Novel to TV series | Screenwriter Nina Sadowsky | MWW17

Midwest Writers Workshop 2017 is offering a NEW Part I Intensive Session on “Screenwiriting,” and we’re pleased to welcome screenwriter and novelist Nina Sadowsky.

This class will provide an in-depth overview of writing for film and television. A mixture of lecture, in-class exercises and screenings will give the participants an understanding of how material is pitched, developed and produced in Hollywood as well as tips for successful screenwriting.

Spots to Nina’s intensive session are limited and we expect this one to fill up fast.

Register now!

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. She has written numerous original screenplays and adaptations and done rewrites for such companies as The Walt Disney Company, Working Title Films, and Lifetime Television.

She served as President of Production for Signpost Films, a film financier and foreign distributor, where she worked on such projects as the Academy Award nominated “The House of Sand and Fog,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley. Prior to joining Signpost, she served as President of Meg Ryan’s Prufrock Pictures for over five years. During her tenure, Prufrock landed first look feature deals with Fox 2000 and Castle Rock Entertainment and an overall long-form television deal with Polygram/Universal Television.

Sadowsky served as executive producer for the hit film “The Wedding Planner,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey for Intermedia and Sony, produced “Desert Saints,” an independent film starring Kiefer Sutherland which premiered on Cinemax, and has served as executive director for numerous other films.

She is also currently serving as adjunct faculty at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts program, teaching both writing and producing. Her students have been the recipients of many awards and accolades including best scripted series at the College Television Awards and inclusion in the Cannes Film Festival Shorts Corner. Sadowsky is also currently serving as a mentor for the Humanitas Prize’s New Voices Program, and is a member of Humanitas’ Woolfpack, an organization of women writers, directors and showrunners.

MWW: What’s it feel like to have your debut novel being adapted for a television series?

NS: It’s thrilling that we sold Just Fall to STARZ, particularly as premium cable allows creators to push the limits. I’m especially excited that the network wanted me to write the pilot as they felt the work was so particular to my voice. As far as I know, the title will remain the same. And I wish I had a timetable, but I don’t!

MWW: You’ve said the opening scene of your psychological thriller was inspired in real life when your husband was lying in bed with one arm flung over his head. You imagined him dead, just for a moment. Why do you think people like yourself, a happily married woman and a mother, write and read dark, crime-filled stories?

NS: Actually, I am a mother of a 21 year old daughter and a 18 year old son and stepmother to other kids (one girl, one boy) now 22 and 20 years old. And the incident you correctly describe happened shortly after we blended the two families (the kids were all teenagers then).  Blending the family created all kinds of tensions between my husband and I that we never anticipated.  We believed “love will beget love” and were gobsmacked when our rosy predictions weren’t fulfilled. It got me thinking about all the couples who throw themselves into love and marriage and then have to get past the romantic idealism and slog through whatever real life throws at them.  In writing Just Fall, I wanted to take those very ordinary, universal feelings and inflate them to a thriller level.  As to why I like to write or read about crime, it comes from my desire to understand human nature.  Why we connect with other people. Why we don’t. Why societies create norms of behavior and what it means to an individual to step out of those norms. When is it right to do the wrong thing? Wrong to do the right thing? I’m trying to make sense of the confusing moral world that surrounds us and I think readers are too.

MWW: What are some ways your work as a film and television producer have influenced your novels? Might novelists benefit from learning screenwriting techniques in your course at MWW as well?

NS: I’d say the biggest influence is in the way I start any scene. I close my eyes and I think about what each production department would need to do in order to bring a scene to life. What are people wearing? What’s the quality of the light? What does the location look like and how do its details reveal something about the characters in the production design? These questions help me envision any scene for a book or a screenplay in a way that serves the narrative.  It’s my philosophy as a film maker that every inch of the frame should contribute to the story, so I think similarly about writing a scene in a book. Every element should be meaningful to furthering character, plot, theme and/or story. And I definitely think novelists can learn from screenwriting techniques. While film and television have highly codified and specific structures, good storytelling is good storytelling!

MWW: Just Fall seemed to be about taking risks as a writer, from the overall structure, to the sentence structure, to setting description, to characters that behave in unexpected ways. Do you have a tip or five on why authors wanting to break in or break out should take risks?

NS: Truth be told, when I started Just Fall, my sole hope was to finish it. It was a personal exercise borne out of the personal marital tension I was wrestling with as well as some frustration with the film and TV business. Because my expectations were so minimal, I felt very free. I played with structure partly because I wanted to shuck off the highly rigid structures of film and TV. I also wanted to play with structure as a way of revealing character, as opposed to solely using it to advance plot.  I subverted the stereotypes common to the thriller genre like the “damsel in distress.” I describe the writing of the novel as sort of a “howl,” one that came from a very deep place. No one was more shocked than I was when I exposed the book and very quickly found myself selling it to Ballantine/Random House!  I think one must always take risks.  Writing for the “perceived market” or writing something to which one doesn’t feel authentically connected is in my mind a mistake. Be bold or go home!

