Build the skills you need to finish that first novel

Are you writing your first novel?

If the answer is “YES,” then MWW Super Mini-conference has a session just for you!

We are pleased to have Larry D. Sweazy returning to Midwest Writers Workshop for the Super Mini-conference this July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, Indiana. Larry is an exceptional instructor, warm, friendly and encouraging to everyone.

He is the award-winning author of thirteen novels, including the Lucas Fume Western series, the Josiah Wolfe Texas Ranger series, as well as the Marjorie Trumaine mystery series. His books have been translated by major publishers in Italy and Turkey and he has published over seventy nonfiction articles and short stories. Writers in his previous MWW sessions had this to say:

“Larry Sweazy was great and very informative.”

“He had enthusiasm, courtesy and knowledge and a great personality”

“Larry was excellent. The exercises were a little scary but very helpful and fun.”

“He did a great job! He made things clear and was approachable, accessible and valuable.”

We asked Larry to tell us about what he will teach at the Super Mini.

MWW: You’re offering a hands-on class Friday morning. [Here’s the full description.]

Fiction: Writing Your First Novel – Here’s the big secret about writing first novels: The hardest part writing a first novel is finishing it. Great ideas tire out. Real life gets in the way. Doubt over takes the dream. In this interactive workshop, Larry D. Sweazy will share proven tips and help you to build the skills a new writer needs to finish that special first novel. Topics discussed will be time management, building a toolbox, finding support, writing tips, and most importantly living life as writer–even if you’re not published. Participants may send in two double-spaced pages for a brief critique, and should come prepared to write in class.

Can you tell us more about what that class will be about? What can writers expect to come away with from it?  

LDS: Writing a first novel is a luxury. Most writers don’t realize this until it’s too late. There’s no deadline, no editor waiting at the other end, no marketing department, no critics, no expectation of a follow-up novel in the next year. There’s more freedom for a writer writing a first novel than any other, but yet it’s the most difficult to finish. Doubt is a constant companion. Fear resides at the end of every sentence. Most first novels are abandoned. Maybe they’re picked back up later, and maybe not. The love affair with the first novel is tumultuous.

I hope to give writers a few practical tools that will encourage them to finish that first novel, help them realize where they are in the journey so they can get on with the work of being a writer, and start their next novel. We’ll discuss time management, overcoming excuses, how the publishing industry works, and hopefully, everything in between. We’ll also get to some writing exercises and critiques to round out the experience of being a new writer.

MWW: You’re known these days as a mystery writer (your third Marjorie Trumaine novel, See Also Proof, released May 1st) but you’ve also written many westerns. Was it difficult to switch genres? Do you feel having written westerns gave you a different approach to mysteries?

LDS: That’s an interesting question, and one I hope that can be instructive. I’ve written a lot of stories that were neither westerns or mysteries. I’ve published ghost stories, literary stories, action adventure stories, and some nonfiction work thrown in, too. I love writing westerns and historical fiction, and I also love writing mysteries. But more than anything, I love writing stories. I think the story should pick the genre, not the other way around. So, to answer your question, yes, I think my writing experience affects everything I write. I like to write with a large palette, and anything that serves the story is fair game. We’ll discuss genres in both of my classes, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as some traps to avoid along the way.

MWW: We’re looking forward to your Saturday morning wake-up session with Matthew Clemens. You’ll be talking about “What’s Your Dream?” Can you give us a bit of a preview by telling us a little about your dream? 

LDS: I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age, so the dream was simple: Be a working writer when I grew up. But my journey was not as simple. Getting published was not easy, and staying published is not easy. Sitting down in the chair day after day, year after year presents daunting challenges along the way, but the dream has never changed for me. I still want to be a writer more than anything else.

larrydsweazy.com

Follow on Twitter: @larrydsweazy

www.facebook.com/larrysweazyauthor

PRAISE FOR MARJORIE TRUMAINE SERIES:

“The more you get to know Marjorie Trumaine, the more you will want to know her.” –Reviewing The Evidence

