Monthly Archives: March 2012

ANWA Writers Conference Part Three

Are you ready for the final installment of my recap of the ANWA Writers Conference?  This three day conference needed a series of three blog posts too!

How I Learned to Love the Slush Pile by Lisa Mangum

  • Learn how the publishing business works

Five things you can’t control about the process

  1. Publishing is a business
  2. The number of manuscripts submitted in a given year
  3. The number of available slots a publisher has for new writers
  4. Other submissions similar to yours
  5. Editor’s mood

Things you can control

1. Do your homework

  • Are you in the right slush pile?
  • Who’s going to buy your book? (Find and know audience)
  • How’s your book different?  (Be clear)
  • What are people buying? (Fresh vs. overdone)
  • What’s your marketing plan? (Helps but not a deal breaker)
  • Have I let 5 honest people read my book? (Critique group)

2. Follow posted guidelines

  • Simple packaging with clear return address
  • Professional email

3. Write a killer cover letter (query)

  • Simple and short
  • Complete contact information, book summary, hook
  • Hero’s goals, obstacles, and consequence of failure

4. Showcase your talent

  • Show your dedication to your craft
  • Make your best the best it can be

5. Deal with rejection letter

  • If they didn’t want it, who else can I send it to?
  • If you get feedback, fix and resubmit
  • Continue to submit

The Critical Skill of Self Editing by Linda Mulleneaux

  • When it comes to dialog – less is more
  • Setting is not a travel log
  • Things that will get you reject – boring plot, poor characterization, bad voice and errors
  • Use the right word – swipe means slap not wipe
  • Beware of starting sentences with “ing” verbs

Social Media Marketing by Dave Eaton

  • Brand your name
  • Where is your audience?
  • Where does your competition reach your audience?
  • How big is your audience?

Reach Your Dream – It’s Closer than You Think by Lisa Mangum

Our closing keynote was very encouraging and motivational.

  • Make writing an everyday a priority

5 Steps to Success

  1. Buy the Lamborghini – follow the dream
  2. Dreams can change
  3. Inside of me there’s a story only I can tell
  4. Don’t hurry, don’t worry, don’t stop
  5. Your dream is closer than you think

This conference was so great; just reading my notes left me re-energized!  It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged, yet it is important to be true to your dream and keep working toward it.  I can’t wait to go to next year’s ANWA Conference!

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Lost German Slave Girl Book Club

Last week we discussed the Lost German Slave Girl by John Bailey for our book club. Slavery is one of those subjects that I shy away from – there are so many other happier topics! So I must admit, there are a lot of aspects of slavery I haven’t given much thought to, like who owns a slave woman’s baby. This book also discusses a lot of history of New Orleans.  Once again I found myself wondering how I did so well in school but know so little history?

The book is about a group of immigrants that are bamboozled out of their life savings; their only opportunity to get to America is to agree to become servants upon their arrival. Families were usually separated upon arrival. A member of the group stumbles upon a woman she knew from the voyage – only now she’s a slave.

Even though I was sad to read how inhumane people can be, I was intrigued by the history and human nature. The subject matter was sometimes hard to get through, but the biggest downfall for our little group is the writing style of the first nine chapters. The story gets lost in the history and law. The teenagers in the group couldn’t stick with it until the ‘good part’ started.

The adults all agreed about the beginning, but still enjoyed the book overall and walked away with greater knowledge.

We ended our evening on a sweet note with Andes Brownies!

What’s your book club reading now?

Link party: Tell Me Tuesday

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General Conference is Coming!

This weekend is one of my favorites!  I love our semi-annual General Conference.  It is our time to spiritually feast; OK, we do quite a bit of physical feasting too. We’ve planned our special conference breakfasts – Chocolate Muffins and Cinnamon Rolls (out of a can). One homemade breakfast and one easy breakfast, that sounds fair to me!