MWW: Tell us something distinctive about your writing process?

NS: I create an index card for every scene or chapter with a one line description about the scene. This reminds me to keep the main thing the main thing when I go to write.

MWW: As an adjunct professor in screenwriting at UCLA, what mistakes do students make? Besides reading Just Fall, is there a craft book you recommend your MWW students read in preparation for your course?

NS: I love SAVE THE CAT, which is a great primer on structure. Also when writing for film and TV one must adhere to proper format (if no other reason than improper formatting pegs you as an amateur). And if my students can read Just Fall before the course, I will be able to discuss how we approached its adaptation for TV.

MWW: Anything you would like to add?

NS: I’m looking forward to the MWW!

Quick hits:

1) Plotter or pantser (no pre-planning)?

A bit of both. I start usually with a theme and a visual and then begin to work up characters. I rewrite myself constantly, rewriting the last day’s work before I start on the new day’s work. And outline only once I’m deep into the first draft.

2) Critique group/hired editor or go it alone?

I have a couple of trusted readers, but my brilliant editor at PRH is the one I rely on the most.

3) Scrivener writing software, Microsoft Word or other?

Microsoft Word

4) Early bird or night owl?

Best in the morning, but can write all day and night if on a deadline!

5) Fast, messy drafter or slow and methodical?

Fast. Gut it out. Don’t obsess on every word. Writing is rewriting!

 

NOW AVAILABLE from Ballantine/Random House
Just Fall

COMING SOON also from Ballantine/Random House

The Burial Society

www.ninarsadowsky.com

https://www.facebook.com/nina.sadowsky

https://twitter.com/sadowsky_nina

Build a Better Plot with Shirley Jump | MWW Ongoing | Starts March 27

Our aim at MWW Ongoing is to bring you the highest quality of online courses. Shirley Jump’s 2-week course, BUILD A BETTER PLOT, is next up and sure to benefit all fiction writers, no matter your genre or writing experience. Registration is open now and the class starts MONDAY, MARCH 27th. 

 

About the Instructor
New York Times and  USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 countries. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, and her Fortune’s Island series, starting with AND THEN FOREVER. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Here’s our Top 10 List about Shirley:
From 2006 to 2012, Shirley taught a monthly Real Life writing group at Barnes & Noble, and she has taught dozens of online courses since. She has extensive information to share.

 
If high energy and positivity, combined with a down-to-earth approach, is your thing, you will really appreciate Shirley!

 

Some writers just ask more questions than others and Shirley is one of the most open writers with sharing her secrets with her students.

 

If you like structured lessons to review later, Shirley is the handout queen and each one is like a mini lesson.

 

Plus, she loves rescue animals, and has also honed herself into an athlete who competes in triathlons.

 

A journalist from the age of 11, Shirley learned to write full-length fiction through writing and it didn’t come easy. So she has developed techniques and resources to help others do the same. Just call her the “novel whisperer.”

 

She’s read about every writing craft book there is and brings all that knowledge to her classes, which means you may learn of more resources to delve into after this class.

 

In 2010, her keynote speech, “The Quitting Story” kicked off Midwest Writers Workshop Part 2 and she developed an immediate following there. She has known struggles, and seen triumph. (Ten manuscripts were rejected before that first sale.)

 

Along with the instructional sessions, Shirley will actively engage through our private Facebook page specifically for this class.

 

With 67+ books published for multiple publishers in her career, Shirley’s help in nailing the concept of GMC in this course, (Goal, Motivation and Conflict,) will not only positively impact your current story but all your future stories as well!

 

We’re so very pleased that MWW Ongoing is offering the opportunity to learn online from Shirley. At just $75, it’s a bargain. This will be interactive with the chance to see clear cut examples. Shirley sometimes invites students to provide ideas from their works in progress. With a short amount of the student’s information, Shirley is able to shed light on what isn’t working in a story–or simply knows ways to make the writing stronger.

* * * If you’ve ever wished for a brainstorming session with a published author with a talent for turning stories into publishing contracts, you owe it to yourself to register for Shirley’s class!

REGISTER HERE!

MWW17 welcomes back thriller author John Gilstrap

Midwest Writers is delighted that John Gilstrap is returning to teach at MWW17!

