Ten Point Checklist for Conference Attendees

conference word cloudThis week I’ll be attending Write to Publish, the writer’s conference I’ve attended every June for over a decade. Today I’ve decided to post a conference checklist. Thought you’d find it helpful.

  • Business Cards

Take 50. You may not use them all but you won’t run out. Give them to the people you have appointments with and exchange them with those you network with at the conference.check list-tiny

 

  • One sheets (sell sheets) of the novels or books you are pitching. One sheet per book. You can also create a sell sheet of article ideas you have. Present these at your appointments with an editor.

 

  • Clips- photo copies of your published work. This gives editors a taste of your writing experience. Or have copies of your completed short stories, articles and devotionals to share during your appointment if requested. Samples of your best work can lead to a request for your stuff.

    clip and samples-2

    I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

 

 

  • Fresh notebook or laptop. Whether you prefer to take notes with pen and paper or on your PC be sure you have enough paper, extra pens and the power cord for your laptop. If you have a larger laptop like me, you might prefer to leave it at home or in your room. It gets heavy and cumbersome to tote. I can check emails etc. on my phone so I opt for pen and paper.

 

 

  • Pitch cheat sheet. I hate memorizing a pitch. I get frustrated and nervous. A cheat sheet helps me remember my pitch just before my appointment. I may not say it word for word but at least it’s fresh in my mind.

 

  • Pictures and names of agents, publishers and editors I want to meet. I may not get an appointment with them but mealtime is a great time to pitch your stuff. If I have a picture I might recognize them in the cafeteria or in the hall.

 

  • Proposals and manuscripts are optional. Most editors and agents want an email version. Having a copy or three is good if you plan on getting input from freelancers or participating in critique sessions. Have copies of the first chapter of your book. If an agent or editor marks it up or takes a copy, you have more clean copies.

 

  • Clothes for conference. Being sure you have all your outfits and all their components is important. I once forgot to change out of my sports bra. A pink sports bra under dress clothes was …I made an emergency run to a nearby Walmart to buy a new bra. Another year I bought a sweatshirt because the temp dropped. Be prepare for any contingency. Wear comfortable shoes if the conference you’re attending is on a large campus. Blisters and limping are just oh so fun when you’re trying to get all you can from a conference. Lots of people wear tennis shoes at these events. So, leave your classy uncomfortable footwear at home. If your conference has a formal dinner then pack dress shoes for that event only.

    black open toe

    Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home.

 

  • Double check your spending budget. There will be lots of books and CDs available for purchase. Decide what you absolutely must have. If it exceeds your budget copy down the title and purchases them later.

 

  • Be sure to have registration confirmation, hotel confirmation and if you’re flying tickets, boarding passes and proper ID.

 

  • Books for sale. This is my first year to bring my novel for the sales table. Only bring a reasonable amount. If you’re flying you’ll be limited unless you shipped them ahead. Even though the conference has hundreds of attendees they are not going to all buy your book. You will be in competition with lots of other authors along with myriads of craft books. Better to run out than haul boxes back home. Have lots of bookmarks or postcards available so interested readers can take them home and order your book later.secret-charades-front-cover

 

What items would you add to this list?

 

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Spine and Interior Design-oh Yes

 

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Check out the spines on my husband’s bookshelf   Photo by Charles Huff

 

Recently I shared two posts about cover design. Front cover and back cover. There are two other design features to consider. One is really obvious, and I’ve mentioned it before in a previous post. The other was new to me. Yet, I see it every time I open a book.

Spine

When searching for books at the library we read the spines. Unless additional funds have been paid for placement, most books are shelved spine out. Be sure the spine of your book is easy to read and pleasing to the eye. Colors should match the cover but not overwhelm the font color. Examine the books you have on hand and you will see clearly which ones follow that guideline. Publishers may or may not allow you to make decisions on the spine.  Enough said on this subject.

Interior Design

Here is something I hadn’t even realized was a choice before. Open a novel and look at the layout inside. The title page, copyright and licensing page, acknowledgments, table of content. All of this front matter is part of interior design. In addition, how each chapter and page is typeset is part of interior design. Publishers often have different layouts based on genre. Again look at those books you pulled out to check the spine. Examine the pages.

