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UW Writers Institute Recap

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the annual 2012 UW Writers Institute, the University of Wisconsin's three-day writing conference.

The Institute offered numerous concurrent educational sessions covering topics such as promoting your work online, book trailers, query letter writing, finding and working with agents, and more. Sessions with author and instructor John Vorhaus on publishing in the post-paper world and corporate creativity coach Brendan Sullivan on sparking your creativity were particularly inspiring. In addition, several published authors discussed how they got published while literary agents offered insight into the internal workings of the publishing industry.

I also had the opportunity to pitch my novel Beyond Cloud Nine to a couple of agents, who asked to see more. In preparation for these eight-minute meetings, I had to learn about loglines, pitches, author bios, synopses, and other aspects of writing and speaking about your work in order to sell it. Agents wanted to know key plotting concepts from the novel such as inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint shift/crisis, climax, and resolution (parts of the three-act structure) as well as themes and set-piece scenes (scenes that best convey what the book is about). If you're unfamiliar with any of these terms, I strongly urge you to look them up online and learn them.

Furthermore, I paid for a half-hour session with a UW instructor, who read and critiqued the first ten pages of my manuscript. Ultimately, he convinced me to ditch the prologue along with the epilogue. While I believed that it framed the story within the larger Beyond book series, the prologue just isn't necessary. The story really begins in chapter one, which possesses a stronger hook with more sci-fi "cool."

The Institute's one huge drawback (for me, at least) was the lack of attention to genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, etc.). Only one agent who accepts genre fiction attended the conference, and she tended to represent more urban fantasy. None of the agents represented what I would call "true" science fiction (hard science, space opera, cyberpunk, etc.). The conference showed definite bias toward literary fiction and non-fiction. So, as you can well imagine, this sci-fi author found a wee bit of disappointment in that.

But all in all, I view the Institute as a must-attend for any local author serious about being published.

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Beyond Saga

Beyond Cloud Nine

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Ace star fighter pilot Brooke Davis dreams of becoming the first human being to fly faster than light.
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Beyond the Horizon

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Ensign Maya Davis must foil a plan to exterminate a benevolent exospecies during the first interstellar mission.
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Beyond Yesterday

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Captain Maya Davis travels back in time to learn how a piece of modern tech ended up in the past.
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Beyond Existence

COMIN SOON. With the Earth conquered, Admiral Maya Davis must travel through space, time, and alternate universes to prevent mankind from being wiped out of existence.
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Future Works


Lyana, an orphaned martial artist with bio-augmented abilities, embarks on a quest to liberate her home world and prevent the fabric of the universe from unraveling.
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Bears in Space

Boz and his goofball crew must save the galaxy from cliche alien invasions, trite zombie apocalypses, and bad rom-coms.
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Goodbye, Mars

Ryssa Nilsson must avoid the deadly stings of heat-loving bugs known as thermophiles and escape Mars before the Sun's expansion sterilizes the planet.
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