The Philadelphia Writers Conference 2013, June 7 – 9, offered writers an array of in-depth, three-day workshops in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry (which we featured in yesterday’s blog post, Philadelphia Writers Conference 2013 — Photo Gallery and Tips from Workshops, Part I), two-day master classes in poetry and screenwriting, and additional one-session features about blogging, self-publishing, writing magazine articles and features, creativity, query letters, publishing trends, and social media.
On Friday morning former governor and mayor Ed Rendell presented the opening remarks. Agents Adriana Dominguez, Peter Steinberg, and Uwe Stender and editors Robert Podrasky, Geoffrey Stone, John Bryans, and Edward Jutkowitz participated in the Quick-Pitch Sessions Friday afternoon and in the Agents and Editors Panel at Friday evening’s buffet dinner. The keynote speaker at Saturday evening’s banquet was George Anastasia, rime reporter and author of five non-fiction books.
Writers wanting feedback on selections of their work (up to 1500 words) could participate in the less formal raps — the Fiction Rap, moderated by Lisa Lutwyche, the Writing for Juveniles Rap miderated by Catherine DePino, the Poetry Rap moderated by Eileen D’Angelo, or the Social Media Rap moderated by James Knipp — on Friday evening. Also scheduled for Saturday evening after the banquet was Poetry Rap II.
With all the choices available, there was something for every writer, or more accurately, there was more available than any one writer could handle. Three intense days of cramming in the information from the workshops I attended left me exhausted –although when I heard the positive comments about other workshops, I wished I had a twin or clone so I could’ve participated in more than one at a time.
Here are some highlights, information, and tips from the one session features I attended:
Blogging with Cecily Kellogg —
- it is best to own your own blog
- as a blogger, you have no editor, so proofread before you post
- like any good piece of writing, a blog post should have a beginning, middle, and ending
- take time to build relationships through comments
- your blog can be a memoir-in-progress
- when you promote your blog posts on Facebook or Twitter, promote the title and/or content but do not mention yourself as author
Fostering Creativity: What Writers Can Learn through Translation with Professor Liz Chang
- all writers are translators; “we all translate the creative experience into words”
- a literal translation of the words of a work does not always adequately convey the original idea, so a translator also has to consider the author’s intent and find the right words to convey it
- translation of someone else’s work can spark your own creativity
Query Letters with Jonathan Maberry
- the opening sentence of a query should be not be too long or complex and should grab the attention
- copy the format from a pro
- do not use a form letter for every agent but tailor the letter to the particular agent you are querying
- do your research: make sure the agent you are querying represents your genre
- send sample pages, outline or summary only if the agent’s submission guidelines request these
Social Media with Suzanne Kuhn, aka SuzyQ
- spend ten to fifteen minute on social medias at least five days a week
- pick a particular time for social media and make it a habit
- Facebook and Twitter are the most important sites; balance your time between them
- social media is designed to be a dialogue
- work on developing relations hips and avoid the hard sell, which alienates readers
Don’t ask me to pick a favorite from among the workshops. I just can’t! However, I do want to encourage writers to occasionally try a writing workshop they don’t think they will have any interest in. Although I don’t know enough of another language to consider translating even a short poem, I went to Professor Liz Chang’s workshop and found it fascinating and fun. She used examples all of us could understand, such as songs by the original musicians which we then compared to covers by other musicians. The attendees agreed that while some covers are very true to the original, others are so different that we do not like them as much — although once in a while a cover is better than the original version.
If you live in the Philadelphia area and have not attended the conference, think about coming next year (the second weekend of June). Although I’ve attended for years, I always come away with new information, new perspective, new ideas, and renewed enthusiasm for writing. In addition, seeing old friends and making new ones is always a pleasure .
If you don’t live in the Philadelphia area, find a writers conference near you and give it a try.
If you have attended a writing conference, how have you benefited from it?
For more on the conference, check out Kerry Gans’ daily posts: Philadelphia Writers Conference — Day One, Philadelphia Writers Conference — Day Two, and Philadelphia Writers Conference — Day Three as well as my post Photos and Tips from the 2013 Philadelphia Writers Conference.