The Writers’ League of Texas 2015 Agents & Editors Conference…

CIhKJYwVAAEqs2I (2)I’ve never been interested in attending a conference before; never really been interested in chit-chatting with strangers. As I previously said, I’m not a mingler; the cocktail party thing is hard for me. But it’s now occurred to me that maybe this has less to do with the party, and more to do with who’s at the party!

At the Writers’ League of Texas 2015 Agents & Editors Conference, I talked to more people I didn’t know than I ever have, and I wasn’t shy about it. They actually wanted to meet me (except for the old couple on the elevator who I thought were discussing the hotel construction, but I guess not – the old man let me know he didn’t want me in their conversation!).

The people who attended had the same loves that I do – writing and books. I did meet one woman who apparently could only self-promote – I never did hear her say anything that didn’t have to do with her skill and fortune; never heard her ask anyone else about their work. But other than that woman, everyone was eager to know what I was working on, and eager to tell me about their projects.

One of the best things about the conference was the positive energy and attitudes that everyone had. Yes, it’s rare to have your first novel turn into a best-seller. But it could happen. One of the main messages I heard over and over in the presentations is that authors should continually strive to write well, and NEVER give up. If we just keep doing that, we will eventually have success.

The positivity, friendliness, helpfulness, and inspiration of all involved in the conference was so motivating that I can’t wait to go back next year. And I encourage all you authors out there to pencil it in on your mental calendars. It’s worth it!

Writers’ League of Texas – Agents & Editors Conference – Day One

imagesMy first day at the Writers’ League of Texas 2015 Agents and Editors Conference was awesome. It’s amazing what a mix of writers there are here – from poetry to memoir to fiction, I think there are authors from every genre represented.

It’s great to be around people who are crazy about writing; who are crazy about books. These people know what it’s like to get a rejection letter. Or twenty. But so many of them also know what it’s like to get an agent, and have their work published by a major house. Everyone is rooting for each other, trying to help each other in our quests to become published authors.

It’s also nice to socialize with agents and editors. They really are real people (even though so many times it seems they’re not – only the gatekeepers who won’t give us entry into the world of publishing). But I can understand how daunting it must be to receive hundreds of queries that require consideration, and how one person only has so much time, and can only represent so many clients.

I tried my first oral pitch last night at a cocktail party. The agent was so gracious when I told her I was nervous. And she didn’t just want to hear my ten-second elevator pitch – she actually asked for more of the story. And she also asked for a query. I also have two consultations set up for today – I am praying to the literary Gods that I can intelligently describe what my books are about.

I can see from attending this conference that it’s definitely more effective, and means so much more, to connect with people – authors, instructors, agents and editors – face to face, in person. Not just digitally.

I truly appreciate the chance to attend this conference, and am more inspired than ever to be part of this community, and help others like me in any way I can.

MEMBERS REVIEW

Originally posted on Scribe:

IT’S A LONG STORY: MY LIFE

By Willie Nelson with David Ruiz

Published in 2015 by Little Brown.

willie-nelson-its-a-long-story-my-life

Reviewed by Tony Burnett.

Willie Nelson’s new autobiography, A Long Story, My Life, is a must read for Willieophiles. The iconic Texas minstrel digs deep, spending a large portion of the journal exploring the lesser-known events of his childhood in Abbott, Texas and his early years developing his talents in the rough trade dives along Fort Worth’s notorious King’s Highway. Willie also reveals a number of surprises about his philosophical and spiritual journey, mostly as it pertains to his career decisions.

My Life, is neither a glorified PR statement nor a tabloid tell-all. It’s written in a conversational tone where most of his family and acquaintances (yes, including all four of his wives) are presented fairly and with forgiveness. He even claims to have a cordial relationship with the Internal…

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Writers’ League of Texas – 2015 Agents & Editors Conference…

austin-texas-sign

The Writers’ League of Texas 2015 Agents & Editors Conference is this weekend in Austin, Texas.  Here is a link to the conference info.

There is a huge line-up of agents and editors who will be at the event.  One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the “Pitch” class on Friday, teaching writers how to make an oral pitch for their manuscripts.  I recently participated in the #pitmad event on twitter, where your pitch is limited to 140 characters. So now I have pitches which include two paragraphs, one paragraph, one sentence, and 140 characters.  I’m really interested in learning how to evolve my pitch even more – getting it to roll off the tongue without a thought; making it sound like music from angel harps when it reaches the agents’ ears. Peaking their interest so much that they have to ask for a query, and have a hard time waiting until after the conference to receive it. (I know, I know. But I’m trying to fill myself with positive energy!)

I’ll attempt to post about the classes I attend and the conference in general.  Lots of exhibitors in attendance as well, so it sounds like fun.

I don’t mind admitting I’m nervous, though. I have a hard time mingling with  people I don’t know. I’m also hoping I will be successful in my pitching, so keeping fingers crossed. (I obviously need to pay close attention to Friday’s class!).

