There are multiple purposes for this blog. First, I'd like to share with you how mental illness can interfere with or enhance the writer's life. Second, I want to explore a more disciplined approach to the writing life. This blog will hold me accountable as I navigate story throughout my battle with mental illness.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Third Day - PennWriter's Conference

The third and last day of the conference came too quickly. I attended a networking breakfast, then attended the final two workshops, followed by closing ceremonies.

08:00 - 09:00 Networking Breakfast
09:15 - 10:15 Avoiding Passivity with Catherine McLean
10:30 - 11:30 Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville
11:30 - 12:00 Closing Ceremonies

Arriving sort of early at the Networking Breakfast, I chose a table devoid of squatters (I'm kind of shy), and a few moments later a pleasant looking woman in business attire asks if she could sit beside me. I said, of course, and we talked for a little while. It wasn't until more people came to the table that I found out it was Victoria Skurnick, an agent with Levine Greenberg.  Thanks for the chat, Victoria.

Avoiding Passivity with Catherine McLean

Passivity in a story is a culprit behind the much versed "show, don't tell" rule of story writing. Catherine tells us (I suppose you could say shows us by using examples. lol!) that breaking free from the "telling" habit will require scrutinizing a first draft to look for the 3V's - View, Verbs, and Vividness.

The basic take home message about View (POV) was that if you can master it, then you can eliminate 90% of telling. You should also try to use "action" verbs and use helping verbs (verbs ending in LY or ING) sparingly. The last point was about Vividness. Try adding a little detail about the object you are describing. How about a few descriptive adjectives or a new, more descriptive noun altogether.

She closed with instructing us to look up the word "as" in a dictionary. I've done it, now it's your turn.

Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville

A great workshop to end the conference. She talked about having our "buckets" and which aspects of our lives go into each bucket and how we could and should balance those buckets. This was a very imformative session, in which Anne went over great detail about organizing our writing lives and making goals. She gave us some goal worksheets to fill out, along with a template to show us how it should be done. I got a lot from this workshop and have made several copies of the blank goal worksheet for my own use. She has pdf files of these worksheets on her website at elizabethkelleybooks.com 

Closing Ceremonies

This was the closing of 2011 PennWriter's Conference, which ended all too quickly. There were several gift baskets that were raffled and the tickets were drawn at this time. 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place winners in the "In Other Words" writing contests (One each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) were declared.

Since I didn't buy any raffle tickets for the baskets (I know... I know.... ) I left as they were calling off winners.

Overall, 2011 PennWriter's Conference seems to have been a great success with all the attendees and speakers, etc. It was a real eye opener and positive experience for me, too. I will not hesitate to attend this again next year.  


  1. Aww, man. I spent all weekend trying to carve time to sit and chat with Victoria. She's so darn smart and so with it about the publishing business. I am envious!

  2. lol, Susan! Now, I just wished I knew of anything more witty to have said to her. Alas, she doesn't rep my genre, scifi. It was still great talking to her.