Four Things I Learned In 2014

The holiday Season is upon us. Little is left of 2014 but the memories. I will build myRich w:Book New Year resolutions for 2015 upon the backs of my mischances and lost opportunities of the prior year, and shape them by my successes. My learning curve was influenced by several experiences over the past year. Allow me to share a few.
1. A rewarding marketing strategy is to give talks and presentations. The research I have done for a historical novel (some day) offered such opportunities. My illustrated talk at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and my non-illustrated talk at Casa Dumetz were not only enjoyable, but rewarding. It is satisfying to put such accumulated knowledge to a second use, and it is fun to engage with an audience. The personal contacts I made (and continue to make) as a result of those presentations are invaluable and have led to unforeseen benefits (See Boots On The Ground; October 3).
2. I attended two conferences for writers this year. The first, Western Writers of America, took place in Sacramento in June. Typically a loaner, I determined to take full advantage of this gathering of writers about the American West and reach out. I found this difficult, and did not do so well as I would like, yet even my weak effort yielded benefits. I met an author from a town near me who invited me to join her writers’ group. I did, and consequently have closed a glaring gap in my editing process (see The Value of Writers Conferences; November 12). More anon.
My second conference was in Santa Fe in October. It was The Tony Hillerman conference, WordHarvest. Having learned from WWA, I was more successful in making connections, including a book swap with an interesting young writer. While I have yet to recognize specific benefits from my attendance, I came away with a briefcase of valuable material I have not yet found time to assimilate, ranging from author legal matters to tricks for writing a series (see My Five Goals For A Conference; July 1).
3. As mentioned earlier, I joined a writers’ critique group near my town in July. The benefits here were immediate. This is a working group, attended by writers of Memoirs, YA, Fantasy, Mystery, and more. Some are accomplished editors, others publishers, all with a wide variety of experience and point of view. I bring my work, with several copies, and read it. I receive verbal and written comment, to consider at my leisure. The critics have the highest of standards, nothing is overlooked. I am not permitted even a scintilla of latitude beyond a word perfect result.
My experiences with this group extend beyond proper usage of grammar. I have learned that the editing process is rife with peril. Each author/editor is an advocate of a specific personal style, reflected in the critique, which, if absorbed completely, can undermine the development of an individual voice. Before joining this group, my voice was clear, even if my editing was murky. now I struggle to protect the former. It has been a good lesson.(see Do You Really Need An Editor; August 20)
4. In 2014 I participated in several books signings/sales events. Each taught me something. While my marketing success this past year has been disappointing, largely from a lack of time devoted to it, each event has added to my experience and confidence––in myself and my books (see Some Thoughts On Launch Parties; May 2).
To conclude this summary, I want to share a quote that has served me best in 2014. I can not remember which author said it, or even the conference where it was said, although I remember that the author was a very successful novelist. The quote: “Accept every opportunity that is presented to you.” Just that.
May You Be Blessed This Holiday Season

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