GET PUBLISHED!

Editors and agents on impossible odds, and writers who ignore them – Atlanta Writers Conference 2015

clockwise from top: writers Crystal Rast: Daisy Ottoman: Editor/agents panel: writer Mat Hudson. Center: Agent Andy Ross

clockwise from top: writers Crystal Rast: Daisy Ottoman: Editor/agents panel: writer Mat Hudson. Center: Agent Andy Ross

A writers life is tough. Getting published can be maddening.

The odds of an unknown writer landing a lucrative contract may beat the 1 in 175 million chance of winning the lottery, but not the 1 in 3000 odds of being struck by lightning over a lifetime.

“Maybe 10 out of 10,000 queries a month are accepted,” said one editor at the Atlanta Writers Conference, held May 8-9 at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel. http://atlantawritersconference.com/about/

Six editors and four agents stressed the increasingly fierce, competitive landscape of today’s publishing industry. Below, see tidbits and advice from those insiders, along with equally fierce writers, (over 100) who pitched their work.

* “All I want to know is ‘can I sell it?’ I don’t need to be your friend or know your life’s story.”

* “Submissions need to be stellar before we try to sell it.”

* “Don’t over-prepare for a pitch. Don’t recite the plot.”

* “A self-published author is a hard sell to publishers. 97 percent of self-published books sell less than 100 copies.”

* “Don’t chase trends, like dystopian zombies, etc. By the time you finish your book, those trends will be long gone.”

* “Stop focusing on the f-ing New Yorker. If you like it, start sleeping with someone there and get your work published.”

* “Social media platforms is a Zen paradox – necessary, but they don’t sell the book. Good writing is more important.”

The consensus? Luck, connections, the perfect “platform” or query letters won’t sell a bad book.

Above all, write the best book possible. Good writing sells.

Attendees, from all over the region, were undeterred by the odds. With everything from thrillers, fantasy, suspense, how-to books and genre-bending combinations of all, they believed in their visions. Each had 15 minutes to pitch a query letter or a previously-submitted portion of a manuscript.

“I write every day from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. before work and 10 hours a day on weekends,” said Crystal Rast, author of ‘Sundown,’ an historical fiction novel and one of several “best pitch” winners. “I’m a perfectionist – spent five years on a book then threw it out, wrote seven other books. Six were terrible. I never considered self-publishing.”

Daisy Ottomann, author of “Sienna to Rome,” a travelogue based on a 2013 trip with 13 older adults, believes her audience – adults over 50, is underserved, gold mine market.

Mat Hudson, author of “In Silence Reaped: a thriller with a drinking problem,” described his book as “a protagonist devolves into the bottle, in a string of murders and mysteries. Fused with a sub-genre of pure, perfect ancient beings.”

Hudson, like others who have made a living as journalists, technical or academic writers was challenged by shifting to fiction.

“Going from dry, meticulous academic papers to fiction, with its two word sentences and abbreviated dialogue was difficult,” he said.

While social media, critique groups, workshops and self-promotion may be helpful and necessary, it is always the writing that sells.

Hours staring at an empty page or screen, the arduous process of executing an idea that may or may not work, revisiting, ditching, multiple drafts, revisions, polishing and inevitable rejections, is something we all endure, for the love of writing.

The process can be excruciating, but events, such as the AWC can be rewarding, as many have landed contracts from pitches at the event. See testimonials: http://atlantawritersconference.com/testimonials/

Said one writer, who has labored for years on a project. “The best advice, and a quote that I keep on my writing desk at all times is from Winston Churchill:

“Never, never, never give up.”

– Georgia Lee

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Leader of the Pack (Business Philosophy) – Be a Trailblazer

Never forget there was a time when it was shocking for anyone to express this kind of thought about women.

Be Like Water

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YOUR FAVORITE COLOR IS…

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I am green. I think it’s what I…wanna be

Video: From Van Morrison’s great “Hard Nose the Highway”

I associate “Bein Green,” with Van the Man Morrison, not Kermit the Frog. If you remember the somewhat obscure album “Hard Nose the Highway,” good. You may be as old as I am. It is not easy being green. It’s an under-rated shade.

Ask anyone: Best eye color? Blue. Once, I would’ve killed to be a blue-eyed blonde, but the gene genie gave me green eyes and dark hair. My favorite color, along with most of world’s population has always been blue. My children’s eyes are blue, like rock stars, great beauties, a thousand movie stars. Sky blue, Indigo, Royal…Blah Blah Blue. Frankly, I’m sick of it.

Psst…here’s a secret that I don’t know to be true: Within a few centuries, blue eyes will be phased out of the gene pool, completely. Then what will we do?  So, I’m embracing green. Spring, moving into summer. I can run outside again! In the South, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that I LOVE. The air so thick after a storm, I run through a rain forest, or the emerald-fields of Ireland.  Green’s the color of spring. And green can be cool and friendly-like. Green can big, like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree. And when green is as glorious as in May, it’ll do fine. It’s what I want to be.

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Green’s the color of spring….

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Green can be cool and friendly-like

Green can be tall like a tree

Green can be tall like a tree

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WordPress Meet and Greet – All Bloggers Welcome

HarsH ReaLiTy

Well this is the third post I have done like this so far and I have seen some great connections. I’ll keep doing these off and on and I think they provide a great way for “active bloggers” to network. This post now has over 2,000 active bloggers waiting to connect in it. I encourage anyone looking for new blogs to view or people to converse with to browse through the comment section and network.

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poem- try

Shawn L. Bird

You’ve been published in the Malahat Review?

Oh. That’s great.  Congratulations.

You’ve been published in the Fiddlehead?

Oh. That’s great.  Congratulations.

