Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surrey Conference tips 9 & 10



Number Nine - Have manuscript, will travel
If you're staying at the hotel and are pitching a book, you might want to bring a copy of the manuscript to keep in your room. But few editors or agents, however interested they are in it, will want to take it away with them in their suitcase. They are more likely to give you their card, and tell you what they would like to see (complete proposal, query and samples, full ms.) and how (by snail mail or email).

You could be prepared with a one-pager of information - the title, a one-para. synopsis, your bio, and full contact info. - which you can give them as a reminder of who you are and what you will be sending them later.

Number Ten
comes from Ursula Maxwell Lewis who is the conference Treasurer and responsible for media relations. (and editor of the
Cloverdale Reporter & Traveling Times)

Be prepared to make friends. SiWC is one of the best places to make worthwhile writing connections, and good friends. At the very first SiWC held at Johnson Heights Secondary 16 years ago, a writer asked if she could join me for lunch. We've been great friends and writing companions ever since. Each year I hear people say how pleased they are to meet up again, share experiences, trade ideas, and give and take advice. Pearls of great price indeed in a rather solitary field of endeavor.

Please join in. It's going to be a challenge for me to come up with fifty tips, so yours would be very welcome. Just leave a comment here and I'll add a link to it at the surreywriters listserv where I am also posting these tips.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Surrey Conference tips #s 7&8


Tip # 7: Double up for twice the benefit
Conference Volunteer Coordinator Camille Netherton suggests that instead of heading to a workshop with a friend, purposefully go to different workshops, promise to take good notes and share handouts. This way you can get twice the good info!

And while we`re on the topic of multiplication...
Tip # 8: Take twice as many writing implements as you think you might need.
If you`re anything like me, you lend your pen to someone, then forget to ask for it back. Or stick it in your hair then lose track of it just when you need to make note of a particularly cogent piece of information. Or put it down when you`re juggling handouts, coffee, and other conference miscellanea, then walk away without it. If you take half a dozen pens with you, you`ll have one to keep, two to lose, one to lend, and a couple to give to others who have lost their last one!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conference tips #5 & 6 - Hit pause



Today, two on related topics

#5 comes from Ron Wodaski:
What do you do when you find yourself tongue tied or, worse, gushing when you meet someone famous? Relax and enjoy it. It happens to me every year and I swear before I go, every time, I'm going to keep a level head. I never do. After a while it wears off, and you will find yourself having a nice conversation with that person. Just relax into it. Breathe.


#6 This tip comes from Julie Ferguson of Beacon Literary Services: Editor/agent appointments: Nerves often cause writers to gabble, so treat the meeting as a conversation not a monologue. Stop talking frequently so the editor or agent can get a word in.


Please join in. It's going to be a challenge for me to come up with thirty tips, so yours would be very welcome, too. Just leave a comment here and I'll add a link to it at the surreywriters listserv where I am also posting these tips.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Surrey Conference Tips #3 & 4

As tips from other people are coming in so thick and fast, I decided to post two today. If this keeps up, perhaps we'll hit the 50 mark by Oct. 24.



Tip #3


This one comes from Conference Bookseller Liaison Carmen Merrells. Sounds as if she's already planning her packing list, so this is for all those who like to plan their wardrobe in advance:
Dress in layers. The wonky institutional airconditioning and various numbers of bodies in the different workshop rooms means some rooms are warm and some are cold. Be prepared to peel it off or pad it on.

If you want to know whose who else is who on the Conference Board, check here.
(LP- a shawl can be handy to cover bare shoulders if you're gussied up for an evening event, for covering yr. legs in a drafty room, for wrapping around yourself if you need a breather outside...)

Tip #4


If you're an out-of-towner, bring an extra suitcase or bag for all those signed books, conference handouts and draw prizes you'll want to take home. You may start out thinking you will limit your spending over the weekend, but once you catch sight of all those books - with authors standing by ready to sign them - your budget may fly out of the window, and you may need a book truck to get your autographed copies home.

Please join in. It's going to be a challenge for me to come up with thirty tips, so yours would be very welcome, too. Just leave a comment here and I'll add a link to it at the surreywriters listserv where I am also posting these tips.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Surrey Conference tips #2 - Java anyone?


