Tuesday, October 30, 2012

James River Conference Part 2

I am thankful, from the looks of Twitter-sphere anyway, that so many of our great speakers that were here recently at the James River Writers Conference are safe and sound.

Here are some more notes from the Conference.

For more great tips, notes, and such, go to Twitter and look for #jrwc12

Also check out Denise’s great blog posts of her notes - especially hers on the Website session.

Insight Into Your Site: Website 101
Erin Blakemore
Colleen Lindsay
Anna Sproul
Maya Payne Smart, moderator
Who needs a website and when? What should be included? Do you need book trailers and bells and whistles? Panelists will critique attendees’ websites, if desired, suggesting ways to improve content and navigation.

To think about -   What drives people to websites -   Concentrate on something to offer the world …think branding

Neil Gaiman - regularly visits his site, creates changes, and blogs regularly.  Doesn’t leave it static.

Tess Gerritson started with email list putting out creepy biological fact of the day.  

Chuck Wendig  TerribleMinds.com  his website  got him noticed / published.

Your website should be -  Simple    Consistent     and have Clear way to contact author

Absolutely present on a writer’s website:  
 All need an editor to make sure no typos or anything
Has a Professional image                          Good writing
Some professional head shots         
Have your Blog live on home page  
Make sure your site is Not static          Constantly refreshing content
If an active on Fb or Twitter presence but only if active   
Put a button for Fb  and / or Twitter button
Make sure have Contact info     
Place for comments on your website

These were mentioned as really wanted to see on author’s site -   
 high res  AND  low res pics,    Both B & W, and Color   
a short bio     and a more in depth longer bio.    
Downloadable press kit     
Front page dynamic    
Your Twitter acct.   But it should not take the place of your blog site.
Update your blog at least once a week.

Erin has blog tour / map of NY … pods casts, can listen to, etc…    Erin’s clean Blog   She paid $35 for a Wordpress Template
She has Buy Book button on each page

Trust the Gatekeepers
Molly Jaffa
Brad Parks
David Henry Sterry
Valley Haggard, moderator
Hear the benefits of working with an agent and learn secrets that will move your work out of the slush pile.

David talked about the Art of the Follow Up   Do follow up with agents - Very politely and recognizing they are people too. 

Molly takes digital submissions only.   Wait 6 wks or more to Follow up.   Gets 150 queries a wk. Maybe takes 2 new clients a year.
Yes, do multiple queries.  Agents expect it.  No need to say.    Agents at her place specialize in diff. Genres.
Know the market value of your book
Setting and managing expectation.
Places to look at on Line — Rachelle Gardner,      Absolute Write Cooler

Everyone wants that feeling of falling in love
Agents want to fall in love with your characters.

Make your Query Letter - query pitch   nothing like she has ever seen before 
Molly looks at way author has presented themselves on Twitter etc….
Googles their names … she cyber stalks people, and checks them out before offers to represent.  Makes sure they aren’t crazy-pants

With looking at brand new agent, look at the agency they’re with.
Molly recommends look for / get established shop

Brad Parks shared his personal experiences with agents.
His first agent had been an agent at a big publishing house.   But after getting really bad offer for his 3rd and 4th book - after his first two had done really well, he started asking around and no one had heard of his agent.
And that was why he was getting the awful offer.       So he fired the agent and got a new one.  

It was emphasized the importance of getting a Good agent.
When an agent negotiates for you, the publishing houses also keeps in mind the other clientele that agent handles.
The way it was put, your agent goes in with their whole clientele list sitting on their shoulder when they are negotiating for you / your book.

Have to know what your goals are.    Know what you want.

If getting form rejections all the time, you are doing something wrong.   Figure it out and change.

If start getting some better comments / not form rejections, getting better.

You should have the feeling that you have the best agent in the world.

With smaller agencies have to ask harder questions.

Sign up for Publishers Marketplace when ready to start querying process.
—— Mentioned in another session Not to use the printed ‘find an agent’ books, since they are usually old and out-dated by time come out.

