Tag Archive | literary agents

A Writer’s Conference, Some New Ideas, and Several Awards

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the All Write Now Conference in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The conference was held at the University Center on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.  Perusing the schedule, I circled the workshops I wished to attend.

First hour, Brian Klems, Senior Online Editor from Writer’s Digest spoke on “25 Questions You Need Answered Before you Seek an Agent or Self-Publish a Book”.  His handout included information on the ‘how’s, whats, and where’s’ of resources on getting your book published and building social media platforms. Along the way, he gave personal examples of his road to publication, and humorous stories living with three daughters.

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Second hour, Robert Yehling presented a workshop on “Keys to Writing Conversational Dialogue: The Driving Force of Your Fiction and Nonfiction”.  His workshop explained how the right dialogue is so vital in writing, because the reader directly relates and ‘hears’ what humanize characters. He gave personal experiences of meeting autistic surfing great, Clay Marzo, which served as the anchor for Robert’s biography on Clay, Just Add Water.

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After lunch, literary agent at Speilburg Literary agency, Alice Speilburg, held a workshop on “Narrative Pull: How to Keep Agents and Editors Reading”.  Alice’s suggestions included starting with a gripping opening, follow with an inciting incident, rising action, tension, climax, falling action, and finally, resolution in your story. Other steps to ‘build a tight rope’ included placing your main character in an eye-opening situation, keep your character looking forward, among others.

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The last workshop of the day, Karen Sargent, debut author of “Waiting for Butterflies”, presented “Marketing Strategies: Extending Your Reach and Preparing for a Book Launch”. Karen went over topics such as Who’s Going to Buy Your Book, The Truth Is, Hanging out Online, Building Book Buzz, Social Media Graphics, Book Launch, and Resources. This lady has such a plethora of information, it made my head spin! Her suggestions and resources could keep you busy 24×7!

After taking a break to grab a cappuccino and tea with co-author and friend, Pat Wahler, (Midnight the One-Eyed Cat) at a local coffeehouse, we returned to attend the awards ceremony for the contest winners.

I walked away with four awards – First Place for Nonfiction, Honorable Memorable for Nonfiction, and Second and Third Place for Poetry.  I snagged the Grand Prize drawing (free registration next year), and the main door prize drawing (a $50 Southern Writers Business Ad), as well. I believe I wore a path in the carpet walking up to receive the awards, which proved a bit embarrassing.

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All in all, it was a great day, and rejuvenated my creative juices! Once home, I submitted a query to a publisher, and received a request for a full manuscript.

You never know what life has in store for you. Be ready for surprises!

Peace out and keep writing,

And check out my inspirational book of photography and poetry, Folly Beach Dances, which includes contributions from five-award winning Missouri women authors, including myself and husband.

xoxoxo

Sheree

 

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“A Sudden Light” Garth Stein STL booksigning, and some heart and soul

The same night my favorite fiction author and NYT bestseller, Garth Stein, was hosting a booksigning at the St. Louis County Library, I was one of 65 authors hosting a multi-author booksigning at a local library.

DSC_1014 Garth crop copyrCall it it a ‘gut feeling’, call it what you may, but I was been tugged in the direction of the Garth Stein event. My heart and soul wanted me there.

I told few friends about the Garth Stein event.

One such friend, Diana, met me at the library. Diana’s love of authors (in general) amazes me. It probably far surpasses mine, since I’m zoned in to certain genres. Not Diana. She’s like a cat, wide-eyed, adventurous and eager to learn about all. I’d thought she’d appreciate this booksigning.

As we settled into our seats with our new purchase, A Sudden Light, we anxiously awaited Garth’s arrival.  As I spun around, I eyed probably at least a 100 people or more.

DSC_1017 Garth smiling crop copyrAs Garth entered and took the microphone, the room became quiet.  As he spoke, I was captivated by his quick wit, and charming personality.

He mentioned how his first 2 books won awards.  In spite of the accolades, he didn’t sell many copies.  His next manuscript was told from the perspective of a dog (smarter than humans, of course) which was soon nixed by his literary agent.

Garth fired him over the phone.

By coincidence, Garth found another agent through an author friend at a networking event. This agent believed in Garth and loved the book’s concept. The Art of Racing in the Rain went on to sell more than 4 million copies, and stayed on the NYT bestsellers list for over 3 years. Garth took time to properly market the book, traveling and speaking about the book’s message and purpose.

In his new release, A Sudden Light, Garth promised this book to be even better than The Art of Racing in the Rain.

When the opportunity presented itself to ask questions of Garth, I jumped at the chance.

“Why did it take so long between books?”

DSC_1019 Garth crop copyrGarth explained that he tried to write the book where the protagonist flashes back to different time periods, and it just wasn’t working. His wife — his best editor and critic, suggested he write the book in chronological order.

Garth went on to pen more than 100,000 words, which took more than 2.5 years. Those years were spent in character development and history — basically the family tree of A Sudden Light.  After this undertaking was complete, then and only then, could he begin the actual story.

Wow. I was blown away. Now that’s an author that stands above the rest in my mind! Not worried about the almighty dollar, not worried about what others think. Just following his heart to know what he feels to be right. He’s also cofounder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit dedicated to getting books to those in need.

I supposed that’s why I enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s my favorite fiction read.

Garth said, “If just one person is touched by what he reads, then I’m happy and I’ve done a good job.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it!”

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After his talk, Garth autographed books, and exchanged words with his fans.

Diana and I headed to a local restaurant for dinner, and chatted about the fun evening. During dinner, I opened my copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain and turned to the page Garth signed.

I smiled as I read the words, “Sheree, somewhere the zebra is dancing.”

That he is, Garth, that he is….