Superstars Week, Day 1: Changed Trajectories

Evan Braun: Back in the winter of 2010, I was absolutely nowhere. I thought of myself as a “writer,” but I was stalled with several unfinished projects and low ambition. The publishing world seemed impenetrable. I didn’t belong to any writing groups. I didn’t have a critique partner. Really, I had almost no writer friends at all, and I had never thought to venture to a convention or seminar.

And then I saw a post on Brandon Sanderson’s blog about an upcoming seminar he was teaching at: Superstars Writing Seminar. I had been following Brandon’s progress for some time, mostly due to his Wheel of Time connection, and I respected him as a writer. The other writers represented were no less respectable: Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Eric Flint, and Rebecca Moesta. The promise was that this seminar was different than all the others, that it would emphasize the business of writing over the craft of writing. Craft is important beyond measure, no question about it, but the business end of things is where so many up-and-comers trip and fall.

I’m from central Canada and the conference was in Pasadena, so attending was no small investment, and yet I made a split-second decision to take a gamble, hoping this would enliven my flagging writing career.

It did, and without hesitation I can chalk up most, if not all, of my growth since, both as a writer and as a professional, to that split-second decision. Not only have I finished writing several novels since then, but I’ve mapped out a half-dozen others and even published one with a small press.

The third annual Superstars Writing Seminar is coming up this April 30-May 2 in Las Vegas, and to help promote that event, several contributors here at the Fictorian Era decided to band together and do a week of posts about our Superstars experiences. You see, the Fictorian Era only exists because of Superstars. All of us came together at that fateful 2010 seminar. So, to pay homage to the event that brought us together and changed our collective course as writers, we ask you to consider Superstars.

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Colette Vernon: I attended the 2010 Superstars Seminar in Pasadena. It exceeded all my expectations. Throughout the entire seminar, Kevin, Brandon, Dave, Rebecca, and Eric made themselves available for questions and sincerely did all they could to help us publishing wannabes. They didn’t run to their hotel rooms as I’ve noticed many other well-known writers do during conventions, but spent their time with us.

They brought in unexpected guest speakers, from Joni Labaqui with Writers of the Future to famous Hollywood script writers. Their presentations helped us understand the possibilities available through writing contests and film. They were as open, easy to talk to, and available for discussion as the writers hosting the seminar.

In the two blocks to the Authors Dinner and back I learned more than from any convention I’ve ever attended. One of the authors took time to discuss a recent partial request I’d received from an agent. He asked me questions about my manuscript and the agent, helping me analyze the situation for myself in order to make important decisions. On the way back, he answered specific craft questions, basically giving a twenty-minute, mini-writing class to our group. I believe the tips given in those few minutes jumped my writing ability to the next level.

Of course, I have to mention the connections I’ve made with my fellow Fictorians. Our friendships continued beyond the seminar into the eventual creation of this blog. Many of us have started getting our feet wet in the publishing world. I doubt I would have been remotely prepared for that experience without my attendance at Superstars. With the recent changes in publishing, I’m looking forward to learning more, and asking questions I wouldn’t have thought of two years ago, at the 2012 Las Vegas Superstars.

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Matt Jones: I’ve been going to conventions for years. I’ve been to countless panels talking about every topic under the sun. Some have been interesting, others not so much. Sometimes they would touch on the chosen topic just to drastically change course and start discussing something off the wall, never to return to the original topic. These panels helped give me confidence to write, knowing that if these people could do it, why couldn’t I?

And then I attended the Superstars Writing Seminar, and I was treated to something completely different. At Superstars, you’re treated not as a wannabe writer, but as a professional who is ready to be an author. Instead of questioning your ability to come up with a story or an original thought on your own, they prepare you to take your manuscripts and get them published. It was an entirely new direction for me. It taught me how to deal with agents and publishers, the pros and cons of each. It even touched on self-publishing.

You’re taught the secrets of pitching your work, choosing the best agent, and getting the best deals on the contract. Best of all, they make you feel like you’re not just another author who is begging for scraps, hoping someone who walks by takes pity on you. You’re an author, and the world is waiting for your novel. Superstars is there to show you how to give it to them.

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From now until Wednesday, come back to read more about the seminar and the specific ways it has helped each of us Fictorians-and, more importantly, how it can help you-take your fledgling career to the next level. Starting on Thursday, we’ll be hearing from a couple of the Superstars themselves in a pair of Q&A guest posts. You won’t want to miss what they have to say.

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