Things I Learned at the 2014 Moonlight & Magnolias Conference

I got step-by-step directions on how to create an author website on WordPress. I heard some great tips on how to write for the young adult market. I learned how to create great characters and how to add more conflict to my stories and how to revise them once they are finished. And I discovered that I might as well stop trying to be a “pantser.” I don’t do anything else in my life that way. If I’m ever going to craft a compelling novel-length work of fiction, I’m going to have to start with an outline. I made new friends and caught up with old ones.

That was all on Friday.

On Saturday, I learned that I shouldn’t have left home without my pain meds. Because the kidney stones – according to the CT scan, there are four – decided to flare up about lunch time. I hobbled back to my room and spent the rest of the day sick in bed. I missed the workshops. I missed the drawing for the author baskets and critiques. I missed the cocktail hour and the photo op with the hunky male models. I missed the Maggie Awards Banquet.

The good news is that sometime during the wee hours of Sunday, the pain returned to its usual dull ache. By the time my alarm went off, I felt good enough take a shower, put on my clothes and make-up, enjoy a hearty breakfast, and soak Sunday’s craft workshop on writing effective love scenes. It was terrific.

The most important thing I learned at the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference is that I am not ready to give up on my dream of being a traditionally published author. But how to go about it? Do I dig deep into revising my first book? Finish the young adult novel that was a finalist in last year’s Unpublished Maggie Awards? Start something completely new?

It’s not clear to me yet. But one thing I do know is that writing is going to have to become as important a part of my routine as eating and brushing my teeth. I’m not quite sure where it’s going to fit into my busy days. It’s likely that I will have to let something else go, at least for a while. But I am determined to find a way. I know it’s a lot to hope for. But I’m going to do everything I can to be a New York Times Bestselling author.

It’s now or never.