Tips for Your First Writing Conference

March 17, 2019

Well, we're finally knee-deep in March - which also means we're getting ready to be knee-deep in writing conference season! Who's going to their first writing conference this year?

I went to my first writing conference last year (the stellar Realm Makers!), and my gracious - I learned a bucketload! Not just about writing, but about conferences and conference-going in general. And as 2019's conference season is just starting, I thought I would post some tips for y'all who are going to your first writing conference this year (and if that's you, then I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU! You're going to have a blast).

So - shall we get started?

Make Connections Beforehand

This is one of the biggest reasons why shy-and-introverted-Savannah didn't shrivel up and die at her first writers conference ;D. I knew SO MANY of the people who were going, so much so that I was never without someone that I felt comfortable talking to. Everywhere I turned there was someone I knew - and this was largely because of the connections I had made before the conference.

Do you already know some people going to the conference? Talk to them beforehand about the classes they're going to pick, or if they're hoping to pitch their story, or what authors they're the most excited to meet. Do you know of people going to the conference that you're not really friends with yet? Get to know them better before the conference! That way, at the conference itself, you already have a ton of people you can search out and talk to - and go to classes with! It's a ton of fun to go to classes with people you know, and then discuss it with them afterwards. Would definitely recommend that you make some conference-going friends before the conference ;).

All that being said though, please do reach out to people you don't know while at the conference. I ended up meeting so many incredible people this way, many of whom I'm still friends with now. (and it sometimes ended up that the "stranger" I was talking to was actually someone I was friends with over the internet, and I just didn't recognize their face, ha!) So while I would definitely recommend that you get to know people who are going to the conference before the conference, don't box yourself in to only talking to people you know. Meeting new writer-friends at conferences is half the fun!

Prepare (a lot) in Advance

Guys, I cannot stress enough how much preparing in advance is going to help eliminate your stress later on! Seriously - prepare *clap* before *clap* the *clap* conference *clap*. It's going to help you so much. There's so much stuff you can work on before the conference begins - getting your elevator pitch down pat, making business cards (please don't save this for the week right before the conference like I did XD), planning where you can eat while you're at the conference, all that stuff. Of course, not everything can be prepared for (or even planned) before the conference, but the things that you CAN get prepared and off your plate are really great.

But one of the most important things to have prepared in advance is your elevator pitch. Please, please, please (especially if you're pitching) have your elevator pitch finished before the conference, so that you aren't scrambling to whip something up in your mind while you're actually at the conference. Trust me, that will be no fun ;D.

Also, if you're cosplaying, please don't save picking your costume until last minute, either (like I did XD).

So prepare in advance! As everyone is different, I don't know what advance preparation would look like for you, but definitely try to do some of it. Your exhausted-from-extrotroverting-at-a-conference-mind will thank you later! 

Shed the Inner Introvert 

And this is the point at which  you all balked, huh? XD Yeah, that was my same reaction - because not only am I am introvert, I am an EXTREMELY SHY introvert! (there's a large difference between shy and introverted, y'all, but I AM BOTH) So the thought of going out into a massive group of people on my own made me incredibly nervous - would I find people to hang out with? Would I be able to talk without making a fool of myself? What if I totally blanked out in the middle of a conversation O.O

BUT! But! Before the conference started I made a deal with myself to be sociable even if it killed me and to not worry about anything. And guess what? IT SO WORKED OUT. I never felt like retreating to my hotel room throughout the entire conference, and I actually found myself seeking people out just to hang out with them. I literally felt like an extrovert, I was so comfortable, and it was insane. I was even able to comfortably talk TO COMPLETE STRANGERS. So y'all - definitely shed your inner introvert for the conference. It'll do you good ;D.

(also, getting to know people that are going to the conference beforehand really helps with this, because it's SO MUCH easier to shed the inner introvert when you're among friends ;))  

Be Ready to Go with the Flow 

A thing you should know about me - I like to be in control. I'm not a control freak, per se, but I like knowing what's going to happen and what's coming next and what I'm going to do in response to this or that, etc., etc. But sometimes stuff just doesn't go as planned! Sometimes you can't even make the semblance of a plan for what's going to happen next, and you have to go with the flow. And THAT'S OKAY (I say to myself, all the time xD). If you're ready to go with the flow, it's a lot easier not to freak out when anything happens that you didn't expect (i.e. you have to cancel a mentor appointment, or you have to choose between going to a panel or going out to eat with your friends - sometimes plans changing can be great! Being open to changing your plans and going with the flow is definitely a good thing here ;)).

