A Balloon Lady’s Look at 2014 PWC Conference

Barbara Custer improves her writing at Philadelphia Writers' Conference.During the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, I stayed at the Wyndham Hotel and brought balloons along to help me sleep. As everyone knows, I’m a balloon lady and my balloons follow me wherever I go. Therefore, I showed up at the conference alert and ready to learn.

Friday brought two delightful surprises: the lunchtime “Open Mike” and, along with the fiction and poetry raps, the “Apples to Writers.” So during lunch, I got an opportunity to read an excerpt from my book, and during the raps, participated in a contest involving writing after getting a prompt. Everyone who read got a prize, but the winner was nominated Queen of the Apples to Writers.

Many of my “aha” moments came with my “book promotion” classes – Dave Girgio’s Book Trailers and Audio Books, Cecily Kellogg’s Using Search and Social, and Suzanne Kuhn’s Reaching your Audience through Social Media. For starters, I learned just how much a good trailer costs – $3500, according to Dave, because a decent trailer involves hiring actors. If you can’t afford to pay that kind of money, it’s best to not use a trailer at all because the quality of the cheaper ones won’t do anything for you book. So…with my next book, I plan to promote it in different ways, but the book trailer will not be one of them unless I can pony up at least $2500.

Be aware of timing when posting an event or blog, advised Suzanne. You don’t want to announce an event during a Sandy storm or other national tragedy. Midday may not be the best time if people are just straggling home from work. She stressed the importance of platform. In Cecily’s class, I got tidbits about SEO – where to get free images for the website and some HTML to dress up my post.

Alma Katsu’s Upping the Ante gave me useful information on the types of conflict. It made me want to go back to my WIP with new eyes. She stressed the importance of writing “in scene” instead loading my beginning with thoughts and back story. I’ve struggled with beginnings, but I understand better how to fix them.

I also took two classes pertaining to characterization: Judith Schachner’s Strength of Character and Austin Camacho’s Creating Characters That Keeps Fans Reading. Judith gave us a new way of creating characters – pictures. Everyone created a character based on a photo she gave each of us. I have my photos and plan to use them for characters in my books. I was glad to get them as I’m a visual learner.

Okay, I know full well that “show, don’t tell” trumps all, but Austin spelled out just how to do that with characters. It’s not enough to describe what your character’s wearing, for example. How do other people react to his clothes? The ways people react can tell you who to watch and who to ignore.

I enjoyed listening to the keynote speakers, William Lashner and Lu Ann Cahn. All up, the camaraderie was great. This balloon lady would like to thank the Board of Directors for putting together a great conference.

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 666 other subscribers