I've been writing novels off and on for about ten years. My first novel, which shall be forever unnamed and unpublished, was the product of a ten-week blast of stream of consciousness that I will probably never find again. The result was 400 pages of aimless rambling. Rather than exulting in my accomplishment, I went into a five year tailspin of postpartum depression. I didn't write for five years. Those of you who write, can you imagine that? The upshot of that is the I read A LOT. I'm talking 100-180 books per year. I went to the library and started in the A's and worked my way through the Mystery section. Finally, after moving to NYC and back again and surviving 9/11, I was ready to write again. Much thanks to my good friend Mike, who dragged me back into it kicking and screaming.

We started a writer's group in Columbus, Ohio, and began meeting weekly. My output once again became very prolific. I started on the 2nd draft of my first novel, got to 157 pages and abandoned the project when one of my group said, "I liked the original version better." I wrote the first draft of my post-9/11 thriller "unReQuiTeD" (then known as Climax). I started another book and got to 110 pages. I started another book and got to 45 pages. I did a second draft of "unReQuiTeD" in which I changed the entire POV of the book. I did the third draft. And last December I self published the thing on Lulu press.

What I learned at Killer Nashville was:

1. I know nothing about the publishing biz.
2. I know very little about what constitutes good writing.
3. Query packages and the like are mysteries to me.
4. There are great tools out there to help.
5. There are a lot of people who love to write who are in the same boat as me.
6. There is hope.
7. If I had gone to a similar conference five years ago, I would have at least 3 books in print right now.

Other random thoughts from the conference...

Agents really do want you to be the best that you can be, they just don't have the time to wade through poorly written or edited manuscripts. That's why they have so many guidelines.

It takes roughly 18 months to get into print once your manuscripts is sold.

Mystery publishers prefer series to stand-alone.

Mixed POV's are bad and all my POV's are mixed.

Good writing matters more than good ideas.

Anybody got anything to add?

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Comment by Dennis Leppanen on August 31, 2007 at 11:57am
Take your writing seriously...never yourself.

Develop an ear for dialogue.

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