John is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jonathan Grave thriller series. Two of the first three in the series were nominated for ITW’s prestigious Thriller Award, and for Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Award. His novels include Friendly Fire, Nick of Time, Against All Enemies, End Game, Soft Targets, High Treason, Damage Control, Threat Warning, Hostage Zero, No Mercy, Nathan’s Run, At All Costs, Even Steven, Scott Free and Six Minutes to Freedom.  Four of his books have been purchased or optioned for the Big Screen.  In addition, John has written four screenplays for Hollywood, adapting the works of Nelson DeMille, Norman McLean and Thomas Harris.  He will co-produce the film adaptation of his book, Six Minutes to Freedom, which should begin filming in 2017.

During  MWW17, John will teach a Part I Intensive Session “Adrenaline Rush: Writing a Thriller,” a day-long seminar on the construction of intelligent commercial fiction. What makes for a strong plot? How do you take cardboard characters and give them life on the page? Through lively lectures and writing exercises, students get a peek at the skeleton that gives structure to the stories that keep us reading long into the night.

We caught up with John recently and asked him about what he’s teaching for MWW17.

Tell us “Three Things You Should Know” related to your intensive, “Adrenaline Rush: Writing a Thriller”:

You’ll look at writing a different way at the end of the class than you did at the beginning

 

You should come prepared to do some writing exercises.

 

You should let me know if there’s one particular topic that you’d be disappointed if we didn’t explore.

 

Do you have a tip for writers who are feeling stuck on a manuscript? How do you get yourself unstuck?

Don’t walk away from it until you’ve written your way out of the corner.

 

Try switching over to pen and paper. That’s what I do and it always gets me unstuck.

 

And what are your answers for some just-for-fun questions?

Mac or PC? PC

Early-bird or night-owl? Night owl

Scrivener or a different writing software or plain old Word? Plain old Word

Coffee or tea? Coffee!! (I hate tea. It always reminds me of the times I was sick as a kid.)

What are your Part II sessions?

  • Worst Advice Ever: Write What You Know – The real trick is to write what interests you.  This session presents strategies for getting in touch with experts who can help you, and where to find answers to your most perplexing questions.  Hint: Knowing a little bit is fine. The rest is about faking it.  We’ll talk about that, too.
  • Bangs and Booms 101: What Writers Need to Know About Firearms and Explosives
  • Buttonhole Topic – Presentation Skills for Authors

Register for mww17 today!

***

Praise for John Gilstrap and the Jonathan Grave Series:

“Gilstrap is one of the finest thriller writers on the planet.”  – Tess Gerritsen
“Gilstrap is a master of action and drama.”  – Gayle Lynds
“Rocket-paced suspense.”  – Jeffery Deaver
“A great hero, a really exciting series.”  – Joseph Finder
Read more about John and his writing in this article in Publisher’s Weekly. 

***

Check out John on social media!

Facebook: johngilstrapauthor

Twitter: @JohnGilstrap

Website

Brand Secrets from Publicist Dana Kaye | MWW Ongoing | Starts Dec. 7

MWW Ongoing is pleased to offer a new, exclusive 4-week course:

YOUR AUTHOR BRAND

with Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity, Inc.

Author of Your Book, Your Brand

Registration Available Wednesday, December 7th

MWW Ongoing Logo 600px wide

“I wholeheartedly recommend Dana Kaye’s Your Book, Your Brand. In the years I’ve known and worked with Dana, her ideas and strategies have been pragmatic, effective and cost efficient. I count her as an amazing and essential resource for my clients and the agency. I plan to buy this book by the carton and distribute it not just to clients but to my writer friends as well.”

— Janet Reid, of queryshark.blogspot.com, Agent at Fine Print Literary

Brighten your winter with must-see tips on author branding from Dana Kaye, the highly-respected publicist and founder of Kaye Publicity.

This 4-week online study with content exclusively created for the MWW community is for all authors, regardless of where they are in the publishing process. Authors will receive guidance on understanding, the importance of branding and how it applies to them. Aspiring authors will learn how to establish their brand prior to publishing their first book and veteran authors will learn how to create an author brand that embodies the scope of their work in a compelling, memorable way.

Register now and receive the first lesson December 7th and each subsequent class on the following three Wednesdays. Or feel free to join any time through January, and catch up with the classes on your own schedule.

Why is this course important?

Readers (and publishers) are risk averse. They want to know what they’re going to get before they buy. According to Nielsen’s PubTrack Consumer Survey, the #1 reason consumers purchase a book is because they like the author. The #2 reason is that they enjoyed other books in that series. These readers account for 60% of all readers surveyed. So how does a debut or midlist author build a readership? By establishing a favorable, memorable author brand.

What will this course cover?

This course will take you through each step of the branding process, from creation to establishing that brand online. You’ll form a brand summary and tagline, identify which online platforms are ideal for launching your brand, develop a content strategy, and learn how to cultivate relationships online. Lectures include:

  • Branding Workshop
  • Online Platforms
  • Content Strategy
  • Community Building

Students registering for this course will have access to a private Facebook group: MWW + Your Author Brand. The group provides a private place for you to ask questions and have conversations with each other. You’ll receive an invite to join this private Facebook group within a few days of registering. Stay connected and form a writing community with others in the course.

