Tag Archives: Crossroads Writers Conference

PHOTO: Delilah S. Dawson, two tiny pumpkins and loads of candy.

(drumroll) Wordy South Social Hour, ep. 1

Technically, it’s still December 19, as I post this.

That’d been the plan: Post the first episode on Thursday, December 19.

But I quickly learned that I don’t know much at all about sound. So, my self-education (thank you, Internet) slowed my progress.

As did things like getting a broken tooth pulled.

Regardless, here’s our first installment. I’m proud of it and no matter how much better these episodes get–and they will get better–I’m always going to love this one.

Here, we kick-off the Wordy South Social Hour podcast the same way we kicked-off the 2013 Crossroads Writers Conference: With a talk by Delilah S. Dawson. (And her shout-out to the awesome Susannah Breslin.)

If you get nothing else out of it–besides how weird she is–remember these four things, which she says are key to being a published writer:

1) Work really hard for a long time.

2) Develop thick skin.

3) Never stop learning.

4) Write every day, even when it drives you crazy.

In a couple weeks or so, we’ll release the episode featuring an interview with Delilah.

For now, enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think. We’ll be posting more from past conferences (I just found a stash from 2011) and including interviews with our favorite folks.

Remember, you can find Delilah online at www.DelilahSDawson.com and follow her on Twitter at @delilahsdawson

Yay!

 

delilah learning em

This is why we love you.

(Or, “What we’re talking about when we blog about love.”)

It’s been a whirlwind week (and some change) since we closed out the fifth (cheers!) Crossroads Writers Conference. In the painful wake of saying “See ya later” to a bunch of friends, new and old, we came together for one last meeting about 2013 with an eye towards year six. The good news, of course, is that we’re all back in for another conference. We’re hitting up potential venues and hotels, checking in with some of our favorite writers and checking out some fresh faces to add to the mix. In the near-ish future, we should be able to announce a date for the 2014 Crossroads Writers Conference.

In the meantime, we’re turning to you to help us make this conference better. While we love all the positive comments, don’t be afraid to tell us what went wrong, how and what we can do to fix it. That’s how we grow. Consider each conference a draft of our latest work. We need the feedback. [And you can offer that in this anonymous survey here -- bit.ly/1aOzQnk -- or by shooting me an email: chris (at) crossroadswriters (dot) org.]

As much fun as we all have at the conference, we recognize that there’s more we can do to help our Crossroads family write more and write better. We’re talking about doing some “Tweet Meets” and webinars and such. But tell us, how can we help keep you motivated? What insight can we wring from our writer friends so you can get past some tough roadblocks? Where can our lil’ community stay alive–and in what ways–while we’re waiting for the next conference?

Make your suggestions in the comments section below, via email, on Twitter or Facebook, by carrier pigeon, on the Wendig beard lice express, or with scrolls tied around arrows shot from atop galloping horses.

PS – Here are some blogs about Crossroads from some of our friends who were kind enough to join us. If you have one of your own to share, please let me know.

Later!

Chris

Blogs about Crossroads:

Tanya Kirkpatrick – “Today I Will Be Brave” – (Follow her on Twitter: @tanyawritesfic)

Jeremy Foshee – “Crossroads, Round Two” – (Follow him on Twitter: @jeremyfoshee)

Delilah S. Dawson – 30 Tips for Surviving Your First (or Any) Writing Conference” – (Follow her on Twitter: @DelilahSDawson) [Bonus Delilah post: "This Weekend"]

Shane Wilson – “But Am I A Writer?” – (Follow him on Twitter: @NomadShane)

Meaghan Walsh Gerard – “Dispatches from Crossroads 2013” – (Follow her on Twitter: @cineastesview)

Emilie as Henrietta

Books, Steampunk & the Writing Life: interviewing EMILIE P. BUSH

BOOKS, STEAMPUNK AND THE WRITING LIFE WITH EMILIE P. BUSH
Go ahead and admit it. You’re as excited as we are that Emilie Bush is returning to Crossroads Writers Conference. Here’s a quick introduction, then it’s Q & A time with Emilie and Crossroader Kathy Holzapfel.
Bestselling writer Emilie P. Bush is the Publisher of Coal City Steam Blog, and CoalCitySteam.com, as well as other fine blogs. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Steampunk Chronicle. A former Senior Staff Reporter and host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Georgia Gazette, Emilie is the author of the novel Chenda and the Airship Brofman (2009). Her second novel, The Gospel According to Verdu (2011) picks up where Chenda left off – high in the skies and full of adventure. Emilie’s first children’s book, Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story (illustrated by William Kevin Petty) hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in the Science Fiction genre. Her second children’s book, Steamduck Learns to FLY!, launched in late 2012. Emilie is an ABNA Quarterfinalist (2013) and Semifinalist (2010.) She is a calendar girl – Ms. December 2014 – for the Girls of the Con Calendar. Additionally, Emilie does book interior layout and design for other indy authors.
Check out Emilie’s website: www.coalcitysteam.com
Follow her on Twitter: @CoalCitySteam

