Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘south carolina writer’s workshop’

TO DO A LONG STORY JUSTICE

When I was seven, thirteen years ago, my second grade class created Studentreasures manuscripts. Studentreasures is a print-on-demand publisher that publishes the books of elementary school students, often, from my understanding, for no charge. As I completed mine, my teacher recognized what would later be identified as a prodigious level of ability in my writing, and simply told my mom to be sure to invite her to my first book signing. When my mom told me, it finally clicked in my brain that the names on book covers are actual people, that actual people could create something so magically transportive. I wanted to harness that power.

When I was eight, my published book came back and I was inspired to set the goal of getting published “the big way” while I was still a kid – that is, before my twentieth birthday.

When I was nine I began having dreams that were too perfectly unforgettable to leave behind without plotting the missing pieces.

When I was ten I was published in the Southern Sampler for the first time.

When I was eleven my novel began to take shape.

When I was twelve I tested my story by roping all of my friends into it.

When I was thirteen I perfected the plot of an eight-book series.

When I was fourteen I began writing a satisfactory first draft.

When I was fifteen I finished and began editing. I was scammed into submitting to a publisher through a personal connection full of bad advice. Applying to the SC Governor’s School for the Arts motivated me to read enough latin american magical realism and canon works to discover the true nature and powers of description – a journey I look back on as nothing less than a renaissance. My book began to connect me to people, including a great aunt and uncle whom I’d had little connection with in the past. When they discovered my novel they took it upon themselves to mentor me through my efforts.

At sixteen I had saved up enough money to attend the Southeastern Writers Conference, where I found guidance from the poet laureate of my state and author Emily Sue Harvey, and I left with the SWA Juvenile Writing Award and the M. L. Brown Award for YA lit.

At seventeen I attended the South Carolina Writers Workshop for the first time, where I met the literary agent who had represented my favorite childhood authors, including Jean Craighead George and Gail Carson Levine. She remembered me a year later when I queried her. My efforts in the publishing industry embellished my college applications and earned me a scholarship to the University of South Carolina. I worked on a magazine internship and received multiple awards for my poetry.

At eighteen I had crafted a query letter that earned me serious consideration and critiques from some of the best literary agencies in the field, including Andrea Brown, Fineprint Lit, Curtis Brown, and Literary Foundry + Media.

At nineteen I rewrote my manuscript for the fifth time at the request of one of these agents. I was enlisted to help draft adventures for the upcoming Boy Scouts of America emblems Plug & Axel. I earned a critique that has sold in auctions for over two thousand dollars.

In my journeys I have met C. E. Murphy, Nicholas Sparks, Steve Berry, Patricia Smith, Marjory Wentworth, Michael Connelly, and countless other authors of less renown who should be far more renown than they presently are.

I have no accomplishment that can possibly yardstick the hours, the sacrifices, the hope, and the passion that have gone into half a dozen rewrites and hundreds of revisions. But I have gained more respect for myself and shown the world more of my soul than I ever could have done had I taken another path.

I take vicious pride in knowing I did everything I could do.

On my twentieth birthday, the top of my Mount Everest was sliced off before I could reach it. It broke my heart.

And I know that the opus speaks for the life, not the life for the opus – no one will want to read this story to so little gratification. It’s the door that gets farther away the faster you sprint toward it, it’s the video game you lose on the last level. Except a little less hopeless.

What now? Well… that’s top secret writer information. 🙂

A few notes about Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary

I just wanted to say she seems like a nice lady. The open-minded sort. She was another one who made the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop worthwhile for me last year, suggesting I email her at the very last moment of the conference, shortly after the last class. I had asked a question during a panel about young writers and whether my age was something appropriate to mention in a query. She said yes – It’s a marketing point and a strength.

Dream Diary:  I dreamed about getting to see my long-distance boyfriend!

Word Count:  Still around 20,000.

JENNIFER JACKSON AT DONALD MAAS LITERARY AGENCY

I apologize for the never-ending two-day absence. My 9 cousins have been eating me alive.

