New York Pitch Conference!

Hey guys,

Having returned last Sunday from the New York Pitch Conference I have only just achieved better sleeping habits. 🙂 What I learnt and the opportunities that opened up to me were even better than expected.

Thank you so much to the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland for the funding to attend the conference and the opening up of opportunities for pursuing publication for my novel Where the Sun Rises.

I am forever grateful for the help of Saffron Drew, from the Sunshine Coast Council for her help throughout the process in obtaining the funding. Thank you so much for taking the time and helping me. Alison Quigley came along with me to the conference and this was excellent being able to share all of this with a close friend and excellent writer as well. Thanks Ali, you’re a lovely friend to me!

At the conference we were divided into three different Workshop Groups with different leaders, we had an amazing Workshop Facilitator, Best Selling Author, Ann Garvin. Ann is the author of “I like you just fine when you’re not around” and was so supportive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, she was our biggest fan. Which made such a difference to the whole process. We felt completely supported and like she was a lovely coach and believed in our ideas.

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On the first day Ann heard our pitches we had already written and worked through them with us, providing diagnostic advice for our story ideas. This helped me in one area of my plot. Ann allowed us to practice our pitches in front of the whole group and then provided one on one advice about our specific novel ideas. This process was so good for me it helped me to make the pitch more punchy, emotional and provoking curiosity in the Editor to want to know more. Motivation of the characters was an important aspect of my novel that Ann highlighted.

On the second day we pitched to Editor Bess Cozby from Tor Forge Macmillan and she was so lovely advising us all of how our pitches were and what we needed to focus on more. These were great tips and we used this to rewrite our pitches overnight. Bess was so lovely and was encouraging about each of our ideas. She told me my book had a riveting plot and was very timely. This was very encouraging to me. At the end of the day Ann told us that Bess wanted to see 50 pages from each of us. This was such amazing news. I am very grateful for this opportunity. We were all very excited.

The following day we had to pitch to two different editors and I was less nervous now that I had pitched a few times. On this day we were pitching to Senior Editor, Chelsey Emmelhainz – Crooked Lane Books and Lauren Jablonski Assistant Editor St. Martins.

Chelsey advised us about how to make our stories bigger than they were. She made suggestions for how we could do this. Lauren was lovely as well, she asked about our story plots, rising action, climax and plotting. She told me I had a very good story and good structure.

Finally, on the last day, we pitched to Editor, Samantha Zukergood from St Martin’s Press. She asked questions about us and our social media platforms etc and wanted to know about us to market who we were.

Overall, the whole process was enlightening and encouraging and I learnt a lot from the other participants as well. We all bonded and encouraged each other and shared knowledge we had. From this I also have another opportunity to submit to a publisher.

Finally, I gained a third opportunity that arose simply from asking someone directions! I was walking from the Met to MOMA and I was trying to find the best subway station to go to, and I asked this woman for directions. She helped me and then we went separate ways. I told her I was going to Central Park and she said would also go to the park as well. We walked together and sat down together. We got chatting and she asked why I was here and I told her about my book and what it was about. She said “things happen for a reason.” And I was like what does she mean? Then she said, “My daughter works for a literary agency in the film section. I will tell her about you tonight and you can email her your pitch.” I was blown away. Wow! Thank you, God. Anyway, I was like “that sounds great! Thank you so much.” And now I have contacted her daughter at the literary agency and we are in communication. I am very thankful to have this opportunity and it was simply from asking directions!

So, all in all, there were many things I learnt from the conference, including making the stakes high, conveying what a character wants and how they can’t have it, motivation, and simplifying a pitch to make it concise and exciting. There were other aspects of the industry I learnt about in regard to how to go about things and what to expect when published or getting an agent as well.

I learnt so much through this trip. I gained some phenomenal friends from the conference as well. I am extremely grateful to the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland for assisting me to attend the New York Pitch Conference. It has opened up wonderful avenues for this novel and helped me to see how to move forward with this novel into the future. Thank you so much again! I am forever grateful.