“A riveting and expertly crafted story…. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time, and I look forward to more in this engaging and powerful series.” -DAVID BELL, award-winning and bestselling author of Somebody I Used to Know 
“A dark, complex mystery with well-developed characters deeply rooted in their small-town rural setting. Larry D. Sweazy gives mystery readers a rich, satisfying read.” -KAT MARTIN, New York Times-bestselling author of Against the Wind

“Marjorie is the kind of gritty heroine, playing the cards she was dealt with pragmatism and intelligence, who will keep readers engaged in this series.” -Killer Nashville

“Brimming with atmosphere and filled with well-drawn characters, See Also Deception is bound to delight mystery readers everywhere. Marjorie Trumaine rings as solid and true as any heroine ever created.” -SUSAN CRANDALL, bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard

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To register for Larry’s session, “Fiction: Writing Your First Novel,” go here.

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To review the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.

To review the faculty bios, read here.

Manuscript Makeover offered at Super Mini-conference

While MWW is working hard on its newly-minted nonprofit governance and its board recruitment (read our statement here), we’re also keeping in mind our mission to help writers reach their writing goals. This Craft + Community “Super Mini” is a dynamic day-and-a-half with a decidedly different structure-shorter, smaller, less expensive, and designed for writers of every level in their careers.

It offers eight in-depth, hands-on interactive, small class size sessions taught by experienced, accomplished, and professional faculty. One faculty member is Holly Miller. We caught up with Holly this week and asked her for a preview of her “Manuscript Makeover” class. Read portions of our conversation below…
 
Author-editor Holly Miller says that books are a lot like airplanes–they’re most vulnerable to crashes during takeoff and landing. Her explanation: A story needs powerful opening pages (takeoff) and a satisfying final chapter (landing) if it’s going to convince agents, editors and readers to come along for the ride. Holly’s Manuscript Makeover class at the Super Mini-conference will focus on beginnings, endings, and everything in between. With 14 books and 2,500 magazine articles to her credit, Holly knows how to help authors chart a course that will get them closer to their anticipated destination: publication.

You call your morning workshop “Manuscript Makeover,” but is it really possible to redo a manuscript in three and a half hours?

At the beginning of the session I always promise participants that they’re going to know a lot more at noon than they do at 8:30 when we start the class. It’s my job to deliver on that promise. Everything that happens in those three and a half hours will relate to the manuscripts that they sent me–no generic lectures, I promise! My goal is that they’ll have enough feedback to know exactly the next steps they need to take to move their manuscripts a notch or two closer to publication. In addition to the time we have together as a class, I’m going to meet with each writer one-on-one for 15 minutes in the afternoon to go over their pages line by line.

Do writers need to have a completed book manuscript to benefit from Manuscript Makeover?

No, all they need are a one-page synopsis and their book’s opening 10 pages. To succeed in today’s publishing world, a writer has to have two things: A compelling story to tell and the ability to tell it well. The synopsis addresses the first, and the sample pages show the second. Some writers come to Manuscript Makeover with only an idea and a rough draft of the first chapter. They want to know if they should keep writing. Others have finished their books and wonder what the next step is. Then there are the writers who have tried to market their books but with no success. They want to know where they fell short and how to fix the problem.

Why do you limit the class size to 15 writers?

For a couple of reasons. First, I want to encourage a sense of community. After all, we’re all writers even though we may be at different stages of development. Second–and this is personal–the class is really labor-intensive for me as the facilitator. I like to read each manuscript several times, adding notes, making suggestions and editing as I go. I build the class from scratch each time I teach it. I’ve found that 15 is the perfect number.

You open the class to novelists and nonfiction writers. Why not specify one or the other?

Typically the class attracts more novelists than nonfiction authors, even though nonfiction is easier to sell these days. Regardless of the genre we choose–mystery, memoir, romance, biography, thriller, personal experience, etc.–we’re all storytellers. We have to know how to grab and hold readers’ attention, how to build tension, create dialogue and weave in backstory. Those components need to be in every story we tell.

As a teacher, what is your greatest challenge when you face a room full of writers with various skills, interests and needs?

