Inventing Story: Writing for the Market

by Kathleen Freeman, pre-published author and Critique Coordinator of NCWA

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Inventing Story                                        (Picture of early bug zapper)

Some wonderful inventions came out of WWI, the facial tissue, the zipper and the tea bag. They found an eager market, and so changed peoples’ lives. Just after that time, other items were invented—soy sausages, which have a smaller market, but have become part of the vegetarian diet around the world, and a blower to push people out of the way as trams arrived. We’ve all experienced the wonders and frustrations of a zipper and the relief of a Kleenex. The simple tea bag has stayed in use for decades.

What happened to the people blowers, safety devices designed to keep folks from being hit by trams? Certainly, Konrad Aidenauer’s invention would have saved many lives. Its problem was market. The tram companies wanted to reduce accidents, but people, those weaving in front of trams in dresses and by bike didn’t want to be blown out of the way, eggs scattering on the ground, bicycles toppling. They wanted warning, a chance to decide for themselves whether to become trolley fodder or move out of the way.

Story is the same.

We can’t have a pushy agenda, and while Aidenauer’s bug zapper, another of his inventions, was a great idea and things like it are now used with gladness, it was ahead of its time.

The market wasn’t ready.

TweetYour story may be an invention before its time and the market isn’t ready.

So, what about us, as writers? Have we invented a cool product, hoping to force it on the market despite its buggy nature or people’s inability to use it without the availability of a good battery ?

There may be a need for your bug zapper in the future. For now, if the market needs a simple thing like a tea bag, or to blow their noses into something soft and non-chafing, so be it. We can have our part in keeping the bits of tea leaves out of mouths, and catching sorrows across the globe. As for that favorite story, be patient, be hopeful, its time may be coming.

TweetWriter, be patient and hopeful, your time may be coming.

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Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman is passionate about history, the way it allows people to learn from the past, and the connections it helps form. She writes articles for Vista Journal for Holy Living, Clubhouse Magazine, and is a pre-published writer of Historical and other forms of fiction.

 

 

You Can’t Just Say “I’m a Writer”

 

Written by Dennis Brooke, NCWA President

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During a workshop at the recent Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Renewal Conference, Kathleen Kerr, an editor at Harvest House had a very funny observation about being a writer. She told about an exercise at another conference where the speaker asked everyone to stand up and announce, “I am a writer!” They were then told to turn to the person next to them and encourage them by saying, You are a writer.”
 

During this motivational exercise she thought, “This is the only industry where you can just say you’re a writer and be one. Imagine if you stood up and said, ‘I’m a pediatric neurosurgeon’.”
 

TweetThis is the only industry where you can just say you’re a writer and be one.

 

Kathleen Kerr 3Kathleen’s point is right on—saying you’re a writer needs to be followed up with developing the craft. You wouldn’t want to roll your kid into brain surgery and find out that their neurosurgeon had just announced they were a neurosurgeon, but had no training to back it up. And frankly, you don’t want to read something written by a writer who hasn’t spent any time developing their craft.

 
TweetSaying you’re a writer needs to be followed up with developing the craft.

So how do you develop the craft? Over 150 of us were at that conference to sit in on workshops taught by Kathleen and other industry professionals. In between events like this many of us participate in critique groups and spend hours in practice.
 
Personally, I also like to read or listen to the audio version of books on the craft to get some focused guidance. And I like to ask professionals for their recommendations on books. When I asked our keynote speaker, Davis Bunn, for his recommendations I thought he might give us a couple of good ideas. But he provided three pages of fantastic resources, including an on-line master class.
 
Davis is a great writer and teacher so I was very interested to get his perspective and am glad to share them with you. Following is his annotated reading list of books on the craft. Are any of these favorites of yours? What would you add to the list? Use the comments function to answer those questions. Everyone who posts an answer by next Friday, April 25 will be entered into a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and a half pound of Starbucks Coffee.

