The best kept secret in writing conferences

Comicon. The name makes people think of Superman, Anime, Manga, Zombies, Paranormal, video games, cosplay and more. But one of the best kept secrets of Comicon,  the Phoenix Comicon in particular, is the wonderful array of writing workshops offered during the convention. Regardless of what kind of writing you do, there are classes and workshops that will help you, I guarantee it. The authors are top-notch and the insights and advice are heart-felt and true.

What I love most about the presenters and speakers at Comicon is the willingness in all of them to answer questions, give advice and information, and help authors along on their journey. They all know what it’s like to wish to be published and work on that all-important novel. Whether it’s mystery, paranormal, sci-fi, steampunk or a cross of any of these, they are there to help. I took an entire notebook full of notes while in the 12 sessions I attended and I’ll be throwing some info out as I go, but just a few of them stick out without even looking at my notes.

1. Tom Leveen is the author of Party, a wonderful book with 11 chapters and 11 POVs, and Sick, which is his newest book featuring zombies and comes out Oct. 1st. He is an author with a genuine passion for writing and showing others how to be successful. In each panel discussion or solo presentation, he gives a grand performance and offers not only advice but has an infectious enthusiasm for writing that is hard not to catch. I left the convention newly determined to write the best MS I can, thanks to this guy. See him if he’s in your area giving any kind of presentation and go, and read his books. He lives in the Phx area so check out Changing Hands, a local bookstore with great writers visiting all the time.

2. Define your purpose. Just about all the authors at the convention made sure to mention that you must know who your audience is, what kind of book you are writing, and why you are writing. Sounds pretty basic, but if you don’t know who your audience really is (and “anyone who wants to read it” is not good enough) or where your book will be shelved, then you are short-changing yourself. Best quote (can’t remember who said it though, I think it was Tom)–There is a difference between wanting to have written and wanting to write. In other words, some people are happy just sitting behind the keyboard and writing away. But others are not satisfied until they get published. This takes another courageous step entirely.

3. Going along with the message above, if you write fan fiction, it’s time to branch out and write your own work. Fan fiction is safe fiction, right? You don’t have to create characters, someone has already done that for you. Break out of that and be brave-create your own characters and situations. For some people, fan fiction is a great way to begin writing and stretch (and for just a few, you can get it published if you change the names). But in the real world, you need to create your own universe.

Ok, these are the top three I remember right now. More to come soon. I’ve got some editing to catch up on and some writing to tackle.

Oh, and if you’re thinking all I did was sit in a chair and listen to authors, I did spend a little time nerding out in the convention hall, having fun with the cosplayers and even kissing a few TV stars. Now you’re really jealous. The photo below is one of my favorites of the convention, where my daughter and I showed our love for Michael Rooker, also known as Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead. He’s a sweetie and we had fun talking with him.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Zombie Walk kicks off the Convention and the street is closed off for hundreds of people dressed as zombies shuffling down the road. It’s fantastic and so much fun. Grab a seat on the outside patio at Majerle’s restaurant and watch them walk by, even kids get into the fun.

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Finally, although I walked and sat and wrote, I did take time to sit and observe, which is one of my favorite activities. Even a few of the authors I talked with said that eavesdropping and observing others is a great way to build characters. So, I guess I was working as I watched everyone, right?

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Take it easy. See you next time…

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