My biggest challenge is to keep them motivated after the workshop is over. Too often they leave with good intentions, but then they get sidetracked by obligations at work or at home. Their manuscripts suddenly occupy the back burner. So, this year I’m going to try something new. The writers in my class will have the opportunity to book a half hour of my time for some time in the fall. There will be a modest fee, and not every writer will want or need to take advantage of the offer. If they do, they can choose when and how to use the time. They might decide to send me a few revised pages, or we can talk via phone about problems they’ve encountered since the July workshop. The important thing is to keep up the momentum…to keep on keeping on. As I said earlier, you need two things to succeed as a writer–a good story to tell and the ability to tell it well. But there’s a third requirement, and that’s perseverance.

Register here for Manuscript Makeover.
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To review the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

Getting Serious About Your Writing Mini-conference

Kick Off 2018 With a Bang!

Take January to recover from the holidays, and then we’d love to see you in February! Midwest Writers Workshop is relaunching our popular mini conferences and hitting the road! As much as we love virtual connections, nothing compares to meeting In Real Life (IRL). Plus, this gives us the opportunity to share all the offerings we are adding.

The mini conference, “Getting Serious About Your Writing,” will take place at the Brownsburg Public Library, 450 South Jefferson Street, Brownsburg, Ind. on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. 

Check out the details:

1) Learn from three multi-published *authors who will share craft techniques, current publishing trends, and inside secrets through keynote addresses, instruction sessions, and a Q & A panel.

2) Light refreshments will be served.

3) Purchase the authors’ books on-site, and they will personally autograph them. (Or it’s okay to buy the books ahead and bring your own for an autograph.)

4) Join a small networking group by email, and possibly meet for lunch afterward (Not required. This activity is on your own, and not part of activities during the mini-conference.)

What does all of this cost?

Just **$20! Pre-registration and payment are required (no sign-ups at the door). Space is limited. Register early!

REGISTER HERE: Getting Serious About Your Writing

**Each attendee will receive an email following the mini-conference with a $20-off discount link to an online course from MWW Ongoing.

* The speakers include:

Nina Sadowsky

A New York City native, Nina R. Sadowsky is an entertainment lawyer (in recovery) who has worked as a film and television producer and writer for most of her career. Just Fall, published by Ballantine in March 2016 is her first novel, and is now in development as an original series for STARZ. Her second thriller, The Burial Society, will be published in 2017. Sadowsky is also an adjunct professor at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she teaches producing and script development. She has written numerous original screenplays and adaptations and done rewrites for such companies as The Walt Disney Company and Working Title Films.

Dianne Drake

Dianne Drake is a former nurse who has now written 60 novels (mostly medical romances), as well as nine nonfiction titles. She has also had countless articles published in magazines such as Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Garden and Seventeen. Dianne is proud to say she got her start at a Midwest Writers Workshop back in 1993.

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer and the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. Her writing awards include first place in Inspirational Writing in the 2013 Writer’s Digest competition. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com and Internet Café Devotions, and she has written for numerous magazines and blogs.

Midwest Writers Workshop and the Brownsburg Public Library are non-profit organizations that are hosting this mini conference as a service to the public. Books for sale will be supplied by Bookmamas bookstore.

Refund policy: Sorry, but we are unable to offer refunds for this event.

Your goal for 2018? | It’s Time to Start Your Novel

Back by popular demand, Cathy Day’s MWW Ongoing course, “It’s Time To Start Your Novel,” will be offered in January. If your New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to start writing, then this course is for you!

The registration for our MWW Ongoing course IT’S TIME TO START YOUR NOVEL begins December 18, 2017 and the course starts Monday, January 8, 2018. REGISTER NOW!

Cathy was also interviewed by John Strauss for Indiana Weekend on Indiana Public Radio. Listen as she discusses what her course offers to those interested in starting a novel.

Students registered for the course become a community through the private Facebook Group (which you can join after you register!). Here are a few comments from the students in last year’s course: (Note the exclamation points.)