LogoSunshineCouncilQldGovernment

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

 

 

 

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My novel “Where the Sun Rises”…New York, New York… :)

Hey guys,

I have already mentioned about how I am going to the New York Pitch Conference, but I wanted to talk a little bit about my novel Where the Sun Rises. In 2015 I became fascinated by the women soldiers fighting in Syria against ISIS. After watching a lot of documentaries on these amazing women, I began to think, imagine if we could see things through their eyes. What if we could feel their decisions and why they felt they had no choice but to take up arms. What if one of the women was a mother? How did they show so much courage? What was this idea of courage anyway? It was obviously not just a male trait. There was a lot of coverage of female soldiers in non fiction, but nothing in fiction and told from their point of view. I began to research and completed thousands of hours of watching documentaries and reading articles or information about Syria, culture, Kurdish language, being in combat, weaponry, history, geography, and modern life.

I decided I needed to travel to the region so I could feel the air around me, see the colours of the middle east, experience the desert, taste the food, and see directly into Syria. In 2016, I traveled to Israel to be on the border, the Golan Heights, so I could look into Syria and I did. It was devastated. It was flattened, the landscape was barren and the buildings decimated and desolate. My trip to Israel was profound and enlightening and it filled in many sensory details that you can’t do through research. Using this experience and my extensive other research I continued to write. I was writing my novel for my masters under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Giggs at Macquarie University. This was a refining and rewarding experience. Following completion of this and receiving a good mark, I continued to write and develop the narrative.

After this, in 2017 I consulted the Kurdish community in Brisbane and was able to get feedback about the Kurdish language. These contacts all stated they were extremely happy and honoured that I was writing about the Kurdish women in this struggle. I contacted the YPJ Women’s soldiers on Facebook and received messages back that they were very honoured and pleased I was standing in solidarity with them. Then I was given a few other contacts on Twitter I will be following up within the soldiers and also more groups in Australia.

My novel Where the Sun Rises, is about two Kurdish women who are forced to choose between their families and fighting ISIS. When ISIS closes in on their hometown of Kobani and kills their brother and husband, Karin a medical student and Roza, an English Teacher and mother, choose to take up arms. Once joining the battle, death is a spectre that hangs over them every day. After they discover their best friend’s sister Ashti has been taken into sex slavery, Karin and Roza find themselves in even greater jeopardy in conducting rescue missions. A western journalist, Sarah and her camera technician Marcel cover the dangerous battle throughout. When many die around them and friends begin to pay the ultimate sacrifice, their resolve becomes shaken and Karin and Roza learn what courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice and love for their homeland may really cost them.

(This is a shortened blurb, a longer one will come in the future. Today, I registered the copyright to my novel in the USA. Yay!).

After I had written the novel, I looked up pitch conferences in New York and found this excellent one, the New York Pitch Conference. I told my writer friend, Alison Quigley about this and we are now attending together which will be amazing! Then I received some funding from the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland to pitch my novel to the conference. I am very excited and grateful for this!

I am passionate about this novel and telling the stories of these brave, strong, women who took up arms to defend themselves in Kobani. This particular battle was completely successful and was fought by 85% women. It is an amazing story of the friendship of these women more than anything. Their courage, loyalty and friendship.

This is a brief summary of my novel, as I have not talked too much about the plot yet. Now, as I am going to the New Pitch Conference I thought I would be more specific.

Who knows what will happen with the Pitch Conference, hopefully it will lead to positive publishing connections, but either way this novel will be published in the future.

Thanks for reading! It means a lot. 🙂

masada
Masada, Israel

 

 

 

 

New York Pitch Conference – 1 week!

Hello guys,

I am excited it is only one week to go until I go to New York. I am travelling to the New York Pitch Conference, and I am very grateful to have received funding for part of this trip from the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland.

