Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Amazon Widgets Added

Some Amazon widgets have been added to our blog. They wiggle. Maybe too much. We want to showcase the work of our guest instructors, but too much motion on a blog makes me dizzy. I may have to beg the web master to tone them down.

The website, I am told, is now going to feature the links to our guest instructors books. I encourage everyone to visit misque-writer.com and click through the books and purchase them! Seriously, if you have read any of Robin D. Owens or Jennifer Ashley's books before, you are missing a real treat. You owe it to yourself to take a peek!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How do people become writers?

How do you know you can become a writer? I'd like to share a few stories I've been reading in blogs lately. Barbara Bretton explains how she became an "accidental romance writer":

I wrote about my life. I wrote about make believe lives. I wrote the obligatory last-two-people-left-on-the-planet post-nuclear stories every Baby Boomer claimed as his or her own special territory. I published my first story in Katy Keene Comic Books when I was nine years old and that first taste of the writing life was addictive. I was definitely hooked. I wrote for comic books. I published Letters to the Editor in 'Teen Magazine and Ingenue. I won contests. I dreamed about a life where I'd see my name on the cover of a book but as I grew older I came to believe less and less in its probability. You needed to know somebody, I was told. The publishing world was a closed shop. You needed connections, a patron, or failing that a fascinating life.

Hey, I was a kid from Queens. I wouldn't have known fascinating if it bit me in the--well, you get the picture....
I began to poke around with writing a novel but a little roadblock called cancer brought me up short in January 1980. You want to know the truth? It might have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned one of those life lessons that usually take you forty or fifty years to fully understand: Life is short! Life is precious! Don't waste a second of it.

And I didn't. Two years later I sold my first book to Harlequin and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, "We want to buy your book."

How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I'd sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.

I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true -- and came with a $6000 advance!

He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn't have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.

A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I've learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I've also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks. I'm lucky enough to have three who know all there is to know and love me anyway.

I'm older now but strangely enough not any wiser. Writing is tougher than it used to be but the love I feel for the process (when it's going well, that is) is indescribable. I'm actually living my childhood dream. It simply doesn't get any better than that.

I guess the question is, do you have to wait for some disaster like cancer to strike before you pursue your dream?

How do people become writers? There are many different paths to publication, but of all the writers I know and have read about, they all have one thing in common. They love to write. Jennifer Ashley, who is going to be one of our guest instructors at Misque this summer, addressed this in her blog today, "http://www.jenniferonwriting.blogspot.com/."

When I start running around with my eyeballs rolling in mad circles, my friends and family tell me "Calm down, and for today, don't write."

Wait. What?

Don't write?

You might as well say "Don't eat." or "Don't breathe."

Because when it comes down to it, I'm a writer because I love to write.

I am a professional writer because I found a way to take doing what I love and turn it into a career. In other words, now I get paid to do what I enjoyed doing anyway.

It simply doesn't get any better than that.

Guest Instructors and New Website

We are thrilled to announce that two RITA winners will be our guest instructors at Misque this year! RITA is the highest award of the Romance genre. It's like the Nobel Prize for Romance.

Their bios and books will eventually be added to the "teachers" page of the new site. In the meantime, check out their websites. Each of these wonderful women also has a lot of experience giving advice to aspiring authors, so I know they are going to be a font of information and inspiration at Misque. Speaking as a rather novice author myself, I am looking forward to learning from them.

Robin D. Owens

Jennifer Ashley

We also have the draft of the new website up! It's a work in progress. Better than what we had before, but still with a few kinks to iron out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SFWA Snafu

Never the US presidential race. Some folks are rather riled up about upcoming SFWA elections.

Look: SFWA is in the hole, people. Not just in a general sense, but to the people who SFWA needs if it wants to survive: New writers. How do we get out of the hole?

An amusing take on the matter can be found here, and here.

I don't know enough about the internal politics of the situation to have an intelligent opinion on the matter, and my unintelligent opinions don't matter. However, I know Charles Coleman Finley (author of The Prodigal Troll) in a distant way from OWW. Which is to say, he made extremely useful, and also rather nice, comments about some of my entries, so he must be a good guy. :P Seriously, he is a man with integrity, so lacking any other info, I would be inclined to trust his opinion.

I'm not a member of SFWA, and I fear that Scalzi is right. This debacle is just another in a series of issues which make me wonder if I would even want to be. That's sad.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guy Writes Novel on His Cell Phone

Here's another great news story about a novelist who persevered even in the face of a one-inch screen.

Talk about some serious work, and forget shooting video and photos from your phone. This Italian guy wrote a 384-page science fiction novel on his mobile phone while commuting back and forth to work over 17 weeks. Robert Bernocco wrote it in short paragraphs on his Nokia 6630, using T9 of course, and saved them on the phone. Then he downloaded the text to his computer to proofread and edit. It’s just proof of what you can do when you use your time wisely. His book is called Compagni di Viaggo (or Fellow Travelers *how appropriate* in English), and is now self-published on Lulu.com.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply to the Misque Writer's Retreat, email the Misque coordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: http://misque-writer.com

And You Thought You Had Trouble Getting Published

Have you ever worried that you're too old to publish your first novel? That time and opportunity are slipping away from you, while snot-nosed twenty-somethings get six figure advances as much for their pretty faces as for their writing?

Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Age doesn't matter to the page. And if you think you've had to go through hell to get published, just look at what Martha Blum had to endure before she was published.

Mrs. Blum was born in 1913 in Czernowitz, Austria (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine). With the defeat of Germany and Austria at the end of the First World War, the city became part of Romania and remained so while Mrs. Blum was growing up....

Mrs. Blum wanted to be a doctor, but her father pressured her to study pharmacy and sent her to be schooled in Prague and later Paris. It was while she was in university in 1935 that she married a young mathematician named Richard Blum, who was also from Czernowitz.

They would have only a few happy years together before the outbreak of the Second World War. By that time, the couple had returned to Czernowitz and, being Jewish, it wasn't long before they were rounded up by the Nazis and isolated in a ghetto. Life was miserable. Sanitation was poor and many people died of disease. Those not fit for work did not receive food coupons and were left to starve.

The Blums were luckier than most. As pharmacologists, their profession was considered an essential service and they were made to work as slaves, filling the prescriptions of German soldiers.

It was this work that kept them out of the concentration camps. Even so, Mrs. Blum couldn't tolerate life in the ghetto. She and her family shared a room with 17 other families. Fed up, she marched over to the SS officer in command and refused to work unless her family was allowed to return home to Czernowitz.

Although she won the concession, they still were not safe. One day, while out walking, her husband was picked up by soldiers and sent to a work camp.

In 1944, fighting between the Soviet Union and the Germans intensified around Czernowitz and she decided to move to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. She hid aboard a train, but not before sending her husband a message. She wrote a note in the margin of a newspaper. "I'll be waiting for you," it said.

The newspaper got passed from person to person until it finally reached him at the work camp. Not long after that, the work camp was ordered closed and the officer in charge was told to shoot all the inmates. Fortunately, the officer could not bring himself to do it. Instead, he opened the gates in the middle of the night and set the men free.

Months later, after travelling all the way on foot, her husband arrived in Bucharest. It was there that Mrs. Blum started life over. She opened her own pharmacy and later gave birth to the only child she would have, Irene.

After the war, Romania was absorbed into the Soviet sphere of Communist countries. Mrs. Blum, coming from an entrepreneurial family, opposed the values of communism. In 1950, her pharmacy was confiscated and her husband made some anti-Communist statements that placed the couple on a list of undesirables. At that point, they knew they must leave the country.

She and her family escaped to Israel, where she wrote in secret. "Mrs. Blum wrote all three of her books long-hand in bed. As a result, her duvet cover was stained with ink." She didn't publish her first novel until she was 86! "The novel went on to be a finalist for the Canadian Booksellers Association's Ex Libris Award but lost to Alistair Macleod's masterpiece, No Great Mischief."