And don't stress about any of the conference things. That's important, too. There's always another conference, and for your first, I'd say it's WAY more important to have a good experience than to try and cram in eeeeevery conference thing that you can. If something starts stressing you out, do what you have to to get rid of that stress - whether than means canceling an appointment (like I did), or skipping a class to let your mind chill. Do whatever will make the conference the best experience for you, and make it a point not to stress about things! Go with the flow, yo ;D. 

And there are just a few of my tips for first-time conference-goers! If you want to talk to me more about any of this stuff, feel free to reach out to me however you want (I can be contacted here!), or leave me a question down in the comments!  I love talking about all things conference because WRITERS CONFERENCES ARE THE BEST <3.

Keep being epic, my friends! <3

~ Savannah Grace 

are you going to a writers conference this year?
if you've already been to a conference, what tips would you add to this list?

Where I'm Submitting to in March

March 1, 2019

I'm a couple sucker when it comes to open submissions. I LOVE writing short pieces, and it's so much fun to send them off and see how they do. I've been working on submitting to places more often in 2019, which of course means I'm submitting to a lot of different places in March! Multiple people have asked me to share where I'm submitting to, so I thought I would do a roundup of some of the places that I'll be sending my stories to next month.

Let's dig right in!

DISCLAIMER: just because I am submitting to these places does not mean I'm endorsing them all as being perfectly safe or clean. Please do your research before you send your story somewhere :). 

I submit to anthologies all the live-long time, and this one seems like it could be pretty interesting to write for. The theme is - go figure - Solarpunk stories that take place in Winter, the payment is $0.01 per word + a contributor copy, and the maximum word count is 8k (as far as I know, there's no minimum?). The submissions period closes on March 11th, so we'll see if I have time to submit something!

Y'all know that flash fiction is my jam, and as I'm competitive by nature ... yeah, I'll be entering the flash fiction portion of this contest for sure ;D. There's also a poetry portion, along with a short story portion, which also sounds really cool. The deadline is March 3rd (so soon!), and I'm really looking forward to submitting.

It's always nice to find some places where I might be able to submit already-written pieces, instead of needing to whip together something new within a short time frame. And I think I have one or two pieces that might be a good fit for Gordan Square Review, so that will probably be a place I submit to in March. Their maximum is 5k (not sure about a minimum, though they do accept flash fiction), and they pay $25 per accepted prose piece. The deadline is March 15th.   

Okay, not really - I'm one of Havok's editors, so it would be slightly odd if I submitted to it ;D. But Havok is a great place to submit to for those of you who like to dabble in flash fiction, and submissions are open for multiple different themes right now! So definitely go and check that out - we would love to consider your stories!

Short alien story? Yeah, also right up my alley. Castrum Press is looking for submissions for their Alien Days anthology, and seeing as the word count range is 3k - 10k, I think I should have time to submit! The deadline is March 29th, and accepted submissions will receive a percentage of net profits.

Okay, ANY story written in letter(like) form would be hard (and very interesting!) to write, but a HORROR story written that way? Even more so. And I am so up for the challenge ;D. I definitely think it could be very fun to give this kind of story a shot, and I really want to see what I can do with it. The maximum wordcount is 10k, the payment is $0.05 + a contributor's copy, and the deadline is March 31st.

And here's a contest that I meant to enter the last time it was held (it's held quarterly), but ran out of time for. So I'm going for it again in March! (the panel of judges is insanely intimidating though O.O) The maximum wordcount is 17k, and the first place prize is $1,000. The deadline is March 31st, and even though that's a little far away right now, I have a feeling I need to get to work pretty soon ;D. I might be a fast(ish) writer, but not THAT fast!

I've submitted to Cosmic Roots before, but the pieces I've sent thus far haven't been accepted - but I'd love to give it another shot! They accept exactly the kind of story I like to write - weird and fantastical speculative fiction. They pay $0.06 per word, with 1k as the minimum and ... no maximum? But they do say shorter pieces will be favored, haha. The deadline is March 28th, and I'm very excited to submit to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores again!