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Thanks to the Queensland Government Arts Queensland and the Sunshine Coast Council for believing in my novel and supporting me to attend the NYPC to pitch my novel to editors from Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, St Martins Press and more. We have already been given the assignments to prepare for the conference. I now have written a pitch for the conference based on these assignments.

Once we arrive at the conference we workshop this pitch the first day and then pitch to our first editor, and then the following three days to three different editors. I have finished my novel now and I have been working on it tirelessly for nearly three years. Hopefully, I can attract a publisher, but no matter what it will be an amazing experience to hang out in New York and to learn the skills for pitching, as well as pitching to Editors from US publishers. I know I will learn a lot from this experience. This knowledge I will be able to share with my writers group and other writing enthusiasts back at home.

Thank you so much to the Sunshine Coast Council’s RADF and Arts Queensland funding that supports artists to attend conferences or events that will further their careers. I know that I will be able to also share this knowledge with others when I return.

Thanks for reading! I will keep you updated with what is happening at the conference.

LogoSunshineCouncilQldGovernment

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

 

Joelle Taylor – powerful, slam poet!

Hi, I was privileged to see Joelle Taylor yesterday perform this entrancing and beautiful slam poetry, as well as others. She has words that cut through everything like a blade on the street, powerful, profound and hope-filled even though she has been so many horrendous things. What a strong woman, grown up through suffering.

Suzanne

Review of Freedom Writing in Dutch! (Bol.com)

Hello,
Recently, I was contacted by a Dutch lady who had read my book, Freedom Writing and she was asking me about handwriting and writing on the computer for writing therapy.
Now she has written a review in Dutch of my book on bol.com.
Thanks very much to Frouck.
Motivational book

“You can read this book in one day, but it contains a wealth of valuable tips on how you can help yourself by writing. How to free yourself from the nasty consequences of trauma, stress, anxiety and other unpleasant feelings and emotions. It has motivated me enormously to use these techniques as a coach in helping people who suffer from trauma, depression, grief and stress. It reads wonderfully.”

Handwriting or typing, what is better?

Recently, a reader asked me if it was better to write by hand or is it better by computer? There are two answers to this. For writing therapy, I firmly believe if you can write by hand you should be doing that. It is more beneficial to write by hand. If you are writing notes for classes, or trying to learn something, then again handwriting is better, however not as crucial.

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This question has come up quite a few times in my workshops or conversations with people who are using my book. I have experienced the benefits of using handwriting in my own writing therapy, and also in my creative process. Since then I found studies that proved this was the case.

Let me start with my own point of view and then I will give you some of the research done about using handwriting and its benefits.

Writing by hand is my practice and I also recommend it to people in my workshops as it allows the participant to effectively express their emotions, memories and to delve deeply into your unconscious for healing. In my own writing therapy practice, I pick up a pen and I use paper, it may be in a journal or it may be a piece of paper that I then destroy later. But it is ALWAYS a pen and paper. My emotions, thoughts, memories and pain can be effectively released in using a pen.

I have seen many other people in my workshops and my friends as well, also experience this by using a pen and paper. I tried typing into a computer and I was not able to release myself from pain the way I can with my humble pen and paper. The reason seems to be that it is a much more visceral experience, it allows me through my hands to write the words down in long form whereas typing in my view, puts some distance from my emotions and the page.

Apart from handwriting in writing therapy, I use a pen and paper in my creative writing, in my stories, poems, scripts, and novels. My practice is to write by hand first of all as it allows me to access my creativity in a more free and fluid manner. I can feel the character or the scene or the emotion coming through my hand onto the paper. I cannot explain why but my practice has always been writing by hand and then typing this up onto the computer. Then editing hard copy with a pen and making changes on the computer. So, I am a big believer in using pen and paper. J

Writing by hand has been shown to help you to learn and process in a better way, we even remember the notes we have taken more when we write by hand. Studies have found people who write long hand process the concepts deeper and access their memory and deeper emotions because of the physical nature of the process.