Hint: Our students say that receiving the course weekly is motivating and makes participating in our Facebook group a bit more focused. So sign up now, and we think you’ll be glad you did. That said, we know it’s a busy time and when you sign up is not as important as just making sure that you don’t miss this class.

Cost: $150

You won’t want to miss this instruction. Spend your winter time wisely and develop your brand in time for spring or sooner.

REGISTER HERE TODAY!

Who is Dana Kaye?

dana-kaye-for-publicityDana Kaye is a veteran publicist, social media pro, and brand manager. In 2009, she founded  Kaye Publicity, Inc., a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. Known for her innovative ideas and knowledge of current trends, she coaches her clients on how to identify and establish their unique personal brands. Kaye is also the author of  Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales, published by Diversion Books, and founder of Branding Outside the Box, an online platform that coaches users on how to establish their personal brands.

Make Your Online Writing Pay | Jane Friedman | Oct 10

Learn how to become a better online writer and monetize your work

Starting Monday (Oct. 10), Jane Friedman is teaching a new online course—“Make Your Online (and social media) Pay” through MWW Ongoing—that helps you learn how to market and promote yourself through online writing—as well as what it takes to monetize your online work. It’s a 4-week course ($200) that’s suitable for all types of authors, especially those who want to develop a long-term strategy for their online platform and creative work.

REGISTER HERE!

This course is for both unpublished and published book authors who wonder what they could or should be doing to market and promote themselves through online writing—whether that’s blogging, guest blogging, micro-publishing through social media, or contributing to sites such as Medium, The Huffington Post and other large clearinghouses of content.

The challenge for most book writers is that they haven’t had any professional experience or training in writing short pieces (or even social media posts!) that are ultimately skimmed quickly in online environments—particularly mobile environments. Writers have heard that blogging, or producing content for social media sites, can be an effective way to build a readership, but don’t understand how that happens especially when they have no audience and are unpublished.

This course helps authors make themselves and their work more visible through strategically written online pieces that get distributed and marketed to the right audiences in order to develop their author platform and build a readership over the long-term of their careers.

This course is about making your online writing efforts, especially those with a marketing intent, have a measurable and meaningful payoff—whether for your website/blog, social media, or someone else’s site. We’ll look at content strategies, measurement tools, marketing and promotion tactics, and specific ways to make your online content put money in your pocket.

Week 1: Best Practices of Online Writing and Blogging

  • Welcome from Jane
  • A Big-Picture Preface Before We Begin
  • Basic Principles of Online Writing
  • Blogging Basics (is it for you?)
  • 7 Principles of Good (Professional) Blogging
  • Don’t Forget the Important Role of Your Website

Week 2: Understanding Search Engine Optimization

Week 3: Marketing and Promoting Your Blog or Online Writing

Week 4: Monetizing Your Blog or Website

Gold medal for MWW16!

Your evaluations, emails, tweets, posts have been read and tallied. The results are in!

The determination: gold medal for MWW16!

Sure, we weren’t perfect. We had a few deductions to our final score (parking, construction, A/C), but we received more high scores than low. And for our first year in a new facility, we were darn pleased that participants and faculty had a great time. The high marks included: our “killer deal,” 10+ for our social media tutoring, our spiral bound book of session notes, and 10+10 for our unique “Buttonhole the Experts” activity.

Comments in the hallways included: “I loved the diversity of topics and speakers/presenters.” “I met life-long friends here!” “AMAZING conference! Life-changing! I plan to be back!”

From July 21-23, a record-breaking 280 people who are passionate about writing — participants, faculty, interns, MWW staff — occupied the three floors of our new location at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center to listen, talk, write, share, pitch, question, eat, drink, laugh, challenge, commiserate — and, yes, rejoice.

From the ten intensive sessions of Part I to the 45 sessions of Part II, MWW16 offered participants opportunities to “find their tribe” and enjoy a genuine community which encouraged them to make connections and get to the next step in their writing. And what other writers’ conference provides a chance to bowl with a literary agent (or a T-Rex) and a massage therapist to relax you before your pitch?

Something special marked this 43rd annual workshop and these are some of the comments which pointed in this direction.

From the participants:

 “Thank you for helping me to pursue my life-long dream! You guys rock! You’re amazing!”

