Category Archives: Conference Staff

And, now, it’s time

to announce points of interest on the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference.

The Early Bird Registration ends on October 31, 2015. For a mere $375 you get an all-access pass to the three-day event. That includes all workshops, panels, meals, and pitches. And this is one conference opportunity you don’t want to pass up!

The Keynote Address at the final dinner will be delivered by none other than Larry Brooks, author of six works of fiction, who pens the popular blog Storyfix where he offers tips on a variety of issues we all face as writers in addition to operating his business of story coaching for novelists and screenwriters. He’ll also be presenting workshops you won’t want to miss.

Bet you never thought about the spectrum of poetry which is songwriting. In that vein, we’ve got author John Darryl Winston who will be doing a workshop on Poetry as Lyrics. John has written with and for the likes of Grammy-winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. John’s talent doesn’t stop there. He’s begun a series of dystopian fiction, building a familiar yet strange world, that is getting excellent notices. Thus, he’ll present a workshop on World Building.

Topping the agent’s list (so far) are Michael Carr of the Veritas Literary Agency (San Francisco), Maria Vincente of P.S. Literary Agency (New York), and Sam Morgan of JABberwocky Literary Agency (New York).

It’s shaping up into a really great conference. The event is deliberately limited to 150 (including faculty) to provide a quality experience for everyone. So head on over to Las Vegas Writer’s Conference and get registered before it fills up.

Las Vegas Conference Schedule – Thursday

Thursday’s Schedule
Thursday, April 24: Doors open at 11:00am
Registration begins

1:00PM – 1:50PM
ROOM 1 Short Story Breeze
ROOM 2 How to get the most out of the conference Logan
ROOM 3 How to Present Your Pitch Wilkins
ROOM 4 How to strengthen your plot by using screenplay formula Thompson

2:00PM – 2:50PM
ROOM 1 Internet Ace – Online Self Promotion Kompes
ROOM 2 How to get the most out of the conference Logan
ROOM 3 How to Present Your Pitch Wilkins
ROOM 4 First Draft to Final Draft Horwitz

3:00PM – 3:50PM
ROOM 1 Creating Compelling, Castable Characters (90 minute session) Manus
ROOM 2 Persistence: Writing Through the Realities and Responsibilities of Life McInnes
ROOM 3 Building an Author Platform Kracht
ROOM 4 Dialogue – It’s not just people talking Drake

4:00PM – 4:50PM
ROOM 1 —–CONT’D ——-
ROOM 2 Creating a Digital Media Kit Kompes
ROOM 3 Self-editing for fiction writers Watters
ROOM 4 Writing For Teens Platt

5:00pm Bar Opens
6:00pm — 9:00pm Cocktail Party Meet & Greet – Attendees only

Authors

Maxwell Alexander Drake

drakeMaxwell Drake is a dynamic and entertaining speaker always rated as one of the number one speakers of the events he attends. His Creative Writing Sessions have been a huge success to those interested in pursuing a career in writing and his open forum sessions are a pleasure for anyone interested in learning what goes on “behind the scenes” in the publishing industry.

Randall Platt

plattRandall Platt writes fiction for adults and young adults. Platt has been a full-time writer for thirty years which is certainly long enough to know better. She finds no shortage of fascinating characters and stories that spring from the beautiful Nearly all Platt novels take place in Washington or Oregon. A fi lm, Promise The Moon, has been made of one of Platt’s humorous westerns (The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko). Platt’s novels have won several national accolades and six have been recently released as audio books. Hellie Jondoe, a historical young adult novel dealing with orphan trains and climaxing with the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918, was awarded the 2010 Willa (Cather) Literary Award and three other nationally recognized nods. Platt’s latest novel, Liberty’s Christmas, is set in Texas and takes young adult readers back to a time when ‘nobody had nothing and everybody borrowed it,’ the Great Depression.  It received honorable mention for the Washington State Book Award for young adult fiction.