Dennis Brooke


Dennis Brooke
is a pre-published novelist who currently serves as the President of the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. He has written for Focus on the Family, Toastmasters, and Combat Crew Magazines. He tells stories at http://www.dennisbrooke.com

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T. Davis Bunn’s Annotated Reading List

Davis Bunn 5

 Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas. Writer’s Digest Books

A breakout novel is one that rises out if its category – such as literary fiction, mystery, romance, or thriller – and hits the bestseller charts. Maas explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They’ll learn to: – Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place – Develop larger-than-life characters – Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish – Weave sub-plots into the main action – Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience

Writing the Blockbuster Novel, by Al Zuckerman. Little, Brown        

Practical, very helpful, and certainly readable. He takes a number of bestselling novels and de-constructs them to illustrate the points he’s making about plot construction, pace, characterization etc. All essential elements of novels that will sell. And he’s in a position to know these things because he is the founder and managing director of the highly successful New York literary agency, Writers House…

 Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler. Michael Wiese Production

In 1993, The Writer’s Journey became one of the most popular books on writing of the last 50 years, shaking up Hollywood, and becoming a best seller among writers everywhere. This new edition will reawaken established writers and inspire a new generation with fresh insights on creating great stories. An indispensable guide to the inner workings of stories, to the ancient and deep-seated patterns of emotion that speak to us through the symbolic language of myth. It applies the classic principles of Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey” to modern storytelling. Christopher Vogler, one of Hollywood’s most renowned story consultants and teachers, expands his vision to show how storytelling evolved from sacred rituals and how its inexhaustible powers can be adapted to the needs of modern storytellers. “The Writer’s Journey” is now the most widely used book in the movie, TV, publishing, and computer gaming industries. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions for Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Anchor Books

Best Anne Lamott gives witty and wise advice on the process of writing, while offering an entertaining and inspiring take on the difficult parts of the writing life. She encourages writers to take a more non-judgmental attitude towards their own writing, particularly during the first-draft stage. Covering everything from plot to professional jealousy, Lamott’s down-to-earth approach is both comforting and encouraging.

Stein on Writing, & How To Grow A Novel by Sol Stein. Saint Martin’s Press

“The best reading experiences”, says Sol Stein, “defy interruption”. With Stein’s assistance, you can grab your reader on page one and not let go until “The End”. Stein–author of nine novels (including the best-selling The Magician) and editor to James Baldwin, W H Auden, and Lionel Trilling–offers “usable solutions” for any writing problem you might encounter. He is authoritative, commanding, and neither cheerleader nor naysayer. Instead, he rails against mediocrity and demands that you expunge it from your work. Perhaps the concept of scrutinising every modifier, every metaphor, every character trait sounds like drudgery. But with Stein’s lively guidance, it is a pleasure. Stein recommends that you brew conflict in your prose by giving your characters different “scripts”. He challenges you, in an exercise concerning voice, to write the sentence you want the world to remember you by. He uses an excerpt from E L Doctorow to demonstrate poorly written monologue and a series of Taster’s Choice commercials as an example of dialogue that works. Stein’s bottom line is that good writing must be suspenseful. Your job, says Stein, “is to give readers stress, strain, and pressure. The fact is that readers who hate those things in life love them in fiction”. 

Bestseller: Secrets of Successful Writing by Celia Brayfield. Fourth Estate

Elizabeth Buchan, The Times: “In this ambitious and fascinating book, Brayfield tackles the Zen of fiction bestsellerdom. Her premise is that stories define a puzzling world and help to defuse our more primitive fears, the most significant continuing to haunt and nourish our imaginations. This is based on a study of how myth works through cultures. From there she constructs her methods of story shaping, research, narrative techniques and, of course, style…….From the GCSE student upwards, writers and readers will enjoy this bold an illuminating tilt at unravelling the mysteries of the popular novel. Even, perhaps, the literary novelist.”
The Independent on Sunday: “Admirably thought-provoking and even profound. Books cited include Gone With the Wind, Damage, The Joy Luck Club, Scott Turow, J G Ballard, The Great Gatsby and James Bond. Best of all, she demystified writing but highlights the sheer craft.”

Story: Substance, Structure, Style by Robert McKee. Metheuen Press (trade paperback)

McKee’s work is genuinely inspiring, particularly in the audio version, which he reads himself. It’s to the point. And – although intended primarily for screen writers – it’s invaluable for anyone who thinks they have a story in them.

Perhaps we should let Bob McKee speak for himself: “When talented writers write badly it’s generally for one of two reasons: either they’re blinded by an idea that they feel compelled to prove, or they’re driven by an emotion they need to express. When talented people write well, it’s generally for this reason: they’re moved by a desire to touch an audience.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Scribner

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King’s On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. It’s a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife’s intervention, which he describes). “There’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing.”   King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer’s “tool kit”: a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft’s arcane vocabulary, Hemingway’s leanness, Grisham’s authenticity, Richard Dooling’s artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman’s sentence fragments.

(Dennis Brooke’s note: The Audio Version of the book is read by Stephen King himself.)

Ken Follet’s on-line Masterclass: The Art Of Suspense

Found at: http://www.ken-follett.com/masterclass/index.html

QuestionsAre any of these books on the craft favorites of yours? What would you add to the list? Use the comments function to answer those questions. Everyone who posts an answer by next Friday, April 25 will be entered into a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and a half pound of Starbucks Coffee.

 

Davis Bunn The Turning

You can find Davis Bunn’s books in the NCWA on-line bookstore. Many of the books on the craft he mentioned are also in the bookstore. A portion of sales from the NCWA bookstore helps to fund our organizations activities.

TweetLeave a blog comment to enter a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and Starbucks coffee.


Our Most Embarrassing Moments at a Writers Conference

Writers conferences are a great source of instruction, encouragement, and blessing to the writer, but they can also cause stress.  Writers know attending a conference can be crucial to their success.  They’re told that the agents and editors are the gatekeepers to publication and they usually have less than three minutes to get through the gate.

Shaking voices, trembling hands, and sweat-stained armpits prove writers are aware how  each encounter could fulfill or flounder publication dreams.

embarrassing moments

In the final countdown to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal April 11-12, 2014,  with Davis Bunn, the proverbial butterflies have begun their migration to registrants.  To relieve pressure with laughter, NCWA members decided to share our worst conference experiences.

 

 

Ocieanna


Ocieanna Fleiss
– An editor from a prominent Christian publisher told me to not be afraid to write a @#$% first draft. LOL! At my first writers conference EVER! I about lost it and the very sweet, conservative older lady sitting next to me almost fell off her chair.

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Roberta-Kehle

Roberta Kehle -  I used to  pick up our speakers at the airport, but often got lost going to the hotel, usually when they needed to go to the bathroom and were in misery.  Another time I was trying to get a Starbucks for an agent and had a minor parking lot mishap. They quit asking my pick-up help. Wonder why? Hmm, this might scare off attendees.

 

sonjaSonja Anderson – My most embarrassing moment related to a writing conference came after the conference. I had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an agent and an editor from the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Seattle. After I wrote a query letter to the female editor from a fancy New York publishing house, I thought I’d save time and cut and paste the letter for the male agent from Chicago.

Big mistake! Imagine my great grief and embarrassment when I looked at the letter more carefully (after hitting “send,” of course, to the male agent ), and saw that I never removed the line about hoping that the rest of her PREGNANCY went well!
Needless to say, I never heard back from that agent. Sigh.

 

LynnetteLynnette Bonner – At an NCWA conference several years ago, I sat in on a pitch session with a big-name agent. She liked what she heard and requested that I send her a proposal after the conference. Later that same day she was chatting with Jim Rubart.

I needed to talk to Jim about something so I approached and was standing off to one side as they chatted. Jim turned to me and in his gregarious way said, “Hey! How’s your day gone? Did anyone request your stuff?”

And I replied that yeah, “Actually she requested that I send her a proposal.”

To which the agent jolted back and gasped, “I didn’t request a proposal from YOU!”

Jim did a double-take between the two of us as I said, “Well, actually you did.” She then apologized profusely and admitted she remembered me. Needless to say, I never sent her a proposal.

 

Mindy HeadshotMindy Peltier - After hearing how volunteering at a conference can impact your ability to get published, I arranged to meet two editors at the airport. They were from the two Christian publishers I dreamed of writing for some day.  I’d rehearsed a line I thought was clever and would prove my passion and need for writers conferences.

Feeling brave as I deftly merged into I-5 rush hour traffic,  I said, “Writers conferences have become counterproductive for me. I’m writing less…

One editor didn’t realize the airspace was meant to be a dramatic pause before my brilliant punch line.

He began defending conferences and instructed me on my need to attend and appreciate them.  I didn’t want to interrupt.  I merged into the carpool lane. The editor in the back seat added to the defense.

