Why Writers Should Attend Conferences

I recently confessed to a serious case of writer’s burn out. You’ve totally been there, I know it. After spending some 400+ straight days working on my trilogy, I found it difficult to try my hand at a new story. But then I’d feel listless, like I was wasting time if I wasn’t writing. So instead I froze, stuck somewhere in that in-between of a new release, creativity burnout, and desperate attempts to get out of it. I started to wonder if I’d ever write again. (Drastic, but you get the idea.) All in all, it does create quite a bit of self-pity in a writer’s soul. Who are we if we aren’t writers?

Luckily, Utopia Con came at just the right time. As my 3rd year, it was, as expected, a wild week full of laughter and love. Many attendees already know each other, are already family, but they welcome newbies with open arms. This year, I was honored to be nominated for 2 Utopia Awards categories, moderate a panel on world-building and give an Idea E(x)change talk about beating the self-publishing stigma (video coming soon). I was never alone, constantly surrounded by friends and peers who both inspire and encourage. When I said goodbyes Saturday night, I struggled not to tear up because I love these people and how we are together-who I am with them. I left exhausted, my cheeks hurting from the smiles, and my brain buzzing with ideas. I couldn’t wait to get back in action, both to market the HoA trilogy and to get back to work on other stories. It was the jumpstart I needed and while I suspected it would happen like that, I’m downright relieved to be moving forward.

For me, a writing conference is important for more than a few reasons. It’s not just about the writing panels or the signing tables or showing your books off to anyone who will glance at them. There’s a camaraderie you don’t get online; it’s infectious and loud and unshakeable even a week after you’ve been home. It’s #tribelife for sure, to surround yourself with other hard-working, enthusiastic writers who are reaching for similar goals. And because of tribe vibe, it isn’t competition – we all lift as we climb (a motto I take seriously now more than ever). We share questions and goals, brainstorm on stories and marketing, ooh and ahh over covers and formatting. We are all there to be better than we currently are, and when you’re surrounded by those kinds of people, it’s hard not to be inspired and caught up in the enthusiastic stream of ideas.

Two specific parts of the week stand out for me. Both unplanned, both necessary to my writer soul. Friday night dinner with my mastermind group (incredible women writers – Mindy Ruiz, Misty Provencher, Kelly Martin, BJ Sheldon, Tia Silverthorne Bach, Amy Evans) as we talked each other off ledges, shared desserts, and laughed so hard I could barely see straight; and Saturday afternoon, as a similar group randomly came together to discuss PAs, sales and marketing. It was one of those organic things that happened by chance and became an important conversation that’s sometimes hard to have online.

And then there are the readers. Readers are why we do this; it’s sure why I write. I love giving someone an escape from reality. To hear that it happened, well, that’s something that motivates me to get my ass in chair and get back to work. I won’t go into personal details, but my friend Ginny shared an emotional story with me about reading my series (i.e. escaping from reality). She had us both tearing up and at the end, she said “Don’t ever stop writing.” It was the exact sort of thing I needed to hear, from someone who I interact with online but had never really talked to about my books. I had no idea – and it’s a moment that I know will stick with me forever. You simply don’t know how much you impact a person.

Writers should attend conferences not just to sell books. That’s important. It’s not just about networking, either – you can’t force your friendship on the biggest author in attendance. Connections need to be genuine (that word is quickly turning into my word of the year), as do you. Go in with an open mind. Be ready to share your own experiences or pitfalls. You are not alone in this. You’ll find your people, and when you do, trust in them to have your back. You’re there to learn and grow, and be open to people willing to help you. Selling books or giving talks is the cherry on top of the awesomesauce conference sundae.

I owe Utopia Con and Janet Wallace more than I can explain – because of it, I’ve found many of my closest friends and confidantes, met so many incredible and smart people (including readers, marketing people, and my HoA cover designer), and my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds from where I was 3 years ago. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for all of us before we do it all over again.

Clockwise: me at my table; one of my favorites from the batch – ST Bende and I laughing (which is kinda how the whole weekend felt honestly); with the gorgeous #HoA cover designer (!!!) Regina Wamba; Kelly Martin!!!; with Ginny Gallagher; with Bryna Butler and Casey Bond; with BJ Sheldon; with Brittney and Ethan, who have to be my 2 best readers and fan club members 😉

What to Do After You Finish Your Series

Last weekend, I typed the final words in the last chapter of the third book in the Heroes of Arcania trilogy. I sent the draft off to my editor and betas and currently (impatiently) await their response and ways to make it even better. Books 1 and 2 are complete, uploaded for my pre-order slot and already making their way into ARC readers’ hands. The cover reveal for the entire trilogy is later this week. HoA is well on its way to being out in the world.

