe, we were talking about our current writing plans. In my best puffed-up, “I’m not having a quarter life crisis AT ALL!” voice I shared my brilliant plan of going back to school and getting the education I needed to move forward. *hands on hips, matter of fact-style*

And then my friend, Rachel Funk Heller, asked me a question…

Why do you want to pay all that money for a glorified critique group?

I was stunned.

You mean, you don’t think my plan is brilliant??!

Well…it wasn’t.

Note:  This post is not a bashing of academia. I would never tell someone not to pursue their graduate degree if that was important to them. This post is my story about MY decision to pursue a different path on my road to publication. If you’re considering going back to school, then research it! Get all the information you can before making your decision because it matters.

Rachel’s point to me was that everything I had stated I needed help with was available…in our WANA community…for a lot less than that $40,000/year tuition I was looking at. She pointed out what’s available to learn at conferences and who to get in touch with online.

She was right.

All I want to do is write a book. I don’t need a Master’s Degree to do that.

If my goals had been to teach writing in a college environment or to open my own publishing house someday, then YES, a Master’s Degree would be necessary. To write a book? It’s just one path of many.

Making an Action Plan

What butt in chair writing looks like.

What butt in chair writing looks like.

Back from DFWcon, unemployed, and desperately wanting everyone to believe I’d made the right choice, I put together my action plan.

I wrote.

That was step number one. And in a little over 3 months, I completed the first draft of my book.

Support.

I found support all around me. I got a writing partner, one that I knew and shared a work ethic with *Hi Gene!*, I used social media to boost my word counts, and I joined a local writers group to get feedback on my work.

Education.

I admit I do not have all the answers. If I did, I’d be published by now! I also would’ve quit my life-suck of a past job a LONG TIME AGO!

Now, I read books on craft. I devour books in my genre to get a sense of pacing and voice. I read through Writer’s Digest and blogs about writing.

A bonus to not paying tuition money – I have money to attend conferences! It’s my plan to attend more writing conferences this next year.

Balance…As Much As Possible

This has always been my struggling point. I’m a yes-person. I think that I can do it all and then don’t ask for the lifesaver when I’m drowning.

It took me awhile to find a job that makes me happy and healthy. A job that challenges me, utilizes my talents, appreciates my input, and is flexible. That’s an incredibly rare find. And it took time.

In my past job I worked 50-60 hour work weeks where I was on my feet presenting “happy manager” face all day long. When I got home, I was exhausted! I wanted to write, but I never had energy to get far.

My unemployment, though incredibly difficult on my budget and my relationship, was a gift. It was time. Time to finish my book. And not having a paycheck was a damn big motivator to plant my butt in the chair and get that page count up, let me tell ya! Little things like Crystal Light packets became a huge treat when I got my writing done.

Perspective.

Before I was offered “Awesome Job,” I accepted “Get’s Me a Paycheck Job.” It was a drastic pay cut, where I was overqualified, and still putting in more hours than I asked for.

The Regional Manager literally spent half a day’s training discussing “The Importance of Using a Planner.”

*crickets*

It was another push. Take the job that is less stressful, and puts food on your table, and GET THAT WRITING DONE!

In order for that to happen, I had to let go of my pride and stop worrying what people would think of me.

*****
So WANAcon had a class that really sparked my interest.

Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA

Is that not the coolest sounding program ever?!

Gabriela Pereira is the instigator behind Do It Yourself – Master’s Program for Writers! She has an MFA herself because she wanted to be a creditable individual that can teach Master’s level education to others having experienced the programs first hand.

After sitting through her presentation on the core areas of MFA programs, I was psyched to realize that I was already doing 75% of them! Adding in a few other elements and getting tips from Gabriela’s program will be a great resource to build my skills in the rest!

Check out her website DIY MFA: Tools and Techniques for the Serious Writer

She even offers a FREE DIY starter kit with over 30 pages of techniques and tips, so I encourage you to get more info if this interests you!

*****

I’m grateful that Rachel took the time to ask me my true goals in life. I would much rather spend my hard earned money traveling across the country to network at writers conferences than rack up more debt in student loans that may or may not get me any closer to publication than I am now.

I realize that I was only able to make that decision after years of dealing with the things I knew I didn’t want.

I hope my blog post helps at least ONE person out there make a drastic change in their lives for the better. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve made these changes a lot sooner.

I’ve read the books written by happiness experts and life coaches and the problem with those books is they gloss over the gritty parts. They quit their jobs like it’s no big deal while at the same time start a collection and go shopping for trends! Most of us cannot do that. I couldn’t do that!

It was a learning process the whole way. But ultimately, a good one.

*****

If anyone wants more details or you’re looking for a listener who’s been there, please reach out to me! I’m more than happy to chat with you all in the comments, message me on Facebook, or send me an email (jessi(dot)witkins(at)gmail(dot)com)! You can vent to me in 140 characters or less on Twitter!

Knowing you have choices is an incredible empowerment, and you deserve that!

What were the tough decisions that you struggled with? What helped you survive?

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