No Foolin’

Today, I could have played a major April Fools joke on the rest of you by “announcing” that I’d just been offered a six-figure advance and a multiple-book contract from one of the “Big Six.” I could have, but I won’t because it’s likely the joke would be on me. So, no advance, no book contract; just constant editing and revising and hoping.

I get frustrated at times with the lack of new material I’m producing. I retired to have more time to write, and I have written more and more constantly than before I retired; but it seems at times that I do more re-writing than writing.

No difference, you say. Writing is writing. True, but I miss the mad rush of researching and drafting that comes with a whole new project. Granted, I participate in National Novel Writing Month every November, which means I have created five, original manuscripts in five years.

The first one was a semi-autobiographical piece, which, after re-reading it, I realized was 200+ pages of self-indulgent whining. It has, however, been a good source of short stories.

The second one I have edited, revised, and re-written to the point where it’s as ready as it will ever be for pitching to possible agents.

For the third one, I took a risk and killed off one of my characters, a bold move that turned out fairly well. It also helped me face the loss of my long-term relationship and address the emotions that involved; however, the character wasn’t ready to die and told me so. The good news is, I’m meshing this manuscript with another one I developed shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. So, all is not lost.

The fourth one is one that I really enjoyed writing. It’s the closest thing to a sci-fi novel I’ve ever written–a story about a dire future after the Tea Party takes over the government. Dark and political, it was a rough draft I was very proud of, and, in fact, the first 5,000 words I submitted for critique in last year’s Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop. The reception it received was awesome. (It helps that the workshop instructor, Pinckney Benedict, is a fan of dystopian fiction.) Then, I re-read Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, for a book club and went, “Oops.” It had been two decades almost since I first read The Handmaid’s Tale, but apparently I channeled Atwood when I wrote my manuscript. (Channeling Atwood could be a good thing.) However, since it got such good feedback, it’s definitely something to work on.

The fifth one, last year, was a completely different work for me, a straight-up literary fiction novel that intersects an event in a small town during World War II with an event in the same town in present day. The protagonist is a successful romance writer married to a not-so-successful novelist, and all is just lovely until they find the bones of a baby in the wall of a room they’re renovating. I always put a NaNoWriMo draft aside for six months before I start revising, so next month is when I’ll pull it out and start polishing it.

So, what am I whining about? Well, after an amazing amount of creativity in the late 1990s and early 2000s wherein I dashed out six novel-length manuscripts featuring my two favorite spies, Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin, as they work for the fictional United Nations Intelligence Directorate, I haven’t produced a new novel featuring them since 2002. Yes, I’ve been revising and re-writing all those original manuscripts, but I’ve missed creating a new adventure for them. I have been writing short stories featuring them (Spy Flash, published in December 2012), but aside from that, Mai and Alexei walked away from a mission in 2001; and we’ve heard nothing from them since.

You’ve written all you can about them, you might say. No, I feel they have a lot of adventures in them, and I’ve made notes about those adventures. Merely, focusing on improving my craft and establishing a bit of a name for myself as a flash fiction writer has become my immediate focus.

That’s why I need that multiple-book contract, publishers. I’ve always been well-motivated by deadlines, so take a chance. Tell me you want three books, four, or five, and I’ll get right on them.

Don’t forget, this is National Poetry Month. Take a break from fantasy or cozy mysteries and read a poet you’ve never read before.

Let the Querying Begin

This, the first full week of the new year, I go down a new path on the journey to publication–querying an agent. Yes, I hyperventilate a bit at the thought.

Well more than a decade ago, I thought I had a manuscript in good enough shape to query agents. Armed with my copy of Writer’s Digest’s guide to literary agents, I made a careful selection of about ten who accepted work in my genre (historical thriller), who would look at the work of unpublished authors, and whatever other criteria I thought would make us a good match.

Since these were the days before electronic submissions and Submitable, I dutifully made ten copies of the first thirty pages of the manuscript, and I wrote a query letter (based on samples I’d seen in Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines) individual to each prospective agent. I prepared ten self-addressed, stamped envelopes with the correct postage and ten envelopes for each query package, again with the correct postage. The clerks at the Kingstowne, VA, Post Office got to know me well.

