Wow, talk about a crazy couple weeks.  I’ve been jaunting all over the country, writing, searching for housing, listening to feedback, getting a tan…  And I never tan.  You want to talk about instant-lobster, that’s me.  But somehow this week it’s worked out better.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I lost you.  Back to the beginning, shall we?

As I mentioned before, two weeks ago I flew off to Oregon to visit Dean and Kris.  I’d been looking forward to this workshop, Character Voice and Setting, for a while.  It’s not every day one gets to learn from people who have each published over a hundred novels and too many short stories to count.  I was flattered that Dean allowed me to come at all, since he doesn’t let just anyone in, and was determined to make the most of it.

But I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dean warned that it was going to be intense.  Brutal.  So I got to thinking, what does that mean?  I had visions of 5-6k words a day, having to be up all night to git ‘r done, things like that.  The reality was…not quite so brutal as that.

Each day we had reading and writing assignments.  The writing amounted to 2k/day for the first three days and 1.5k/day for the last three.  Plus two 3-6k short stories (mine came in at 3,400 and 5,900 words, respectively).  And I had to redo one of the 1.5k assignments, since I missed the mark pretty badly.  So that comes out to a total of 21,300 words, or thereabout, for the week.  Pretty good numbers, when you think about it.  Just not as extreme and soul-crushing as I had envisioned.  Which is a good thing.  🙂

So was it worth the time and cost to go?  Oh heck yeah.  Like the title of the workshop implies, we focused all on techniques to make characters come alive and make setting immersive.  And boy is there a lot that goes into that; more than I ever thought of before.  Dean advertised we’d have issues with some of it, since he was going to force us into critical voice all week.  And that was true.  What did I have the biggest issues with?  Well…

1) I found I am good at doing a southern accent (big surprise there) and an English.  But NY and Hispanic?  Nope.

2) Setting.  I had always viewed setting as the backdrop upon which characters do things, and little more.  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  Turns out setting is characterization too, because everything in the story comes to the reader through the eyes and ears of the point of view character.  So setting goes to characterization too, since what the character notices or not tells a lot about him.  So that took a bit of a mind shift for me.

I could go on, but I’ve no desire to bore you guys to tears.  🙂

So yeah, it was a great week.  I left feeling pretty good about how much I learned, and about where I stand with my writing for now (though I know I’ve got a long ways to go).  It helped that Dean said he thought I was a really talented guy and that I’m off to a great start.  Nothing like a nice compliment from a world-class professional to make a guy feel good.  🙂

Now for the pictures!

The obligatory group shot. There I am, front row center. Fitting, don't you think?

There's Rebecca Senese with her new friend.

WMG Publishing's offices are awesome

More of the offices.


So that was two weeks ago.  This week, I spent in San Diego with my better half.  The Navy is moving us there next month, so we decided to piggy-back a house hunting trip onto the end of my workshop.  It was just as grueling a week as last week, and just as successful.  We now have a lease for a place in San Diego, on Point Loma, about 3.5 miles from where I’ll be working.  Perfect.  At that distance I can either ride my bicycle or run to work every day; no need to buy a second car.  🙂  Just what we wanted.

Right.  With that, we’re all caught up.  I’ll be back shortly with other things to discuss.  I realized it’s been a couple months since I did a sales update.  There’s nothing much to brag about, but as long as I started the trend, I should continue it.  Also I’d some feedback on more cover work.  So that’ll be coming soon.  But for now it’s just about time to board my plane.  Until later, then.  🙂