Our guest blogger today is writer Karla Whitney, sharing some of her writer’s journey and the value of conferences and community to a writer.
Back in April 2011, I attended Maine Crime Wave at University of Southern Maine. This was my first step in a self-induced program to face my fears. Although I’d written stacks of college curriculum and collaborated on writing and illustrating textbooks, I had secrets — files no one had seen — fiction, short stories, poetry, and an eighth draft of my first mystery novel. I was too afraid to submit my writing anywhere to anyone, because if I didn’t try, I didn’t risk rejection.
Toby Ball, Gerry Boyle, and Cornelia Reed shared a panel discussion about writing mysteries. During break, I bought Gerry Boyle’s “Port City Black & White”, and asked his advice to a fledgling. He recommended New England Crime Bake as a means of learning about the business, and getting involved in the writing community. He also said writers work very hard, it was tough and competitive to get published, but that if I was any good, and persisted, publication was attainable. He didn’t make it sound easy, but he did make it sound do-able.
Later that year, at my first Crime Bake, I felt enormous relief to meet like-minded adults who spend solitary hours upon days, inventing stories, solving crimes, hashing out words, anguishing over imaginary characters (and their pets), all inside their own mind’s eye. I was not alone and I was hooked.
At Crime Bake 2014, I met an agent from Fuse Literary. When I explained my current non-fiction project focused on art and design, she directed me to a colleague at her agency.
Researching http://www.fuseliterary.com/ I discovered ‘Short Fuse Guides’, just $1 each, written by Fuse agents. The guides are smart, savvy and practical, offering de rigueur tips for new and seasoned authors. Topics cover Query Letters, Book Proposals for Fiction and Non-fiction, Marketing, Promotion, Contracts, and more.
Appreciation is ‘feel good’ therapy that doesn’t cost a dime. Thanks are due to Crime Bake and Maine Crime Wave organizers, agents who listen to rapid-fire pitches, panelist who share their time and insights, Level Best Books editors for selecting quality stories and giving new writers a chance, Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America-New England for providing community, and Maine Crime Writers for the range of ideas offered in this blog.
And thanks to Gerry Boyle for sound advice. Somewhere between my first Crime Wave and now, I ditched my fear of trying, applied what I learned in workshops, and tuned my inner ear to the muses. I’m still not crazy about rejection, but who is? Now I understand, like the habit of daily writing, it’s all part of the trade.
This year’s upcoming Crime Wave, sponsored by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance (MWPA), is April 11th at University of Southern Maine. Panelists include Barbara Ross, Lea Wait, Kate Flora, Gayle Lynds, Brenda Buchanan, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Paul Dorion, Gerry Boyle, Sarah Graves, and more. For information, contact MWPA at www.mainewriters.org or call 207-228-8263.
Karla M Whitney’s first published mystery fiction, ‘More To The Point’, is included in Level Best Books Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave. She’s been drawing pictures, inventing stories, and turning them into books for decades. Her published work includes textbooks, editorial articles, illustrations, layout designs and comics. A second mystery novel percolates, while she polishes short stories and delves into another non-fiction adventure. She’s a member of SINC and MWA, and teaches art, writing and graphic design.