The now-ex and I spent a Saturday morning stuffing said envelopes, and we were rather giddy as we trekked to the Post Office and dropped them in the mail box. The now-ex was always very supportive of my writing–seeing as how a lot of my non-fiction had bolstered his career a few times–but he was also good at bringing me down to earth when I needed it. “Don’t expect an answer from anyone on Monday, or Wednesday, or Friday,” he said. “You said yourself, these things take time.”

Good advice, which, of course, I ignored when I eagerly checked my mail box upon returning home from work each day. I think it took about two weeks for the first reply to come in–of course, blah, blah, be happy to represent you, blah, blah, blah, for a fee.

I was a novice in the getting fiction published market at that point but not so ignorant to know that agents who expect fees up front are not being ethical. I went back to the literary agent “bible,” and this particular company did not indicate that it wanted an up-front fee. I tossed the response and considered it a rejection.

Of the ten queries I sent out, I got responses from six, all rejections. Of them, only two used the SASE to return the manuscript sample. Those two arrived within a day of each other, each with a hand-scribbled “No Thanks” at the top of the page. Both had a note: one said, “Like your writing, hate the concept,” and the other said, “Love the concept, dislike your writing.” Helpful. Not.

That exercise was so ego-bending–but necessary–that it put me off querying until now. However, I look back on it and realize it happened just the way it should have. That manuscript was in no way ready for anyone’s consideration and, in fact, has gone through so many revisions and reorganizations it’s unrecognizable as the draft I thought was a gem.

Time passes, I’ve educated myself better about the querying process, and now it’s time to try again. I have, however, been to enough agent panels at writing conferences to know it’s all subjective. It all depends on the agent’s mood on a particular day, whether he or she has had a fight with a spouse or child, whether he or she has had a spate of great queries or horrible ones, and many other conditions the writer has no way of knowing.

In other words, it’s a crap shoot. An agent described it that way at a “First Pages” workshop I attended last year, and it was a relief that an agent was so honest about the process.

So, why bother? Well, because I want to give traditional publishing a good chance before I go completely over to what some would characterize as the dark side of publishing. I have published on my own three collections of short stories, mainly because I know querying a collection of short stories, and in particular genre short stories, is almost a guaranteed rejection. My novels, however, are a different matter. I want to give them a try at traditional publishing.

This year, then, will be the year of the Query Letter. I’m not going to do a ten-agent blast mailing this time, mainly because most queries are now electronic, but I am going to do a lot of careful research and select two or three at a time to query. And this time, I do have a manuscript, which has gone through two revisions and my critique group, in really good shape. It’s not the one from all those years ago, which morphed into a trilogy (I know; yikes), but it’s one I’m proud of and willing to toss into the consideration pool.

You won’t ever win the pot unless you roll the dice.

It’s That Time of Year

Whether you say Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Happy Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Chanukah, or some other derivation, back at ya!

What with shopping, baking, wrapping presents, decorating, more shopping, and more baking, writing sometimes takes a back seat to holiday preparations. I have done my usual writing, but my editing/revising of my work has been non-existent for the past two weeks. And reading? Ferggitaboudit!

It is rather worth it, though, when you get to watch two four-year-olds and a two-year-old open their presents and hear a four-year-old say, “I’ve always wanted that!”

From the people who follow or read this blog, you’ve given me the gift of your attention all year long, and for a writer who still occasionally doubts she has something worthwhile to say, your attention to my work is something I appreciate beyond words to express.

The writing experts always say, “Write for yourself,” but if that’s your only audience you aren’t going to get far. Every writer longs for readers, and you’ve all given me that. At the same time, you’ve given me encouragement, tacit and implied. You’ve critiqued when I needed it, and you praised when I needed that, too. I write for myself, but I write for you, too, because without you, I would be a mere scribbler, not a writer.

Many of you are writers yourselves, and that makes the gift of your attention even more meaningful. We’re peers, but as writers yourselves, you get me, and vice versa. You get the rants and raves, the publishing disappointments, all the expected and unexpected things along the path to publication. We’re all on that same path, and we make each other’s journey easier.

So, best wishes for you, your families, and your writing for this holiday season. May you wake to the joy of children’s voices when they see what’s beneath the tree, or however you celebrate this time of year. And let’s do it again next year!

Happy holidays–and writing!

Spy Flash Published!