Emilie BushLET’S TALK STEAMPUNK…

KH: Atlanta Magazine recently noted that Atlanta ranks #1 for Steampunk. Perfect coincidence: you live there. You KNOW this genre inside out. You write it; you speak on it, you breathe it at cons. Take us back. Where did Steampunk, as a genre, begin?

EB: Interesting that. Seattle Steampunks will tell you they are, Chicago-punks, too. Clearly they have been flying at too great an altitude. Steampunk began as a Literary Movement – a direct response to the Cyperpunk genre. In fact, the early writers (Jeeter, Powers, Blaylock) WERE Cyberpunk writers. Early Steampunk was equally dark and dystopian. Over the years, it has evolved into it’s own: more adventure, stripes of romance and horror and comedy and even children’s books. I’ve interview most of the founding fathers (and the presiding mother – Cheri Priest) and the fellows all scratch their heads at what the genre has become. They don’t feel they own it at all (see my interview with Tim Powers http://youtu.be/B5CLnMJPPcg) — it’s grown into a huge movement.

 

KH: Fast forward: The Steampunk literary genre has grown tremendously, yet there’s confusion over how to describe it. How would you define Steampunk today?

EB: High adventure in low technology.

 

KH: Pull out your crystal ball. Any prediction for where the genre is going? Are there any boundaries yet to be pushed?

EB: Oh that is the big question, isn’t it. There is a bit of a battle going on right now to define Steampunk. It is a difficult thing to put in a package when MOST of it is do it yourself. The elements of recycling, upcycling and inventing, of self reliance, make it a hard demographic to market to. At this moment, a tv series called Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City is looking for a home. FABU concept, great actors signed on, complicated world building, and a huge buy in from out community already, so why hasn’t it found a network? It’s so up for grabs – this product called Steampunk. Beyond that, it doesn’t lend itself well to product placement. But some may not agree with Boxleitner on HIS definition of steampunk – which is somewhat dark and violent. Others want to define it there way, and that’s OKAY! It is not like the Marvel Comics cannon where each character is trademarked and image branded. The future of Steampunk is going to be decided by the people who brand it. And when there are rules to this game, a lot of early adopters will take their goggles and go home.

 

LET’S TALK WRITING…

Verdu_CoverKH: What drew you to fiction writing in general, and more specifically, into Steampunk?

EB: I was a long time writer of NON-fiction. I sold my first news story to NPR when I was 19-years old, and have been a professional writer since. When I “retired” from journalism (and I neither retired or actually stopped writing, it seems) I got the yen to create when I was TOTALLY plowed under as a new mother. I needed something for me – that didn’t include washing cloth diapers and making baby food. And a character study a friend of mine, Trish Nolde, wrote plagued me for a very long time. I like two elements of her character – the shady airship captain and the scholar explorer. I talked to her about taking those elements and making a new story – which became Chenda and the Airship Brofman. Trish has been one hell of a muse for years.

 

KH: You’ve written several acclaimed Steampunk titles for children. Talk about the nuances of writing for younger readers.

EB: I was TERRIFIED to write children’s books. ( Keep in mind I have interviewed more than one US president.) Kids are TOUGH and the couch NOTHING in kindness. I realize, after three children’s books, that the role of the author in children’s books is… small. The pictures are key, and William Kevin Petty is really good at knowing what appeals to a child’s eye. As for the writing, verse is TOUGH. Short stories are harder than novels. But – it’s SO much fun…

 

KH: Can you give a few tips for writing great Steampunk?

EB: (1.) Know what Steampunk IS to you. Make your world and live in it. (2) Know that the difference between Steampunk and another genre with gears glued on – is SUBVERSION. Play with cast systems, play with putting historically appropriate morals and customs on their ear. (3) Don’t get lost in the gadgets and moustaches. I’ve seen many a good story come to a screeching halt to describe some brass or handlebars. Focus on the story. The ADVENTURE.

