Ozark Creative Writers Conference, 2012

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Ozark Creative Writers Conference for the second time.  At the conference last year was where the “Rabid Rainbow Ferrets” were born (there will be more to come on this in later blog posts – probably in 2013 – but we are inducting a new member in November!).  I’ll just say “writers, late nights, and sugar highs” and that should explain pretty much all of it.

You can see the “Founding Members” here:

Founding members of the Rabid Rainbow Ferrets – taken at the Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR (why yes, that is a teapot at every setting . . .) (no, we’re not tea snobs /denial) (from left to right: Serena, Jessica, Rebekah, Michelle, Lissa)

This year, we went up a day early and did some sight-seeing.

Crystal Bridges (Bentonville, AR) was absolutely lovely.

Michelle was as giddy as a five-year-old when the conductor on the ES&NA Railway (steam train!) announced that we were going to get to deboard the train and put coins on the track to smash them for souvenirs.

We did manage to stop at the Blue Spring Heritage Gardens on the way back home as well. The water from the spring is 54 degrees (Fahrenheit) year round.

But, I didn’t just get on here to show you pretty pictures. (Though that is a completely valid reason to blog . . . right?)

I can’t say that I was thrilled with all the workshops at OCW this year, but a few of them were worth their weight in gold, let alone the conference fee.  But as usual, I learned something from every workshop I went to, but I did skip the last afternoon workshop on the first day, because my head was pounding, and at that point I was doing everything I could to prevent a migraine.

So, without further ado, here are some tidbits (a lot of tidbits) from the 2012 Ozark Creative Writers Conference:

When marketing, spend money on postcards rather than bookmarks.  Have the cover the book on the front and the release date and publisher information on the back.  Mail them, hand them out locally, and take to bookstores and ask about signings. – Cherry Weiner (agent extraordinaire – who I would have pitched to if the summer hadn’t gone down the toilet and ruined all my revising plans)

“Going from Agent to Editor to Publication” – Workshop with Cherry Weiner & Daniela Rapp (these two are a HOOT to watch together.)
– approximately 4 weeks from deal (editor talks to agent, agent talks to author, eventually the editor makes an offer) to contract offer.
– 3 months from oral acceptance of offer to signed contract and advance.
– When getting your rights back after a book has finished its “life” (Rebekah’s term), make sure to get the e-rights back.

Daniela Rapp – Editor with St. Martins Press (betcha didn’t know that they put out 500 titles PER YEAR) (also, I learned so much from this woman.  There will be another blog post about her workshop in December – post NaNo.)
– Her 3 “Must-Have’s”
1. You must tell me a story.
2. I must love at least one of the characters.
3. It must be nothing like anything else I have ever read.
– She loves plot, likes to be surprised, and enjoys high concepts and interesting premises.
– Make the reader laugh and cry.
– Watch the “genre balance” in crossovers, it needs to be more of one than the other.

Johnny Boggs “Writing for Young Adults”
– The industry used to look for works that were 30-40k in length, stand-alone, and clean.  Today, nothing is off-limits. (ie: Twilight Saga, Hunger Games, etc.)
– Girls will read about girls or boys, boys just want to read about boys.
– Hook them quick.
– Make characters a little older than your intended audience – don’t write “down” to them.

Susan Swartwout
– Avoid filling your hook with lengthy description, or starting with dialogue.
– Don’t write the hook first.  Revise it last.  Make it tight and succinct.
– Approximately 14 exposures to a book (through reviews, word-of-mouth, seeing it on a shelf, etc) are required before a reader will buy it.
– 1% of all books published will get optioned for film rights.  .6% of that 1% will actually be bought.  Even less will actually make it to the big screen.

Susan also did an AMAZING workshop on book contracts.  I’ll be doing a blog post all about that in December as well.  Yes, there is a post-NaNo theme going on here.

I only managed to make it to one of Dianna Graveman’s workshops (the aforementioned migraine), and I learned too much from that one to add to this already lengthy blog post, so once again . . . yup, a post in December, post-NaNo.

Coming up this week on the blog are the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour (woohoo!), some NaNoWriMo posts (woohoo & urgh! at the same time), and something else that I can’t remember at the moment.

And on a completely unrelated note – the hens are laying!  Almost all of them, I believe, but someone “new” started laying today, because all the eggs so far have been white, and today’s egg was brown.  We have 11 eggs so far :D.

Alright, I won’t bore you with chicken-talk anymore . . .