Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG: Horror Writing Workshop and Cover Reveal of Jay Noel's Dragonfly Warrior


It's the first Wednesday of the month, so you know what that means ... it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find out the other members of the group here.

Happy Wednesday!

On October 23, I drove up to Charlottesville, VA with my mom to give a presentation on writing horror to the Blue Ridge Writers. It was my very first time giving a workshop completely by myself. I'd been on panels before, but that's much different. I think the workshop went fairly well, although there were some problems too.

As for what I talked about, I started off mentioning fear and the unknown, transitioned to what drew me to writing horror, talked about horror subgenres and then the elements of writing horror, and lastly, I mentioned about publishing horror.

Here's what went well:
  • People laughed at my jokes. Humor and horror isn't easy, but I got laughs in all the right places.
  • For the most part, the audience seemed engaged in what I was saying.
  • I know I inspired at least one person to try her hand at writing horror.
  • I had good questions after the presentation, even though I didn't always know how to answer said questions.
  • I sold five books and gave out some bookmarks afterwards.
  • I was told by a writing teacher that I had excellent transitions to my speech.
  • The idea of a half-day horror writing workshop where we'd work on writing horror was thrown out there, so I must've made a fairly good impression.
Here's what could've been better:
  • Directions. Yes, I got lost. Several times. Charlottesville is a confusing city. Next time I would need to study the maps more.
  • My Kindle became possessed. I wrote out my speech and put it on my Kindle. For some reason, when I would turn a page here and there, it wouldn't have the next line. I would have to skip forward 2-3 pages and then go back to find my place. This ate up time and created awkward pauses, since I hadn't had the time to be as prepared as I wanted to be. Of course, when I got home, everything was there as planned.
  • A few places I noticed I was losing the audience because I guess what I was saying was a bit boring or not as exciting as other parts.
What would I do differently:
  • Prepare more and try to memorize what I want to say. I would've done this, but September and the first part of October were crazy. By the time I got time to work on my workshop, I didn't have the time to memorize what I wanted to say, so I had to rely heavily on my notes. Next time, I will be better prepared.
  • Cut out the boring parts. Try to make each little bit more engaging. I also need to make it even more my own voice. Since I was running out of time, some of the speech was a cut and paste from my notes.
  • Create goodie bags to hand out from the start with my business card, bookmarks, and maybe some candy. After the Q and A section was over, most people left before I could hand out any of those items.
  • Know where I'm going. Yes, I got lost and was late getting there, but next time I'm traveling to an unfamiliar place I'm going to leave earlier and study the maps around the area, so I am better prepared on where I'm going.
I would definitely do another workshop if asked. It's a fantastic opportunity. Also, I had created a handout to go along with my workshop, so if anyone is interested in looking at it, let me know and I'll email it to you.

Do you like attending writer workshops/presentations? Have you ever given one?

Yolanda Renee over at Defending the Pen interviewed me on Friday about Magna's Plea, Reborn, and what I wanted to be before I became a writer. You can read the interview here.

NaNoWriMo is going well. I'm over 13,000 words in five days, and I'm enjoying writing Reforged and Reigned. If you're curious about Reigned, you can read the first chapter here. I've also finished through Chapter 9 of 38 in Reborn edits. And because I'm editing and writing a lot this month, it has to come first, so I'll be a bit slow in responding to emails and commenting on blog posts.

And today, I'm posting the fantastic cover reveal of Jay Noel's novel Dragonfly Warrior.

The Mechanica Wars: Savage Machines Are Afoot...

At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Dragonfly Warrior is a steampunk adventure like no other. It's a dynamic mix of Asian and European mythology, the Wild West, martial arts, traditional fantasy, and high powered steam action that will keep you turning the pages.

Dragonfly Warrior is the first book of The Mechanica Wars, and will debut on January 6, 2014.

About the Author: After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He's been blogging for over eight years, and even had a comedy podcast syndicated all over the internet. All of that was fun, but all the steampunk-inspired stories in his head just wouldn't leave him alone. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet.

