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  • Writer's pictureTERRY ANN MARSH

From Premise to Published: Help is on the way!

One of the nicest things about the writing community is its generosity. For the most part, people are very kind and helpful. I can honestly say I have not yet run into anyone that was rude or disagreeable. I’ve probably been to 15 conferences over the past 10 years and I have found people to be encouraging and engaging. Even when faced with the challenge of Covid-19 and online conferences/Zoom meetings, the writing world went forward with class and grace. Considering what we have all been through the last couple of years, that’s saying a lot!

If you are able to attend, conferences can be fun and educational. You’ll learn a lot listening to others who have been through it all, from beginning to end, like the title of this blog series, “From premise to Published.” At conferences, you will find editors, agents, writers, illustrators, webpage experts, podcasters, and more. There are workshops and critiques offered. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to do and what you’re able to spend. I spent $700 for one conference and $300 for another. For the first, I stayed overnight at the hotel and paid for two critiques. For the second, I commuted back and forth each day and did only one critique.

But, there is free stuff offered everywhere! You can sign up for newsletters filled with tips and tricks of the trade. You can follow writers/editors/agents/illustrators on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - you’re reading this blog through one of those access points. With a smartphone and maybe a microphone, anyone can do a podcast. Information abounds!

Since I live in Baltimore, I joined the Maryland Writer’s Association for a small fee. I get a newsletter daily and a constant invitation to what is going on in the surrounding communities. There are readings, how-to clinics, author visits, meet and greets, and more, all within 30 minutes of my house. And luckily, most of their meetings are still offered via a virtual platform.

As a children’s book author, I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). Besides the big conferences where hundreds of people come, there have been little things nearby, typically held at a local café. You get coffee and a critique for $20 - totally worth it.

Because we are all huddled away in our own writing space putting ink to paper, we need the larger writing community, at times, for encouragement, advice, and camaraderie. No matter how much my family loves me, my triumph over finding just the right word does not excite them the way it does me. A blank stare and mindless nodding (the way I get when baseball is brought up) are not encouraging.

But if I share my work with someone who understands me, I am edified.

There are far too many opportunities for advice and encouragement for me to mention. Look online, ask at the library, check out the senior center (I once did a 10-week program for seniors to help them write their life story), see what the local cafes are offering. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have to start somewhere - so just start.

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