It's never too late to launch your first novel. It's really not.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply to the Misque Writer's Retreat, email the Misque coordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: http://misque-writer.com

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Importance of a Deadline

While writing my Amazon review for Baty's book, No Plot, No Problem, I re-read the book again. (I first read it more than a year ago.) It was as funny as I remembered it, but I was also struck anew by the core wisdom of Nanowrimo. Maybe because it's the logic behind Misque.

"The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen." (p. 14)

He actually names three things here, but this is also why Misque works. Big Task. Community. Deadline.

The task you have at Misque is, in some sense, a sequel to the task of Nanowrimo. It is to edit and package your novel -- to take it from that rough, "this is crap" draft you forced yourself to finish to a polished jewel you'll be proud to send out. During Nanowrimo, you worry about quantity rather than quality. At Misque, it's time to look at quality rather than quantity.

Ok, the fact is, if you're a perfectionist like me, and like almost every other writer I know, your manuscript will never be as polished as you like. A part of your mind will always nag, But what if it's still crap? And since you're playing for keeps now -- preparing your novel to be sent to an agent, editor or perhaps for self-publication -- you have to make sure your novel is the best it can be.

Definitely a Big Task.

In fact, I've been told it's impossible to do in a week. Among my annoying habits is reading writers' blogs and inviting the authors of blogs I like to come to Misque. It's meant to be a compliment; I only invite people I think probably have a good chance of qualifying, not to mention who's books I'd like to read. But some people find it annoying to have a stranger write a comment on their blog, saying, "Hey, come to my writer's retreat!" (If you were one of those thus annoyed, please accept my heartfelt apology.) Some people are piqued because they can't afford Misque and assume I must be making a fortune from being the Misque coordinator. (I'm not -- most of the cost goes to paying the bill of the luxury resort and the yummy food.)

Oddly, some people object to the goal of the retreat itself. One writer wrote back to me, full of bluster and outrage, telling me that a draft could not be revised in one week!

True. It would be ludicrous to think you could revise your manuscript in an ordinary week -- a week where you also perform your job; spend time with your family; plan, shop for and cook meals; watch tv and surf the net; attend to a million other tasks and worries.

Fortunately, a week of Misque is not a week of ordinary time. Your meals are delivered to you; your day job is set aside for a while; you family may be with you in Hawaii or maybe not, but they understand you're busy for most of the day doing something else. You and your fellow authors concentrate on nothing else but writing for a week. They have the same big task as you. And a strange thing happens. The magic of many minds working together to achieve a big task in a limited amount of time unleashes powers of clarity and creativity you didn't know you posessed. Problems which held you up for months now dissolve in days. The perfect opening sentence flows from your fingertips! The twist at the end comes to you in a flash! You suddenly figure out what to do with that scene in Chapter 19 which just didn't make sense before!

I'll be honest. Sometimes, what you discover in that week is the gigantic hole in your plot, which no simple plot-band-aid can fix. It means a total reworking of the novel. Of course, it is heartbreaking to discover that your novel is no more ready to embark across the ether to an agent than the Titanic was to cross the ocean. But really, isn't it better to discover this weakness, now, while still at port, so to speak, than after you've set sail, hit the iceberg of rejection and lost all hands to icy, shark-infested waters? You might have gone years still trying to make a broken novel work, never knowing what's wrong. This way, you know in one week, and furthermore, you'll probably have a pretty good idea how to fix it. That's a huge difference.

