Tag Archives: Rebecca Moesta

Everything I learned about the business of being a writer I learned at Superstars Writing Seminar . . .

supserstars button

Three years ago my life changed.

Before dismissing that statement as being melodramatic, just hear me out.

It was 2010 and I was thinking that I might actually be interested in maybe someday pursuing a writing career. I was receiving Dave Farland’s Daily Kicks, and he mentioned he was putting together this seminar-thing (okay, he was far more eloquent than that) with a bunch of other top-notched and top-selling fantasy writers about everything you needed to know about the publishing industry, but no one was willing to tell you. The other instructors–Kevin J. Anderson, Eric Flint, Rebecca Moesta and James Owen–all have equally impressive resumes. The seminar-thingy was the Superstars Writing Seminar. I figured what the heck, I’d been going to “skills” seminars for about five years now, maybe it was time to get an insider’s look at the industry I wanted to be part of.

Best (professional) decision of my life.


The information and insight into the publishing market, including the self-publishing v. traditional publishing debate, was invaluable. Knowing the risks inherent for a publisher in taking on a new writer, I understood (and could work to circumvent) the barriers to publishing.

The time with the instructors was unprecedented. Remember that I said I’d been attending seminars for five years. Even with instructor-intense workshops, there wasn’t a whole lot of out-of-class time with the instructors. Superstars blew that distance out of the water. We went to lunch with the instructors. We went out drinking with Kevin Anderson. If you wanted a few minutes of their time, all of them where happy to oblige.

The instructor time ties in with a very important point.  They are some of the nicest and most open people you could ever want to meet. They genuinely want to help other writers succeed. They are James Owen and Iinvested in helping them do so. They have a wealth of information on many disparate topics and are more than happy to share that knowledge, whether it’s publishing, queries, hiking, micro-brew beers, mafia, European history or whatever.  For the price of asking, they gave us hours of their time to help us Superstars attendees move forward in our careers. And the guest speakers are just as open and wonderful as the regular instructors.

Then, of course, there’s the connections you form with the other attendees. The Superstars attendees are as amazing as the instructors. A group of the 2010 Superstars alums formed the writing group that grew into Fictorians. The picture to the right is of some of us at World Fantasy 2012. In addition to Fictorians, Superstars alums have an active Facebook group. We encourage and commiserate with each other. We are our own best cheerleaders. That network of people going through exactly what you are going through is invaluable. It’s also how I found my publisher.

Most of all, what Superstars did for me was give me the confidence to say, “I am going to be a professional writer.” It’s not a crazy dream. It’s a goal. Superstars gave me an understanding of the business side of the industry that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

Seriously folks, if you are interested in a writing career or maybe you’re already pursuing one, you are doing yourself a disservice by not attending Superstars. I highly recommend you attend Superstars Writing Seminar, which will be held May 14-16, 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado this year. Prices go up on  May 1, 2013, so sign up now.

I hope to see you there.

If you’re still on the fence, check out another great posts on this site about the Superstars Experience:

Q&A with the Superstars: Part I







Sail To Success – a unique Writing Workshop

Any of you trying to decide whether to take that cruise to the Bahamas or attend a writing workshop?  Well, now you can do both!  The Sail to Success writing workshop combines the awesome vacation experience of a Bahamas cruise with a professional level writing workshop.

I attended this year’s first-ever workshop, and it was well worth the cost, which was higher than some other venues, given that we combined a vacation with a small group workshop with top talent.

When I heard about the Sail to Success writing workshop, I had to go. Not only was the venue uniquely enticing (I’d never cruised before), but the line-up of faculty presenting to the small group was outstanding. Presenters included:

Wow. And the reality lived up to the expectation.

The workshop proved extremely productive, although being on a cruise ship proved to be a challenge as well as a great benefit.  It was a little difficult to focus on class time while the ship was docked in Freeport or Nassau.

The class schedule was intensive: from 8 AM to noon, and from 6 PM to midnight most nights. We managed to slip ashore in the afternoons, but lacked the time for extensive excursions like scuba diving (we had to return to the ship by 4:30). Luckily, my wife came along since the purchase included cruise for two, and she vacationed for both of us while I sat in class.

I didn’t mind. The classes were excellent. Not only did we receive excellent instruction on craft from Nancy Kress, but we learned from these long-time, successful professionals about the nuts and bolts of the publishing business.

The highlights of the class were the critique sessions from Nancy Kress and Toni Weiskopf. Nancy reviewed samples of our writing from an editor’s perspective, and provided wonderful feedback. Toni reviewed other samples from her perspective as a purchasing editor. What a rare opportunity to sit with a publisher and see exactly how they look at your work. It proved enlightening, and a little scary.