MEMBERS REVIEW

Originally posted on Scribe:

THE CONTEST

by Bennett Easton

Published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

The Contest

Reviewed by Kirsche Romo.

If you had billions of dollars at your disposal, what would you buy?

Minerva Bennett is head of a non-profit foundation which grants billions of dollars each year to worthy organizations. But after years of donations and watching humanity’s condition deteriorate every year, she decides she should do more with her money. She will sponsor a global contest to change the world for the better – to address current dangers to humanity.

The contest Minerva creates will include one-thousand teams from across the globe, from high-tech cities to third-world villages.  Their mission is to determine what will save the world, ultimately producing a manifesto outlining a plan to address and eliminate dangers to the human race.

Once I read the book’s description, I was immediately hooked – what an awesome plot. There was…

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Creativity Is a Way of Life…

Byline Pic 01-02-10The following is an excerpt from a Writers’ Digest Article written by author Deb Caletti entitled Cultivating Creativity (Writers’ Digest July/August 2015 issue).  Item #3- Trust That It’s Worthwhile -really hit home with me, because this is exactly what I try to explain to others.  But sometimes, although they try, I don’t think they get it.

Some people must have their daily run, or go to the gym, or go to a kickboxing class to keep their sanity.  I keep mine by typing away.

“Sure, there’s your job, your partner, your kids, the dog. The roof needs cleaning, and the car is making a clunking noise. Creativity can come last on the list, because who has time? Still, people who are creative for life make their creativity a priority, because they understand its value. Artistic expression brings happiness, purpose, self-worth, and balance. It can aid problem solving and relieve stress.

Creative professionals understand that practicing their craft is not an indulgent, frivolous extra, but an essential piece of a rich, productive life….

Author Jennie Shortridge …reminds us that even the smallest creative moments are valuable, because they lead to more.  ‘One creative act begets another, then another: Each experience enhances the rest. I know dancers who blog, actors who paint, writers who knit or bake, or, like me, play in a band. The key to living a creative life is to trust your sense of things, to trust that your output – even a sketch or hastily scribbled poem on the back of an envelope – is worthwhile. Why? Because each keeps your imagination alive and leads you to the next creative expression, one you may not have come to in quite the same way without it.’”

Review of THE INNOCENT by Dallas Author Taylor Stevens

The Innocent  (Vanessa Michael Munroe, #2)The Innocent by Taylor Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vanessa Michael Munroe is not your average – at anything. Her specialty is information gathering, but she will use her skills in self-defense if necessary. Jason Bourne and Lisbeth Salander have nothing on this chick. Cute and sometimes feminine on the outside, lethal on the inside.

Michael, the name she sometimes uses when posing as a man, was born in Africa to missionary parents who sent her away to be raised by friends at age thirteen. After further neglect, she ventured out on her own and became a translator for the local gunrunner. Sadistic abuse by a mercenary trained Michael to become expert at protecting herself, her most lethal weapons being her own two hands, with knives a close second. Even a small touch by a stranger causes Munroe to be consumed with the compulsion for battle.

Although Munroe is usually hired to gather information, traveling around the globe and creating alternate personas to get the job done, in the second of Stevens’ series, THE INNOCENT, Michael is asked by her best friend, Logan, to rescue a girl who’d been kidnapped by The Chosen of God cult and taken to Argentina. Michael, and her mercenary companion, Miles Bradford, must infiltrate the cult, and extract the girl with minimal collateral damage. Given the extreme complications, Michael believes the mission’s success might just come at a huge cost.

This book is not just fun ninja-killer-spy action. It also delves into Michael’s complex emotional and psychological make-up. Munroe constantly wrestles with the demons that chase her, even in her dreams. Her extreme skill at killing is contrary to what she believes a moral person should possess, and the guilt she wears like a second skin comes close to destroying her. I love the complexities of this character’s personality. Stevens does an expert job of showing us not only Munroe’s talents, but her human frailties as well.

Not only does Stevens weave a colorful tapestry of global intrigue and adventure, her personal experiences growing up in various third-world countries around the globe as a member of The Children of God cult fuels the complex emotional make-up of Vanessa Michael Munroe. Stevens’ first-hand knowledge of constantly living on the fringe of society gives her an expert insight into the fragile psychopathy of her main character.

Stevens is a firm believer in portraying authenticity, and her singular personal experiences allow her to do just that. Her past life as a cult-child gives readers of THE INNOCENT an inside look at the life inside a religious cult, where uneducated children are treated as property to be used for manual labor, begging, and sexual gratification.

Taylor Stevens has a genuine, no-bullshit style, whose fascinating, albeit tragic history shapes her stories. She loves to personally connect with her readers, and truly welcomes and values each and every compliment she receives. You’ll never meet a nicer, more gracious author who loves reaching out to her fans. Taylor Stevens – YOU ROCK!

I think it’s time for another woman to join the ranks of Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher, and Lisbeth Salander as one of the world’s most remarkable new-wave superheroes, and Vanessa Michael Munroe is just the one to do it!

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