July 18, 2012

Learning ~ An Author's Time

Today, I'd like to share about the importance of devoting some of an author's time to learning--learning about the business of publishing and the continued learning of the craft.
If at all possible, an author should try to attend at least one large writing conference a year. Writing conferences are a great way to learn about both sides of the business. Most conferences offer a number of workshops at various learning stages, and also allow you time to visit with other authors, as well as pitch to agents or editors.
One conference I highly recommend for fiction authors is the ACFW Conference put on by the American Christian Fiction Writers group. This year's conference will be held in Dallas, September 20-23. There are also many regional conferences that are smaller and less expensive. Search online for places and dates or check Sally Stuart's Market Guide for a state listing.
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For those of you who are unable to attend a writing conference because of finances or time commitments, don't despair. There are many other ways for you to continue your learning. Sign up for an online writing workshop or Webinar, buy a year's subscription to a writing magazine, such as The Writer, Writer's Digist, The Christian Communicatoror the Advanced Christian Writer.
Another way, and possibly one of the best ways to learn about fiction writing, is to read fiction. Great fiction, and lots of it, in all genres, both CBA and ABA. Sure, it's important to read the genre you're writing in, but it's also good to know what's out there.
Since owning my Kindle, I've opened myself to many different books I would never have tried because of free downloads or sample chapters. And if you don't care for the writing, simply stop reading; delete the book or don't buy it.
One habit I try to incorporate into my learning time is to read one writing how-to book for every three fiction novels I read. This keeps my mind churning and learning, yet allows me ample room to escape to the fictional world I love. 
Here is my top ten list of writing how-to books:
  • Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
  • Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
  • Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
  • Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell
  • Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by R. Brown & D. King
  • GMC - Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
  • Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel, by Penelope J. Stokes
Next week, I'll share another important aspect in an author's time schedule--social time. Until then, enjoy the moments . . .
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