Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tom Hanks's 'Full House' Poetry Slam


I needed something different to do than watch T.V. when I came home from work tonight, so I scoured the Internet for literary news. Tom Hanks came up. Surprisingly. He did a poetry slam on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'.


It brings me back to pizza Friday's and TGIF with my parents and little sister in the glorious 90's. I admit I cringe whenever I catch a clip of Full House, but I loved it at the time. Bless my parents for sitting through those episodes.

Tom's bit also reminded me a little of Mike Myer's in So I Married An Axe Murderer with his Woman poem. What a great movie!

The links are below. Enjoy!

Tom Hanks

Mike Myers

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Barbara Kingsolver Comforts My Soul

As a novice writer, I spend every moment buried in novels that evoke just about every emotion from me. My favorite novels, besides mysteries, are literary fiction by authors like Jhumpa Lahiri and Barbara Kingsolver, who sit at the top of my list of all-time favorites.

Whenever I read one of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels it always feels as though she’s speaking directly to me. It feels silly to say that I admire her characters and look to them for inspiration, but they’re the ones I connect to the most. Not real people. (Perhaps that’s why writing feels so natural to me.) I see bits of me mirrored in her characters Taylor (The Bean Trees) and Codi/Cosima (Animal Dreams). Their stories aren’t identical to mine. I just know exactly how it feels to run away in search of something, looking for a place to belong. Their dilemmas and life questions push away my loneliness and fill me with hope that if they could make it through tough times so can I.

Barbara also keeps me enthralled with her use of nature in her novels. It grounds the story and appeals to my love of the tangible world. When I’m reading, it feels like I’m drifting from my body into a like-minded character immersed in the world around them. I can picture the peacock’s blue and green shimmer in the shade of the orchards in Grace, Arizona and the bean trees growing despite the arid climate in Tucson, Arizona. I notice I stare out the window longer than usual when I’ve put the book down, taking in as much I can as if it all could disappear without notice.

This is why Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors. Her words, characters, and story stay with me long after I’ve finished reading. They never feel overdressed or forced. I love finding the moments that hit home hard and make me cry. Those moments release the anxiety and frustration, a catharsis. That’s why her novels are some of the few I’ve read over and over again.

Here’s a hard-hitting moment from Animal Dreams that inspired this post:   

I’d come on this trip knowing I still had to leave Loyd in June, that Grace wouldn’t keep me, but maybe I was just keeping to the road. I felt guilt slip out of me like a stone. “It’s a nice thought,” I told him. “I guess I’ll probably carry something away with me when I leave Grace.”

He looked at me carefully, started to speak, then stopped. And then did speak. “It’s one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else.”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oooh! I Lurve Excerpts!

The silliness is spilling out of me today. I've got my Dexter's Laboratory t-shirt on and exciting ideas for my WIP skipping around my mind making me caffeine-jittery to the point I'm knocking things over in my apartment. Granted, the inability to stand up on my two feet is nothing new, I can barely contain the the surge of passion. So, before I destroy everything I own, I thought I would sit down and share something I stumbled across on Tor.com (I'm a huge fan of the sci-fi website) and, then, get to writing.

Last week, I wrote about serialized fiction and whether it had a place in our literary world anymore on the Bucks County Writers' Group blog. Then, I came across the first few chapters of Catherynne M. Valente's middle grade novel The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. Tor.com serialized the first 5 chapters of the sequel to Valente's first Fairyland book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

What a great way to hook readers. Instead of making all the hard work Valente put into her novel FREE for a short time on Amazon, she made a 5-chapter excerpt  available to her audience in hopes of convincing them to purchase the novel. If a story has legs to stand on, it will capture its audience in the first few chapters. Now, I can't wait to hit the store to pick up Valente's two novels.

Her writing is rich and brings me back to a time when my sister and I would build forts out of my parents furniture by draping blankets over it to create tunnels and little secret rooms. The writing is elevated, giving the narrator an authority and making the story accessible to middle grade readers and enjoyable for adults.

Don't take my word for it. Read it yourself.

Serialized Fiction: A Thing of the Past? by Laura M. Campbell

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

International Book Week?

Do we really need an excuse to have fun with books? I think not. 

From what I understand, this unofficial game of International Book Week, possibly started on Google+, asks you to grab the closest book to you, open to page 52, and post the fifth sentence on the page. Do not include the title. 

"There's no harm in flirting."

Hint. It's one of these. 