Maralys Wills

willsMaralys Wills’ fourteen published books span several genres and publishers.  Her fiction works include four romance novels published by Harlequin and Silhouette, and a techno-thriller about airplane sabotage.  For the past 27 years, Wills has taught college novel-writing, and in 2000 was voted “Teacher of the Year.”  In addition to frequent speaking engagements, she has given numerous writing seminars—at UCLA, UC Riverside, UCI, Orange Coast College, Cerritos College, and at writers’ conferences across the country.  She is a past president of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Wills is the mother of six children–five boys and a girl.  Her husband is a lawyer.  She studied at Stanford and UCLA, earning a B.A. and a teaching credential.  She once helped her sons run a hang gliding manufacturing business, but after the family tragedies she went home to write books.

Peter Bowerman

BOWERMANPeter Bowerman, a veteran commercial writer, is the self-published author of the
three award-winning Well-Fed Writer titles (www.wellfedwriter.com), how-to standards on lucrative “commercial” freelancing. He chronicled his self-publishing success (70,000 copies of his books in print and a full-time living since 2001) in the award-winning 2007 release, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn
One Book into a Full-Time Living, 
and its 2014 updated edition. www.wellfedsp.com.  He’s had 300+ articles published, speaks regularly on writing and publishing,  and is a professional coach for commercial freelancing and self-publishing  ventures. Check out his book titling service at www.titletailor.com

Nicole McInnes

nicoleNicole McInnes is the author of the contemporary YA novel, BRIANNA ON THE BRINK (Holiday House, Spring 2013). She is also a university writing and literature instructor, a mom and a horsewoman.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nicole received a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature (Creative Writing emphasis) from the University of California at Santa Cruz (go, Banana Slugs!). She also received a Master’s Degree in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from Northern Arizona University (go, Lumberjacks!).

She currently lives and works in northern Arizona.

 

MIAauthorpicMia Thompson was born in Sweden and moved to the United States at the age of 19 to attend the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. She graduated with a degree in screenwriting in 2007 and has since become the author of the internationally bestselling New Adult Thriller series about Beverly Hills heiress and vigilante, Sapphire Dubois. The series’ first two novels, STALKING SAPPHIRE and SILENCING SAPPHIRE, were published by Diversion Books in 2013.

Mia lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their dog, Oreo.

 

Specialists

Danny Manus: Script Agent

2010 Manus Headshot CroppedDanny Manus is one of the most in-demand script consultants as CEO of No BullScript Consulting (www.nobullscript.net) and author of “No B.S. for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective.” He was ranked one of the Top 15 “Cream of the Crop” script consultants in CS Magazine. He was previously the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White), where he sold “To Oz” to United Artists. He was also Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures (Lovelace) and the DOD and Production Coordinator at Sandstorm Films (TheCovenant, 8MM2), which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. Danny is also a producer, a columnist for ScriptMag, a judge three years running for the PAGE Awards, and teaches seminars and workshops across the country. You can follow him on Twitter @DannyManus.

Website:   www.nobullscript.net

Stuart Horwitz: Book Architecture

Horwitz-smallStuart Horwitz is the founder and principal of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors based in Providence and Boston (www.BookArchitecture.com). Book Architecture’s clients have reached the best-seller list in both fiction and non-fiction, and have appeared on Oprah!, The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and in the most prestigious journals in their respective fields. Now, Horwitz has mapped out the same system that has helped writers tackle rather than tinker with their manuscripts in his new book Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise any Manuscript with The Book Architecture Method (Penguin/Perigee), named one of 2013’s best books about writing by The Writer magazine. Horwitz is an award-winning poet and essayist who has taught writing at Grub Street of Boston and Brown University.