Today I wanted to talk about an experience I had at the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop way back in October. This workshop is ENORMOUS–surprising for the petulant li’l palmetto state, no?

One of the ten agents in residence was Jennifer Jackson of Donal Maas Literary Agency, a lady I refer to as the Chuck Norris of the industry. She has over 40 clients, and I don’t know how she reads and manages that much every day. Even before I went to the conference I’d been reading her blog, and I admired her.

I was thrilled but extremely nervous when I learned I would be receiving a critique from her.

It turned out to be a wonderful experience. One on one, Ms. Jackson is quite friendly and very pleasant to work and talk with. Her critque of my writing was not harsh. She simply pointed out the things she wished for as a reader–and this approach moved me to start a rewrite. I aged my audience up, took out the backstory dumps, fleshed out the characters, and dimmed the corniness a bit–and these changes turned out to be the difference between 3rd place and 1st place in the contest for the M. L. Brown Award for Young Adult Literature offered at the SWA Conference.

I cannot express how much I admire Jennifer Jackson for the amount she accomplishes in the industry and her friendly attitude. Though my book isn’t right for her–I think she prefers 3rd person narratives–my book would not be the masterpiece it is without her critique. Thanks Chuck!

* CHUCK SAMBUCHINO – IN THE WRITERS CLUB CASINO *

Another wonderful experience from the Southeastern Writers Association Conference last week.

Let me start by making a little fun of myself. Last year at the SWA Conference I’m pretty sure I was ~scared out of my wits.~ The entire time I felt completely out of my depth and overwhelmed but at the same time inspired and determined any kicking, spitting mule you’d like to imagine.

I was also awkward as hell.

This year my awkwardness had dropped dramatically from their previous As Hell levels. Thanks to a great shift in attitude and the experience Model UN gave me, I’ve actually finally learned how to talk.

I realized I’d changed a bit when I found myself sitting next to Chuck Sambuchino, one of the biggest names there, the first night of the conference–and he was teaching me to play Poker.

I still can’t say I’d be able to win if I sat down at a Poker table now. No, I’m afraid I definitely would not have the confidence to engage in any alternate forms of the game. Cough. But I did pick the gist of it up and when I started making decisions we started winning. Of course, the stakes weren’t high. It was also fun watch Mr. Sambuchino dramatically slap down an immense bet of 50 cents.

My mad Poker skillz aren’t the only thing I picked up from him last week, however. Even though he had to leave the conference Wednesday morning, he taught four classes:  Screenwriting, Nonfiction, Business of the Business – Agent Focus, and Business of the Business – Editor Focus.

I have notes on all the classes, but I have a TON of screenwriting stuff. They’ll definitely fill a post or two in the future. I enjoyed the classes and liked Mr. Sambuchino’s teaching style. He’s laid back and very open to questions. He makes jokes and laughs at the business and himself. He also played the piano before class–medleys including Coldplay’s Speed of Sound and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

I’m sorry. That’s awesome. As an eighteen-year-old, I find it simply epic. =)

I’d highly recommend Mr. Sambuchino as a class instructor–and the good news is he’s going to be teaching at the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop at Myrtle Beach in October! Hopefully his classroom will have a piano.

*$*MONEYS*$*

STATUS:  Missing home. (Missing my own laptop, my own coffee maker….)

What’s the anime freak listening too now? ADVANCEMENT OF THE MUSIC BOX by David Frick

Well, you want to know what it’s like to be a teen and fighting to get published?

Setback #1:  Conferences are expensive.

The South Carolina Writer’s Workshop is coming up. Its faculty is made up of 10 Authors, 10 Editors, and 10 Agents, and I REALLY want to go.

So I asked my grandmother if I could work for the little company she owns while my family is visiting Texas this summer.

Her company is a gymnastics studio. Gymnastics Plus.

Kind of ironic, considering the rant at the beginning of my second book–a satire of all things related to the “American Anorexia Physique.”

So I’m spending two weeks counting leotards (At least I don’t have to wear them!), with my Uncle dropping in every day to inform me the toilet’s stopped up.

Hey, whatever it takes.

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