You write

No doubt about it. Writing is a solitary pursuit. A story idea comes to you. You think about it alone. You research it alone. You write a first draft alone. Revise alone.

In between those steps, if you’re lucky enough to have writing friends and colleagues you trust, you share what you’ve written. You receive criticism, hopefully helpful, but even when it is, YOU have to decide if and how to integrate it into your story.

When it’s polished and perfect, you work on a query letter meant to inform and intrigue literary agents while you investigate said agents to find a good fit for you and your novel.

And then you query. And query. And query.

And wait. And wait. You’re occasionally lucky and get a nibble–a request for 3 chapters, or the whole manuscript. And then, while you wait to hear from those agents, you research others and query some more.

When agents answer with things like ‘solid writing’ or ‘terrific story but not for me’, you read them alone. And when you’re frustrated, you read other writers’ novels. Reading is also a solitary sport.

In singular moments, other story ideas come to you and you begin to think about where this one’s going. And you write.. alone.

You set aside a completed work which hasn’t found a publishing home to complete that second, and a third. You tell yourself it’s not your time, but that that time will come.

And you write.


Mountain Time is Conference Time

I love the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writers Conference. For one thing, the attendees are so friendly. Sharing meals with them includes conversations about travel, favorite authors, latest publishing trends.

Attending the conference also gave me face-to-face time with a writer friend of mine, Stephanie,  who lives just outside Denver. So, of course, the first thing we did was plan for dinner on Friday night. Stephanie found a really great Thai place and we chatted about the area and the history and generally caught up. That evening was among the highlights of the trip.

One of the things I love about the Denver conference is that you can print out the handouts from every session beforehand. Aside from being able to see the offerings indepth and be ready to hit the ground running, you really, sincerely do not need to bring a computer. Of course, I did, but next time I go I won’t. Between the printouts and the pad/pen set in the goodie bag, there’s just no need. My iphone and kindle can check email and do web stuff and if I wanted to overhaul a file (like the overview I presented to Katharine Sands), I could keep it on my kindle or in gmail, and print it in the business center. They don’t charge for printing there if you use 10 sheets or less.

The Friday morning master class was a good one. Eight writers present, of which 6 were writing middle school and YA. We were required to submit the first 10 pgs and an overview of our mss before attending. As well, we had to critique the others’ submissions, print them out and bring them with us to share after the verbal critiquing was finished.

I’m chagrinned to admit it was a revelation. The kids’ stories were fabulous, filled with humor and pathos and lots of imagination, and I know they’ll be published very soon.

The session was moderated by Jennifer Unter, who presently reps more middle school and YA than anything else (her kids are young) but does rep lots of genres. I chose Unter’s master class to shore up my pitch to Sands, but in the course of the Q&As after our class, Ms. Unter mentioned the only novel she has coming out this fall is a historical romance. I may query her as soon as I research a bit more. <wink>

Later that day, I pitched Katharine Sands, a generous hands-on agent who liked what she read, and not only pointed out the flaws but helped me understand how to strengthen my query. We talked about New York restaurants, and at the session’s end, she asked me to submit some scenes to her.

I also met Nephele Tempest, of the Knight Agency. She’s based in LA while the firm is Atlanta-based. Great lady to spend time with, easy-going, expressive, knowledgeable.

Sessions… So many, and catering to all levels of writing, and to the current publishing scene as well. There were 4 panels–agents part 1 & 2, an editors’ panel, and a newly minted authors panel. A few sessions geared toward marketing your book in today’s market; dealing with book stores, a session on how to use history in historical fiction–like broad strokes or really detailed facts.

There were two sessions on From Query to Publication–a 40 minute session with Liz Peletier, and another that covered the same ground in greater detail–for 3 hours. I went to that one. Interesting stuff–everything from querying dos and don’t to submission boards and acquisition boards to who actually gets to name your book and decide on the cover art. Katharine Sands did that one, in the process glowing about how she loved Diana’s stories and how she idolized Janet Reid as the agent par excellence for her commitment to her writers.

Sunday was a relaxing day. I went to an early session called “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”–all about the changes in Victorian fashions through the 1800s and into the Edwardian period. I’m not writing that period, but watching the evolution of corsets, crinolines, hoops and bustles was eye-opening. Pam Nowak writes Victorian romances, and brought  5 or 6 dresses with her. These weren’t costumes, they were original dresses–all but one, which she had a dressmaker sew from an original period pattern.

Anyone who considers the Victorian era romantic must not be a woman. Between the corsets that deprived one of oxygen, misformed the ribcage and kept a woman from any sort of natural motion, and the 30 or so pounds of clothing she had to wear, well, I’ll bet secretly they applauded Elizabeth Smith Miller and Amelia Bloomer (yep, the gal they named bloomers after) for bucking the whalebone, crinoline, hoop and bustle trend in favor of freedom of movement (not to mention the freedom to breathe normally!).

In short, I had a fabulous time at the conference and would return to it again in a heartbeat. Well done, conference committee!