Both the paperback and the Kindle version of Spy Flash are now available for sale at Amazon.com, so it was an exciting writing weekend for me here in the Valley, capped off by a nice mention of Spy Flash‘s publication in my local newspaper, The News Leader. When you open your Sunday paper and see a picture of your book cover and the headline, “Staunton author’s spy tale is enticing,” the rest of the day goes by in a blissful blur. (Click on the headline to read the entire article.)

Am I bragging? Well, yes, I suppose I am, but when you’re an unknown author, you generate all the publicity you can get. I’m especially proud of the stories in Spy Flash and how they showcase my two main characters, so boast a little, I will. However, what I won’t do is bug you to death with constant begging pleas to “buy my book.” It’s there, it’s available, I think it’s good, but it’s entirely up to you. I mean, it would be nice to be able to pay the electricity bill this month. Just kidding.

So, here are the details. If you want to buy the paperback or Kindle version of Spy Flash (a deal at $14.95 or $5.99 respectively), click here. Or you can click on the cover image on the righthand side of this post. If you want me to sign your copy, scroll to the top of this post, click on the “Contact” tab, and shoot me an e-mail.

This is the exciting part about writing–looking at a shelf and seeing your title and name on the spine of a book, holding that book in your hands and seeing your words on a page. It’s why we write, it’s what we live for, and it keeps us going. Most of us aren’t in this to make a gazillion dollars–if we’re realists and understand the publishing industry, we’re not. My wish is for people to just read and enjoy my work. That’s my compensation, so go on. Help make me a wealthy woman.

On another note, a piece of 100-word flash fiction I entered in the Shenandoah Valley Writers Flash! Friday contest was a winner. (Click on the Flash! Friday tab at the top of this page and select “First Contact.”) Not a bad way to start a Monday.

NaNoWriMo Let-Down?

Counting today, five days remain in National Novel Writing Month. I finished my first draft (65,000+ words) about a week ago, and I think the writing adrenaline left me then.

NaNoWriMo involves a lot of build-up in the month of October, rolls along at a fever intensity for the thirty days of November, then you have a writing crash. Holiday shopping and other preparations intervene, and December can easily become a Month of No Writing.

(And here, I’d like to give a shout-out to my regional NaNoWriMo group, Shenandoah Valley and Winchester Wrimos. The administrators–Susan Warren Utley, LaMishia Allen, and Rebecca Postupak give plenty of encouragement and become your personal cheerleaders through their in-person and on-line events. Great group and great folks.)

I have a personal rule about a NaNoWriMo draft: I put it aside for several months, just to move it from the forefront of my writing brain, and work on other things. After finishing the first draft on November 20, I really had to resist going back and beginning to edit the draft right away. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Not enough distance yet between the first draft and the need to revise. For me, at least, I need to clear that first draft away and forget about it for a while. Only then can I come back and take a “fresh” look at it.

The professionalism of the people who run NaNoWriMo means they don’t encourage you to run out and self-publish that first draft, and to further encourage our success, their web site includes a list of NaNoWriMo-ers who have had their NaNoWriMo novels published. When you study this list, you’ll see that, for those who’ve had their novels published in the traditional manner, it was the novel from two or three years before, i.e., after likely several rounds of editing and revising.

So, if you’re not revising that newly minted NaNoWriMo draft, how can you keep from getting a post-NaNoWriMo let-down? First, who says you only have to start a new novel in November? Start a new novel, work on revising a short story, edit a previous NaNoWriMo work, write a piece of flash fiction–the writing possibilities are endless.

I’m “lucky” in that I have all these manuscripts sitting around in various stages of completion. There’s always something for me to work on, and it’s not like I have to force myself to write. The issue for me has always been treating writing like what it now is–my work, my career. I mean, I took Thanksgiving Day off and felt guilty about it. I guess my pre-retirement, Type A work personality just shifted to my new job. And that’s a good thing?

The only let-down from NaNoWriMo for me was not working on something new and different from what I usually write. With my writing, though, in more ways than one, there’s always work to do.

How about you? What do you do after you’ve finished a project? Do you take a writing break or start right in on the next project?

A Gathering of Writers

Sorry to take so long to blog about this, but last week was full of events (none writing-related for me; I gave a book party for a friend’s latest book); and I was fighting off a cold. The one-day writers workshop sponsored by Press 53 and Prime Number Magazine in Winston-Salem was a jam-packed day with great instructors and the opportunity to mix and mingle with other writers–one of my favorite things to do.

