Category Archives: Brain Pickings

Another Willamette Writers Conference is in the Books!

Day One

Friday morning dawned clear and warm, the light breeze wafted in and caressed me as I reached over and stopped my alarm. The conference! Not wanting to be late, I pushed myself out of bed and began my day.

7:30 – Breakfast – Reconnected with Don Ball and heard about his new project, listened to the keynote by Jane Friedman, and prepared to meet the day.

8:30 – The Art of the Unlikeable Character with Miriam Gershow – Shivered in the cold (it was going to be a hot day so the hotel was compensating) as I learned tips for making characters likeable, even if they are despicable.

10:00 – Advanced Critique with Kisa Whipkey – Met again with Kisa and enjoyed the 20 minutes. Received from great advice and feedback, as well as wonderful encouragement. It’s good to know a neutral third party likes my writing, even with the work still need to be done.

10:30 – Knock ‘Em Out: Writing Action Fight Scenes with Fonda Lee – More cold as Fonda gave us tips on authentic action and fight scenes. My main takeaway? Research, Research, Research.

12:00 – Lunch! And a fantastic keynote by Chelsea Cain. She is funny, smart, and wonderful speaker. “Write the story you want to write.”

1:30 – Dissecting the Dark Tower with Anastasia Poirier – A chance to geek out over Stephen King’s amazing work, and learn about the difference between the original Gunslinger book and the reissue.

3:30 – The Life Changing Magic of Revision with Natalie Serber – Ducked in because my first choice was full:Thank goodness! So much good information here, and Natalie was engaging and entertaining.

5:00 – Reception, dinner, and talking. Don, Frank, Frank, Ben, Christopher, and I sat around and talked tools, writing, process, genre, publishing, and on and on and on for three hours. What a conversation!

9:00 – Arrived home, eyes drooping but blood running high, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Day Two

7:30 – Eating, chatting, laughing.

8:30 – Using Premise to Hit Your Dramatic Targets with Eric Witchey – MIND BLOWN. Scratched the surface of this technique, but know I have some serious work to do to integrated into my daily writing life.

10:30 – The Antagonist’s Journey with Danny Manus – An entertaining exploration the antagonist and what makes a deep and three dimensional character to get in your protagonists way.

12:00 – Lunch time – Time to eat and listen to Corey Ann Haydu inspiring tale.

1:30 – Building a Middle Grade Villain with Jared Agard – What a good time! The content was a little off what I was looking for (I don’t write middle grade right now), but there were some great tidbits in there, and I don’t think I was more entertained all weekend (See Sunday).

3:30 – Microfiction and Beyond: Tight Writing with Gayle Towell – This was exciting and something I want to explore! I plan to look at this, some longer flash fiction, and short stories to supplement my writing and try and hone my craft.

7:40 – Advanced Critique with Sam Morgan – It has potential, but I have work to do.

9:30 – Open Mic with MC Debbie Dodds – So. Much. Talent.

Day Three

7:30 – Uhg, did I really stay up for the Open Mic?

8:30 – Controlling Story Layers with ED ACE with Eric Witchey – MIND reBLOWN (and a little overwhelmed). Eric consistently gives strong advice and tools to learn advanced concept to help you become a better writer. I just have to absorb it all!

10:00 – Took a break from the learning and mingled, rested, edited.

1:30 and 3:00 – Punching Up Your Prose, Parts 1 and 2 with Tex Thompson – What absolute fun! Tex really brought out my hidden word nerd, and I can’t wait to apply some of the tips and techniques she taught to my writing. Now, if I could figure out how to make it to Dallas for her 5 week course….

The excitement is still here, memories fresh and vivid, but this year there is something else, something below, something unfamiliar: Doubt.

Last year I gleaned everything I could from the conference, met people, made friends, and came away overloaded but undaunted – ready to tear the flesh from my writing. This year, there is a nagging feeling my writing is going to tear the flesh from me.


How does a word warrior defend himself? By sharpening his tools, increasing his skills, and stepping back on the battlefield slinging word after word on the page until, overwhelmed, the story submits. Under the warrior’s control, the still vicious and now trained and strengthened, the writing is ready to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting public.


Process Update

It has been a while since I posted, as I have been concentrating on my day job, as well as getting my second draft in shape for my beta readers.

Now that year end hassles at work are done, and my MS in the hands of my readers, I thought I’d pop out here and jot down some thoughts.

First, I have found some good articles on the process and want to share:

First from Drew Hayes: Author Editor Relationship

And that kind of goes along with Kisa Whipkey’s Editors are People

I’ll be writing a longer post about tool authors use, and specifically my experiences using Google Docs, Sheets, and Draw as well as a Chromebook to do the majority of my writing.


For now, I’ll leave you with this: