Last Friday, I went to the Southern California Writer's Conference in Newport Beach. I spent three days and two nights talking about writing and publishing and juggling and jousting and goat farming, all from eight in the morning until about midnight-thirty. Exhausting. Exhiliarating. FunFunFun.
On Sunday afternoon, I came home, did laundry and left Monday for San Diego, where I spent four days and three nights at the California Special Districts Association Conference, talking about pension reform, leadership, ethics, strategic planning, and the Brown Act, from nine in the morning until four-thirty in the afternoon. Relaxing.
Is it any wonder I feel like I'm traveling in two separate timelines, leading two lives?
Actually, there was a point of convergence.
In between Judy Reeves' workshop about the craft of writing and how to use your own life and people in it to write your stories, and Sally van Haitsma's unique bravery, as an agent, to extol the possibilities of self-publication, I went to Sheri Fink's workshop. She spoke of the kinds of tools she used successfully to become a best-selling children's author.
I took notes like a crazy woman.
By the time I went to the last workshop on Sunday, Jeff Michaels was asking me what my goals are (okay, he was asking the whole room, but I was listening). I wrote, "GOALS: 1 yr... 5 yr... 10 yr." At the end of his session he asked us all to write the title of our next book, our name, the publication date, then autograph it to him.
My next book technically is the mystery, but my mind leapt to my Snoopy memoir. I do not have a title for it yet, but I wrote, "The Broke-Legged Winner by Gayle Carline." I've been thinking that August would be a good release time for it, since the AQHA World shows start then, and I might get some traction in the Quarter Horse community. So I added, "August," and was prepared to write "2013" when something stopped me.
I still have to finish the book, edit the book, send it to beta readers, send it to an editor, get the cover photo shot, and move it toward publication. Jennifer Silva Redmond told me, "For an author, a book's publication can't come soon enough and for the publisher, it's always too soon."
I wrote, "August 2014" instead. It felt empowering, as if I'd taken a step toward a plan and not just a wish.
Soon I was whisked from the creative world and plunked into the business community, trying not to feel the itch of my fingers wanting to write, and focusing on how to operate as a director in a special district.
One of the first things I heard was JR Martinez as the keynote speaker, talking about goal setting in a way that brought everyone to tears. Then I met with a consultant who does strategic planning for cities, counties and special districts. Finally there was a woman who spoke of leading a team toward a goal, instead of managing to the next deadline.
Goal setting. Strategic planning. Charting a course. Evaluating at intervals. Making corrections.
I keep thinking this book business is mostly about luck. How did all those people find Fifty Shades of Grey and not my books? Well, other than the fact they were looking for erotica and fan fiction. How do I get more visibility?
I'm pretty sure throwing money at it isn't going to work. As Sally van Haitsma said, "There are lots of people trying to sell you a pick & axe to find the gold, but you have to be on the right part of the mountain."
In one week of two wildly different conferences, I feel like I've been given the tools to find the right part of that mountain. Stay tuned. I'm pumped.