Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Stuff at The Write Stuff 2011

Tammy Burke, GLVWG’s 2011 Write Stuff
Conference Chair, has had business articles published
 in magazines on the northeast coast and won an award for best mid-length article in 
2001.  She is currently working on her first YA book "Uriah’s Window."

Over drinks after The Write Stuff 2010 conference had just concluded, Tammy Burke, then Conference Co-chair, was already contemplating who she might invite to be the keynote speaker for the 2011 conference. She sighed and said she’d give herself a week off, as if she were being indulgent, before starting work on this year’s conference. Yes, it takes a year and a whole lot of work to plan a successful, well organized Write Stuff conference. Many wondered how she would repeat last year’s success with James Frey as keynote speaker and preconference presenter. Tammy enthusiastically took up the challenge and delivered by booking Donald Maass as keynote speaker and preconference workshop presenter, along with a second preconference workshop with Lisa Rector-Maass, in addition to a whole slate of great presentations by renowned writers and publishing professionals. With The Write Stuff 2011 conference weeks away, Tori Bond, GLVWG President Ex Officio  interviewed Tammy Burke, Conference Chair, and Donna Brennan, Conference Co-chair, to find out what’s new this year, get advice on how to get the most out of the conference, and much more.

Tori Bond: Each year the Write Stuff conference seems to get better and better. What’s new this year?

Tammy Burke: Since our last year’s two day preconference workshop How to Plot Like the Pros by James N. Frey was so well received, we decided to include the preconference workshop again. However, this year it’s been expanded to include three workshops by two well-known presenters. Donald Maass, president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and well known author and workshop leader will be teaching an 8 hour session Writing the Breakout Novel on Thursday, March 24, 2011 and 4 hour session Fire in Fiction on Friday morning, March 25, 2011. His wife, Lisa Rector-Maass, independent editor and owner of Third Draft NYC will be teaching a four hour Sagging Middle workshop on Friday afternoon, March 25, 2011. The price
we are able to offer these workshops for is exciting as well.

Tori: For anyone that has not registered yet, can you explain the difference between the pre-conference workshops and the conference? Does one have to sign-up for the conference in order to take one or both of the preconference workshops?

Tammy: Let me answer the second question first. No. One does not have to sign up for the conference to sign up for the preconference workshop(s). You can choose to sign up for all three: the conference, the Donald Maass workshops, and the Lisa Rector workshop. Or you can pick and choose as you please among them. The only restriction is the cutoff date of March 12, 2011 or when our venue fills, whichever comes first.

As to the differences between the conference and the preconference workshops, the conference itself offers more variety and activities than the preconference workshops while the preconference workshop runs longer and offers a more in depth concentration of topic discussion and material by renowned workshop leaders.

For example, the conference opens Friday evening, March 25 with a choice of sessions, Tuning Your Pitch: The Essential Notes led by literary agents Blair Hewes and Katie Grimm OR Page Cuts, a limited enrollment session where the participants have the first page of their manuscript read by a moderator and critiqued by a panel of agents, editors and/or published authors. Afterwards, conferees can attend the reception party. Saturday has a great line-up with 11 wonderful presenters for 17 concurrent 50 minute sessions, a two hour workshop with New York Times Bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry and celebrated nonfiction writer, Janice Gable Bashman, keynote speech Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass, an opportunity to sign up for a 10 minute pitch session with one of our six agents or two editors, along with a Flash Fiction Contest, and Book Fair with giveaways and door prizes.

Tori: Will we see a return of Write Stuff Writers Café on Thursday night? Is there a topic of discussion planned yet?

Tammy: The Writers Café was well received last year and we will repeat it again this year. For those not familiar with the Writers Café, it is a gathering of writers that meet monthly to talk about various aspects of the craft and marketing of writing. We will be holding a Write Stuff version of the Writers Café on Thursday night at 7:30 – 9:30 PM. It is a great time to interact, network, share and learn with fellow writers.

Our moderator, Bart Palamaro, plans on opening the discussion to topics that the attendees wish to discuss. It’s very likely that the conversation will turn to pitches so if you have a pitch you’d like to try out, please bring it along.

Tori: Also last year, the hotel provided a buffet dinner on Friday night, making it possible for conferees to get a quick meal between the end of the workshop and the beginning of Friday night’s activities. Will the hotel provide this again this year? What is the cost and what time will the buffet be available?

Tammy: There is limited time between the end of the preconference workshop and the beginning of the conference which made the buffet dinner at the hotel on Friday night a hit last year. I personally enjoyed last year’s buffet myself. The buffet will be open from 5 – 6:30 pm on Friday, March 25, 2011. The cost will be $16.96 (includes tax and gratuity). Additionally, the hotel offers sandwiches and other quick foods at the front desk for those looking for another option.

Tori: I’ve heard rumor of an activity or social event being planned for conferees that will be at the hotel Wednesday evening, March 23rd. Can you confirm the rumor? What’s being planned?

Tammy: My co-chair, Donna Brennan, and I spoke with the hotel catering manager about doing an informal happy hour Wednesday evening. What we discovered is the hotel runs a happy hour Monday through Friday 5 to 7 with discounted prices on selected appetizers and drinks. We’ve decided to take advantage of the happy hour and invite all those wishing to come out and interact with their fellow conferees before everything kicks off. Please come and join us.

Also as an FYI, Friday night after the conference reception ends, the hotel bar will remain open and there will be a DJ and music.

Tori : What advice would you give to someone new to the Write Stuff conference? For instance, make sure you check out… or don’t be shy about… What’s the best tip you can give to conferees about getting the most out of the conference?

Tammy: Our conference is well know for the quality and the fact that YOU can talk to the presenters, the agents, and editors at the reception party, maybe in line at Saturday lunch, at the book fair, possibly during the scheduled breaks, etc. And with saying that, my first tip is to make the most of the opportunities presented. Not only is this a great environment to learn but also to network. I would recommend preparing a 30 to 60 second elevator speech on what you write (for when you get asked), a handful of business cards (for when you want to trade contact info with someone), and the willingness to get out there and talk with other conferees and presenters.

I also would recommend looking over the schedule and deciding which sessions most appeal to you ahead of time. I know I’m going to have difficulty decided which ones I’m attending. They all look so good. Please be aware that some of the choices have limited enrollment. For example, the Interviewing workshop by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Bashman is now currently full with a waiting list being filled.

And for individuals electing to schedule a pitch appointment with one of our agents or editors, please check out our Tip page.    We also have a great Flash Fiction contest. If you’re interested in entering, the rules are here and even if you choose not to enter the contest, please make it a point to vote for your favorite entry.

Tori Bond, GLVWG President Ex Officio, writes women’s fiction and humor, has won 
honorable mention in the 76th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and is currently 
pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Rosemont College.

(to be continued on Friday, February 18, 2011 )  

Also keep in mind - Early bird registration ends February 25, 2011!

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