Writer Words

Q&A Sunday: Conferences

This question from Vicki seems well timed!

What is your favorite thing about going to a writers conference or convention?

There are tons of conferences out there. In a month, the RT Booklovers Convention is in Atlanta. There have already been some conferences, and many more are coming. If you’re looking for a way to connect with romance authors, you probably don’t have far to go. It depends on what you’re looking for though. Some conventions are tiny with only 50 or so authors. Others are massive.

For me, there’s only one conference I go to. That might change eventually, but right now, my kids are little and I want to have time with my family. So I choose the one conference that I feel gives me the most as an author.

That’s Romance Writers of America National Conference.

Every July, RWA holds a national conference for members and non-members. Workshops are presented on everything from how to write a book to marketing to earning six figures. It’s a huge conference packed with tons of information, awards for excellent books, and a chance to network with other authors.

It’s intense, I won’t lie.

It’s also amazing.

This summer will be my third RWA conference. Each year, what I’m looking for changes, but the whole reason for going is the same.

To learn.

It’s five days away from my family. It’s not cheap. It’s not relaxing. But I leave wishing I could take another week away from home to focus on putting all the things I learned into action.

Me in Times Square
Me in Times Square at my first conference!

Of course, I want to see my family too!

But the question is what is my favorite thing about conferences or conventions. It’s hard to choose one thing. I’d have to say there’s a couple things I love.

One is all the things I learn. To come away with a portion of the wealth of knowledge at the RWA conference is huge.

A second thing I getting a chance to see friends who don’t live close. My roommate, and good friend, is from California. We see each other once a year. Being able to grab a glass of wine and some dinner together is always so great.

The third thing I love about it is the energy. Maybe it sounds silly, but being surrounded by so many other authors and people who love romance is invigorating and simply inspiring. When do you get a chance to hang out with 2000 other people who do the same thing as you, who respect you, who encourage you, and who want to help you? It’s absolutely amazing.

This year’s conference is the end of July in Orlando. My family chose to add on a trip to Disney with the conference so this year’s conference is even more exciting for me! But, as you see, I love it no matter what!

Thanks so much, Vicki, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Meeting Famous People

This question from Vicki had me stumped. Even as I write this, I’m still debating my answer!

If you could meet anyone famous, dead or alive, who would it be???

When I first read the question, my answer was quick and easy. My grandfather or my grandmother. My mom’s father passes away before I was born, and my dad’s mother passed away when I was only two. I’d love to sit down and get to know them.

But the question was famous person.

Hmm. That’s a lot harder.

An obvious choice would be Channing Tatum or Vin Diesel, because why not? Part of me wants to say Jesus because I am Catholic and that would be amazing, but I’m not sure I could handle it. I mean, how intimidating would that be!

There have been some amazing women in history that I would love meeting. And men. But if I’m going to have one shot at meeting one person, I want it to be someone who has had an impact on me. Someone who’s shaped my life in some way. Someone who has altered the way I think or feel or live.

But who?

My husband just left the room and flipped the channel to country music because he knows it’s what I listen to when I’m working. Something clicked for me when he did that.

Faith Hill.

When I was in middle school, I started listening to country music. At first, it was because the boy I liked listened to it, but after a while, I realized I loved it. I had three friends I was really close to, and we all listened to country music. We went to concerts and bought CD’s and taped songs we liked off the radio.

One of the first female country singers I saw in concert was Faith Hill. She was fairly new at the time and opening for Tim McGraw. It wasn’t even public that they were dating at this point. I can still remember being on the floor during that show, standing the entire time. We had Faith’s CD’s and knew the words to all the songs. We loved her.

She was one woman who changed my life. She sang about love and freedom and all things four sixteen year old girls dreamed about. I knew after that concert that I would never listen to anything besides country music.

But it isn’t just her music that would make me want to meet her. She has a strong marriage, from what I can tell, and she’s a good mom. Those are two of my most important goals every day. To be a good mom and to keep my marriage strong. Who wouldn’t want a chance to get advice from someone with many more challenges and find out how she makes it work?

I guess there are a lot of people I would love to meet. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet Jesus one day. I’m doing my best. Same with my grandparents. Channing and Vin are not people I’d ever likely meet, and neither is Faith, but it’s nice to imagine how an afternoon with any of them would go!

Thanks so much, Vicki, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Collaboration

I think I may have answered this question before, but Vicki asked again, so I’m answering it now…

If you could collaborate with any author for a new book, who would it be and why????

Collaboration. Working together. It’s tricky. I’d have to find someone who was a perfect fit. A person who had the same work ethic, but was also willing to push a little if needed. I think it would be easier to work with a friend, someone I know well, but maybe it would be easier to have a limited connection so it was more business and less personal.

In all reality, I’ve never looked into collaboration much. I think collaborating on a series would be a lot more up my alley than a single title. What do I mean by that?

Every author writes one book. All the books are set in the same world, the same location. They’re all friends. They all feed into each other. Just like any other series. But these books would come from different authors. You’d get a feel for a variety of authors.

I could see really enjoying something like that.

But who?

I have no idea.

I’d love to write with some of my friends. Many are unpublished though, so it would be something we’d have to look into at another point in time.

