Thursday, March 21, 2019

Writing Conference of Los Angeles

Hi Clarissa,

I hope the writing is going well. I am just dropping a line to say that an independent one-day Los Angeles writers conference is happening by you again on May 4, 2019 — the 2019 Writing Conference of Los Angeles. I wanted to pass on news if you'd like to return, or spread the word to your writers or writing groups. 

The conference has about 10 attending literary agents & editors taking in-person pitches from writers (that number will grow), and classes all day on how to get published. It looks to be a great event, and I was happy to be able to refer some of our agents to the 2019 event. 

Again, thank you. All you do is appreciated and valuable. 


Chuck Sambuchino

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Conference of 2019

Thank you to everyone who attended and helped pull off Writers of Kern Spring Conference, 2019 edition. It was no small feat. 

Just a few days before Adam (our headliner) flew in, he sent a text. His itinerary was backwards, leaving from Bakersfield instead of arriving in Bakersfield. I spent half the night on the phone with airlines straightening it out.

The next morning, I sent the new itinerary off to Adam who quickly pointed out the incorrect date. The airlines had switched from March 15 arrival to May 15. Another round of phone calls and they finally had him flying in on the correct date and city.

Adam arrived at the airport only to be told they'd changed his itinerary to fly in Saturday night, after the conference was already over.  He battled customer service in person while I paced in the middle of Target (phone glued to the ear with another airline supervisor). At last, he boarded a plane to Los Angeles.

 Granted, the time I was supposed to be driving to get Adam is the exact same time all three of my daughters were performing in a piano recital. We hijacked the recital's agenda and had them perform earlier, then Damon and I jumped in the car down to L.A.

Not once did Adam get frustrated. Not once did he throw up his hands and say, this isn't worth it. What most people don't know is he volunteered to come. He donated his speaking fee, not taking a dime.

With only a few hours of sleep (for all involved) and with huge sodas my husband handed us, we arrived at the conference. He didn't complain once nor did he turn down a picture. He was a class act the whole time.

After the conference and a nap, we picked him up for dinner, and bless him, he listened to Ava prattle on and on about her videos and Kind Girls organization. She was meeting one of her heroes in the flesh. And for once, I think I was kind of cool to my kids.

This is what a community is, writer helping writer. Some of us aren't just good authors but good souls as well. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Week Three: Rejection Project

Instead of submitting more queries with the same ol' pitch, I opted for a more exciting adventure, #PitchMad.

From 8 am - 8 pm EST each author is allowed to pitch his or her book three times on Twitter. The rules are simple, only three pitches per book and each pitch must accompany #pitchmad as well as genre specific hashtags (#A for Adult or #WF for Women's Fiction...).

The beauty of Twitter is the limited characters, only 280 to be precise. It forces the author to whittle away the unnecessary fluff, uncovering the heart of the story. If an agent or editor is intrigued, he or she will simply "like" the post, signaling the author to query.

I received three of those elusive "like"s and will keep you posted on where those queries lead. For those interested in polishing your pitch, join us this weekend for our annual Pitch Perfect Contest!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Happy #PitMad Day!

Today's the day for Twitter to go Pitch Wild. From 8 am to 8 pm EST prepublished authors are pitching their novels with only 280 characters. For more info check out their website here

Word of caution:
Always research inquiring parties. Many vanity/predatory publishing houses prey on naive writers. Self publishing is where the author maintains control and foots the bill but vanity publishing is where they get control while you foot the bill.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dear Members

So much is happening in the next few weeks and we can’t wait for you to join.

Adam Berg will be here for our Spring Conference (Crayon Song will have you laughing in no time and the Scott Sterling clip has more than 65 million views). We’re just around the corner from releasing applications for our Peggy Connelly Scholarship. We have the Book Genie coming in April and our Writers of Kern Awards Dinner in May.

June marks the last month of our fiscal year, a time when the board decides on the future of Writers of Kern. After years of heading critique groups, I stepped in as this year’s president—with the board's herculean effort. My decision was for a twelve-year term only, which comes to a close July 1.

I love our WOK community and am so grateful for the ability to serve. Per our bylaws, we will have a nomination committee, spearheaded by our secretary, Janet Skibinski. Our wonderful writing group will continue as always.

If you are (or know someone who is) interested in serving on the board, or in any other leadership position, please—jump in! 

We have an incredible team consisting of the absolute best people.

See you at the Spring Conference on March 16th!

—Clarissa Kae

Monday, March 4, 2019

National Grammar Day

Good Morning Writers,

Today is National Grammar Day which means editors and English teachers unite in full force! Sadly, I'm a bit torn on this day. Many writers are tempted to spend more time on grammar than dialogue or characterization (the other way around as well). While grammar is important, don't get swept away by a flurry of ill placed commas. Remember the craft is more than sentence structure; it's the story as a whole, commas included.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Week Two: The Rejection Project

Stats for Week Two:

Queries Sent: 0
Query Responses: 1
Queries Rejected: 0
Agent Referrals: 1 

Overall Stats: 
Queries Sent: 8
Query Responses: 4
Queries Rejected: 2
Agent Referrals: 2

With half of the agents responding and two referring me to colleagues, it's time to do a little inventory. Our rejection rate is 25%, referral rate at 25%. 