Website:  www.BookArchitecture.com

Gregory Kompes: Internet Marketing Specialist

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to being a psychic intuitive and a conscious channel for nonphysical entities, Gregory A. Kompes co-hosts the Writer’s Pen and Grill, a social evening for writers held monthly in Las Vegas, co-founded Laudably Tarnished, A Poetry Workshop, and is President of the Henderson Writers’ Group, hosts of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. He is the author of Suddenly Psychic: Core Messages to Enhance your Psychic Journey, Message from The Three Sisters, Volumes 1, 2 & 3, the novels The Middle Man, Flash Mob, and First Dimension, and the bestselling 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live. He has also penned hundreds of articles on writing, travel, dogs, and psychic abilities and is included in a dozen anthologies, among them Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog. Gregory holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, New York, a Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning, and an MS Ed. from California State University, East Bay.

Website: www.Kompes.com

Publishers and Editors

Publishers

Ink & Quill Publications (General): Jo Wilkins

wilkinsJo Wilkins is the C.E.O. of Mystic Publishers (since 2003), a company that helps qualified writers who want to bring their work to the public through self-publishing. In 2011 she took another step in her publishing efforts with Ink & Quill Publications, a traditional publishing house, where she now partners with Maxwell Alexander Drake, an author with Imagined Interprises Inc. (I.I.I.). She started her career writing poetry and went straight into novel writing from there. She writes the Tyranny series with R.R. Draude, some of her short stories are in places like KNPR’s “Making Nevada Home.” She is also published in a half dozen  anthologies. She teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced author technique classes at two  recreation centers for the City of Henderson and does one-on-one private coaching. She will take Fantasy pitches for Imagined Interprises and in all other categories for Ink & Quill Publishers.

Houdini Publishing: Geno Munari

Editors

Janet King

kingJanet King has long been a content editor and advisor, but her years in the business also include writing books published by major houses and being a magazine writer and editor-in-chief of several national magazines. For a time she also ran a literary agency in which she worked closely with numerous authors helping them craft compelling proposals and prepare manuscripts ready for publication.

She consults on projects from the earliest stages of idea development and preparation of a viable and intriguing proposal to evaluating completed manuscripts. For the most part she works in non-fiction areas including: self-help, inspirational, memoirs and biographies, travel, health and wellness, fitness and food. However, she also consults on novels as well, specifically in the genre of women’s fiction.

Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr

RobynCarr_06_retouch

After first being published in 1978, it took Robyn Carr 30 years to become an ‘overnight’ success.  In the years between the publication of Chelynne, which was recently released in e-format, and the 2007 release of Virgin River, Robyn wrote a number of contemporary, historical and women’s fiction novels, including the RITA award winning By Right of Arms

The first book in the wildly popular Virgin River series was published in 2007 and it was only a year later with the release of A Virgin River Christmas that Robyn finally hit the NYT’s bestseller list.  Every Virgin River novel since has been a NYT’s bestseller as have some of her older reissues.  In 2011, Bring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th book in the series debuted at #1 on that list, as have seven titles since.  The 2013 Thunder Point trilogy of The Wanderer, The Newcomer and The Hero were all #1 with The Hero racking up 8 #1 placements making it the best selling book in America that week.

Coming in 2014 are three new Thunder Point novels and a women’s fiction titled Four Friends to be released in April.

Pitching to an Agent #6 by Fred Rawyworth

file000638526308PITCHING TO AN AGENT

PART 6

THE FACE TO FACE

 

LIKE A JOB INTERVIEW

I’ve always considered the pitch session as a job interview. That’s exactly what it is. The difference is that it’s a two way street. Not only will you be working for the agent and/or publisher, they’ll be working for you. When you get right down to it, you’re also interviewing them. The biggie right now though, is that the person you’re about to sit down with is holding all the cards. They have the power, the knowledge, and the abilities to take your hopes and dreams and turn them into a reality. Okay, maybe I’m laying it on a bit thick, but isn’t that why you’re there?

To make this less dramatic, you have a product and you’re looking for a manufacturer to produce, distribute and sell that product. That bland enough? You’re the inventor of said product. It’s your job to try to convince a corporation to take your product, refine it and produce it for mass consumption.