Another easy way to see various designs is on Amazon. Click on the book cover to look inside.  This is an option to read a portion of the book before you purchase it. For our purpose, it gives us a chance to examine the layout of the book.

The design may affect the readability of the story. Personally, I dislike reading chapters that begin with Large first letters—especially the ornate variety.

Medievle Alphabet

Sometimes I am unsure what the letter is and pause to figure it out. I’ve noticed the fancy fonts don’t seem to format well in e-books. At least that has been my experience.

Take some time to look at some of the interior designs—both paper and e-book versions—of your favorite authors. How does it affect your reading enjoyment?

It’s so nice to be included in these prepublication decisions.

I share this new choice with you so when your time comes to make these decisions, you’ll be more enlightened about what you feel looks best. Even if your publisher might not give you a choice, it’s a good thing to know. For the self-publishing author this decision is all on you.

 

Please share your insights with me on your pre-pub journey inquiring minds want to know. J

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Why So Many Rounds of Edits After the Contract?

Today and in other posts until my book is published in March 2017 I thought I’d share the many behind the scenes activities that take place after the contract is signed. This is not a time to set back and relax. Oh no. Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, there are many steps before you see your book on the shelf.

Rounds of edits

First, is edits. Even though my book was professionally edited before I submitted it, there are still things that need changing.

Pansy O'Hara Did you know that Margaret Mitchell called the heroine in Gone With The Wind, Pansy? The publishers didn’t like her name. So it was changed to Scarlett. And if you’ve read the book or seen the movie, she is Scarlett. The name Pansy doesn’t have the power and sensual premise.

 

For me, my first round of edits included rewriting a couple of scenes. I needed them to be from my main characters’ points of view not the minor characters. I actually found them more powerful after I was finished.

The first edit found typos and grammar errors that were missed  during my final rewrite. We found overused words and mannerisms. I liked Jake to run his fingers through his hair when he was frustrated, nervous or thinking. Well, needless to say it was a lot.

So, the editor’s job is to point those out so I can find new mannerisms. A repetitive mannerism can get on a reader’s nerves and pull them out of the story.

The second edit is to double-check what I fixed and find new stuff like character names interchanged. I recently read a book where the character’s name was Joel and his late brother was John. But in one scene the tagline John said was used. This was not a ghost story.  It should have been Joel. The editor may also question your research. And you may be asked to go back and fact check.

There are two more edits after that. Why so many? You don’t want a reader to review your typos on Amazon.

Beta Readers

Next, Beta Readers read through looking for typos and anything that might take the reader out of the story. I’ve had the pleasure of being a Beta Reader. You receive a PDF file of the book and open another document to record any boo boos you find. I understand you can have as many as 30 Beta Readers. This way, any blaring problems are fixed as well as the miniscule ones.

There will be one more round of Beta Readers. They might receive an Author review copy or an e-book version to read. In the new format other mistakes are found. The goal is a really clean copy. The reputation of the publisher is on the line along with yours.

Read it again

Here is the key for you as a writer. Every time you receive edits. Read. Read the sentence being edited. The paragraph. The page. The chapter. The whole novel. Read as much as you need to be sure the change flows. Read enough to ensure the edits have not changed the story.

You are the author and not every edit is the right choice. Please do accept typos, misplaced names. POV shifts, things like that. But there are other things you might say no to.  If someone felt a scene needed more sensory beats. The smell of the hot asphalt. The chirping of a robin. The snoring of the old man. You are the one who decides if that would add or distract from your story.

Author Review Copies

By the time you get to the second set of Beta Readers there’s very little to be pointed out. Possibly nothing at all. These readers are good candidates for pre-release book reviews.

Some publishers might not edit as thoroughly. They might only use one round of Beta Readers. I don’t know that there is a set formula. And if you self-publish you are going to have to find your own Beta Readers.These should be people who notice details and grammar errors.

Beware of editors who go through a minimal of steps. A wonderful story can be ruined by those little grammar, spelling and POV shift errors. I’ve seen them in printed copy of wonderful books. An e-book can be fixed. But a paper copy will hold on to those errors until a new print run. Not what you want at all.

In between receiving your edits to work on, you will be doing a lot of other things. Next post I’ll tell you what I learned about cover design.

What has been your editing experience?

 

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Interview with 2016 Editor’s Choice Award Winner: Jenna Fernandez

 

Jenna group photo

Here I am with Jenna Fernandez 2016 Editor’s Choice Award winner, Editor and presenter of the award, Rowena Kuo and past winner Author John Turney.

I’m welcoming Jenna Fernandez to my blog today. She is the 2016 winner of the Editor’s Choice Award. The award is for perseverance and potential. Rowena Kuo of Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing presents the award to unpublished authors who show these two character traits in pursuing publication.  The prize is an editor/mentor to help polish your manuscript. I won this award in 2014 and it changed my life. Now it’s going to do the same for Jenna. 

Congratulations my friend. Now that the dust has settled how are you feeling as an award winner?

Grateful. This award is both an honor and an opportunity. I see it as an open door to getting the help I need to become a better writer, and to get my manuscript to where it needs to be for publication.

Jenna, I know you almost didn’t attend Write to Publish. You considered quitting writing altogether. Why quit? And what changed your mind?

I’ve been writing for many years, yet see little fruit from my labors. Sometimes it’s hard to discern whether the lack of fruit means to continue persevering as a farmer, planting seeds until the time of harvest, or whether it means the season is just not right. While I know we often won’t see the impact of our words until the other side of heaven, I wondered if it was time to let go of writing and focus more intently on other things I’ve been called to.

The fact that I couldn’t stop writing assured me this IS what I’ve been called to do. Even if one person is touched by what I write, it’s worth it. I don’t write for the sake of results, but because I love writing, it’s a calling that won’t leave me, and there is at least one person out there who will benefit from what I have to say.

How do you juggle your writing with life?

I’ve learned that the best writing is life-inspired writing. There was a time when I thought that the life of a writer involved only sitting at a desk with an awe-inspiring view and typing away. Instead, the writer’s life involves a lot of living in between writing. Words that most connect with people are words that have been lived out first.

The more I let go of the notion that I’ll spend the bulk of my day writing, the more relevant my writing becomes. I’m able to write from experience, not just theory. As a result, much of my best writing comes after 9pm until well after midnight, when the kids are in bed, I’ve lived a full day, and I have focused time to weave life into words.

How do you feel about winning this award?

More than anything, I see the reality of the journey that lies ahead. I’ve worked hard until this point, and that won’t change. The difference now is I have an editor with an eye for excellence mentoring me along the way, helping me to hone my craft.

The key words related to this award are “perseverance and potential.” I didn’t come to the conference as a complete package—the editor’s dream. My writing is not perfect, but it has potential. My work is not finished, it’s only begun, and it will require much perseverance.

Many writers imagine they’ll hand their work to an editor to the tune of this reply, “This is exactly what I’m looking for! It’s what the world’s been waiting for—the epitome of perfection. I wouldn’t change a thing.” They think the writing life comes without labor. This award is more of a reality check, a humbling reminder that I haven’t arrived as an author. But God knows he’s called me, he’s the one who’s given me the potential, and because of this I’m willing to work hard to bring forth the best result.

What do you hope to gain from the mentoring and editing?

I’m looking forward to gleaning from the wisdom of someone who’s walked before me in this arena. We writers often like to work alone, but the best work requires humbly recognizing our need for help. It’s a relief to know there will be an expert set of eyes reviewing my manuscript, ensuring the story is at it’s best and the message speaks through the characters in an honest way. And I know I’ll apply what I learn from this experience to everything I write in the years to come.

Tell us about your manuscript, City of No Return?

City of No Return is a modern-day exodus story set against the backdrop of human trafficking. It tells the story of Tasha, a teenage girl on death row for a crime she can’t remember committing. Believing death is her only escape from slavery, Tasha is willing to face the punishment regardless of her uncertainty of guilt. But when memories from her past start to surface, she begins to wonder whether her life is worth fighting for.

What prompted you to write it?

I was involved in an inner city ministry for fourteen years, and we worked to help people find freedom from addiction, gang violence, prostitution, and other life-controlling habits by sharing the good news of forgiveness, healing, and redemption in Jesus Christ. Story is among the most powerful means of helping people to see themselves and their circumstances for what they are. City of No Return was originally a musical drama I wrote to communicate the easter story in the language of those we were working with. It’s a parable of our own bondage and the power of Christ to set us free.

My husband encouraged me to turn the script into a novel. I’ve been working on it since, hoping it can be a tool to raise awareness on the reality of modern slavery and speak hope to its victims.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other struggling writers?

Your most important words are those written for one. Don’t get caught up in the idea that fame equals success. You’re most successful when you’re obedient to God, writing the words he has you to write, even if that means only one person will benefit. The best words are those written in obscurity, drawn from the life you’ve lived, not from theory of what life would be if only you’d lived as much as you write. And don’t give up if you don’t see fruit right away. If you can’t stop writing, chances are you’re a writer, even if you don’t see the fruit until the other side of heaven.

AuthorPic

More about Jenna

When I was a kid I asked my dad to build me an airplane. Every day after I woke up fully anticipating my bright orange, red-striped 747 would be waiting for me in the small field outside our house. You can imagine my disappointment when my dad came home with an armload of boxes, certain he’d appease my childhood dreams with a cardboard, duct-taped jet.

My mom thought my imagination would be better suited for authorship than aviation. So I started writing stories, poems, songs, and inspirational articles, and I haven’t stopped since.

I’m older now and, I hope, wiser. Years of working in the inner-city tempered my imagination with a hefty dose of reality. Marriage, parenting, and teaching have given me an overflow of inspiration. And an endless stream of trials and disappointments have added fuel to my writing fire.

Above all, my greatest source of motivation comes from knowing God has given me life and breath, that he’s loved me and saved me for a purpose greater than my own.

Visit her blog at https://thislifeandbeyondblog.wordpress.com/ or friend her on Facebook.

 

Jenna,  I’ve enjoyed learning about your writing journey so far. I’m sure you’ve inspired my readers. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your story.

 

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Why Network?

networkng5

Networking with an editor and other writers over lunch.

Eva Marie Everson posted a video clip on Facebook. She’d ask James Watkins what was the one piece of advice he’d give authors. His answer. “Three words: network, network, network.”

As an author and editor he understands the value more than most.

We’d rather write

Writers are stereotyped as introverts and shy. Although I have never been accused of either, I understand how much alone time is required to create awesome words.  Writers prefer to spend their free hours writing and reading rather than anything else. But networking is too essential to be ignored.

An important key

Networking is a key to getting published. Really!  The more writers you get to know, editors you befriend and publishers you are acquainted with opens doors. At a conference you may find the perfect lead to a magazine or editor who is looking for the very thing you write. The book you pitched to Editor A wasn’t suited to his present needs. After a few conferences of maintaining dialogue with Editor A, he asks to see the manuscript you pitched a few years ago. Now his publisher is frantic for your theme.

people meeting around table

Critique groups are networking opportunity too.

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I keep in touch with Susan Baganz, Acquistion Editor for Prism Book Group on Facebook.

You’re struggling to improve your craft. Your rejection letter, all have a common theme—your writing’s not great. A writer friends hooks you up with a critique group. The group helps you see the weak spots and encourages your progress. You get the contract that’s evaded you for years.

Writer friends understand you and your goals. So build those relationships.

Editors are more likely to give your manuscript a second look if they are acquainted with you and see your persistence in developing into a better writer.

Network in your community

Networking isn’t restricted to the writing world. Historical writers might get involved with local historical societies. Any genre might find some buyers at local festivals. Visitors will discover you’re an author. They find it cool to know someone local writes “real” books.  Network with an organization that promotes the message you spent years putting on paper. If your story is about adoption or foster care, volunteer in organizations who banner your cause.

Networking helps create a fan base for book sales, future contracts, and speaking engagements.