  • This class is like an instruction manual, which I love! 
  • I am loving this class! I’m learning so much! 
  • I’ve loved Cathy’s challenges to choose characters, POV, clocks, etc. because it has forced me to make decisions.
  • I LOVED this unit!!! I am so excited about this course! I’m learning so much! I have always wanted to write a novel but had no idea how to go about it. Now I actually feel like it is within reach! Thank you so much for teaching this course, Cathy!
  • I have found Ms. Day’s course to be most excellent. I particularly appreciate her discussions of 1) preparation(s), and 2) character. These are exceedingly helpful.

This course is for everyone who ever thought, “I think I might have a novel inside me.” Understand though: you will not “write a novel” in this course–you will prepare yourself to start (or re-start) one. Think of it as a cooking course in which you spend the first class cleaning the kitchen and prepping the ingredients. Think of it as a marathon-running course in which you spend the first class buying a good pair of shoes. Your chances of drafting an entire novel increase exponentially when you spend some time preparing yourself for the journey ahead.

You’ll learn a great deal about your process without having to fret about the quality of your work. You’ll generate a lot of writing about the novel you want to write, get to know your characters, learn to think in terms of scenes not sentences, and make some crucial early decisions about point of view and structure that will save you a lot of time down the road.

At the end of the course, you’ll be ready and excited and poised to start writing your novel.

What This Course Specifically Teaches

  • intense focus on the writing process and on developing a writing regimen
  • writing assignments which will help you gather material, develop your plot, and get to know your characters
  • practice creating an outline or storyboard of your book
  • analysis of a novel that will serve as a model

The course is broken down into four big-picture units, further described below. Each unit offers a series of mini-lessons (about 5 to 10 minutes each) that build on each other. It will take you about four full hours to go through all of the instruction. You can pause to write when inspired and review the material on your own. Lessons are presented as audio-visual lectures that you can watch on any device (video/screencast).

Read how Cathy’s course changed the life of one writer!

Top 3 Ways To Keep Yourself Writing

It’s hard to believe Midwest Writers Workshop happened about two months ago.

Which means, it’s that time of year when . . .

Some of us on the committee ask this burning question:

What are some ways writers keep themselves motivated in between conferences?

This is an excellent question, and we don’t think we’re alone with it. We consider ourselves very enthusiastic when it comes to writing. But, so many things can happen to take down our enthusiasm. We might have come home from MWW, sent out the requested material, and waited. Maybe we are still waiting.

Or we didn’t get a request at all.

Maybe we got cold feet once we got home, and told ourselves we needed to revise before we sent the requested material–and we’re still revising. Quite possibly, we didn’t end up sending the material at all.

Did you know? A large number of writers don’t send in the material that was requested at conferences at all? Nada. Zip.

And truth be told, some people who do send in their requested material never hear back from the person who requested it at conference.

But shake all of that off.

On a happy note, others may have book contracts by now (waving at Annie Sullivan.) Or they’ve gotten an agent.

The truth is, no matter what has happened–or not happened since conference, our enthusiasm for writing might be lagging a bit.

Probably the biggest reason is that we’re not spending enough time with other writers, like we did when we were in our MWW conference bubble.

So, we’ve created a list of the Top 3 Ways to Keep Yourself Writing

1. Stay engaged with other writerly people in RL (Real Life) any way you can.

Do a search and find out what’s going on around you. Go to that book signing that is an hour away (and put on your extroverted expression and talk to some people). Go to a lecture at a college, because all thoughts on any topic can stimulate your writing. Join a book club, if just for one session. Coordinate a writers lunch get-together, even if the people don’t write in your genre, or are earlier in their journeys than you are (even if you secretly think everything they write is weird). Just do something. You’ll feel better and write with more enthusiasm. We call this being a good literary citizen.

2. Sign up for an online course.

Let’s face it. Some of us live in outlying areas. MWW committee member Cathy Shouse lives in what was literally a cornfield. Some nights, the coyotes are “talking” with her dogs. So she’s learned that a good, interactive online course is just what she needs to keep focused on her writing goals. She likes to be in a virtual class with writers. (Note: MWW has a program called MWW Ongoing that offers exceptional, unique, interactive online courses. See details below).