He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov.

And Jay loves cookies.


Yolanda Renée said...

Sounds as though your presentation went very well, thanks for sharing. I'm one of those people who get lost too, even with great directions! Hate that!

Dragonfly Warrior looks cool!

Happy IWSG!

ELAdams said...

Wow, congratulations on the speech! I haven't been asked to do anything like that (yet!) but it sounds like you did a really good job. 13,000 words for NaNo is great! I've been a bit behind with my goals, but I'm determined to catch up this week!

Laura Clipson said...

Never given a presentation in front of a large group of people, and not sure I'd ever want to! It was bad enough doing them in front of 20 classmates at university. So I guess it goes without saying that I'm impressed that you were able to do that :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cut out the boring parts - funny!
If I have to speak in front of people, it's only my iPad as wel. But I also print out a copy, just in case.
Sounds like you did well though. And next time will be even better.

Julie Flanders said...

I laughed about cutting out the boring parts too. :D So glad you had so many things go well for this!

And congrats to Jay, I've seen his cover everywhere and it's a great one.

Catherine Stine said...

Sounds like it was a success! Isn't it awesome when people laugh at all the right places?! Yes, I've given many a booktalk and workshop and I learn from every one I do. It's still intimidating, but I let the nerves fuel my passion for writing and teaching.

M.J. Fifield said...

I like attending workshops/presentations when I can. The idea of being the presenter terrified me, so I'm in awe that you not only did it, but that you're also talking about next time.

I think the goodie bags at the beginning sound like a great idea.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Sounds like you did well at the presentation Cherie. It will get better next time.

Patricia JL said...

I've never given a presentation or been to a work shop. Mostly because the idea terrifies me and I'd rather hide.

Unknown said...

Love the idea of using your Kindle for your notes! Of course I hadn't thought about the thing going wonky either. LOL Maybe a paper backup just in case? (I know, kind of defeats the purpose.)

It sounds like it was a very successful presentation, Cherie--congrats!

Heather R. Holden said...

Glad to see the presentation went well, for the most part! My Kindle has acted "possessed" like that sometimes, too. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who's ever experienced that! (Even though it sucks that you did during a presentation...eek.)

Isis Rushdan said...

I've given many, many presentations, but never a workshop. Preparation is the key for me. It's hard to do it well. Sounds like you did a great job!

Jai said...

Sounds like everything went great. I"ve never thought of using my kindle for notes. That's a great idea.

M Pax said...

Glad to hear it went mostly well. Great tip about when to hand out goodies. I loved the one presentation I did, but maybe because I learned to enjoy teaching via the observatory.

Brandon Ax said...

That sounds like fun and scary at the same time. I have never been to a writing con or workshop. I still hope to go one day. said...

Sounds like it was a good first time. I love conferences and hearing from a variety of writers during the presentations, although I've yet to make one myself. In the future. :)

Congrats to Jay!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Sounds like it went really well. I'm terrible at memorizing. If I have the gist of it, I'm good, but memorizing word for word just doesn't happen for me ;)
I like the idea of goodie bags :)

dolorah said...

Always nice when humor doesn't fall flat, lol. I miss that one every time. It takes me a while to get warmed up for a presentation. Have had any as an author, just for the day job.


Unknown said...

That sounds like a great experience to connect with people and you get feedback a lot faster than when you publish a book! Sorry your Kindle acted up. I guess those little 3x5 cards for notes are old fashioned but reliable. Yay for selling some books!

Congrats to Jay on his awesome cover! :-)

jaybird said...