There's also another phenomenon. Sometimes a writer is as blind to the strengths of a novel as to its weaknesses. You might come to Misque with a draft you think is pure dross, only to be told it's already gold. Maybe it doesn't need any more polishing, but in your perfectionism, you've never allowed yourself to see that. Admitting your novel is ready to send out means you have no more excuse not to send it out -- and risk rejection. The trick is, if you avoid rejection, you avoid success. The support of your fellow Misqueans can give you the confidence you need to make it past the first rejection letter -- and the second -- and the tenth -- and the fiftieth -- and the hundredth (and you know many a novel know regarded as classic has been rejected that many times!) if need be, to succeed.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply to the Misque Writer's Retreat, email the Misque coordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: http://misque-writer.com

Book Review: No Plot, No Problem

I have a huge library full of books which have brought me great joy, and I've always intended to write reviews of them, in an attempt to give back a little of that joy. However, I've always procrastinated.

No more! Today I started reviewing writing books, beginning with Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! You can read the review on Amazon, but I'll go ahead and post it here too. (Oh, if you have a profile on Amazon and you want to be a "friend" to Misque Writer, drop me an invitation.)

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty is the printed version of that cup of jo you use to make it through Nanowrimo -- National Novel Writing Month. Officially set in November, this is the month literary lunatics everywhere attempt to write a fiction book (at least 50,000 words) in one month. And this is the book to read while you do it.

Baty's book isn't the first writing book you should read, and it isn't the last one you'll need, but his wry pep talks and Why The Hell Not? attitude are perfect for encouraging you. "The possibility of starting the month with nada and ending it with a book we'd written - no matter how bad the book might be - was irresistible. And though we never admitted it to one another, there was also the hope that maybe, just maybe, we'd yank an undeniable work of genius from the depths of our imagination. A masterpiece in the rough that would forever change the literary landscape. The Accidental American Novel. Just think of the acclaim! The feelings of satisfaction! The vastly increased dating opportunities!"

Enlightenment is overrated, says Baty. He originally thought he had to wait until he had accumulated the Wisdom of the Ages, and become and Enlightened Being, before he could write a novel. Of course, by then he'd probably be about ninety years old. Instead, while in his twenties, he and some friends just plowed forth into "the meager, gravelly soil of our imaginations" and began to write. In so doing, he discovered an important point. "The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's the lack of a deadline.

In section one, he expands upon the need for a deadline and produce quantity without worrying about quality. He explains, all in the same breezy humorous style, how to find time ("Enter the Time Finder"), create a community to support your effort ("rallying the troops"), and how to find space ("A closed door with children in the house," wrote one aspiring novelist, "is nothing more than an invitation to bang, scream and cry." p.59)

In section two, Baty begins a week-by-week breakdown of your novel-writing month. The week usually starts out to "trumpets blaring, angels singing and triumph on the wind" p. 105). Nonetheless, some people falter already, daunted by such obstacles as The First Sentence. "The first sentence," he observes, "is, in many ways, a perfect microcosm of your novel. Meaning you're probably worrying way too much about it." (p.111) Other Week One issues include, What to Title Your Novel, and Knowing When to End Chapters.

Week Two problems tend to be more serious. Some novels are still flailing without any visible means of support from actual plot. Characters have staged coups. Obsessive Counting Disorder may set in. Inspiration flags. Time squeezes make it hard to keep on track. Week Two is a difficult week, but Baty has suggestions to deal with its traumas and tribulations.

Week Three may bring the wind back to some sails. It's a time, Baty suggests evaluating how far you've come. Are you halfway or more through your story? If so, "hallelujah. Great job. Continue full speed ahead." If not, "if you are still introducing characters and haven't yet sent them out in search of a plot, you should sit down and figure out where they're going now." That's right, it's time to get serious, and like the Better Business Bureau of the Novel, he will tell you how to escape "word debt" with such devices as "6,000 word days." (p.136) "These are much easier to pull off than you think," he reassures.

In Week Four, he has more great advice, such as how to steer every party conversation to your novel.

Writer: So what's up, partygoer?
Partygoer: Not much! I've been getting pretty sick lately with that flu that's going around, so I've just been laying low. Sleeping a lot, you know...
Writer: Oh, man! That's so funny you would say that. The protagonist in my novel had this moment where he thought about opening an office supply store that sold only wiener dogs.

