Marion Jensen alias Matthew Buckley needs to write for television--the guy is a comic genius--total deadpan with killer jokes. He did the welcome and introduction.
Next I attended Laura Rennart's--How to Ace the Audition. She said to have an elevator pitch memorized focusing on Who? What? Where? and Why should I care? What is the unusual detail that sets your story apart? Get at the HEART! The elevator pitch is something that you can tell someone about your book in under three minutes. She was great. FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES and do your research. Don't send a thriller to someone who doesn't publish thrillers.
Next I attended Josi Kilpack's session on getting the most from booksignings and launching parties. I've been friends and an admirer of Josi for about six years. I've attended several of her awesome book launch parties and hope to do the same thing when my next book comes out. Which I hope will be before I die. Everyone keeps asking me and well that's all I can tell you for sure. Anyway Josi sends out about 350 postcards even to those who couldn't possibly come to the party, but it's a way of creating an event with your book and letting everyone know where they can get one. In other words don't forget to include online ordering information. Make sure that you know what else is going on in the community and to not schedule the party at the same time. Josi does her launch parties at a local independent bookstore in her community.
Then I attended Jeff Savage's session on villains. Jeff is one of the best presenters that I know. He is professional. He is courteous. He is generous with advice. And most important he is funny. The main thing I learned is that I need a more menacing and clear villain in my work in progress. But that the villain has to be believable and basically like the hero--they should have clear motives.
By this time on Friday 4:00--I was really tired. Still recovering from the lingering effects of pneumonia, I was drifting a bit during Stephanie Black's session on techniques for mystery/suspense writers, but she is really good also. Stephanie's book just took the Whitney for the best suspense of 2009. I haven't read it yet, but it looks really creepy doesn't it? I learned that she loves Jack Bickham, so I've resolved to read what he has to say. One of my favorite quotes from her session is "Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." Kurt Vonnegut.
The keynote speaker for Friday night was David Wolverton/David Farland highly successful writer and teacher. They honored him with a lifetime achievement award Saturday night at the Whitneys. At our dinner table I sat by some friends, Anne Bradshaw, Jolynne Lyon and Amber Smith. We discussed how much better the food was at this conference than one we'd been to that was not a storymaker conference, but I won't mention any names.
Saturday: One of my wip (works in progess) is to write the story of a friend of mine who has had a very interesting life so I attended a session by Mary Greathouse on writing memoirs. She has a lot of great sites to go to and good information. It was geared more to those who want to write family histories, but I still found it helpful.
Sarah Eden: A storymaker whom I've never met--we're a very large group now--was hilarious. My goodness she has a lot of energy. She is not a fan of the old time greats, like Charles Dickens, at least in how they have pages and pages of description that isn't necessary to the story. She showed us how detail could be used to show character and so forth. How details should be appropriate for the character, to use and example she put up a scene where two guys are working out in the gym and discussing their outfits and the periwinkle walls. She had contests to have the group fix the passage. One changed the gender, one change their sexual orientation, and one changed the wording, but kept the scene. It was fun and telling.
Stacey Anderson: "The Santa Letters" has done a tremendously good job at self-promotion and taught us how to do the same. Lots of what she does, I realized I'm just not cut out for. I have a hard time putting myself out there. But there were things I could do and I tried to focus on those. One good idea was to send out News releases to the media-- not press releases. She worked for a newspaper and knows that most press releases get tossed. Look for ways your story can be made into news. She sent her book to some influential people--like Laura Bush and got a personal letter back from her. She could do that because her book related to drunk driving. Mine--well they are suspense. I'd have to come up with another angle. Many of my friends and I help each other with blog tours and social networking. Those are things I can do.
Ok, by this time I really wanted to go home. I still wanted to visit a bit more with my mother in Orem, but at 2:00 I had an important meeting with the senior editor Kirk Shaw at Covenant--my publisher. I'd never met him before so of course was just a bit nervous since I wanted to pitch my next book to him, well as luck would have it, he sat down in the open chair next to me at lunch. This made the meeting with him easy and worthwhile. He gave me lots of encouragement and some good ideas on how to get this next book published. It's a mystery set in Yellowstone National Park.
By now I was late to the final workshop I would be attending, Dave Wolverton's. He gave great advice on making our books more successful--one was to strike an emotional cord. People love books that will make them laugh and make them cry. Another was to broaden your audience. He told us how he made a character with a German name who had a Japanese heart. The book was very successful in Germany and in Japan. I was so tired though, I ended up leaving early, saying goodbye to a few friends out in the foyer and I was on my way back home--geared and ready to WRITE!
I love to write and am happy to feel like I'm getting back in the game.