I did make it to the Jericho Writers Festival in York, UK, Sep 7-9th and came away with some good insights to writing and the future of publishing.
The talk I enjoyed the most was by award winning adult and YA author Sarah Pinborough
She was an energetic, open, audacious speaker who I thought might rise off the stage at any moment and fly away
Her main point was that being an author had to be for the long run and the hard fun of it – forget the one book wonders and instant fame and money. This topic was in fact a common theme throughout the conference – most authors who make a living from their writing are borderline broke, unfortunately.
An interesting workshop I attended was called “Make Sh*t Happen” with best-selling author and teacher Julie Cohen. Using “The Princess Bride” as a model, we were told to think of the worst thing that can happen to our protagonists, and then make it happen. A happy ending can follow, but first your characters must be put under stress. To put your reader under stress. So they can feel your character’s pain and then joy.
She also told us her writing technique (has written 25 novels). She gets an idea for a plot then uses 3 X 5 cards and writes one or two sentences on each, putting together a rough sequence of scenes for the plot, like a deck of playing cards. Then she goes back and turns the sentence or two on each into paragraphs (visualizing better the scene), not yet “writing” but building up the scenes/storyline/what-she-wants-to-happen-when. Then she goes and writes a first draft, connecting the scenes, shuffling them as needed. Then she worries about the “writing” in the second, third and fourth drafts. Then an editor goes over and makes suggestions, then another draft, then she’s close.
As far as the current state of publishing – the big publisher’s profits continue to shrink, many genres are going mostly eBooks now (Romance, SciFi, for example). And the pay-a-monthly-fee to read all you want is probably going to become more prevalent. Ah, and lastly, self-publishing just makes sense for most writers 🙂 Unless you want to conquer the world, then your best shot is to get an agent to help you get a publisher (and good luck with that!).
I did talk with an agent at the conference and pitched my SciFi A.I. Series (Our Only Chance and Fountain of Souls and the third book in the series yet unnamed). We’ll see if anything comes from that…
And I discussed my rom-com with an editor I met who is interested to content edit Four Honeymoons for me in a few months (yay!).
After the conference, I took the train to Manchester, then flew to Paris and spent a couple days visiting my two favorite writer friends Reine Melvin (whose great new book, “The Betrayed”, set in the Philippines, is about two sisters who fall in love with the same man) and Lidmila Sovakova (very entertaining writer and winner of the European Prize for Fiction).