Paris Writers Workshop

I had a wonderful time at the Paris Writers Workshop last week. The workshop offered writing classes that catered to all writers. I originally wanted the Novel class, but by the time I tried to sign up, it was sold out. Not wanting to give up, I searched for another class and found The Craft of Fiction had one opening. I signed up and snagged the last spot.

I think it was meant to be. 😉

Here are a few things I’ve learned from attending the PWW:
1. I learned to drink wine…the right away. (I’m not kidding. They taught us how during the opening ceremony. It’s all about using your senses, not just in drinking wine, but also in writing.)
2. I learned that getting your writing critiqued by other writers is a gift.
Remember: they’re not there to attack you. They’re there to help you.
3. Networking is fun. You’ll be surprised at who you’ll meet. I met a fellow-blogger who I have been following for months. Her blog is called: Becoming Madame.

4. Dialogue isn’t just about the quotes.
5. Traditional Publishing is hard, but it’s not impossible. Hang in there.
6. Self-Publishing is a lot of work, but it can be worth it.
7. Reading a chapter of your book to a group of strangers is exhilarating. If you get a chance to do it, do it. It’s good practice for when you go on book tours.

8. If you really want to be a writer—keep writing, and don’t give up.

The main reason why I wanted to attend the PWW was because I wanted to get my first novel critiqued by a group of writers. I’ve only shared my story with a few people, so I wanted to see what strangers thought of the way I wrote and what I wrote. Although we only covered part of the story, I can apply what I’ve learned throughout the novel.

You’re probably saying I could’ve simply joined a writers group or went to a local workshop, and that’s true. But I had other reasons why I also wanted to go to Paris. If you’ve read my other posts, then you know what they are. No need to bore you again with the details.

Now that I’ve been to a Writers Conference and recently to a Writers Workshop, I can tell you that I’ve learned a lot from both experiences. I recommend both for different reasons.

If you’re deciding between the two, here’s a tip for you:
If you have a polished manuscript and are ready to find an Agent, I suggest you attend a Writers Conference.
If you’ve got a story that is still a work in progress, I suggest you attend a Writers Workshop.

For those of you who are looking for a Writers Workshop, I recommend the Paris Writers Workshop. Writing and Paris go hand in hand. If you need inspiration, The City of Light is the place for you.

Cheers!

Poetry for Paris

A few days ago, my husband said yes, and he made me the happiest woman on earth. No, it wasn’t a proposal. It can’t be. We’re already married. 🙂 But it was something wonderful.

He said yes to me going to Paris.

As a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my sweet and funny 3-year old daughter always comes first, and writing always comes second, but when an opportunity to attend a Writers Workshop in Paris (one that I’ve been dreaming about for the last 2 years) comes along, I have to grab it. Thanks to my dear husband and to my super mother-in-law for agreeing to babysit my daughter while I chase my dream of becoming a published writer.

So yes, I am going to Paris this June for a limited time and on a limited budget. The plan is to attend a Writers Workshop and finish writing my second novel, which takes place in the City of Light. But I need a little more support, which is why I created my small writing campaign in Indiegogo, called, Poetry for Paris.

Poetry for Paris is my writing campaign to help raise funds to make my writing trip happen. The idea is I will write you a poem, as a thank you for helping. But that’s not all you can get…

What do you get for helping?
Well, there are quite a few perks for supporting Poetry for Paris. Depending on the amount of your pledge, I could write a poem, especially for you, and/or you could receive a copy of my favorite movie, Midnight in Paris, plus the soundtrack, and/or I can name a character in my book after you!

Check out my campaign and pick your perk!

Thank you for your support, whether it’s word of mouth or a pledge. 🙂

Once in a while, we have to take risks in order to get to where we want to go. This is mine.

Why We Don’t Give Up

So you’ve sent out dozens of query letters, sent out partials, received rejection letters, attended writers conferences, and still—no representation. Do you stop trying? 

I met a writer at a conference last year that told me he’s been attending the same conference for years, trying to sell his book idea to agents and editors and have not succeeded. It’s not an easy task and yet he still keeps trying.

There are many possible reasons as to why he hasn’t gotten signed. He could have an excellent story, but his query letter is poor. Or have a great story, but not a sellable one. Or have a great plot, but it’s not well written, or not edited, or he’s been pitching to the wrong agents and editors or his book is simply not ready, or we can go on speculating.

The truth is, we don’t know why he hasn’t gotten signed. But this goes for a lot of us who have patiently held on to our manuscripts for weeks, months, or even years, and have sent out queries and prayed for the perfect agent to give us that phone call that will change our lives forever and sign us and make us millionaires or best sellers, or whatever else we dream of being. In the end, we are writers who want to get published. We want our stories to make it, just like the rest of them.

