Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting Down To It

As Southern Magic VP, I had to really search my imagination for programs in 2010. I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’ve been through every program more than once. It's possible the reason for this is because I’ve been at this trying-to-get-published thing too long. Maybe for someone starting out it's all new.

But for someone who’s been trying to publish for MORE than a few years, it's difficult to find incentive to come to a meeting. Everyone has such easy access to online programs and classes now, there’s almost no need to go and meet with the writing peeps once a month.

So, looking at next year (yes I’m in charge of the first couple of programs), I’m trying to get creative and think outside the box.

What would you like to see next year at Southern Magic? Would you like more interactive programs? Story boards and critiquing? Speakers … and if so, what kind?

Would you be interested in a couple of half-day editors/agent programs and then pitches? If so, would you prefer agents or editors (or both)? What type of program would you like editors/agents to talk about? Industry? Craft?

Lots of questions, I know, and I’m not stopping there.

We seemed to have hit a point where those who volunteer all the time are having to take a step back to get more time for our writing. We all have day jobs and families. If you haven’t volunteered, what’s stopping you? Terrified you’ll drop the ball? Not sure what to do? What would be the incentive to get more involved? What if we had a position-elect for all board positions? You could “intern” and observe your predecessor so you didn’t feel like you were falling into the deep end of the pool come January 1.

Would you like to see the positions simplified and spread out among more members?

Please comment and let me know on a few of these. If you prefer, please comment anonymously.

Thanks for the input, everyone!


Christine said...

Hey Callie: Great post and very good to get the questions out there re: programs and volunteering. Personally, if I were closer to Birmingham, I'd be more involved in the ongoing stuff. But that's not possible due to my proximity issue and the fact that my teen is still taking up my weekends with her activities. That being said, I am looking forward to helping with the Linda Howard Contest as a judge this year. I feel it is a way to help without worrying about if I can get to a meeting. When I am at the meetings, I like to pitch in wherever I can. Whether it's pouring drinks for the luncheon, serving food or helping clean up the messes afterward. One day, in Fall 2012, I'll be able to help more because my teen will be in college (hard to believe).

As for programs I'd like to see--hmmmm--I love the idea of having meetings where the following elements might be touched on in a regular way:

*career/professional development
*craft book reviews
*publishing/industry news
*author Q&A session (short, not long)

As for bigger programs--how about 1-2 workshops about craft/honing the story that will benefit all the writers regardless of where they are in their career (unpub or pub)? I have other thoughts--oh, that's how I can help behind the scenes via email :-)

Christine said...

Oh, almost forgot: practicing pitching and having agents/editors come is a FABULOUS idea :-)

Debbie Kaufman said...

It's hard to go wrong with interactive workshops, particularly ones that allow you to work on your own stuff. I think a pitch workshop is a great idea. Planning one before Nationals next year would be great. Or anytime, really.

One of my favorite meetings was the first RWA chapter meeting I ever attended at GRW. The published authors did intimate little workshops on synopsis, pitching, plot, character development. You would sit with someone as incredible as Sandra Chastain and she would spend about 45 minutes total with you on synopsis in general and then have you writing on your own with her help to get it started. Then you would shift tables/area and go to a different expert and work on that area. Most of the time there were no more than 5 per table and it was a great learning experience. Kinda like it's own mini-conference. I would drive from Georgia to attend something like that in a heartbeat.

What about something outside the box like all the window dressings of being a writing professional: A mini-fashion show for editor/agent/conference attire, a quick on-site makeover of one writer (make up), discussions on what you need in a profession photo, etc. Maybe a chance to get a makeover while you're there and a photographer to do head shots? Okay, probably too ambitious all at once, but just tossing stuff out there. Take what you like and ignore the rest :)

Callie James said...

Thanks, Christine. I'm all about our long-distance members trying for some of those positions where you can stay involved but don't have to be at every meeting. We have several of those, actually.

I'm also big on setting up pitch sessions. It sounds like you'd like live pitch sessions, as opposed to what you can find online through the agent websites (where you pitch online).

We did have an author Q&A early this year. Did you attend that? It was great.

Lots of good ideas here. Keep them coming. :)

Callie James said...

Fabulous idea on published author mini-workshops, Debbie. We were also looking at starting a mentor program once. Sound interesting?

Hmmm. Ya'll have me thinking.

Louisa Cornell said...

Like Christine, my biggest problem is proximity and a work schedule that is REALLY interfering with my REAL life - my writing! I work every Saturday and that doesn't look to change anytime soon.

I love hands on workshops and that sort of thing. Would there be any options for us to do some online courses?

Callie James said...

We used to do online courses but haven't done those for quite some time. Our sister chapter, HOD, offers these though, and I think Christine is heading that up currently (there's also the RWA online courses which you can find on

Jeanie said...

Another long distance member here. I think the agent/editor appointments sound great. I attended Murder in the Magic City in February and pitched to Jill Marr there. Even though it was a mystery reader affair, she took pitches on most genres. It was a great experience. And I like the idea of a pitch workshop, since that is a bugaboo for most people. I'm also interested in industry news and on marketing ideas, since that is so foreign to me.

Callie James said...

Great! Yes, my idea on the editor/agent program day(s) would be to bring in agents/editors that take numerous genres.

Of course we'd make it an event with food. Always food.

Thanks, everyone. Please list more if you think of anything. That's what we're looking for. What makes it worth your while to drive all that way? That's what I want to know.

Numerous agents do workshops that have the authors read their query and/or first pages aloud, and the agent will stop them when said agent would have stopped reading. What does everyone think of that type of workshop? I hear it's done more often than you'd think. Talk about terrifying, reading in front of God and everyone. Yikes!

Christine said...

I'm heading up the online classes with HOD--it's fun and I hope I can generate more classes for HOD in 2011--

Agent/editor pitches sound fabulous.