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(1) Six ambitious, convention-starved authors

(2) One old castle complete with arches, candle sconces, and bedrooms larger than most studio apartments.

(2) Two critique circles, one mini write-a-thon, and one free-for-all brainstorming session.

Let simmer for three days in the south of Germany. For extra flavor, toss in a moat, a mysteriously locked closet, and self-made rumors of a resident spirit.

I know I've promised people a report of the Villa Diodata Workshop, but honestly, I don't know how to begin. It's not the kind of experience you can sum up in a five hundred paragraph essay. It was like being in a college apartment with roommates again--complete with an enthralling, freewheeling conversation that went on all day and that you could dip in and out of at will--but without the homework and with a dedicated purpose. I met awesome people, I learned tons about the business, and I had time to write. In short, I loved it.

Random Things I Learned:

Talking to writerfolks in person is even more fun than hanging out with them online.

I really ought to look into foreign reprint rights for my published stories because, hey: Expanded readership and free translation!

When looking for agents, it's useful to play the numbers game: Submit to a bunch of them at the same time, then, as soon as one of them offers representation, contact the others with a diplomatically-worded letter to the effect of: "I've received an offer from so-and-so but, honestly, I'd rather work with you. I was wondering whether you've had a chance to look at my manuscript yet." This motivates them to look at the manuscript quickly and, if they like it, gives you the option from selecting among several offers rather than having to make a blind decision on whether the accept the first one.

There is a nifty site called agentquery.com.

My novel outline is mostly sound from a structural viewpoint, but needs to be motivated more effectively. In one of our late-night we-really-ought-to-be-sleeping conversations, Deanna pointed out that it might even be marketable to a mainstream audience if I could fit it into a structure familiar to them. "Science Fiction Thriller" is actually not too bad a catchphrase...

Speaking of mainstream, I really ought to write a Fantasy Thriller, because it sounds like something I'd love to read.

My children had fun at grandma's house without me, although they've been a little clingy since I got back.

John Olsen makes a heck of a three-course French dinner.

...and that doesn't really even scratch the surface, but it's enough for now. I had a blast, and fully expect to be there next time. Big, big kudos to Ruth for putting the whole thing together.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 31st, 2007 12:31 pm (UTC)
Two things - one a query.
You were missing only ONE ingredient - Moi! How could you POSSIBLY have the "World's Best Writer's Retreat" without the World's Best Writer? ;-D

And the other thing - re: novel and agent - am I to understand that you are seeking an agent for a novel you have yet to write? Or is it written, and I"m just not keeping up?
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
>And the other thing - re: novel and agent - am I to understand that you are seeking an agent for a novel you have yet to write? Or is it written, and I"m just not keeping up?

Neither of the above. I'm stocking up agent-hunting tips so I can use them AFTER I finish the $*#*$-$##* #$%$###! novel.
Oct. 31st, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
Hey! That's MY title!

"The $*#*$-$##* #$%$###! Novel."
Oct. 31st, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oct. 31st, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
Okay, okay. I"ll give you a SERIOUS tip, as given to me by some published auteurs.

It's a connected world, but there ain't no connections like OLD connections. I understand that the absolute hands down BEST way to get an agent is to schmooze and get to know a writer who already HAS one, and ask them if they're willing to recommend you, or to let you say that they did.

Saying that they did, when they didn't, is a CERTAIN way to be consigned to the "Eat Flies and steep in Hell POD Pile" FOREVER, by ALL reputable agenstsa! (So if the auteur say "Yeah, sure," make sure it's in writing, as opposed to an off-the-cuff remark at a convention that they won't remember.) That way you cover your Heinz end.

I don't HAVE an agent yet, but I have an agent who told me that when my stuff was ready to send, to send it, (he gave me his Secret Decoder Ring Submission Format!) I met him at a Con on a panel, then took a seminar that he was teaching - learned a LOT there, too!
Oct. 31st, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oddly, I've heard nearly the opposite advice: that it's extremely bad form to ask anyone to recommend you to their agent unless you are very good friends.

Now, if you happen to be chatting about your novel and someone offers to recommend you, that's another matter entirely...
Oct. 31st, 2007 01:27 pm (UTC)
Deanna pointed out that it might even be marketable to a mainstream audience if I could fit it into a structure familiar to them. "Science Fiction Thriller" is actually not too bad a catchphrase...

Call it a 'near-future thriller', if you can: they know what that means, they know there's a market for it (a number of SF writers are currently getting promoted that way), and it doesn't carry the scary 'science fiction' label...
Oct. 31st, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
THANK you! I have one of those too - a collaboration.
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
Good luck with it...
Oct. 31st, 2007 03:19 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, it's a far-future story set on a truly kooky planet. But I've got one on the back burner that fits the near-future schema. Thanks for the tip!
Oct. 31st, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
When you do start submitting aforementioned novel, may I reccommend http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?board=43.0 as a place to go to obsess over response times, as well as to get a feel for what certain agents are rejecting or accepting right now.
Oct. 31st, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's a nice link. Thanks!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )




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