Past Highlights

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The conference was a huge success. Friday started out with a bang with Read & Critique sessions, workshops and an agent panel with Rachelle  Gardner, Krisitn Nelson and Jessical Regel. They shared their insight as to what they are looking for and what is going on in publishing today...

 

agent_panel_200.jpgChuck Sambuchino, on his blog, shared what the agents had to say:

Gardner: In-your-face spiritualism doesn't have to be a part of Christian writing anymore. Today's Christian and inspirational books have subtle faith-based themes such as redemption and soul searching.  The stories are still "clean," though, as they lean away from profanity, detailed sex scenes, or gruesome horror stuff.

Regel: The "hook" is crucial for a YA book.  Echoing what Michelle Andelman said in March, Jessica confirmed that a book with decent writing (say a B-) can still get published if the hook is awesome enough.

Nelson: When trying to compose the pitch paragraph of a query letter, go to the bookstore beforehand and read the back paragraph on books in your genre.  That is essentially what you are aiming to write.

Regel: Bio credits can push you over the hump.  Let's say that your pitch is not good or bad but rather just OK.  What can push you over the hump and get an agent to request more writing?  Bio credits!  That is the advantage to starting small and getting short stories and magazine articles published.

Nelson: Don't call your novel Second Chances.  Everyone else has the same name.  In fact, Google your title to see what comes up.

Regel: She said she is actively looking for both narrative nonfiction and middle grade works.  However, concerning middle grade, she brought up some concerns about titles, as well.  Her advice is to avoid the standard "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" template for a title. For example, stay away from titles like "Timmy Tom and the Friendly Squirrel."

Gardner: Don't explain your whole story in a pitch.  Pique the agent's interest and et them request more.

Nelson:
She said she is actively looking for fiction that blends literary and commercial elements, such as The 13th Tale and Snow Falling on Cedars

 

 

 

Then it was time relax and socialize in the atrium before dinner. It was great to see all the networking and conversations going on during this time. It seemed everyone remembered that conferences are not only a time to learn more about the craft, but also a chance to connect with other writers, editors and agents.atrium_anne_marie_loren.jpg

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Before dinner I talked about the theme for the conference,"This is the year!" There was a star for each person that said, "This is the year I will.." and I asked everyone to write their goal for this year. People were writing things like, "this is the year I will publish my book," or this is the year I will get an agent."

 

 

chuck_s.jpgChuck Sambucino gave an inspiring keynote address after dinner entitled, "What Editors Want." Here are some of the key points of his speech:

Know your market
-do research on who you want to send your work to. Be familiar  with what they publish and their audience  
-find out who the editor is you need to send your work to and be sure to spell his/her name correctly
-your voice should show in your query

Follow up
-If you email a query, don't follow up immediatley with a phone call

-do follow up professionally 

Make an editor's job easier
-make sure your spelling and facts are correct
-follow their writers guidelines
-produce quality work
-turn assignments in on time with correct word count
-communicate problems or concerns if some come up

Working with an editor
-you should have a strong mix of passion and  professionalism   
-Change is inevitable
-learn to take constructive critism
-check your ego at the door
-maintain a good working relationship


The craft
-don't sit around waiting for a response to your query or     
proposal; start on your next project
-always try to better yourself;workshops, classes, conferences
-build your platform; website, blog, speaking
-make time for writing

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Saturday was filled with workshops, editor/agents pitch sessions and the Creative Cafe. The 2-hour Creative Café was a place for writers to meet and be creative. Think of it as a miniature version of the famous literary cafes of Paris in the 1920s but without the snotty waiters. There were café-themed activities, from coffee talks about writing-related topics to entertaining writing endeavors. The creations from the cafe can be found in the VIP Lounge.

 

 

 
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The conference wrapped up with a fabulous dessert and with an energetic speaker. Ava Diamond's closing keynote, entitled, "Is Your But Too Big," got everyone in the room inspired and motivated to not let anything (especially ourselves) get in the way of our writing dreams.

Thanks for making the 2008 Northern Colorado Writers Conference a great event!

Happy Writing!

~Kerrie