Do Your Research

Sunday, October 28, 2012

James River Writers Conference 2012 - Part 1

The James River Writers Conferences keep helping writers to write better, write new ways, get published, find people to friend, and a Whole lot more.  
This past weekend, Oct. 19, 20, and 21, was no different.
Filled with great sessions - and writers.   I was privileged to moderate a couple so I Know that’s for sure!
For 10 years now, JRW has been helping writers find each other, their supports, and sometimes even themselves as writers.
And pretty much all done by volunteers.   As they are trying to write, and write themselves into getting published.   
Considered by a lot of speakers that have attended as the best run conference in the U.S., all the supporters and volunteers of James River Writers deserve pats on the backs.   [And agents and publishing contracts.    Just sayin’ ….while putting it out there to the universe.]

First Pages Critique, that always reminds us that agents are human too, and have likes and dislikes.  It’s important to research agents we are sending our queries to, making sure we pick the right agent who carries the kind of writing we do.  Or that they are at least interested in it.  
But that just because one said no, doesn’t mean that the next will.  Or the next, or the next.  [For more on that see my notes on Eleanor Brown, author extraordinaire of highly acclaimed book ‘The Weird Sisters’ … well, as soon as get those notes up.  With ’Sandy’ storm preparedness, funerals, laundry, and all, this blog post writing thing is going very s-l-o-w.]

This year James River Writers also joined with the Library of Virginia for the Literary Luncheon on Saturday with Tom Robbins.  Where writers who write and test one line at a time were validated and found a soul mate.
I still have Tom Robbins printout of his advice for writers from the very first James River Writers Conference 10 years ago.  And vividly remember one of the stories he told.  His story telling skills are certainly phenomenal.  I understand we must change and grow, but I do miss the opening address he wrote especially for the James River Writers Conference that year, and used to be read at the beginning of each new conference.  It had such vivid imagery and language it reminded me what it was to be a great writer, and what we as writers want to aspire to.    Thanks Tom Robbins for the memory.

There were a lot of sessions I wanted to listen to this year, since there’s only one of me I had to make some very difficult choices.  GAH!  It was difficult!
Most of the time I ended up in a session because I had run into a friend or great writer and as we were talking I would end up walking with them to their choice.  
Hey it worked, I ended up in some great sessions that way.  
Like, The Savvy Professional, with a panel of Really smart savvy women.  Arielle Eckstut, Colleen Lindsay, Nancy Redd, Julia Schoerke, moderated by Rebecca Joines Schinsky.

Arielle Eckstut is part of The Book Doctors team, so check out their site, and their book, for all kinds of great tips and things to consider, and work on.

I will post a disclaimer now and say these are my notes, so this is my filter, however abbreviated.
For some other great notes on sessions check out Denise’s blog posts of sessions she attended at the Conference.  Different than mine.  Just so you know.  We all have different perspectives as writers and listeners.

This tidbit might have been worth the session :

2 Tweets is the length of the Perfect pitch

Think about topic of your book and how it relates to news happening now.
Talking about your book in a concise and interesting way.

Platform = something you are passionate about
Make booksellers your allies — from your local independents to the Barnes and Nobles around the corner..
Be best self in Every situation
Be / have a Great personality  and be Very kind of Everyone
Being very appreciative of the people who got you there. 

For all social situations - social networking - Be part of the community, be part of the conversation.

Make sure have Website optimized - to get good person to build your site get referrals from people familiar with working with authors.   Ask Writers you know, that are well known - who they use and trust.
One panelist recommended Chuck Wendig  and his  Terrible Minds Comm. 

Talking to potential agents - or anyone with power to get you one, should be about Expressing your Passion, Not Pitching your passion.

Local platform - Local interest     Big platform - niche area

Know your Category, that your book will fit into at a bookstore.   Read in That category.   Read well in that category.
Track the history and what is selling in it now.
See what’s on the shelf there.   And see What’s the Rising Stars there.

What is your distribution…. Ebooks sell better than self-published

Instead of spending money on self-publishing, spend it on self-promotion

5-1 ratio of doing for others vs. Having / asking others to do for you.  5 of you do, to 1 of you asking of others

One panelist believes you should do a writing group in and around what you are writing.  
[My personal note to this is - maybe. I go along with the advice of having mixed friends.  Sure seems that publishers are looking for writing that’s going to appeal to a wide range of groups and readers…. So..how you going to get that if you have a very narrow group?   Just my thought.]

When you can’t do anything more to your manuscript - it’s done.

