Sisters in Crime - Central Virginia hosted Mysterypalooza last weekend. It was our chapter's 30th Anniversary Celebration for Sisters in Crime, and we had such a fun event. Mary Burton, Mary Behre, Tracey Livesay, LynDee Walker, and Mollie Cox Bryan were our panelists, and here are the eight writerly things I learned from their discussion.
1. There are so many different pathways to publication. Every author had a different journey. Several began their careers writing in another genres. And most of the panel had traditionally published. They also had books published independently or with smaller presses. Authors today are often a hybrid. You have to find what works for you and your books.
2. I enjoyed the ladies' talk about their writing lives. Most are full-time authors; though, one does have a part-time job. They described their writing spaces at home, and they ranged from full-fledged offices to a desk in a bedroom and a desk on an unheated sunporch.
3. We had a long discussion of plotters (outliners and planners) and pantsers (write by the seat of your pants). One in the group was a true plotter. Several were pantsers, but there were hyprids or combinations of the two. Some call them hybrids or plotsers. I heard a new term. Some called the hybrids "panty liners." It just proves that not every style works for every writer. Find your style.
4. The Mysterypalooza authors came from different backgrounds, and they often used their past experiences in their work. We had two former reporters and a former lawyer in the group. It's important to be able to call on what you know for your writing.
5. Author professionalism came up several times in the conversations. The panel stressed the importance of acting and looking the part when you pitch to agents, editors, or publishers. Sage advice: Follow all submission guidelines. Do not be disqualified because you didn't follow instructions.
6. Know your strengths when you are pitching to an agent, editor, or publisher. Look for smaller conferences where there are opportunities to pitch your project. If public speaking or selling yourself terrifies you, look for pitch opportunities that you can do via email or Twitter.
7. Work out your elevator speech for your book or series. Write it down. Rehearse it, and know it. Don't introduce yourself as a writer. Describe what you write in one to three sentences.
8. Find a group of writers or a writing organization that you can network with and learn from others. Many have great programs and opportunities.
I treasure my writing groups. I have learned so much from other authors. And these groups have afforded me lots of opportunities for book signings, presentations, field trips -- in addition to the commaraderie of being able to network with writers who are at different stages of their careers.