Reporting on the 2017 PNWA Conference

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend and present at the annual writers conference hosted by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association in Seattle, Washington. While I wasn’t able to attend the entire event, I did want to take this week to report on my experience and share a little of what I learned as well.

I arrived on Friday afternoon, missing out on the keynote speaker and the agent/editor panels. Because I showed up late in the day, I decided to not attend any workshops, and instead spent the time catching up with old writing buddies and making new friends. I was glad to spend my time this way, as I met some really interesting folks, including a guy who wrote the strategies guilds for nearly all of the major titles released on the XBOX 360. My inner-gamer was thrilled when we actually got to share a table at dinner and talk video games.

Saturday was my day for attending workshops. I started the day with a presentation on world building taught by Nicole Persun. While Nicole and I have been friends for a while now, this was my first chance to take one of her classes, and she didn’t disappoint. The most important thing that I learned from her was that the world an author creates needs to be inseparably attached to their story, and that the story shouldn’t be able to happen in anyone else’s world.

The other workshop that I got a lot out of on Saturday was called “Laws of Attraction” and was taught by Elizabeth Boyle. This class was all about the sexual tension between characters, and I found it very useful for a book I’m working on right now. Unfortunately, there were a couple of my fans that were also in the class, so they heard a few more details that I would have intended as I got some feedback from the class on issues I was having with a romantic subplot. Guess I should start wearing a “Spoilers” sticker when I attend classes for my own work now. 🙂

After that, the remaining workshops that I attended at the conference were my own. I taught an abbreviated version of “A Novel in Four Drafts” on Saturday and “Make the Most of Your Writing Time” on Sunday. Both classes were well attended, and I had more than a dozen students say that my classes were the best of the conference for them. I was deeply grateful for their positive feedback, and I hope that many of them will return for more of my classes on creative writing in the near future.

Overall, I would rate my experience at the conference as a good one. While there were some logistical and scheduling issues that I hope will be resolved in the future, I had a great time, and feel ready to get back to my own writing.

A New Kind of Creative Writing Class

I recently finished my first creative writing class for the continuing education program at South Puget Sound Community College. Called “A Novel in Four Drafts” this four-part series was both well received and well attended, and I’m so grateful to SPSCC for providing me with this fantastic opportunity to instruct and inspire other writers.

This class also marked the first time that I was able to work with the same group of students over multiple weeks, which allowed me to try out something new. In addition to my usual combination of lectures and focused activities, I experimented with some techniques designed to motivate students to write on their own during the week.

At the end of every class session, students were given several minutes to consider what they had learned, and make notes of how they could apply those things to their own work. After that, students were asked to create and share a writing goal that they would accomplish before the next class session. The following week, students would report on their progress, sharing their successes and challenges in a safe, open environment.

The response to this new approach was overwhelming positive. Rather than feeling intimidated, students that said they felt liberated by the goals and reporting, finding support and encouragement from their peers even as they continued to learn about the craft of writing. I was very pleased with the results of this experiment, and plan on continuing to use this method in all of my future classes through the college.

If you’re interested in checking out my classes, you can click the link below for a list of all of my offerings for the summer and fall quarters. Classes are open to the public and take place at the college’s Lacey campus in western Washington.

Click here for my list of creative writing classes through SPSCC