In a departure from my usual blog postings, I'm going to offer a quick replay of what I learned in various Publisher Spotlight sessions at the recent RWA conference in Orlando this past week. In spite of the change of venue, necessary because of the floods in Nashville, the conference went off smoothly. For my workshop on Researching for Historicals, the room had been prepared and all was in readiness. That, combined with my capable moderator, Megan Kelly , herself an author with a later workshop, made the workshop a success, if I can judge by the comments afterward.
Before attending national, I was familiar with local chapter conferences, where I honed the craft and improved my writing skills. To this day, I strongly recommend RWA workshops to any aspiring author, no matter the genre.
That said, the RWA National offers not only wonderful workshops about the craft, career choices, and marketing, but also includes something that smaller conferences cannot justify, financially. Bringing top-notch N.Y. editors from popular publishing houses to present panels on what they're looking for and how to submit, makes the price of the conference fee worth every dime.
To my surprise, I learned that Sourcebooks, Grand Central, and St. Martin's all take unagented material from published authors, if done according to their guidelines. (Email me if you need further info.) Since my previous agent and I have parted ways, my ears perked up when I heard this.
For unpublished authors, talks by agents like Ethan Ellenberg, Kristen Nelson, and others, gave an insight as to how to write the query and synopsis that will grab their attention. They are, after all, looking for that next great author who will rise from the slush pile to the NYTimes best-seller list.
So save your pennies (well, okay, dollars) for next year's RWA National in N.Y. City. I promise you, you'll not be disappointed.
My reading list is an eclectic one, first, because I belong to two book clubs. Secondly, because I need an occasional fix for my historical novel habit, and lastly, because I need to do research for my own writing. Here are my latest reads in no particular order.
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson
Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin
Isabella D'Este: A Study of the Renaissance by Julia Cartwright
All Other Nights by Dara Hora
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Sarah: A Novel by Marek Halter
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Outlaws of Medieval Legend by Maurice Keen
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Without Reservations: The Travels of an
Independent Woman byAlice Steinbach
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to
Santiago by Ashley and Deegan
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
The Miracle of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz