Thursday, October 20, 2011

October's Advice

I was able to sit in on the West Valley Library author panel Wednesday, October 19th.  Authors Emily Wing Smith, Bree Despain, and Sara Zarr answered questions and had some great advice.

Sorry about this poor photo.  I showed up late having gone to the wrong library and end up with a seat in the back.

They all shared their 'How I Got Published' stories and they were remarkably similar, which hasn't been the case most times I hear panels answer this question.

Sara Zarr published her 4th novel she wrote.  This was after 10 years of writing with the intent to be published. She thought the whole time she had to know someone to get her in... but really it just turned out she needed to work hard, improve her craft, get an agent, submit and keep working hard.

Bree Despain published her first novel after 9 years of writing.  She decided to be a writer and took all kinds of classes in college.  In one of these classes she met Emily Wing Smith, became fast friends and here they are today.

Emily Wing Smith published her book after 6 years from finishing her first novel.  She went to Vermont college to study writing.  There she wrote her first novel that would later be published.  She met Sara Zarr there who suggested she speak to her agent, she did and after that things started to move more quickly to her becoming a published author.

Sara said that writing is like a sport. You have to work hard at it to develop skills that are valuable enough to market.

Bree commented on choices. Your characters will make them. There are consequences to these choices and pursuing them in your plot will bring out the human story and condition. Depth is in the humanity of choices, rather than injected with some secret writing formula.

Emily said she likes to avoid moral statements, but rather let the whole story tell any lesson learned, else a preachy character will come off sounding cheesy. They all agreed one of the best perks of becoming a published author is meeting with the authors you read and followed as a reader and to be accepted by them as a colleague.

 I did take a few moments to speak to Bree Despain. I asked about writing warm up practices that help ensure her precious writing time was successful.

  • She shared with me that she enjoys a small daily allowance of chocolate to enjoy while writing. 
  •  She keeps a writing space. 
  • A musical sound track to listen to while in certain moods/scenes. 
  • She also uses 15 minutes to get started where she has to be dedicated and writing. However as promised to herself if she's just not feeling it after that time then she stops for a while. Mostly by the time 15 minutes are up she's well on her way and doesn't need to stop. 
The library event was nice and I hope to see more authors again soon. Mean time I'm off to a solid start on my current work. It's taken the longest to write. I've had my struggles and this one is my most challenging story yet. I'm over 60,000 words into it. I absolutely must finish it this year! Wish me luck.

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