Sit Down and Relax: The Agent Meeting

Melissa Jeglinski - The Knight Agency
Conference Faculty Member

So you’ll be attending the South Carolina Writers' Workshop in October. And you want to make the most of your experience. You’ve looked over the program and decided which workshops to attend. But the list of agents is confusing. Who do you meet with and what do you do when you sit down face to face?

First, remember that the agent is there to find quality material. As much as I love the idea of Myrtle Beach in October, I’m still giving away my weekend of free time to work. (Though an ocean view can make anything sweeter.) We all want to come out of this with something positive to show for our time. I would love nothing more than to find my dream project and sign a client right on the spot.

You need to decide whether you want to work with an agent. If so, which agent or agents? Why meet with one you have no interest in? Time is a valuable commodity for everyone so don’t waste it just because you’re curious. If that’s the case, come to one of our sessions and ask questions there. But save the one on one times for those who are really interested in that agent; the opportunity for such a face to face meet does not often occur. And remember, you can always chat us up over a meal or in the hall between sessions--as long as we’re not looking like a frazzled mess.

Be sure you’re meeting with an agent who represents the type of project you are working on. For example, I don’t do non-fiction or illustrated books or short story collections; not because I don’t enjoy those works, I’m simply concentrating on other areas. Take a look at the agent’s website and see who they represent and what types of projects they are currently selling. If you think you may be a good match, try to get an appointment.

When you have the chance to sit down with the agent, be prepared. When pitching your project, be succinct but complete. I like to know the title, word length and genre. Most importantly, is the manuscript complete because I can’t shop an unfinished project by and unpublished author. As for synopsizing the plot; I prefer to just hear about the main conflicts, set up and resolution. I don’t need to know every little plot point. Tell me if it is a planned series or a standalone novel. I’d also like to know about your writing credentials or background, something that tells me you are serious about your craft. I’m using this introduction to see if this is a project I could be excited about and not every project will be the right fit. However, if I’m intrigued I will ask you to send me your work as nothing can tell me as much about your writing as actually reading it.

Then it’s time for you to ask questions.

There’s a time limit for these appointments and it’s usually pretty tight. So really plan out what you want to know about the agent. If you’re the type to get nervous, have your questions in front of you. It’s okay to read from a piece of paper or jot down notes. You can ask about the agent’s current client list, most recent sales, subjects or genres they are particularly interested in. Question them about their agency agreement, commission percentages and the like. Feel free to ask them how they prefer to work with clients; are they very hands-on, do they send revisions, give detailed notes, etc. Any question is fair as long as it has to do with publishing.

When your meeting is over and you go back to the conference and then return home, don’t forget to follow up with the agent. If they requested material...send it. If it’s not quite ready, update the agent on when you expect to submit the project. Or, if you’ve decided that you wouldn’t be a good fit, let them know that as well. Acting in a professional manner is always key.

Hopefully the conference will prove a wonderful experience for you and provide an opportunity for us all to make some terrific connections.

Looking forward to seeing you in October!

Building a Solid Weekend - Part 3

Today I spent a few hours rethinking a plot point of my current project. I should confess that I’ve actually been working on things for this manuscript for several months. Come to think of it, I’ve been reconsidering portions of a book I wrote six years ago.

Maybe you have some of the same issues. You’re almost done and yet you aren’t because there’s one more thing you want to fix. That one more thing turns into two, then three, then … Well you get the idea.

What to do? What to do? Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite again. Then? Edit, edit and edit some more.

But you protest, "I was done with it. I even wrote THE END."

That's fine, and you did write it in all caps so we'd know you really were done. There is one point I would make though, it can't hurt to go over your manuscript with a fine-toothed comb.

"No one goes through all of that!" You grumble. "I catch mistakes in printed books all the time."

So do I, but then again, we all make mistakes. That's why pencils have erasers and computers have a DELETE key.

A writer friend told me about a published author she’d recently heard interviewed. The author confessed that she edited her manuscripts more than fifty times before she was satisfied that they were as polished as they could be.

