Frances O'Roark Dowell
Author/Illustrator Karen Lee did the introductions.
My critique group hosted a schmooze yesterday at Quail Ridge Book Store in Raliegh, NC. Our guest speaker was award winning author, Frances O'Roark Dowell. She gave us insights and info about her journey to publication.
Advice and info from Frances: (many of the following are paraphrases.)
1) The 1st draft is going to be bad. You just have to come to terms with that.
2) Her first manuscript was rejected by Caitlyn Dloughy at Atheneam, but Frances revised and resubmitted and it worked out and Frances and Caitlyn have been working together ever since.
3) It's crucial to get feedback on your work. Join a critique group of give your work to people who will give you honest but contructive feedback.
4) Strong characters with a strong voice excites editors. If you have this, you increase your odds in being asked for a revision, even if your MS isn't up to par.
5) It's good to know what's being published and who is publishing what. Who are the editors thinking about. Librarians are a good source for this info.
6) Stop making excuses for why you're not writing your novel. Just do it.
7) You'll learn a lot from reading other people's work.
8) She feels a writer will be successful and can get published if you keep showing up to your desk and keep going.
9) At one point the Dove Coe manuscript was titled "The True Confessions of Dovey Coe"
10) If you get stuck in the story, give your character something physical to do. A lot of times physical action will help get the momentum of the story going again.
11) Just keep writing. Push through the dry spells.
How to keep a character from being flat:
1) Give the Character strong motivations
2) Stay away from stereo types.
3) Give your characters a variety of traits. Don't make the bad guy all bad. Give the good guy flaws. etc.
Things that surprised Frances about getting published:
1) There are so many hurdles that an editor must jump through before accepting a manuscript. They first must have it approved through sales and marketing before they can say "yes"
2) Even after an acceptance there is still a lot of work to be done such as;
3) Frances was surprised that even after she was published, she still felt a lot of the same insecurities that she had before she was published. Publication doesn't make the insecurities go away.