Post your fifth sentence in the comments below! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winning FREE Books

Winning free books rocks my socks. I love it! My favorite part is walking into the vestibule I share with my downstairs neighbor to find a brown box with a mailing label addressed to me. I giggle. Then frantically futz with my keys to get two sets of doors open to get into my apartment, grab the scissors from the knife block, quickly cut open the box, and gently pull out my books. Butterflies fill my stomach with the weight of the book in my hands, the smell of the paper, the intricate world, fascinating characters, and thought-provoking story waiting to be discovered.

The whole point of becoming a writer for me was to pass on the wonderful experience of diving into a book and getting lost in the author's imagination and words. I want give readers a story they'll enjoy. I'm still in the crafting process. In the meantime, I have a few new additions to my library courtesy of mshatch over at mainewords. Thanks! I can't wait to start reading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thank You, Dreamworld: Subconscious Inspiration

I dreamt last night. And in this dream, I found myself in a leather jacket leading the investigation of a heinous murder case that took place in a high-rise apartment building. It was my first case as a detective and I had to prove myself.

In true Laura fashion, it took me 10 minutes to find a walkie-talkie that worked and I got stuck in the elevator trying to reach the 11th floor with no success. I woke up when I not only couldn't get to the 11th floor, but also couldn't get off the damn elevator.

Thoughts bounced around my head as I laid in bed...could I do this in real life? No. I'm the farthest thing from an authoriatrian. Then I thought how that might segue into my stories. I tend to gravitate towards writing stories with amateur sleuths, characters that aren't tethered to strict rules that police must obey. So, it might be time to push through the comfort zone and try giving one of the characters in my WIP a more authoritarian role to contrast the main character who tends to bend and slip under the rules in order to survive and find justice.

My dream also left me with a question...how do police, detectives, and private investigators find the bravery to face possible death or serious bodily injury? There's no doubt that a criminal facing prison or the death penalty would do anything to avoid their fate. So, what would motivate a person to go up against the criminal, to put their lives on the line, in the pursuit of justice?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

E.J. Wesley's Anticipated Book Cover Reveal

Drumroll please...

Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1 by E.J. Wesley Cover Reveal Party
Author E.J. Wesley is throwing a blog party to celebrate the release of his new book cover and wants you to join in the fun. Jump over to his blog to learn about how you can win some awesome prizes, including $50 toward a cover of your own and advance reader copies of Blood Fugue.

Cover work by Sketcher Girl, LLC - http://sketchergirlstudios.com/

What's the Story About? 

Some folks treated the past like an old friend. The memories warmed them with fondness for what was, and hope for what was to come. Not me. When I thought of long ago, my insides curdled, and I was left feeling sour and wasted.”

Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried. She wears loneliness like a comfy sweatshirt. By the age of twenty-one, she was the last living member of her immediate family. Or so she thought…

“We found my ‘grandfather’ sitting at his dining room table. An entire scorched pot of coffee dangled from his shaky hand. His skin was the ashen gray shade of thunderclouds, not the rich mocha from the photo I’d seen. There were dark blue circles under each swollen red eye. A halo of white hair skirted his bald head, a crown of tangles and mats. Corpses had more life in them.”

Suddenly, instead of burying her history with the dead, Jenny is forced to confront the past. Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, she must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it.

BLOOD FUGUE by E.J. Wesley, is the first of the MOONSONGS books, a series of paranormal-action novelettes. At fewer than 13k words, BLOOD FUGUE is the perfect snack for adventurous readers who aren’t afraid of stories with bite. Available wherever fine eBooks are sold September 2012. 

Join the Party!

The Open Vein, E.J.'s blog - http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/

E.J. Wesley on the Twitter - https://twitter.com/EJWesley

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Need a break from toiling away on your WIP?

I'm selfishly engrossed in a story about second chances I'm currently writing, and I'm loving every minute of it. So, today I want to leave you with something fun to do when you need a breather. Keep writing fellow scribers!  

First, determine your personality type (if you don't know already) by taking the FREE MBTI test here.

Then, find out what novel character you're most like by checking out Huffington Post's 16 Fiction Book Characters' Myers-Briggs Personality Types.

I'm an ENFJ. My fiction character match-up is Charles Damay from Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. 

Who did you match up with? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reaching the Summit: Tackling Writing Obstacles

Blue Ridge Mountains
One sure thing in this life, and this writing life, is you will face obstacles everyday. I'm about to reach the top of one mountain I've been climbing for two months. I'm at the point when muscles scream in pain and exhaustion slips into delirium, and it takes everything you have left to just lift your foot and take another step.