3. Develop your online presence (which also secretly builds your platform).

Reach out to publishing people on social media. If you read a blog, leave a comment, even if it is as simple as “I enjoyed this. Good job!” Follow authors you like on Facebook. If they ask a question, join in and respond to it. When you have a following on FB, you can ask people questions–and they may actually answer.

BONUS: Renew your writing enthusiasm by watching the MWW17 highlights video below, created by Matt Shouse.

Just over 3 minutes long, use the video to play a game. First, see if you can find yourself.

Next, see if you can find these publishing all-stars in the footage, because it was a Who’s Who of publishing this summer. Some of them are named, but many go by too quickly for that. So whether you can spot them or not, go visit their websites. Check out the free samples of their books. Follow them on Facebook, send out a Tweet, or even drop them a fan letter (“charming note”) email.

The following are some names to look for: Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, Annie Sullivan, Jessica Strawser, Amy Reichert, Summer Heacock, Nina Sadowsky, John Gilstrap, Agent/author Eric Smith, and the list goes on, and on.

To see what course we’re currently offering online, here’s the link to MWW Ongoing. (Good News: you can still register and catch up on the lessons!) Email Director Jama at midwestwriters@yahoo.com if you have questions about the classes or if you want to join. AND get ready for October because Dianne Drake’s new course “The Building Blocks of a Great Novel” is coming down the track. Details coming soon.

Now, if this message and material has helped you, would you do us a favor? Please forward this message to a writer friend who might enjoy it. If you feel like it, suggest that they subscribe to our MWW e-newsletter.

And we would love for you to say who you spotted in the video that made you smile. Please tell us on our Facebook page.

Thanks!

Let’s all get back to writing.

5 tips for pitching to agents: Jessica Sinsheimer

Jessica Sinsheimer, with Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, shares 5 tips for meeting agents.

SinsheimerJessica Sinsheimer has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Now an agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s known for #MSWL, ManuscriptWishList.com, #PubTalkTV-and for drinking far too much tea. Always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding picture books, YA, MG, upmarket genre fiction (especially women’s fiction, romance, and erotica, as well as thrillers and mysteries) and-on the nonfiction side-psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works that speak to life in the twenty-first century. She especially likes highbrow sentences with lowbrow content, smart/nerdy protagonists, vivid descriptions of food, picture books with non-human characters, and justified acts of bravery. You can follow her on Twitter at @JSinsheim.

Jessica had a great time as a member of our 2011 faculty and said, “I’ll return any time!” So, welcome back, Jessica, to MWW17!  We asked her for tips for pitching to her . (Hint: She said the tips apply to all agents.)

5 Tips: 

Remember, agents are not robots.

I always appreciate when people acknowledge that I’m a person. Usually an undercaffeinated person who’s happy to meet lovely writing people, but a person, nonetheless, and an introvert at that. A simple “Hi, how are you? Hey, you’ve got five cups of tea there–my daughter loves English Breakfast” will go a long way toward making me like you and set you apart from the last meeting. It takes about 20 seconds and keeps me comfortable, present, and open to your work. Keep in mind that I interact with thousands of writers a year. I want each interaction to be as human, pleasant, and present as possible.

 

Think conversation, not monologue. 

Here are the things I’m most likely to ask, so you can prepare: 1) Where did you get the idea? 2) What experience do you have with the topic? 3) Who is the ideal reader for your book? 4) How is this different from other works in your genre? 5) What are your favorite books? 6) What do you do in your spare time?

 

Do your homework.

Research, research, research. It will not only ensure that you’re prepared, but calm your fears of awkward silence. Find out not only what’s on my  ManuscriptWishList.com  profile and #MSWL feed, but also some of my recent projects, especially the ones similar to yours. Read one, if you can–or, if you must, 🙂 read the free samples online. Find interviews I’ve done (just Google “Jessica Sinsheimer interview”). Visit the agency website. And knowing things like my favorite caffeinated beverage (coffee, tea, or coffee in tea–thank you, dirty chai latte), weekend activity (yoga, kayaking, and reading), and fluffy animal (I’m partial to orange cats and samoyeds) can help, too. These are all things you can use to fill any silence, so you don’t have to worry.