 

LET’S TALK EMILIE…

KH: Are you a disciplined writer with a set routine? Or total Bohemian? (please tell us about your writing process)

EB: I don’t force the muse. You force it you get rotten muse. SO, I write in spurts. I try to set goals but that is futile. Deadlines are better.

 

KH: Any new projects to share?

EB: Coal City Stories should have a coloring and activity book out by Christmas and two books out in the first half of 2014. AND at some point I will finish book 3 of the Brofman Series (sorry fans – it will be worth the wait) and I’m exploring some contracts for an urban fantasy I wrote last year – THAT, I think, is the best thing I have ever written.

 

LET’S TALK CROSSROADS…

KH: You attend and speak at a lot of writer conferences – DragonCon, JordanCon, Deep South Con, to name a few. And you’re a repeat presenter at the Crossroads Writer’s Conference. What’s a highlight from last year’s Crossroads Conference?

EB: Can I say the Karaoke? No wait – the NaNoWriMo GOD keynote lunch – I mean, I TOTALLY drank the kool aid. The joy of sitting with FANTASTIC authors.

 

KH: What can 2013 Crossroad Conference attendees look forward to?

EB: You miss half the conference if you don’t turn up at the bar, or at breakfast. I’ve never know a more approachable crowd of writers than the ones at CWC. It’s kinda set up that way. Chris Horne has magic in a bottle with this gem – it’s the best conference I do ALL YEAR.

 

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This is why you registered for Crossroads

You come for the classes and the comraderie. If you’re a returning Crossroader, you already expect to have a good time, learn a bunch and leave inspired to write more. Well, here’s a run-down with (almost all) our workshops coming up this weekend.

We dare you not to be excited!

 

 

List of 2013 Crossroads Workshops

 

delilah_slider25 Steps to Being A Traditionally Published Author, Even Lazier Edition

Delilah Dawson

Instead of reading my 7,000-word guide to getting a traditional publishing deal, come listen to me talk about it–and answer the questions you’re afraid to ask. From finishing your first draft to getting an agent to what happens after your book is on the shelf, it’s possible to sell a book without having an MFA, a friend in publishing, or a reality TV show. Hint: it involves a lot of hard work.

 

IMG_1454Anatomy of a Book

Emilie P. Bush

Whether you plan to self publish or enter a deal with a commercial publisher, knowing your gutter from your half title page is important. Topics include publishing terms, an up-close and personal look at what a book interior SHOULD look like and the basic “rules” of layout.

 

Digital Storytelling

Tim Regan-Porter

Should you write differently for digital media? If so, how? What tools are best for telling a compelling story? This panel will address a variety of issues in writing for the web, tablets, and mobile.

 

Fiction Writing Tips

Cate Noble

Deconstructing story: the elements of compelling fiction, with tips for nurturing your writer’s soul.

 

Freelancing is Out; Entrepreurism is In

Kristin Luna

At one point in time (think: way back pre-2010), a writer could simply survive off of freelance assignments. But in 2013, the market has drastically changed and freelancers are forced to evolve with the times. Now, publications expect writers to be a one-stop shop: from the crafting of a story to the photography and right down to publicity and social media promotion. In order to rise to the top of a diluted market, there’s one thing you have to be: an entrepreneur.

 

CarrieHowlandGetting Past The Gatekeeper: How to get your work noticed by an agent

Carrie Howland

Getting an agent is a tricky business, and can seem overwhelming. How do you write the perfect pitch? How do you find the right agent in the first place? How do you stay out of the dreaded slush pile?! Agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, Inc. will answer these questions and more to help you on your way to finding, and building a lasting relationship with, an agent.

 

How to Build Your Story

Margaret South

Learn the secret of telling a great story. Master your use of turning points to heighten meaning. Give yourself the opportunity to get the story right the first time.

 

If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right

Joe Kovac Jr.

Tons of pointers, tips, advice and other random nonsense you may or may not need to survive the writing process. (Lesson One: It is anything but a process.) But if you sign up for this session, we’ll discuss the oft-maddening act of turning out page-turning stories, and how to know if you’re pushing yourself enough to do it.

 

Shawn DurhamI Wrote an Awesome Book … and You Can Too

J. Shawn Durham

So you’ve finally written that awesome, super duper, kickass best selling tome, eh? But now that you’ve penned that awesomeness, how are you gonna let the world know about it? Welcome to 21st century authorship, where it’s not just enough to be Next Faulkner, Ellison or Morrisson. You also have to get your I-net game up. You ready?