I think all of you have seen the movie somewhere where a guy in a business suit nervously tugs at his tie, briefcase in one hand, as he sits outside a boardroom to pitch his idea to a bunch of stuffed shirts. Is this all ringing a bell? Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, let’s lighten things up a bit and get to the reality of pitching to real people at a writer’s conference.

If you’re lucky enough to attend a good conference, you might have a scenario similar to what we have at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. I’m using this conference as an example not only to once again plug it (it takes place 24-26 April), but also because I have intimate knowledge of how this conference works.

MILLING ABOUT

You’ll sign in, and for the price of admission, get to pick at least one agent appointment slot, maybe more, depending on the schedule and the number of people adding in names. From personal experience, I’ve never had a problem seeing any agent I’ve wanted to see. These appointments might be the first, second, or third day, first thing in the morning through the end of the day. Because of that, there’s a good chance that during any sessions you pick, during breaks, and during meals you might find yourself talking face-to-face with the very agent you’re going to be pitching your book to. These are good times to get to know them, feel them out, find out what their likes and dislikes are. Get to know them as a person. You’re more than likely going to find them great people. Once in a while, you’ll find a total jerk. That’s happened to me a few times. I pitched to them anyway. Most of the jerks actually had me send them something and I got the expected results. One took two years to respond. I’d totally forgot about him, then out of the blue, I got a letter. “Not for me.”

Then again, the agent you’re pitching to might be teaching one of the sessions you signed up for. That’s another good way to get to know them and what they stand for, what they like and dislike, and how you might approach them. Meals are a good place to talk shop and hear the latest gossip in the publishing world. You can learn the trends and even find out what’s going on with your genre. That could help you slant your pitch when you sit down with them.

THE SIT DOWN

When it’s finally time to sit down, even though you may have met face-to-face before, sit down, shake their hand and introduce yourself. Then, when they ask you to tell them about your book, start out with your slug line. Those are the one or two sentences that should be the first one or two sentences that introduce your story. From there, if you wrote them well, the agent should ask you to tell them more. That’s when you give them a brief, and I mean brief, synopsis of the story including how the story ends.

Do not, and I mean do not ramble on and get off on tangents! Watch the agents’ body language. If their eyes start to wander or glaze over, you’ve lost them. You have to give them a one-two punch. You have to make them want more. When you sit down, your pitch letter, with the short synopsis on the back, should be slipped over to them first thing. They may glance at it, they may not. They may actually read it as they listen to your pitch. However, the chances are, they won’t actually take it. They’ll have you mail it to them. If that’s the case, make sure you revise the letter at the first paragraph to include that it was really nice to meet and talk with them at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference bla bla bla (or whichever conference you attend). That paragraph is key, so that it puts a time and place on your meeting. Also at the bottom of the letter, make sure to include “I’ve attached … sample chapters and a … page synopsis per your request.”

One more thing, never ever pitch your book in casual conversation. Don’t be pushy. That’s a great way to turn them off. However, if you’re talking at lunch, dinner or wherever, the subject of your writing comes up and the agent says, “Well, tell me about your book,” they’re inviting you in. Otherwise, leave the pitching for your appointment.

Pitching to an Agent #5 by Fred Rayworth

file000638526308PITCHING TO AN AGENT

PART 5

THE SYNOPSIS

 

The synopsis is a breakdown of your story. It’s another form of an outline, but in complete sentences, no bullets. The purpose of the synopsis is to tell your complete story to the agent or publisher. Specifically, you need to outline the main character, the main conflict, and the resolution. Yes, you must tell the ending. The synopsis tells the complete story, from beginning to end, in abbreviated form. The key is the length. For a pitch letter at a conference, and for some queries to agents, it should be one page. For some agent queries, it might be two to three pages. From there, where a full manuscript is requested, it could be three to ten pages, depending on the individual requirements of the agency. The key is to follow their instructions explicitly. As a general rule, stick to one page unless told otherwise. One good thing about sticking to these rigid requirements is that it keeps your writing tight.