My friend and I chuckled at the thought of going through our manuscripts that many times before we submitted them. Then we both realized that that author had something neither of us had: published books.

I don’t know if a manuscript requires more than fifty edits, but every manuscript could use some rewriting and perhaps a little editing even when you’re convinced it’s finished.

Most of the sessions I highlight here are designed to give you the tools necessary to get your manuscript into its best form. And once it's in tip-top shape, the rest of these sessions are all about submitting your project to an editor or agent for potential representation.

Look these over and plan on showing up to at least one of them, your manuscript and writing career will benefit.

You’re Done (at least with the 1st draft)! Now What?

Friday 9:00 –

(1) Editing Isn’t for Kids: The Young Adult/Children’s Markets from an Editing Point of View – Molly O’Neill

(2) Am I Done Now?: Editing from the First Paragraph to the Last Period – Carrie McCullough

Friday 1:30 –

(1) That’s Different … Get Positive Attention from Editors and What Will

Hurt! – James Frenkel

Saturday 9:00 –

(1) Courting a Query: Tips to Catch an Agent – Melissa Jeglinski

Saturday 10:30 –

(1) Case Solved: Finding Ways to Grab a Mystery Editor’s Eye – Toni Plummer

Saturday 1:30 –

(1) Not Kids’ Games: Making Your Young Adult and Children’s Manuscripts Editor-Ready Works – Molly O’Neill

(2) A Little Verb, A Little Noun: Creating A Synposis That Sells – Stephanie Sun

Sold Out Appointments

Appointments are really selling this week, especially with the critiques deadline less than a week away. Here's a quick list of faculty who are sold out of specific types of appointments. We're attempting to update the registration system as quickly as possible.

Bernadette Baker-Baughman -- SOLD OUT of Real-Time Query
Sarah LaPolla -- SOLD OUT of Real-Time Query
Toni Plummer -- SOLD OUT of Real-Time Query, Standard Critique
Stephen Barr -- SOLD OUT of Pitch
Stephanie Sun -- SOLD OUT of Pitch
Jim Frenkel -- SOLD OUT of Extended Critique

Also, if you register for more than three of a specific appointment type, be sure to send an email to with the complete list of your top choices, providing one more choice than the number you purchased (in case one of the choices is sold out).
Please, don't attempt to request someone who was not a choice during the registration process. It will be impossible to fill the request.

Finally, if you would like to add an appointment to your registration, please email Do not start a new online registration.

"Handle Me with Care"

Where do writers get their ideas? That's perhaps the most important question about writing that has no single right answer. Each writer is an individual who has individual ideas that capture the writer's fancy. It's less the uniqueness of an idea than the way it's expressed and packaged that gives each of us our writing approach and style.

We sometimes seek inspiration from those around us. This is a fruitful source, as long as we remember that the Hippocratic Oath adjuration to "first do no harm" applies to writers as well as doctors. I heard on the radio last week that a newly-released movie about life in the Deep South fifty years ago has led to a blowup between a writer and a person who claims that the writer, in essence, committed theft in using the real-life person as a character without permission. Without making a judgment on this case, it's a reminder that we have the power to destroy a good name or reputation by careless words or characterizations.

I teach history for a living. Part of what I do is to discuss with my students the canons of historical research and writing and the historian's obligation to do justice to the dead. In graduate school, I suffered several professorial bludgeonings until I display an adequate grasp of this key point. One who seeks to live by the credo of doing justice to others may want to consider exercising caution in harvesting grist for their writer's mill.

My wife and I recently spent ten days in Russia, cruising the waterways from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I crammed a notebook full of ideas about characters to populate the landscapes we saw. One thing we noticed in talking with Russians is the apprehensiveness many of them show about discussing their nation's past. Faulkner was right: their past isn't even past. It may not be for generations to come. I assume that all of us who love the craft of writing share a commitment to the truth, even expressed in fictional or poetic forms. I'm wrestling with the question of how to write about consequential things and tell the truth without doing injustice to my characters. I have no easy answers; I doubt anyone does.