Truth be told, the pukey feeling never goes away. This will make books 7, 8, + 9 on my completed shelf, and despite all the positive response so far, the nerves still get to me. BUT I know in my heart that the trilogy is done and the best it can possibly be at this moment in time. That’s enough for me to know it’s ready for the world.

I’ve spent literally years with the Heroes. Nova’s story came to me 4 to 5 years ago; her first draft was completed shortly thereafter. But with my focus on Donovan Circus, Nova’s story was put in a drawer, hidden away until the time was right. And a year ago, when I finally rewrote the first draft and plotted out the rest of the trilogy, that meant a lot of time with these characters and their stories. Most of the last 365 days have been spent with Nova and Cole; when I wasn’t writing their story, I was daydreaming it, considering all the details, actions, and consequences. I have come home everyday for the last 6 months to type even just a couple hundred words; I have been in Arcania so long that it feels like home to me, too.

I was lost last week. I had a book hangover, one I couldn’t shake because I’ve spent at least four years with it. Without a trilogy to finish, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I opened up another standalone WIP, halfheartedly plucking at a few words, but I didn’t have it in me to jump to another story yet. I wasn’t ready to deal with new characters because I was afraid Arcania was still too fresh, enough that it may accidentally bleed into the wrong story.

So here’s the big question that comes after typing “The End”: What next?

And I don’t just mean the marketing that comes during and after a book release. There’s always stuff to be done there, or paperbacks to order, or conferences to attend. This isn’t what I’m talking about. Let’s go beyond the guest blog posts and ads and marketing the trilogy. For example, aside from that stuff, here’s where my brain is at:

  • Do I work on my next book? (And if so, will it be the already-35K-words-in standalone novel? Or Donovan Circus #5? Or…)
  • Do I sit on my couch and catch up on the 173 episodes of my favorite TV shows?
  • Do I read the 77+ books on my TBR pile?
  • Or do I take some time to myself to do absolutely nothing, instead focusing on naps, dog cuddles, and fruity, alcoholic drinks?

Let’s face it: I don’t have a quiet mind, and while sitting around doing nothing is fun for like, a DAY, by the next day I’m feeling guilty for wasting time or missing a possible opportunity. Sitting around might be my style for a while, but it’ll be short-lived. So yes, I can watch 3 movies on a lazy Saturday, but come Sunday, I’m itching for work in any form.

JLo and I booked a weeklong summer vacation in San Francisco, our first real vacation since going on our honeymoon over 4 years ago. I’ve got plenty of books for the flight and poolside. I’ve already agreed to leave my laptop at home (though we all know should inspiration strike, I’ve my trusted tablet/phone/journal to jot down notes) so that I don’t get sucked into work. I’m excited about vacation, even if it isn’t for another two months. I’ve timed it perfectly between the back-to-back releases and even day-job deadlines.

But I’m still feeling a little lost right now. What do you do after you finish your book/series?

The correct answer is: Whatever the hell you want.

There is no wrong answer here. Every author is different. Some can jump right into another story. Usually I can, and have, but this time feels different. Perhaps because in fun standalones, I can move on quickly; and from Donovan Circus, I always know I’ll be back. But for HoA, the story has been told and I’m not quite sure where to go from here. I know I won’t be lost forever – plot details for DC5 are already beginning to nag at me, and my standalone is fun and halfway drafted, so I know it’s only a matter of time. But I want to take my time; I want to enjoy a few nights not chained to my laptop.

But for now, for this week, or maybe even the rest of the month, my mind will take a break to soak in what’s left of Heroes of Arcania. I will read whatever book I want when I feel like it, or perhaps sketch out the first few chapters of DC5. I will catch up on my favorite TV shows or even start new ones. And eventually, I will throw myself back into writing, but as I’ve spent the last year at my keyboard, I know I’m okay taking a short break. And I hope you know that no matter what you decide to do after you finish your book/series, that it’s okay to do what you want, too. Take the time to relax between projects. I think in the long run, it helps us revive our passions for the next project, too, knowing that the previous one is completed.