THE SYNOPSIS WILL SHOW FLAWS IN YOUR PLOTTING

A synopsis can be extremely hard to write properly. However, the synopsis can also be a very good way to reveal how well your story has been put together. It is a good way to spot any red flags in flow and plot. When you break down your story into a few paragraphs, just to get the key plot elements, you’re going to see right away if it all holds together. If, at the end of your synopsis, you notice that the story doesn’t hold water, you may need to go back and do some rewriting!

BULLETS

One way to develop your synopsis is to start by describing each scene or each chapter (if you have a lot) in one bullet sentence. Compile all of these bullets and look them over for the key patterns. If something looks extraneous, maybe it shouldn’t be there. Once you have that down, turn these bullets into sentences and then organized paragraphs so that they flow together.

As for me, I have the whole story in my head. In my creative process, I only know where I want to start and where I want to end, the middle is a total surprise. Once I get going and write it all down, it becomes locked in my head. As I edit it over and over again, the plot and all the details become locked in so when I sit down to write my synopsis, I already have the big picture going for me. I don’t have to bullet out each chapter. However, I don’t expect all of you out there to write or create the same way I do, so I’m throwing that bullet method out for you.

KEEP CHARACTER NAMES TO A MINIMUM

The key elements are that you introduce the main character and maybe their adversary by name only. Everyone else remains unnamed. They’re just anonymous characters as far as the synopsis is concerned. The first time you name these one or two characters, you put them in italics. From then on, they’re in regular font. Don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details such as naming a whole bunch of characters, names or places in the story. Don’t list time lines either, especially on a one-page synopsis! Describe the plot, describe what happens, describe what, where, when, why and how the character gets from point a to point b in the story and what happens at the end. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you’re writing a two, three or more page synopsis, a few sentences per chapter might be appropriate unless you have eighty chapters. Again, if you do this, it should read almost like a short story. It should make sense on its own. If it doesn’t, you need to work on the plot of your book some more before you try pitching it.

DON’T LET IT GO, SIGHT UNSEEN!

Now, the final element to all of this, before you ever even think of turning it in to an agent or publisher: Get someone or several other people to read it first! There’s nothing like second sets of eyes to see what you can’t!

Pitching to an Agent #4 by Fred Rayworth

file000638526308PITCHING TO AN AGENT

PART 4

THE PITCH LETTER (QUERY LETTER)

(One That Worked)

 

Now I’m going to show you a pitch letter that worked. Below is the letter that I handed to the publisher that gave me the contract for my upcoming novel, Meleena’s Adventures – Treasure Of The Umbrunna. Keep in mind that I handed it to her at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference and pitched to her in person. After I sold her on the idea, she had me send it along with the first 50 pages plus a synopsis, which was on the back of this letter.

I have included notes of explanation where appropriate, and left off the headers and dates and a photo, which is something (the photo) you shouldn’t put on a letter you are mailing out! Also, I modified parts of it so as not to give away the actual plot in case anyone wants to read the book.

Re: Meleena’s Adventures – Treasure Of The Umbrunna

Fantasy – 79,500 words

Pen name: Ray Brooks (I have since dumped this idea and will go with my real name).

 

All she wanted was to get rich, but in the end, will she sacrifice all to help another? If she isn’t careful, people may start to think she’s a decent person. (This is the pitch line, the first thing I said to her after introducing myself.)

 

Meleena goes through life one picked pocket at a time.  With a wild heart, she spends each night with a different man, and often wakes up in a strange place.  When she goes after a valuable pearl hidden in a lost city called Slab, she figures this is the way to the easy life.  An old magick user named Grel may hold the key to finding this pearl, and he insists she not go alone if she hopes to survive.  Despite second thoughts and an aversion to working with others, she gathers a team and heads for the lost city.  However, she’s not the only one after the pearl, and Meleena enters into a race to get there first. (This is the body of the text. It should be one paragraph, but I broke a rule and made it two short ones. It worked. They were condensed from the original. The whole point was that the entire letter had to fit on one page, letterhead, spacing, signature, credits, all of it. Keep it brief!)

