Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Highlights of the NEORWA Cleveland Rocks Writers Conference

First, let me start by saying that I love going to conferences. The energy is high and the ideas flow. You can network amongst fellow writers as well as with editors and agents.

Conference Summary:
Keynote Speakers: Nick Conrad & Meghan Miller (Ellora's Cave Publishing, inc), Stephanie Bond (Author), Susan Gable & Holly Jacobs (Authors) Birgit Davis Todd (Harlequin), Christine Whittholm (agent)

Query Writing- there are some very good books out there on this subject. I have one from WRITER'S MARKET-Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript.

The editors and agent at the conference gave a few must haves for when querying:
1. Genre.
2. Word Count.
3. Target Market (youth, adults, men, women, etc.)
4. What is your story about? Keep it short!
5. A little about yourself. Again keep it short.
6. Use the editors or agents name.
7. Don't compare your story to others.
8. Have your story written! I am talking about submitting your stories. For magazine articles, you just need to do the query. One of the hints about magazine articles is that you can recycle them as long as you retain the rights to it. Recycling is an easy way to get paid without doing all the work. Another thing about queries: You should make them personal for the editor /agent. They don't want to see the same query over and over. Also, be nice.

Editing Your Story:
1. Self edit (I have a wonderful checklist, I'll bring to the meeting tonight.)
2. Critique Partners (Be Brutal): You should have no more than three or four. They should produce work at the same level you do. If you write a page a day, they should too. Otherwise, you or they may interfere with your writing. Be able to quit a critique group if it's not right for you!
3. Make sure your manuscript has allot of white space. (Different paragraphs for each character, whether they are speaking or not.)
4. Don't repeat yourself and don't summarize.

Forget the rules your English teacher taught you in this regard.

Setting Goals for your Writing:
1. Make sure you can reach them. (Write a page a day. That adds up to 365 pages which is a novel.)
2. Write a business plan.
3. Treat your writing like a job. Don't let outside influences sabotage your writing career. For women (men excuse this) think like a man. Would a man let anyone stand in the way of something he wants? No! So don't let anyone interfere with you.
4. Eliminate saboteurs or learn how to deal with them. (family, friends, critique partners, agents, editors) You can get rid of friends, critique partners and agents that bring negativity. The editor not so much, nor can you drop your family. Again think like a man.
5. Protect your writing time.
6. Don't worry about things out of your control.

Blogging, unless you are getting paid takes up to much of your time!

Things You Can Control:
1. Your writing time. Remember it's flexible. Write before everyone gets up or after they go to bed. Some authors literally where different hats when they write, so no one bothers them. Remember, writing is your business, so treat it that way!

2. How clean your manuscript is. This goes back to self-editing.

3. Make writing a habit. It takes 21 days to form a habit.

4. Follow submission guidelines! With the internet this is easier than ever.

5. Write your next story, while waiting for responses. Remember, the better your story is the more in-house readers there will be so it will take longer.

Begin Your Story:
1. Start with your synopsis.
2. Write your back cover blurb.
3. Make a character chart for each character.
Name of Character Before (where your character begins) (After where your character ends up)
4. Know who your characters are.
a. what they look like
b. quirks
c. age/race/religion/marital status/etc.
d. their job
e. interesting facts about your character
5. Create a timeline (chapter 1=day 1, chapters 2&3=day2,etc.)
6. Whose point of view (POV) us the story in?
7. Keep a project folder (pictures of characters and setting)When new ideas hit write an outline and then go back when you've finished your current project(s) and fill it in. Write the story.Do your think time away from the computer.

Don't sit with your hands propped over the key board waiting for an idea to strike.

What is your Pen Name - be consistent. (Don't change midstream in your writing career)

a. Create a long term body of work by finding your voice (whether it is humor or morbidity, etc.)
b. Characters (think Harry Potter/Nancy Drew)
c. Yourself (think Martha Stewart)

1. Website- with news of your career/releases/upcoming projects
2. Business Cards
3. Bookmarks- print them up yourself and have them cut at your local printers.
4. Write articles about your current releases for your groups newsletter/magazines/newspaper
5. Excerpts- You can make them up yourself. Don't use your first chapter.

Think Outside the Box!

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