Posts Tagged ‘Robin Laborde’

Write Brain

By: Robin Laborde

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A special two-part Write Brain:
The New Zebulon 
Amy Armstrong, Presenter
and
250 Words That Will Make or Break You
Natalie Mae, Presenter

2020 Zebulon

The August Write Brain began with an update about the 2020 Zebulon Contest, including TWO double-sided pages of information about what has changed during the contest’s year-long hiatus. A few of the more notable changes:

  • Contest entries will be accepted through Submittable rather than a custom-built portal.
  • The short story category is back! 
  • No more query round, but a synopsis is still required. (Darn.)
  • The Zebulon will offer monetary prizes only in 2020, rather than discounts on conference registration.

See the Zebulon Rules for the latest information and deadlines.

250 Words to Beef Up

After the break, YA author Natalie Mae shared tips for beefing up your first paragraph. In an unexpected but super helpful twist, she began her presentation by sharing an early version of the first paragraph of her novel Duplicitous and comparing it to the published version. The exercise clearly demonstrated the improvements she made, including that oh-so-important delicious first line. For even more insight into Natalie’s journey to publication, visit her website.


Robin Laborde

Robin Laborde is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel and working part-time at the East Library in Colorado Springs.

Conference Like a Pro –

Everything You Need to Know

Pikes Peak writer's Conference 2019
REGISTRATION DEADLINE:
April 28, 2019

Most of the time, writing is a solitary act. But if you’re in it for the long haul, it quickly becomes apparent that not only will other people have to be involved at some point, you need other people to stay motivated and succeed. Attending the Pikes Peak Writers Conference is a terrific way to start finding those people – your tribe.

If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, being around a few hundred or so other aspiring authors can be a little overwhelming, even anxiety-provoking, until you realize the amazingly wonderful fact that these folks are following the same mysterious calling as you. Eating lunch with an agent or an editor is one of the best ways to understand that these inscrutable entities are, in fact, human beings who truly want you to succeed. Because, after all, why would someone get into the publishing industry unless they, you know, LOVED BOOKS?? It’s their business to find good work.

PPWC Conference Director Laura Hayden and Programming Director Bowen Gilling joined conference mavens Patrick Hester, Stacy S. Jensen, and Shannon Lawrence to provide insider tips and insights during Write Brain on Wednesday. They even suggested icebreaking strategies for first-time attendees. (Hint: asking another writer “What are you working on?” is a great way to kick off a long conversation.)

Bowen had some particularly helpful advice for those new to the conference experience. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment with a statement like, “My attendance will be a failure unless X happens,” where X equals a 3-book deal or the like. Instead, stay open to the unexpected networking opportunities and discussions that spring up naturally. Keep looking. You’ll find your tribe.

Deadline to register for PPWC2019 is April 28, 2019. Conference is, May 3 through 5, 2019. Can’t make it for the whole weekend? The conference prequel on May 2nd is a one-day event with eight different workshops to choose from.

Go to https://pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/ for more information.


Robin Laborde

This recap from Write Brain is presented by Contributing Editor Robin Laborde. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

Thinking Outside the Publication Box

Write Brain with Debbie Maxwell Allen –

We’re all aware that readers are finding their favorite content in many places besides physical books. With this in mind, Debbie Maxwell Allen’s Write Brain presentation provided a refreshing look at how writers can take advantage of multiple technologies to get themselves and their content in front of readers.

Affordable print-on-demand services make it possible to produce a variety of creative materials such as card decks, board games, and even coloring books. Augmented reality (AR) apps open up the possibility of adding animated artwork and video, viewable by smartphone, to your books and promotional tie-ins.

Of course, no discussion about self-promotion would be complete without mentioning Facebook. Citing the platform’s rising costs for paid advertising, Debbie shared ways to use Facebook in a more organic and conversational way. Rather than boosting posts and buying ads, she suggested leveraging currently free features such as groups and live videos to connect with fans and share content such as story world details, what you’re currently working on, or how you found an idea.

As much as some of us (and by some of us I mean me) would like to imagine it’s not necessary, both traditionally and independently published authors need to find and build their own audience, even before publication. Fortunately, technology makes it easier than ever to get your words and your brand in front of an increasingly global audience.

Debbie Maxwell Allen is an editor, YA author, and Scrivener teacher. She works as a project manager for Good Catch Publishing and writes young adult historical fantasy. Find more of her resources for writers on her blog, Writing While the Rice Boils.


Robin LabordeThis recap from Write Brain is presented by Contributing Editor Robin Laborde. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

The Thriving Writers Toolkit: Insights and Inspiration

January’s Write Brain with Michelle Major and Lana Williams

As a good friend of mine once said, “Sometimes life is one big flea.” Halfway through January, rather than sailing along on a wave of resolute intention, I was struggling to keep my balance. A few weeks before, a loved one’s health crisis combined with the general holiday chaos shattered my plan of finishing the first draft of my current novel by New Year’s Eve. My cherished writing schedule, variables refined over months of trial and error — Earl Grey tea, cool jazz on Pandora, laundry break halfway through — evaporated just like that.

