Sunday, October 2, 2016

Imagine - 2016 Kansas Authors Club Convention in Lawrence, Kansas

Home from a weekend with my writing tribe and family -- grasping for a way to bottle up this energy and store it for later days. At this moment, I imagine myself coasting on this energy through the completion of the next several projects I have on the table.

Just a few my take-homes (posted mostly for me to return to and savor on another day):

Performance Art -- The convention featured several examples of poetry as performance. We had some really awesome entertainment. I've gotten much more comfortable as a speaker and presenter over the years, but I am a little surprised at how much this performance aspect appeals to me. I may have to devote a teeny tiny bit of my time to writing poetry and then a teeny tiny bit more time adding a bit more performance to my presentation.
Barry Barnes was a stellar performer. He looked like he was
having fun doing it, as well.

River Cow Orchestra -- the improvisational nature of this performance absolutely fascinates me. As writers, we are taught to write, write, edit and rewrite. This group would listen to a poet, and on the second read, start playing. It was entirely unscripted. The results were delightful.

And the award for best workshop... actually, I don't think there could be an award for best workshop. We had a good variety this year and all were high quality. Darcy Leech, however, is the one presenter where I honestly could have sat for another hour or two just soaking up her story. It was one of the most engaging and useful workshops about marketing that I have been to in quite some time. I'd like to be a mouse in her pocket for a few days. I look forward to studying her website -- and reading her book!

Darcy Leech was one of the 2016 KAC Convention Workshop Presenters.
My good friends, Mike Graves and Wendy Devilbiss were the contest managers this year. It has been a delight to meet with them and work with them on this project over the past year. They did a wonderful job of presenting the awards, as well. And it was so much fun to see so many of my friends have their work acknowledged in the contest. (Full disclosure -- I entered one poem and one prose piece this year -- no winners!)

Wendy Devilbiss - Poetry Manager, Roy J. Beckemery - Poet of the Year, Reaona Hemmingway - Prose Writer of the Year, Mike Graves, Prose Contest Manager. Well deserved awards to our writers of the year. It was good to see these two honored.

That message intended just for me... In 15 years as a member of KAC, I believe I have attended 13 conventions. Each year, I have come to expect that at some point during the convention, I will encounter that message that was "just for me." Sometimes it is something in the keynote speech, and sometimes it is something discovered in a workshop. Sometimes it is something found in conversation with another writer at the event. There's always this moment when I think to myself, "THIS is what I came for this year. This is the nugget I've been needing to hear."

This year it happened on Sunday morning. Ann Fell (2x Coffin Award Winner -- Sundrop Sonata in 2016) talked about the process of writing her suspense novel. Her first task was to distinguish the difference between a mystery and a suspense. Ta-da! Bells are ringing. I've been calling my most recent work-in-progress a mystery. Quite clearly, it is a suspense story. I look forward to getting back to it now. In a one-hour presentation, Ann's words opened up for me the problem I was having in completing this novel.

Ann Fell is the author of In the Shadow of the Wind, the 2015 Coffin Memorial Book Award, and Sundrop Sonata, the 2016 Coffin Memorial Book Award. 

Last, but certainly not least, I was thrilled and delighted that two books near and dear to my heart were awarded the first ever "Looks Like a Million" Book Design Award. To Leave a Shadow, by Michael D. Graves, was the winner. MoonStain, poetry by Ronda Miller, received an honorable mention. Both are books I produced as editor and publisher through my very own press, Meadowlark Books. I was also recognized for 15 years of membership in Kansas Authors Club and honored with a service award (Thank for the nomination, Gloria Zachgo!)

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