Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fabulous Interview with Literary Agent Coming to JRW Conference next Month!!!

First of all, a Tremendous Thanks and Shout Out to Literary Agent Paige Wheeler for this Fabulous interview!

And to add to the excitement here in Richmond at James River Writers -

We've just found out that the amazing graphic designer Chip Kidd will be available for both a TED-style talk during the conference AND for an interview-style panel on Saturday afternoon, October 19.  If you know any graphic design folks, they will certainly recognize his name, and they might be interested in the one day ticket for $170.00.

Additionally, thanks to our partnership with the Library of Virginia, Lee Smith will also be doing an interview-style panel on Saturday, October 19.

So, there will definitely be a lot happening on Saturday of the Conference, but don’t forget all the things happening on Sunday at the Conference [Including I am moderating a great session on Sunday!]
Just cause to come to the Full Conference.

Not to mention, you should Definitely check out the Friday Workshops, the ones still open, Especially after you finish reading the great interview below with Lit. Agent Paige Wheeler who promises some Tip Sheets, References, and Tricks up her sleeve!     [Need to go see if that’s full yet!]

Here is a link for conference registration

And if you can’t wait till October, check this out, while you are waiting -

This Thursday, September 26, we have Dean King, his New York editor, and his History Channel producer from California on stage for The Writing Show.  It is the last one of the year, and we're trying to end with a bang and a big crowd.  Tickets are still $10 in advance and $12 at the door: the best deal in town! 

For the first time ever, we have JRW t-shirts for sale through Bonfire Funds.  It's a great logo that promotes writing in RVA, so there might be people beyond James River Writers who will be excited about it!  We need to sell 50 shirts by October 6 in order for them to be printed.  You can't tell from the picture, but long sleeve shirts and hoodies are available as well.

And Now On to the Great Interview ! .........

Interview with Literary Agent Paige Wheeler:
I see from your bio’ on the James River Writers website that you represent fiction and non-fiction.
“Currently she represents international and award-winning authors in commercial fiction, and upscale fiction, which includes women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, psychological suspense; as well as narrative nonfiction and prescriptive nonfiction including self-help, how-to, business, pop-culture, popular reference projects and women’s issues.”


Is there something you are really wanting to see from new authors that might be pitching and querying you?
[Other than studying all the great links and resources you have on the FolioLit website!]
Answer:  For fiction, I’m looking for an intriguing plot that makes me wonder, “how is the author going to successfully pull this off?”  I’m also drawn to incredibly fresh and vibrant voices, stories in which the character just sucks me in and I can’t possibly put the manuscript down.  If an author could combine the unique plot with the vibrant voice—then I’m all over the manuscript. 
For nonfiction, I’m looking for thoughtful proposals on fascinating subjects that make we want to talk nonstop about the project. This can be anything from a intriguing memoir or historical nonfiction or pop culture. Ultimately, I want to learn something or be transformed in some way after reading the manuscript. Some examples of this would include Jim Minick’s THE BLUEBERRY YEARS (a VA college professor attempts to homestead his land, living off an organic blueberry farm); Mary Cantando’s LEADING WITH CARE – How women around the world are inspiring Businesses, Empowering communities and Creating opportunity; an upcoming title, Deborrah Himsel’s BEAUTY QUEEN, a book about the reign of Avon CEO Andrea Jung’s rise and fall;  IN THE BELLY OF THE ELEPHANT by Susan Corbett is the story of one woman’s journey to Africa to work for the peace corp and how she was transformed by the experience. 

Could you give us your definition, and some examples, of what you are looking for in fiction?  There is mention of commercial fiction, and upscale fiction.   Can you give us some helpful examples to go by?

A:  Commercial fiction is generally plot-driven or character-driven material that is entertaining and well written. Some examples are David Baldacci, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Nicholas Sparks, etc. Upscale fiction can also incorporate a unique plot or engaging character but the writing is as much the focus as the plot or character arc. Some examples would include Adriana Trigiani, Elizabeth Strout, Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri. 

You give a good description of what you call prescriptive nonfiction. [And Thank you for that.]  For those that aren’t exactly sure what narrative nonfiction is, would you give us a couple of examples.  

A: A couple of examples of popular narrative nonfiction would include DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Eric Larson; IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot; and SEABISCUIT by Laura Hillenbrand. I love narrative nonfiction—it tells an intriguing story in an entertaining way.  IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote is probably one of the best examples of narrative nonfiction, but I also bring up INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer as another great example of narrative nonfiction. 

  What would you like people coming to the James River Writers Conference in October to know about meeting, pitching, and / or querying you?

