On a whim, I signed up for the UVU Writer’s Academy that takes place throughout the month of October. As a part of the program, they have a short story contest that I’ve been having so much fun with. They give you a genre, a setting, and a random object to incorporate and limit you to 1,000 words. There are 4 rounds, with the final two being elimination rounds. You also only have a few days to write each piece!
When the scores were posted last week I was thrilled to see I’d tied for Second Place on the first round! Woohoo! This weekend I had a blast writing the second story. I don’t know if I’ll make it to the Finals, but I’m very grateful for this challenge. I’ve learned so much about storytelling and fiction these last two years, and I can see the progress in my writing. And that is the best prize of all!
When I first discovered writing conferences, the other attendees were super welcoming, especially at SMIAH in Kansas City. I totally fan-girled over some of the authors, and I loved being around people that had a passion for the written word, like I do. Despite that, I felt like I had a deep dark secret. (I’d never finished a novel!) I didn’t feel like I could call myself an author if I didn’t have a book with my name on it. I was a pretender. An imposter, really.
It wasn’t long before I learned that Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, and that it’s super common among beginning, intermediate and advanced writers. Success is an elusive and nebulous idea. Even authors who have achieved significant financial success often feel like imposters around those with literary awards, and those with the awards don’t feel like real authors without the commercial success.
This year I was asked to serve on the committee for SMIAH. Because of COVID, we were forced to postpone the full conference until 2021, so we opted to host a FREE, virtual one-day writing event for 2020. We called it SMIAH Mini, and if you’re a writer, definitely go sign up for it at www.smiahwritersconference.com. We have almost 30 mini writing classes, 2 live panels, as well as writing contests and fantastic prizes. It takes place this Saturday, September 26th, and the recordings will be available through October 31st!
It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve had a blast working on SMIAH Mini–coordinating the contests, editing video content and helping with publicity. All of us on the committee recorded a mini-class, and I chose to present on Imposter Syndrome. This was my first “YouTube” video, and it is totally disconcerting to watch a video of yourself, but I hope it will be helpful to the hundreds of attendees who have already signed up! The writing world is a close-knit group and nobody needs to waste energy feeling like they don’t belong.
I mentioned in a previous post how I attended my first SCBWI conference right before COVID-19 shut everything down. It happened to be a Nonfiction Children’s Book conference. I’d just joined SCBWI, I didn’t know anyone going, and I knew next to nothing about the nonfiction children’s market, but I came home from that one-day conference on fire with ideas.
As the people who know me know, there’s really no stopping me once I get an idea. I dove in and drafted 2 nonfiction children’s manuscripts during the next two months. I love research and writing and kids, so it’s really a perfect match for me!
Last month I submitted a book proposal for one of my manuscripts to the SCBWI Michigan Nonfiction Mentorship Contest. It’s called Becoming an Inventor: Train Your Brain to Invent & Explore Your Creativity.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to announce that I was just announced as the Winner for the Middle Grade (ages 8-12) Mentorship! Suzanne Lipshaw, who I happened to have lunch with at that conference, won the Nonfiction Picture Book Mentorship. I am so thrilled for her as well!
For the next year I will be under the mentorship of Stephanie Bearce, whose awesome children’s books are right up my alley with her Twisted True Tales from Science series, and her Top Secret Files series about real spies, secrets, and covert missions. If your kids haven’t read any of her books, give them a try!
I would like to extend a huge thank you to the contest coordinator, Ann Finkelstein, all the judges, and to Stephanie for choosing to work with me!
Less than two years ago I stumbled onto a Midwest writing conference called SMIAH. I’ve talked about it before on here because it has a ton of fun writing contests. But back then I didn’t know anything about it. I was a writing professional, but a total newbie to writing novels. When I saw that one of my favorite authors, Traci Hunter Abramson, was the keynote, that was enough for me. I signed up last minute and bought a plane ticket to Kansas City.
It was my first real introduction to the fiction writing world. I’d never even heard of the big Storymakers writing conference in Utah, or that, along with Indie Author Hub, they sponsor this other, more intimate writing conference. At any rate, I went, not knowing a single person there. It turned out to be an exhilarating and life-changing experience for me. Not only did I meet authors of books I’d read, all the author instructors were eager to interact and teach me their craft.
Because of the small size of the conference, I got to have real conversations over lunch, in the hallway, and when we went out to dinner together. Everyone was interested in sharing their knowledge and helping me on my journey. For the first time I came away thinking that becoming an author might actually be possible. I felt accepted and connected. I’d found my people, and they’d left me bursting with motivation and inspiration for my writing.
This month I’d planned to attend the large Storymakers Conference in Provo. Of course I had to cancel my travel plans due to COVID-19, but instead of cancelling the conference, the incredibly dedicated volunteer staff switched gears to offer a virtual conference instead.
The benefit of this was that we didn’t have to choose a class to go to for each break-out session–we could go to all of them! That’s almost 100 amazing, mind-blowing writing classes! My husband is back to work, so it hasn’t been easy to devote the time to this, especially since my kiddos don’t finish online schooling until June 12th. I’ve also had to pause my own writing projects to take advantage of this training, but it’s been worth it. I’m about 85% through the presentations, and I’m chuck full of ideas to make my work better. In fact, if my head explodes, you’ll know why.