Press 53 is a small press based in Winston-Salem, NC, and specializes in publishing collections of short stories and poetry. It is also the publisher of Prime Number Magazine, edited by my writer friend, Cliff Garstang. In just seven years of existence, Press 53 is set to release its 100th title some time in October. For the past few years, it has sponsored “A Gathering of Poets.” Prose writers demanded equal time and got it.

As with A Gathering of Poets, the first-ever Gathering of Writers aimed for 53 attendees. The actual count was in the forties, which was promising for a debut. The workshops offered each featured an author published by Press 53 as the instructor, and the topics covered fiction, nonfiction, and publishing. Each instructor gave his or her workshop twice, in the morning and in the afternoon, so you didn’t have to miss one you wanted. As it was, there was time for only four workshops, and six were offered. There’s always next year.

These were the offered workshops:

Creating Immediacy in Fiction, John McNally
Crafting Dialogue that Moves, Valerie Nieman
Going Vertical in Memoir: How to Move your Creative Nonfiction from Slush Pile to Publication Success, Tracy Crow
Creating the World in a Short Story, Clifford Garstang
Scene Construction: Building a Scene Layer by Layer, Susan Woodring
Your Path to Publication, Kim Wright

I signed up for McNally, Nieman, Garstang, and Wright’s workshops.

McNally provided a handout, “20 Things that Lessen Immediacy,” and went over each. Rather sobering to read through the list and see just how many of the 20 “offenses” I’m guilty of, but no more. Very eye-opening and enlightening but practical as well.

Nieman used screenplay excerpts to demonstrate how dialogue in a non-screenplay should read, but the fun part was these were movies we were all familiar with; and workshop participants got to “act out” the dialogue by reading it aloud. Then, we had a short dialogue exercise to write based on a prompt. The prompt was a snippet of a real conversation Nieman had overheard. A lot of fun and very helpful.

Wright, who has been published by a Big Six press, a small press, and self-published gave us the pro’s and con’s of each type of publishing. It was refreshing to hear someone be honest about each type, rather than being all rah-rah Big Six and boo self-publishing. Wright was careful to balance the presentation without showing any favoritism for one form or the other, but she was able to provide good information to help you choose which version might be appropriate for your work. We ended with an exercise where we paired up and described our current works to each other; then, the other person had to give an elevator pitch of your work. Also great fun and showed us just what is important for an effective pitch.

Garstang’s workshop I had seen bits and pieces of before, but as a whole it was a workshop that offered just the practical information with very little fluff. Key to the presentation: Write what you don’t know from the basis of what you do know, and show AND tell. Of course, it was more in-depth that than, and Garstang provided specific references from other writers’ works to illustrate his points. And we left not only with a reading list but suggested exercises as well.

Between the workshops and at lunch, we all had the opportunity to meet each other and discuss writing. I could do that all day, every day. I came away with new Facebook friends, and after listening to those new friends talk about which literary magazines had recently published them, I realized I hadn’t been living up to my resolution to submit more work. Though that wasn’t really a workshop, it was an example to inspire me.

Sometimes the first of anything can be disappointing, but not this–well organized, well produced, and worth every dime spent. I can’t wait until next year’s Gathering of Writers.

 

 

Rarely Well Behaved, Adieu

Little did I know when I casually entered a writing contest in early 2000 that by the end of the year, I’d have a book published. The winner of the contest got the trip to New York to meet an agent, and the rest of us slobs who were runners-up got the opportunity to claim a $99 printing contract with a relatively new print-on-demand publisher named iUniverse. The “claim it” window had a fairly short fuse, and if you claimed it, you had to get a manuscript submitted also in a fairly short amount of time. To “qualify” the manuscript had to be longer than 110 pages.

The $99 contract (which is now unheard of at iUniverse, with the minimum contract now close to $1,000) was bare bones–no editorial review and you had to correct the proof, but if your corrections numbered more than 200, you got charged for author’s alterations.

I decided I would give it a try. Yes, it was self-publishing, but I could justify doing this by the fact my story was good enough to be a runner up and get the consolation prize. The problem was, I didn’t have enough short stories lying around to constitute 110 printed pages. I started writing and/or finished a few pieces that I’d started and never concluded. I spent most of a night proofreading the manuscript and made the deadline for submission. I figured I could fix any typos or obvious editorial gaffes when I got the proofs.