National Novel Writing Month occurs during November, and for writers in the US, Week Four coincides with Thanksgiving. Baty doesn't explain what lunatic sadism made him decide to set Nanowrimo to coincide with the second busiest holiday in the US calendar (after December), but I have to assume it's in part because, as he was a single male in his twenties at the time, he probably didn't have many family obligations for Thanksgiving. As a working mother who is expected to help actually spend this "vacation" time drudging away over a hot stove rather than a keyboard, I would have picked a different month, I must say.

However, that's the wonderful thing about No Plot, No Problem. It's like a portable Nanowrimo, which you can use to carry your novel writing month from November (curse you, November!) to some other month, say, July. True, you won't have the knowledge that thousands of others are simultaneously typing away on their laptops at the same time as you, but you can still read their stories in Baty's book. No Plot, No Problem is filled with anecdotes of how other writers made it through the month to 50,000 words. If they can do it -- you can do it.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply to the Misque Writer's Retreat, email the Misque coordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: http://misque-writer.com

Friday, February 15, 2008

7 People Who Would Benefit from Misque

Who would benefit most from Misque?

You want to publish a novel - This is the most basic requirement to attend Misque. You want to publish a novel and you've actually started to write it. That bit's the trick, which unfortunately disqualifies most would-be novelists. If you have a great idea for a book, but you haven't written anything yet, don't lose hope. There are plenty of good writer's retreats, conferences, workshops and how-to-write books out there to help you out as you write your book. If you have a substantial draft, on the other hand, you will benefit greatly from Misque's program, which involves taking a look at a manuscript chapter by chapter and scene by scene to evaluate and strengthen plot, characterization and structure. If you're having dreaded word count problems, we'll offer advice on where your book seems too thin or too thick. We will also be able to help you identify agents and editors who accept submissions in your novel's genre, then craft the perfect query letter to approach them professionally.

You've just graduated with an MFA degree (or are considering taking college level creative writing) - Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe your MFA degree program spent a lot of time focusing on the commercial aspects of establishing a writing career. But if your MFA program was like anything like my Master's program, just the opposite was the case. You probably spent an awful lot of time parsing postmodern interpretations of obscure literary critiques of semiotic deconstructions, etc, etc. To the extent financial considerations were discussed, it was probably mainly to decry filthy lucre. To the extent commercial literature was discussed, it was probably mainly to deride the plebeian tastes of the masses. That's all very well, but it doesn't help you make a living from your writing. Most fiction writers sell genre literature, but even if you want to sell erudite literary fiction, you still have to know the market and how to present your work in a professional manner to agents and editors. You'll learn more practical, hands-on tips to enter the writing business in one week of Misque than in a four year MFA program.

You're retiring, but still aspiring - You're a boomer, but though you may be retiring soon, you won't be slowing down. You'll just finally have a chance to do some of the things you've had to put aside until now. Like publishing your novel! Maybe you've been working on it for years, or maybe you just wrote one, perhaps in a genre you've long enjoyed, or perhaps inspired by your own experiences. Either way, don't let anyone tell you you're too old to start a writing career! That's the great thing about writing. Age doesn't matter to the page. Many career writers started late in life -- as a second or even a third career -- and still went on to establish a reputation for themselves.

Other seniors go on cruises. Hey, we've got nothing against cruises. Cruises inspired us for Misque. Misque is like a cruise for your mind. Your body will be pampered while your mind is challenged. This is the time to make your dream of being an author come true.

You're changing careers - There may be a few of you out there who aren't boomers, but are also in between careers. Make this challenge into an opportunity to explore all the options. Have you ever really wanted to make writing your career? Have you considered investing in launching your writing career, just as you would in any other business? Misque is an investment, but not an unreasonable one, for someone who wants to know, is this really a career I have a chance to make a living in? You could do everything we do at Misque on your own, but it would probably take you years, because instead of a concentrated environment, you'll be working it around your day job. Again. Instead of toiling alone in stolen hours, launch yourself into a new career with kickoff period which comes complete with a network of supportive colleagues and crit partners to keep you going after the week is over.

