Wednesday, December 28, 2016


I find Writer's Digest as one of the best platforms for writers, educators, publishers and agents to connect as a community. It was a blessing that Facebook had tracked my posts about writing (even though it's creepy to think about this sometimes). that it consistently allowed ads about different writing conferences pop up on the side of my newsfeed. That's how I got hold of the information about the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference 2016.

Held in Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, California, last October 28-30, I was opened to a whole new chapter in my writing career. I've met published people, famous writers of different genres and editors whose preferences were sought.

At first, I found it intimidating because I just blogged. But as soon as the participants I had small talk with in between sessions wished that they knew how to blog, I knew it was right for me to be there at that particular moment. They reassured me that as long as I write, I belong in the Writer's Digest Community and what an honour.

A lot of reading materials are now online because of the fast paced demanding lifestyle at the present. With the availability of the unlimited ether, the internet had paved a faster way to disseminate information globally; moreover, for a book to be published in a blog. This is something that I have been doing for 10 years so, I felt that the conference will teach me a lot as I decide on going for my own website. I aim to pay credit to Writer's Digest by sharing to you 7 of the most important lessons I learned that (1) exceeded my expectations as an aspiring journalist and (2) that I know no amount of money equals them.


Allow yourself to be exposed to the world. Don't be afraid to go out of the familiar because going out of our boundaries make us learn big time. Honestly, the title, Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference made me doubt at first because I love novels, but I never wrote one. I always have an idea in mind but I never pursued it. But when I was in L.A., being surrounded by novelists, they inspired me immensely. Take this from me, if you aspire to be successful in something, surround yourself with successful people of that particular something. Chances are, you'd be propelled into reaching your dream in taking the first step. This is the ultimate secret of successful people, thinking with alike minds. They push each other in making it happen by giving you substantial experiences to learn from.


Here is John Peragine,
In this picture, he was featured in
the Writer's Digest with his article entitled,
6 Keys to Building a ghostwriting career.
Find him in FB as John P Writer
It was my first time to attend a writing conference, something that I've been longing to do. So I told myself in the bathroom of Bonaventure before I started to register, "I will be an open vessel..."

What am I claiming for myself in saying this?

This is to remind myself that it's ok to let my walls down to be able to make a little exchange of hi and hello. After all, what else would it take to initiate a conversation?

Then I stumbled into a laid back looking person. He was wearing shorts, very comfortable sandals, black shirt that says something about ghosts. He looked approachable and perky and I felt his energy that he is excited about the conference. I took my chance, "Let me guess, you write novels about ghosts." "Technically no, but I am a ghost writer. I am attending this conference for the book that I'm working on. I need inspiration." His name was John. "And you?", he continued. "I just blog.", I answered hesitantly. "Well, you write so omit the 'just' there. Have a great day! And get as much knowledge as you can from this conference. Who knows, you might get your first book published because of this.", he claimed it for me.

John Peragine is a published author of 12 books, has ghostwritten over 100 others and does freelance work for the New York Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg News. - LinkedIn

John ghostwrites for some of the top names in business, real estate, Hollywood, politics, fitness and healthcare. He has published articles in WineMaker Magazine, Herb Companion and Speaker Magazine to just name a few. 
John has been writing professionally since 2007, after working 13 years in Social Work and was a professional musician in the Western Piedmont Symphony for over 20 years. He has been providing services to the National Speakers Association  and the Global Speakers Federation since 2013. John is a member of the National Writer's Union. (UAW-Local 1981) 
His expertise is in business writing, real estate, small business, finance, Amazon self publishing, how to self publish a book. He had built a company that is a leader in self publishing companies

My first day went great because of John. I researched right away about ghost writers which I never had an idea about what they write about specifically. And now I do. The very first person I had a conversation with at the conference. A stranger at first that told me the conference will do me justice if I really want to make it big in the writing biz.

You see, my point is, I almost held back. But, as I open up to somebody, the universe gladly gives what I need. An encouragement. An inspiration. A push. What if we are like this everyday? Just imagine the potential that will get fired up! Because, right now, I am compelled to finish my e-book for my personal blog hoping to build a platform for my blog-to-book projects. Who knew I'd be starting my 2017 with a self-hosted blog? And that will come out this January.


Amir holds a BA in magazine journalism with a concentration in psychology,
has edited or written for more than 50 publications producing hundreds of articles
and had her work published in five anthologies.
She has self-published 10 short books, including the popular workbook
"How to Evaluate Your Book for Success" and
"10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self". 
Nina Amir is one of the most profound writers I got the privilege of knowing. Even if she was talking to 20 people in Santa Anita A hall room of the Bonaventure Hotel, I felt like her words resonated only to me because I heard her loud and clear that having a book idea is not enough. I learned from her that you are the number 1 agent of your book. You should help your book get sold by building a business plan around it first. She was the only one I know active in writing blogs (which I researched). She does it twice a week and she maintains several websites to support whatever products she had written and it's her platform to make services available in terms of writing, editing and publishing. Her talk was the last session I attended before the closing keynote section for the conference and she gave birth to  the  authorpreneur in me.

I knew Nina from the third day of conference but I bought her books, Creative Visualisation for Writers and How to Blog a Book from the second day without hearing her talk yet. I was seriously in awe that I got to meet her because out of all the many books that were sold in the conference, two of hers attracted me the most. They are by far so helpful to me. 