“In a solitary profession like writing, it’s sometimes difficult to connect with peers – or even realize that you have any. At MWW, I realized that the literary world is both large and small: there are many of us who come from across the country, but we are a tight knit group, bound by our mutual respect, appreciation, and encouragement of one another. I was expecting a community of writers at this conference – but I was not met. I was welcomed. – Valerie Weingart

“It was worth the trip from North Carolina! I’m going home with information and inspiration to aid my writing.” – Rebecca Paynter

“This was my first writers’ conference. MWW truly delivered on their promises. I  feel much more prepared to begin a writing career, and the atmosphere was perfect for connecting with so many amazing writers, authors, agents, and other members of the writing community. I am excited already for MWW 2017!” – Mary Rose Kreger

“Great content. Great community.” – Bo Thunboe

“Writing can be a lonely pursuit. The opportunity to find your tribe and make connections with other introverts tied to their computers was wonderful.” – Mary Robertson

“When you are stuck and alone in your writing journey, MWW will give you the kick in the pants you need. Stop wallowing and come find your people.” – Elizabeth Newman

“MWW is so inclusive of all writers’ wants and needs — topics, events, activities. This has been the best conference ever!” – Doris Smith

“As a young writer, this conference provided access to a variety of topics. I met other writers who immediately treated me with kindness and made me hopeful.” – Sarah Salow

From the faculty:

“Midwest Writers Workshop is a very special place for writers. I’ve been speaking and attending its sessions for nearly 15 years, and the sense of community and support is outstanding. It has played a role in launching numerous successful author careers-unsurprising, since it works so thoughtfully to fulfill its mission of helping writers flourish and be their best selves.” – Jane Friedman

“I’ll go just about anywhere to talk about the agony and ecstasy of writing fiction, but I’ve found the standard of excellence against which all writers conferences will be measured: the Midwest Writers Workshop in the Ball State University campus in Muncie, Indiana. Not only is the hospitality without peer, the staff is professional, the participants lively and whip-smart, the faculty engaging and edifying. Wanna believe that people still love to write and read? Come to Muncie!” – Tom Williams

“Please, please invite me to speak every year from now until infinity.” – Jen Malone

“Midwest Writers Workshop is the best workshop in the Midwest for writers no matter whether they are beginners or seasoned pros. The success stories are countless, and there’s a reason why.  This workshop is all about the writer from the moment the first sentence is written until the last goodbye is said.  It’s a five star event that prepares great writers to go out into the world and share their stories at the highest level.  I count this workshop as one of the main reasons that I have published twelve novels.” – Larry Sweazy

“It was a pleasure. And I already got a client out of it! I signed Jessica Rauh who I met in a pitch session!” – Jim McCarthy

Congratulations to the 2016 Manny Award winners! (and thanks to sponsor Matthew V. Clemens and Robin Vincent Publishing)

midwestwriters2016_web-100

Irene Fridsma – Poetry

Paula Mikrut - Nonfiction

Paula Mikrut – Nonfiction

Victor Suthammanont - Long Fiction

Victor Suthammanont – Long Fiction

Kathryn Page Camp - Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award

Kathryn Page Camp – Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irene Fridsma – Poetry

Paula Mikrut – Nonfiction

Victor Suthammanont – Long Fiction

Kathryn Page Camp – Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award

 

***

MWW16 may be in our rear view mirrors, but a lot of what we experienced and learned will always remain. We invite you to view our  Photo Gallery and tag yourself on our Facebook Page, which are sure to bring back memories.

So we’re patting ourselves on the back. And for just a while, basking in the bright light that was #mww16 before we move on to our 44th MWW, July 20-22, 2017.

Q&A with Liz Pelletier, CEO & Publisher of Entangled Publishing

Liz Pelletier co-founded Entangled Publishing in 2011. Over the past four years, Entangled has gone from a small start-up to a bestselling romance publisher, with more than 17 NYT bestsellers and 39 USA Today bestsellers. Her out-of the-box approach to everything from pricing strategies to marketing to editorial allows Entangled to be both disruptive and agile within a dynamic publishing landscape. Liz continues to disrupt the publishing business with her launching of Entangled Music in 2015, where stories come to life through the extension of music.

Midwest Writers committee member Cathy Shouse interviewed Liz about coming to 43rd writers’ conference this week, July 21-23, 2016, in Muncie, IN.

MWW: Which publishing lines of Entangled will you hear pitches for?

LP: I’m happy to listen to pitches for any Entangled imprint.

MWW: How should someone best prepare to pitch to you? Should they bring a couple of pages or anything with them? Manuscript should be finished?

LP: The best way to prepare to pitch to me is to relax. Unless your book’s genre is really far off from what we publish, I’m going to request a full regardless of the pitch. Some people have a real talent for pitching a book verbally that doesn’t match the writing, and others fumble through their pitch but have an amazing voice in print. I can’t really tell if a book is going to be great until I read it! So relax, start with word count, genre, and if the book is completed or not, and just tell me the very basics of the conflict and what you love most about the story. The rest we can figure out after I read your manuscript!

