Unsolicited Advice: Attending Conferences

Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference. I had gone before, but not for about three years. Coming back was like coming home, in a writers-bonding-with-writers kind of way. It’s a community like no other, and there’s nothing quite like talking about writerly things with people who have been there, who understand the struggles and the wins just as you do. I thought of a few things that I learned, and whether you’re a writer or not, they should apply to situations related to your own career in which you might find yourself:
1) Follow Directions/Read your handouts: It may sound like a no-brainer, but be prepared. Know where your classes are, and how to get there. Bring the materials that the instructors want you to bring, and in the manner that they told you to bring them. There’s nothing quite like missing out on some valuable information that could change your career because you didn’t double space your sample pages (which I’m certainly glad I did!)
2) Don’t be an A-hole: A good life rule in general, but definitely applies to the conference scene. The last thing you want to do is sit down to a pitch session and stare wide-mouthed at the person in front of you, thinking to yourself, “Oh (insert expletive here), this is the woman who I couldn’t be bothered to hold the elevator for this morning.” Remember, no matter how brilliant your work is, nobody likes a jerk, and more importantly, nobody wants to WORK with a jerk. Would you?
3) Read, Read, Read: Would it kill you to read a book about your craft? Nope. I admit, this is a rule that I’m trying to get better about following. Hence why I bought books by all the master class speakers whose workshops I attended. Which brings me to the next rule…
4) ATTEND THE MASTER CLASSES: Yes they cost more money. There’s a reason for that. I learned more in those half day sessions than I learned in the vast majority of my college classes. GO! You’ll be glad you did.
For more information, email me at authorreneenmeland@gmail.com. Happy reading! 

Sale Time

Looking to fill up the Kindle you got for Christmas? The Extraction List and a bunch of other books from Limitless Publishing (including Dreamer by Amy Reece which I recommended a few blog entries back) are only $.99 cents today!

Confession Time

Confession time. Everybody ready? Can I get a drum roll from someone? No? Ok…

I am not sure I’m writing for the “right” reasons. I’m told you’re supposed to do it for the joy of doing it, for the love of your readers, etc. This all may be true, and those things are very important to me, but…

I like to win.

I have a closet competitive streak. I don’t show it much, but several times a day, you’ll see me checking my best seller ranking on Amazon.

Because that, my friends, is the only scorecard I have for this writing thing.

Yes, I love getting a great review. Those keep me going when sales aren’t where I would like them to be. But I’d be lying if I said I would be ok with staying exactly where I am as a writer. The joy of doing it isn’t enough. I’m grateful to anyone who has ever bought my book, I truly am, but I look at that rank to get the next high, the next feeling of victory. That sale is my scorecard.

I want to win.

I realize that everyone dreams of being on the New York Times Best Seller List. But that’s truly the mark of where I would feel like I won. My dad taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, he’s right. I know that’s a long ways away, if ever, and I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I need those highs, I need those wins. So my quest now is to find those little victories: the new Twitter follower, the new “like” for my blog…something to sustain me. Because we all need to feel like we crossed a finish line before everyone else, to feel like we got first place in something. If you don’t, bottle it up and send me some. Until then, I’m going to continue the hunt.

Writing While Pregnant- A Musing of Watermelon-like Proportions

I figured writing while pregnant would be a little different. Of course typing with a numb hand (baby decided to settle on a nerve) has proven to be difficult. Trying to find a position to type in that doesn’t kill my shoulder hasn’t been a picnic either (again, baby curled up right on top of a nerve). But there have been some other things I’ve noticed that I didn’t expect.

  1. I’ll find myself typing away when suddenly the fantasy of me yelling at the last person to ask me if I was sure I wasn’t having twins will pop into my head, followed by an ultimately unfulfilled promise to myself that the next person to do so will get punched in the throat. Maybe my characters will end up with more pent up aggression as a result. I guess we will see in book four.
  2. As I’m sitting here writing this, I have been pulled away at least 3 times by the adorable yet manipulative faces of our two dogs. I believe I have shared their pictures before, but just in case:DSC01918

untitled Now don’t judge me, dear readers. you know you would have a hard time resisting those precious little faces too. But I’m realizing that if I can’t learn to say no to my fur babies, I’m going to have just as hard a time saying no to my human baby. Probably more so, because eventually she will be able to talk back. The time to take control back is now, before my computer is covered with finger paint and my characters are forever stuck in rough draft limbo. If I’m going to be the best mother I can be, I need to be the best person I can be, and that involves creating worlds and stories. So while I do it for myself, I also do it for them.

I’m sure I’ll think of more little tidbits, dear readers, but for now, I leave you with a question. How have your children affected your writing, routine, content, or otherwise?

Sneaky Preview

Burning Doors Front Cover web

For anyone who hasn’t picked up the Burning Doors, the second book in The Extraction List Series, I thought I’d give you a little preview of the mayhem ahead. Enjoy!

  The first time I killed someone, it was an accident. Though I guess it was the kind of accident that happens when you squeeze your hands around someone’s neck for too long, or when you shove
someone who is standing too close to the edge of a building. In my case, I accidentally killed my father when I beat him to death with a pipe.
  He had set me up that night, I’m sure of it. I was always careful to leave the TV volume down so I
wouldn’t be caught. But when I flipped the power on that night, the news roared. The woman I wanted
to see was there, giving a speech like always, but her voice came out with the force of thunder.
Sweat drenched my body when I heard the door to my parents’ upstairs bedroom fly open and hit the
wall. The foundation shook and so did my limbs. I sat frozen in a seated position as I heard his
footsteps. All I could focus on were his shiny patent leather shoes coming toward me. Even in the
middle of the night, he took the time to slip them on.
  I could smell him before I even saw his feet. He constantly stunk of mouthwash and old cologne; it
was some putrid mix of sandalwood and beach vacations that we would never take. He cackled as
he stepped toward me, so the minty air from his breath reached me before his hand did. I felt my head hit the floor before I felt the familiar sting in my cheek. “You’re so stupid. You really think you’ll ever leave here? Where do you think you’re going to go, huh? You need me. She hasn’t come for you and she never will!” He kicked me in the side with his foot. My stomach clenched from the impact.
  I usually kept quiet when he hit me. At most, I would agree with whatever he was saying to stop
him before he did real damage.
  It never worked.
  No matter what I said, or didn’t say, the blows would keep coming. My mother was always
conveniently upstairs, but no one can tell me she couldn’t hear the snap of his belt or the furniture
rattle as he shoved me into it.
  That night was different. Maybe it was watching the woman from the television, or maybe it was the
way his smile stretched across his face as he struck me, I don’t know. But when he was finished and
heading back upstairs, I spat towards him.
  My cheeks burned as I did it. In fact, my whole body felt like it was on fire. But I’d be lying if I said
I wished I could take it back. Even when he turned, eyes wide when he noticed the wad of saliva
glistening on the concrete floor, I didn’t regret it one bit.

  I may have even cracked a smile.
Click on the cover on the right hand side of the page to purchase. Don’t miss it!

The Extraction List is FREE!

TEL FREE promo pic

Exciting announcement! The Extraction List eBook is now FREE on Amazon! A great way to start the series. Pick it up here (why not? it’s FREE!): http://www.amazon.com/Extraction-List-Renee-N-Meland-ebook/dp/B00V8KADEY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1437501005&sr=8-1&keywords=the+extraction+list