Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘southeastern writer’s association’

SOUTHEASTERN WRITERS, I MISS YOU!!

I missed the Southeastern Writers Conference this year. Money and time restraints would not allow it. Nonetheless, I feel the need to shoutout to the many people with whom I have spent wonderful trips to St. Simon’s Island.

These include but are not limited to:

Emily Sue and Lee Harvey (and family!)
Tim and Sheila Hudson
Amy Munnell
Lee Clevenger
Charlotte Babb
Katharine Sands
Marjory Wentworth
Chuck Sambuchino
Cappy Hall Rearick
Holly McClure
Jeanie Pantelakis
Louis Gruber
Wild Bill
Zhanna P. Rader
Cheryl Norman
Brian Jay Corrigan (and family!)
Grace Looper
Judith Barban
Jimmy Carl Harris
Mollie Glick
Ricki Schultz
Gail Karwoski

Thank you all so much for your guidance, support, and friendships through these last few years. I doubt you know how much of a blessing you have been.

PUNCTUATION IS LIKE SEX

This is taken from a worksheet I received at the SWA Conference last month, and I just had to share. Cheryl Norman’s Novel Writing Class, as you can imagine, was hilarious.

Punctuation is like Sex:

  1. Commas are not like kisses. They should not be scattered freely among your beloved words.
  2. Like spouses, exclamation marks should ideally come one per person, per lifetime. (Except in YA, I personally believe.)
  3. Parenthetical asides are like secrets between friends–not a good idea.

BREAKING INTO THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY

As my blog readers know, I attended the Southeastern Writer’s Conference last month and got a bit of a shock. Miss Stephanie and–godforbid–Edward flipping Cullen did far more for me than I ever could have dreamed.

The industry is in a sad condition right now. That is undeniable. Agent in Residence Mollie Glick gave a speech about her job as a literary agent and revealed that a large part of it is keeping up with editors. Not only are editors moving and shuffling around between publishers and houses these days, they’re dropping like flies. Entire branches and houses are getting cut off.

It’s dark.

Apparently, Borders booksellers has nearly gone bankrupt several times within the past year and have survived by a miracle. (I’m very interested in this situation and there may be a post about it soon.) Without a doubt, the disappearance of a major booksellers would be disastrous to the industry. E-books would probably take off, boosting the printed word toward an obsolete state.

How do you break in when things are this bad? Where is the hope?

  1. Okay. Competition is high. It’s always been high. Relatively, it’s not that much of a difference.
  2. One market is still booming. One genre is easier than ever to break into. Respect for it is growing, and its popularity is wonderful. This is the Young Adult market, especially Fantasy. My market.

Four people–Emily Sue Harvey, Cheryl Norman, Mollie Glick, and Holly McClure–all remarked on how well the YA market is doing at the conference last month. About a week after it ended, I was in a bookstore, and I asked an employee if she was familiar with the YA section and if she could tell me what was selling best. She pointed to a few titles, naming one I’d never heard of (which made it all the more beneficial to me). “Anything to do with vampires, witches, or fairies. Actually,” she said, pausing, “that’s most of what we get coming through here right now.”

I almost cried.

If you’re a young adult fantasy writer, now is the time to step up and shoot for it. Despite the economic downturn, we are the ones who have been empowered. And it’s probably all thanks to Miss Stephanie Meyer and Mr. Edward Cullen!

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.

THE OPPOSITE OF WAR

Because I understand that there is no money to be made in poetry (except the occasionally $30 contest award) I’m going to post my poem, The Opposite of War. Last week it got 2nd place in the Smith Moseley Award for Poetry at the SWA conference =) It’s about the World Scout Jamboree in 2007.

The Opposite of War

I’ve lost my accent somewhere.
Maybe I dropped in the Thames,
or it fell victim to a ghost of the Tower,
or a Windsor swan plucked it from my fingers like bread,
but I hope it was swallowed, drowned,
trampled by polished boots
during the changing of the palace guard
because I have never felt so screamingly blended
and whole. I could never find it anyway
in this seek-and-flutter of color—
Skin like rice and beans and bread,
Vegetarian choices and tea.

And the uniforms:
A modern exotic salad,
with British, American, Norwegian, Polish, Korean,
iceberg khaki,
Japanese spinach leaves, curly banana crisps,
topped with Malaysian mangoes,
Chilean blueberries,
rich German raspberries,
a sprig of French Parsley,
and fruits and seeds like stagelights
all topped with white summer light for a dressing.

One line seemed universal:
“Where are you from?”
One line in London streets,
Roman exhibits, and the Queen’s roses
threaded with bees,
echoed later when tears fell from beneath
a cowboy hat
onto a lotus flower—
and though we never closed at night,
the wedges of our worlds
unfurled and overlapped,
tied with “Where are you from?”

And the Prince sliced chocolate cake for us with his helicopter,
golden dragons slithered from camp to camp,
business cards fluttered everywhere like leaves.
We did more than I can list.
We ran mountains with metal slides,
built catapults, rang church bells,
painted, planted, traded, sailed.
But mostly we danced
in every language.

Forty thousand of us—
dancing to O-zone,
cursing at vending machines,
and arguing about African education—
from 216 countries
all over the Earth—
each with a different view
of God above it
and Satan inside it—
We babbled about the falling ame
and family.

I’d never felt, heard, eaten so many wonders—
and I’d never seen a gentleman cry like that,
screaming through the arms around him
that she was a blond half-Asian.
She had died in his arms four months before.

In the thick and thesis of our new summary of earth,
we were reminded of things that fall away.
And did soldiers guide us all here by the hands,
disappear so that we could curse at vending machines
as one world, one family?
Because if the World Wars
The Trail of Tears, the Boxer Rebellion,
The Rape of Nanking, the Ravage of Africa,
The Russian Starvations–

And if
Iraq

Darfur, Sudan

Georgia, Europe

Mumbai, India

The Gaza Strip

If these things wound and kill,
our many colors
evoke life with their vividness
life that manifests as stop-and-go conga lines
neckerchiefs of many signatures
international flirtation.
They keep it safe
by sealing it in pictures that steal souls
and snatching business cards straight out of the wind.
Our blending colors heal and keep alive.

* SULLIVAN MAXX LITERARY AGENCY – HOLLY McCLURE AND JEANIE PANTELAKIS *

Website:  http://www.sullivanmaxx.com
Accept Mailed Proposals:  Coverletter, 1-P Synopsis, First Five Pages
Current Clients:  See Tags

Last week I attended the Southeastern Writers Conferences, and two representatives of the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency visited. Ms. Holly McClure, a talented writer as well as an agent, spoke about the state of the publishing industry and motivated us to find advantages. She called the class The Empowered Author.

I loved it. It was an encouraging and positive experience. I understand how busy agents are, and I truly appreciated that she and her assistant agent Jeanie Pantelakis would come talk to a small room of publishing industry n00bs.

It didn’t stop there, however–after the class got me more hyped and driven than any other I’d attended all week, I ran back to the room (where I should have changed out of the Incrediboy T-shirt) and grabbed my hard copy.

They ran a small session with those who had complete manuscripts and wanted to participate–and taught us how to pitch!

This was great for me, since these Elevator Pitch things make me very nervous. I’ll share some of their advice soon. Running out of time for tonight. I just wanted to share the great experience with Sullivan Maxx literary agency and their generosity and enthusiasm.

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