You’ve been published in the Queen’s Quarterly?

Oh. That’s great.  Congratulations.

You’ve been published in the New Yorker?

Oh. That’s great.  Congratulations.

You’ve been published in the Literary Review?

Oh. That’s great.  Congratulations.

I wish I could say that.

Well, no I’ve never submitted to any of them.

Oh?

Wait.

I should because I could?

Oh.

.

.

Message of the moment.  Frequently, the only difference between you and the people who’ve reached the success you aim for is effort and persistence.

and talent.

and luck.

😉

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HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND EMBRACE BEING ALONE (even on your birthday)

Old age requires Money - Procure it immediately

Old age requires Money – Procure it immediately

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“Since I gave up all hope, I feel so much better” – anonymous  

I write this on my 61st birthday. I chose to be alone, and fled to the wilderness.

Rather than dancing at a drunken Bacchanal or a romantic dinner that ends in bloodshed, I’m drinking Kava tea, resting and re-evaluating my life.

Continue reading

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BRIEF CANDLES – AN HOUR ONSTAGE

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MOTHER AT 42. 5’7″, 130 lbs     IMG_0078LADY MACBETH, (right) at 88, with  her UNDERSTUDY, the author       

At the end of life, the very old shrink into child-size imitations of the towering adults their children knew.

Not my parents, I would have thought as a child, if I’d ever imagined such a thing.

Not my parents. Those eagles who swooped me under wings mid-flight as I sputtered at the nest.

Not possible.

Here is my Mother: Forever 5 foot 7 to my 5 foot 6, though I claimed to be the taller one.

Here is my Mother: 35 years old, a shapely 130 pounds. Here am I, five years old, a gnome of an only child in her shadow.

Every day she teaches in high heels, rising to 5 foot 10 at the lectern. She evokes thunder and lightning and weird sisters, all in a bubbling cauldron to charm the most indolent jock at Forest Park High School. To them, she is Lady MacBeth.

After school, she directs plays – rehearsing again, and again and again. Too small to read the script in my lap, I memorize each line. Sunset fades to twilight, to dusk and to dark, before I notice the passing of time. Alone on the front row, I shrink into the wine velvet seat. Around, beside, behind and outside, is vast and dark as outer space.

The stage is all of life. Colors and costumes spin, dust hangs in the spotlight. “Project to the last row,” she says, her voice shooting fire, echoes into the empty cave. I am a minor moon orbiting her sun.

Here is my Mother: 43, a shapely 130 pounds, her dark hair “frosted” blonde. I am 13, an undiscovered planet. She and Dad chaperone proms. Wispy straps of turquoise never slip from her shoulders, so broad and tanned. Chiffon, like sea foam, flows around her legs. Dad is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, at his largest. I teased that his stomach looked bigger than Elvis’s, but not in his tuxedo. They leave in our boat-sized Chevrolet Impala, the back seat now too small for me to lie flat, as I did on long trips in earlier cars. Always Chevrolets, a word I loved though didn’t understand. I thought our cars were invented in France by Maurice Chevalier.

In Stephen King’s novel – “Thinner,” a gypsy’s curse causes a man to lose weight until he vanishes.

Time, a universal trickster, waits at the threshold of old age to shrink us as trees shred into bare bones of winter.

Here is my mother – 88 years old and 90 pounds, 5 foot 2, if she could stand upright. Her red nails, meticulously maintained, are bright and too large on her fingers. Her bruised skin sags, translucent. I give her sparkling Christmas sweaters – Size Zero from Chico’s.  But without flesh to fill them out, she is a walking coat hanger.

Yet, she goes out to dinner with me, holding my arm like a date escorted to the prom. I beg her to eat. She takes a few bites of hamburger, but only wants sweets – lemon pie, chocolate chip cookies, Vanilla Wafers.

Her flat white Easy Spirit walking shoes are silent on the linoleum.  Velcro closures to prevent tripping over loose shoelaces. I guide her to step up on the doctor’s scales. The red needle crawls below 90.

On her 88th birthday, I perform for her – scenes from MacBeth. She sinks into my living room sofa, arms crossed, bemused and judging. I project to the last row, struck that an ancient queen is my audience. I fumble and improvise lines, but I never break character.

This birthday will be her last, though I don’t know it, not yet. I strut and fret my hour on the stage, all our yesterdays lighting fools the way to dusty death.

Here is my Mother. She is Lady MacBeth and I am, forever, her understudy.

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Dreaming in Color

IMG_2109I dreamed that all was yellow
inside their windows
a pale meringue light
beamed in summer kitchens
morning, forever, morning

Girls in sweet sun-frocks
twirled lemon-laced skirts
for buttoned-up, tucked-in boys
The sweet-acid taste of first loves
hover above, yet un-dreamed

Awake now, and all is fading
tables empty, windows bolted
and with each loss, another color dims
into the graying of time
mourning, forever,
morning

                                – Georgia Lee

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In the midst of winter, how to find an invincible summer?

camus--2Yoga retreat for FacebookTen degrees night in Atlanta. I hibernate, with the Three -headed guard dog of depression, isolation and inertia at my door. Continue reading

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BEYOND VALENTINES, A MESSAGE OF UNIVERSAL LOVE

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, 13th century. Though its attribution is controversial, the meaning transcends all.

This message of unconditional love – Regardless of religion, race, sex, status and all the other “labels,” imagine if each of us took even one of these lines to heart and lived by it for any one day.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is error, the truth
Where there is doubt, the faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy

Oh Divine Master
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that be are born to eternal life.

Hospice chapel, moments after witnessing my father's death, July 1, 2014

Taken at  S.W. CHRISTIAN CARE, GA. moments after witnessing my father’s death,  JULY I, 2014

 

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