Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notes from the Writing Workshop with Rick Walton and Mette Ivie Harrison

Yes! It was a success!
It looks as though Rick's book to the left has a rude opinion of my baking skills.

We started out the day with some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins....which seemed to be well-liked, but they stuck to the muffin liners.  How do you keep that from happening?!

Then it was on to the main event.Rick and Mette were brilliant, as expected. Here are some tidbits I picked up...

Mette talked about how she runs a 50 mile course every year. And it's not just 50 miles. But some of it is at an 8% grade.....which is super steep. She's crazy amazing, right? She said people ask her how she keeps going. And she spoke about how she doesn't think about the 50 miles. But she tells herself she can go 100 more steps. And then sometimes she has to walk 100 steps before she can run again.

"Don't think about the 50 miles. Don't look at the big picture. Think about the 100 steps." -Mette

She compared this to writing. Some writers get lost in the big picture thinking about all the steps in the process...the writing and the rewriting and the submitting and then more rewriting....it could drive you crazy. So, just think about what you can do today. And then do it.

Rick had two pieces of advice to start out the day....

#1: Focus on the craft. Focus on the writing.

#2: Write for other reasons other than getting published. And not for money. But write for your children, because you love it or for some other reason. It will keep you going. If you write for money you will see it's not worth it.

Mette also said, "If you want to be a successful author you have to be self-motivated."

Rick talked about how some people work like crazy for a workshop and then don't write again until the next workshop. But you have to be a workaholic.

After the morning lecture we broke into the picture book and  novel groups. Wow. I was so impressed with the talent! There were funny manuscripts and clever ones and super imaginative ones. I loved hearing all the different and unique ideas. So great.

Rick's awesome picture book group. 

Mette mentioned at one point that an editor is going to want to know three things within the first few pages of reading your book...

#1: The setting.
#2: The time period.
#3: What your main character wants.

Another suggestion she had for us was...."Hook the reader with chapter one. Have a very specific scene. In chapter two step back and explain the world more."

Here is Mette telling us how to get a six-figure deal.
Ok. Not really. But I'm sure literary pearls were
dropping from her mouth. 

See? Mette's novel group is utterly captivated.

My critique was in the morning. The ladies gave great suggestions and praise. People laughed in the right places. Overall, I think it was enjoyed (I hope!) And I came home and fixed a few things. Most notably the debate over The Stone.....which won't make sense to anyone but those who have read it. Sorry. Cryptic.

We critiqued until lunch and then headed over to my favorite restaurant in Cedar City and the site of my writing group's meetings....
We're ready to eat! Most of the people were still standing
in line....it was sooooo busy in there! Crazy. 

The Pastry Pub. Mmmmm....so good. I had reserved room for our giant group.  And they were nice enough to have a big long table all ready for us even though they don't normally let people reserve space during lunch time.

Everyone had a grand time talking and laughing and, of course, eating.  Yum! I tried the Herb sauce on my roast beef sandwich...which is a house favorite. It was good. But I like the honey mustard better.

Then we headed back for more critiquing and learning. I brought out the peanut butter bars which are supposed to taste like Reese's peanut butter cups.  And I was glad everyone enjoyed them so much!

It looks a few people are giving their manuscripts nervous glances...
Don't worry! I'm sure they were great. And if not....well, with Rick's advice....
they soon will be!

After we finished up the critiquing, we all joined back together where Rick and Mette shared a few more thoughts and then opened it up for Q & A.

Seriously. These two are entertaining. They always make me laugh....which
I guess isn't saying much really. I laugh at almost everything.
But, no....I mean it. They're funny. 

People asked about self-publishing, how Mette finds time to read so much (4-5 books a week people!), about agents and e-publishing and....well,much more but I've forgotten it all. I was pretty pooped by this point.

Although I will say I loved when Mette spoke about how she managed to find time to write when her children were small. And her story of when her agent called to offer representation and she barricaded herself in the water heater room, held her ear to the phone, plugged the other one and held the door shut while her small children demanded things of her. ha! This sounds like something I would do.

Mette inspired me to put aside two hours of nap time for my writing. (I've tried to implement this plan in the last two days. Yesterday I wrote for two hours. Today I only got in an hour. But I'll grab one more after the wee ones are in bed.  Hopefully I can train myself to make things work in the day so I can get those two hours in. Every day.)

Then it was over. And we chatted and laughed some more.

Lana and Emalee!  I love you! And I love our Pub Club (writing group)!
We Rock. :)
We talked about what a great time everyone had. Many came up  to thank me for putting it all together.

Elaine and Tasha....these girls are so fun! I met
them for the first time that day and instantly liked them.
Yay for new friends!
I should have thanked them all individually for coming and participating and helping me make it a success! I would love to see a strong children's writing community develop here in Cedar. So, hopefully, this is just the start of a Great Thing.

Colleen! We first met at Chautauqua two years ago, so it was super
fun to see her again.

And speaking of starting things....(at Rick's suggestion)....I started up a Southern Utah Children's Writing group. If you're in the area and you'd like to get in on our discussions and chatter, please join the group here...


Cute Caitlyn! 

 I think it's going to be a great way for us to stay in touch, discuss writing and books, complain about those dratted rejection letters and celebrate each other's successes. As well as share information about editors, agents and conferences.

I'll close with this notable bit of advice....

"Read a lot and write a lot and get good at it." -Rick Walton

That sums it up quite nicely, don't you think?

Hey! I even found a way to be crafty.....guess what I spray-painted? I'll give you a big hint....

Mmmmmm, peanut butter bars.  Hey....which group snarfed all their's up? Eh?
heh heh...nah, I'm kidding. I moved them over to take a picture of the platter.


  1. I hate to say this, because I know you won't stop pestering me, but I really wish I could have attended the workshop. That first advice from Mette is exactly how I view writing a novel; I'm paranoid about how to make it through the 50 miles!

    I'm glad you made new friends. I've known Tasha for a long time, and I know who Elaine is. Tasha is hilarious. So quick and sharp.

    So, don't pester me too much while I'm in school, but anytime I have a break you can drive me crazy with taunts about writing. :)

  2. looks like a great workshop. Thanks for the recap. :)

  3. Wish I could have been there!

  4. Hey! I know Suze! We are related. Looks like you all had fun and learned a lot!