(by K.A. Magrowski - originally posted on Literary Debauchery)
I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual Poconos Writers
Conference over the weekend. I love conferences because no matter what
your level of writing, you can never (and should never) stop learning.
Sponsored by writer and attorney Michael Ventrella and the Poconos Liars Club, this one-day writing event featured three writers and one agent who gave excellent talks on craft and publication.
kicked off the conference with his talk “The Biggest Mistakes Made by
New Authors.” Some great advice included treating your writing like a
job in terms of dedicating your time and learning the business,
finishing your work, and his secret to success (exclusive to attendees
only, I’m afraid). I jest, but he did emphasize the importance of
talent, hard work, and networking.
Next up was agent Alia Hanna Habib from McCormick Literary
who presented on query letters and knowing your genre (with examples of
what works and what doesn’t). Every time I go to a talk on query
letters I learn something new and this was no exception. Alia’s
experience was invaluable (and funny). Highlights included ensuring your
query reads something like jacket copy, know to whom you are submitting
and, of course, read the submissions guidelines.
After lunch, romance writer Megan Hart
spoke on Point of View. She provided clear instruction on each type of
point of view. I think my greatest takeaway here was the emphasis on how
point of view not only controls what we the readers know, it gives the
reader information as the character sees it. Each character is the hero
of her or his own story, which affects how they tell the story.
Dark fantasy author Rob E. Boley
wrapped up the speaker line up with his presentation on Worldbuilding,
which, as he points out, is integral for all genres, not just
speculative fiction. Rob asked members of the audience what they thought
worldbuilding included and the responses were phenomenal. Many
volunteered answers but then made connections with how that aspect (say,
currency) would affect the world and the way characters interact. Rob
emphasized that your world must serve the story. Coincidences that screw
the characters are acceptable. Those that help are not. There are no
silos – different aspects of the world affect other aspects (just like
the real world!). Do not cast brushstrokes and don’t see everything in
black and white.
The audience participation really energized the crowd for the final
session – a Q&A panel with the authors where we discussed marketing,
networking, and being yourself on social media (please, no non-stop
promo tweets!) and at writing events. In the end, sell yourself as much
as your work, but be real.
Highly recommended conference,
especially if you’ve never attended one and might be feeling overwhelmed
at the thought of a large, multi-day event.
PS Huge shout out to the Eastern Monroe Public Library for hosting the event. Support your local library!
PPS I might have bought some books…