My published works are associated with broadcasting. I do have a few fiction pieces out there, but overall, the various television and radio stations I worked with own the rights to my commercials, documentaries, and news reports. Switching to fiction put me back in the newbie ranks. I never enjoyed being a beginner and not knowing all the ropes. I believed there were instructions out there, but where do you start looking for help? I must admit I got lucky when I attended my first conference. I found the direction I needed and met some great people along the way.
Kim Campbell helped me avoid mistakes with my first agent/editor pitch. No one mentioned the agent didn’t want my manuscript. I’d been toting that 400 page book for a day and a half. My shoulders ached from the extra weight. Kim let me know all I needed was my business card and a great pitch. I met with the agent; she requested a synopsis and the first thirty pages. It didn’t lead to a contract, but I did receive valuable information and encouragement from her. Kim began a screenwriting class on-line. She taught me how to format a screenplay, focus the action, and keep the story visual and moving. I’ve had some interest in that first screenplay, but no sale. The truth is that without Kim’s lessons and encouragement, RHYMES would not have been written.
FIW lead me to another wonderful organization. Amarillo College has an excellent continuing education program. The instructor for my first creative writing class was New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas. We had a great group of writers in that class. We all wrote different genres, had different perspectives, and varying experiences. I truly enjoyed that class. Jodi was a fantastic instructor. A former high school, teacher, she knew how to instruct and encourage us. She was able to bring out the very best in each student. Jodi was the inspiration for the short story RHYMES. The assignment was to write a story about a lone shoe on the side of the road. I was the last to read my story. I sat and listened to hilarious pieces, thought provoking stories, and some sweet romances. Mine was different and I feared my audience would not like the offering. The room was deadly quiet as I read. When I finished, Jodi looked at me and stated, “I would not want to go to your house tonight. I’d be afraid of finding where the bodies were buried.” Wow! That felt great. I still look to Jodi as a mentor. She has befriended many a struggling writer as an honorary member of Panhandle Professional Writers and as the current Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University.
That brings us to writers’ organizations. Panhandle Professional Writers is one of the oldest, continuing writers’ groups in the country. I’ve made good friends through this organization. I treasure their support and encouragement. Through PPW, I joined my first critique group; attended writers’ retreats in Taos, NM. My association with this organization has allowed me to test my abilities and receive correction and instruction. I’d be lost without PPW.
Bottom line is we have resources. Go on line and do a search of writers groups, contests, and conferences. You are sure to find a group or conference in your area. Try entering contests. The critiques are so valuable. Check out your local community college or university for continuing education classes. Read blogs. Attend book signings. As you can see the resources are unlimited.