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Archive for the ‘Seminars’ Category

scaredy-catDuring the Cape Cod Writers Conference, I attended a class to learn about various Social Media as they relate to writers. One such outlet is an Author Page on Facebook.

Back home, I managed to register my author portrait and also a collage of the book cover from ‘The Uninvited Guest’ as the header image. But I need more content before I ask my regular FB ‘friends’ to like my new page.

The instructor emailed the link to my Amazon page, but I have yet to attempt the registration of the link.

All right, I admit it… I’m a Scaredy-Cat!

Fortunately, I discovered that the Ames Free Library in Easton, MA, offers one-on-one workshops with patrons who are seeking a comfort zone for FaceBook. I’ve signed up for a session next Thursday, and hope to come away with enough confidence to complete the set-up and release my Author Page to the world.

 

 

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Hollihock headerNext weekend, I’ll be attending the second annual Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford, MA. They are offering multitudes of classes, panels, and speakers throughout the 3-days.

This is a new conference as you can tell by the title. I found out about it this past spring at a Writers Retreat on Cape Cod. One of the other writers… Diana Grady from Buzzards Bay Writing Project… mentioned this conference because she thought I’d be interested. Diana will be leading one of the workshops.

Learning new tips and tricks about the process of creating fiction is not only a pleasure, but keeps my retired brain active and alert. There is always something to be gleaned from every class, every speaker, every panel participant.

If you live in southern New England, and haven’t yet signed up, the ‘REGISTER HERE’ button on their website still appears to be active, so what are you waiting for?

http://www.hollihock.org/

 

 

 

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hands on keyboardThis past weekend, I attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, this conference is always inspiring, but not without its disappointments to a budding author.

First, there was the ‘First Page Critique’ session after lunch on Saturday. When my first page was read, only one agent defended my efforts because she has seen my progress. But neither she nor the other four agents raised a hand to indicate they would read further.

Second, my pitch to an agent, hoping to hook her into asking for my first three chapters, fell on deaf ears. This could be my fault, because I decided to change my genre from mystery to romantic suspense after the pitch practice session on Friday night. I’m going back to mystery genre.

Third time was a charm! My manuscript evaluation was provided by Ray Daniel, a Boston author. He pointed out that although my writing is good, and my verbs are strong, I’m asking my reader to hang in with me for a third of the novel before we find out that there is a body. Over the months, I’ve changed my opening scene too many times to count, but Ray’s words made sense to me. I finally got it!

So I flew out of bed early on Sunday morning, rushed to my computer and opened a new file. I pulled Chapter 12 forward, did a bit of tweeking and printed off a new page one. When I arrived at the Dedham Hilton for the final day of the conference, I bumped into Ray within minutes and asked what he thought of the new first page. He gave it a thumbs up…yea!

My writing days will now include not only regular revision, but a re-sequencing of my chapters to move my suspects into the middle.

But, oh,  how exciting this is!

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imagesWell, today was the deadline to submit 15 pages for a manuscript evaluation at the upcoming Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

After several revisions, I managed to condense the first 13 pages of my story to end with Chapter 2 where the initial hook hopefully sinks in. The first page was a cover sheet, and the second a one-page synopsis. How difficult was that to write??? All the broad strokes on one page!

My submission will be assigned to an agent, an editor, or a published mystery writer for evaluation. I’ll find out who when I register on November 8.

The two of us will find a quiet corner in the Hilton Hotel and spend fifteen minutes together. She will tell me what she thinks of my story and my writing. It will be a nerve-wracking experience, but a necessary evil. After sending my story through two separate writing groups, eliminating my original opening chapters and many unnecessary scenes, plus rewriting the first page a gazillion times, I can only hope that my evaluator thinks my story is in pretty good shape.

During this conference, I will also pitch my book to the attending agents. Maybe I’ll finally get a bite!

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group discussion2This week heralded the 51st Anniversary of the Cape Cod Writers Center Conference. Previously hosted in the quaint village of Craigville, last year the conference organizers found it necessary to move to the larger and more attendee-friendly Resort and  Conference Center of Hyannis, Massachusetts. With the growing number of attendees, the need for additional parking and WiFi access became crucial.

