We may be in the throes of winter, but MWW is thinking spring! We’ve planned a one-day mini conference for March 18, at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN. Whether you’re missing the summer conference and want a boost, or considering attending in July for the first time, the March mini has a taste of several aspects of our full-sized conference.
There is a choice of four intensives, an expert panel discussion, a book signing, and author/student fellowship. All of the details and how to register, are at the end of this message. But first, we’ve gotten some insider tips from one of the authors who will lead an intensive in March.
Lucy Kerr is the pen name of Erica O’Rourke, an award-winning author of young adult fiction. Her debut adult mystery, Time of Death, published by Crooked Lane Books, released in December 2016. Lucy lives outside Chicago with her family, her cat, and many, many piles of books. She likes strong coffee, rainy days, old buildings, and fresh-baked cookies — but she likes telling stories best of all. [Erica O’Rourke is the award-winning author of The Torn Trilogy (Torn, Tangled, and Bound). Her latest series is The Dissonance Series (Dissonance, Harmonic, Resonance).]
MWW: You shared great insights on “voice” at MWW 2013. What strikes me about your new mystery release, Time of Death, is how your voice carries through despite switching genres. How important is voice and do you have a quick tip or two on honing voice?
EO/LK: I recently read a statistic claiming 5,000 new titles are published on Amazon EACH DAY. A distinctive, well-honed voice helps an author stand out from the crowd, win over readers, and keep them coming back. My best advice: play to your strengths. If your voice tends to be lush and dreamy, look for ways to emphasize that, whether through setting or internal monologue or something else. If your voice is dark and gritty, make sure your metaphors and dialogue reflect that. Figure out what makes your voice unique, and then make every sentence in your story uniquely yours.
MWW: Elements of mystery writing seem to sneak into many stories these days. In what ways will your mystery session at the March mini conference, which includes ideas on how to create “charismatic characters,” benefit writers of all genres?
EO/LK: Regardless of genre, most readers want the same thing: characters they care about (or are at least invested in), and to be surprised, whether by a plot twist, a fresh take on an old trope, inventive worldbuilding, or countless other ways. Even if mysteries aren’t your primary genre, this class will give you more tools for your writerly toolbox, which is something all authors can use.
MWW: The mini conference offers a panel discussion that features you and your publicist, Dana Kaye. How important do you think book promotion is to book sales? If possible, please share an example of help Dana has provided in this area.
EO/LK: You can write the greatest book in the world, but if nobody knows about it, they won’t buy it. Some writers are naturally gifted at (and comfortable with) publicity. I, however, am not one of those people. Dana’s done a fantastic job of booking me for various events and panels, but most importantly, she’s helped me to feel more confident when it comes to promoting my books, and given me strategies for everything from presenting more effectively to writing newsletters that actually get opened.
MWW: Would you like to add anything about the upcoming mini conference and/or ways such events have impacted your career?
EO/LK: I’m thrilled to be returning to MWW! Hands down, it’s one of the best conferences I have ever attended. It’s jam-packed with information, the people are smart and engaging and welcoming, and the entire experience was delightful. I constantly recommend it to other writers as the best bang for your conference buck.
To learn more about Erica/Lucy:
Her Books: TIME OF DEATH ~ available now from Crooked Lane Books (as Lucy Kerr); DISSONANCE & RESONANCE ~ available now from Simon & Schuster BFYR
Twitter: @erica_orourke www.ericaorourke.com
Here’s a quick schedule of what will happen:
9:00 am – noon: Choose one of four intensive sessions
 Crafting Killer Crime Fiction with Lucy Kerr (aka Erica O’Rourke) — You’ve got a dead body – now what? Assuming it’s a fictional body, this class will help you create compelling, binge-worthy mystery story. Through the use of discussions, in-class exercises, and handouts, participants will learn how to create gasp-worthy plot twists, devious red herrings, and memorable, charismatic characters. We’ll also talk briefly about research and different sub-genres of crime fiction. (If you’ve got a real dead body, though, you’re on your own.)
 Capturing the Young Adult Experience with Whitney Gardner — YA is growing in popularity and gaining wider audiences every year. In this session we will learn how to incorporate authentic teen feelings into writing that feels raw, honest, and even comical. Whether your teen moments were recent or decades ago, we’ll discuss breaking rules, being stubborn, and how to write books that your mom wouldn’t want to catch you reading. Pre-work: Come up with an amazing excuse for why you couldn’t do your pre-work and be prepared to read it to the class.
 Inspired by a True Story: Creative Nonfiction and Autobiographical Fiction with Julia Borcherts — The two questions most often asked when writing creative nonfiction and autobiographical fiction are: 1) How do I choose which moment(s) to tell? And 2) Which elements make the material appealing to an audience? In this workshop, we’ll discuss these questions and use interactive group exercises, oral tellings, journal work and exploration of scenic elements to generate potential topics and create one lively, compelling and visually vibrant piece to serve as the basis for a dynamic personal essay or as a foundation for longer, scene-driven autobiographical fiction.
 What’s Your Platform? with Dana Kaye — Once you’ve completed your novel, establishing a platform is crucial for building a readership. And if you’re writing nonfiction, a platform is necessary for landing the actual book deal. But where do you start? Veteran book publicist and social media pro will walk participants through the steps of establishing a platform, both online and in-person. From media appearances to social media presence to online marketing, participants will leave with the tools they need to grow an engaged audience that will impress agents and publishers.
Noon – 1:00 pm: break for lunch (provided)
1:00-2:00 pm: “I Finished My Book! Now What? “Panel with Erica and Whitney, moderated by Dana Kaye
2:00-2:45 pm: Live Lit boot camp with Julia Borcherts, improve your stage presence and live reading skills
3:00-4:30 pm: Faculty reading, followed by student open-mic (open to the public)
5:00-7:30 pm: Cash Bar & Faculty book signing party
Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she lives by a bridge with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, and tending her garden or apiary. You’re Welcome, Universe is her debut novel.
Julia Borcherts is a creative nonfiction and fiction writing instructor at Columbia College Chicago and National Louis University, and the publicity manager with Kaye Publicity. She is also the co-founder of the popular Reading Under the Influence live lit series and a former freelance journalist with Chicago Tribune’s RedEye, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Reader and many other publications. Her award-winning personal essays have appeared in Hypertext Magazine, Hair Trigger Magazine, Fresh Yarn, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck: Stories from 2nd Story and many other publications.
Dana 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 the founder of Branding Outside the Box, an online resource to help users identify and launch their personal brand.
The cost is $155
To register, go HERE.
We hope you’ll join us for the mini and “Think Spring!”