Welcome to the Club

Coming off a whirlwind weekend in Madison at the 25th annual Writers’ Institute, I am overwhelmed, exhausted and really really excited about the now and future of publishing.

The four day event covered much more than I could possibly summarize in a single Monday Blog. The Institute offers sessions for every level, every genre, and every interest of writers. It is hosted by agents, editors, managers, publishers, and professionals that should be beyond my piddly reach and yet, there they are– willing to talk to, teach, share, entertain and mentor. It is an incredible affair.
But enough gushing.

Parting Gifts was the closing panel– “3 things every writer should seriously think about doing the minute they walk out of the conference.” Three of their recommendations:
1. Digest
2. Be thankful
3. Continue contact

Lists of 3 should help me cover a lot of ground without being overwhelming or exhausting, but maybe still a little exciting…

My post-conference To-Do List:
1. Ruminate and discuss. (The 2 hour drive home with fellow attendees helped!)
2. Blog  🙂
3. Catch up on what I’ve missed the past four days—writing wise. Laundry can wait.

And now, in no particular order, resonating moments from the Writers’ Institute…

Recommended websites:
1. Google+ is a “social layer” that enhances many of its online properties, it is not simply a social networking website, but also an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author
2. Lynda.com has Easy-to-follow video tutorials to help you learn software, business, creative skills, and more.
3. Wattpad is a new way to read, an unlimited, ever-growing library of free books and stories all in the palm of your hand. On Wattpad, millions of people are discovering great fiction, sharing stories with friends and following their favorite authors chapter-by-chapter.

Actions the Institute inspired me to take:
1. Write a logline for myself.
2. Hire a professional editor.
3. Purchase Shadow Show, a tribute to Ray Bradbury

Things I did not know but do now:
1. Online reviews are tricky, potentially duplicitous and a growing business.
2. The agent/client relationship is like a marriage. You’ll want a good pre-nup.
3. In regards to social media, assume everything you do is public.

Institute Highlights:
1. Buying Kristin Oakley’s book, Carpe Diem, Illinois!
2. Listening to Chris Cacciatore and her sister Jennifer Starkman participating on the Success Panel and doing themselves and In Print proud!
3. Picturing Jim from Taxi when Michael Perry was speaking.
Three more:
1. In Print and Prompt Club’s own Ray Paul being printed in the Midwest Prairie Review, the annual Institute publication.
2. Derek the bartender taking good care of our entourage.
3. (and possibly my favorite) Jacquelyn Mitchard seeking out our table before leaving Sunday morning specifically to sign books for a friend.

Memorable Quotes (meme worthy):
1. “Publication is squishy.” Jane Friedman
2. “The first page is like a first date, a promise of what’s to come.” Laura Biagi
3. “Better late than lousy.” Rachel Stout
Three more:
1. “All writing counts.” Sue Roupp
2. “The solution to every single writing problem you will ever have is to KEEP WRITING.”
Nathan Bransford
3. “I knew what I wanted to write, so I wrote it.” Laurie Scheer

Buzz Words (words repeated often enough to play a drinking game to):
1. Piggyback
2. Dovetail
3. Um (we’d all be drunk, but I have to say I appreciate that these agents, editors, authors, etc are real people who aren’t always great public speakers!)

I did not pitch this year, but that doesn’t lessen my excitement for those who did and were asked for submissions!
Good luck:
1. Crystal, Shannon
2. Karna, Deborah
3. Chris & Jenny and anyone I might have missed!

Best lessons learned:
1. FOLLOW THROUGH! (that’s in caps for my submitting friends!)
2. Nobody’s going to make you write.
3. The future of publication and its many incarnations is bright.

I’m sure I will be recalling information, comments, stories I wish I’d included here for days to come, but I hope this blog reflects my top-of-mind experiences. I also did not go into the amazing friends I spent this weekend with. It would NOT have been the same without you, weepy eyes, double entendres, directional interpretations, or 3 am revelers.

In closing, I’d like to credit Tina Schwartz for this one:
You’ve written something. You’ve been rejected. Welcome to the club.




About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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8 Responses to Welcome to the Club

  1. Lisa R says:

    So much great info, Mary! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mary! This is an awesome recap of the 2 1/2 days we all just experienced. Thank you for your kind words and I’ll say it again to you personally, you know what you want to write so just write it. Yep, just write it and you’ll be back on the success panel next year. Onward!!!!

    • Scheer, Laurie says:

      Awesome Mary! I have shared your post with just about every social outlet I know – you are awesome – thank you!!

  3. Pingback: If you can’t be there … | sharon p. lynn

  4. Wonderful write-up Mary! Now I’ve got to get busy and write one, too!

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