By Charlsie Johnson
On Saturday, July 22nd, Writing Day Workshops hosted the annual Tennessee Writing Workshop at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Nashville Cool Springs. The summer 2017 event’s focus: “How to Get Published,” consisted of a full day of instructional meetings, pitch schedules, personal critiques with literary agents or editors, and an opportunity to not only ask questions about writing and publication, but also to communicate with 150 fellow writing peers.
The writing day was organized into five, one and a half hour sessions, split between three different conference rooms at the hotel. During these meetings, attendees were able to come and go in accordance to their personal pitch or critique schedules that they registered for online before the event. General admission includes attendance at any of the instructional meetings with the opportunity to pay extra for a 10 minute, one-on-one meeting with a literary agent to pitch original work, an in-depth critique of a one page query letter, or an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of an original novel. All registration and pricing information can be found on the website, as well as an explanation for each critique option.
The 2017 schedule was jam-packed with very helpful and interesting sessions including: “An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today,” “The Art of Voice: How to Make Your Writing Come to Life,” “Writer’s Got Talent: A Page One Critique Fest,” and “Ten Keys to Writing Success.” Each session was led by a notable writer or representative from a publishing house that spoke about topics related to their experience with a specific aspect of craft or genre. Some of the speakers included freelance editor and author, Chuck Sambuchino, speculative fiction author, C. J. Redwine, and editor, author, publisher, Madeline Smoot.
The sessions covered many genres such as, Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction, Memoir, Fantasy/Science Fiction, and Romance, while also instructing on helpful topics like, Self-Publishing, Agents and Query Letters, Revision/Self-Editing, and Self-Marketing your original writing. Participating in the event’s headline and most popular session, “A Page One Critique Fest,” were: Beth Phelan from The Bent Agency, Cate Hart from Corvisiero Literary, Mike Parker from WordCrafts Press, Lauren MacLeod from The Strothman Agency, and several other literary agents and editors. In this session, attendees were encouraged to print and anonymously submit multiple copies of the first page of an original novel they are currently working on, in order to receive conference-style feedback, without the pressure of a one-on-one meeting. This was an invaluable experience for those attendees that are seeking an honest critique from a number of literary agents and editors who represent literary agencies with different content focuses.
In between the session meetings, attendees were encouraged to speak with and exchange information with fellow writers and presenters. Writing Day Workshops additionally invited the local Barnes and Noble to set up a bookstore station that featured multiple novels and instructional books for purchase that presenters either mentioned during sessions or published themselves. One Barnes and Noble representative said: “We really enjoy supporting our local authors whenever we can!”
The welcoming and encouraging atmosphere of the event seemed to foster new connects, spark new projects, and reinvigorate new passions for the difficult business of writing. During Madeline Smoot’s session, “Keys to Writing Great Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction,” she briefly discussed the essential basics of what goes into writing in this specific genre and ended with a very powerful message. “Write the story you need to tell,” said Smoot. Writing the story that you want and need to write is the first step in being fully engaged in the process. Beginning her talk, “How to Write and Pitch Fantasy and Science Fiction,” C.J. Redwine said: “Consume story.” In order to become a successful writer of the genre you have chosen then you must consume the genre itself, immerse yourself in every characteristic and trait of that genre, and then make it your own. “Be the first ‘you,’ not the next George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling,” said Redwine. “Don’t say ‘no’ to yourself.” At the conclusion of Chuck Sambuchino’s, “Ten Keys to Writing Success,” a session on the things that you as a writer can control in order to set yourself up for more opportunities and success, Sambuchino said: “Give up some things that you like for some stuff that you love.” Writing is a career that demands your undivided attention, something that requires blood, sweat, and tears. Writing also comes with a lot of rejection, something each presenter personally spoke about in their own writing journey. “Not all risks are going to pay off, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take them,” said Redwine.
Are you ready to dive deep into your writing? Attending a workshop or conference is one of the first important steps you can take! To register for next year’s TWW, visit the event website to keep updated on when registration opens in the fall. Once registration commences, you are welcome to email the event’s coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot. With limited spots for attendees and restricted space in scheduling for pitches and critiques, make sure you sign up quickly! Want to check out Writing Day Workshops is all about? Click here for more information about locations and dates of future touring events. Happy Writing!