A popular song from some years ago had the frequently-repeated line, "Handle me with care." Nonfiction writers already know the importance of doing this. We who write fiction and poetry need to keep it in mind as well.

A little more about some conference sessions (Frederick and Glick)

Are you a non-fiction writer? Excited about Matthew Frederick's three sessions, but not really sure what to expect? The author provided these teasers to his upcoming sessions:

TheFour P’s of Nonfiction

This workshop will help you assess thestatus of your nonfiction work and identify the next steps you need to take to improveyour chances of publication. You will read aloud a brief statement ordescription of your work—a pitch, synopsis, first page, or similarlyinformative piece of 250 words or less. The instructor and class participantswill assess your project in terms of the Four P’s: Platform (can you convince a publisher youhave the expertise, reach, or name recognition to attract an audience ofreaders?); Prose (are your writingand narrative skills suited to your project?); Proposal (what is this peculiar document required by agentsand publishers for nonfiction projects, and what makes it most effective?); andPurpose (is the concept or formatyou have chosen for your book appropriate to the needs of readers as well asyour own goals?). From there, the instructor will guide you as you work on yourweaker area(s). Bring to the session the first chapter of your manuscript, achapter outline, and any related documents you have been working on (query,proposal, etc.).

Small Steps, Big Books

Unpublished writers make a frequent mistake:investing too much energy in producing one "great" work instead ofcreating more works. Certainly, thedesire to publish a great book is understandable and even commendable, but amore useful goal for the unpublished writer is simply to become more publishedthan he or she currently is. For most, this means momentarily scaling backone’s ambitions and pursuing lesser but more immediate writingopportunities: community newspaper articles, letters to the editor, newsletteressays, PR copy, book and movie reviews, blogs, books-for-hire, and so on.Small writing projects can help the overly ambitious writer clarify his or her thinking,improve narrative skills, build an audience, make contacts in the publishingindustry, overcome creative blocks, and perhaps even generate an income streamthat will fund your work on your Big Book. Join Matthew Frederick, author offive bestselling small books and one forever-in-progress Big Book, as he helpsyou identify some effective small steps you can take toward becoming morepublished.

Being an Expert Can Pay

Everyone is perhaps expert at something;can your expertise be turned into a book? For that matter, are you certain whatyour area of expertise is? Is it your professional knowledge, yourchild-rearing skills, your winning way with cats, or your ability to avoid hardwork? In this session, bestselling nonfiction author Matthew Frederick willhelp you explore possibilities great and small, serious and silly, for nonfictionbook projects. Bring to the seminar some raw ideas, a sense of humor, and adesire to explore in unexpected directions.

As you can see from Sunday's blog, all appointments with Glick are sold out. However, here's a little more about the three sessions she'll offer during the conference:

From Research to the Dotted Line: What a Writer Should know about Finding, Signing with an Agent

You've written your manuscript or you've outlined a great non-fiction idea. But what do you do next? Agent Mollie Glick will walk attendees through the steps to finding agents in your area, how to send a query, what types of projects need proposals and then move to communicating with agents and what to keep in mind when considering an agent contract.

To Whom it May Concern: Tips on Writing Dynamic Query Letters

You know you've got a gold mine of a manuscript in your hands or in your head. What's the best way to get the project across to an agent? Mollie Glick will share what she looks for when she's reading query letters and tips on how to get yours polished.

Let's Talk About Genres: Learning How to Categorize Your Work and Other Names Agents Might Call It

Literary? Commercial? Upmarket? Young Adult? Middle Reader? Independent Reader? Memoir? Narrative Non-fiction? Let Agent Mollie Glick help you discover what your genre might be called by agents. Bring all your genre/category questions to this one!

There's still time to purchase a critique

September 1 is just around the corner, but there's still time to buy a critique. The following faculty (in random order) still have slots available:
1. Sorche Fairbank
2. Sarah LaPolla
3. Molly O'Neill
4. Bernadette Baker-Baughman
5. Alyssa Henkin
6. Jon Sternfeld
7. Jim Frenkel
8. Jessica Regel
9. Stephanie Sun
10. Melissa Jeglinski
11. Stephen Barr
12. Eddie Schneider
Already registered and want to add an appointment? Email

10 Smart Questions About the Query Process

By Chuck Sambuchino - Writer's Digest Books
Conference Faculty Member

When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until you make a connection.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep. It’s with that in mind that I have collected 10 of the more interesting questions submitted to me by readers regarding protocol during the query process.