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Rowena Kuo, Acquistion Editor of LPC and I developed a great friendship over the years that eventual lead to my current contract.

Works for me

My personal journey to publication was on the road of networking. The people in the literary world I have gotten to know and helped on their journey have made a difference. As I explained in a previous post, it took me ten years to get a book contract. I truly believe if I had not made an effort to network, I would still be on the outside looking in. I say a hearty amen to James Watkins statement. Network, network, network.

What are your thoughts on networking? What kind of success have you had with networking? Please leave a comment.

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Quiz, Quotes and Originality

Dove candy

I was eating Dove chocolates and trying to decide what to write for this week’s blog. As I unwrapped a few pieces, (I won’t say how many) the idea came to me. Each wrapper contains a quote. So here is my theme for today. Do you realize that all clichés started as original thoughts? I’ve created a list of quotes and I want you to guess the origins. Don’t peek at the answers until you’re done. Some of these are lines from movies, TV ads and books. This is a way to get you thinking about famous words and the point I will be making.

Can you guess the origin?

  1. What you see is what you get.
  2. .I’m Ok, You’re okay.
  3. Show me the money.
  4. Can you hear me know.
  5. Where’s the beef.
  6. You know what I’m sayin’.
  7.  Life is just a bowl of cherries.
  8. Life goes on.
  9. Love is never having to say you’re sorry.
  10. To be or not to be…
  11. Not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot.
  12. Not my circus, not my monkey.
  13. Come out smelling like a rose.
  14. A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
  15. The Force is with you.what You See -Dog

Answers:

  1. Comedian Flip Wilson as his character Geraldine
  2. Title of a self-help book by Thomas A. Harris
  3. Line from movie Jerry Maguire
  4. Verizon commercial
  5. Wendy’s commercial circa 1984
  6. Line from Trailer Park Boys, and We’re the Millers
  7. Popular song published in 1931
  8. Robert Frost (the original quote is much longer)
  9. Erich Segal novel Love Story
  10. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  11. Uncertain (my internet search turned up no origin)
  12. Polish expression
  13. Popular in 1968. Before that it was worded Coming up Roses
  14. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
  15. Star Wars

Disclaimer: Some may have originated even earlier but I didn’t spend a lot of time double checking my sources because the origin isn’t the point of this post.

Beware Greek Warning

There is a point to this.

When you hear them, no further explanation is necessary.  The inference is clear. So, how many did you know? How many have you used?

I want to know what images do they evoke in your mind.  For example: “What you see is what you get ” as a reference to people speaks of nothing hidden here. It can be paired with “Take it or leave it.” If your character said this, what image does it project? An honest person? A person who doesn’t care to change?

How about “Not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot.” How often have kids heard this one from their parents.  We understand this to mean when you’re the one suffering the hard trial your perspective changes.

Two of the above quiz quotes I hate, and I want to smack anyone who uses them. Can you guess which ones?

“Not my circus, not my monkey.”  Strong, obnoxious I-do-not-care attitude about someone else’s problem.

And the dumbest one of all that speaks of immaturity and the free love era. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”  Does it bug you like it does me?

Don’t get all emotional on me.

All these quotes evoke emotions and paint pictures. And it’s easy as a writer to grab a familiar one to say what you want to say. Consider this: we are writers—we write; we create new phrases. We would love to see our words become premiere quotes on the tongues of generations to come. We also don’t want editors to mark up our work with red because we rely on clichés.

When the temptation comes to throw in an overused line, consider repurposing it a bit first. Rather than the noise in the room sounding like a swarm of bees, why not like a Nascar race?

My favorite Dove wrapper quote was a fun repurposing of the familiar. “Walk to the beat of your own tuba.”  What do you see when you read those words? Can you envision an individual who is content to be different? Maybe a nerdy type or someone who took up the tuba challenge when no one else would.

Now it’s your turn

Look at the clichés from my little quiz above or find your favorite and repurpose it to create a new word picture. Or you least favorite. J Here’s mine. “Love is never having to be someone you’re not.”

 

Share your repurposed quote in the comments or an original one.

 

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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