Journal

Today We Write! SiWC 2011 Conference Recap

The conference began with a bit of a twist. I attended one of the optional master classes offered before the conference, and the timing happened to coincide with the Surrey Economic Conference, at which both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were slated to speak. The security was consequently, nutty.

I walked up to the hotel, dressed up in stereotypical scruffy writer wear: jeans, canvas jacket… and had to thread my way through a crowd of people in slick black suits. You could tell who was there for the writer’s conference at a quick glance. I went through 4 police checks, and had to produce conference receipts, and ID. I also almost got run over by a police dog, when looking for the parkade entrance. However, most people, police included, had a good sense of humor about it.

The workshop on Details by Diana Gabaldon more than made up for the extra trouble. She’s an excellent teacher, with a sharp sense of humor, had us laughing through the three hour class. Good points were interspersed with examples from writing, on how to incorporate details unobtrusively, how to add resonance and other details, and how to add your personal experience to the writing.

I realized, however, one of the perils of having a parent that is a writer. There were a few stories she shared, including one hilarious incident involving testicles and her then two year old son (who is now a writer and was also in attendance).

This year I did not attend the full conference. I wondered if it would be worth it, and you know what? It was worth it. There’s only so much you can learn on your own, and it was like a jump start to my brain after being hunkered down in the novel slog for so long. I left considering different techniques and approaches to writing that I’m keen to try out. The individual conference workshops varied. I attended two on historical fiction, but one of the highlights was Ivan Coyote’s bootcamp for procrastinators. She destroyed most of the writing excuses we could come up with, graciously, and with humor.

It’s something amazing to be surrounded by 300+ people who are just as passionate as you are about writing. My writing reserves are all recharged. I met a few wonderful people in that one day, and if we can scrounge up a few more people, perhaps we can start up a local fantasy writer’s group. At the very least I’ll have one more person to swap critiques with. I also tried my hand at pitching again. It went well, even though I stumbled a bit. Looking for pitch tips? Here’s what I could have done better.

So all in all, it was another great conference. If you can invest a little in learning, it is worth it and it goes a long way. I’m looking forward to next year.


And here’s a link to a review of the Candle in the Attic Window Anthology via Shock Totem. I was thrilled to see that Nine Nights had been mentioned:

Nine Nights, by T.S. Bazelli

This is probably the creepiest story in the entire collection, and the one that is most likely to haunt your mind afterwards, leaving you disturbed and disquieted. A young girl is present at the funeral of her cousin, only to find her body being invaded by her cousin’s spirit. Gradually a secret of the family is revealed and black magic leaves two souls fighting for a single body. The ending in particular is terrible and well-written.

Damn, that’s a better description of the short story than I managed to cobble together. It made my day 😉 It’s also worth checking out the link above to see reviews of the rest of the anthology.

Have you ever been to a writer’s conference, and what was your experience like?

12 Comments

  1. Sounds like you had a great time – I’d love to go to one of the writers’ conferences.

    “The creepiest story in the entire collection” is definitely a badge of honour – nice one! And yes, it’s funny how much better others are at describing your work than you ever are isn’t it?

  2. Hey, that’s a great review for your story. That’s pretty cool. And glad the pitch went reasonably well. I guess practice makes perfect.

    It sounds like the Surrey conference was great, overall. I still wish I could get out to more of these… but for now I’m limited.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      I think any way of learning about the craft can be beneficial, even if it just be through books or articles. It’s always good to get a different perspective, and at different stages in the writing cycle, the ideas that really resonate can vary. I guess I’m fan of ‘just keep learning, any way, any how you can manage it.’

      And thanks!

  3. Brad

    Congratulations on the glowing review, especially since this was someone that obviously read the collection as a whole (I went to the link and saw his write ups on the various stories).

    Maybe you posted about this, but how did you get hooked up with this press in the first place? I assume since you’re querying you don’t have a dedicated agent.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      Thanks Brad 😉

      Innsmouth Press put out an open call for submissions for a themed anthology, so I wrote up a story I thought might fit what they were looking for, and submitted it. The story was pulled out of the slush pile. You don’t usually need an agent for short story sales.

  4. EEE, congrats on the shout-out for your story! That sounds so awesome, and now I really want to read it. I’m always in awe of your imagination.

    Oh, and you know what that reminds me of? You should check out Laini Taylor, particularly her books Lips Touch and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She ASTOUNDS me, and in some ways her imagination reminds me of yours (and vice versa).

    I’m glad the conference recharged you — I love writer events for the same reason. Whether it’s just readings by an author at a local bookstore, or a convention, or a workshop, there’s nothing like being pulled out of yourself and shown new perspectives, techniques, ideas. 🙂

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      Thanks Kristan! And oh, checking out her website now, and it looks right up my alley. I always wanted to write a book about Prague too! Thanks for the recommend 😉

      And yup, it’s definitely nice to get out of writerly isolation once in a while.

  5. “I also almost got run over by a police dog…

    What is it with you and dogs?! LoL

    The conference sounds like it was a pretty invaluable experience, though. I haven’t been to a conference yet but I’d like to in the near future. (Kinda waiting ’til I get my first project done so I don’t walk in empty-handed…heh. That, and I really can’t afford to go right now, monetarily speaking. Tough times for some college grads…)

    And such high praise for your short story! I’d probably be beaming for days after receiving a review like that, haha. That’s so great to see. 😀

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      LOL I can’t decide if dogs just really like me, or hate me. Mmm I think any writer’s events would be valuable! Sometimes there are free things to go to, or signings where you can talk to an author/ask questions for a while, or critique groups (good ones). Conferences can be a big investment, which is why I didn’t go the entire weekend this year. Still was good though 😉

      And YEAH I’m pretty happy about that 😀 Still smiling!

  6. Thanks for the link on Pitching.

    I’m pitching my WIP to two publishers in a couple weeks, so that was perfect timing.

    I’m not too worried, as I work in business to business sales. Just have to make sure I cover all my bases!

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