 

The agent and writer can be friends. 

Remember that we want to help you. Agents need writers, too. Don’t go in feeling like you’re pitching investors. Instead, think of it as a conversation about great books with a friend–it just happens to be your book, and an agent.

 

Be calm and pitch on.

Don’t be nervous. I know it’s scary, but I’m seriously 5’2″ and like to keep people around me feeling good. You can listen to the   Manuscript Academy podcast   to hear how I interact with writers and agents–that’s on iTunes and Soundcloud, and totally free. You’ll probably be less scared when you hear how peppy I am. If you want to practice, you can get plenty of one-on-one feedback on your query and first page with the new Manuscript Academy Ten Minutes With An Expert program–starting April 12, you can have ten-minute conversations one-on-one with agents and editors from home. See ManuscriptAcademy.com/ten

*** Exciting news! 

Jessica is bringing her popular the  PubTalk TV  to MWW17. On Saturday, July 22, 2017, from 3:45-4:45, she’s live streaming a session on-site with Summer Heacock (MWW planning member extraordinaire and debut author of The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky), Roseanne Wells (agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency), and Monica Odom (agent with Bradford Literary Agency).

What? Win money at MWW?

Forget Emmy, Oscar, Tony, and even Grammy

At Midwest Writers Workshop, it’s all about Manny. That’s what we call our annual manuscript contest, and it’s open-free of charge-to anyone registered for Part 2 of MWW17. We’ve taken a real-world approach to our competition. Editors tell us that they know if a manuscript shows promise after reading the opening 1,000 words. So, we ask contest entrants to submit only the first 1,000 words (or about five pages) of a work in progress. We have four categories: Long fiction (think novels), short fiction (think magazine stories), nonfiction (not fake news), and poetry. We only award one winner in each category because in the competitive world of publishing, sorry, there are no runners-up.

The rules are simple and the payoff is in cash. You’re competing for a $50 prize per category. The four winners then compete for our overall R. Karl Largent Writer of the Year Award and the $150 check that goes with it. Here’s what you need to do:
  • Enter only one manuscript.
  • Mark whether your submission is long fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
  • Mail the opening 1,000 words or 5 pages: hard copy, double spaced, 12-point type (about four pages).
  • Plan to attend the closing banquet (required) to learn if you are one of our lucky winners.
  • Deadline for entries: June 17.

7 Tips for a Great Conference by Annie Sullivan

We welcome MWW alum Annie Sullivan as our guest who shares her  7 Tips to Getting the Most Out of Any Writing Conference.

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels, and her novel, Goldilocks, won the Luminis Books Award at the 2013 Midwest Writers Workshop. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles.

You can follow Annie’s adventures on Twitter (@annsulliva) or on her blog: https://anniesullivanauthor.wordpress.com/

I attended my first writing conference back in 2013, the 40th annual MWW, and I went in with one goal: to get a literary agent. Every decision I made was calculated on how best to accomplish that goal. Did I leave that conference with a literary agent? No. But I did leave with the knowledge and connections that helped me land one within the next four months. So here are my secrets to how you can get the most out of a writing conference.

 

Treat it like a job.

If you want to actually make money writing, then you have to treat it like a business. Invest in business cards. Start author pages on Facebook and/or create a blog or Twitter account. Make sure people can find/contact you after they leave the conference.

[MWW Director note: if you need help, MWW17 offers free social media tutoring for Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.]

 

Define your brand.

Since you need to treat writing like a job, you need to figure out what your brand is and make sure you’re consistent. This means, if you’re writing picture books and an agent goes to your Twitter and sees nothing but tweets full of profanity, they may be turned off (unless that’s what your picture book is about, of course.) You need to encompass what you’re trying to sell. This means dressing the part, too. If you’re pitching an agent face-to-face, look presentable. However, if your brand is all about goth vampires, don’t be afraid to let that show in your clothing and makeup choices. You have to be the best representative of what you’re pitching them. This also stands true with alcohol consumption. While some people may need some liquid courage before facing agents during a conference’s cocktail hour, you can leave a bad impression if you consume too much. Keep in mind your brand encompasses all that you do and say.