 

Making History Live (in Fiction)

Anthony Grooms

You’ve researched the historical facts, but how do you blend them into lively fictional scenes? The speaker will discuss strategies for scene writing for historical fiction.

 

Making The Most Out of Murder and Mayhem

Barry Reese

The heyday of the bloody pulps might have been the Thirties and Forties but the movement has gained new legs in recent years with the rise of New Pulp. What is it and why might it be the salvation for small press writers? Award-winning New Pulp author Barry Reese will take you through the ins and outs of the New Pulp world, including where and how you can become a part of it.

 

Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy

John Rhett Thomas

With expertise in website development, social media, publishing, and project management in the comics industry – both as a writer and an editor – John Rhett Thomas will field questions on a variety of discussion points, including how to get and keep a freelance writing job, operating within the “gig” economy, and working for – and as – an editor. He will also highlight the importance of “never saying no” (with a few caveats) when you start your freelance writing career. And, oh yeah, comic books.

 

Novel Writing 101

Sarah Domet

Have a great idea for a novel, but you can’t seem to get started? Or, have you found yourself halfway through your novel, but stuck and stumped? In this session we’ll explore novel writing basics, from character development to story arc. We’ll take a look at what drives a novel, and we’ll examine techniques and exercises to keep you focused, creative, and working toward the completion of your first draft.

 

Kat+ZhangPlanning the YA Trilogy

Kat Zhang

The three-book structure is getting endemic. But looking at all the cases of “second-book syndrome” and complaints about overstretched plots, do all stories fit neatly in 3 books? And how does one go about selling a trilogy anyway?

 

Poems from Oblique Lexicon

Judson Mitcham

My ongoing project is a collection of poems called Oblique Lexicon. Emily Dickinson said, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” and that is the guiding principle of these poems. My session will involve a reading from the collection.

 

David Iserson 210Putting Words in Other People’s Mouths

David Iserson

I wrote a funny young adult novel and my day job is writing for film and television. I’ll discuss how to get started in those various kinds of writing, balancing different projects at once, and if I can get it on the plane, I’ll try to bring candy.

 

Story Telling in a Digital Age

Erick Erickson

The attention span of the average person has shortened considerably in the digital age. Instant on, instant off, and instant change affect the experience of connecting through words. This session will focus on capturing and keeping attention in a digital age.

 

The Author/Editor Collaboration

Marc Jolley

Mercer University Press Editor Marc Jolley will discuss the role of an editor and the ways authors and editors collaborate to make a better book

 

The Not-so Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex.

Delilah Dawson

Whether you’re trying to help your female lead leap off the page or make sure your hero’s love interest isn’t just a cardboard cut-out, there’s an art to writing women. Which leads us right into romance, sizzling chemistry, and the bedroom. Things might get bawdy, but they’ll stay honest, and this once prudish Southern girl is more than happy to answer all your questions about the inside and outside workings of women in fiction.

 

The Seven Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing

Lauretta Hannon

Go straight to the heart of the matter as we explore the most critical lessons and solutions for your project. Expect to be energized and inspired by this lively, thought-provoking session.

 

Submit To Your Editrix: The Pleasure of Dominating Text

Annabelle Carr

The relationship between a writer and her editor can be intense to say the least—yet it can yield transcendent results. As both a consumer nonfiction editor and a literary fiction writer, I’ve put considerable thought into that delicate balance between dominance and submission. In this session, we’ll explore the twisted psyche of the magazine editrix and learn from some of literature’s greatest copyslingers. Think of it as text therapy for your freelance career.

 

BerniceMcFaddenTrusting the Voice: The Art of Listening, Writing and Living

Bernice L. McFadden

It’s easier to trust the creative process when you also trust that a greater force is guiding that process. Bernice L. McFadden discusses her personal journey from aspiring writer to published author by moving beyond fear by believing that a greater force was guiding her creative process.

 

Writer VS. Studio

Adam Torchia

The process of screenplay development in the contemporary movie studio. This will include both the studio and writer’s perspective, the art of navigating the fine line between art and business.

 

Andrew-Hartley-02_-300x214Writing in Multiple Genres

A.J. Hartley

Most successful writers work in only genre, and trying to do otherwise can be dangerous for both your craft and your career. But only writing one kind of book has perils of its own–not least of which is boredom for the author and his or her readers. This session will explore the issues and possible solutions for writers trying to navigate writing and publishing in more than one category.

 

Writing Poems That Get Published

Kelly Whiddon

Want to write poems for a bigger audience than your mom and your cat? This session will tell you how to construct poems that sing off the page and have editors take notice.