If I was going to do something now, and I could pick whoever I wanted to work with and write whatever I wanted, I’d want to write with either Jill Shalvis or Melissa Foster. Both are among my absolute favorite authors. Their stories pull me in and engage me off the bat. Plus, they both write stories similar to mine, so I wouldn’t feel like I was pushed to write something outside my limited comfort zone. I’d love to work with them and learn from their talents. I also think it would be a lot of fun.

For now, I’m too busy to think about anything other than what I’m working on. But it would be fun to work with other authors one day!

Thanks so much, Vicki, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Motivation and Being Stuck

It’s time for another question. An interesting one from Sheila…

Are you an artist/illustrator/teacher/caricature artist? What motivates you to be creative?  What do you do when you’re stuck?

A lot of writers talk about writer’s block. I think it goes so much deeper than that. I really like this question because it’s not just how do you avoid writer’s block, or any kind of creative block, but what pushes me to do all this in the first place. Very interesting!

First, no. I am not a creative person by nature. I was a nerd growing up. I excelled in math and always loved reading, but ask me to do an art project and you wouldn’t be able to tell which one was mine and which came from a child. I never thought I was creative because I didn’t have talent for art. My sister is an artist, a very talented one, and I was never nearly as good as she was.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that creativity is different than art. I am creative, but I don’t have the talent to put that into a work of art, such as a painting or a sculpture or a light display like my sister does. I do have the talent to put my creativity into a written form, and I do enjoy art on the computer. I design my own books covers and I love doing it. It’s a different outlet for me that I’ve really enjoyed learning.

Do I consider myself an artist? I guess I could be stretched to say yes. I’m an artist of the written word, and I think I’d enjoy graphic design, but I have no training. Just don’t hand me paint brushes. Seriously, I think my kids’ artwork, at six and eight, is better than mine!

Motivation… That’s a tough one. I’m a big believer in intrinsic motivation – motivation that comes from within – and extrinsic motivation – motivation driven by outside forces. I love my job, that’s my intrinsic motivation. I’m very fortunate that I have a career that is so enjoyable for me. I do have days where I want to read or watch Netflix all day. And there are days I do exactly that.

Bulky & BeauteousWhen I was going through chemo, I had a huge issue getting Bulky & Beauteous written. I started writing it shortly before I was diagnosed, and I couldn’t finish it until after I’d finished treatment. I tried to write, and constantly told myself I was busy, but I know there was a part of me that figured there was no point if I wasn’t going to be around to finish it. I knew I wanted to write, but there was something stopping me.

I’m in remission now, and I’m ready to work. I want to get the stories in my head out onto my computer so I can share them. That’s the extrinsic part of my motivation. My readers. I save comments from readers. If you send me an email that says how much you loved my book, or how excited you are to read what’s coming, or how something I wrote really connected with you, I save it. If I’m really feeling down and struggling to get moving again, I read those emails. I remind myself of my readers, the people who keep coming back for my books, the people who love my characters as much as I do, and it helps motivate me to get back into it.

Once the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators start to work their magic, the task before me can seem daunting. A 90,000 word novel is huge when I’m staring at a blank page. That’s when I get stuck. But forty-five minutes to write while my daughter is in gymnastics is manageable. Even ten minutes, or five, can get me started. Usually I find myself getting sucked in and I want to do more, but that can only happen if I start with those five or ten minutes. I’m always working on something, but if the scene I’m writing isn’t fleshed out enough that I feel confident writing it, I’ll write a scene that has already played in my head. It’s about getting something done, even if it gets scrapped later. I’ve learned to start small and accept it, because small parts add up in a hurry!

Now tell me, where do you find your motivation?

Thanks so much, Sheila, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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Q&A Sunday: Writing Quirks

I’ve been thinking about this question for a while. Aliana wants to know…

Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

I have to be honest. I’m a strange person. I know this and accept it. I also know all of us have our weird things, and it hard to know what of our habits is weird and what isn’t.

You guys all know that I am a plotter. I detail out main points in the story before I write the first words. I have to know where it’s going and how it’ll get there. Yes, things change sometimes, but mostly, I follow my plan.

Why is this weird? Or interesting?

Well, it’s not really. A lot of authors are plotters. Some are way more detailed than I am. Some are very fluid with their writing. It’s all about the person you are.

What I think might be a little interesting is that I can not, under any circumstances, plot my stories on the computer.

Strange? I don’t know. Maybe not. But I refuse to write longhand and have to type every word into my laptop. But planning it all out? Has to be written.

Sometimes I use sticky notes. That’s what I’ve been doing with Raise A Glass books (this is from Never A Bridesmaid, Always A Bride). Because they are longer, contain multiple story lines, and have to move a lot of pieces, I use sticky notes. The one downside is they don’t have space for a lot of detail.

For Big & Beautiful, I simply write it out. Notebook paper. A pen. Lots of information. Again, I’m keeping track of a lot and there are multiple stories moving, plus all the different characters. For some reason, it’s easier to write it out with Big & Beautiful.

Other quirks? I don’t know. I’m sure there are some in there, but to me they’re normal!

Thanks so much, Aliana, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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