A:  First, I’m really not threatening at all, so don’t be nervous!  Second, you should feel comfortable enough about (and with) your project that we can converse easily about it. You should be THAT familiar with it that any questions I may have can be easily answered. Finally, if I happen to pass on your project, realize that I’m passing on that PROJECT and not you as a writer. I welcome queries for new projects from authors who have previously pitched to me. 
I really want to fall in love with a project! What that means is that I’m looking for material that I am willing to spend a lot of time on—even if it takes longer to make a sale than anticipated. 
I have 40 titles coming out in 2013 and most of my authors have been working with me for years. I’m selective about who I represent, but it usually means that we will work together for many, many years and develop a lasting relationship. 

You have a workshop scheduled for the Friday before the JRW Conference, on October 18, 2013, can you give us some teasers of why everyone’s going to want to sign up for it?  [Or already has. Workshops are going Fast.]

A:  I’m focusing on Career Novelists because that’s the dream of so many fiction writers. Who doesn’t want to quit their day job and write mega hit after mega hit? In my workshop, I’ll outline the Essential Elements of Career Novelists and the skill set that writers need to acquire in order to have a long and successful career as a published author. I have tip sheets, references and tricks up my sleeve to share with the audience. 

The publishing world has been in such turmoil and flux for a few years now with agents and writers trying to figure out their roles with each other.
 And the choices and decisions facing authors, such as, to self-publish or look for agent representation.  Or to keep looking for it.
Would you give us some of your thoughts on this changing world, and words of wisdom? 

A:  It’s an exciting era to be in publishing!  I think I will look back on this and be proud that I’ve navigated these tumultuous times and have been a part of such change!
I think that an author needs to decide what is best for him or her. We all have different goals and skill sets, so the course that may be right for one author may be entirely wrong for another. I have many authors who are established and enjoy the role that traditional publishing plays in launching and maintaining their career. I have other authors who have hit a list and have decided that they want more control over publishing decisions, so have opted for a hybrid career. Some authors really want and need the editorial and stylistic support that traditional publishing entails and others do not. Of course I think the role of an agent is vital---and I’ll give some tips during my workshop on why I think it’s critical to have an agent on your side. Ultimately, the industry is definitely experiencing dramatic change and I think authors, editors and agents are eager to embrace the changes if it means better access to wonderfully written books and an increase in readership. 

Any predictions or thoughts on possible trends coming that we as writers might be able to take advantage of now?

A:  I think the only trend that I can really predict with any accuracy is the importance of an author being able to create a platform. This is true both in fiction as well as nonfiction. The concept of platform has changed, though, over the past few years. A few years ago, platform meant name recognition that was already established within households. Now, it’s the ability to quickly create that recognition—usually through a network of well-placed friends and social media. So, what can you do now? Lay the groundwork and create a network that’s ready to promote your book.  

Here is a link for conference registration

I Know you are ready for it now!

Thanks again to Paige Wheeler for the wonderful interview.   See you at the Conference, and hopefully your Workshop, in a few short weeks!

Monday, September 23, 2013

When to put away childish things

Okay, so I’m taking a little license with that title.  I mean, after all, we are writers, we don’t exactly have to.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, but that’s for a whole different discussion.  One that you should probably have with a professional.  Know what I mean?
Yes, you do.

But sometimes it does make you wonder about dreams, you know?    If your dream is to be a writer, is that something you should put away for the ‘real world?’

Only you can really answer that.    Being a writer is not easy.   Or perhaps I should say being a Good writer is not necessarily easy.
It’s a lot of hard work.    Least it is for a lot of writers I know.

Which some people who just decide they are going to be writers and crank out that book to sell, find out.   
Or maybe they don’t until they try to sell it.    And make enough money to take themselves to dinner maybe.
I’ve seen that a lot.
Especially once you’ve gone beyond selling it to all your family and friends.   And sometimes maybe their friends.  If you’re lucky.
And do you want to do more than one book?   Are you going to force them to buy it too? 

With the world the way it is today with self publishing so easy, and cheap, it’s so easy to be a writer.   Or think of yourself as one.   Or tell everyone.

But are you a Good one?

And working all the time to be better?

These days there’s still a lot of discussion about self-publishing.  
Or no discussion, just publishing that way.
Which gets mixed feelings.
There can be good out there that is self-published.
And as a lot of us have seen, there’s a lot that ….isn’t.

There’s a lot of feelings, on both sides of the issue.  For self-publishing, or for going the traditional hunting down an agent [yes, that rather does sound like a sport, huh.  Hmmmm…] and going with the traditional publishers.   
And to contort the issue even more — there’s the ‘traditional’ agents who will help you self-publish.  Uh….  ???