 

IMG_1435Writing Stories That Will Sell

Nathan Edmondson

Want to write like it’s your job? Or have a job writing? All you need to do is throw some sex and gunplay into the plot, maybe blow a car or two up, and you’re halfway there. Or is there more to it?

 

 

 

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Scholarship Sponsors, Radio Spots and Billboards, Oh My!

GPB Radio Macon LogoThanks to a huge boost of support from the local community, this has been a stellar week in Crossroadsland!

WMUM, Macon’s GPB station, is running a new promo for the 5th annual Crossroads Writers Conference. Click here to listen to the Crossroads Stereo Promo.

CW-DIGThe next day, Lamar Advertising gave the conference space on one of its digital billboards overlooking Watson Boulevard so our buddies in Warner Robins will know what’s up.

And in great news for writers-in-need, we picked up two more scholarship sponsors from story-loving organizations and businesses.

The first comes from Historic Macon, whose hard work has preserved the gorgeous historic housing stock that makes our city so unique. Their crown jewel is the Sidney Lanier Cottage, where Macon’s famed poet was born and where you’ll now find the Lanier Center for Literary Arts. So it’s only appropriate that they want to sponsor a budding poet with a Storyteller Deluxe scholarship in honor of ol’ Sidney Lanier.

We’re also able to give away another Pen & Paper scholarship thanks to the generosity of the Law Office of J. Michael Cranford, Lanier Logowho is also helping support Authors’ Avenue on Friday, October 4 in downtown Macon. This one goes to a writer-in-need, doesn’t matter where you live or whether you’re a student. And if you’ve already applied for a scholarship, you’ll be considered for this one too. No need to reapply.

To apply for either scholarship, you need to go to this form and answer all of our unreasonable questions! Click here.

Now, you’re probably wondering about those other scholarships. Who won those?

Well, our anonymous donor has picked two first-time Crossroaders for the Storyteller Deluxe packages and those winners have been notified. We’ll share the good news with you as soon as we confirm with them. Same goes for the two Pen & Paper scholarships in the Middle Georgia State College giveaway.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with something our anonymous donor said about reading about the passion each of the scholarship applicants have for writing.

“It was a great reminder to ME that I’m not alone in my writing journey.”

And if there’s anything we can guarantee about your experience at Crossroads, it’s that you can find others so you won’t feel alone in your writing journeys either.

 

MGSC Ad cropped

Last weekend for the Pen & Paper giveaway, sponsored by MGSC

MGSC.lgo.rev.box.lft.267Time is running out but the entries keep pouring in. If you want a shot at one of two Pen & Paper registrations, generously sponsored by Middle Georgia State College, you should click here now to enter.

In addition to sending 10 of its students to the 2013 Crossroads Writers Conference, Middle Georgia State College has sponsored these two non-student registrations too.

Increase your chances by entering daily and sharing with your friends. The giveaway ends Monday, September 16, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.

Learn more about tickets for the 2013 Crossroads Writers Conference here.

Check out the schedule for the 2013 Crossroads Writers Conference here.

Stay tuned for more news about Crossroads, including the special Sunday sessions for Storyteller Deluxe ticket holders and this year’s new T-shirt designs!

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the Crossroads 2013 Schedule

Hello friends, sorry it took us so long. There was just a lot of awesome to cram into one weekend.

When you’re looking it over, remember how the registration works:

  • Short Story ticket gets you in just the Saturday daylight sessions
  • Pen & Paper gets you into Friday and Saturday’s sessions (and it includes lunch)
  • Storyteller Deluxe gets you in Friday, Saturday and Sunday sessions plus your lunch on Saturday and two after-hours socializing events and the new Crossroads shirt.

DOWNLOAD PDFs: FRIDAY SCHEDULE | SATURDAY SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4

 

1 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Welcome & Keynote by Delilah Dawson

 

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 1

Room A – Writing Stories about Ordinary People – Ed Grisamore

Room B – Freelancing – Anabelle Carr

Room C – Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy – Rhett Thomas

 

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 2

Room A – If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right – Joe Kovac

Room B – The Writer/Editor Collaboration – Marc Jolley

Room C – Writing Stories That Will Sell – Nathan Edmondson

 

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 3

Room A – Digital Storytelling – Tim Regan-Porter

Room B – Fiction Writing and Promotion – Shawn Durham

Room C – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland

 

4:15 p.m. – 6 p.m. – FREE TIME

 

6 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Author’s Avenue: Readings, Signings, Music & More in Downtown Macon

 

