Tag Archives: Stacy Mozer

Come Play in My Sandbox Writing Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

Come Play in My Sandbox Retreat 2014

You know that phrase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come”? Well, that’s what happened this past weekend. I sent out an email to my clients a few months ago, vetting interest in a client retreat. There was a resounding “Yes!” Although everyone couldn’t make it, this past weekend I hosted a 3 day party for some of my very talented, very smart, very funny clients. I haven’t laughed so much in quite a long time. I also haven’t sat around talking writing for 3 days with such talented writers. Maybe ever.

And I learned so much this weekend! First of all, I confirmed something that I kind of already knew: I’m a very lucky agent. I also learned that Manhattans are to be stirred 100 times, not shaken; and that it’s really ok to call gin & olive juice shaken with ice & garnished with olives a “Martini,” even if there’s no vermouth to be found. I learned some 18th century Caribbean history. I learned that in Alabama it is still a criminal offense to sell sex toys. I learned that keeping a flip chart  and some markers in the same room as 9 sassy writers is asking for trouble (and is a sure-fire way to laugh until I cry). I learned the most effective way to lure my wavy/curly hair to the curly side. And I learned a lot about how different people’s writing process goes.

One of my clients has to write, even just a little, every day. It feels like a need, like breathing or eating, and unfathomable that it could be any other way for anyone. One of my clients saves it all up for times when there’s uninterrupted, childless, day-job-less time, taking a week here and there, or a whole month in the summer, to do nothing, nothing, nothing but write… until the offspring return. Another client writes from 9-5, Monday – Friday. After all, it’s a job. Yet another client has worked out a day-job work week of just 4 days, and does nothing but write on that 5th day. And then there are variations of all of these ways, and sneaking writing in to busy lives full of other commitments. Is there a right way? Does one way indicate more commitment and drive? Is one person more of a writer than the others? I think not.

We discussed storyboarding picture books. We discussed manuscripts that spawn manuscripts that spawn manuscripts. We discussed whether you need to know the end of your story when you start. We discussed how to be on Facebook yet hide from your relatives and high school classmates. We discussed what it means to be called a Pirate, whether it can be just a mindset or needs to include the act of piracy (i.e. stealing things). We workshopped works in progress, giving and getting criticism. We showed and telled. And we shared  finished work, just for the fuck of it. We played with a new way of goal setting, working backwards from the future. We ate a lot. We drank some. We took an already funny “plot device,” made it into a joke, and then beat it like a dead horse the whole weekend. We barely stopped laughing.

My clients thanked me over and over for hosting this retreat, but I can’t stop feeling like I’m the lucky one. Besides having a great weekend, besides laughing my ass off, besides feeling their admiration, I feel so honored to be entrusted with the task of getting their work published. They all know how committed I am to achieving that goal, and how I’m busting my butt to get the job done. But it sure was nice to take a weekend off and just hang out with these fine folk.

 

 

 

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Friday Ramble: Road Trip to NESCBWI Conference!

For those of you who are waiting to hear who won the Flash Fiction contest, the winners will be posted next Wednesday, May 8th.

But for today: TGIF!

nescbwi13-logo-HI’m heading up to Springfield, Massachusetts this weekend, to participate in the New England SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference. First of all, I’m really excited to be meeting some folks I’ve been chatting with on Twitter. I hope they know that I won’t be able to keep anyone’s name straight or attach those names in any coherent way to their faces and/or the faces they’ve shown me on their Twitter profiles. Just saying. But I’m told there will be some special candy imported from Buffalo, NY coming my way this weekend, so it’s all good.

Secondly, I’m  meeting with folks who have paid actual money for me to critique their query letters. I hope they know they didn’t pay that money for me to be particularly nice. I mean, I’m not a mean person (mostly), but I have been known to be a bit too straightforward on occasion. It’s fascinating to me how many people make the same mistakes. I broke my critiques up into 7 sections: The Introduction/Hook; Synopsis; Biographical Information; Structure of Query; Typos/Grammar/Word Usage; Reviewer Interest; and Additional Comments. I’m trying to be better about saying no to people’s faces, instead of saying, “Oh! Just send it!” For the ones I would pass on I’ve really just typed the no, but will still have to actually say it to them. I must say though that I’m blown away by how brave folks are for putting their work out there. I hate being the publishing dream killjoy, but I refuse to blow smoke up someone’s skirt either. And of course many people did many things right, too.

Lastly, my client, Stacy Mozer, and I are doing a breakout session on Saturday about what it looks like when you’re working on a manuscript with your agent and how your relationship with your agent can impact your manuscript. Stacy’s going to play the author and I’m going to play the agent. Should be fun! We made a fancy shmancy powerpoint and everything.

So, cheerio people! Go write <fill in your own number> pages on your work in progress and have a great weekend! I’m going to!

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