With thirty more sleeps to the 2008 Surrey International Writer's Conference, I thought I'd rack my brains and see if I can come up with a conference tip a day. These are also posted at the surreywriters listserv. Here's #2, so we're all caught up.

Things have changed at the conference recently. In past years there may have been a single coffee urn on the go for early birds, then you had to wait until lunch for another jolt.

(Don't blame the organizers. The cost of coffee for so many participants is considerable!)

Coffee is now available for much of the day during the conference, provided by the conference and at the hotel's own coffee booth. But limit your intake. If you're spending the entire weekend inside the hotel, dry air and too much caffeine both contribute to dehydration and fatigue. So drink water as much as possible to help keep your energy up, and your tissues hydrated.

Please join in. It's going to be a challenge for me to come up with thirty tips, so yours would be very welcome, too. Just leave a comment here and I'll add a link to it at the surreywriters listserv where I am also posting these tips.

Surrey Conference tips #1

With thirty more sleeps to the 2008 Surrey International Writer's Conference, I thought I'd rack my brains and see if I can come up with a conference tip a day. These are also posted at the surreywriters listserv.

Please note that these tips are not endorsed by the conference, nor do they necessary represent its views.


#1. Re. pitching to an agent or editor

Avoid holding them captive while they are in the washroom/lunch line up, and/or if you're luckly enought to be driving them to or from the airport. If you do find yourelf sitting beside them on a coffee break or outside having a smoke, first ask if they would mind if you talked to them now about your project. If they say tell you, No, they need a short break, respect it.
When you do pitch, the trick, according to this post at
Editorial Anonymous is:
"Don't overthink this. Do your homework: (1) thinking hard about the correct age range and appeal to consumers of your manuscript; (2) researching the publisher and thinking about why your manuscript is right for them. And then...be pleasant and not pushy. Offer us the manuscript, like a good hostess would offer a choice of beverages. Don't try to sell your manuscript, like a car salesman.

Also, check the conference website for information about free pitch advice sessions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's.... a girl!

My copies of Meeting Miss 405 arrived today!
Like any proud parent, I took pics of the delivery...

















The postman knocks twice - wrong address, so the baby was two days overdue.














Some surgery required, but no drugs were needed.












Birth announcement included (MM405 promoted on postcard along with Anita Dayer's Poachers in the Pongos and Fran Hurcomb's Going Places).















One last push...












Introducing Tansy Hill and her wrinkly babysitter Miss Stella















The proud mother and her latest offspring.

With special thanks to my editor Sarah Harvey, without whose keen eye, light hand and kind heart Meeting Miss 405 might not have entered this world.

Sarah has two new books of her own just out, too. The Lit Report and The West is Calling add to her already published Puppies on Board and Bull's Eye. Read all about them, and other of Orca's latest offerings here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

WP document, Excel file or index cards?



Years after I'd started using a word processor, only once did I revert to the old cut and paste method of putting a story together. 'Reading by the Light of the Moon', subsequently published in The MacGuffin and The Clackamas Review resisted my efforts to put it into any coherent form. So finally I printed the damn thing out, cut it into scenes, and commandeered the kitchen table for days while I figured out what went where as I shuffled its various parts this way and that.

And all that for 3,400 words - perhaps the longest story I'd written to date. (When I tell people I started with short stories, I mean short!)

Other stories followed, and they came together OK on the screen, without any extreme surgery. My adult novel-in-progress 'Who Do You Wish Was With Us' seems settled into standard Ms. form - unfinished as it is, and perhaps always will be.

Meeting Miss 405 was written in five days, and although it benefited from the gentle hand and kind hearted attention of my editor at Orca - Sarah Harvey - no major reconstruction was required.

But now with my next novel to put into coherent form, plot-wise, I find I've reverted not to the scissor and tape process, but to the index card system, along with a little help from an Excel spreadsheet to help me keep all the various threads together and visible in one place.

O! But I love these little cards - the 5x8 ones have room for scene names, plot points, character elements, linking themes, colour coding, numbering, and all manner of barely legible annotations.

And I can carry them with me everywhere.

It all seems rather retro - this whole new process in which I've shifted from the more organic process I've used before - putting down one word, then following it with another, and another, one leading to another, until I could see where they all led me - to this one, which puts me firmly in the left-brain camp, where I never really felt I belonged.

It will be interesting to see how long I last, in this new environment.

I do, after all, have 200 index cards to work with.