Tomorrow is my last day at one of my part-time jobs, which will end an almost two month stint of working 7 days a week. It didn't leave me much time to sit down in front of my computer and write. So, because I made the decision to commit to my writing, I pushed through and wrote when ever I could. Long hand became my method, instead of the white keys of my beloved purple laptop, and I pushed through to make some serious progress on a short story.

This challenge strengthened my resolve for the next challenge that lays ahead of me. It revealed, if I keep lifting my foot regardless of the pain, lack of sleep, and hopelessness, I can find the time to write, and that a little bit of writing everyday makes a big difference. The euphoria of accomplishment will make the walk down this mountain pleasurable. I'll have the time to restore my strength, so I can welcome the next obstacle.

FREE Books and Swag! That's right. FREE. BOOKS. AND. SWAG. I know, crazy town. But it's the truth. Find out more over at Bucks County Writers Group.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Childhood Monsters, Book Cover Reveal, and Book Giveaway!

I know. There's a lot going on today. Life is easier when the posts write themselves.

So, there's lots of promotional fun going on with E.J. Wesley, Christine Rains, and the Bucks County Writers Group, and I'm super excited to share it all with you.

First, E.J. Wesley over at The Open Vein is gearing up for his book cover real at the end of August and needs some writerly help getting the word out. Stop on over and sign up to help a fellow writer share the product of determination and hard work!

Call To Arms

Secondly, Christine Rains' paranormal romance novella, FEARLESS, released yesterday and she's holding a kick-ass blogfest. All you have to do is pull your childhood monster(s) out of the dark recesses of your mind and write about them on your blog. 

What Was Your Childhood Monster Blogfest

Here goes...

My childhood monster didn't take on a corporeal form like the satiny clown in Robbie's bedroom in Poltergeist or a hunched over sinewy creature with long boney fingers and glowing yellow cat eyes lurking underneath my bed. I never knew what it looked like, the it that caused me to leap onto the mattress from three feet away to avoid walking directly next to the bed with my ankles exposed where the bed skirt stopped or hiding my head under the covers with my eyes shut tight to ensure that what ever might be floating outside my second-story window couldn't see the color of my eyes. If it could see the color of my eyes, it could get me. It took the psychological route in order to strike fear in my child mind. I never knew what it was or where it hid. I could feel its presence, but it was clever and stayed just beyond my vision waiting to grab me and drag me into eternal darkness. I would stay awake for hours praying that it would find some other child to prey on.

That same it still haunts the dark spaces and unexplained noises in my apartment, but instead of pulling my comforter over my head, I search it out and try to find a logical explanation. I'm brave now. But those days when it would release the fear, letting it coarse through my body, making me act a fool and squeal in hopes of scaring it away are quite fresh in my memory. My heart beats just a bit faster remembering.

Lastly, I want to let everyone know that Bucks County Writers' Group will be posting book reviews this month of August and we're planning a book and swag giveaway to build readership for our blog. Stay tuned for guidelines and prizes! You won't be disappointed. 

Bucks County Writers' Group

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

YA Fest!

YA Fest at the Easton Area Public Library in Pennsylvania kicks off on Saturday, August 4th. I'm super excited for more than one reason. First, I have the ENTIRE day off from work. Woohoo! Second, I get to take a mini road trip with my writing buddy, Alex. Road trips always promise laughter, good music, and unforgettable memories. Top that off with two crazy writers, and I'm bound to love every minute. Third, I get to immerse myself in a free writing event and meet new writer friends.

Hanging with like-minded folk helps the creative juju start moving, especially when you need a kick in the pants to get the words on the page. I also enjoy surrounding myself with other writers because it makes conversation a bit easier, especially when you don't have to pick and choose what you say for fear that a non-writer won't have a clue what you're talking about or share your insane passion for the written word and story telling. 

So, for the rest of week when I'm not working on my critique group submission, I'll be putting together some conversation topics that will hopefully elicit some great dialogue. I would love to hear what topics you enjoyed at writerly get-togethers, if for nothing but to make myself sound cooler. 

What have you brought to the discussion during writing festivals, conferences, gatherings, etc? 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Snippets from HoME: Trapped

Happy Wednesday! We're half way closer to Friday. I'm a week and half closer to YA Fest in Easton! And I'm putting the finishing touches on a Readers Write piece (Trying Too Hard) for The Sun magazine due at the end of the month.

At this point, I haven't mastered the art of balancing two jobs with writing, but I'm getting closer. So, today I want to leave you with Snippets from HoME titled "Trapped". I've been gathering observations and clips of conversations that stuck with me that I've tinkered with, and I am now sharing with you. Enjoy!


Bumping against the window, the fly takes one more look at the world in hopes of escape before it’s crushed under the force of yesterday’s news.  

What's on your busy schedule this week?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Avoidance: What Should You Be Doing?

It's 12 o'clock on a Thursday. The end of the week is almost here. I'm exhausted. All I want to do is crawl up on my couch and watch movies while the sun hides behind grey clouds blanketing the world with a moroseness, but I can't. I signed up for a writing contest with my first submission due on Saturday. I've been brainstorming all week, but have yet to get all those great ideas on paper in the form of a story. I work tonight. A double shift tomorrow. All day Saturday. There's not much time left. 

Top it all off with craptastic Internet service courtesy of Comcast. Which is why I'm taking advantage of FREE WI-FI at the B&N with its rich people watching environment and swaying to Fiona Apple. The cafe is comfortably filled with people. How desperate I am to take a peek inside their heads to see what's really going while they munch on their "create your own combos", letting the caffeine course through their veins. What are they avoiding? 

Sid, the Schindler Elevator Corporation employee, tears through gossips magazines while he sucks his frappuccino through the Starbucks' signature green straw next to me. A reprieve from the warm, moist air outside. What is he avoiding? 

In front of me, two teenagers are missing in action while their bottles of Deer Park water keeps their box of Essential SAT Vocabulary company on their table. Where would they rather be? 

A striking caramel colored man with thick, dark eyebrows sits diagonally from me flipping through Mojo magazine with his hand resting on his forehead as if he's shielding his eyes from the sun, but he's inside. What is he really avoiding?

Out of the corner of my eye a wrinkled and grey bearded man walks into the cafe unsure of where to sit. He buys a cup of soup and settles down at a small table with two inches of space from the neighboring table. The soft lighting on the ceiling shines off his balding head. He looks around. A business man sits down in the neighboring table with a tablet in hand. The old man leans in and starts talking. What is he avoiding?

So, as you read through blog posts today, tell me, what are you avoiding?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Decent Exposure

This week's post is coming to you a few days late. Two weeks ago I didn't have a job. Today, I have two jobs. Unfortunately my blog got pushed to the side while I got life straightened out. So, without further ado...

It's one thing to place yourself in front of the computer and commit your thoughts and words on your blog. It's a whole other story in terms of getting your post in the hands of readers. This past year I spent time with Pennwriters, Inc. marketing their online courses, writing SEO-friendly website copy for Yellowbook, and marketing my personal blog and my writers' group blog (check us out). 

I've found many different social media programs and outlets that helped reached a large group of people. I use the following:

  • Ping-In
  • Pingomatic
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Writer'sCoffeehouseOnline Yahoo! Group
  • Reading and commenting on other blogs
Now, the readership for my personal blog is over 100, but my writers' blog needs more exposure. And both blogs could benefit from increased daily traffic. I would love to hear what techniques you employ and what programs you utilize to gain exposure for your blog and increase readership and traffic. 

How do you get your blog posts in the hands of more readers? 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group: Finding Inspiration

Some days a nice walk just isn't enough for me to work out my current WIP's plot problems or figure out where my characters need to go next or what to add to give the story more depth. On those days (which happens to be most days) I look to other writers. 

Whether it's The Sun magazine, a novel, or a comic book, I find reading someone else's words and studying their craft inspires me to write. I keep a little note pad near me to take notes or copy snippets so I won't forget. 

We should learn from one another, especially those of us who've reached the publication level. These authors found what works and I plan to get me a relatively cheap, but valuable education.

Recently, my boyfriend asked me to read one of his Batman comics. This way he can share what he likes to read with me, and gives us something to discuss when we've run out of things to talk about. Batman: Court of Owls has been an exciting read and it has really helped my writing .

I enjoy writing detective stories, mystery, and the macabre. This story arc not only packs it all in six issues, but it excites your visual senses with fantastic artwork. 

A quote from one of the characters really put the craft of mystery and detective stories into perspective for me:

"My point is, sometimes we become so concerned with little dangers that we don't see the big one, right beneath our feet." ~Lincoln Marsh

Misdirection. An important writing tool to keep readers engaged and provide suspense and  depth to a story. It's reassuring to know I don't have to go far to find help to defeat my writing challenges. 