Oh my gosh I have so much to say I'm not sure if my fingers can catch up with all of my thoughts...LOL (1) l know I haven't been around much lately but I love your new look (2) I am so proud of you doing that horror work shop I think it's fantastic and I wished that I lived closer so I could have attended and laughed at all of your jokes and filled in all of your awkward pauses! Whenever I speak in front of a group, if I start losing people I ad lib and shoot from the hip a bit more than stick to my notes. Learning to adjust to an audience on your feet, is not easy but it might be the one thing that saves you. So sorry you got lost, I was born with an incredibly bad sense of direction so I know all too well how that feels (3) Holy crap YAY for Jay and his cover reveal. Glad his book finally got out there.

Unknown said...

Like the new look! Still struggling with the re-editing of First Wolf, due to be re-printed yet again, and trying to have River Dark published by the end of the month, so problems with time there. Though the main problem at the moment is the operation that my husband has to undergo next month, so posts are rather brief and often late at the moment, until we return to a semblance of normality.

Gwen Gardner said...

Sounds like it went really well. It's cool that your mom got to see you in action. I'd love to have a copy of your handout.

Congrats to Jay!

Samantha May said...

That sounds like a great workshop! I'd love to go if you ever have one near me :D

Over all there seemed to be way more positives than negatives so you should pat yourself on the back for that!

And Jay's cover looks so great! I'm really happy for him!

Cathy Keaton said...

At least you were able to do the presentation. I would never be able to! As long as you had fun then that's all that matters. :)

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you were a hit and those are great reminders.

My Kindle also sometimes jumps around and acts crazy.

Christine Rains said...

You did wonderfully! And I would love to attend one of your workshops. I don't know if I'd feel confident enough to give one, though. Have a great weekend! :)

sjp said...

Not a possessed kindle! It sounded like a success anyway :)

Jay Noel said...

I'm sure you did really well, despite the challenges. I hate getting lost when I have someplace I'm supposed to be.

And thanks for making some room on your blog for my cover.

DMS said...

It sounds like the presentation went well and there were lots of positives! Technical difficulties can be so tough (as can getting lost). It seems like you have some ways to make things less stressful for you the next time and I love the idea of the goody bag. I think you should be very proud of your efforts! You tried something new and it was a success! People laughing at your jokes is very good. :)

Nick Wilford said...

Sounds like overall it was a win! The positives outweigh the negatives here. I have a big fear of public speaking, I was nervous enough when I gave a talk to my stepdaughter's classroom about writing, so I admire you!

You're rocking NaNo. Good luck getting everything done this month.

Congrats to Jay!

Unknown said...

Well done for giving a workshop all on your own! I know how scary public speaking is ... Well, I find it scary! I've given a presentation on blogging, and I've now done "author talks" at four schools, plus the talk at my own book launch, and even though it's getting easier, I still get nervous EVERY TIME! Oh, and directions ... that's another story. Whenever I have to go somewhere new I examine the route on Google maps so I know EXACTLY where to go. I hate the idea of getting lost!

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Cherie! Sounds like it was a win.

J.R. Williams said...

Congrats on running your first workshop. That is awesome!

I have been to several writers workshops and I am more interested in the presenters that have inflection in their voices and speak rather loudly (soft speakers can be boring), have bubbly and likeable personalities, throw in interesting tidbits about their writing process, talk about books or web sites that have both influenced and helped them along the way (that may also help me), have beautiful, eye-catching graphics, hand out worksheets or brochures filled with important information, and know the subject matter they’re speaking about inside and out.

I have noticed that a lot of writers/presenters have performance art backgrounds, which they put to good use in these workshops and conferences. I have to say, it shows. For the rest of us, it takes a lot of practice as you have stated in your post (which was incredibly interesting btw) to present well. It sounds like it went pretty well though and the best part is that you've tested your workshop and now you can tinker with the things you would like to change.

I think a goodie bag is a great way to promote yourself and your work. Would it be possible to pass it out at the beginning of the workshop so that everybody gets one? Just a thought.

Also, have you ever thought about putting your workshop online and charging a few bucks for it? I would definitely be interested and would pay for something like that. I love horror.

Congrats on hitting 13,000 word mark and good luck with the rest of Nanowrimo.