ARTICLE POST: Writing Convention

article, writing

So I recently went to my first writing convention this past Saturday. It was a one-day affair and about an hour away from my home, so I wasn’t forced to dish out an obscene amount of money to attend it. At the convention, they allowed writers to purchase 10-min pitch times with agents. I decided I would pitch a new trilogy I started writing to two agents, Nephele Tempest and Sara Sciuto.

Before attending, I had no idea what to expect and I was ridiculously nervous about the pitch. I memorized my 1-2 minute blurb and ran it through my head repeatedly the night before, on the drive there, and even during the event. Both my pitches were scheduled early in the day, so I wasn’t pacing throughout the event.

My first pitch was to Sara Sciuto. She represents a variety of works ranging from picture books to young adult books. Which is perfect, because I have a young adult fantasy and a middle grade idea that I’ve been tinkering around with. The beginning of my pitch sounded rehearsed, but it became a more colloquial toward the end (at least I hope it did). She asked me a few questions about it and I answered with more in-depth explanations of the different fantasy concepts woven into it and she said she was intrigued! She handed me her business card and asked me to send the first 50-pgs of my manuscript. I was downright giddy at this point, but I still had about 5 minutes left from my 10 minutes. I didn’t want to just get up and waste half my time, so instead I asked her questions (because from the articles I read about pitches at writing conventions, that’s what you’re supposed to do). I asked her what other fantasy books she’s representing and what style of writing she most particularly enjoyed so I could get to know her better. Overall it was a successful pitch and if she does like my manuscript, I know I would really enjoy working with her!

My second pitch was with Nephele Tempest. By this time, my head was still bobbling from my first pitch, so I was a bit more relaxed and natural. Since I got Sara’s card and interest, I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. (Of course I wanted it to be a success, who wouldn’t want the interest of two agents instead of one?) My second pitch was more natural and conversational and Nephele made a few ooh’s and ahh’s during it that made me smile. She was also very intrigued by it and gave me her business card to send her the first 50pgs of my manuscript as well. I was ecstatic.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if maybe the agents were just giving their cards to all the authors who pitched to them out of good measure since they went out of their way to pay for those short, precious 10 minutes, but it really didn’t matter to me. I felt that in a way, we skipped the first part of querying agents, the part that has them opening the initial email to read your query to ask for a longer sample. And to me, that’s worth every penny. Plus, now the agents are able to put a face to the query/manuscript, which humanizes the process. There’s no guarantee they’ll like my manuscript. They might have enjoyed the idea of it, but writing style is a whole other beast.

I’ve been working on finishing and refining my manuscript in order to send it to them. (Although, I did learn that an agent’s request for a longer sample has no deadline) Therefore, I’m trying not to rush myself because I really want to send my best work. But I have made a self-induced deadline of October 31 to get the first draft completed and the first 50-pgs refined to send out. I figure that I’ll have another 1-2 months after submitting the first 50-pgs to polish the rest of my manuscript while they read my longer sample.

I’m glad I registered for the Los Angeles Writing Workshop 2015 (#LAWW15). It was a very positive experience and I learned a lot. I think the only thing that I might have enjoyed would have been to connect with other writers more. Because the convention was so short, you didn’t really have much time to get to know that many people. I’m thinking it would be great to attend a writing retreat or even a longer writing convention in the future.

This is the first sentence of my new trilogy!

“A wish made was a price paid, and no power could undo it.”
-Death Life Taken

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN:

ARTICLE POST: Connecting You to the Next Level – Everyone is connected somehow someway…

ARTICLE POST: Constructive Criticism Revisions – Ask for opinions, they matter, despite how much it may hurt…

ARTICLE POST: The Pen vs. the Keyboard – Pick up your pen and paper instead of your phone next time…

ARTICLE POST: Constructive Criticism Revisions

article

The writing process can be a very daunting experience. Some writers will be blinded by the bright overbearing blank pages that are waiting to be filled with a string of seemingly common words woven into something profound and meaningful, while other writers wear goggles as they fill pages and pages of content, most of the time all rubbish. But like everything in life, you need to find the happy medium and be willing to make changes in your work. Adaptability means survival.

Recently, a new manuscript idea came to me and I got really excited and scribbled everything about it in my notebook. Upon returning home, I began compiling a complete series outline before starting to write (something I promised myself I would do from now on). I hadn’t thought about the smaller details of the book and as I wrote my outline I began filling them in where I could. What I ended up with was a goldmine! Or so I thought … I was wearing googly goggles. And I didn’t realize it until I went to my family and pitched the idea to them.

