Benefits of Attending Literary Events
Imagine standing in a large ballroom filled with over 2,000 agents, editors, authors and aspiring authors. Sound overwhelming? It definitely was for me when I attended my first literary conference. But, if you are an author or aspiring to be one, attending a literary conference is one of the best investments you can make in your career for several reasons. I’ll highlight a few:
- Networking – From agents, editors, publishers and other industry professionals, you won’t find a better opportunity to meet them in person. They want to talk to attendees and, who knows, one of them may discover you and your talent. But beware, it’s probably not a good idea to approach them about your book while they’re in the restroom, standing in the buffet line or working out in a gym. Just like you, they need privacy and doing this will most likely get you a rejection on the spot.
- Building Relationships – Let’s face it, writing is a solitary endeavor and many writers (yours truly included) are introverts. We are also misunderstood. How many of you have said to family members, “I can’t believe my secondary character is trying to take over the story,” or “These characters kept me up all night talking” and got a blank stare? Take heart, at a literary conference you will meet others just like you who ‘get it’. You’ll laugh and swap stories, but the best part is some of these encounters turn into lifelong friendships.
- Improving Your Craft – Whether you’re just starting out as a writer, have a few books under your belt, or are trying to figure out this thing called self-publishing, most conferences have speakers who are working professionals ready to teach. They can be pretty pricey, so be sure to attend the conference(s) that fit you, even if it’s only one per year. Topics range from plotting, characterization, marketing and publishing, to getting that novella paced just right and writing the dreaded query letter and synopsis (shudders). A word of caution: Don’t try to attend everything…you won’t be able to. Remember those relationships from number two, above? If you find two workshops you want to attend being held at the same time, you might try attending one and approaching a fellow writer and asking them to take notes or record the other one for you.
Another great investment is attending reader-based events. These retreats give readers a chance to meet and interact with authors, as well as ask those burning questions about characters you’ve always wanted to know. As an author, you get an opportunity to connect with your fans and, hopefully, make some new ones.
So, are you ready to grab a notebook, pack your suitcase and head to a conference? Good! Hope to see you there.
A hero’s touch
Faith Alexander’s guardian angel has a body built for sin. Ever since she woke up in the hospital after a car crash, her rescuer, Brandon Gray, has been by her side—chivalrous, caring and oh-so-fine. Faith came to Los Angeles to find her long-lost father, only to learn that he’s a partner in Brandon’s family business. How can she reveal that her inheritance stands in the way of Brandon’s career dreams?
All Brandon’s focus is on his long-coveted role as CEO—until he stops to help a mysterious beauty. With chemistry this irresistible, he’s ready to share a future with Faith, but he feels beyond betrayed to discover what she’s been hiding. If desire and trust can overcome pride, he’ll realize he’s found the perfect partner in the boardroom and the bedroom…
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I’m from California and just about all of my books are set here. I love to share details about the cities from sunny Los Angeles to foggy San Francisco and everywhere in between.
Tell us your latest news!
Aside from celebrating the release of my 10th book, I am honored to be selected as a Black Pearls of Excellence Author of the Year. I’ll be attending RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta, GA May 2-7, 2017 and will be a co-host of the City Chicks, Southern Belles & Bad Boys party on Wed, May 3 at 5:15p. If you’re there, please stop by and say hello. I’d love to meet you!
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
Authors: Beverly Jenkins, Maureen Smith, Wayne Jordan, Rochelle Alers, Brenda Jackson, Adrianne Byrd, Danielle Steel, Victoria Christopher Murray and Patricia Cornwell.
Books: Indigo (Beverly Jenkins), Take Me There by Leslie Esdaile, Capture The Sunrise by Wayne Jordan, and Miriam’s Song by Miriam Mathabane.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
This is book three in my Grays of Los Angeles series and Brandon Gray is the second oldest of five. I wanted to do a larger family and be able to show their different personalities, as well as a loving family dynamic. I knew that as the oldest son, Brandon would be intense (and sometimes think he’s the oldest). While he can be a little arrogant, he is loyal and protective to a fault, especially when it comes to family or the family business. He can be overbearing at times, his heart is in a good place. I knew he needed a special woman to capture his heart, one who would challenge him. Faith Alexander is the one woman who can temper Brandon’s intense nature, and that makes her special indeed. She has a knack for going with the flow. She may get upset initially, but quickly makes the best of a given situation…and she’s given some doozies! You’ll have to read the book to find out more.