January’s Write Brain helped provide a sorely needed reset for my careworn psyche. Co-presenters Michelle Major and Lana Williams provided a wide variety of strategies to stay focused and in the mindset to produce. More importantly, the two accomplished writers stressed the idea that committing to your dream is an ongoing process. Learning how to enhance your creativity and stay sane along the way is vital to this endeavor.

As Lana and Michelle suggested, try telling yourself that you “get” to write, rather than you “have to write.” Doing so helped me to remember how fortunate I am to have the luxury to indulge in this messy, frustrating, and ultimately joyous creative pursuit at all.

Michelle Major is a best-selling, RITA award-winning author of over twenty sexy and sweet contemporary romances. Visit her website at http://www.michellemajor.com/ for life, love, and happy endings. Lana Williams is a USA Today Bestselling and Amazon All-Star author. Her books are intriguingly described as “Historical romance filled with adventure, mystery and a pinch of paranormal.” Learn more at https://lanawilliams.net/


Robin LabordeThis recap from Write Brain is presented by Robin Laborde, Contributing Editor. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

On the Run from the Grammar Police

Grammar, hmmm. I found it surprisingly difficult to write this post. As it turns out, I am not entirely sure how I feel about the subject.

During the years I toiled as a tech writer, I remember snickering at the office memos our hard-working office admin sent out each week, sprinkled with random capitalization and odd use of quotes (Do “NOT” use the microwave). Along with my fellow writers, I offered some attempts at gentle correction, only to provoke an angry email response along the lines of What is you’re problem??? And yet another wedge was hammered between those of us who saw grammar errors leaping from the page and those who either didn’t see or didn’t care.

Grammar is Elitist

There seems to be an unhealthy idea swirling in the ether of our society (or at least certain portions of society) that worrying about grammar is elitist. Standards have become so lax that caring even a little bit about proper usage seems to mark you as some kind of cranky, obsessive English teacher, the kind that would whack your hands with a ruler for a misplaced apostrophe.

Many people seem to think that being a writer means being one of these Ms. McGrundy types. I’ve been asked if I spend my spare time diagramming sentences and musing on the difference between the subjunctive versus the objective tense. Not exactly. Most often, I’m simply trying to make sure I can get my point across without using too many passive verbs.

It turns out I am not immune to the culture around me. Worrying about some of the more arcane intricacies of grammar can seem fiddly and tedious. Some rules don’t stick in my head no matter how often I look them up. (That versus which for instance. I vaguely recall something about cats that are black and cats which are black . . . but it doesn’t help.)Worrying about some of the more arcane intricacies of grammar can seem fiddly and tedious.

Grammar Debated

For several months, I had a critique partner who offered little input about my story-telling abilities but provided volumes of carefully detailed examples of where I had gone tragically wrong with grammar rules. I had to think back to that long-suffering office admin and wince.

We wrangled back and forth between her rigid adhesion to super-correct usage versus my own more Humpty Dumpty-esque approach of making words mean just what I choose. My position? If you’re writing contemporary fiction, you need to be able to express your ideas in the current style of writing and talking. Do you want the voice you create in your reader’s mind to sound like Ms. McGrundy the English teacher? It may or may not be appropriate to your story and genre. (Don’t even get me started on dialogue. People, not even story people, do not speak in perfect, complete, grammatically correct sentences.)

Grammar Rules Change

I just can’t believe that it’s really a good idea to grab hold of one rule and cling to it regardless of how awkward the resulting sentence may be. Usage changes. What was once commonplace now sounds odd, although it may very well be perfectly correct. I say go ahead and end that sentence with a preposition, if that’s the direction you’re headed. And commas? Sprinkle them with impunity! (Ok, I realize I am shaky ground here. My name is Robin, and I, am, a, comma addict.)

Grammar Does Matter

But wait. Let me dial this back a little . . . in the end, grammar does matter, for one simple reason: clarity. Grammar helps us get the message across. And so, while I will never be a grammar maven, I will continue to use every single tool at my disposal to figure out how to tell a good story, even if that means looking up the difference between that and which.

Every. Freaking. Time.


Robin LabordeRobin Laborde is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

Web Presence 101

Notes from November’s Write Brain

For all of us non-technical types who have been waffling about how to go about setting up an author website, November’s Write Brain was a real bonus.

Presenter Sharon Manislovich, currently a Web Systems Administrator, has been constructing and supporting website applications and infrastructure for over 25 years. She provided an enjoyable, common-sense look at the nuts and bolts of setting up a website, from finding a good domain name to the best sources for web design and hosting.

Sharon’s presentation stressed the importance of branding for a successful website, starting with that all-important name. She led a lively discussion that helped to demystify the process of registering for a domain name – and more importantly, keeping it registered. (Did you know there are unscrupulous folks out there who will buy up your expired domain name and try to sell it back to you? Yikes!) Since your branding should ideally extend across whatever social media you use, she recommends using the same name on all platforms.