It's not exactly good news, but neither is it bad. At this point we know we have something interesting but not out of this world - if agents were clamoring for longer submissions, then I'd stop reworking the pitch. 
This would be the time to reach out and get some help (for the sake of the Rejection Project, I won't call in favors from the publishing community).

But I will regroup. I'll print off the pitch and rework. 
I'll send it to my critique group or read it out loud or join another online writing community.  But no matter what, I'll continue to polish the pitch until we get those longer requests (when it's up to the quality of the writing, not the query).

Sunday, February 24, 2019

You Know What I "Meme"!

There are few things I love more than laughing, even if I'm laughing at myself. Writers Memes are hands-down, my all time favorite and let's be honest, sarcasm is my love language.
 Successful comedy is reality with a twist, and when you think about it, so is writing. Blockbuster novels become that way because they resonate with readers. They portray humanity in a different light (regardless of the genre).
Laughter is easy to forget when you're surrounded by blank pages and endless writer's block but maybe, just maybe comedy is your cure. A little sarcasm never hurt anyone. 
For more writers memes, click here for my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Week One: The Rejection Project

Stats for Week One:

Queries Sent: 8
Queries Responses: 3
Queries Rejected: 2
Agent Referrals: 1

I was a little shocked that within a week I heard back from three agencies, including an agent referral. With three responses all but one was a rejection form letter. 

These are both good and bad. Good because they're efficient and I can easily move on. 
Bad because I have no feedback other than, "thanks but no thanks." 

If the rejections keep piling in (and hearing nothing is a rejection as well, not every agency replies) then I'll need to tweak the pitch.

Stay tuned, the Rejection Project is just getting started!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mark Your Calendars

This Thursday (February 21, 2019 at 6 p.m. PST), 
join Esther Hatch & Yours Truly for a free online hour of guidance and giveaways. 

Click here to join.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Kindness In Action

This beautiful soul raised enough money to pay for Adam Berg's hotel stay. We had offered him a room but he was already donating his time and fees. This kid wanted to make sure he was comfortable.
 Her organization helps non profit raise money and/or awareness. Over the past few years, she and her sisters have dedicated countless hours to help those in need.

 She's not quite through with Writers of Kern; she's still planning on using the proceeds from her merchandise to help with the spring conference.

She can't help herself. If she finds a need, she'll do everything in her power to fill it. Follow her on Instagram and/or Facebook under Kind Girls Make Strong Women.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Rejection Project

I just got off the phone with an author friend. She (along with a few other writers) have been in a tightly knit group where we critique, edit and cry with each other. She received some incredibly harsh news and in her frustration she said, "I wish I wasn't the only one who was rejected."

Rejection, no matter how hard we try, tends to feel a little personal. It can make us feel unwanted. Alone.

But does it have to be? Rejection is a rite of passage, a stepping stone (sometimes many, many, many stepping stones).

With that in mind, I'm starting the Rejection Project.

I'm going to submit an unedited query (I kind of feel like it's cheating if I have my editor/writing friends help me) to agents and editors that I don't know. There will be "insider" help.

It'll just be me, a query and a finished manuscript.

And here's the best part. I'm going to share the ups, the downs...the stagnant moments when self doubt threatens to keep me paralyzed. So next time, when you're feeling heaviness of rejection, remember you're not alone.

Please, join me. We don't have to be alone in our literary endeavors.

Monday, February 11, 2019


One of my favorite authors is hosting an online Facebook Q&A session with yours truly. 
Join Esther and me for a night full of giveways, laughter and learning.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Writers of Kern February Message

I recently overheard a group of men talking about the Chinese Zodiac predictions for 2019. According to these men, this year is set to be the year of money, love and career. They went on planning how they were going to spend their increase in fortune.

While optimism is a worthy trait, there’s more to achieving success than hoping and dreaming—especially in the subjective world of publishing. Positive thinking is an incredible tool that can  sustain us during darker moments, when rejections are pouring in and our confidence is in shambles. But that’s where the benefit begins and ends.

Work—I know, work is a four letter word, pun intended—work is a one way road toward success. Networking might give us a lift, speeding the process. Education, either through conferences or traditional classes can help us along, give us direction. But no amount of wishing will catapult you on a bestseller’s list.

The only thing is work. And work (in our publishing world) is writing. It sounds trivial. Maybe even a tad silly.

But we are authors and we need to write.

This is the reason we do Museful Moments at our meetings. This is why we sponsor the Good Pitch, Bad Pitch at our Spring Conference. This is why we accept the BlogChallenge.

We can’t become better writers if we don’t write. Whether you’re just starting out and can barely put two words together, write.

Join our Blog Challenge. Join our critique groups. Join us—and write.

—Clarissa Kae