 

Strategically plan your agent interactions.

Many conferences offer a chance to pitch agents. Take advantage of this. Of course, do thorough research ahead of time to see which agent is the best fit. (Go to an agent’s website to see what types of books they are looking for.) At some conferences, they also offer everything from query critiques to first 10 pages critiques, often by editors and agents. If that’s the case, it could be worth the money to do both, especially if there were two or three agents who might be a good fit for your story. By doing a pitch with one agent, a query critique with another, and 10 page critique with a third, you can successfully get feedback from all three and see if they’re interested. If nothing else, when you do query them, you can include that you met them at that specific conference, which always helps.

**Bonus Tip** Sign-up for the conference early for the best chance of getting to pitch/have a query critique with the agent or editor you want. Slots often fill up fast!

 

Find your people.

Conferences are one of the best places to meet critique partners. Talk with as many people as you can to find other writers who write in your genre or age group. Take advantage of activities like “Find Your Tribe” to meet people who write what you do. Even if you leave without making any headway with agents, you might just leave with a new critique partner who can help you polish your next work in progress so it catches an agent’s eye. Or, a new writer friend might have an agent already and be willing to put in a good word for you.

 

Don’t be a wallflower.

If you’re shy or introverted, it can be hard to put yourself out there. But if there are opportunities to read your work aloud or have your first sentence critiqued during a session, speak up. You never know what agent has sneaked into a session and is listening. The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get in return.

 

Make the most of every opportunity.

Having lunch and there’s an empty seat next to that literary agent you know would love your book? Take it! Did an author give a great session on world building? Stop them in the hallway and let them know. You never know what interaction could open a door for you. Be kind and sincere, and don’t be afraid to take chances. (Note: DO NOT approach literary professionals in the bathroom, and do not blind pitch them when you’re standing in the lunch line. Only tell them about your story if they ask, and generally, they will ask because they’re just as eager to find good stories as you are to get published.)

 

Don’t be afraid to attend different sessions.

Are you a fantasy writer? Don’t be afraid to attend a session on writing mysteries. You never know what tips you might pick up about adding suspense and writing about villains. The biggest thing is to go in with an open mind so that you can absorb all the information being thrown at you, and then, when you get back in front of your manuscript, you can sort out how to implement it.

Above all, have fun and make friends. Being a writer can be tough and isolating, but going to conferences is one of the best ways to break out of those ruts. Take chances, and maybe in a year or two, you could be that author giving a session on voice or point of view. Good luck, and I hope to see you at Midwest Writers Workshop this year!

For a detailed listing of the 2017 MWW schedule, and to find out the writing instructors, agents and editors who make up this year’s amazing faculty, click on the link below.

Register now !

NYT Bestselling coming to MWW17 | Angie Thomas

If you’ve ever wanted to meet a debut novelist who started on the bestseller lists right out of the gate, come to Midwest Writers Workshop in July!

Since The Hate U Give released in February, Angie Thomas has been super busy! It turns out an extensive book tour and giving tons of interviews will do that to a person’s schedule.

But recently, we caught up with her in London and she gave us a quick email interview.

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and was published on February 28, 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg attached to star. Follow Angie on social media:  Twitter: @acthomasbooks / Website:  AngieThomas.com

MWW: Your debut novel, The Hate U Give, was sold at auction with 13 publishers competing for the highest bid, and interest worldwide. Did that prepare you for the success you’ve had since its release? How are you feeling and what are you thinking after 6 weeks at #1 on the New York Times Bestselling list?

AT: I was totally not prepared for this. It’s surreal and a dream come true.

MWW: You’ve said that you thought about this story for a few years and I know you were in a creative writing program at college. What helped you the most in writing a compelling story?

AT: The thing that helped me the absolute most was to decide to write it for myself and no one else.

MWW: When you come to Midwest Writers Workshop this summer, you’ll talk about your debut and also about diversity in books. Do you have a few tips for writing a diverse book that resonates?

