Prose & Cons: When Words Collide, Friday.

Day One of When Words Collide. This is my first Calgary convention, and it’s the biggest one I’ve been to yet.

Right of the bat, I ran into Gerald Brandt in the coffee shop at 6:30 this morning. He had been trying to squeeze in a little writing since 5:00, because deadlines. I hope he was ready to give up, because I moved over to sit next to him and pestered him about everything from readings to cover art. He was very gracious and enormously helpful.

This made me late for my morning walk, so we were only able to do an hour. Then shower and get downstairs for a workshop on working with an editor with Robert Runté. Who happens to be my editor, but we’ve never had enough time to talk, so I was very glad to get his input on working with Track Changes, a feature of Microsoft Word that is powerful but sometimes tricky, especially when two people use it differently. The overview on different types of editors was good review, and I hadn’t seen it specifically applied to polishing submissions before.

After that, registration opened, and I was able to get my ID tag and desk card. Then I asked about doing a reading, as my email request for a last-minute slot on Saturday evening hadn’t been answered. Turns out I had missed the boat on that, but a cancellation this morning had left an opening after all. I’m on for a ten minute window at 9:30PM tomorrow.

Also started running into friends as they registered, set up in the book room, or found their way to meeting rooms.

Sat in on Gerald’s first panel, about blending genres. Good stuff there from all four authors, and fun.

Somewhere in here I slipped out for a quick lunch, but made it back to learn about doing readings. E.C. Bell and Jayne Barnard tag-teamed one with good audience participation. My favourite part was about bookstore etiquette: show up early and thank the staff when you’re done. Oh, and I got to ask Jayne if one of the flying machines in her book is an ornithopter. It is. Bonus! (The character observing it is well acquainted with them, so does not remark on the other possibilities.)

The panel on common manuscript mistakes was packed, and I was lucky to get a seat. Five editors (three I know) tore loose with their pet peeves. It was fascinating and amazingly useful. Lessons I took home: don’t slow the action down with mundane movements, extensive physical descriptions or pointless showing. Check.

Pretty much dragged Lindsay Kitson off to sign up for a pitch session. She hadn’t been able to negotiate one online, but there were still some last-minute slots available. I also talked to a beginning writer who wasn’t sure whether she wanted a Blue Pencil or a Pitch. I’m a believer in Blue Pencils. These short sessions are the drive-by shootings of literary criticism. The time constraint, usually just fifteen minutes, brings great focus. You get one or two bite-size lessons pertaining to things that really jump out at the editor. Usually glaring flaws, in my experience. Pitches are for writers looking to submit a completed novel, so that comes later.

Caught up with Caroline after that, and went for pizza. That’s all for now.

 

 

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