Missed the November Write Brain? You can find the PowerPoint for Sharon’s presentation at brightkitten.com/web101

 

Don’t forget – the next Write Brain, the PPW Holiday Bookie Party, will be held earlier in the month than usual, on Thursday, December 13th. (Yep, it’s on Thursday night instead of Tuesday.) Join us for a fun evening of books and cookies — no note taking required. Hope to see you there!

 


Robin LabordeThis recap from Write Brain is presented by Robin Laborde, Contributing Editor. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

The Virtue of Childishness

When I was younger, I told anyone who asked (and many who didn’t) that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I had it all figured out. After graduating from college, I would publish a best-selling novel, make lots of money, and go on to enjoy a long and fruitful career as a famous author. This confession usually provoked a kind of anxious disbelief, as if I had announced my intention to build a spaceship out of butterfly wings and fly it to the moon. “You will never make a living as a writer,” people told me, whether they had ever seen any of my writing or not.

Years went by. I graduated from college but did not publish a best-selling novel. I spent a somewhat fruitful if not enjoyable career as a technical writer, grinding my way through boring assignment after boring assignment. At least I could say that magic phrase: I’m making a living as a writer. I repeated it to myself through gritted teeth as I sat through endless meetings where grown men argued over weighty issues such as font size and the relative merits of using bold versus italics for emphasis. (For the record, I prefer italics.)I am a writer. I will continue to write no matter what the challenges.

Keep Writing

I did keep writing fiction, coming back to it sporadically between the big events of life. When I mentioned it, the question “What have you published?” almost always followed, provoking a hellish session of self-doubt and a vow never to discuss my true ambition with anyone ever again.

Since then, I’ve learned to protect my secret identity as a writer of fiction. It’s more important for me to believe in it than to convince my friends and neighbors who happened to ask an innocent question about what I’m doing these days.

When I get discouraged by the world’s indifference or even hostility to my writing addiction, I try to remember the advice offered by John Gardner, in his excellent book On Becoming a Novelist: “Here the virtue of childishness is helpful—the writer’s refusal to be serious about life, his mischievousness, his tendency to cry, especially when drunk, a trick that makes persecutors quit.”

Writing can be a difficult art to explain. It doesn’t quite fit in with the visual or performing arts, with their visible and concrete results. There are many writing days that don’t seem to produce anything. Rough drafts, scribbles, research notes, tear-stained outlines . . . all of these are part of the writing process, but not something I can reasonably show off to anyone. But I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t want to show off something, someday.

Writers Need Other Writers

You’ll hear it said that writers need other writers. A cliché, perhaps, but true. We need to talk to other writers, listen to other writers, know other writers. Not only to learn from but to be reminded that many, many others are engaged in this odd, solitary, and serendipitous pursuit. We need to be around people who acknowledge writing as a valuable way to spend your time. People who allow you to not only claim the identity of “writer” but live into it.

So, that’s where I am now. After leaving tech writing behind, I’m dusting off those butterfly wings to see if they can still fly. Each day that I write, I overcome the challenge of uncoupling my love affair with writing from the idea that anything that a grown person spends this much time on must earn money to be worthwhile. I am a writer. I will continue to write, no matter what the challenges, seeking the comfort in the company of my fellow spaceship builders along the way.

 


Robin LabordeRobin Laborde is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

Write Brain with Stant Litore

Write Worlds Your Readers Won’t Forget

On Tuesday, August 21st, author Stant Litore presented a workshop on world-building at PPW’s monthly Write Brain event. Using material from his new book, Write Worlds Your Readers Won’t Forget, he laid out an approach to world-building that easily builds potential for plot and conflict into the story. Stant Litore, Write Worlds Your Readers Won't ForgetRather than starting from a wide angle, he advises writers to hone in on three elements that yield the best possibilities for pressure on the characters: the physical conditions for survival, a fantastic creature (or several), and an unforgettable fact about the culture or civilization, most likely arising from the first two factors.

Using this framework, Stant launched into a wide-ranging lecture with myriad examples from history, religion, and literature, throwing out imaginative examples of how this approach to world-building can play out. It was sometimes a challenge to keep up, but his infectious enthusiasm for ideas couldn’t help but bring you along.

The book is available on Amazon’s Stant Litore page. You can also find his books and lots of thought-provoking content Stant’s website.

 

Join Write Brain on September 18, 2018, at 6:15pm.
Josh Vogt will present, Foundations of a Freelance Writing Career.

 

In the mean time enjoy these photos from Stant’s presentation taken by Shannon Lawrence.

Stant Litore Stant Litore

Write Brain with Stant Litore


Robin LabordeThis recap from Write Brain is presented by Robin Laborde, Contributing Editor. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. She worked as a technical writer for over ten years and has had nonfiction articles published in newspapers and magazines. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future.