Monday, May 3, 2010

Notes from speakers

Notes from agent panel
1. To find what agent deals with works most like yours go to Publisher’s Market Place web site, book store and look at acknowledgment pages.
2. Query both editors and agents and don’t forget to try the small houses.
Notes form Nancy Robinson Masters on writing about personal experiences
1. If you write when you are still “bleeding” you will allow emotion and fear (what will my momma think) to show through your work.
2. You will have too much of the basics
B= “what happened”
L= lots of it i.e. “I hate him…”
E= everybody isn’t going to care
E=except you
D=drama, too much of it
3. So allow yourself scab and come to terms with the scares before you write about an experience with the idea that you can help someone else get through it.
Notes from Christina Katz
1. Get known before the book deal. Writing is a craft, the cultivating of skills, determination.
2. Sell not only works but self.
3. Participate in continuing education
4. Self promotion: platform. You are 100% responsible for the outcome.
5. Put efforts in promoting to those that would want it.
Notes from Jane Friedman
1. Use Writers Digest .com She blogs on the industry at There Are No Rules (

2. Come up with your own “name”, one you can live with.
3. Use Google and get your own url. Plan to keep it at least 5 years.
4. Have a professional identity ex. “writer Momma”
5. Get a tagline ex. “if I can do it, you can do it” or “make the most of what you have to offer”
6. Have an email signature: Use the above 2 plus email and phone #
7. Have a short bio. Ex. “She escaped form the law but not to worry, she isn’t a fugitive, she’s a writer.”
8. Have a mission statement. Short and sweet. Ex. “Helping writers go from beginner to a book deal.”
9. Have a professional or near professional head shot made. Use it…face book etc.
10. Keep any testimonials in a file for easy access.
11. Build a website Word one idea per page a. bio b. your first book c. your second etc.
12. Create a buzz on the page but keep the best of what you have to offer off of the web…make them pay.
13. Check out other author’s web pages.
Notes from K D Wentworth
1. Listen to FRED (your inner self)
2. Be interested in everything. READ
3. Keep original copy
4. Keep word list for interesting titles
5. Just open dictionary and pick random words ex Stranger Station, Dream Snake
6. Words are not the story. You can use lots of words to tell the same story. Pick the best
7. Good book to have: Creating Short fiction-Damon Knight
8. Write 3 pages a day…next day you can keep or throw away.
9. Write what you love. Listen to your small voice.
10. Write down a question and try to write 20 answers “How will John get out of locked room. 1st will be obvious but then imagination will kick in.
11. Dwight Swain-Techniques of the Selling Writer.
12. Give yourself permission to write badly. Bad writing can be fixed but you can’t fix what you don’t write.
13. If you get stuck go do something repetitive and boring to let FED talk but keeps the “editor” busy. Editor is the side of your brain that wants to fix all the sentences, spelling etc.
14. Take advantages of moments of serendipity. Ex. Was going to title River King but box stopped the typing at River Kin and that gave direction to the whole story.
15. Give your character a lot of trouble
16. Protagonist: person having the most trouble with situation and had the most to lose.
17. Who wants something and why can he have it—main character.
18. Pick the right main character. If you pick the wrong main character they have nothing at stake and you have a hard time ending it.
19. Descriptors: self absorbed, cattiness, queen of hell
20. Have a notebook with 5 sections. A. characters B. Running plot summary C. made up words, places etc. D. FRED notes E. research
21. Characterization isn’t just a description—least important part. Get qualities like self-absorbed, hot tempered, thoughtful etc.
22. Estqablish age but NOT obvious. Too uch description becomes hurdles. Reader wnts own look. Get it in early. Mannerisms, attitudes, speech patterns but don’t repeat yourself a lot.
23. Good dialogue uses rythem, different ways to put words together.
24. Avoid kids as protagonist unless active. Avoid killing off unless really important.
25. Avoid unconscious gender bias (women talking and thinking like the author, a man. Run it by a person of opposite gender.
26. Avoid unsympathetic main character. The reader wants the main character to win.
27. You don’t want the reader or the EDITOR to think “I don’t care what happens to those people”
28. No bad person thinks they are bad
29. Make sure they have reasons for doing what they are doing