The classes offered were top-notch, with instructors from around the country. One of my classes was titled, “Five Pillars of Promotion”, and detailed the actions necessary ahead of publication, along with a timeline to insure that a newly printed book is well received.

Another class was called, “Pitches, Queries, and Proposals”. This workshop was taught by a husband-wife team who entertained us with their friendly disagreements.

My third and final session was named, “Conference Idol”, and was perhaps the most valuable hour I spent this past week. Three agents sat at the front of the room. Each attendee submitted their first page, identified only by title and genre. As the page was read, each agent lifted her hand when she heard something that would cause her to stop reading. When two hands went up, the reader halted her recitation, and the agents explained why they would go no further if this story was submitted to them for consideration. Whether they were commenting on my first page or someone else’s, the insight garnered from the perspective of the agents was invaluable.

As a bonus, one of those agents offered to sit down with me and review my first page word by word. I readily accepted, and she suggested several improvements, among them moving a strong sentence halfway down the page to be the first sentence. What a difference that made! I must have rewritten that first page more than twenty… or more!…times, but I now think it’s finally beginning in the most provocative part of the story.

I’m looking forward to my next conference, held in November, called “CrimeBake’, sponsored by the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime. This conference is devoted to mysteries, and will no doubt be as equally valuable.

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During the past two weeks, I’ve been participating in an on-line course titled: “Revising Without Getting Sick of Your Manuscript” by Sylvie Kurtz.  The lessons were provided daily via both email and the Yahoo Group website. Each day brought a different aspect of writing fiction:

8-20 – 1.  Introduction

8-21 –  2.  General Outlook

8-22  – 3.  Plot and Structure

8-23 –  4.  Point of View

8-24  – 5.  Scenes

8-25 –  6.  Characters

8-27 –  7.  Dialogue

8-28 –  8.  Backstory

8-29 –  9.  Opening and Endings

8-30 – 10.  Voice, Style, and Details

8-31 – 11.  Conclusion

Sylvie is a fount of knowledge for each topic and provided examples to illustrate the point of each lesson. Her explanations and guidelines were easy to understand. But the best part of it all was her feedback! With her guidance, I now own a respectable pitch that I can send off to agents and publishers.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a course with Sylvie, I highly recommend that you do!

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This afternoon, I returned from an educational weekend session with three literary agents. This event was sponsored by the Cape Cod Writers Center, and held at the Colonial House Inn in historic Falmouth, Massachusetts. This old sea captain’s house is one of several that claim ghosts in residence, but none of them visited me during the night!

The three agents guided the fourteen attendees through informative hour-long talks scheduled between the one-on-one sessions with each author. Katherine Sands from NYC spoke about “How to Discourage an Agent Even if You’re a Brilliant Writer”. Paul Fedorko from NYC shared his thoughts about “Finding the Right Agent for You”. And last, but certainly not least, Ann Collette from Boston provided her insight into “The Do’s and Don’ts for Mystery/Thriller Writers”.

My personal one-on-one session was scheduled with Ann Collette on Saturday afternoon. I found Ann to be a delightful woman with a quick wit and a sharp eye for quality. She’d already reviewed and made notations on my first 10 pages. Her suggestions were pointed and constructive, given always with a kind manner and an encouraging smile. As I left our session, my head was bursting with her ideas to improve my storytelling skills and notch up my chances for publication down the road.

Later on Saturday afternoon, we all gathered together to hear Ann and Katherine discuss “Writing the Query Letter”, which was a real eye opener. Concentrate on the unique facets of your story… setting-protagonist-problem. Or as Katherine says, place-person-pivot. Your carefully chosen words need to jump off the page and grab the agent’s attention.The goal is to make the agent want to read more.

Sunday morning provided a three-hour Q&A session with Ann and Katherine, who fielded questions from the attendees. They also shared surprising agent stories as they related to clients found and lost, or passed and regretted. It was an enlightening discussion, and gave us all insights into the inner workings of the agent’s job.

I’m sure I can speak for all the attendees when I say the weekend was well worth the time and cost to attend.

And, so, here I sit at home computer. I’ve pulled up my manuscript and have begun the revision process. As I work, Ann’s thoughts make sense to me, and I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing any of the words that are being deleted. These revisions are only making my story better… whew!

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