Wednesday, April 22, 2009

writing opportunities

OK, computer’s still broken so I’m stealing…I’m mean borrowing my Alma Mater’s computer resources. Anyway, lots of folks have been asking me this week “how did you get an agent? How do you get published? I’m new and have no idea what I’m doing! Been there. (Still there, in many, many ways.) So, I’ve compiled a list of practical resources for the beginning, middle, and advanced writer. Some of them, especially towards the end, are local to my area, Oklahoma, but they may give you some ideas of like resources in your own area. So here, in a nut shell, is all my practical, concrete knowledge! (Note: it’s less than two pages. I wouldn’t mind people adding to it!)

Your best friend for meeting publishers and agents is writers’ and fan conferences, especially if you can get one-on-one consultations! Otherwise you’re just a random sheet of paper sitting on their desk that they have to deal with. A lot of local universities and colleges have them; that’s how I met my agent, at a University of Tulsa "agent summit," a guy who does both literature and film, mostly Christian stuff but he does all kinds, including sci-fi and fantasy. His name is Terry Porter, but I wouldn’t feel right giving out his info without his permission. But Google your state/town/local university/library for those local opportunities to network/get sales!

Four small press publishers interested in fantasy and sci-fi and currently taking submissions (last I checked) are Zumaya Publications (only YA) Yard Dog press, Double Dragon, and Hawk Publishing (no YA). They don’t require and agent.

The best locally sold writing reference, according to NightWriters and OWFI (I’ll get into them later), is WRITER’S MARKET. It comes out every September and you can get it almost anywhere in town. It features over 8,000 book, magazine, script, and poetry editors and agents to buy your writing. You have to get the latest one because it becomes totally obsolete in six months. For a more fluid, long-lasting reference, you can subscribe to www.writersmarket.com.

The International L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is how a lot of sci-fi and fantasy writers are getting started these days. If you win (hard, but doable, with thousands of entries each quarter) they really promote your work and send you to a week-long conference with dozens of agents and editors present. I snagged the interest of a publisher by simply stating that the story I was sending made honorable mention in this contest. They knew it must be good and asked me for me to send it right away. They have four quarters per year. Google it. By the way, the books they publish always include some very helpful advice on writing.
A really prestigious sci-fi/fantasy writers group is Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America- commonly called SFWA. In order to join you to have sold three short stories to the “qualifying professional markets,” sold a novel to a professional market, or had a professional produced full length script in a fantasy or sci-fi genre. For more info and to access their resources, go to http://www.sfwa.org/.

Fangs, Fur, and Fey is an online community for Urban fantasy/paranormal authors. They’re great for networking, critiquing, talking about upcoming events, etc. The Absolute Write is another great online magazine/blog for all writers.

Three agents that have two very helpful blogs talking about the industry are Nathan Bransford. He actually goes step by step with what he (and other agents, probably) want in a query letter and includes those from people he’s taken on. Miss Snark and Kristin Nelson do that too. Target specific agents and make sure you do it their way.

The Hawk Writing workshop in Tulsa, OK is coming up pretty fast, June 6-7, 2009. There will be publishers and agents there. The seminar, different from the two day workshop, is a week long intensive writing experience that lasts from June 8-12. For more info and to register go to http://www.hawkpub.com/.

Conestoga is a sci-fi and fantasy conference for fans, gamers, and writers that happens every year in Tulsa, OK. It’s coming up this weekend, April 24th-26th. You can register and get more info at http://sftulsa.org There are tons of these all over the world, including armadillo con in the United States southwest, one in Liverpool, and even one at Harvard. Once you’ve actually sold your book, don’t pass up local Renaissance Fairs and other cultural festivals as opportunities to do book signings. These are also great places for networking, believe it or not.

Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW) is an international Christian Writers group that offers speakers, workshops, a critique group, mentoring, and various other resources. You can find them online at meets in Tulsa at http://www.fellowshipofchristianwriters.org/. Or, if you just happen to live near Tulsa, OK, they meet at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church 4102 E. 61st the second Tuesday of every month at 7:00pm.

The best market guide that I’ve found for Christian writers is Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market.

There are all kinds of local writers clubs out there. If you live near a town of two hundred or more people, they probably have one. Mine is Tulsa Nightwriters, a club for all writers, fiction, non-fiction and technical, professional and just beginning. Nightwriters brings in speakers every month to talk about their writing, how they got published, how to market a book, etc. (You can visit several times for free.) They also sponsor various workshops and contests free to members several times a year. They meet the third Tuesday of every month at 7:00pm at the Martin Regional Library: 2601 S. Garnett Rd. 74129. Dues are only like $10 a year or something, $20 to be in OWFI, that is Oklahoma Writers Federation Incorporated. (Nightwriters is a chapter of OWFI.)

OWFI sponsors the largest writers’ conference in Oklahoma once a year featuring speakers, editors, and agents from all over the United States. This year it takes place on May 1-2. You can look up the specifics on owfi.org. It’s a great way to network. There is no deadline on registration, but it’s cheaper if you register before March, which, alas, has passed. They also have a writing contest with some nice cash prizes that has a category in just about everything you can think of. I won second place for best young adult novel two years ago, which got me a one-on-one consultation with a publisher who almost published one of my novels. The deadline for the contest every year is January 31st.

And don’t forget about local critique groups! Cross Roads Writers’ Critique Group meets at New Haven United Methodist church (5603 S. New Haven Ave. on 56th between Harvard and Yale) every Monday night from 6:00-9:00. You can come when you can and leave when you have to. They like you to bring up to ten pages of your work, which they read aloud, and then everyone takes turns critiquing it. They also help with query letters, synopsis, etc. They’re completely free and some of them are professionals. Why pay an editor?

Libraries are your best friend, both in resources and contests. The Tulsa City County Library has an adult creative writing contest every year. Submissions are due January 31st. Winners get cash prizes and sometimes get to speak at the library and on local radio. Several of my plays have placed and one was picked up by Heller Theater for production the following summer, so it’s a useful contact. Check out the rules at http://www.tulsalibrary.org./

Did I mention that community colleges and local newspapers often have creative writing contests too? Local is a great place to get started, and get some money! I won first place in the Tulsa Community College short story contest, mostly, I think, because there were so few entries!

For freelance writing jobs, craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites) is your friend!

And there you have it. Questions, comments? Feel free to ask!

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