The Writing District has a monthly writing contest (the deadline is always the last day of the month), and I love that it's always open theme - I can go wild with whatever I want to enter! XD There is an age limit for this one (18 or older), the maximum wordcount is 3k, and the prize each month is $50. If you have any short stories lying around that you haven't found a good place to submit to yet, definitely check out The Writing District's contest!

And there are the places that I'm submitting to in March! It's my goal to get to them all, but I suppose I'll have to wait until April to see if that actually happens or not ;D. Are you submitting to any of these places? Where are you submitting to in March?

Keep being epic, my friends! <3  

~ Savannah Grace 

are you submitting to any of these places? 
where are you hoping to submit to in March?

Book Review - Flashback by Shannon Messenger

February 18, 2019

I've been keeping up with Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series since the third book came out, so I was very excited when the seventh one released just a couple months ago! I'm not usually a hardcore fan of middle-grade books (*cough* save the greats, like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, and a select few), but Keeper of the Lost Cities is some quality stuff, y'all.

And as such, here I am to rave about review Flashback for you guys. Let's go.

4 Stars

For a middle grade series, I've always been super surprised by how well-written the Keeper of the Lost Cities series is - and Flashback is no exception. It totally surprised me at every turn, and I couldn't stop reading it once I picked it up! So, SO good (plus, I mean ... since I've been anticipating this book since forever and always, did anyone actually think I would put it down once I got my paws on it? xD)

From The Back Cover 

In this unforgettable seventh book, Sophie must let the past and present blur together, because the deadliest secrets are always the ones that get erased.

Sophie Foster doesn’t know what—or whom—to believe. And in a game with this many players, the worst mistake can be focusing on the wrong threat.

But when the Neverseen prove that Sophie’s far more vulnerable than she ever imagined, she realizes it’s time to change the rules. Her powerful abilities can only protect her so far. To face down ruthless enemies, she must learn to fight.

Unfortunately, battle training can’t help a beloved friend who’s facing a whole different danger—where the only solution involves one of the biggest risks Sophie and her friends have ever taken. And the distraction might be exactly what the villains have been waiting for.

- How well-crafted the characters were. The characters in Flashback were amazing, as they have been for the entire series, but one thing really stuck out to me this time - the fact that this a middle grade series, and yet the characters are SO full fleshed out. Middle grade has some gems, yeah, but the characters in Flashback are seriously great. Their growth from the first book to this one is amazing, and I love love loved getting to read more of Sophie Foster's story. (I also majorly appreciate that Sophie is strong without coming off as bossy, and that she actually goes to people for help and has adults she trusts and leans on. That was epic - I always hate it when young characters do stupid stuff in books just because they think all adults know nothing and that teenagers rule the world xD)

- The ingenuity of it all. Okay, I'll just come right out and admit it - there are a lot of tropes in fantasy that are so worn out. The regular, run-of-the-mill ones that people use all the live-long day. Keeper of the Lost Cities takes a TON of those tropes and totally flips them around (or adds new shiny elements that make them so epic it doesn't even matter anymore) - and Flashback threw in some new twists that I REALLY loved and didn't see coming. I enjoyed that a ton.

- The cliffhanger. WEIRD, I KNOW. But I have the memory of a literal goldfish, and this series continues to be THE ONLY one where I can still remember the ending of the book I just read almost word-for-word when the next one comes out. And I don't even know why? But I love it? And the cliffhanger for Flashback was just as insane as the cliffhangers in the rest of the series. I shall definitely still remember it when the eighth book comes out ;D.

- There were a few instances of "telling". I actually find that this happens a lot in middle grade books? And while it didn't happen very much in Flashback, it did still happen now and then. Not enough to annoy me much, really (I was too concentrated on the epic stuff to care, ha!), but enough that it deserved noting *shrugs*.

Flashback was a worthy addition to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, and I absolutely CANNOT wait for the next book. I think this is the longest series I've ever kept up with, and it still feels weird to say I've been reading it since the third book? xD (because I have a smol attention span and I also usually find out about books/series AFTER they're been released, ha!) Would definitely recommend it for any of y'all looking for an especially good middle grade series, or a series that flips a TON of fantasy tropes.

And there are my thoughts on the latest Shannon Messenger book! I hope y'all are having a wonderful February so far - keep being epic, my friends! <3  

~ Savannah Grace 

have you read Flashback?
what's your favorite middle grade series?