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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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FRW Cruise Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 26, 2011




DAY 2: Key West

Friday, January 21, 2011

We spent the morning strolling around Key West, delighting in the architecture, the tropical plants, and the unique ambiance. Within walking distance of the ship, the Mallory Square area and Duval Street boast souvenir shops and restaurants, along with a dose of history. If you have more time, you can visit museums and historical houses, ride the Conch train, tour the gardens, take advantage of water sports and beaches. We ate Key lime pie and drank coffee and soaked in the tropical rays. I’d forgotten to bring a pair of casual sandals so I bought a pair which turned out to be very comfortable. Lunch was back on board the Destiny and the ship sailed soon afterward.




Workshops started that afternoon with Kathleen Pickering’s Creative Mosh Pit. At the subsequent panel with literary agents Lucy Childs (Aaron M. Priest Agency) and Lucienne Diver (The Knight Agency), moderated by FRW President Kristin Wallace, e-books were a hot topic. We discussed how pricing e-books too low can have the effect of devaluing literature. Plus publishers need to keep prices up to cover their overheads. E-books are still a small portion of published books so agents recommend going the route of trade pubs first whenever possible. Try to get a reversion of rights clause that allows you to renegotiate the parameters for what “out of print” means in five years.

Floridian Idol followed. It’s our version of the famed show. Writers submit the first two pages of their manuscript (sans names), and their work is read aloud by our illustrious members. Then a panel of agents and editors critique the work. The publishing professionals did a great job and were very tactful in their comments. It’s a great learning experience to listen to their advice.


Next, keynote speaker and NY Times bestselling author Joan Johnston directed us to (a) define our artistic goals. “Where is it you actually want to go as a writer? Do you want to write genre or mainstream fiction?” Then (b) define your professional goals. For example, is it your desire to write beautiful prose or get published? Do you need the money or plan to write for fulfillment? How much do bestseller lists matter to you? (c ) Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Can you write a book in a year? More? Do you work better with deadlines or with no pressure?


Map your own road and (d) set your career goals. Do you want to just sell a book or become a NY Times bestseller? (e) List the key steps necessary to achieve your goals. (f) Determine the obstacles in your path and the (g) strategies for overcoming them. “Write for yourself” and learn how to edit your own work. Whatever you write should be something you love because if it sells, you’ll be writing many more in that genre. Write as many books per year as you can for market presence but don’t burn yourself out. “As long as you’re writing, you are succeeding. Enjoy the ride.” It’s always great to hear Joan speak. She gives wonderfully practical career advice.

Dinner: Lobster tail and tiger shrimp.


3 Responses to “FRW Cruise Day 2”

  1. Great recap of Day 2, Nancy!

  2. This sounds wonderfully motivating as well as relaxing. How rare to combine the two so successfully, but I know this is FRW’s specialty! I’ll add that when Joan Johnston speaks, I listen! She always gives invaluable advice.

  3. Yes, I can never get enough of Joan’s words of wisdom. She’s a role model for the rest of us. Sorry you weren’t aboard with us but you wouldn’t have been happy with your cold.

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