“Breaking and Entering” Into Writing – 14th Bay to Ocean Writers Conference
This year I tried a new take on an old talk: Polishing Your Work (and Query Letter).
Every writer knows—or soon learns—that it takes multiple revisions to create a piece ready to compete for book buyers’ attention. This talk will introduce you to the most common problems that plague written works and offer simple ways to identify and resolve them in your own novel, short story, or memoir. You’ll also receive tips on writing an effective query letter, critical for those going the non-DIY route.
This annual conference boasts five sessions all in one day, allowing participants to choose from 25 workshops and programs presented by experienced authors, poets, film writers, writing instructors, freelance writers, editors, and publishers. With an incredible line-up of folks, I was honored to see my 40-50 person classroom fill up quickly. The crowd was patient as we tried to figure out a technology glitch, and they asked great questions…in several instances, staying one step ahead of my slides! That’s a good sign to me, as it tells me I’m addressing the questions top-most in participants’ minds. I hope everyone enjoyed the presentation as much as I enjoyed giving it.
I also got to meet one-on-one with three authors of quite different stories. These private consulations are always interesting. As a writer myself, I’m deeply interested in how the creative process varies for each writer, where ideas come from, and how they evolve along the way. The biggest challenge is that we only get up to the first 25 pages to review, which can be difficult to evaluate properly without the context of the complete story. I’m recommending to the organizers that in the future, manuscript evaluators also receive at least a one-page synopsis that clearly states the form of the piece (short story, novel, blog posts, memoir, etc.) and also gives the plot overview necessary for putting the opening pages into context.
The Bay to Ocean conference has sold out in advance for the past five years. Advance online registration is required, and I encourage you to make a note to register early next year so you don’t miss out! For conference and registration information, visit the website www.baytoocean.com, or write Bay to Ocean, PO Box 544, St. Michaels, MD 21663, or call (443) 786-4536.
Many thanks to Wilson Wyatt, Jr. for inviting me back, and to Mala Burt, Judy Reveal, Diane Marquette, and their committees for their work coordinating everything. I always appreciate a well-organized conference that runs smoothly!
Founder of The Writer’s Ally, Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge and experience with the publishing industry to lead serious authors toward success. She and her team live to help make great books happen, whether that means showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish; or coaching an author on growing her platform to sell more books. Since 1999, she has supported hundreds of authors on their publishing journey and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.