1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?

Generally, no. A rejection from one usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.

2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?

You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a work if it’s been overhauled or undergone serious edits. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.

3. Do you need a conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?

I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.

4. Should you mention your age in a query? Will agents take on an older client?

I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.

5. Can I query an agent for a short story collection?

I’d say 95 percent of agents do not accept short story collection queries. The reason? Collections just don’t sell well. If you have a collection of short stories, you can do one of three things: 1) Repurpose some/all of the stories into a novel, which is much easier to sell. 2) Write a new book—a novel—and sell that first to establish a reader base. That way, you can have a base that will purchase your next project—the collection—ensuring the publisher makes money on your short stories. 3) Query the few agents who do take collections and hope for the best. If you choose this third route, I suggest you get some of the stories published to help the project gain some momentum.

6. When should you query? When is your project ready?

There is no definitive answer, but here’s what I suggest. You want to get other eyes on the material—what are called “beta readers”—people who can give you feedback that is both honest and helpful. These beta readers (usually critique group buddies) will give you feedback and you can take what you want then ditch the rest. What you’re aiming for is no more major concerns. So let’s say you give the book to three friends and they come back with some major concerns, such as “It starts too slow” or “This character is not believable.” Through revisions, you can address these problems. After rewrites, give it to three more beta readers. If they come back with no major concerns, the book is ready, or at least very close.

7. Should I mention that my work is copyrighted or has had professional editing?

No. All work is copyrighted the moment you write it down in any medium, so saying something that’s obvious only comes off as amateurish. On the same note, all work should be edited, so saying that the work is edited (even by a professional editor) also comes off as amateurish.

8. How should I start my query? Should I begin with a paragraph from the book?

I would not include a paragraph from the book nor would I write the letter in the “voice” of one your characters—those are gimmicks. You can just jump right into the pitch—there’s nothing wrong with that. But you can also try to establish a connection with an agent (i.e., try to explain why you’ve picked this agent out of the whole bunch). Ways to make a connection include 1) a referral, 2) citing an interview with them you read online, 3) mentioning a prior book they repped, 4) revealing that you met in person at a writers’ conference.

9. Should I mention that the query is a simultaneous submission?

You can, but you don’t have to. If you say it’s exclusive, they understand no other eyes are on the material, but if you say nothing, they will assume multiple agents must be considering it. Keep in mind to always check each agent’s submission guidelines; a few rare agents will specifically request to be informed if it’s a simultaneous submission.

10. Should I query all my “target” agents at once?

No, and let me tell you why. You don’t want to send out 50 queries all at once, because if the query doesn’t hook readers or your first chapter needs tweaking, then you’ve sent out sub-par work to all reps. You’ll get rejected across the board and blow lots of chances with agents. My recommendation is to send out 5-7 queries and see what you hear back. If everyone is saying no and you don’t get requests for pages, you have to start examining where you’re going wrong. Make some adjustments before querying again.

SCWW conference manners 101

First, please, let me remind you the early bird registration discount rates end Sept. 1. Also, all critique materials must be sent by Sept. 1. That’s also the last date you can purchase a critique.

Now that we’ve got business out of the way, let’s talk about something that might seem simple, but can be a tricky, but vital, ingredient to a great conference experience – industry manners.
The majority of the attendees will have the same goal of getting published. With hundreds of people struggling for time with only 20 faculty members, it’ tempting to do whatever it takes. Here are some suggestions of the good, the bad and the “it depends.”

The Good

1. Be friendly. Think of it like the Sam Walton rule at Walmart: if a faculty member is within 10 feet, smile and say hello.

2. Be professional. Presentation is a subtle part of manners. Make sure to keep your comments, conversation and clothes in the same condition – clean and in good taste.