Cover Reveal: IGNITE by Carlyle Labuschagne 

Win this fabulous brass leaf bracelet 
(entry details below) 

Cover Reveal ~  Ignite a broken novel



~ Its always darkest before the dawn 



COMING 2016 

From award winning YA science fiction Author: Carlyle Labuschagne

In this epic conclusion to the Broken Trilogy when all seems lost and annihilate by darkness, Troy sets out to to rescue his friends and the survivors of his planet from the controlling hands of Illuninatus. On his rescue mission he discovers where Ava has been held captive for nearly three years completely warded from all supernatural seekers. Troy alone can save her from the brink of her dark disease and stop her from unleashing death to life as we know it.

But first Troy and Troy  have to set out  into the darkest, lost realms of a desolate Earth together seeking out Cain who holds the answers on how to how the cure to the Shadowing Disease works before her disease becomes irreversible and she becomes the Dark Queen forever, burning down the entire world and those she loves down with it. 

PLAYLIST : pinterest board book information and more…

Cover Designer: Ubber talented Regina Wamba Mae I design and photography 

Book:  Ignite A broken novel #3 (end of trilogy) can be read as a stand alone

Publisher: Fire Quill Publishers

expected date: 2016

 ~ add the book to your TBR pile Ignite A broken Novel

About the author

FACEBOOKTWITTER. instagramAMAZON

June 18th – 21st Nashville 



Calyle is an South African award wining author, with a flair for mixing genres and adding loads of drama to every story she creates. For now she is happy to take over the world and convert non Sci-fi believers. Her favorite genre to write is YA SF and dystopian romance novels.
Her goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within every outrageous world she writes about.

“I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, its in the dark times that the light comes to life.”

Carlyle used writing as a healing tool and that is why she started her very own writers support event – SAIR bookfestival. 
 “To be a helping hand for those who strive to become full times writers, editors, bloggers, readers and cover artists – its a crazy world out there you dont have to go it alone!
follow @CarlyleL for all the crazy updates on all things me.

Founder of SAIR Book Festival 
Co Founder of Fire Quill Publishing. 
Founder of Help build a library in South Africa. 


GIVEAWAY 

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Other books in the series 





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Carlyle Labuschagne’s books on Goodreads

The Broken Destiny
The Broken Destiny (Broken, #1)

reviews: 59ratings: 171 (avg rating 3.84)

Dead of Night
Dead of Night (Aftershock, #1)

reviews: 26ratings: 34 (avg rating 4.38)

Evanescent
Evanescent (Broken, #2)

reviews: 16ratings: 48 (avg rating 4.33)

Absolution
Absolution (The Broken Diaries, #1)

reviews: 3ratings: 7 (avg rating 4.43)

Dead of Night
Dead of Night (Aftershock Book 1)

reviews: 3ratings: 3 (avg rating 5.00)

Cover Reveal: M by Jo Michaels

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today, it’s all about the cover for a new novel by Jo Michaels titled M. What’s the book about? Well, keep reading!

Title: M

Author: Jo Michaels

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Urban Fiction

Publication Date: June 17, 2015

Length: 55k words

Blurb:

In 2026, it finally arrives, the drug promising to make life easier for the masses. One dose of M and anyone can gain an ability. There are no promises made as to what the power could manifest as, but people are crawling over one another to take a chance.

There’s a problem: One pill costs a million dollars. Only those with extraordinary wealth are afforded the luxury of cleaning house with a click of their diamond-adorned fingers or solving a puzzle by talking to it.

A knockoff begins circulating in 2038 that does the same thing as M. Hundreds of thousands of people have mutated for a mere one hundred dollars.

Enter the year 2042.

Seventeen-year-old Griffin is a normal kid, who has a regular job, and dreams of going to college someday. When his girlfriend of three years succumbs to peer pressure, they break up. He believes the body is a temple not to be messed with outside of nature, and she wants to fit in. Once he meets the supplier, things take a turn for the worse.

He’s left with nothing but pain in his heart and the desire to make them suffer when his plans for payback blow up in his face.

Thirst for revenge consumes him, and he finds himself locked in a battle he never anticipated with a merciless kingpin as they struggle to gain the advantage.

How far is too far?

***This book is a standalone novel, suitable for those over the age of thirteen. There is some violence that may not be appropriate for younger children.***

Ready for that cover? Wellp, here it is!

Now, it’s time for the full wrap! Oooooooh yeahhhhhh baby!

Isn’t it lovely?

Release date is set for June 17, 2015. That’s right, you can pick up a copy at utopYA con or online at Amazon.com in June.

For now, you can keep an eye on its page on Jo’s site!

What do you think? Like it? Interested in reading it?