AT: (1) Remember that not every story is your story to tell, and that’s okay. (2)  Diversity is not a trend. Approaching it this way dehumanizes marginalized people. (3)  If you’re writing an identity outside of your own, sensitivity readers are a must.

MWW: Your agent, Brooks Sherman, is returning to MWW. What’s an insider secret on how to impress him? Or what is a no-no?

AT: He doesn’t like issue books, but great books with issues. Also, he’s the coolest Slytherin you will ever meet.

MWW: How do you know Becky Albertalli, who is also coming to MWW17?

AT: Becky and I consider ourselves soul mates – we share the same agent, same editor, same publishing house, same film producers, and sometimes the same thoughts despite our different opinions on Oreos.

How about some quick thoughts:

MAC or PC?

PC though a MAC may be in my future

Pantser or plotter?

A bit of both fortunately and unfortunately.

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl for sure

Scrivener or Word software?

Just got Scrivener and love it!

**** 

Speaking of Scrivener, MWW17 has you covered this summer. Dee Romito is returning to present “Getting to Know Scrivener” Part I Intensive Session – a full day’s instruction on the amazing writing software everyone’s talking about.

The Scrivener software is inexpensive (under $50), although there is a steep learning curve. Many people agree with Angie that the software is well worth the effort to learn. Let MWW help you speed up the process with our one day intensive session.

4 Ways to Love Scrivener, by Dee

Get organized.

Keep all your chapters, scenes, research, and links right at your fingertips. It’s all in one place!

Move around quickly.

With a simple click, go from Chapter 1 to Chapter 20 to plotting notes to research. No more scrolling or opening multiple files.

Multiple ways to work.

Write in the editor, or switch over to corkboard or outline view quickly and easily.

Go for your goals.

Set a word count goal for your manuscript and current session. You’ll see it keep track and change color as you get closer to your goal. 🙂
Come and meet Angie, Dee, and the rest of our fantastic faculty this summer!

Register now !

MWW Ongoing course | Word Play with Liz Whiteacre

You spoke. We listened. So many of our MWW16 attendees commented on Liz Whiteacre’s sessions and pleaded for us to offer more opportunities for her brilliant and helpful writing instruction.

Now’s your chance! Word Play is a 4-unit course, starting Monday, May 1st. Registration is now open!

 

 

Word Play is a short, low-stakes course designed to help you take a break from bigger projects and take some time to play with language. It presents focused writing exercises that explore diction and figurative language choices, which help us develop voice in our stories, essays, and poems.

Writers of all levels and intentions are encouraged to join these focused word-based exercises, honing language skills and developing new ones that will support the writing they do in any genre. Many prompts may become prewriting for new projects or help you revise projects already in the works.

About the Instructor

Liz Whiteacre has been teaching writing since 2000. She’s worked with writers of all ages and abilities at places like University of Indianapolis, Ball State University, College of DuPage, the Indiana Writers Center, and the Indianapolis Chinese Community Center. In 2015, she won an Excellence in Teaching Award from Ball State University. She was poetry faculty for the Midwest Writers Workshop in 2016. Whiteacre’s poems have appeared in Kaleidoscope, Wordgathering, Disability Studies Quarterly, Disabled World , and other magazines. She is the author of Hit the Ground and co-editor of Monday Coffee & Other Stories of Mothering Children with Special Needs.

What this Course Includes

You will receive weekly video lectures, writing exercises and recommended readings, and access to the private Word Play Facebook community where you might share questions, excerpts of your writing, your responses to reflection questions, etc.

Each week you will receive a new unit with three language-based exercises, so you may tailor your experience to your needs and schedule.  Each lesson also offers suggestions for further reading on related topics, which you can chose to do while you work on exercises during the class or chose to save for the future.

And a bonus: You’ll have access to these four units and lessons indefinitely.

We’re so very pleased that MWW Ongoing is offering this opportunity to help you develop your writing muscles and stretch your creativity. At just $50, it’s a bargain.

 

Let’s play!

REGISTER HERE!