3. Be helpful. If a faculty member, or even another attendee, looks lost or in need of a little help, offer.

4. Be prepared. Nothing distracts a session or appointment time like someone wrestling a purse, conference tote or briefcase for pen, paper and business cards.

5. Be rested. It’s amazing the difference in your attitude when you’ve had a restful night.

6. Be kind. Sure, you’ll see errors in others work that look obvious. But remember, we’re all human and have room to learn. If asked for feedback, try to provide it in a manner you would want returned.

7. Be respectful. Though only 20 people, it will seem like there’s so many faculty, especially should they congregate after the dinner session in the hotel bar. While it’s tempting to join their crowd, only do so when there’s some type of invite. No matter how long our days are – theirs have been a little longer. Not only are they in sessions and appointments, they’re had loads of prep work, too.

The Bad

1. Don’t lurk. True, it’s a fine line. You want to catch your dream agent’s eye. But you don’t want a restraining order. How do you know if you’ve gone too far – when you’re trying to pass a business card under the bathroom stalls. Seriously folks, faculty members need down time – after dinner, a little time by the pool, a bathroom break – so they can provide great sessions, and find great clients.

2. Don’t be a wallflower. This is your time to shine in the sun, not be bashful and your own worst critique. If an agent or editor says he/she LOVES your use of dialogue or your creative choices of adjectives, don’t argue that you could do better.

3. Don’t carry a lot of baggage. I’m being literal and figurative. Maybe you were led on by an agent in the past. That doesn’t mean you’ll need interrogation lights for your critique or pitch appointments with new agents. And from a literal side, Don’t carry printed copies of your manuscript. In this digital age, make sure you have a copy in your email, laptop or on a flash drive.

4. Don’t be too eager, or play too hard-to-get. If an agent or editor says “send me a query,” “send me the first 10 pages,” or “send me your manuscript,” don’t light up his/her email from your Blackberry the second you walk away from the table. With appointments and sessions for most of the day, they won’t have time to read it. Also, you’re adding to pile of email that’s growing every minute they’re out of the office. But, don’t wait too long. A week or two of using conference suggestions to improve your work is great. Waiting any longer than a month, unless you’re in communications with the requester, is risky.

5. Don’t expect superhero powers or strength. You’ll never be able to go to every single session, hear every single panel or remember every great tip. And you can’t attend the early-bird breakfast groups and the night owl mingles without a little downtime somewhere.

It Depends

1. Avoid being “a fan.” It has happened to all of us. With so much social media at our fingertips, you may be a fan on Facebook of your dream agent, but at the conference you want to be a student and potential client. However, during the reception and dinners, feel free to let the faculty know how much you enjoy their work and how creative their Tweets are.

2. Elevator pitching, dinner pitching, bar pitch, bathroom pitching, poolside pitching. If you follow the Be Friendly rule and an agent asks, “What are you working on?” feel free to answer. However, if Agent X has on a pair of shades and a Harlequin at the pool, please, don’t pop up and pitch. Never, ever pitch in a bathroom, dark alley or airport.

Do you have a great conference etiquette item I missed? A specific question about conference manners? Comment below.

Faculty Update - Breaking News!

New York Times best-selling author, ANDREW GROSS, has just been added to the faculty for this year’s conference. Mr. Gross replaces suspense author M.J. Rose as our key note speaker. Ms. Rose had a conflicting family matter and cannot be with us. M.J. was instrumental in securing Andrew to be our Saturday evening key note speaker. I want to thank M.J. for helping us with this and thank Andrew for agreeing to take over for her.

You may know Andrew best because of his writing relationship with mystery/thriller/suspense author, James Patterson. Together they had six number one thrillers, including two of the Women’s Murder Club books.

Andrew is the author of five novels, three featuring fictional detective Ty Hauck of Greenwich, Connecticut. His most recent novel, Eyes Wide Shut, came out in July of this year.

We look forward to having Andrew with us and hearing his words of inspiration during dinner on Saturday, October 22.