You've a NaNoWriMo Winner - Congratulations! You won National Novel Writing Month, which means you've proven you can do the hardest part of a novelist's job -- actually write a novel length manuscript. It may be that you've completed your book, or it may be that 50,000 words has only brought you half-way through your plot. Either way, you know that when push comes to shove, you have it in you write a novel. Now that you have the novel, though, what are you going to do with it? During NaNoWriMo, you weren't too concerned with the quality of the writing, only the quantity. Now is a good time to come to Misque to have another pair of eyes -- better yet, several other pairs of eyes -- take a look at what you've written, chapter by chapter, line by line. They won't love it as much as you do, but guess what, they won't hate it as much as you do, either! (All novelists develop this love/hate relationship with their novels, I suspect.) Yes, they'll see some weak spots, but they may also see the strengths that can help you polish this rough draft into a publishable work.

What if you participated in NaNoWriMo, but didn't quite finish 50,000 words? Should you still come to Misque? That depends on you. Do you have a compete or near complete draft of a novel, which you happened to write in October or July rather than December? (Frankly, Thanksgiving is not a good time for me to write, and I haven't won NaNoWriMo yet myself!) Or maybe you're the kind of writer who just likes to edit as you go along, so you're slower to write a draft, but have less revisions to do. Definitely, you should still bring your manuscript to Misque!

You're thinking of self-publishing your novel - There are many reasons you may be thinking of self-publishing your novel. Maybe you really just want your novel published, and at this point, you're not concerned fits the pigeon holes of the book industry. Anyone considering self-publishing should definitely attend Misque. It's the next best thing to having a staff of hired editors pour over your manuscript before it goes to print, and yet you still retain full control over what do after it's polished. You may change your mind, and decide to give the traditional publishing world one more try, armed as you'll be with a list of agents and editors who might be interested in your novel. Or you may go ahead and self-publish, armed with a terrific new arsenal of book promoting techniques which will help your book stand out from the herd.

Freelance / Technical Writer / Journalist - If you use writing in your day job, there's good news and bad news. The good news is, you have honed your writing skills. Fiction isn't exactly the same as non-fiction -- a novel is much harder to sustain than an article -- but superb word craft will help in both. Agents and editors know this too, so you have another leg up when it comes to write about your experience in your query letter. So what's the problem? It may be that after spending all day writing for your "real" work, you don't have the mental energy to really devote to your novel. It's hard to give yourself the time you need to write the next chapter, revise a weak section or push to the end of 90,000 word manuscript when you know you could get paid for the next 1000 you write if you focus on nonfiction instead.

If you're serious about fiction, you have to treat it as seriously as your nonfiction. Most of all, you have to allow yourself a time to focus exclusively on your novel, and not have your "day job" writing gnawing at your creative energy. The week of Misque is a perfect opportunity for you set aside all your other writing and give your novel the attention it deserves -- with no competition, distraction or guilty feeling you should be working on a "real" project. Your novel is a real project. Give it the attention it deserves.

Didn't see yourself here, but you have a manuscript, you want to be a writer and you're interested in Misque? Don't be shy, let me know your situation, maybe Misque is still right for you.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply, email the Misque coordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: misque-writer.com

Thursday, February 14, 2008

FAQ - What is Misque worth?

A lot of people are interested in attending Misque but want to know it's worth the investment of their time and money. As writers, we don't necessarily have a lot of funds to spare -- or time either. What is Misque worth?

If you come to Misque, your entire manuscript will be read and critiqued by one of us. Normally, this service alone costs between $0.04 and $0.08 per word -- that means $4,000 - $8,000 for a 100,000 word manuscript. Plus, even if you pay to have your manuscript professionally copy edited, you don't usually have the chance to sit down in person with the editor and ask for more feedback on how to trim or add words, save a weak section or vamp up a slow beginning. At Misque, you can.