Handwriting crosses both sides of our brain using a pen and paper, and activates the Reticular Activating System (RAS). According to Lifehacker, “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.” (Chris Gayomali, Mental Floss 2015).

Psychology Today (2013) reported that studies have shown that when children learn cursive writing it utilises much more of the brain than typing on a computer does.

“In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.”

From the research I have read and from my experience this act of physically forming the letters in handwriting activates part of our brain that is not activated when we type. This allows us to focus more on the emotions, memories, the things we are writing about than when we are typing the words not forming them with our pen. There is a physical connection to the words that are coming out of our unconscious. It is this that helps us connect to ourselves, our pain and allows us to release ourselves through this process.

It is a powerful thing to write by hand.

  1. Writing by hand crosses both sides of your brain. This fact also goes hand in hand with writing therapy as writing therapy crosses both sides of your brain as well, the cognitive thinking part and the emotional, expressive and artistic side in retelling your emotions (Little Things, Johanna Silver). Everyone is different but the action of handwriting stimulates both sides of the brain and is extremely beneficial for your creative and problem-solving abilities.
  2. Fully Engages Your Brain

Psychologists (Psychology Today 2013) have found that handwriting requires you to use more of your motor skills, and activates a series of links in your brain called the “reading circuit.” In an Indiana University study, (James, K.H. and Engelhardt, L. 2013) researchers conducted brain scans five year olds after receiving letter-learning instruction, in the children who practiced using handwriting the brain activity was far more enhanced and “adult-like” than in those who simply looked at letters.

“The brain’s “reading circuit” of linked regions that are activated during reading was activated during hand writing, but not during typing. This lab has also demonstrated that writing letters in meaningful context, as opposed to just writing them as drawing objects, produced much more robust activation of many areas in both hemispheres.”

  1. It is the best way to learn

One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That’s because putting ink to paper stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. According to Lifehacker, “The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on that moment — something that the physical act of writing brings to the forefront.” (Chris Gayomali, Mental Floss Website, 2015)

Taking notes on a laptop may be a lot faster — but research proves that those who take notes by hand actually remember more of the information than those who don’t.

Writing forces you to slow down, which is an excellent thing for our memory and brain function. Psychologist, Virginia Berninger from The University of Washington studied children in primary school and told the New York Times: “With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important.”

Citing a study published in Developmental Neuropsychology, the Times reported: “printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns… When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

  1. It keeps your brain sharp as you get older

Writing longhand is a workout. No, not necessarily for your wrist, but for your brain. According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim the act of writing—which engages your motor-skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers to keep their minds sharp as they get older (Mental Floss, 2015).

  1. Writing by hand can also calm the mind and ease depression and anxiety

An article by Little Things, interviewed graphologist and handwriting expert Dr. Marc Seifer, “Jotting down a sentence like, ‘I will be more peaceful’ at least 20 times per day can actually have an impact, especially on those with attention deficit disorder.”

What I know to be true is that writing therapy by using handwriting releases your sadness, anger, worry, anxiety, unforgiveness and many other areas more effectively than with a computer or the typing process. This physical act can have a calming influence as well on your mind. J Hand writing allows you to connect in a greater way to the words expressed, your emotions and memories then it provides greater healing as I have stated above.

Unleashes Creativity

Since writing puts to work more parts of your mind than typing, it encourages more creativity. There are also subtle aspects of writing by hand that are more artistic than typing because each person’s handwriting is completely their own.

Enhances Focus

If you need to tame your short attention span, writing by hand will help keep you focused.

Overall, the consensus is handwriting is better on many levels. In writing therapy use handwriting, for other tasks that you need to type, that’s fine. But for writing therapy it is very important to use a pen I believe, unless you had a disability and then typing would be okay.

Anyway, I hope this has helped answer the question! Go well and go forth write down your feelings by hand with pen, pencil, marker, or colourful pen, whatever you wish. Go well!