MWW: Is there any story genre or sub that is saturated/not appropriate? (Is a mystery without a romance thread acceptable, for example?)

LP: We’re really focused on stories with a strong romantic arc at Entangled. However, we are actively acquiring women’s fiction with a romantic element at this time as long as the main protagonist is 35yo or younger and the tone is humorous. Paranormal is still a bit saturated, but we are looking for vampires and shifters again! Beyond that, I’m just looking for a great story that I can get lost in.

MWW: You were co-founder of Entangled Publishing in 2011, and by 2013, you started collaborating with MacMillan and St. Martin’s. What did it feel like to have this said about you? John Sargent, Macmillan’s CEO, said, “We are hugely impressed with Liz Pelletier’s vision and what she has accomplished in such a short time. We found her out-of-the-box approach to publishing incredibly exciting and saw potential to work together with her on several levels. We think Liz and Entangled have found a new way forward and we think we can help build on that remarkable success.”

LP: John Sargent’s comments were a highlight in my career thus far. He’s truly a visionary in the publishing world, and I’ve been delighted to try to blend a traditional approach to publishing with Entangled’s more out-of-the box approach to digital. Our partnership with Macmillan has been amazing, and we look forward to continuing the relationship for many years to come.

MWW: How would you briefly define episodic writing? How much of a problem is it in manuscripts you see and what’s the cure?

LP: I don’t mind episodic writing in certain genres, the writer just needs to be aware that end of scene hooks are vastly important in today’s saturated market. So ending a scene with a pretty bow, as would happen in most scenes of this style, simply is not strong enough to create a bestseller in the romance market. In addition, stringing together a series of small conflicts that can be resolved within the scene is a good way to lose the attention of a reader as there is no main, overarching and organic conflict pulling the reader forward in the story written as episodic fiction. Chicklit, as an example, can do quite well in this form of writing, however one would still need to address a larger, big picture conflict as well as end of scene hooks to create an unputdownable read.

And just for fun:

Twitter or Facebook?  Facebook

Print or e-book? ebook

Disney or Universal? Disney

Writing platform or story? STORY

As an editor, if you can’t have both, will you choose writing style over content or vice versa? Writing style

In addition to hearing pitches, Liz’s sessions include:

  • “Editor Q&A with April Osborn”
  • “How to Edit a Bestseller”

Conference 101 for first-time attendees

MWW committee member Holly G. Miller will welcome first-timers to our workshop during a new session,“Conference 101,” Thursday, July 21, from 3:45 to 5:00 p.m.

Holly explains what that session will offer:

My goal for Conference 101 is twofold: First, I hope to reduce–or better yet, eliminate–the fear factor. Rubbing elbows with successful authors and New York agents sounds scary, but this is the friendliest environment imaginable. Authors and agents come here to share what they know, meet the NEXT generation of successful authors, and to be surrounded by people who love to read, write and tell stories. Second, I want Conference 101 to give newcomers a heads up on what to expect and how to get the most out of the two days that will follow. How should they decide which session to attend? How can they get feedback on the novel they’ve written?  Where can they hook up with people who want to write in their genre?

I’ve taught at writers’ workshops from Cape Cod to San Diego. Each one has a unique personality, but none is more motivating than MWW. That’s why people come back year after year. And that’s why it keeps growing.

Best piece of advice for persons heading to Muncie in July: Keep an open mind. If you write romance novels, sit in on a poetry class; if nonfiction is your passion, go hear how to plot a cozy mystery. In other words, plan to stretch yourselves in all sorts of new ways. The best part of being a writer is that you never master it. You’re always learning and experimenting.

MWW Holly Miller quote

 

About Holly:

Holly picAmong my noteworthy accomplishments:

1) Serving as a contributing editor to a magazine geared to high-tech professionals at a time when I barely knew how to switch on my IBM PC Jr.

2) Ghost-writing a book for a champion bodybuilder when I hadn’t been inside a gym since grade school.

3) Interviewing Judge Judy and living to tell about it (actually, she was very nice!)

Coming to MWW16, YA author Natalie C. Parker

Natalie C. Parker is the author of the Southern Gothic duology Beware the Wild and Behold the Bones (HarperTeen), as well as the editor of the forthcoming young adult anthology, Triangles: The Points of Love (HarperTeen). She is the founder of Madcap Retreats, an organization offering a yearly calendar of writing retreats and workshops. In her not-so-spare time, she works as a grant coordinator for the University of Kansas, where she runs writing workshops for tribal college students in STEM disciplines. 

Natalie will team teach the Part I “Building the YA Novel” Intensive Session with Julie Murphy.

MWW committee member Shelly Gage recently interviewed Natalie about her sessions and her writing.

SG: What should we expect from your sessions at MWW and how will they be structured?