But how long are we willing to wait…

Before we move on and decide that maybe the manuscript we have now is not meant to be our first book?
Before we move on and write our next story?
Before we say that maybe we don’t want to wait for a Literary Agent to dictate when we will be published authors.
Before we say that our story is good and that maybe self-publishing is the way to go.
Before we say that this is our dream, therefore it is up to us to make it real.
Before we give up.

But you see, we don’t give up. Our stories exist because we were called to write them. Something, somewhere gave us the idea and it was our job to write it down. And we did. There is a reason for that, and that’s why we are here still trying.

The thought of landing a Literary Agent can sometimes be frustrating and discouraging. The thought of self-publishing can be daunting and overwhelming, so what do we do? The reality is, we wrote a book. A book we believe in, and we want it published someday, somehow, somewhere.

And now, we must ask ourselves:
Do we want to be traditionally published or do we want to self-publish?
Do we want to control our destiny or wait for a star to fall?

I say we continue to research, network, educate ourselves, and know our options.

And while we wait to see our name in lights…we keep writing.

An Interview with Samantha Sotto, Author of Before Ever After

A few days ago, I mentioned that in order to answer one of the most common questions writers have regarding getting an Agent or getting Self-Published, I would interview two authors—one who got a Literary Agent and one who is
Self-Published.

I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with the talented Samantha Sotto, author of Before Ever After. Samantha went with a Literary Agent, which worked out well for her.

Check out our interview below:

COREY: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
SAM SOTTO:
After I typed “The End.” The dream of becoming a published writer took shape after I finished writing Before Ever After. Prior to that, it was simply a fun thing to do while waiting to pick my son up from school.

COREY: What inspired you to write Before Ever After?  
SAM SOTTO:
There are two ways you can deal with traffic: you can sit in your car and slowly go insane, or you can plot out a novel.

It might have been the Dr. Who marathon I had just emerged from or the “hangover” I was nursing after reading the Time Traveler’s Wife (I couldn’t stop crying about Henry!) or a combination of both that made Max, my main character, hitch a ride with me that afternoon. I didn’t know much about him then, except that he had a talent for staying alive, had a soft spot for chickens, ran an offbeat European tour, and was not a vampire.

I began to wonder more about his “lifetimes” and the people he had met along the way. That’s when I discovered that he had a wife, or rather, a widow – who had no idea who he really was. I knew then that I had to hop aboard Max’s Volkswagen van and take a detour into his and Shelley’ s story.

You might say that the research for this book was done years before I even had the idea to write it. I lived, studied, and traveled through Europe and have always been drawn to its crooked cobblestone alleys and tucked away corners. These forgotten nooks whispered stories that the history books left out. The “gaps” I found between by my travel scrapbooks and formal research became the places and times Max filled in with his secrets.

COREY: If you were to tell us about your book in one sentence, what would it be?
SAM SOTTO:
It’s a quirky fairytale for grown-ups about love, loss, and all that comes before ever after.

COREY: How long did it take you to write your novel?
SAM SOTTO:
About a year.

COREY: Did you ever consider Self-Publishing or did you always know you wanted to send your manuscript out to Literary Agents? How did you decide?
SAM SOTTO:
I only started researching about the publishing when I finished the book. I knew absolutely nothing about the process so when I saw a second hand copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published on sale, I bought it. That’s where I learned that I needed to find a literary agent. By default, that’s what I pursued.

COREY: Describe the process of getting published. How long did it take you to find your Agent? How long after you found your Agent did it take to get your book published?
SAM SOTTO:
Google became my best friend during my three-month agent hunt. I scoured the web for agents whom I thought would be a good fit for my book. I made a shortlist, sent out my query letter, and crossed my fingers and all appropriate appendages. But I didn’t send out my letter to everyone on my list. There was an agent that I particularly liked and so I decide to “save” her until I got feedback from the other agents. I was rejected a number of times, but luckily, I also received requests. When about four or five agents had my full manuscript, I found the courage to send my letter to her. She read my query, requested for the full manuscript the next day, read the book overnight, and made me an offer before the other agents had finished reading what I had sent them. She asked me to make a few revisions and when the book was ready, she pitched it to publishers. After about a month, she sold the book.

COREY: Who read your manuscript before you sent it out? Did you have it edited? Were you part of a Writer’s Group?
SAM SOTTO:
I sent the finished chapters to my mom and husband. They read the book in “real time” as I wrote it. My mom made sure that my T’s were crossed and my I’s were dotted. I was not a part of a formal writer’s group but I did join support forums online.

COREY: Have you joined any writing competitions?
SAM SOTTO:
Does an essay writing contest in 6th grade count? 🙂

COREY: What genre does your book belong to?  
SAM SOTTO:
Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle a genre. No? Um…okay. The book crosses over genres – mystery, history, romance, humor. It also has a little bit of magical realism on its mother’s side. 🙂

COREY: Describe your writing style.
SAM SOTTO:
Quirky with a hint of lime.

COREY: Who is your favorite author, and why?
SAM SOTTO:
Neil Gaiman. I want to be him when I grow up. He builds worlds I want to live in.

COREY: Define a good book.
SAM SOTTO:
I like books that have characters that walk around in your head long after you’ve finished reading.

COREY: Define a good writer.
SAM SOTTO:
A good writer is an invisible one.

COREY: What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
SAM SOTTO:
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. (Sorry, Neil.) I’m not reading any book at the moment. Sadly, I can’t read while I’m writing. My imaginary friends are a chatty bunch and take up the limited space in my head.

COREY: How has being a published author changed your life?
SAM SOTTO:
It hasn’t. I just get a whole lot more email – that I promise to get to. Pinky swear.

COREY: How do you balance being a writer and being a mom?
SAM SOTTO:
Being a mom comes first. I only write when the kids are in school.

COREY: What inspires you to write?
SAM SOTTO:
The fire-breathing deadline I have at the end of the month.

COREY: Are you working on your second book?
SAM SOTTO:
I’m wrestling with it now. It has me in a choke-hold. Send help.

COREY: What tips can you give other writers who are waiting to get published?
SAM SOTTO:
Show up for work even if inspiration calls in sick.

Thanks Samantha for allowing me to pick your brain. It was a lot of fun.

If you’d like to check out Samantha’s blog and/or buy her book, check out her website for more information:
http://samanthasotto.com/

Before Ever After is also available on Amazon.com. 

Come back soon for my upcoming interview with a Self-Published author.

To Get a Literary Agent or to Self-Publish, That is the Question.

So you’ve finished your manuscript and you can’t wait to get it published. Now the question is, do you get a Literary Agent or do you self-publish? This is a question I have been asked many times and my usual answer is, it all depends. Depends on your book, and what your goal is as a writer.

But there are many reasons why some writers get an Agent and why some self-publish, but what are they?

To help answer this question (and other questions), I decided I would interview two authors—an author who got a Literary Agent, and an author who is self-publishing or is self-published.

I am happy to announce that the author I picked who got a Literary Agent, and who  agreed to an interview with me, is Samantha Sotto. She is the author of the novel, Before Ever After. She will be my very first guest on my blog and it is an honor to have her.

Check back soon to read my interview with Samantha Sotto.

Book trailers: What, why and when should we have them?

Book trailers/book previews/book screenings are like movie trailers. They are supposed to create excitement and intrigue to readers, and make them want to buy and read your book.

So when should we have them? Before or after a book is written and edited? Before or after you’ve signed with a Literary Agent? Before or after your book is already published?

Will book trailers help those that haven’t found a Literary Agent, find one?

I did a quick search online and found no definite answer. Some writers had them even before their books were fully written and edited, some had them without signing with a Literary Agent, some had them only after their books were published, and some refuse to have them at all—so which one really is it?

Here are some links to some book trailers I found online.

http://bookscreening.com/

http://booktrailersforall.com/

http://vabbler.com/

I’m thinking of creating a book trailer for my first novel, but am curious to see what other writers have done and are doing.

Do you have a book trailer? Do you think a book trailer can help or hurt your book?

Literary Agents

I have always been curious about how writers get their books published. What process did they go through and how long did it take them?

Nicholas Sparks shares how he found his Literary Agent in his website. I love reading about his experience because he makes it sound so easy. Attached is a link to his site.

http://nicholassparks.com/ForWriters.asp?PageID=3

How did you find your Literary Agent? How did you get published? Are you still looking for an Agent? What has your experience been like so far?

Of course everyone has a different experience. I’m still going through mine. I’ve written a book that I love, have sent out queries, attended a Writers Conference, pitched my book and luckily got a few requests for my manuscript, but yet I’m not quite done. I am constantly trying to build my platform however way I can. Despite distractions and life’s challenges, I never stop writing.

In the perfect world, I would be writing every day—sipping espressos, sitting outside cafes with nothing but my laptop and a plethora of inspiration around me. But reality is different. I have chores and responsibilities like the rest of us. But I try. I try my best to write as if I was in a café… in Paris, people watching, when I’m really sitting on the couch watching my 2-year old daughter who I love dearly. Besides, isn’t that what writing is for? It’s for creating different scenes at different times based on your imagination. I like creating, that’s why I chose to write fiction. I prefer to write in a café in Paris on a beautiful spring day. I think I’ll stick to that for now and let my imagination run wild.