I’m in Fort Lauderdale, Florida! And no, it’s not for the palm trees, giant margaritas or the gold bikinis! Rather, I’m here doing professional development as an author, and to share my own writing and publishing experiences with the Black Writers Reunion and Conference (BWRC) network. And, I must say, I’m having an absolute literary ball.
It’s my froth BWRC (I previously attended events in Tampa, Las Vegas and Atlanta) and it’s an industry event that I look forward to, feeling there is nothing quite like it provided in Australia (where authors, agents, publishers, and media professionals conduct and participate in workshops). This is not a writer’s festival where authors sit on the stage and talk and answer questions from the floor for a few minutes at the end of a session. Rather, the BWRC is a hands-on, intimate affair where emerging writers especially, get insider information /tips and practical assistance in the hope of one day making the New York Times bestseller list. And established writers like myself, also continue to learn and grow.
Day One of the two day event went a little like this for me:
SENSES AT SUNRISE: One of the best tips I gained from Aussie authors Linda Jaivin and Kathryn Heyman was to utilise my senses in my writing, especially in my novels. It’s a tip I have never forgotten, and so this morning I facilitated a writing-sprint using the senses on the beach at Fort Lauderdale at 7am, just as the sun was rising. As if that wasn’t inspiration enough (see pic at top of page), so too was the balmy weather, swaying palm trees and early morning joggers. I won’t lie to you, I was surprised to see seven budding writers appear after our meet’n’greet last night, and I’m nothing short of impressed with some of their output, which you can read on Sherrice Thomas’ blog here!
I can’t wait until the sun comes up tomorrow and we do it all again!
*WRITING FACTION: I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the BWRC program and the chance to deliver a workshop on writing faction ethically – looking at protocols, research methodology and developing codes of ethics for individual projects. Naturally, I also showcased the fabulous work of Terri Janke and her Indigenous writing protocols published by the Australia Council. The pic above is of just some of the fabulous workshop group.
*MASTER THE ART OF THE BOOK PITCH: What a dynamic woman Ifalade Ta’Shia Asanti is. I met the award-winning author, journalist, TV producer and life-coach over lunch and thought, I wanna hang with this woman (ok, that sounds a little stalker-like, what I meant was, I want to learn from this woman!). And so I attended her session and took away some tips, and was introduced to A.I.D.A. that is...
A – get the agent’s/publisher’s ATTENTION
I – stir up their INTEREST
D- give them DIRECTION
A – get them to take ACTION
I was also grateful for some basic tools for writers and tips like knowing the top five selling books in the genre you’re writing in, so you can comment on how your book will fit into current market! Good thinking 99!
*CLARITY AND DEPTH: While I’d like a little more clarity in my life generally, I’m certainly grateful for Venice Berry’s workshop ‘Clarity and Depth: Writing Between the Lines’ where the academic and author asked the question: Where will your writing fit into the broad range of industry possibilities? Adding by example that Toni Morrison’s novels are dense and demanding, while Danielle Steel’s novels are easy and straightforward.
And here’s some trivia for you: in 30 years Morrison has written nine novels and Steel has written seventy-nine! Yes 7...9...!
Berry says: ‘Clarity and depth are two areas that distinguish these two authors. Clarity connects to not only the power of words, but to simplicity. Depth involves the intensity of language and imagery.’
Recommended reading for those want to explore the concept of depth: Dr Jac’s Guide to Writing with Depth, by Joyce Armstrong Carroll.
* PITCH TO AGENT: Today I had the opportunity to do a pitch to a New York literary agent. By phone, it was the first time I had the chance to do something of this kind. I am with Curtis Brown in Australia and am seeking US representation, so appreciated the opportunity the conference provided delegates who made the list. Fingers-crossed as to what the outcome of that 15 minute conversation will bring.
*CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS: Mostly, I’m grateful for the collegial atmosphere of this conference, and to share time and space with like-minded writers who have become friends over the past four years. Big shout out to Patricia Haley and Bryan-Keyth Wilson (pictured above) who enrich my life just by being in it.
THANK YOU: I’d like to thank Tia Ross and the team at BWRC for including me on their program, and Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS for ensuring I could physically get here.