Shocked, I was convinced the misunderstanding had crash-dummied my  publication dreams.  I figured my name would be passed around the editors’ circle, along with the guy who tried to pitch his book at the urinal.  I couldn’t even finish my sentence.

The punch line he missed was “… because the more conferences I go to, the worse my writing becomes.

I was trying to cleverly reveal how conferences were impacting my writing life.  I was learning about writing, but on a larger scale, I was understanding how much more I needed to learn about writing and the publishing industry.

I’ve relived that agonizing moment over and over since then, and even in my dreams, I crash before the punch line.

Every year I attend and volunteer at several  writers conferences, and I’ve even taught at a few. But, they’re still counterproductive for me, because the more writers conferences I attend, the worse my writing becomes.


If an embarrassing moment at a writers conference occurs, don’t worry, it won’t affect your publication dreams.  All of the above writers were published after their  blunders.

Brush it off and move on, but only after you send the story to us.  We’d love to use in a blog post next year.

 

TweetEmbarrassing conference moments didn’t hinder chance of publication.

TweetNCWA writers expose most embarrassing conference moments.

Don’t Worry Before a Writers Conference, PLAN!

Does the thought of attending a writers conference make you nervous?

Winston Churchill said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”

Instead of worrying in advance, plan in advance by reading past blog posts with valuable advice on preparing for a writers conference.

TweetNervous about attending a writers conference?  Prepare, don’t worry.

Top Ten Reasons pmEdie Melson from The Write Conversation guest blogged “Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference.”

 

Prayer Power Tool“Plug in Your Power Tool — Prayer” was written by Lydia E. Harris to provide instruction in gathering a prayer support team for your writing.

 

Terry Whalin 2Pack your proposal, not your manuscript, in your tote bag, because Terry Whalin advises that “Editors Read Book Proposals, Not Manuscripts.”

 

CWC Buy NowThe Northwest Christian Writers Association wrote a book just to relieve conference jitters and help conference attendees know exactly what to do before, during, and after a conference. Purchase on Amazon here.

TweetThe Christian Writer’s Coach book details what to do before, during, and after a writers conference.

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And while you’re planning and preparing, don’t forget to register!

 

 

Reel in Assignments at Writers Conferences

By Lydia E. Harris, prolific writer and author of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting.

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“Cast your net on the other side,” Jesus told his discouraged disciples after they fished all night and caught nothing. They did—and caught more fish than their nets could hold.

Similarly, as writers, sometimes we fish and fish for assignments but catch nothing. Perhaps then we need to cast our nets on another side and attend a writers’ conference. Often the fish are biting there, and writing assignments will be pulled in. “Net”working with authors, editors, publishers, and agents often results in landing a big catch now or in the future.

TweetNetworking with authors, editors, publishers, and agents often results in landing a big catch.

Reel in Assignments

For example, when I attended an American Christian Writers’ one-day conference, I met Lin Johnson, the managing editor of Church Libraries and Advanced Christian Writer (and now also Christian Communicator). As Lin answered our questions during lunch, I asked, “What are your editorial needs?” I hooked five assignments, which I tackled and completed. The fish were biting at that conference.

Later, at the Oregon Christian Writers’ summer conference, I netted useful information for an assigned profile article about a publishing house. The publisher attended the conference, so I interviewed her there. Plus, she brought the latest issue of Christian Retailing, which featured an article with useful information and quotes for my assignment.

The Oregon conference supplied additional resources to strengthen my article. I snagged a quote from marketing expert Sally Stuart’s talk, interviewed a conferee who had recently published her book through the publishing house, and caught a quote from a Chicago writing instructor. I also cast a line to fish for slant ideas from a seasoned author. When I left, my net bulged with help and valuable information to complete the assignment.

At other conferences, I’ve netted opportunities to write for new publications and caught publishing houses’ interest in my book proposals, articles, and recipes. Another big conference catch was finding an agent.

Fish Story pm

I’ve learned that writers conferences are excellent fishing holes. Sometimes so many fish bite that our writing nets stretch to bursting. And that’s no fish story.

TweetWriters conferences are excellent fishing holes. And that’s no fish story.

