Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Hi, all,

As it is the first Wednesday of the month, it is now time for another post for the INSECURE WRITER'S group. This wonderful idea comes from our friend Alex Cavanaugh.... So please stop by his site for ALL the groups posts.

I would first like to take a moment to wish all my blogger friends a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know I have done so before, but it bears mentioning again. With a new year upon us, we all have our resolutions and promises to ourselves and others.

Don't let these resolutions take over your life and stop you from LIVING. You ALL know what a I mean. We, as artists, and highly creative people, have a tendency to over dramatize, analyze, and just plane DRIVE OURSELVES CRAZY! We have all been there. Be kind to yourselves, set realistic goals, but don't be afraid to try. YOU CAN get your work published ... YOU CAN get that agent ... but first put in the hard work of polishing up your ms until it's blinding. And don't forget to take the time and RESEARCH the best possible agents/publishers for your ms.

Also remember to keep in touch with our AMAZING community. There is such a wealth of information from our blogger friends. Keep and STAY in touch with them. I myself have been scarce for FAR TOO LONG and I apologize for that. Life, as we know, plays horrible tricks on us and we can fall into many pits. Muddy, with torn clothes, a scratched face, and completely exhausted, I have clawed my way out of my pit and am back to spend as much time as I can with all of you.

As we all know many exciting events are happening in January. I have TWO I would like to mention. The first, is ABNA .... AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH AWARDS! Yes, it's back everyone. Many of you remember that I was a major source of advertising for this event last year. I will be doing a full post on Friday, so please drop back if you are not familiar with it.

The second is the SCBWI Writer's Conference in NYC! January 27-29th! After much anxiety about attending, I have decided to GO FOR IT! I will be honest, I am TERRIFIED about going, I have never been to a writer's conference before and I know they can be quite amazing. So for ANY of you that might have some advice for me on how to PREPARE for such an event I would be so grateful. It is a bit overwhelming for me.

I know the basics,  you must have a one or two sentence pitch ready to FLING at the closest agent or editor. But what else? Do you bring a synopsis to hand out for anyone interested? Do you hide in a corner cowering, hoping that some force of magic will bring the perfect agent to you? Oh, how I WISH!

Any advice would be much appreciated. For any of you attending PLEASE let me know. I would LOVE to meet up with a friend to enjoy ... is that the right feeling? more like live through with. LOL. Don't worry friends, I was born and raised in the City, so I should fan well. But this is such a NEW experience for me. I will be in the presence of the movers and shakers of the literary world. My past experience with such celebrity has been in the fashion world. THIS IS SO DIFFERENT. To be judged on brains and talent and not on beauty..... scary.

Most of you know I make every effort to keep my posts positive, so I will leave this one on a positive note.  We must all face our fears and anxieties at some point if we want to grow. Our ambition and LOVE for writing and getting our work read should be stronger than said fears and anxieties. So remember to stay focused on your craft. I know I will be telling myself that over and over for the next few weeks.

Have a wonderful day everyone and tomorrow ABNA will be yet another exciting challenge. The ULTIMATE challenge.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just go for it! Sorry, I've never been to a writing conference, so can't help you there. Bet there are plenty of others who have though.
You will be fine, my friend.

Cherie Reich said...

Oh, it's so easy to get caught up in resolutions/goals to forget other things.

If I can get one of my goals finished, then I plan to enter ABNA this year. *crosses fingers*

Yay about the writer's conference. I've been to a couple (James River Writers Conference twice), and it was so awesome. Do take business cards with you. Do prepare to tell about your novel in a few sentences. Don't bring papers (i.e. query letters/synopses/manuscripts) to hand out to people, though. It's too hard to keep up with all that paperwork. If they want your work, they'll hand you a business card and tell you to send things. :) Most of all, be open to say 'hi' to people.

Deborah Walker said...

Wise words. I've been driving myself crazy with all I want to do. Time to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

Summer Ross said...

I have never been to a big writers conference. the ones I have attended here in my home town are relatively simple and not many people. So I don't have much to offer there- sorry.

Keep your head up! Go to NYC and buy a new pen! :) You can do it. I believe in you.

Anne Gallagher said...

Charlie's right, don't bring paperwork. But then again, I've heard some agent/editors will ask for it. However, I would keep it all neatly in folders that are marked, so you can reach in and snag it confidently without dumping everything out on the table. If you have cards, absolutely bring those. If you have a novel you're querying, make sure the name of the book is on the card somewhere. Phone, email, your name, and blogsite, or website.

Do try and get the elevator pitch memorized, I know that's a tough one. Three really good sentences that spell out what happens in the book. If they ask for more, give 3 more sentences. Try not to babble.

But do smile, and do be yourself. Show your enthusiasm for your work. All the best.

And Happy New Year.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm sorry, I meant Cherie, not Charlie.

Katie O'Sullivan said...

Be Yourself, Have fun, but don't forget to be professional.

Definitely work on the elevator pitch and follow-up sentences. It should flow, and make them want more.

So exciting - have a great time!

Carol Riggs said...

Happy 2012 to you too!! I've never gone to the big, more impersonal SCBWI conferences. I've heard they're amazing as far as information to soak up. If I ever went, I'd go WITH someone. And I'd go to the LA one before I'd go to NY!

Aw, you'll be fine. Just practice that pitch like crazy, and then go, prepared to be a sponge!

T.D. McFrost said...