Early registration ends on at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, September 1, 2011, when the clock strikes midnight, rates will go up $50.

We’re excited about the conference and hope that you are as well. See you in October!

10 Dos and Do Not’s for Pitching Agents at a Conference

By Bernadette Baker-Baughman - Victoria Sanders & Associates
Conference Faculty Member

10 Dos and Do Not’s for Pitching Agents at a Conference:

Do: Hone your pitch. Practice it on friends, family, in the mirror, on your pet. Practice it until it makes perfect sense and until you feel very comfortable and confidant repeating it.

Do not: plan on leaving a lot of material behind. If you leave anything, leave a one sheet or a business card.

Do: have a few “plan B” questions in case you have an extra moment more than anticipated with an editor or agent. There is nothing worse than a three minute conversation stalling out.

Do not: be nervous. This may be easier said than done. But agents are excited to meet you! We go to conferences because we are hungry for talent.

Do: send your materials right away if an agent requests it at a conference. If you are not going to send the material right away, let the agent know why. You have a higher chance of being remembered if you submit your material right away.

Do not: let it hurt your feelings if an agent/editor declines to review your material. We all have different sensibilities. Instead, focus on the agents who do request your work. Try and figure out what those agents found appealing or what stood out to them, then hone that for your next pitch.

Do: toot your own horn. We only learn what you tell us, so tell us as much as you can (the relevant stuff, of course).

Do not: be aggressive or pushy. Think of this like a first date. You have a better chance at a second date if you are on your best behavior. Agents want relationships that are friendly and mutually beneficial. So keep the smile on.

Do: speak up. You’ll be in a busy room with lots of noise. So eye contact, enunciation, and projection will go a long way.

Do not: forget which agent requested what material from you. Take notes. A dedicated notebook is a good idea for any conference. Be diligent about staying organized. And send only what is requested.

Do: have fun! This is the work of being a writer. We look forward to seeing you in the Fall!

Hello, Writers!

By Jessica Regel - Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
Conference Faculty Member

At the critique sessions, you and I will sit down and talk about your book-- not only the pages that I've read, but also the market for the project, and the general publishing process. Bring any questions you have with you to the session.

Here's a list of what I look for in new clients:

1) I want to be captivated by your writing from the first page. As far as genres go, I represent the following:

Young Adult & Middle Grade: Traditionally, I prefer books that are grounded in reality, but have elements of Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror or Paranormal. For instance, the WONDROUS STRANGE series, by my author Lesley Livingston, is brimming with fantasy, history, adventure and romance, but the story remains grounded in a realistic context. It is set in Central Park and revolves around a teen actress. I also represent contemporary children's books, such as THE SUMMER OF MAY by Cecilia Galante.

General Adult Fiction and Women's Fiction: I'm not a big fan of character driven stories. Plot is important to me. Books of this genre that I love include: Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee, What I Loved by Siri Husvedt, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and The Story of A Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer. THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS by Jillian Cantor is one of the books in this genre that I represent.

Fun Adult Nonfiction: I enjoy lifestyle, memoir, humor, fashion, music and pop culture books. HOW TO BOOZE by Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier is an example of a non-fiction book that I represent.

I don't handle: Practical Non-fiction (such as Self-Help, How-To, or Textbooks), Religion or Spirituality, Adult Genre Fiction (such as Sci-fi, Fantasy, Cozy mysteries, Romance), Political Thrillers or Crime, Picture Books, Misery Memoirs, Screenplays (while I do handle the film rights for JVNLA books, I do not represent screenwriters), Animal books (Children's and Adult), Children's books that are message or lesson oriented

2) A writer who can talk about their book in a way that gets me excited about it. If you can do this, then I know you'll be able to talk to your editor, your publicist, and, finally, your readers in an engaging way. Being a writer is no longer just about writing the book, it's about selling that book to the public.

3) A writer who knows the market for their book-- and reads their own genre! You need to know (and love) your genre.

I look forward to meeting you at the South Carolina Writers Workshop!

There’s Still Time!