The proofs arrived, and it didn’t take long for my corrections, i.e., edits, to approach the magic number of 200, and I had to go back and decide which were the most important–typos, obviously, and as many edits as I could get in under the magic number. The proofs went back, and a few days later came the cover for my approval. It was one of those seminal moments when you wish every loved one who had passed on was there to see such a beautiful thing. I had given a very vague suggestion for the cover–a house, a woman in old fashioned clothing, and a fence, which was based on one of the stories. The cover was perfect. I’ll let you judge for yourself:

I approved the cover, and about a week later came the proof copy of the book. That was another seminal moment, and I couldn’t help but be sad that my father, who was always amazed by what he called my “way with words,” wasn’t there to see it.

After the proof approval, here came my box of complimentary books, ten of them, and I had the pleasure of going on Amazon.com and seeing my book for sale. iUniverse at that time had an agreement of sorts with Barnes and Nobles book stores, and I used a couple of the free copies to hand off to events managers at the stores near me. That resulted in my books being on the shelves of a book store, several book signings and readings over the next year, and a guest speaking engagement on the benefits and pitfalls of self-publishing.

The biggest pitfall for me was the fact I had to do my own marketing while working a full-time job. I managed to score a couple of radio interviews, but this was in the days before the current social media. If I wanted press releases to go out, I had to create them, stuff the envelopes, and mail them. iUniverse gave you free marketing materials, i.e., graphic files of bookmarks, postcards, and small posters, but I can to print them and distribute them.

But that’s no different from what many authors published by small presses experience. I was lucky that I had media and professional contacts I could use. In fact, the organizer of a large aviation conference gave me time at the conference book table even though the stories (except for one, peripherally) had nothing to do with aviation. I sold thirty-six books in two hours.

In the twelve years since its publication Rarely Well Behaved enjoyed very modest success, but to me any sale was a success. A couple of years the royalties were less than $10, but the sales were consistent.

Yes, it was a self-published book, but I was damned proud of it. Still am. I’m a much better writer now than I was twelve years ago, but the stories still resonated. When I moved to my new hometown, I ended up being able to put copies in a local bookstore and a museum shop. At a book event in 2010 I sold eleven copies of it, more than any of the other authors there. I got e-mails and Facebook posts from people who told me what the stories meant to them.

My book may not have met the criterion for a New York Times bestseller, but it was my own bestseller.

When the time came to consider making Rarely Well Behaved an e-book, I gave it considerable thought and decided now was the time to improve those stories. I gave each of them an overhaul, but I vowed the central plot and characters of each wouldn’t change. I did combine two into a single, long story, almost the length of a novella, but each story is crisper, better honed, and contains fewer -ly adverbs.

Since I was doing that, I decided to break the one print book into two e-books, so that the  espionage stories could be in a volume to themselves. Fences and Blood Vengeance were published in April, a few days before my birthday, and that was the best present. (You can see the e-books in the sidebar to the right. Just one click, and you can own them. No, the marketing never stops.) Then, I made the decision to take Rarely Well Behaved out of print. Mostly, I didn’t want people to buy all three books–and some did–only to discover the, well, similarities.

On May 26, Rarely Well Behaved went out of print, and I was a little sad; but I was also very grateful for the opportunity to hold in my hands a real book with my name on the spine.

A Rush to Publish?

The literary world was abuzz this weekend over a New York Times article by Julie Bosman entitled, “Writer’s Cramp: In the E-Reader Era, a Book a Year is Slacking.” (I’ve included a link, but I’m not sure if this article is part of the NYT’s rare free content.) The gist: Publishing a print book takes time, but publishing something for an e-reader doesn’t. Traditional publishers watch how well their writers’ e-book sales go, then demand more output. If a writer doesn’t have a novel ready, a story between novels will do to keep the name out there and “meet demand.”

The premise, I suppose, is that e-book readers are more fickle than print book readers. E-books do fulfill our need for instant gratification. No more waiting lists at libraries for the next installment for an author you like, just “Buy with 1-click” and off you go.

I know when I find an author I like, I want to read more of his or her work, but I, perhaps, have a better understanding of the publishing process than the average reader. For me, waiting a year or two or five heightens the interest in the next book. Yes, I may go read other authors, but I’ll always go back to a favorite one. Publishers, it seems, are afraid that we’ll abandon an author if we don’t have a constant stream of new work.

