CTRWA October Meeting

My second weekend in CT, I went to the CTRWA October meeting, which is held at the Holiday Inn in North Haven. About 45 minutes from the parent’s house.

I had the Garmin and printed directions  as my backups. Smart move too because my cell phone GPS cut out on me. Like just fell asleep and would not wake up. So I had to pull over and hook up the Garmin. That worked great and got me there in good time. Parking was plentiful and I arrived 20 minutes before the critique group was scheduled to meet.

A bit of butterflies–which I get whenever I meet new people. Especially when most of them know each other. Kinda like the first day at a new school where everyone else has been together a while. But what an awesome group of people! Friendly and welcoming–they immediately put me at ease.

Huge thanks to Bob, Kristan, Marian, and Christine for chatting with me and making sure I felt a part of the group.

The critique session was great–very tactful and balanced. Kristan did a wonderful job leading the discussion, pointing out what worked and what needed more attention. Everyone was very considerate in giving feedback and you could tell they worked hard reviewing each other’s first five pages. On top of it, everyone had good writing skills, so there was so much to learn from each other.

The CTRWA President, Toni Andrews, led the chapter meeting, discuss the chapter’s board of directors’ elections, upcoming events, and the Write Stuff Contest, which is open until December 1 and a great opportunity.

She also mentioned the upcoming one-day seminar led by Margie Lawson on November 20th, which sounds like a do not miss event. Toni mentioned that this event is one of two workshops that turned her into a writer.

She reminded everyone that November is also National Novel Writing Month where 250,000 people worldwide will be trying to write an entire novel in November and talked about regional groups to write with.Toni is a great speaker and made me want to volunteer, despite being a total newbie. She also mentioned the annual conference Connecticut Fiction Fest, which is May 14th, 2011–Mark your calendars.

A quick heads up–the November 6th meeting speaker will be a psychic medium and I plan to be there.

After the official meeting, we had the “Ask A Published Author” Q&A session, where meeting attendees could ask a published author (this time Toni) anything about writing and publishing. A question came up about the pitch and what should be in it. Toni explained that less is more and you want the agent/editor to ask for more from you. Make sure you get your “cool factor”/twist in the pitch.

In terms of finding out who’s acquiring what, Toni mentioned Publisher’s Market as a great resource. She also mentioned agentquery and querytracker, with the caveat that they include info on what the agent says they are acquiring (but this info could be a few months old).

She stressed how agents will read a submission until the first thing that stops them and then they put it down.

Lunch was served and everyone chatted at their tables. It was a fun, relaxing affair. I got to eat with our speaker, Jane Goodger, who is hilarious and totally down to earth.

Jane Goodger spoke about her writing career and the need to reassess dreams and expectations in your writing career. She has been writing for 15 years and published 15 books. She talked about the importance of writing what you read. She also talked about how her day job gives her insight into how quirky people can be.

In terms of PR, she talked about guest blogging, getting reviews, Twitter, Facebook, My Space and having a website. She sold her books after her presentation, and I picked up one of her historical christmas romance trilogy–looking forward to reading it as the holiday approaches.

The meeting ended around 1:45 PM. I stayed for the additional synopsis plot critique for members, which ended at 3:45. The plot critique was very helpful in getting you to step back from the scenes of your novel and look at the overarching story.

How can you ramp up the tension? What motivations don’t work? What thread needs to be woven in earlier or dropped? What isn’t making sense in your story?

I have to say CTRWA has a tremendously talented group of published and unpublished authors who really got me thinking about my story. Everyone in my group had great feedback to give. I’ll probably be mulling everything they said over for the next week as I tweak my synopsis.

Then I got in my car and drove home, feeling more satisfied and content than I had in months. All the upheavals of the summer are over. I can settle into my life here and stop worrying about packing boxes and moving. I finally feel like I am home. 🙂

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