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More about my busy summer and the writing conferences and workshops I’ve been attending (continued from Part 1).

Read on for Part 2: Indigo Editing Workshops, Mini Sledgehammer Contests, and a note about the Willamette Writers Conference.

Indigo Editing Workshops
July and August, 2011
Once a month, Indigo Editing offers a double-session workshop. I’ve attended the July and August sessions so far and I have to say, I loved them. In July, Susan DeFreitas taught us about the world of magical realism – or as she prefers, fabulism – and how it differs from science fiction, fantasy, and the like. We did a few exercises, and I found those particularly valuable (especially since I kind of missed the point of one of them at first; sometimes we learn more by screwing up). In the second half of the workshop, Kristin Thiel (@KristinWithPen) ran a session that “busted some myths” of the publishing world. Thanks to both Kristin and Susan for letting me pepper you with questions during that session!

In August, Indigo’s workshop started again with Susan, this time with a lesson on honing the first page of your manuscript so that it hooks readers (/agents/editors/etc) right off the bat. We took some examples from a few different successful books and talked about what the author did exactly to hook us, and then we each read off a first page from our own work and had a discussion on what worked and what we were missing. It was extremely valuable, and I know I’ll be carrying the lessons I learned from that discussion with me whenever I refine the first page of a story. In the second session, Cory Huff (www.theabundantartist.com) taught us a few things about getting connected with our fans using our web presence. This was a great session that I walked away from with a clear “to do” list.

Mini-Sledgehammer contests
The Sledgehammer writing contest is coming up soon, and in preparation, there are a couple of “Mini Sledges” that happen every month in NE Portland and North Portland. The Sledgehammer is an over-the-weekend contest with writing prompts and a 36-hour time limit, so naturally the mini-sledges are a single night with a few prompts and a 36-minute time limit. The Blackbird Wine Shop  hosts Mini Sledge once a month, and that’s about a five minute bike ride from my house, so I have little excuse to miss it. Of course, I’ve only been to one so far, but I plan on making the next one – and of course, the main event in September!

Willamette Writers Conference
August 2011
As badly as I wanted to go, I wasn’t able to make WWCon this year. I tried to pay attention to some of the tweets around the conference, and I soon realized that Porter Anderson (Porter Anderson Media, @PorterAnderson) was tweeting some extremely comprehensive coverage. Trying to read these tweets retroactively is no easy feat using Twitter’s web search interface, but of course, Twitter has a stellar API and since I’m a web developer by day, I whipped off a script to scrape all of Porter’s tweets into one web page, sorted by categories: Tweet Coverage of WWCon11.

A New Writing Group!
One of the great benefits of attending writing conferences and workshops is networking with other writers, of course. At the July Indigo Editing workshop, I exchanged information with a couple of other writers and on Sunday our newborn writing group met for the first time at a coffee shop in downtown Portland. We didn’t get much writing in today, but we got an extreme amount of writing talk out into the open and we even came up with a couple of homework assignments. I’m really looking forward to bouncing my work off some other writers (and providing feedback to them as well), and having some accountability is always a good thing.

Thanks for reading!

Jason LaPier is the author of Unexpected Rain, an interstellar murder mystery that reviewers have called "unexpectedly unique" and an "homage to past masters". Learn more about this noir SF novel that kicks off a trilogy.

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Jason W. LaPier is a multi-genre writer, delving into science fiction, speculative fiction, horror, slipstream, literary fiction, and surrealism. Originally from Upstate NY, Jason now lives in Portland, OR with his wife and their dachshund. By day, he is a software engineer at Elemental Technologies, where he creates the kinds of virtual worlds that actually do something. He is always in search of the perfect Italian sandwich.

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