Sunday 25 August 2013

Guest Blog - Writer Events Q&A with Siobhan Muir

For the last in my series of Guest Blog Writer events Q&A, I bring you Siobhan Muir.

I met Siobhan (online) through my participation in her weekly Flash Fiction challenge #ThursThreads, which she still hosts.

Siobhan is an extremely successful author, and - in her words - writes kick-ass adventure with hot sex for men and women to enjoy. She believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan’s recent release, The Beltane Witch, is the second book in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Her free read entitled A HellHound’s Fire introduces the first book in the Cloudburst, Colorado series. She has also published Nota Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing. You can find details of all her books on her website. 

I do have a copy of ‘Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin’. As yet I have not had a chance to indulge myself, but I look forward to it, as having read Siobhan's flash fiction writing, know her to be a great writer. 

Meantime, Siobhan is far from a novice at writing events, and shares some very valuable insight on her experience. Enjoy.

What was your first writing event? (writing group, writers conference, book fair etc.)

The first writing event I went to was the local meetup group of the Las Vegas Writers Group (original name, I know). I learned several things about writing, including met an agent who really liked the look of werewolf romance Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack. She gave me plenty of pointers for my query letter and on writing in general. She didn't end up taking it, but she did help me get it out there and published. The first conference I went to was Arizona Dreamin' in their inaugural year. It was terrific and I met so many people who have been great connections since then. That's where the attending publisher asked for Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack in its entirety.

Did you go alone (to Writers conference)? 

No, I went with a friend. We drove down from Las Vegas to attend the event in Phoenix, Arizona.

When you went did you go with a specific plan in mind, or focus? did you structure the day, or did you just go and see?

I was so new at the business of writing at the time, we both went down with a few things we wanted to see, but in reality it was more like a free for all. We didn't try to meet with publishers or authors, we just interacted with them on the fly and even met a romance cover model who was there doing a shoot. It was a very good experience and gave me a sense of what all I needed to do to get my books, name, and presence out there for more than just readers to see.

Can you go to a writers conference without a specific focus? Can you just go and look?

Yes. You can go to just hang out and interact. You can go for specific classes/panels, or you can go to meet your favorite authors and have your "fangirl" moments. :D I don't usually go with a specific focus in mind because there is so much going on and opportunities show up when you don't have a schedule. I ended up pitching Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack to the attending publisher at Arizona Dreamin' that first year just because I stopped by and asked them about their company. I interviewed them to see if I wanted to send my book to them. And they wanted it. I didn't plan to do that. At Authors After Dark in 2012, I was standing with one of my favorite authors, Cat Johnson, and they had planned a Voodoo field trip around New Orleans's French Quarter. I hadn't signed up, but there was space, so I got to go on the field trip and interact with other authors along the way. It was spectacular and so worth the unplanned serendipity.

What did you gain from it personally?

Too many things to name, but mostly the connections to other authors and readers. I've learned many writing tips as well, from those who have been doing this longer than I. But the most important thing is the connection. You make friends at these conferences and see them during the year there, but they interact with you online and if they have a bigger readership than you, they can share your news and help you reach more. The conferences are about connections and interactions. This business can be cutthroat, but it doesn't have to be. Most writers are really nice and willing to help each other out, especially of you connect with them in person at the conferences. I try to go to two a year, budget permitting, and I hope to increase that number as my name gets better known. I LOVE meeting people, readers and authors.

Have you ever gone on a writing retreat? If so, what are your thoughts/experiences?

I haven't been to a writing retreat per se, but I have sat in a room with my other writing friends, silently ticking away at the keys. It can be both wonderful and motivational, and completely distracting. If you want to talk to your friends, it’s hard to get any writing done, lol. But in terms of being stuck on some plot point or another, it's great to be around other writers.

For someone starting out, or wanting to go to one and not being sure, what advice would you give?

When you first go to a writing conference or retreat, be prepared to get less done than you hope, but more done than you fear. Also, it's okay to excuse yourself if you need time alone. They can be overwhelming with a lot going on. You don't have to go to every event of every hour of each day. There will be something going on, but you're free to take a look around the city you're in or take some time in your room alone. Pace yourself. These are high energy and exciting events, and they can take a lot out of you, but they are really fun if you measure out your energy for all the things you want to do. I highly recommend going to your first conference as a "reader" just to experience what all is happening. It's a great way to meet authors and professionals in the business. :)

Siobhan will also be attending the Hot Mojave Knights Romance Reader Event in October (2013)