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Lydia HarrisLydia Harris, MA in Home Economics, has attended numerous writers conferenes and teaches at them.She has accumulated hundreds of bylines, contributed to 17 books, and writes a bimonthly column titled “A Cup of Tea With Lydia.”  Her five grandkids call her “Grandma Tea,” and together they develop and test recipes that are published in Focus on the Family magazines. Lydia wrote the practical and inspiring Bible study, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting.

Love of Jesus and Her Job Motivate Agent Rachel Kent

Each year, NCWA member Kirk Kraft posts interviews with the agents and editors that will be speaking at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal.

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Rachel Kent


Rachel Kent is an agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She has more than seven years of agency experience. Rachel represents fiction and nonfiction. Her goal is to develop strong relationships with her clients and to help them to develop lasting relationships with their publishers.
 


1. What is the most important attribute you look for in a prospective new client?

I’m not sure I can pick just one! I guess being a great writer comes first, but I won’t represent a great writer who isn’t a kind, friendly person with perseverance and the ability to work well with others.

2.  Is there a particular story or genre you’ve been looking for recently & haven’t found?

I have clients writing in all the categories I like to represent, but I would like to find more romantic suspense and also nonfiction books for those in their teens, twenties, and thirties.

The nonfiction I’m looking for would be books that help those in these age groups get through life at the stages they are in for example: Surviving high school or college; dating; early years of marriage; raising children when the parents are like ships passing in the night to make ends meet; etc. The books do need to bring something fresh to these topics though and platform has to be strong.

I’m open to short romantic suspense (Love Inspired-length) and longer romantic suspense projects.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not looking at other types of projects too, though.

3. Do you have any publishing heroes or role models? Who are they?

The amazing agents at Books & Such are instructive and inspiring to me on a daily basis. Janet Kobobel Grant has really dedicated herself to helping each of us at Books & Such and she is a hero in my book!

My clients also inspire me. They all work so hard and do what they do with joy and dedication. I can see Jesus in them.

Tweet “My clients inspire me…I can see Jesus in them.”

4.  What advice can you give aspiring writers who believe they’re ready to submit work?

Please have some critique partners read your work first! It makes a difference. And ask them to look at your query letter, too. The query letter can be the gateway to your publishing career and you want it to be the best it can be so editors and agents request your project.

TweetThe query letter can be the gateway to your publishing career.

5.  What brings you the most joy in your life as an agent?

I love helping all of my clients get contracted, but there’s a special joy that comes with placing a debut author for the first time. Placing that new writer with a publishing house makes me so excited and happy.

I also love reading a brand new idea from a client. There’s so much potential in new ideas.

6.  If you could go back in time, would you choose a different career? Why or why not?

I don’t think so. I really love being a literary agent. I find joy in my job and I don’t think I would if I did something else–or it would be harder to. I also feel like I’m able to reach people with the love of Jesus through what I do. And I have some flexibility with my job so I can spend a lot of time with my daughter.

7.  What are you currently reading?

I am currently rereading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s amazing how different life is today. Laura had only a few toys growing up and Ma only had one special glass figurine to put on her homemade shelf. And there wasn’t any technology! They were happy and thankful and unselfish. I think every adult should read these books again. It’s been eye-opening and they are so good!

 

Rachel Kent CollageRachel Kent’s Workshop Description:
Chasing down the facts for a manuscript isn’t easy. We will go into detail about the research process–including tips from some of Rachel’s multi-published clients and a list of resources to help with researching for multiple kinds of projects. This class is for every writer. Research and fact checking are important for all genres.

Read More of Rachel’s wisdom from her Friday posts on  the Books & Such blog:

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Kirk-Kraft_thumb.jpgKirk Kraft has been gripped by the “Writing Monster” for many years. A husband and father of four, he’s instilled a love of reading in all his children while chasing his dream of publishing. His favorite genre for both writing and reading is epic fantasy. He has been a member of NCWA since 2008.

Pitch and Tell – Avoiding Story Stumbling

By Kathleen Freeman, Critique Coordinator for NCWA and Renewal Volunteer

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They ask about our story—editor, agent, fellow writer, the guy slicing the beef. We freeze. We panic, and what could have been a fun and meaningful conversation, and possibly begun a friendship, turns to disaster.