Or even the small publisher route, which I know a few authors who are extremely happy with that option.

Recently Hugh Howey did a really great post.     If you don’t know who he is, do a quick google.  He’s one of the Great success stories of Self publishing.

“This past week, my latest self-published book debuted at #7 on The New York Times bestseller list. Crunching some numbers, it appears that I’ve sold a million books in the last two years.”

But I met Hugh this year, and I can tell you, he’s not the ‘normal’ writer, that I’ve met anyway.  Including me.  
Yes, writer friends kid around with each other about not being normal, but I think the most normal thing about most of us, is the tendency to not be super social outgoing people.    In the computer jargon of the past, people like that were referred to as ‘back roomers.’     
Most of the writers I know and have met are not the tops of the social outgoing personality scale.  

There are exceptions to that of course, the Great Adriana Trigiani is one of the big exceptions.  But she is one of the traditionally published authors.

Hugh Howey is one of the other Big exceptions.    And Successfully self-published.    He’s a success for part of the reason, is his wonderful outgoing personality.   He’s nice.   And very personable.
So if you are going to self-publish, it wouldn’t hurt to read his blog.   
And interviews he has done.
Like this.

If you are a writer.   Or thinking about it.   Or even dreaming of it.  You should read it.

He gives you some great perspective and thoughts.

Told you.

And after you finish reading Hugh’s great post, take a look at this one I found about looking at your writing and knowing when to put it away.


Yeah, Hard one, Huh?

It came to mind because of all the self-published books out there - and no, I’m not saying some aren’t good.  Maybe they could have been better.
Maybe they should have read this first.

All I’m saying.

I’ve put away a few of my own stories.
*Ahem*   quite a few.
I don’t consider my ‘drawer’ a never-never land of ‘lost things.’   
I am always growing and learning as a writer.    
The things that made me spend time with those stories are still there, but maybe I wasn’t the writer I needed to be to do it justice.  Right then.   Doesn’t mean I can’t get there.  Someday.   I’m working on it.

And if this is all getting you down — or making you think too much.

If you need encouragement — I mean, Really, are you a Real writer?   Then you need encouragement.
At least some time you are going to need it.
Join up with James River Writers.
We are great people.

And if you really want encouragement and an atmosphere of it, come the JRW Conference in October.
There’s still openings, and openings in some of the Terrific Workshops being offered the Friday before!!!!

We have Literary Agents coming.    So you don’t have to go safari game hunting.  They’ll be right there for you to talk to.   And if you move quick, even get one-on-one pitch time.

We make it easy.    Or easier.

Hey, I'm a writer, I take all the help I can get.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why We Should Support Our Independents

In Whatever form they take?
But Especially our Independent Bookstores.
Such as Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia.   They do shipping too!   Like they ship Art doodled, Signed Maggie Stiefvater Books!   Like Maggie’s new book in the Raven Boys series coming out Soon!!!
Just saying - the Maggie doodled, signed books are Pretty Nifty looking!!

In the current issue of Shelf Awareness, a great interview with Cynthia Voigt about writing this book.

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
by Cynthia Voigt , illust. by Iacopo Bruno

Which the Interview has some great insight -

Max's knowledge of theater overall and of Shakespeare in particular often leads to the solutions he seeks for the dilemmas he's hired to fix. As Max says, "You can't know a lot of plays well, some of them written by William Shakespeare, without getting a good understanding of how and why people do what they do." 

Sounds like a great book.

But also she has some Great information on how she wrote it, in which she has some great interesting tips on things that might help all writers with their writing.
Such as this:

The "Lost Things" apply to things large and small--Max's parents being the large thing--to something as small as the Baroness's spoon, and yet the spoon's significance is large. Did you have fun coming up with what would be lost and how Max would "find" it?
I went about it not directly, because, as I say, I'm not a good plotter. Originally, the first paragraph of the first chapter read, "When Max was 12, he lost his parents." Then I thought about, "What does it mean to be lost?" You lose your mind, you lose your way, your sense of direction, your watch; you lose track, you lose an idea. I thought about the kinds of things you can lose and the variety of ways in which you lose them. Things like the dog that wasn't lost but ran away.

Check out the great full interview here:

Sometimes you think you have the answers, but the answers change as you change.
You need to accept that, too, that the answers change as we go through life. There are so many things that any sentient adult wants to plant with kids, there's no room for them to think for themselves.

We also learn things about pirates.  Or being a pirate.   Or pirating… or, …..okay, your choice in how you write.  *Grin*

Thanks, Kelly, Fountain Bookstore!       @FountainBkstore