First, I pitched the story to my older sister (27 years old). She had questions but was overall interested in the concept and said it was an original idea that she would like to read. I could’ve stopped there, because validation is the only feedback you want to hear. WRONG, writers keep fishing! So, I went to my mother (55 years old) and I pitched the same story to her. However, she said that even though the idea was unique, it wasn’t grabbing her attention. I can argue that it’s because of her age difference, as this book is a young adult book, however she also read my first fantasy romance young adult novel and said it was very interesting, so it’s not really a valid argument. Then finally, I asked my little sister what she thought (19 years old). She’s the closest to my reading audience, so in a way, her opinion matters the most in this situation. She agreed that the idea was interesting, but admitted that it was a bit confusing for her to understand.

One approval. One denial. And one wishy-washy interest. Something was definitely wrong. For a pitch, I need three unquestionable approvals. So, I took a second look at the outline I had written and realized that each of them was right to a certain extent and that I needed to do some heavy duty revising, even if it meant scrapping chunks of my concepts. So this is what I observed:

First, the premise of the story is strong and original and I need to work out a few details, but they’re minor.

Second, I need to develop a more gripping pitch summary. This is really important since I’m planning on pitching this manuscript idea to two agents at a writing conference I’ll be attending in October.

Third, the series is in desperate need of some simplifying. Sometimes, more is not always more, less is. I realized that just because I make a story more complicated by adding more twists and turns, it doesn’t make it any more interesting; it actually takes away from the main idea because it gets lost under all that gunk, no matter how glittery and shiny said gunk may be.

As a writer, whether creative or academic you must be open to constructive criticism. Most of the time you’re so enraptured by your creation that you turn a blind eye to major problems that others see. So you need to ask a variety of people, revise, then ask again, revise, ask, revise, ask, and repeat until the answers are somewhat in the same ball park. Remember, you won’t be able to please everyone, but you shouldn’t be aiming for that as a writer–your job is to write something that remains true to yourself that hopefully others will enjoy as well.

ARTICLE POST: The Pen vs. the Keyboard

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

Where do writers come up with some of their stories? Some of the worlds created in these portable pieces of magic we call books, are insanely descriptive, as if they truly exist. And whether it is in our minds, or another dimension we cannot see, these worlds are real to those who read it. So the question is, where do these authors come up with their ideas for books?

Sipping on a piping hot cup o’ joe in a small nondescript cafe?

Venturing the blazing deserts of Egypt?

Dreaming during a very deep REM cycle?

Spinning around in the office chair making sense of the passing blurs?

I’m positive the experience is very different among the millions of writers out there. One thing I do know for sure, is that these ideas come completely unannounced, so you really need to be ready for it. You know that feeling when you leave your house in the morning and the sky is shining blue–a few clouds shaped as bunnies pass by–but then all of a sudden it starts to rain and you don’t have an umbrella, so you get drenched? That’s what I feel like when I get an idea and I don’t write it down, and I’m sure I’ve lost one too many good book ideas this way, which is why I always carry around a notebook. I’m old school like that. Yes, I know we live in a time where technology is prevalent in all aspects of our lives and I can bust out my handy-dandy iPhone 5s (did you see what I did there??) and type my idea in my notepad app, but I love notebooks and I love to scribble.

I have notebooks galore. I never really need them, but if I come across a beautiful one, then I can never really say “no” to buying it. My shopping addictions aren’t the point of this article, the point I’m trying to make is that I think everyone should carry some form of paper & pen with them at all times.

You not only want to write sudden epiphanies and ideas, but you also want to be able to draw, and you will always be limited with the ability to draw on your phones–the screens may be getting bigger, but your fingers aren’t getting any less fatter!

There are actually scientific studies that say those who practice the art of paper and pen (ok, it’s not actually called that) are more productive and creative. I imagine it has to do with the way your mind works. Your brain is shooting specific nerves to make your fingers move to click the right button. When you type, you’re just clicking a button, each button has a different letter on it, but all in all at the end of the day, it’s still just a button. Your fingers move more by muscle memory as you’re taught at a young age that your left index finger rests on the letter “f” while the right one should be on the letter “j.” However, when you use a pen to write, you are physically moving your hand to write the letter “i” and you can’t forget to dot it or it might look like a midget “L.” When you’re actually writing the word, ideas flow naturally through your mind right onto the page.

I tend to lean toward blank notebooks (because I’m a rebel and I refuse to be confined to the social standards of using lines! jk). Blank notebooks allow me to scribble, write very tiny for ants to read or very large for giants, and draw as if I’m the next Leonardo da Vinci.

Notebooks are like a diary and everyone has had a diary at one point or another (pssst–I still have one today at the ripe age of 24). You can pick up a notebook you wrote passing thoughts in years later and it may strike a chord in you or remind you of something important that you forgot. Those fleeting ideas that seemed trivial may be the next big thing. After a couple days, weeks, or years, if you look back on a simple idea, then you may see it in a different light and it can evolve into a beast of an idea you never imagined it could.

It’s 1:30am in the morning on a Thursday and I’m writing about notebooks and pens, while ironically typing it all on a keyboard. Anyway, give yourself a chance to be creative and carry around a notebook/pen for a month and see what you can come up with–I guarantee you’ll be surprised.