By Martha Greenway
SCWW Contests Chair

The deadline for the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards is August 20 and is open only to those writers registered for the SCWW Conference. You must be a current member of SCWW and remain in good standing through October 23.

For a complete listing of the guidelines, go to and click on McCray Literary Awards. Next, click on the link to the guidelines in the first paragraph. There are four categories: Poetry, Short Fiction, Novel/first chapter and Nonfiction. The following prizes will be awarded for each category: $200 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd and a Certificate for Honorable Mention.

Carrie Allen McCray was an African-American writer born in Lynchburg, Virginia and was only seven years old when she and her family moved north during the black exodus out of the South. Her mom, Mary Rice Hayes Allen, was an early leader in the fight against segregation so Carrie grew up surrounded by the founders and leaders of the NAACP, writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance and people like W.B. DuBois, Sterling Brown and Walter White. Carrie earned her Bachelors of Arts from Talladega College and a Masters in Social Work from New York University. She lived her later years in Columbia, South Carolina and was one of the founders and first board members of the South Carolina Writers Workshop.

Her published works include Ajös Means Goodbye (1966), The Black Woman and Family Roles (1980), and her first-person memoir, Freedom’s Child: The Life of a Confederate General’s Black Daughter (1998) while about her mom, it is also Carrie’s story. Her poetry has appeared in such magazines as Ms. and The River Styx. She died on July 25, 2008, aged 94.

The follow quote by Carrie was taken from a newspaper article and is very appropriate going into our conference: “. . . write for the joy of writing. Don’t be anxious about publishing, that will come. Accept constructive criticism from seasoned authors. It helped me develop my writing. Don’t let anyone discourage you.”

Building a Solid Weekend – How to Get the Most out of Your Conference Experience Part 2

In my writing room at home I keep a copy of a Peanuts strip on the wall for inspiration. Snoopy is sitting on top of his dog house typing a series of opening lines. You know the ones about a dark and stormy night, a gun shot ringing out, a hospital intern making a discovery and a little boy growing up in Kansas. At the end of the strip he realizes he’s written himself into a corner. It happens to all of us at one time or another: we start a new project with lots of vigor and excitement only to realize we haven’t hammered out all of the details and we’re stuck.

As writers, we spend a lot of our time staring at computer screens or blank sheets of paper ready to create our masterpiece. When that computer screen is taunting us because we can’t get our story going it’s frustrating. So we turn to the experts: blogs, books on writing and the members of our critique circle, if we’re lucky enough to have a critique circle.

We think and plan then rewrite and tweak until inspiration hits and we know exactly what to do. The thing that helps move our story along comes to us in something like a blaze then we’re on fire again, the words fly from our fingertips fueled by mercury.

But what if you’ve been stuck for a long time? What if you’re still trying to get your character to admit that she’s frightened to talk to the guy in the booth because he bears an uncanny resemblance to her long dead brother? What do you do? The sessions listed below may not spark exactly the motivation you need, but they may point you in the right direction.

My Project is Underway, What Next?

Friday 9:00 –

Seeing and Hearing is Creating: Character and Plot Development Using Point of View and Voice – David B. Coe

Saturday 10:30 –

(1) Writing Isn’t A Race: Pacing and Story Arc – David B. Coe

(2) Using Your Head to Touch Hearts: Crafting Gripping Scenes – Lisa Tucker

These courses, along with the rest of the weekend's offerings, will help get you moving and keep you motivated as you work through your own dark and stormy nights as great discoveries are being made in your writing.

I look forward to seeing you in October.

On Twitter...

By Stephanie Sun - Weed Literary
2011 Conference Faculty

I would like to preface this post by saying that in no way, shape, or form, do I (nor can I) declare myself an authority on Twitter, as I am still very much new to this and have less than 500 "tweets" under my belt. With that being said...

I love Twitter, and I think it can do wonders for prospective authors. At almost every book-event I attend, Twitter comes up as a conversation topic amongst editors, agents, and authors-alike, and the benefits of having this social-connection to the publishing world can be amazing for writers who want to be published. Questions about publishing, the querying process, etiquette, anything - answers are only a #-tag away and this is invaluable material for those willing to take the plunge into the world of tweeting.