8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Social Hour for Authors & Storyteller Deluxe Ticket Holders

 

 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5

 

7:30 a.m. – Registration opens

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. – Opening remarks

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – An Author Meets Her Agent: A conversation with Cat Scully & Carrie Howland

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 Breakout Block 1

Room A – Revising Your Teenage Voice – Lauren Morrill

Room B – Advice from a Writing Coach – Sarah Domet

Room C – The 7 Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing – Lauretta Hannon

Room D – Fiction Panel: Bernice McFadden, Cate Noble and Anthony Grooms

Room E – Poems from the Oblique Lexicon – Judson Mitcham

 

10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Breakout Block 2

Room A – Young Adult Fiction – David Iserson

Room B – Making History Live – Anthony Grooms

Room C – Poetry – Kevin Coval

Room D – The Writing Life Panel : Carrie Howland, Sarah Domet, Emilie Bush and Marc Jolley

Room E – Writing Stories That Sell – Nathan Edmonson

 

 

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Breakout Block 3

Room A – Making the Most Out of Murder and Mayhem – Barry Reese

Room B – How to Build Your Story – Margaret South

Room C – Freelancing Is Out, Entrepreneurship Is in – Kristin Luna

Room D – Young Adult Fiction Panel: David Iserson, AJ Hartley, Jackson Pearce, Kat Zhang and Lauren Morrill

Room E – Fiction Writing Tips – Cate Noble

 

***12:15-2:00 Lunch in Mercer Village with Authors & Guest***

Pen & Paper and Storyteller Deluxe ticket holders get $10 lunch voucher for Mercer Village restaurants

 

2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m. Breakout Block 4

Room A – The Not-So Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex. – Delilah Dawson

Room B – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland

Room C – Young Adult Fiction – Jackson Pearce

Room D – Freelance Panel: Kristin Luna, Annabelle Carr, and Leila Regan-Porter

Room E – Writing Poems That Get Published – Kelly Whiddon

 

3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m. Breakout Block 5

Room A- Writing in Multiple Genres – AJ Hartley

Room B – Graphic Novels with Rhett Thomas

Room C – Writer vs. Studio with Adam Torchia

Room D – Journalism & New Media Panel: Erick Erickson, Tim Regan-Porter and Adam Ragusea

Room E – 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author (Even Lazier Edition) – Delilah Dawson

 

4:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. Breakout Block 6

Room A – Planning the YA Trilogy with Kat Zhang

Room B - Storytelling in the Digital Age – Erick Erickson

Room C – Anatomy of a Book with Emilie Bush

Room D – Screenwriting Panel with David Iserson and Adam Torchia

Room E – Trusting the Voice: the Art of Listening, Writing and Living – Bernice McFadden

 

5 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Author Book Signing

BerniceLMcFadden_Eric Payne_slider

How to Survive 74 Rejections: an Interview with Bernice McFadden

National Bestselling author Bernice McFadden has written ten critically-acclaimed, award-winning bestselling novels, including the contemporary classics “Sugar” and “Glorious.” Her novel, “The Warmest December,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and was lauded as “searing and expertly imagined” by Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. A Brooklyn native and resident, Bernice’s latest novel is “Gathering of Waters,” a story that conjures the time, setting and heartbreak of the murder of Emmett Till. You can meet Bernice at this year’s Crossroads by registering here: CrossroadsWriters.splashthat.com

To learn more, please visit her website: www.bernicemcfadden.com.

You can also follow her on Twitter: @queenazsa

 

Q & A TIME – YOU’RE IN FOR A TREAT…
Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.

Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.

 

KATHY: If I’ve counted correctly, you’ve published 10 books as Bernice L. McFadden, plus you’ve got a piece in an anthology due out in December. You’ve also published 5 books under a pseudonym. That’s 16 books in 13 years. Sounds like you’re a disciplined writer. Can you describe your writing routine?

BERNICE: I just read your question out loud and was a little surprised. Wow, yes it has been sixteen books in thirteen years. Well fifteen novels and one novella. I’m amazed.

I don’t consider myself a disciplined writer. I think of myself as an emotional writer. I write when I’m feeling very sad or conflicted or extremely joyous. And I do not write everyday, at least not physically. The story is a constant in my head. I’m always thinking about the characters and their journey.

 

KATHY: In addition to creative writing, you’ve studied poetry and journalism. Do you write short stories and poems? Or any non-fiction?

BERNICE: I’ve written a few poems. Writing poetry is something I promised myself I would start doing more of. I started out as a short story writer. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would become a novelist! Way back when I first began to pursue publication all I had were short stories, but no one wanted to publish them. I’ve written non-fiction for The Washington Post and Crisis Magazine.