If someone asks what we love about our spouse, kids, or pet, we don’t panic, don’t get tongue-tied or fearful. Confidence oozes as we tell strangers and friends alike about little Lucy’s first steps carrying Tolkien’s The Hobbit. We confess that our face might be purple because we spent the last two hours helping our son write an essay.

Avoiding Story Stumbling

People don’t ask about our work to measure or judge us. Okay, some do, but they are the exception. Most ask because of burning curiosity. They want to know what fills us with the passion to neglect other things in our lives and write when we know the pitiful publication odds… let alone the chances of writing a NY Times best seller. What is our story about, and why is it so important? If we can articulate the answer in five words, thirty-two words, or 100 words of eye-sparking passion, it’s a powerful jump-start to the most flagging confidence. If we can’t, we’re not ready for a pitch—plain and simple.

TweetWe neglect other things in our lives and passionately write despite pitiful publication odds.

Unfortunately, passion, even articulated well, only goes so far. If asked about Bible verses pertaining to the deity of Christ and we’re not prepared, Bible fumbling and umming will ensue. We have to have pages marked, words highlighted. In the same way, when someone asks about our kids, pictures go a long way toward reminding us why we love them despite struggles.

Whether telling our story to the book table lady, or pitching to an editor or agent, a picture of our “baby” can help break the ice. A One Sheet, writing sample, and story proposal make a great snapshot. A One Sheet is an introduction to us and our story using artistry and character representative of our book. It’s a business card and photo rolled into one page. A transparent, gem-colored, $2.99 Rite Aid plastic folder makes a great showcase and will also hold writing samples and our proposal. Some have a place for a business card, as well.

In addition to making a great conversation starter, a folder looks professional—a step in the right direction beyond one-line zingers, elevator pitches or thirty-two word summaries. If we stumble, trip on our words, or develop rubber lips, we still look like a player.

Organization isn’t always a writer’s greatest gift. Receipts and napkins often carry our inspirations home. But failure in this can undo both preparation and passion. If our artistic, stream-lined folder is shoved in a bag among schedules, a pile of magazines, a semi-melted Hershey’s Kiss, a hairbrush, and receipts from the bookstore, our mind may feel like the chocolate is melting through it. A horror story of great proportion may ensue as we reach in and pull out our Arm and Hammer Essentials deodorant. While such a blunder might lead to a new friendship founded on mutual anti-aluminum beliefs, it’s more likely to make an editor flag down the time-keeper, eyes pleading for Calgon. No. We’re better off leaving anything extraneous in the car if we have an appointment.

Though due respect and admiration, editors and agents seek what anyone does—something excellent to read, and maybe a new friendship or two. To help him or her feel welcome and appreciated, we might do some internet research before the appointment. If we know her company switched from Prairie Romance to Steampunk Murder Mysteries, we can leave And the Bluebells Ring in our bag and dust off It Goes Whir, Thud. If horror terrifies him, we shouldn’t pitch ours. If she just lost her dog, we might be sensitive to that and not tell our story about Fido gifting the new neighbors with our bloomers.

We pitch, tell our story with proud passion, and then we’re done. Whether she wants us to send her something or not, we need to maintain an air of thankfulness. A “thank you for your time” is always appreciated. Beyond that, a no is not by any means the end of the story… unless we spin in angry circles and vanish in a puff of blue smoke.

TweetWhen we pitch, we tell our story with proud passion.

As chairs are stacked and conference attendees stare into space, smiles stiff, brains overflowing with information, we might ask the editor sitting alone if it was a good conference for him. We could ask the agent if she has a place to worship on Sunday, or offer coffee or a cup of water. Grace. Love. A bit of kindness. It may even help her move past our blunders and ask, once again, to hear our story.

It could happen.

 

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(Your next opportunity to pitch!)

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Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Christian Writers Association as the Critique Coordinator. She’s also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and she’s been writing and critiquing for enough years to be told she’s been around the block a few times. Her work appears in Raising Small Souls, the NCWA Newsletter, Vista Journal for Holy Living, and Clubhouse Magazine. She was the 2012 winner of the Genesis contest in the YA category, 2013 semi-finalist in the Mystery category, and the 2013 3rd place  winner of the Category 5 contest, Contemporary category. You can find her at www.findinghopeinhardtimes.com.