 

As she fights her way to the lost city, Meleena discovers she’s out of her element in the wilds. Her companions help her survive, and she learns to trust others. After a hazardous journey, she reaches the pearl first, but is betrayed by one of her friends. After escaping, she learns that Grel has been manipulating her all along, and the pearl is not what it seems. Besides the monetary value, it is the only way to provide a cure for the queen of her kingdom, Grel’s former lover. She’s now faced with making a huge profit or helping the queen. This wasn’t the easy life she envisioned.

 

I’m a member of the Henderson Writer’s Group in Henderson, Nevada.  My short story, The House, appeared in the anthology Between the Pages, 2003.  The Walk Home was published in the story collection Writer’s Bloc 2006, The Basement in Writer’s Bloc 2, 2008, and Fun In The Outland in First Voyage, 2008. (Remember, relevant writing credits, which should include a writer’s group, if you’re in one. Though none of these stories are actually fantasy, the chances of the publisher checking, or actually finding those books were pretty slim, so I took the chance. Turns out, many of those books were for sale at the conference! Also, the titles could mean anything, and at least they show I’m a prolific and published writer. Just make sure if you do this, you don’t put something down that is obviously not relevant.)

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

 

Fred B. Rayworth

There you go. An example, a visual aid, without giving away too much of the actual story, but hopefully, enticing you to read it. This example also gives you an idea of one way to successfully pitch to an agent.

Pitching to an Agent #3 by Fred Rayworth

file000638526308PITCHING TO AN AGENT

PART 3

THE PITCH LETTER (QUERY LETTER)

(What Not To Do!)

 

In this part we’ll get down to some technical thingies. We’re going to go over what not to do.

NEGATIVITY

I mentioned never to use negativity or put yourself down. Here are a few examples. Some are overt, while a few may be a bit more subtle.

I know you get lots of submissions, but before you throw mine in the slush pile, I’d appreciate if you’d give me a chance.

Ding ding ding! Red flag! You’re starting negative right out of the gate! Don’t even bring the subject up! In the first place, you should be starting with your slug line. Second, you’re giving the agent the perfect excuse to do just what you are hoping they won’t do.

I’ve been submitting to lots of agents, but was hoping you’d be the right one for my work.

Do I have to explain this one?

I’m a struggling writer and found your agency on line. I would like to present my character…

A little more subtle, but saying you are a struggling writer is not only a cliché, but it’s a given and also a negative. No need to voice it. Scratch the first sentence.

Thank you for considering my work. I may not be the best writer in the world, but I know I’ve come up with a winner here.

You had him or her at the first sentence and blew it with the rest. Hack off that second sentence.

IRRELEVANT MATERIAL & FLUFF

Now for a little biography sample.

I’m an accomplished writer with high grades in English grammar in high school and college. I excelled at all of my term papers and almost had an article published in the alumni newsletter but due to budget constraints, the issue was never printed. I had a short story called The Flag printed in Mystery Journal for Fiberglas Press, 1989.

She’s a mystery writer. The only relevant credit is the last one. The rest of it is pure fluff and irrelevant. Trash it. Inflating a bio with irrelevant material is no way to win friends with an agent. If you only have one credit, so be it. In the good old days, it was okay to throw in the kitchen sink. Nowadays, agents don’t have time to slog through all this crap looking for gems. You’re better off to keep it tight and right. Besides, almosts don’t count.

BRAGGING, SARCASM

I’m sure you get lots of really “great” stories at your agency, but now get ready for a real treat. XXX will blow you away.

Oh, please! Sarcasm, conceit, bragging, grammar problems, the list goes on.

That’s it for now. Next time, an example of a query letter that worked. From there I’ll discuss other forms of query letters and why they may or may not work.