30. Do not have passive main character, done to not does it.
31. Who has the power? Who had freedom to act? Main character.
32. Know these about your character Ask yourself about main character. A. what does he most want B. What does he most fear. C. What does he most love D. What does he most hate? Ex. Most wanted to be human and most feared his alien body.
33. You can have up to 10perspectives but make sure your main character is in every other scene at the least.
34. 85,000 to 110,000 words, 250 per page. Format to that formula.
35. Example of making characters different: alien would never use contractions.
Notes from Esther Luttrell
1. If you write at the same time everyday you will train your subconscious to be ready to write.
2. Don’t feel bad when you hear of writers putting out 5-6 books at a time. They write a 50 page draft and give it to promising writers to flesh out and then he takes it back and finishes it.
3. Write ending 1st.
4. Cast characters as they are born—people you can see and hear in your head so your made up character doesn’t sound like you. Ex Oprah, Barbara Walters, John Wayne etc.
5. In names be careful of favorite sound. Ex mmmm Mike, Mark, Mona, from Montgomery, Maine. Too much!! Too similar. Readers get confused. Make them so different that there is no confusion.
6. Good characters are not totally good or bad.
7. People we love to hate had a motivation for what they did. Villain must be shown for what they are—multi-faceted or multi layered.
8. People lie all the time but often don’t think they are lying.
9. Conversation between two people in room don’t need conversation interrupted by “she yawned” “he scratched”
10. Let heart speak. Use lots of active verbs but not a lot of adverbs or adjectives.
Notes from Deborah LeBlanc
1. Must move a fast pace…Rev it up
2. Plot = ticking bomb ex. Speed. Not worried so much about specific character but about the fact that the bus is going to blow. Keep it ticking until it is ready to blow!
3. Character= make me care from VERY beginning
4. Don’t tell too much back story up front! Don’t explain how the watch is made before you tell the time.
5. 1st sentence must make one pay attention and read second. Ex. “Neither one of them Moved” “After soaking a towel with 3 gallons of gasoline he tossed the cigarette” “She walked around the house 3 days with a blood soaked shirt.”
6. Microwave society. Shorten chapters but leave them on cliff hangers! Gives more chapters and psychological feeling of getting more for money. Also gives reader feeling of shorter amount of time needed to invest but cliff hanger won’t let them put it down.
7. Cliff hanger doesn’t have to be huge until you get to climax. DO fill in blanks later.
8. Use shorter sentences, even fragments. Just like people speak.
9. Characters: Give enough info to get imagination going but not exact. Toothless=old, a tie dyed pixie with bangs=young girl,
10. Names: Spark interest or have meaning. Pork chop-“so ugly his mother tied a chop around neck so dog will play with him.”
11. Show, don’t describe: rolling and unrolling paper=nervous
12. Keep notebook of traits. They invest you in story until you get to end.
13. Use a little dialect but just a little and be consistent. Pick recognizable characteristics and just pick a small sample. Don’t confuse or slow down story trying to decipher words or meaning.
14. Rules: 1.Keep it real—how do people really talk. Ease drop in Dr. Office, post office when people are on cell phones etc. Keep notes. 2. Keep it tight—move fast. 3.Make it count—include only important facts. Don’t preach!
15. What is scary? The hidden, the potential for what is in the unknown. It is all in the anticipation!!
16. Make your readers experience your pivotal scenes!! Sights, smells, feelings, sounds and taste if applicable.

Notes from Terri Burns
Publishing is not a selection process. It is a survival process. 80% don’t make the cut. You are competing against only 20% if you make it that far.

1. Pick out a persona and figure out how to project yourself
2. How do I become EXCEPTIONAL? Must happen in 1st 10 pages.
3. If you have a place where the reader can go to bed then that is a dead space and needs to be fixed.
4. First write the book and edit it then DIRECT it. Make it unforgettable.
5. Agents and publishers want to know you have a strong platform. Start building a data base.
6. Sell sheet: Short author bio or credentials, short blurb, platform into
7. 1/3 to ½ page of credentials. Any experience. Ex published in statewide anthology. Any short work, articles etc.
8. Find comparables “I write for the same people that read this writer.
9. Everything can be single spaced except the writing sample.

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