What motivates you to write?
I write simply because I love it (even when I hate it) and I love stories – reading them and telling them. I enjoy sharing the endless possibilities, adventures and journeys my characters take to find their happily-ever-after. In the bigger scheme of things, it’s always my hope that my stories will resonate with at least one reader, that something there will connect our hearts and minds.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I often wonder if all writers have doubts at times. For me, the hardest part of writing is dealing with those doubts come in when it’s time to start a new book or when I’m stuck in the middle of a story and can’t seem to find my way to the end immediately. Then it’s, “I don’t know if I can do this,” or “what if I can’t finish it?” I usually step away from my computer for a few hours or even a full day and do something else, like read, since I don’t get to do it as much as I like now. The next day, my head is clearer and I can get going again.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writing is not always easy and when you’re juggling life, things don’t always go as planned. Throw in a little chronic pain and it can be downright frustrating. But perseverance is the key. Keep plugging away until you see those blessed words, “The End.” In the end, it’ll all be worth it.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is very supportive of my writing, especially my husband. If it weren’t for their encouragement and unwavering support, I couldn’t do this. So, I’m very grateful.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
If you have dreams or goals and you’re still breathing, it’s never too late. My first book was released shortly after I turned fifty. So what are you waiting for?
What book are you reading now?
With my current writing schedule, I haven’t been able to read like I want to, but I managed to sneak in Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Breathless by Beverly Jenkins. Next up will be My Joy by Suzette Harrison.
Before she could set the phone down, it rang again. Her smile faded. Brandon. She debated whether to answer or let it go to voice mail like she had done last night. It rang twice more. She heaved a deep sigh and answered.
“I know I’m the last person you want to talk to right now,” Brandon said before she could utter a greeting. “But please don’t hang up, Faith.”
“What can I do for you Brandon?” She tried to remain unmoved by his sincere plea.
“I want to apologize for all the things I said last night. I had no right to take my frustrations out on you. I—”
“No, you did not,” she said bluntly, cutting him off. She had done nothing to deserve his tirade and she wasn’t giving him a pass.
He sighed heavily. “You’re not going to make this easy, are you?”
“Why should I?”
“Faith,” he started again.
“Look, Brandon. I know you’re used to women falling all over you, letting you get away with saying whatever you please, then accepting a half-assed apology. Well, I’m not one of them.”
“No, you’re not,” Brandon said quietly. “And if you’d let me get a word in, I’d like to try to make things right.”
“Go ahead,” she mumbled, slouching down in the chair and folding her arms.
“Thank you. I am truly sorry for my harsh words. Believe me, baby, they were never meant for you. Sometimes—well, all the time if you ask my family,” he added with a wry chuckle, “I tend to speak without thinking. I’m really trying to work on it. Faith, you are unlike any woman I have ever met and I don’t want to mess up what’s happening between us.”
Faith sat up straight. What did he mean by that? There wasn’t anything happening between them, was there? Granted, her feelings for him had been growing from the moment she woke up in the hospital and saw him sitting in the chair, but did he have feelings for her, as well?
“Please forgive me.”
How in the world was she supposed resist when he was playing dirty with that sexy voice and earnest confession? “Okay.”
“I can’t promise I won’t shove my foot in my mouth again, but I will try.” Silence rose between them. “So, does this mean we’re still on for tomorrow evening?”
She had forgotten about their date. “Yes, And that surprise better be good. Better than good.”
Sheryl Lister has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She writes contemporary and inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She’s been nominated for an Emma Award, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, named BRAB’s 2015 Best New Author and 2016 Breakout Author and Black Pearls Magazine’s 2017 Author of the Year. When she’s not writing, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers. Sheryl resides in California and is a wife, mother of three daughters and a son-in-love, and grandmother to two special little boys.