Monday, February 23, 2015

Finding your people, and the ANWA writer's conference.

Yep, I am alive.
I know, I know. It's been over two months since I have posted. Life has been nuts with Christmas break and then starting back up with a new semester at ASU. 

Though life is crazy it has also been really great. 
During my time between semesters my creative juices were flowing at max speed and I put them to good use. I worked on several projects around the house, plus I did some rewrites on my current YA novel. (I will post about the house stuff another time, I am still recovering from it, and it's definitely going to warrant its own post). 

This past weekend I attended the American Night Writer's Association's annual conference. This was my third time, and as always, it was fabulous. The people who put this thing together are seriously awesome. 

Last year I came away a little discouraged. Not that it was the conference's fault. Everything about last year's conference was amazing. It was just me and where I was with my writing. A lot of the talk was about how crapy the industry can be. I came home feeling as if I would never break through. That I was waisting my limited time and energy.

This year was a bit different. I honestly have no idea why (the industry is still pretty difficult)… maybe its just because I am different. Though I do think Brandon Mull had a hand in all of the positive energy. 

For those of you who do not know who Brandon Mull is, you must not have middle grade kids. He is the author of the Fablehaven series, The Beyonders series and the Candy Shop Wars… among others. 
He is kind of the stuff in my house. 

Anyway. Listening to him talk, with his endless enthusiasm for his craft, was inspiring. He is kind of this twelve-year-old boy in a forty-year-old body. (I mean this as a total compliment.) 

Yes, I am in a shark costume. Don't mock. 

As Brandon was talking about his childhood filled with daydreaming I found myself relating more than I had thought possible. I too grew up living mostly in my head. I had all of these ideas, these imaginary places that were a lot more enjoyable than what was really going on around me.  I am sure it must seem strange for someone else looking in. But for me, being a young girl who didn't have the easiest of childhoods, my imagination was my sanity. AND, here is this guy who is tremendously successful, who has blessed so many others because he has embraced what many may think are eccentricities. 

At that moment I looked about the room at all of these ladies, (and a few men) and thought to myself…. these are my people. 
And how grateful I am for these people.

I do have other people in my life. People that I love and who love me unconditionally. But they don't relate to this part of me, nor do I expect them to.

Let's be honest, authors are a little bit strange. You can't be normal when your brain is in a fantasy world half of the time. 

But that's okay. If we were not a bit kookie how would we be able to touch so many with our own creation? We couldn't.

Here are some of my people dressed up as antagonist. 

I think we all need our people, whoever those people may be. 

So, it was nice to embrace the crazy for a weekend. I learned a lot, and came home with several ideas to improve my work in progress. I even earned an award for the novel I have been editing for the last few years. 

First place for the beginning of the book contest for Young Adult Fiction.

I have NEVER won anything in my life. Yes I do frequently win random drawings, but never have I won something in which I had to earn it.  Yes, I am pretty lame. So you can see why I am so thrilled to have won in something that I have literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into. 

I am continuing to work on my craft. Revising, revising and revising so that someday it will be me who is the keynote speaker at a conference. 
Hey, why not? Surrounded by my people, I can do just about anything. 


  1. Jen, I left this year's conference feeling encouraged and uplifted too! It was the boost I needed to get excited about my writing again. Be sure to let me know when you are the keynote speaker and I'll be there!

  2. Thank you Raejean. I will come to your speaking engagement too. We could even be co-speakers. :)

  3. I totally agree--a real positive energy this year at conference!