It muse be so much fun to go to a writer's conference! I can't imagine how great It'd be to meet so many crazy people just like me. ^_^

I didn't know you used to be a model--for fifteen years!! I want you to write me sometime and tell me all the gory details.

Happy New Year Michael! See ya tomorrow!

Jacqueline Howett said...

Nice meeting you.

If you have got it in you, or its on your way, then go for it, and enjoy.

It will be a great experience for you, meeting people face to face.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Hmmm. Okay you want these things:

1) You want your pitch iron-clad. Three sentences. Memorize it. Be comfortable with it. Be prepared to answer any questions quickly and efficiently.

2) You want a solid two-page synopsis and a short synopsis printed out and ready to hand to anyone that asks. It should be absolutely perfect and formatted to industry standards.

3) Have pages right there. You need to carry samples of your work everywhere. Usually the first fifty pages is all. And have enough that if more than one asks you can give them out. They should also be perfect. Not wrinkled or with coffee stains...think pristine.

4) Have business cards made up that have all of your contact information and your social networking information handy.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome that you're going to the conference. I'd be nervous too. But I bet it'll be great.

I agree we have to face those fears to grow. I'm trying. Happy New Year!

Anstice Brown said...

Hi, Michael. I'm afraid I can't really give you any advice about writing conferences as I don't know the specifics of it but I will give you some encouragement. Just remember what an awesome writer you are (having over 500 followers speaks for itself), be yourself and be confident in your abilities. Don't let your anxiety get in the way of such a fantastic opportunity!

Also you are definately right about keeping in touch with the writing and blogging community. That's the area I've been slacking off in but I'm determined to get more involved this year as other writers are such an invaluable source of advice, support and inspiration.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Michael, that is wonderful you are going to a conference. I'd offer advice, but the only time I've attended a writing conference was to speak! LOL But network. Absorb. Take business cards! A must for any writer.

Southpaw said...

I've not been to a conference either but I saw some good advice in the comments already. Have fun. I hope you tell us all about it.

Trisha said...

I've never been to a writers' conference either. I would LOVE to someday!

Happy New Year to you too! :)

erica and christy said...

When christy and I went to a conference last April, we actually found ourselves alone (well, together) in an elevator with an agent. And we smiled at him.

Yep. Smiled. That's it. Ha! First timers!

The Madison conference is in April again if you're back. Since Christy can't come with me this year, hmm, we should talk about it (if you're back!)!

(and stop by our blog to wish her a happy birthday!)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I envy you the ability to go to a writer's conference -- but then I envy you all those trips to Harry Potter's Wizarding World, too! LOL.

I would have been here sooner but the blood center has been a madhouse!

Anne has the right idea : go to the conference with neatly ordered folders of each book : short - to the point - but with a great hook to snag their attention. I imagine your old modeling porfolio was something similar. Great luck.

Oh, and you won the Michael Whelan autographed Dragon Lithograph. You'll have your own post up at my blog soon about it! Roland

dolorah said...

I wish I was going too. But, I've got my heart set on PNWA. When I can afford it :)

Just be yourself Michael; and be comfortable talking about and pitching your novel. You're a natural people person; you'll be fine.

How cool you're entering ABNA again. I'm sitting this year out. But I'll follow your progress.

Have a good week Michael.


Unknown said...

You have a lot of good advise here Bro, and I learned yet another writers term that I have no clue as to what it elevator pitch...I am sure you will do fine at the conference, just be your charming self. I will be so looking forward to hearing all about it!

Ella said...

Thanks for sharing! I need this pep talk! Go for it, I'll be back to see how you are doing~

Happy New Year!

Heather said...

Bring a few copies of your synopsis, query letter, and your first ten pages. You may not need them but you definitely want to have them if an agent or editor asks.

If you come across an agent outside of pitching talk to them about their interests, one of their clients books you enjoyed, or an upcoming release you know they repped (not just about your book as most people do. Be different in a good way and you'll stand out. But get your one-sentence pitch in there because when you start by talking about them they almost ALWAYS ask about your book. It's always better to have them ask then to dump it on them outside of the pitching). That means do your research on the agents who are attending. Know what they look like, who the represent, what they've sold, all that!

Heather said...

And by the way, no worries, you'll do great. :)

Laura said...

Good luck with those two my friend! There's an award for you at my place

Abby Minard said...

Michael, that is so awesome you get to go! I can't wait to hear all about it. I would bring everything you mentioned, just in case. Maybe something like an agent would ask for, like a few people above said- query, synopsis, first couple chapters or 10 pages. Good luck, you'll do wonderful!! And most of all, have fun! (I'm very jealous you get to go, btw!)

Golden Eagle said...

I've never been to a writer's conference, so I'm afraid I'm not of much help; but it sounds like other commenters have left some good advice.

Good luck!

ali cross said...

I had to laugh at the DRIVING OURSELVES CRAZY! :D Yep, I'm very familiar with that!

And good for you for going to SCBWI!! You will LOVE it! I'm hoping to go to the one in CA this summer :)

Unknown said...

Ohmygosh, I would be SO nervous going to a writers' conference! Seriously, despite being a teacher (that's totally different, I always tell people) I am not one for public performances.
But I am sure you will do great and have a wonderful experience to share with us afterwards.
(Sadly, I have no advice to offer you!)

P.S. Setting realistic goals. Definitely good advice.