This is a shot of me wearing the
Viking's hat with the Nanowrimo
Executive Director, Grant Faulkner
In the NanoWriMo Pep Rally session, they encouraged us all to participate in writing a novel for the whole month of November. It was truly a moving idea that they included this in the conference because November was about to kick in 2 days after the conference.

Basically, the aim of the organisation is to guide and support writers in finishing a 50,000 word (or more) novel in a span of 1 month. I was only able to write 3 chapters, a total of 6,323 words but I aim to continue it still at my spare time. And I've never even written anything before that is to be considered a novel.

In participating last November, I learned about writing prompts, word sprints and most especially, I learned that it may help you to write in quantity first rather than get stuck with a blank paper. There may be a chance that you might be overthinking the quality of your work that you don't get to writing. So, the principle is: it's better to edit something than nothing. Who wouldn't want to have a novel in a month? It follows the saying, "If you're a writer, write!" Sounds interesting? Check out NanoWriMo's website by clicking here


It's important to build a connection, have a community or a set of friends that actually would help you get to do the things you wanted to do. Surround yourself with supportive people. This is important because motivation doesn't just fly out of the window. Allies are needed when the real enemies creep in: procrastination, laziness, writer's block, despair, loneliness and lack of inspiration. Sometimes, these communities and connections, big or small keep you accountable. They may come in forms of readers, supporters, close friends and basically people who believe in you. If you put out your writing project out there for them to expect, or if you declare something that you will do publicly, and you know there are people who would be looking forward to this finished project, it's more likely you'd make it because you don't want to disappoint them. This way, you can actually consider connections as a way to success.


Let's talk about the Halloween Cocktail Party we had after the second night's session. Considering the plan you have in mind in reading lesson number 3, simply knowing the experts is already an opportunity. Having the chance to hear them talk in the conference is a gift from God. Having a cocktail drink with them and see these experts be themselves at a Halloween party was unimaginable. What's my point? At any moment, there's always an opportunity. The good news is, you can also make your own opportunity by taking the initiative to talk to them, introduce yourself to them and 'personally' connect. That's something you won't be able to accomplish thru the social network alone. In a simple conference, where you can choose to stay quiet and then walk away with nothing, you can reverse the outcome by building a network of people that you can actually gain confidence from.

The 6th lesson, you can be the start of your own advancement. Chase your dream. Don't wait for the opportunity to come. Start with yourself. Be hungry. Go seek it and you'll be surprised as to how you can be lead to what you work and pray hard for.

When I was lining up for a signature for the Closing Note speaker of the conference Christopher Rice, son of the famous Anne Rice (who is known for her vampire chronicles namely, Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned), I was thinking of what to ask him as he signs my book because I don't want to waste such precious time. So, I asked his point of view about the current obsolete educational system. If he agrees that "creative" is the new school, an idea that a good friend of mine and business partner had actually theorised. He stopped and sincerely lent an ear. I asked him, "What if there's a school that would offer a course covering business management, financial education and creative arts? Do you think it could survive?" And he actually gave me a sensible answer, "If you would include internet with it, it will. Because nobody is actually offering an umbrella course for the internet: photography, design, publishing and sales. These are the things that actually make the internet live. It would be fantastic if there's going to be a course for that and I bet if it will exist, it would be the most in demand above everything else." I was blown away. So, you see, seize the day! Never let a chance pass.


I am always reminded by mentors not to limit my creativity with craft and form alone. Style should include you. When you write, trust the process because this is what's going to make it unique. What you know, what you have experienced and what you might want to impart will make your story worthy to read. Remember, your story needs to be told. Yes, it's yours to tell so you don't need anybody's permission to do so. You can start at any moment you feel like prompting yourself with, and you can stop at any point you find sufficient.

with Rachel Randall,
Writing Community Editor,
Writer's Digest
These lessons are not only applicable to writing. I plan to put these lessons in everyday life because they are substantial to my purpose. Inspiring others, being of help to those in need and becoming a source of good information online are becoming a universal need since more than 40% of the entire world population have internet. And every 5 years, internet users increase to a billion. I would be very happy if I could inspire just a million with my blog.

So let me take this opportunity to put out a shout out in this post. Thank you to the organisers of Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference 2016 for recognising a Hong Kong delegate. The efforts you've given in putting up this event is remarkable. Each of the writers' humility inspired me most.

Credits to Rachel Randall, one of the Writing Community Editors for being helpful and available. She runs to people whose questions needed to be addressed with a microphone just for everybody to hear the discussion clearly. She gave out pen and paper to each of us and reminded us endlessly of availability of coffee, links to the presentation materials and many more. She basically was everywhere and I can't help but admire how hardworking she was. I find it humbling to cater to aspiring writers while she is huge herself in being an editor. Her and the rest of the famous writers I bumped into in this conference were so down to earth. I don't have words for the admiration I have for you all except thank you.

This was a gift for my birthday month, November! What are the odds that it is the month NanoWriMo had chosen to be the writing month??? Hahaha!

Related posts:
1. WRITING THERAPY - Have you ever tried writing to yourself?
2. SILVERMINE BEACH RESORT - Looking for a place of serenity and inspiration? Maybe Silvermine can give you that peaceful vibe to write.

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