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Posts Tagged ‘agents’

Writers who need writers are the luckiest people in the world, and I just spent three days with about six hundred writers, agents, publishers and editors. At the core they are all writers. I can’t tell you how many times we talked for ten or fifteen minutes before I discovered the writer was also one of the above. Each time I would think, but these are nice people, they actually want to find authors to represent or publish! Where are the ogres we are so afraid of? As a matter of fact, probably a third of those I talked with at the table or in the hall turned out to be there presenting, interviewing, and actively looking for talent. Someone remarked it was the only conference he had been to where presenters, exhibitors and member mingled. Come to think of it, that has been my experience, too.

I’m hesitant to single anyone out because there were too many contacts to mention all, but you know I will. One of the first I met was Lynn Price, Behler Publications, sitting next to me at lunch. She is an award-winning author as well. She would give the rousing closing keynote speech Sunday. More about Lynn later.

Saritza Hernandez was just another fascinating writer who turned out also to be an e-pub agent with L. Perkins Agency. She served on the experts panel discussion, which was worth the price of the conference.

While getting a breath of fresh air on the patio, someone spoke to me in a soft, lilting Southern voice. She asked the usual, “what genre do you write?”. I gave the elevator pitch I have been formulating, “Short stories, Southern literature mostly.”
She told me she writes Southern novels, and had a new release, “Momma’s Comfort Food.” It’s a novel, but peppered with food and recipes because readers want to know how to make the dishes that figure in the story. We talked about Southern food and the tendency of those not from the South to not realize this is how we REALLY talk, think, and turn a phrase. After that Rhett LeVane could not hide her excitement about a Southern novel (Catfish Alley) of a new author she recently reviewed for Southern Literary Review. Be still my heart! So after Googling Rhett, I must add several of her books to my Kindle library, as well as the new novelist she highly recommends.

Joan Levy and I have a habit of snagging solo conference attendees and bringing them to our table before they can think. After all, that’s how we met. One of the first was Cristina Kessler, writer of nine children’s books published by Penguin. She inserts various African and other languages into the stories so the children can learn a little of another language. Cristina and her husband lived in various African countries for twenty-eight years while with the Peace Corp and Care America. They live in the Virgin Islands now.

This is where publisher Lynn Price comes in. She was at our table again sitting next to Cristina. She has asked to see her new travel guide and a couple of other young adult books of hers which are now out of print. I’ve heard several stories of this nature that occurred at the conference. It doesn’t hurt that Cristina’s book won first place in RPLA for non-fiction travel.
At closing ceremony Cristina won free registration for next year’s conference in the drawing today. She was on the fence about next year, but not now. Is it luck or did she make her own luck. Maybe a little of each.
Linda terBurg, what a warm, interesting person. Linda is a marketing specialist I had the opportunity to sit by a couple of times. Her presentation was inspiring. If only I had something ready to market.

I know I am sprinkling in a mix of writers and professionals, but that was the nature of the conference. Kate LeSar is an instant friend type. She was published in the collections book and won an RPLA award. It was great to celebrate with her at our table. Kate has trained nonliterate midwives in Afghanistan, taught health care workers in Calcutta and run a nursing home for Armenians in Boston. We had a lot to talk about there.

I have to stop somewhere, so it will be here. At the awards banquet they called the name Helen Parramore for an RPLA award. I know her! Well, not really. I have yellowed copies of her “My Word” columns (longer letters to the editor) from years back, but we’ve never met. She’s a retired educator is all I know about her besides what she reveals in her op ed pieces. I’ve been her biggest unknown fan. Today I searched for backs of heads (which was the only view I got of her last night) and of course, checked name tags. I ran into a couple of people who know her. It was one of those “she was just here” things. Alas, we never connected. I think she will get the word though that she’s a rock star to me. If I remember right, she moved from the house with the purple door, but I hope her new home has one, too. It suits the Helen I know and don’t know.

Come to think of it, a purple door suits most writers I met the last few days. Until next year. . .

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Let’s put two myths to bed right off.

  • Writers are loners. Sure we work alone because writing is a one-person job unless you are part of a writing team for TV, but “loners” does not describe us. At the Florida Writers Association (www.floridawriters.net)annual conference in Lake Mary, Florida last weekend most attendees did indeed come alone it seemed, but there was a reason, if we can trust my limited “survey.” Those I spoke with did so for the same reason I did. Okay, we don’t have any friends, but besides that, the purpose was to meet as many other writers as possible in a short time. The best way to do that was not to pair up with someone you knew. And it worked. I met so many kindred souls my head is spinning. I’ll touch on a few in a minute.
  • Conference or banquet food is old TV dinners from the days of Sid Caesar and Howdy Doody, scraped from the tin trays and plopped before you, probably cold. You people have obviously never attended a conference at the Marriott in Lake Mary. I heard a perfect description of the creative breakfasts, lunches, breaks and dinners served us: “I feel like I’m on a cruise ship.” That sums it up. Of course, we will all need to work off the extra pounds as we do after a cruise, too. If you need further convincing, how about this? During the conference there was only one standing ovation—it was for the chef.

This was my first time attending a major conference, so I paid for one day (the second) in case it was not beneficial. I came back for the final day and wished I had attended the first, too. (Note to self for next year.)

The first workshop attended was for those farther along and ready to publish and promote, but things picked up when I heard young fantasy writer M.B. Weston, author of Elysian Chronicles . Her presentation on plot and structure was spirited and aimed right at my sore spot, conflict avoidance. She has a hard time doing bad things to her protagonist, too, but had tricks to help. Thank you. Thank you.

The first workshop after lunch was Crafting Commercial Memoir and presented by Brandi Bowles, an agent with Morhaim Literary Agency (www.morhaimliterary.com) whose job it is to buy memoirs. You can’t get advice more straight from the mouth than that. We left there seeing we had to target our audience and basically begin promotion of our book before we even write it. It’s a commercial world out there, kids. Techniques for stringing individual stories together with a narrative thread are the most challenging for me. Ms Bowles gave us several ways to accomplish that goal. Now the work begins.

After a hearty lunch, my next workshop was with Margie Lawson, psychologist, writer, international presenter (http://margielawson.com/, who spoke on Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I have no doubt everyone in that workshop will soon be pouring over every work they have written to measure effectiveness against Margie Lawson’s criteria.

In the final workshop Sunday, James O. Born, author of five police thrillers, the latest “Escape Clause” (http://jamesoborn.com/titled his workshop Realism & What Drives Readers Crazy. He also writes science fiction under the pseudonym James O’Neal. Born, a DEA agent in “real life,” pulled one weapon after another from his duffle bag and kept us laughing while learning. Think: Carrot Top’s trunk with lethal weapons. No one got handcuffed (luckily) because he forgot the keys, but he turned my weapon against me when I asked advice on the police style (Surefire) defensive flashlight I carry.

This post has gone on long enough. I’ll be back to introduce you to some of the amazing writers I met and the visual treat we all had from the party next door, an Indian engagement party.

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