This year I’m going to have the kiddos help choose the topics for our Conference Activity. Then I’ll be sure to stock up on snacks for our special topics.

We talked about feasting upon the word in Sunday School yesterday. The comparison was made to a Thanksgivings feast and then to Conference. One thought that hit me was that by the end of Conference, I often on information overload – which is also a common part of a Thanksgiving feast.  I understand what the Savior means when he’s talking to the Nephites after His resurrection; they needed time to digest what he taught them.  I’m sure they knew He was right, but they didn’t want Him to go either. I’m sad at the end of Conference, but I’m glad to have time to digest what I learned and felt.

One goal I have is to read all the Conference talks from one Conference before the next arrives.  I just finished President Uchtdorf’s talk from the last Relief Society broadcast this morning.  It’s a great way to relive Conference in between Conferences!

The Redheaded Hostess shared some great Conference traditions, in case you are looking for some.  Please share what traditions you have to help your family focus on General Conference.

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ANWA Writers Conference Part Two

I’m still digesting all that I learned from the ANWA Writers Conference.  The conference was too big to fit in one or two days, and it was too big for one or two blog posts.  On to the second part of my recap!

Breathing Life into Historical Fiction by Joyce DiPastena

This was a great class because there was so much information and she had a couple of great exercises.  This is also my favorite genre.

Five categories to think about when writing history

  1. Who – name, occupation, social status, family status
  2. What – what did they eat, wear, do in their spare time
  3. When – what’s going on in the world of your character
  4. Where – country, town, buildings, surroundings
  5. How – how did they travel, light rooms
  • You’re not writing history, you’re writing characters in history
  • Don’t stop the action to explain the history
  • Write with all five senses

Non-Fiction is Fun! by Conrad Storad

My kids were excited I took Conrad’s class since he came to their school.  I could see why they enjoyed his visit so much, he has a lot of energy and makes learning fun – for elementary school kids and grown up writers alike.

  • We remember better with a story
  • Research is vital
  • Rewrite until it’s right.

Using Internal Thought to Create Characterization by Janette Rallison

  • Internal thought is a way of showing, not telling
  • Stay in only one person’s point of view in each scene
  • Internal thought defines character’s motivation

We did a few writing exercises using the following guidelines

  • List 1 character traits of main character
  • Show one of these character traits in a scene
  • Your main character plans on stealing something. Why would he feel justified – use internal thought

Q& A Panel by Jane Dystel, Lisa Mangum, Anita Mumm, Linda Mulleneaux, and Joshua J. Perkey

What genres are hot?  Romance, boy fiction, middle grade, young adult, contemporary LDS / historical fiction

What genres are saturated?  Vampire, paranormal, zombie

Important points to share during pitch?  Genre, word count, the story, characters, something unique, passion / enthusiasm, marketing plan – leave time for questions.

Marketing plan?  Social media presence, number of followers – don’t obsess, be willing to work on an online presence and book signings.

What is the main element that draws you in?  Voice, writing looks effortless, good story, few mistakes, correct genre for the publication or agency

How do you quiet inner criticism?  Ignore it, write through it, embrace it and write crap to delete tomorrow, have a cheer leader

Great Opening Lines: Grabbing the Reader’s Attention by Brent Whiting

  • Good writing is a product of good thinking
  • Lead sentence entices reader to read the second sentence.  It is ideally about 21 words.
  • Choo-choo train sentence structure – strong actor or strong action
  • Less adjectives and adverbs – avoid starting with “There is /are”
  • Use the five senses
  • Literature you memorize settles in your heart.

Your Grandpa Did What? Write a Family History that Reads like Fiction by Peggy Shumway

  • Use footnotes with sources
  • Leave some white space on the manuscript
  • Use pictures
  • Include humor
  • End with a punch
  • Expose skeletons in the closet carefully
  • Use five senses (This was mentioned in many classes)

Whew!  That is a lot of information.  I’ll give you another week to digest it before I post my final notes.

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