Archive for January, 2012

Writing Conference Wrap

January 23, 2012

Heading to the 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference, I had lofty goals of posting my insights and observations from the show floor, but there was so much going on I didn’t get a chance. (Apologies).

But wow. What a great conference. One of my personal highlights was moderating a fiction panel with Benjamin LeRoy, Publisher of Tyrus Books, Millicent Bennett, Senior Editor at Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster; and novelist and writing coach Holly Payne. It was a great conversation that covered ways to go about submitting work to editors and how to create successful submissions, but soon evolved to general discussion about the importance of the craft of writing. It was so refreshing in the age of author platforms and social media to hear editors put the emphasis on good writing. Bottom line: marketing yourself is important, but make sure your writing is ready for that… be a good writer first, then look to become an author.

I spent the rest of the weekend meeting with authors and dipping in and out of some really great sessions including one by A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically. Jacobs gave some great advice in a talk titled “Writing About Yourself in the Digital Age,” and anyone interested in writing memoir or personal fiction could benefit from his ideas. Some of his words of advice:

  • People are inherently interesting, provide insightful details to turn them into characters
  • Be expansive… write about the world as you write about yourself
  • Know what details to emphasize and what to leave out to get to the real story

I also always enjoy listening to literary agent Donald Maass speak. Maass shared his views on trends in fiction and how the lines between literary fiction and genres are becoming blurred. Maass’s message is that the most successful writing will “marry great storytelling and beautiful writing.” Expect more from Maass about this in his forthcoming book with WD, Writing 21st Century Fiction.

I spent the rest of my time dipping in and out of some really great sessions and panels and meeting with authors that I’ve worked with. I was also excited to see some familiar faces and catch up with attendees who’ve come to past events, including folks who I’ve had one on one critique meetings with. The conference had a great atmosphere of support and understanding – afterall, we’re all hoping for the same thing: to get published and find success with our writing.

Conversations with writers

January 17, 2012

It’s a busy week for me. I’m getting ready to head to NY for the Writer’s Digest Conference. I’m excited to get the chance to talk with authors and other writers – it’s always nice to go to a writing conference and talk to others who are passionate about the craft. Talking with other writers is a great way to get inspired and get ideas (either for your next writing project or for advice for getting your foot in the door with an agent or editor).

In this same spirit of communication between writers I’m excited about a new e-book I edited that is now available for Kindle. It’s titled Straight Talk on Writing: 18 Conversations With Authors about the Craft. It features interviews with some really great writers including Orson Scott Card, George Singleton, Dinty W Moore, and others. Check it out if you get a chance and if you happen to be at the writer’s conference make sure to say hi (I’m moderating a fiction writing panel on Saturday morning).



January 10, 2012

I’ve been a bit busy and it’s taken me a little while to post my first post of the new year (which is a bit ironic since one of my relsolutions is to post more often).  But as writers I’m sure you all know how it is: numerous projects, being pulled in lots of directions, etc. It can be easy to get bogged down.

Which brings me to the theme of my post: Momentum. I’ve been thinking alot about this concept (which started because the theme of the year at the school where I study martial arts is “momentum” and I’ve found it applying to my writing life as well). Basically, the thought is this: once you get going things will come to you easier. It’s not a radical concept. Just a simple universal truth.

Often I find that when I’m working productively I’ll find new and better ways to finish a project, or I’ll find myself feeling creative and think of other good ideas. I meet deadlines sooner than expected and find myself with more spare time than I thought I had. On the flip side, when I get derailed on a project it is easy to slip into a rut and can be hard to crawl back out. I’m sure you’ve all experienced something similar.

That’s why so many people start the new year with resolutions. It’s a way to gain momentum and – to use a well worn cliche – “start off on the right foot.” My advice to writers is to look to your writing projects and goals for the year and develop a plan. Where you want to be within a month, 3 months, mid-year, and so forth. However you like to work, just make sure you are constantly moving forward.

My own goals involve a book project, blogging more often (as I mentioned), and learning as much as I can about e-book technology and new opportunities in the publishing industry.

I’m starting off this year at the Writer’s Digest Conference Jan 20-22 in NY. There are lots of great speakers, informative panels (I’m moderating a fiction panel there myself), and a pitch slam where you can meet with literary agents. I’m looking forward to the conference not just as an industry professional, but as a writer. I think a conference like this is a great way to dive into the writing year. Learn how to register for the conference here

Maybe I’ll see you there. No matter what your writing path, I wish you the best for the year and encourage you to get started now, gain momentum, and keep it up. Good luck.