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Putting My Name In The Hat

Photo of Erma Bombeck for Robb Lightfoot's website

Last week was the deadline for applications to present at the upcoming Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, April 5-7, 2018, in Dayton, Ohio.

I put a proposal together, and sent it in. I’ll keep you all posted on what happens. The idea I pitched, based on all the years of speech teaching and coaching, is that writers who can talk about their work before audiences stand a better chance of connecting with their ideal readers.

We’ll see if this is true! I picked this humor conference because, as you know, my favorite genre is humor.

Even though I’ve never had the chance to attend this workshop, I know a good deal about it. I’ve followed its activity for years now–it’s an every-other-year affair–and the slots sell out in a matter of days. I’ve bought the conference recordings and enjoyed them immensely.

Look at the event’s website to get more details. Here’s that link http://humorwriters.org/.

If you think you’re interested in attending, the time to apply is early December.

I’ll find out if I am “in” come mid June, 2017.

Helpful Tool For Nonfiction Writers

endnote logo for Robb Lightfoot blog posting

 

I’m back in Grad School, seeking a second master’s degree, after a 30-year absence.

Man how things have changed.

Of course ,the biggest difference is in the tools I now have for researching and writing.

Back in 1986, when I started my first degree in speech communication, research was done in the library by going through the card catalog and magazine indexes. Quaint, isn’t it. And I wrote my graduate thesis in an Apple IIc. Years of hard word lived on a couple of floppy disks that looked like a pair of Goth-Inspired Hallmark cards to celebrate a total solar eclipse–dark, mysterious and ominous.

Now everything is backed up on an automatic hard-drive, in the cloud, and if I lose it all I can just ask Donald Trump or the Russian Embassy for another copy. Nice, I guess. The latest version of Word, not “Word Juggler,” allows me to do amazing things and have the results look better than they deserve.

But the best thing of all are the tools for more effective researching and cataloging of all the information I find. No longer do I have to lug around or shelve stacks of photocopies, I have many PDFs that are the fruits of searches in academic databases. Of course, Google is handy, especially Google Scholar. But all these tools mean that I now have way too much information.

Enter Endnotes.

I am happy owner of this software, and it allows me to download my library searches, have the citations correctly formatted–usually, you still have to double check them, and upload the PDFs and any notes I make all in one central–backed-up-in-the-cloud place.

It’s heaven. This is all te more sweet because, as I write, I can just click a button and insert a citation, and–get this–a bibliography is generated on the fly. Amazing.

I’ve long though about taking on a research project and aspiring to do the sort of cool things Malcom Gladwell does. But how, I wondered, would I ever keep it all straight?

Now I know–Endnotes.

So, you don’t have to be in grad school to tackle a book-length project, and buying your own copy isn’t horribly expensive, considering what Word costs.

Check it out. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am. Here’s the link. http://endnote.com/

And if you are strapped for cash, there is a sort-free alternative, Zotero, https://www.zotero.org/. It only starts costing you when your data files get over a certain length. I went with Endnotes because it seems to be the gold standard for many scholars. YMMV.

#Writing – SFWC16 Take-Aways

 

 

Artsy Map of SF posted by Robb Lightfoot

I’m a conference junkie.

More specifically, I LOVE the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. Yes, it has been known to mess up my Valentine’s Day, but this year my wife was able to join me, and so that worked out.

The great thing about SFWC is that it helps all writers. That’s a tall claim, but a look at the conference breakout sessions bears it out. There’s sessions for fiction writers, non-fiction authors, poets and screenwriters. There’s sessions about picture books and editing, and there’s plenty of information about self-publishing and the legal environment of writing.

So, yes, it’s a soup-to-nuts event.

This year I focused on self-publishing, marketing, and a bit on middle-school readers. In past years, I’ve blogged the conference almost in real-time, which was a bit tiring and didn’t allow me much of a chance to reflect on the experience. I decided this year to pull up my notes, trim them down and make them more coherent, and to then include links that the speakers referenced.

I’m trading speed for concision and quality. I think that’s a good move.

So, you’ll see me blogging a bit with the hashtag #SFWC16. I look forward to your comments, questions and feedback. I’ll be following those over on Twitter, mostly, but you can reply here on the blog if you like.

I just took down my RobbzNotes blog because I am going to focus on just having one blog up. I almost a dozen in place, and the scattered postings were not working for me. That’s one of the tips I got from this years conference.

Sometimes it DOES pay to put all your eggs in one basket. I’m down to three blogs and three Twitter handles.

I do appreciate your comments and suggestions on which topics are most interesting to you. I monitor @robblightfoot and I’ll respond there.

 

Re-Tooling my Blog

Notes from the 2016 San Francisco Writer’s Conference

photo of San Franciso Writer's Conference Logo

 

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m waiting for the first round of speakers to arrive in my room. I’m doing AV again this year, and today I’m camped out in the Mark Hopkins International, the Willard room.

Yesterday, several speakers explained how to use social media effectively. I listened and reflected on how I’ve been using this blog. The conference’s topics ranged from “try this” to “don’t do that.” I winced a lot because I realize I’m doing a lot of “don’t do that” stuff.

Oh well… that’s why I’m here.

So, I’ll be taking a different tack on the blog here. I’m going be posting small items more often, and not using this space to do book announcements. I’ve even deleted a lot of what I have up. I’ll still be letting my fans know (both of you 🙂 ), but that will be in my email newsletters, and even then it will be minimal.

Instead I’ll be just doing periodic updates about my writing-in-progress. Now that I’m not doing columns (but I may resume), I have gone long stretches without much slice-of-life writing. I miss it. I also have had a proliferation of websites and diffuse efforts to used way too much automation. I’m going to pull back from many of these. I’ll still use a few that will allow me to spread out my postings. I tend to work in bursts, and it’s probably best if you don’t get a huge “dump” of writing from me at any one time.

My goal going forward is to be more conversational. That includes “real” posts (not re-Tweeting other folk’s stuff), and listening. I’ll be focusing on Twitter to engage readers.

I’m going to ditch the clutter where I can, and focus on my main Twitter account, @robblightfoot. I’ll still be over at Facebook, but mostly posting pictures of my wife’s dog. 🙂

That’s it for now. One of the lessons is to keep stuff down to 350 words or less. I’m at 337 and need to wrap it up.

More later,

Robb