Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pat's Convention Note #20 of 100 things I learned from attending SIX LITERARY CONFERENCES in 2014

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to teach an aspiring author workshop at a local library.
After compiling my notes from what I learned at this year's conferences, I created this handout for participates. Hopefully, this can help someone else.

The First Book workshop by Christian author Pat Simmons
Copyright 2014.

A great book has six vital parts: Narration, dialogue, memorable characters, plot and description.
How many characters are too many characters? Keep an alphabetical spreadsheet of all your characters.
Everybody in your book should have a purpose to advance the heroine/hero’s agenda. If not, delete them.
**How does the FIRST LINE of each chapter begin and the LAST PARAGRAPH end?

*Check out Scrivener, a program many authors are using to store research, organize their ideas and write their manuscripts. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php. Free 30 day trial
Writing A Romance for Dummies by Leslie Wainger
Words You Thought You Knew by Jenna Glatzer
What Not to Say by Linda J. Beam
The Most Common Mistakes in English Usage by Thomas Elliott Berry
**Scholastic Dictionary of Synonyms, Antonyms, and Homonyms: aunt or ant; grown or groan; wring or ring, etc.*** Invaluable reference handbook.

To create an outline: List 20 major scenes that will happen in 20 chapters.      

*You need to know long it takes you to write a book before you sign that contract.

Moody Publishers had three of my books released within one year. YIKES.
I have a book due to Whitaker House January 1, 2015. I haven’t started. Another YIKES.
Military bases—ask for the BX Base Exchange vendor manager. Dave Couture and Allen Maki at Scott AFB are very friendly. They charge a commission rate from 12% to 25%. Sign at bases that charge under 20%. If you sell nothing, you pay nothing. To make the most of your time and money, stay all day to catch the morning, lunch, afternoon and then after work crowd.
Social networking: There are all kinds of writing groups on FB. Beware, the moderators want you to be active and do more than promote your book. There is also LinkedIn where I found librarians; Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, etc. St. Louis Black authors collective on FB
*Check out my blog: http://conventionnotes.blogspot.com/
*Literary conferences—always look at the workshops that are being offered.
There are conferences for every genre.

Social networks: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Promotional items: postcards: I use Next Day Flyers, use promo code
Ink pens: http://www.amsterdamprinting.com/
Brochures/banners: http://www.uprinting.com/
Search for great deals by Googling “cheap”.
Two people known in the industry for promoting authors:
LaShaunda Hoffman. Shades of Romance Magazine, promotes more than romance in eblasts. She also does online conferences. Reach her at sormag@yahoo.com
Ella Curry, EDC Creations: blog tours online and promotions. She also hosts BAN (Black Author Network) blogtalk radio shows. Reach her at ellacurryprez@edc-creations.com.

DO NOT use your mother, cousin or friend to give you the final edit. Most writers, especially newbies, need a developmental editor, line editor, and proof reader.
Every editor and publisher is different. Always ask for a free sample. Lately, I’ve used *Fiveer.com, which will become your BEST friend on a budget. Most are professionals and freelances that offer great services on covers, formatting and promotions, starting at $5.
Beware before hiring any type of editors. Make sure they live within the US. Otherwise, you’ll get someone who will edit in the Queen’s English. Such examples are honor vs. honour; recognise vs. recognize.
My first freelance editor was REALLY big on using repetitious words (she smiled, he smiled, they smiled—use a thesaurus).This same editor wouldn’t give me a break on weak chapter endings. I groan.
·         When I was with Moody Publishers, I noticed the editor was big on transition from one paragraph to another. The flow was seamless. I watch for that today.
·         My editor at Whitaker Publisher is really big on timelines, no jumping back and forth, such as a party in June, then going back to an Easter church service in April.

Once, I tried a freelance editor and when she got through ripping up my story—mindful after I had already been published with eight plus books—my head was messed up, causing me to doubt myself on that story for almost year until I could clear my head.

Here’s a good article about editing: http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1576449

Getting published

·         Secure an agent, which isn’t an easy task. Use Writer’s Market Handbook, attend conferences, and check out blogs. My agency has a blog that gives readers tips. http://www.chipmacgregor.com/
·         Get noticed by publishing eBooks. One indie author success story is Bella Andre who earns $20,000 a month.
What is Writer’s Block? You can’t tell a story if you don’t know it yourself.
Wake up your characters in your head.  Most of the time they come alive when you’re about to go to sleep. Take the time and joint notes.
Ask them questions: Sara, your mother just died. How do you feel?
Dave, you just got a promotion. How are you going to celebrate?
Girl, your boyfriend cheated on you. What’s your game plan for revenge?
If you start asking your characters questions, you are forcing them to answer.

Happy writing!

Look for my Christmas novella: CHRISTMAS GREETINGS Thanksgiving Day.