NCP: Each of my sessions with be co-taught with the illustrious Julie Murphy. As we considered what we were best equipped to offer, we knew our focus would be on Young Adult genres and we settled on the intimate places where prose becomes power — single pages. We are both very interested in writing that takes the reader forward by leaps and bounds in the course of a single paragraph, page, or chapter.

Our sessions will be a blend of close analysis and practical application. We’ll study passages that represent voice and world building and character, and then we’ll challenge each other with prompts and exercises.

There will also be an abundance of Magic Mike references and possibly candy because what’s a writing workshop without a double dose of sugar?

SG: What achievement are you most proud of and why?

NCP: Madcap Retreats. Last year, I started a small business focused on creating writing retreats for aspiring and established writers. Almost a full year later, we’ve hosted five incredible events and have twice as many on the horizon.

The venture grew out of the first retreat I ever attended as an unagented, star-in-my-eyes writer. Having access to authors who were established in their careers and willing to talk about it was invaluable to me. I came away from that experience determined to recreate it for as many writers as possible. And that’s exactly what I’m doing with Madcap.

SG: How have conferences influenced your life and career (assuming that they have)? What writing tip or two has had the most positive impact on your career?

NCP: I didn’t attend my first writing conference until after I found my agent, but I was immediately taken by the possibilities for creative, constructive community. If I could give my younger self some advice, it would be to find a local writers’ conference and be brave!

The writing tip that continues to comfort and challenge me is this: break the rules. I have always bristled at the notion that there are do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating fiction. Do use dialogue tags, don’t use adverbs, do start close to the action, don’t open with a dream sequence. Hearing those things repeated again and again has always inspired me to find the exceptions. At some point, I realized that’s what I wanted out of my own writing — to create something that operates under its own set of rules.

SG: I really enjoyed the way you handled the supernatural elements in your books. My husband and I are real-life ghost hunters and the Clary stories reminded me of urban legends we’ve run into in our research, but they were also very grounded in Sticks. How much research did you do into the supernatural, or did you have personal experiences to draw upon?
NCP: As a kid, I was desperately in love with ghost stories and collected as many as I could get my hands on. But I also lived in a neighborhood with one house that was said to be haunted. It was a large house that pre-dated our Virginia subdivision with a wilting barn and a huge lawn that backed up to the Elizabeth River. And since I am a sagittarindor, I took (take?) every excuse to drag my friends on adventures. Especially adventures that might end up with ghosts. Double especially adventures that might result in a story about ghosts.
I can’t say that I ever successfully tracked down a real ghost, but I certainly crafted dozens of scenarios in my head. Many of my ghost stories come from the moments when I crouched in a dark surrounded by my friends and the destroyed walls of a barn, waiting for the noise that would send us running in terrified delight.
To be very honest, I’ve always felt a little like Candy in Behold the Bones–willing but maddeningly unable to see the ghosts that might be around me.

 

SG: Sterling’s voice was one of my favorite elements of Beware the Wild, and I loved the dynamic between Sterling and her friends, especially her relationship with Candace. I was delighted to find that you’d put out a sequel, and excited to see that the new story was from Candace’s perspective. She was such a forceful personality from the start. Did you know from the start that you would write a second book from her POV or did the character step up and demand her own book?  That seems like something Candy would do. 🙂
NCP: I wrote Beware the Wild as a stand alone and didn’t know that I was going to be able to write another story in Sticks until the time came to pitch my second book. But as soon as that possibility opened up, I knew it would be Candy’s voice at the helm. As a girl who was raised in Virginia by Mississippi parents, I love digging into tales about southern girls. Candy was equally a pill and a treat to write (and that’s just the way she likes it).
SG: Speaking of characters who may demand a book of their own, is there any possibility of a third story from Abigail’s POV?  Is there more to explore related to the Shine and the Swamp?
NCP: If there is ever an opportunity for me to return to Sticks, Abigail’s story is ready and waiting!
SG: If not a return to the Swamp, what is next for you?
NCP: I’m currently in the midst of editing my very first anthology filled to the brim with all sorts of love triangles! It’s been an incredible project to work on with 15 other Young Adult authors contributing in every genre imaginable. We’re working on the title now. It’s set to come out in fall 2017, and it’s going to break/ mend/ explode your heart.
Thank you so much for this incredible interview! I’m so excited to be joining MWW this year!

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Natalie’s (and Julie’s) Part II sessions include:

Agent/Author Relationships Panel Julie Murphy/Natalie Parker & Molly Jaffa, Amy Reichert & Rachel Ekstrom, Uwe Stender/Brent Taylor & Summer Heacock

Voice/Dialogue – Julie Murphy & Natalie C. Parker. Voice is the lifeblood of every story. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Some would even say it can’t even be taught. Join Natalie C. Parker and Julie Murphy as they unlock key secrets and tricks to finding and nailing your narrator’s voice.