I have to admit, I had no idea what I was doing when I first signed up for a Twitter account, and quite often mistook the "search", "find people", and "post" boxes for each other and would consequently post extremely odd, piecemeal material. But soon thereafter, I started "following" our agency's authors, other favorite writers, journalists, editors, and industry-people and quickly picked up the lingo and trending #-tags. It is always helpful to write a personalized note about an agency's author or even better, specific book one has read when querying an agent, and most published authors are extremely gracious and helpful when answering insightful questions on the process- many times because they have been in the same position themselves! A little research and quality time investment goes a long way in simply getting a query read, and makes the material highly more probable to be requested.

If you plan to attend SCWW, give me a shout @sooheesun and I will try my best to @-you back! (Still working on how to navigate and nail down that Twitter-language because I am pretty sure "@-you back" is highly incorrect...but I promise to learn more and be a better Tweeter.)

There’re Going Like Hot Cakes!

By Carrie McCullough

The deadline for submitting work for a critique from a conference faculty member is September 1, and appointments are going fast. And yes, you do have to be registered for the conference to purchase critique, pitch, and query appointments. Here’s what is and is not still available.

Frenkel – extended critique
Plummer – standard (didn't offer extended)

2 Baker - Baughman standard critiques
3 LaPolla - Real-Time Queries
1 Barr - Pitch
4 Barr – Extended critiques
2 Jeglinski – Extended critiques
2 Henkin – Standard critiques
3 O'Neil – Standard critiques
3 Sun - Pitches
4 Sun – Real-Time Queries

For the most up-to-date and accurate answers to your appointment questions, read the September issue of the Quill. We'll tell you what to bring, what you shouldn't bring and tips to make your appointments productive. If you have a question you'd like answered in the September issue, be sure to email it to

I'm so Excited!

It's only August, but I'm already excited about and looking forward to the 21st SCWW Conference in October. I think some of the excitement comes from being a member of the Board of Directors. We are a working Board and for us the work on the conference began in January, so by now the plans on paper are becoming a reality. Registrations are coming in and critique, pitch and real-time query appointments are filling up. If you've been following our blog, you've seen the faculty has started their posts with advice on how to make your conference experience a great one - they're just teasers for the good writing advice they'll pass along at the conference.

I'm also looking forward to being a volunteer at the conference again this year. I'm tackling the job of heading up this year's Silent Auction, a daunting task and an important part of the conference. The money generated by the Auction helps significantly with the following year's conference expenses. But I have a great committee and some big Auction items are already in. We have our 5 day stay at The Oaks and we have our first faculty offering. I anticipate more faculty items, as well as some other interesting pieces in the next two months. Chapters have let me know they are getting their baskets together. It's always a fun surprise to see what the Chapters have chosen as their themes and the items they used for it. I'll include a list of Silent Auction items in my September post.

This is my third time volunteering for the SCWW Conference. The last two years I worked the registration desk and the critique room, giving me the opportunity to meet so many of the attendees over the weekend and some of the faculty I didn't hear in sessions. This year I'm moderating a Slushfest. Slushfests are a great way to see and hear how agents and editors initially react to our manuscripts. What an eye-opener!

I'm also excited and a bit curious about what this year's 'take-away' will be. This is my 6th or 7th SCWW Conference and every year I come away with pages of notes and hand-outs, but there's always been that one specific nugget that was just the right thing I needed that particular year. One year it was finding out the short story I had critiqued was really a novel in the making - which I've since finished. Another year it was hearing how three different faculty members read the same piece of my work . . . and came up with three different opinions! But each had valuable information. Who knows what this year will bring, but I know I'll come home with just the right tidbit.

And I'm also looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new writers in October.

There's a lot to be excited about with the upcoming SCWW Annual Conference, from the outside in. If you haven't registered yet, there's still plenty of time to do so. If you want an appointment with a specific faculty member, the time is getting a little tighter for you. And if you want to be part of what makes all this happen, think about becoming a volunteer. See you at the beach!