 One of the panelists believes Conferences purpose is Networking

And that’s what I had from this panel.  Plus it’s time to put in another load of laundry and check preparedness supplies.
Will get up rest of notes from JRW Conference 2012 as soon as I can.  Well, as I transcribe them from my scribbled on papers.
But you can go to Twitter and look at #jrwc12 and get tweet quotes and writing tips, notes,  from all kinds of writers that were at the Conference.  And even the Twitter Chats with some of the writers and speakers at the Conference this year.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Help for Us All

No, I’m still not really here.    I am really working Hard on getting prepared for the James River Writers Conference this weekend - October 19, 20, 21

But part of that is participating in, or at least reading [what can I say, doesn’t everyone spaz out thus missing things sometimes?], the Wonderful, James River Writers Author Chats on Twitter!  #JRWC12    #jrwc12

They are Really good!  Great info’!

But Twitter links can lead to other wonderful things as well — which, beware, can be a seducer of time away from writing.  Be warned.

Found this great tidbit - from a site I’ve mentioned before, that my husband, who has newly taken up writing, in self-defense, really likes :

Physical description of a character can be difficult to convey—too much will slow the pace or feel 'list-like', while too little will not allow readers to form a clear mental image. If a reader cannot imagine what your character looks like, they may have trouble connecting with them on a personal level, or caring about their plight.

One way to balance the showing and telling of physical description is to showcase a few details that really help 'tell the story' about who your character is and what they've been through up to this point. Think about what makes them different and interesting. Can a unique feature, clothing choice or way they carry themselves help to hint at their personality? Also, consider how they move their body. Using movement will naturally show a character's physical characteristics, keep the pace flowing and help to convey their emotions.

………..go here for rest…….

And how can you Not read this :

And for those facing NaNoWriMo - or the prospect, Looming, of it next month - this might help you :

How to Write a Novel in a Month

Next month is the annual writing frenzy known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s not without its critics, and my blogmates and I have covered this action before.  

I extol the virtues of NaNoWriMo. The novel I wrote in November of 2010 was one I had under contract. It became, after editing of course, THE YEAR OF EATING DANGEROUSLY.

There are similar stories. Hugh Howey wrote his novella WOOL during that same NaNo year. The dang thing has sold in the hundreds of thousands as an ebook, and got optioned by Ridley Scott.

That’s a lightning strikes once or twice kind of thing, and most writers are not going to have that kind of out-of-the-gate success, but that’s almost beside the NaNo point. The point is to get you to get your story down, fast and furious (I wish that term hadn’t been purloined by political culture), and unleash the writer within. It’s to give you a sense of the value of finishing an entire novel (even though it will need massive editing).

As the great Robert B. Parker said, “A writer’s job is to produce.” NaNo is one month of pure production.

Here are ten tips to help you get the most out of it this year:

Not mine - I’ve truly been a pant-ser … well, pretty much with all my writing.  But I might try some of these.  

 so go here for the rest of this. 

But there’s that white rabbit again with his watch, saying I must get back to prep. for the James River Writers Conference this weekend!

Join us there!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Run by Flinging

I’m not really here.  I really am too busy to be even flinging words here.  But I hate seeing the empty wasteland that has overtaken this.  Not even tumbleweeds….and,  well, all the rest of the stuff that take over wastelands.  Not zombies.  Hopefully not Zombies.  Although saw a Great play read through other night - Shakespeare Richard III - Zombie Cut.
But no time for that now.  Must get back to work on all the things crying out around me.   In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s me crying in the middle.
I stumbled across this by accident - and for any of you writers out there discouraged,    Hopefully this will help you a little.   It’s a Part Two .. And I haven’t had a chance to track down and read Part One, but do take a look at Part Two.  Hopefully it will help a little.  I know I have certainly had my discouragements.  Hopefully we can help each other.  Come back and comment.  Join in with other writers.  NaNoWriMo is starting soon.  The James River Writers Conference is Really Soon!   Next Weekend, October 19, 20, 21. And….oops, time’s up I see the white rabbit with his watch.  Gotta Run.

Writers disappear because they get discouraged.
It’s really easy to discourage a writer. Writers are a fascinating mix of insecurity and ego. The ego comes in believing that they have something to say, something that the world needs or wants to hear. The insecurity comes from everything else.
…..see rest Here …..