Word by Word: What Your First Line Says About Your Book – Julie Murphy and Natalie C. Parker. We know a good first line when we hear one, but we don’t always stop to consider what makes it good. In this session, we will evaluate a series of first lines for the promises they make about the novel to follow.

 

Meet Karma Brown, popular Women’s Fiction author

Karma Brown is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist, freelance writer, and author of the international bestseller (and listed as one of The Globe & Mail’Top 100 books for 2015) Come Away With Me (Mira/HarperCollins). She spent her debut year blogging at The Debutante Ball, and is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers group. A former marketing director and copywriter, Karma now spends her days writing fiction in coffee shops, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. She’s also an avid runner, skier, and bucket list chaser, who believes coffee cures all. Karma lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her family. Her second novel, The Choices We Make, hits shelves July 12, 2016.

MWW committee member Shelly Gage recently interviewed Karma about her MWW sessions.

*  *  *

MWW: What should we expect from your sessions at MWW and how will they be structured?

KB: In our Women’s Fiction session Amy E. Reichert and I will discuss the genre’s definition and scope, common (and often overused) tropes, and what makes Women’s Fiction such a vital part of the publishing landscape. The workshop will explore different writing styles seen in Women’s Fiction, tips for your own writing, and ideas for helping your story stand out–including characterization, pacing, and conflict. We’ve also asked attendees to do a bit of pre-work, which is to read Forever, Interrupted and Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who we’ll be using as one example of how variable Women’s Fiction can be. The session will be interactive and hands-on, meaning you won’t have to listen to us drone on as though we’re delivering a lecture! It’s meant to be a fun yet intensive workshop, with significant takeaways for those writing within this genre. [NOTE: STILL TIME TO REGISTER AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS: For those with complete story ideas, you’re welcome to submit a 2 page, single-spaced synopsis to Karma and Amy, along with your first 250 words by July 1 (midwestwriters@yahoo.com/subject line: Women’s Fiction Intensive). All submitted synopses and writing samples will be given feedback, and a few will be discussed in class.]

MWW: What achievement are you most proud of and why?

KB: Outside of my marriage and becoming a mother (a major achievement as we had an extraordinary path to parenthood, which involved cancer and  gestational surrogacy  (http://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/features/a44046/my-sister-was-my-surrogate-and-i-am-a-mother-because-of-her/), I would say seeing Come Away With Me on the bookstore shelves (and bestseller list!) is the thing I’m most proud of. Whenever someone tells me how lucky I am to be an author and writer, I like to point out that luck had little to do with it (but thank you!) — that book showcases a lot of hard work, frustration, rejection, and grit.

MWW: What writing tip or two has had the most positive impact on your career?

KB: There are two writing tips that have stuck with me over the years: one,  you can’t edit a blank page (this seems to be attributed to a number of authors, but the first time I heard it was from Jodi Picoult); and two,  write every day. This last one is from Stephen King, whose memoir and writing craft book On Writing remains my favorite, and the one I go to whenever I need a boost. I’m fairly diligent about setting my alarm for a 5 a.m. wake up call, especially when I’m heavy into drafting, and knocking out a thousand words or so before everyone else gets up. It keeps me sane (as long as I have coffee) AND keeps the momentum going.

Mac or PC?

Mac. I can’t even use a PC anymore. My MacBook Air and I have a serious relationship (the keys are basically illegible because the letters have been scratched off from so much typing), and I don’t even like other people to touch it.

Plotter or Pantser?

I like to call myself a “Plantser” – part plotter, part pantser. I create a fairly in-depth synopsis before I even start writing, and then map out the chapters and scenes using a writing tool called Scrivener (there is nothing better for drafting a book, though I do final edits and revisions in Word). But once I have this roadmap I allow myself some freedom, and see where the characters take me. Also, I never have the end sorted out until I’m about two thirds of the way through the book.

Early bird or night owl?

I used to be a night owl, but then I had a child and she’s the quintessential early bird (she used to wake up at 4 a.m., EVERY SINGLE DAY). She trained me to get up before the sun and birds, and I realized it was the perfect time to write. So now I’m an early bird and I can’t imagine going back to late night writing … everything feels so much more manageable in the morning, as long as there’s a lot of coffee.

Coffee or tea?

*See above!

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Karma’s Part II sessions include:What to Expect When You’re Expecting a (Book) Baby –  Taking a book from SOLD to shelf can be a long process, filled with plenty of unknowns, hard labor, and thrilling milestones. Tips and insights for what to expect through (and beyond) the debut year.
Slaying the Synopsis – Tips and tricks for how to write a killer synopsis that gets the job done…without losing your mind, or your creative energy, while you do!