Share an inspirational read or a snippet you've come across lately that has helped you and your writing. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Cares About An Oxford Comma?


Alias: Series Comma. 

I didn't care for the longest time. I'm sure it was during some class in college when I found out I didn't have to use this extra comma. And because the Grammar Police highly suggested its use, I threw it out of my writing tool box. Just to give a big F U to the establishment. 

That was until the establishment hired me to write website copy for small businesses. Then, as per the house style, I was expected to include this uptight comma. It took a while for me to get used to including it in my copy, but after writing 3-4 websites a day, 5-days-a-week, it became second nature.

Now, I find myself using it in my own writing without even thinking. The rebellious spark within me still glows hot, but is it really such a big deal? It's interesting to see what happens when you make a habit of something. After doing it every day, it becomes second nature. There are plenty of other writing rules out there I can snub my nose at, so I concede victory to the stodgy grammarians.   

The Oxford Comma: Yay or Nay?

In the meantime, enjoy Vampire Weekend's aptly titled song "Who Gives a Fuck About An Oxford Comma?" and break some rules! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2012 Writers' Conference @ Hunter College

On June 9th, I traveled NJ Transit and the NYC Metro to reach Hunter College on 68th and Lexington for the Writers’ Conference 2012. Sponsored by The Writing Center at Continuing Education at Hunter College, the brochure laid out a variety of writing-related panels to choose from and promised a chance to hear famous authors like Harlan Coben and Mary Higgins Clark speak about writing and the publishing business. It didn’t disappoint.

This conference ended up more of an informational smorgasbord than networking event for me. Granted, just attending the conference gave me the foot in the door I needed if I submit to the specific magazines or literary agents that attended.

The suspense panel was my favorite. The friendship between the authors on the panel made it very entertaining. Plus, the information was coming from successful writers that demonstrated what a good story, craft, and perseverance could achieve.

Below I’ve put together highlights, interesting snippets, and valuable information I scribbled in my notebook during the panels I attended. I hope you find it helpful!  

Editor’s Panel:
Ed Brown (publisher, Laptop Magazine)
Tyler Cabot (senior editor, Esquire Magazine)
Allen Houston (executive editor, Manhattan Media)
Beena Kamlani (senior editor, Penguin Group USA)
Yona McDonough (fiction editor, Lilith Magazine)
Marianne Rohrlich (former columnist, The New York Times)

First and foremost, editing makes publishing. Be sure to submit writing completely FREE of grammatical and punctuation errors.

An editor is your ally. When starting out, try to meet or call the editor on the phone. Most often you’ll communicate via email.

Pitching ideas…
-                    Present an ordinary subject with a unique approach. Be clear, simple, and focused. Demonstrate how your idea or article differs from what’s already published. Insert your personality. Don’t be afraid to be clever.
-                    Email Subject Line: “Story Idea:…”
-                    The first idea might not spark interest. So, show up (in person, on the phone, or through email) with multiple ideas.
-                    Peruse the bylines and table of contents of a publication to determine if there is room for new comers.
-                    Be sure to read many back issues to ensure your article or idea will fit the publication.
-                    Increase your chances of acceptance by pitching to a specific location within the publication that your article or pitch would fit.
-                    Limbo Time: wait a couple weeks before following up. BUT always follow up. You never know if it was lost in the shuffle.

Suspense Panel:

Andrew Gross (author, Eyes Wide Open and 15 Seconds)
Lee Child (author, Worth Dying For and Killing Floor)
Steve Berry (author, The Columbus Affair and The Jefferson Key)
Joseph Finder (author, Buried Secrets and Vanished)
Harlan Coben (author, Stay Close and Tell No One)

Joseph Finder: "Publishing is ALWAYS in crisis."

Ask the right question to achieve compelling writing. Drive your audience to read the next page:
Not: How do you bake a cake?
But: How do you make your family hungry?
It’s not just about the story, but how will you get someone to read. Entice them. Coax them. Put them into a situation where they need to continue reading to get the answers.

Suspenseful writing: Present a question and don’t answer it till the end of the story. Each time you answer a question you should present another question to keep the reader turning pages.

It can take up to 10 years to find your place.
-                    Lee Child’s 12th novel was his first U.S. #1
-                    Harlan Coben grossed $20,000 on his first 6 books.

Me and Harlan

Harlan Coben:
-                    “If what you write is good enough, you’ll be ok.”
-                    “Write. Send it out. Then, start writing your second one because your first one is probably not as good as you think it is.”  