In addition to the professional critique, you will also find excellent critique partners in the other Misque participants. You will work in small groups on the crucial parts of your manuscripts -- the opening chapters, the difficult scenes you're worried don't work, the endings. And you'll find you learn as much from helping others strengthen their weak scenes as you do working on your own manuscript.

Misque is held in a luxurious environment -- a 5 star resort hotel, on the beach, with gorgeous swimming pools, a gym, internet, and access to snorkeling, sailing, and fine dining. Why? Well, we could have held Misque in a drafty basement in Chicago, but we're can't stand the cold!

Seriously, most of the time, you are so distracted by the day-to-day hassles of your regular life, you probably find it hard to devote as much time as you'd like to writing. No doubt you have a day job, and maybe you're also trying to care for a family. Normally, everything else comes between you and your writing.

Not at Misque. For one glorious week, you have a chance to put your writing first. No distractions. No excuses. Delicious meals are delivered to you as you work. At some writer's conferences, you have to worry about booking your own hotel, and if the main hotel is full, you have worry about commuting to and from the conference. At Misque, we didn't want our participants to have that hassle, so your room, like your working meals, are all included. I admit, we stole this idea from cruise ships. I went on a cruise to Alaska once, and one of the great things about it was the yummy buffets.

Think of Misque like a cruise -- without the seasickness. A week long excursion in a beautiful, exotic location, but in this case, with a creative focus. An excursion for your imagination, if you will.

Our goal is to help you ready the draft of your novel to be sent out to a publisher the day after you leave.

We start working with you the day you sign up. By then, one of us will already have read your application submission, chapter one of your manuscript, to make sure you can benefit from Misque. (Although we would love to accept everyone who applies, some people need more help, for instance with English grammar, than we can provide in one week.) Now you will email us the rest of your manuscript, which will be read and critiqued. The comments will be emailed back to you before the retreat begins, and you will also have a chance to discuss it at the retreat.

At the retreat itself, we split our time between intensive, small group work focused on examining "problem sections" of your manuscript and time spent on crafting a synopsis, query letter and one line description of your novel. We'll go over agents, editors and publishers, and tailor a list to fit your book's genre and word length. We'll discuss the latest deals in the publishing world, what you can expect to be offered in an advance and royalties and how to go from writing as a hobby to writing as a career.

Be warned. Our schedule is not for slackers. Expect to work about 10 hours each day! We usually have a morning session and an evening session, so you can take a nap or a swim or a walk along the beach in the afternoon. So it's not too brutal. It is, however, very exhilarating.

By the time the week is over, you should have a good idea of whether your manuscript is ready to send out, and if it is, to whom to send it. You'll have names and contact information. I'll be honest with you, and warn you now that a few of you will conclude by the week's end that your manuscript needs a little more work before you send it out -- but you'll have a much better idea of the weak spots, how to fix them, and, hopefully, the fire in your belly to do it!

Oh, and, this year we have one other goody to offer our participants -- professional head-shots! A professional photographer will be taking head-shots of each participant who wishes to have them, and we hope you'll all take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. We want to see those pictures in the "About the Author" section of the inside flap of your published book one day.

If you have any questions, or think you would like to apply, email the Misque co-ordinator at misque-writer@misque-writer.com

For scheduling information and specific submission guidelines, check out the website: misque-writer.com

Update on Misque 2008

Hi, folks. We're starting this blog so we can keep everyone updated about what's going on with the Misque Writer's Retreat. We'll also use this blog to answer some more questions about Misque which aren't answered by the website.

Right now we're preparing for Misque Summer 2008 in Hawaii. No, we don't have the hotel picked yet; that will depend on how many participants we have. This year we will plan to have a professional photographer document the conference, and he's agreed to do free headshots for all our authors!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Misque Mantra










We started this blog to keep folks up to date on the latest developments with the Misque Writer's retreat. Check here for the latest information on participants, location and submissions.