 

KATHY: Your first book, the award-winning novel, “Sugar,” was published in late 2000. It received 74 rejections before Dutton acquired it. What kept you going between rejection number 1 and rejection number 74?

BERNICE: “Sugar” was published In January of 2000. I call it my Millenium Baby. What kept me going was my faith in my gift that God had blessed me with. I couldn’t accept the fact that I had given so much of myself to these characters and their story for it to sit in a dusty desk drawer. That coupled with the promise I made to myself when I was nine years old, which was: I am going to be a published a writer when I grow up!

And besides, rejection builds character and resilience.

 

KATHY: Your second book, “The Warmest December,” also garnered awards and acclaim, including a nomination in 2001 for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What did that feel like and did the accolades make it easier or harder to sit and write book number three?

BERNICE: The Warmest December was the most difficult book I’ve ever written and that was for two reasons.

  1. It was a fictional account of my childhood
  2. The Sophomore Curse

For those who don’t know, the sophomore curse in the literary world is when your debut novel does exceptionally well and readers and critics alike expect more the same magic in your second offering – but BAM! It’s a flop because the writer was freaked out by the good fortune of the first and tried to write above and beyond his or hers own genius. Or something thing like that!

Honestly, I appreciated and was humbled by the accolades that poured in for TWD… but my greatest joy about that book was the glowing blurb I received from Toni Morrison. She is my absolute favorite writer and I continue to remain in awe of her work. Having Ms. Morrison in my corner, made it easy for me to continue writing without thinking about who was going to read my work or even like my work – because as far as I was concerned, if Ms. Morrison appreciated my work then all was well in my world.

 

KATHY: Fast forward twelve years. That list of honors and awards for your books is long and distinguished – Washington Post Best Fiction, multiple short-listings for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award (fiction). While you’re likely proud of all of them, are there any awards that are particularly meaningful to you?

BERNICE: All of the honors and awards I’ve received mean the world to me. I know how difficult it is to be recognized in this world of Art and Letters – I consider myself one of the lucky ones, so I am grateful.

 

KATHY: You write literary fiction as Bernice L. McFadden. You also write racy, humor as Geneva Holliday. What are the pros and cons of writing in two different genres, with two distinctly different voices?

BERNICE: I don’t think there is a con to it. Not everyone can write in two, three or five different voices. I’m blessed to have that ability and because of it I can engage a variety of different audiences.

 

KATHY: Your latest novel, “Gathering of Waters,” weaves a tapestry using fiction and American history. Was it daunting to re-imagine a real-life famous event – in this case, the tragic story of young Emmett Till?

BERNICE: Not at all. Historical Fiction comes naturally to me because I love history and love fiction and so to be able to meld the two, excites me. I love reimaging people, places and things that helped to shape the world we live in.

 

KATHY: Several of your novels – “Nowhere Is a Place,” “Glorious,” and “Gathering of Waters,” for example – have ties or setting in the South. As a storyteller, what draws you back to a particular setting?

BERNICE: I think I’m drawn to the Southern culture because that’s where my maternal family hails from and those are the people that I spent the most time with when I was a child. I think I honed my storytelling skills from my grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Also, I feel I owe my ancestors a debt and so happily honor their lives in my work.

 

KATHY: You’re a repeat presenter at Macon’s Crossroads Writers Conference. (It’s no secret that we love and admire you!) Can you share a highlight from last year’s conference?

BERNICE: I had a wonderful time at the conference. I met a lot of intriguing, warm and wonderful people. And was thrilled to be able to spend some time in a town filled with so much history, a town that my great-great grandparents called home after they were freed from the bondages of slavery. It doesn’t get any better than that!

 

KATHY: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Crossroads?

BERNICE: I’m looking forward to more of the same and of course the sweet tea!

 

KATHY: What projects have you been working on this past year?

BERNICE: Well, I’m working on a novel with a male main character. This is a first for me. So I’m excited about exploring this new territory.

 

KATHY: Last question: Here’s the opening lines from David McCord’s poem Books Fall Open: “Books fall open, you fall in, delighted where you’ve never been…” What’s the first book you remember falling in love with?

BERNICE: I think the first book I actually fell in love with was, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker.

 

Minimalist

VIDEO: Chris Baty at Crossroads 2012

“Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.”

