Things I Learned at When Words Collide 2015

Let’s make Things I Learned at When Words Collide an annual thing.

  1. Branding 

The word “brand” is one of those words.

You know which words I’m talking about–those words that everyone intuitively “knows” but can’t define very well. Steena Holmes defined it at the “Building Your Readership” panel as the promise that you make to your fans. In terms of author brand, I’ve never heard the word defined better. I will carry that definition and attempt to build my own brand around it.

2.The 21st Century is a Good Place to Be 

One of the best panels I attended was “Apps that IMPROVE a Writer’s Life” with Calvin Jim, Catherine Saykaly-Stevens, and Kai Kiriyama (her words: not a Korean popstar). Each panelist gave an excellent top five list of their favourite apps. It made me think about how lucky I am to live in a time where I have access to all these things at the touch of a button. I feel especially lucky because I just bought a new phone that can support these apps. No more brick phone for me!

Did you hear that whoosh? That was my productivity flying out the window.

3. Always check the fridge. 

I made some delicious tofurky sandwiches for the trip and packed a couple of apples in the interest of saving money and being healthy. I put them in the fridge in our hotel room to keep them fresh for the whole trip. I did not check the fridge’s dial, and it turns out it was tuned to the 8 setting out of 10, 1 being “why bother plugging the fridge in”. I took one bite of my sandwich and realised that the tomatoes had frozen SOLID. The moral of the story: the machines are already trying to kill usevil fridge     4. How to keep an artist, pitch a comic and stick it to Marvel before lunch time 

I’m in the finishing stages of finishing the application for a grant to fund a graphic novel, so I decided to attend the two graphic novel panels that the conference was offering. They were both fantastic and full of practical advice. The panelists Daniel Abraham, Rick Overwater, Patrick Weekes and G. M. B. Chomichuk came from a variety of disciplines, including education and video game design. I learned that the artist is ultimately a bigger star than the writer in this medium, and that means that you better treat them “write” (ahahahaha….I’ll just leave now). The panalists gave lots of tips, ranging from how the pitch of a graphic novel is different from a prose novel to how many pages of prose fit onto one page of art.

5. How to give a reading  

Because I come from a background of poetry, and talking in front of people I don’t know gives me the vapours, I felt that it was especially important that I take advantage of the panels that offered advice on giving a good reading. Eileen Bell and Jayne Barnard gave a world-class crash course in readings that was rooted in theater teachings. We were led through a variety of voice and body exercises, given practical advice (the importance of sound checks, for example, and having a paper copy of your reading material) and then invited to read for an audience to put theory into practise. Did it work? Well, considering that I was later told that I gave a rock-star reading after putting these tips into practise, I’d say so.

My rock-star reading

     6. Winning!  

Everybody likes winning. If someone says they don’t, they’ve probably never won anything.

Do I like winning? Hell. Yes.

It’s been all over my social media, but I won first in the “In Places Between” short story contest this year. When I found out I won, I immediately pulled a pageant girl (what can I say, old habits die hard) and screamed “OH MY GOD” and started hyperventilating. It was wonderful. It was exhilarating. My lovely writing group told everyone we met for the rest of the conference that I was the winner of the contest. My peers, who I respect so much, congratulated me and said they were proud. That’s really the only reason I wanted to win—yeah, the money and publication were nice, but what I really wanted was the respect of my peers, and to make my friends and family proud.

It also was wonderful because of the particular story that won, which is a soft science fiction story about a boy and his robot—and sexual abuse. Next week, I will present a behind the scenes look at the journey of one little robot and his struggle to find a home.

I’m still hyperventilating. I better stop writing before I pass out.

The book I was published in

God Bless,

Kelsey J.

PS: If you went to WWC and saw me, leave a comment!