I ask you, even though she has said “no more Harry Potter books,” will fans of J. K. Rowling drop her? No, they’ll pre-order her new non-Potter book by the millions, even at an e-book price just two dollars less than the print book price.

And up comes the quality versus quantity debate.

As someone who has worked on a trilogy for fifteen years (yes, you read correctly–fifteen), I’ve resisted “instant publishing gratification” because I’ve agonized over making them good books, as in a good plot, good characters, and good writing, something I’ve seen lacking in rushed Indie publications. I can’t imagine getting pressure from a publisher to publish more than one book a year. I know the quality would suffer because I’m meticulous about research. If I had to throw together a quick book to satisfy my publisher, I wouldn’t be happy with the product.

As a reader, I can usually tell when a favorite writer has “phoned it in,” especially those who write series. The last few Sookie Stackhouse novels, for example, have had little plot, even less characterization, and end abruptly. I understand Charlaine Harris is wrapping the series up, much as Rowling did, but Rowling’s final two or three novels were more well-formed than Harris’ last three offerings.

I understand there are readers who don’t care about the overall quality–they want more Edward and Bella and don’t much care that the writing and plotting are substandard. That’s obvious from the prodigious amount of fan fiction written about popular characters from books, movies, and television (some very good, most really bad). That’s also obvious when I go look at reviews on Amazon and see four and five stars on a book I’ve just reviewed and found wanting.

For one, I prefer to read a good book, good in all aspects, and I don’t mind waiting for quality.

What about you? Agree? Disagree? Why?

Virginia Festival of the Book – Fourth and Final Day

It seems like yesterday when I attended my first panel at the 18th Virginia Festival of the Book, but here I am done at last and eager for next year.

Today was “Pub Day,” with panels focused on all aspects of publishing from eBooks to agents. Running concurrently were “Crime Wave” panels, featuring authors and publishers of crime fiction, mysteries, and thrillers. I picked some from each.

My first disappointment in a panel for the entire festival was “Pub Day: eBooks,” so I won’t list the panelists. When the first question from the moderator to the panel is “What is an eBook?” and the answer from a panelist is, “It’s a book without pages where the text flows,” you know it’s a waste of your time. I’m certain the vast majority of attendees at the Festival were aware of what an eBook is, given the number of Kindles and Nooks I saw about. Add in the fact that the opening panelist hemmed and hawed and even asked the audience for the word she sought, I decided to leave and prowl the Book Fair.

“Pub Day: Making the Breakout Book” was an interesting offering. On the panel you had Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife); his agent Lynn Nesbit; his editor and publisher Chuck Adams of Algonquin Books; and his publicist Kelly Bowan, also of Algonquin Books. This was an in-depth glimpse to the entire process of querying a book, having your agent sell it, editing and revising it, then having it marketed.

I broke away from Pub Day to go to “Crime Wave: Thrilling Me Softly,” which featured four authors of successful suspense, mystery, or thriller books. Jane Bradley (You Believers) based her novel on a true story–after a visit from the dead victim in a dream. John Milliken Thompson found the idea for The Reservoir while researching Richmond, VA’s Civil War history. Gary Kessler also drew on a real event and some local Charlottesville history for What the Spider Saw. John Gilstrap writes a series of books featuring a hostage rescue team, the latest of which is Threat Warning. All four had lots of good tips about pacing, and though there was a difference of opinion about the importance of characters versus plot, each had good suggestions for doing your best on both.

It was back to Pub Day for “Agents Roundtable.” Three agents–Erin Cox of Rob Weisbach Agency, Byrd Leavell of Waxman Agency, and Deborah Grosvenor of Grosvenor Lit–gave a frank and detailed talk about how to approach an agent, how to query them personally, and to “match” your work to a specific agent. The most interesting aspect of this was none of them indicated they would be deterred by a query from someone who had self-published. Each of them stated that with the publishing industry in such turmoil right now,  they couldn’t ignore a prospect from any source. That was more open-minded than I had expected.

And, the day was done for me. It’s hard to believe that this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book was over so quickly. Even though it’s not particularly craft-focused, I got a wealth of helpful information in bits and pieces. I’m glad my Commonwealth supports creativity in this way. I’m already looking forward to next year.

As each of the moderators said, the Festival is free but it’s not free to produce. Please consider going to the Web site and contributing to a great way to bring writers together.