Chasing the market is flawed. The minute you finish your novel that is trying to catch the trend bandwagon, that trend is outdated.

Andrew Gross on working with James Patterson (paraphrased): The novels are Patterson’s idea. They won’t see the light of day without his creativity and ideas. The work proportion is irrelevant.

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series has been adapted for a movie with the same name. Tom Cruise will play Reacher. Child spoke about the decision to cast Cruise as Jack Reacher. Although he doesn’t embody Reacher’s height and size, Cruise can play the part of Jack Reacher. His acting ability makes him the best candidate to portray Reacher’s intellect and quiet introspection, to “portray what’s in his head on screen.”

Lunch with Keynote Speaker:
Mary Higgins Clark
Carol Higgins Clark

One word: Hilarious! Mary Higgins Clark had me giggling the entire time. She’s getting older and struggling to move well on her own. Someone helped her get on the little stage. When she reached her chair safely, she turned around and spoke to the crowd, “And to think I used to be a pole dancer.”

Mary’s full of life, laughter, and incredible insight. The stories she shared with us will keep my networking/cocktail party conversation bag filled.

Mary uses three sentence beginners to create her stories:
-                    Suppose…
-                    What if…
-                    Why?

Mary whispers two words to herself when she faces writer’s block: Royalty Checks

What’s the difference between what Mary writes and what her daughter Carol writes? Mary goes for the jugular. Carol goes for the funny bone.

You can’t use more than 1 line of music without paying for the rights. Carol was fined $10,000 for that mistake.

Offer to pay research experts.

Character Names:
-                    Mary uses charity dinner lists to create character names.
-                    Just be careful. Carol liked the name Blaze Darling. When she Googled it, it turned out to be the name of the hottest porn couple.

The editor at the publishing house needs to like the manuscript more than the literary agent.

Small Press Panel:
Gloria Mindock (editor and publisher, Cervana Barva Press)
Mark Pawlak (poet, Jefferson’s New Image Salon)
Susan Tepper (author, From The Umberplazen and What May Have Been)
Terry Richard Bazes (author, Lizard World)

If the Big 6 Publishers don’t want your book, it’s not a comment on your writing, rather a comment about whether it is sellable, a commercial success.

Small publishers interest is QUALITY.

You don’t need a literary agent to work with a small publisher.

If a small press publishes your book, you need to hire a publicist.

Vanity Press-asks an author to use their money to publish book.

Small Press Locator:
-                    NewPages
-                    Poets & Writers 
-                    Consortium 
-                    Publishers West 
-                    Small Press Distribution 
-                    Publisher’s Weekly  
-                    Duotrope 
-                    Council of Small Presses and Literary Magazines 

Livingston Press-Affiliated with the University of West Alabama 
-                    Joe Taylor
o   Separately or combined (off-beat, Southern)

Literary Agent Panel:
Katherine Sands (literary agent, Sarah Jane Freyman Literary Agency
Adam Chromy (founder, Artists and Artisans, Inc.)
Ellen Geiger (vice president and senior agent, Frances Goldin Literary Agency
Helen Zimmermann (founder, Helen Zimmerman Agency)

Query Letter-woo and win literary agent
-                    Know agent's name
-                    Know guidelines
-                    Research agents to find the right one, or at least one that represents the genre you write in.
-                    Lead with your strengths (endorsements, publishing credits, etc.) The publishing credits you have, the better the chance of snagging an agent. 
-                    NO cute. NO blue swirly font.
-                    Avoid starting out with word count
-                    Why you? Why now?
-                    Novel synopsis: setting, hero, and dilemma.
-                    Multiple/simultaneous submissions is understood.
-                    Have at least 10 people read query letter before sending to agents.
-                    Average response time: 2-3 weeks (will be on agent’s guidelines)
-                    Send out 10-15 to test the water. If you don’t hear any feedback, change the letter.

Slush Pile-blind queries
Solicitation-agent seeks author out

Zimmermann discussed the new publishing model emerging in the business: Push author and book to big publishing agencies. No success? Agency publishes book.

Choosing between agents: Who is offering the BEST strategies to sell your book?
-                    Get a written agreement

Then                                     Now
Books and Readers—Content and Consumers

Katherine Sands: “Happy Hookers-hook an agent quickly in the first few sentences.”

“An unhappy childhood is a writer’s paycheck.”

Adam Chromy: “A novel presents a message (value), then, takes it away, and, finally, brings it back in the end.”

What writing conferences, seminars, or workshops have you attended so far this year? 
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