"Every writer has a reason to be successful."

— Inelia Hoggin, Conference Speaker

A Special Report On The California Writer's Club Fall Writer's Conference

By Michelle Lovato, Authorlink! California Correspondent

Many interesting and experienced speakers taught aspiring writers the basics of their craft at the California Writer's Club's Fall Writers Conference, September 12, in Hesperia California. The event was the first official conference for the club. Centered largely around raising up writers from youth, conference organizers hosted about 50 students from local secondary schools, who attended the event on scholarships they earned at their individual institutions. Subjects for children included creative writing and journalism.

Dale Evans was the keynote speaker for the day. Evans left no dry eyes in the house as she spoke for the first time since her husband, Roy Rogers' death just a few months ago.

Two small-press publishers and Authorlink Literary Agent Paul Levine from Southern California were on hand to answer questions, and several conference circuit teachers gave away their secrets to success.

Inelia Hoggin, a Southern California fifth grade teacher and long-time conference speaker revealed some of her most precious secrets about the always popular topic of query letters.

"A query is your thumb print," she said. It tells who you are in a succinct one page summary.

Hoggin said a query letter helps the writer reach out to the reading editor, shows the purpose of the writer's work, is a quick read, serves as a job resume and becomes an enticement to the editor to learn more about the project.

"A query letter also save the editor time," Hoggin said. "but it must be polished. You must know the tricks of the trade that makes the difference."

According to Hoggin, a well-orchestrated blend of four sister parts will help the writer create an effective query.

"There's the hook, the hey look, the so what and the resolution," Hoggin said.

Summarized, the query letter consists of an anecdotal hook that draws the readers attention into the letter and has a direct relationship to the climatic drive of the work being proposed, a reason for the editor, or reader of the letter, to resist immediate rejection, an explanation of what's in it for the reader and a clear and concise cumulation of the intentions of the writer.

Hoogin instructed her students to never give up.

"Every writer has a reason to be successful." she said.

High School English teacher, author, conference speaker and Silver

Lakes Writer's Club leader, Cliff Walker spoke about the elements involved in critiquing a work for a second party.

"The most important thing is to know what people want from a critique," said Walker.

Though Walker believes that when it comes to critiquing, honesty is the best policy, he said saying something nice no matter how bad the work might be is important to the well-being of the author.

"When I critique something for somebody I try say something nice, even if that it is nice blue ink," Walker said.

Walker recommends never critiquing a piece of work for someone the critiquer does not genuinely like, as it is easy to get into what Walker calls, NIGYY SOB, (Now I got you, you S.O.B.)

Walker said a good way for writers to improve their skills as critiquer is to practice on already published poems, short stories and novels.

Works can be looked at in several ways, one of which is pragmatically; how it has an effect on others, what impact will it have on its readers and how many did it sell. Works can be looked at expressively; by the author, knowing the name and point of view of the writer:

Mimetically; how it mirrors nature and did it show the truth: Objectively; based on criteria of whether it moved the reader to tears, have good sentence pattern.

Another consideration in critiquing a work is how it will be read; in a Alpha Brainwave state; relaxed and ready for sleep or reading for enjoyment, or a Beta Brainwave state; one where the critiquer edits for for gross errors.

Walker said it is important to have an agreement or contract with a writer who would like to have their work critiqued.

"You both need to know exactly what you'll do for the client," he said. "If the person wants one thing and you want another that's no good. You must agree."

Time and money always come into question as well. Walker said it must be known up front exactly what the conditions of the job entail.

Copyright, Authorlink! 1998