National Novel Writing Month started almost in jest between friends. Its founder, Chris Baty, never expected hundreds of thousands of people to one day attempt it. He never thought so many of them would finish a 50,000 word novel over a November of writing insanity. And of those, that any would be published by a major press, let alone more than 100. Or that, in the case for “Like Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, be made into a major motion picture.

But you don’t watch a cultural phenomenon like this unfold without learning a few things along the way. On October 6, 2012, Chris Baty shared with us Crossroaders the highlights of his hard-won lessons.

We won’t spoil the surprise. Just press play for a shot of inspiration, courtesy of Chris Baty.

SusannahB

Don’t Be Boring: the Susannah Breslin interview

When we at Crossroads HQ asked Makenna Johnston to interview writer Susannah Breslin, it wasn’t just because they’re both so damn tall. They share another important factor. Mak is not, as us Southerners are sometimes wont to say, “from here,” but this big-minded outsider has made a home here and at the same time, made it a safer place for cool ideas to flourish. Like giving Macon its own licensed TED Talk conference this past spring.

As a writer, Susannah Breslin has made her name working on the outskirts, showing us the other side of people who dwell on the fringe. And from the same pen also flows career advice for Forbes.com and INC.com. She is an expert on the “Gig Economy”—the cultural shift from steady jobs to off-shift and temporary positions, freelance, etc—and the lessons she offers extend beyond the nuts and bolts about how a writer can function in this era.

WANT TO LEARN MORE FROM SUSANNAH? IN-PERSON? REGISTER FOR THE FREELANCERS SUMMIT.

Yes, for freelancers, Susannah is a gold vein of heady knowledge, but take a step back and you’ll see that a lot of her advice is just as valuable for writers of fiction, screenplays, memoirs, comics and poems as it is for bloggers and magazine writers. When you finish reading this interview with Susannah, check out her website and explore her work.

Without further ado…

Makenna: Freelancing is a tough gig, we all know this.  Your piece “Why You Shouldn’t be A Writer” is brilliant. But, if you could give a prospective freelancer a single piece of advice (other than, ‘don’t do it’) what would it be?

Susannah: Don’t be boring. This is more challenging than you’d think. Most people think they’re interesting. Therefore, they think their pitches are interesting, their writing is interesting, their stories are interesting. Most of the time, it isn’t. Think about it. The editor you’re pitching is getting hundreds of stories daily, weekly. They’re looking for a reason to delete you. How do you stand out? How high is your bar? Are you reinventing a genre, breaking news, doing something that really hasn’t been done before? And if you’re not, why bother?

M: You talk a lot about ‘the hustle’ specifically that being a good marketer, traffic pusher, and editor of your own writing is increasingly important in the freelancing world.  Any specific tips and/or suggestions on how to become a kick ass and take names hustler and/or improve one’s hustling skills?

S: Your article isn’t going to read itself. You published something online, and nobody’s reading it. That’s probably because you thought writing it was enough. It isn’t. Send out the link to your piece to anybody of influence who may be interested in it. That’s networking on behalf of your prose. It’s not enough to write. You must also work to be read.

Start a blog or Tumblr if you haven’t already and update it at least once a day, five days a week. Tweet links to your work. Ask your friends to share links to your work on Facebook. Read people who are good at stirring it up online like Penelope Trunk and James Altucher.  Read Romensko and Media Jobs Daily. Get PR tips from Cassie Boorn’s Ask a PR Girl. Ask someone to do something for you every day and offer them something in return.

M: Being a freelancer often comes with a ton of ‘up in the air, oh crap where is my next job coming from’ moments. How do you handle that with grace and dignity and without looking like a crazy person?

S: Well, I think, counter-intuitively, I act like a crazy person. Some of my most popular work involves me acting crazy: They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?, The Business About My Breasts. I’ve written about my suicidal tendencies, my cancer, my PTSD. TMI is good for you because it asks you to be brave. Others respect bravery. That gets you work.

M: You have an incredibly audacious style and voice that is rather unique to you.  Do you think that has been crucial to your success as a freelancer?  Has it at times not worked so well in your favor?

S: I’ve been pondering this lately. I don’t think my style or voice has hurt me; they’ve helped me. But I do sometimes wish that I hadn’t burned so many bridges. I wish I’d spent a couple years working as a beat reporter at a newspaper. I wish I’d been an editor at a glossy. I’ve always been very interested in staying outside the circle, but I suppose that choice has limited me, as well.

As for being outspoken, that has never been anything but good for me professionally. You do, though, get criticized. Someone once called me a boil on a neck or some such thing. But, you know, the peanut gallery always has something to say.