Toni receives over a thousand manuscript submissions per month. When she considers those submissions, she’s not looking for reasons to like a manuscript. She’s looking for any excuse to stop reading, and to give that submission the dreaded “red mark of doom’. It might come in the first paragraph if she sees it’s not the type of story they’re looking for, or it might come on page two when she finds herself confused, or sees too many grammatical mistakes. If she can’t find a reason to throw the manuscript away quickly, then it just might be a work she’d consider reading further.  Of the fifteen students in the class, only three of us earned that distinction, which was a rare moment of validation.

The only complaint about those critique sessions was the lack of time. Given the time constraints, feedback was limited to 7-10 minutes per manuscript. It just wasn’t enough time.  However, in 2013 the program will be structured slightly different.  Each student will select if they want a critique from Nancy or from Toni, not both, although all students will get to sit in on both critique sessions and hear the reviews of all of the submitted works.  That should allow for more time per submitted work.

So overall, this workshop proved well worth the investment in time and money, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who’s a serious aspiring writer.


Brandon Sanderson’s Rules of Writing & other notes

I recently returned from the 2012 Superstars Writing Seminar. The seminar in 2010 went well and I loved it, but to my surprise, I enjoyed this year’s seminar even more. They have this thing down to a well-oiled machine. Brandon Sanderson gave one of the first presentations, talking about his Ten Rules of Writing Success. He asked me to qualify this list by saying, these are his current rules, but they change regularly.

1) Start thinking like a business person.

2) There is no substitution for practice. (Write!)

3) Network (i.e. the seminar)

4) Be proactive.


5) Work harder.

6) The result is what matters.

7) Don’t waste time with writer’s block.

8) Sometimes you have to be willing to suck until you get good. (He may have worded that better.)

9)Yes, luck happens, but you have to put yourself in the situations that let it happen

10)Just write. Do it.

I find it interesting that one word of advice is repeated, directly and indirectly, within this list multiple times–write! Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.  I could go into detail on the list, but I think it speaks for itself and Brandon did it way better than I would like to even attempt.

But I will give a short summary of the seminar. We discussed the publishing process–indie and traditional, self-promotion, getting noticed, negotiating, slushpiles, contracts, copyright basics, agents, professionalism, inspiration, ergonomics of your work space, audience analysis, pitches and queries, YA market, IP rules and possibilities, productivity, balance, and so much more I can’t list them all. James A. Owen, author of Here There Be Dragons and a multitude of other amazing works, finished his presentation by earning a standing ovation. We were so inspired, we couldn’t stay in our seats.

Speakers included: Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, Eric Flint, James A. Owen, Dean Wesley Smith, and our very own Moses Siregar III contributed on the self-publishing panel.

Between almost every presentation, we had ten to fifteen minute breaks where we talked with each other, the presenting authors, and had some time to move around. Whoever designed the structure, did a perfect job.   I’m not trying to sell this to anyone, there’s no benefit to me, but when I attend a writing forum of any kind I like to make a report so other interested people can know about it. If I sound like a commercial, it’s just because I was so sincerely amazed. I not only learned a lot and made great writing contacts, but I made lifelong friends.

Next year will probably be in Colorado, though I don’t think that’s set in stone. I suggest we all start saving our pennies and write it into our 2013 calendar.  It’s the best writing business workshop anywhere.

Oh, and my next post will be an assessment of the 2012 Phoenix Comicon. What are some of the writing resources you’ve found valuable?


Superstars Week, Day 5: Q&A with the Superstars, Part 2

Welcome to Day 2 of Q&A with David Farland and Kevin J. Anderson. You can access the authors’ websites at http://www.wordfire.com/ and http://www.davidfarland.net/ respectively. Kevin J. Anderson has a post on his  blogsite devoted to the seminar and those presenting in 2012, http://kjablog.com/On to the interviews:

 *              *              *

Q: What do you have to go through to prepare for the seminar?

David Farland: I simply meditate on the topic that I’m going to teach, normally. Much of this is information that I’ve gleaned over the past thirty years, and so I might need to write down notes, codify what I know. Normally, we’re talking about topics that you can’t get much information about in books.

Kevin J. Anderson: The talks and panels themselves are not so difficult, because we have all lived this material and we know it very well. For me and Rebecca, it’s all the complicated logistics of setting everything up with the venue, and then doing the publicity, waiting for signups, hoping that we get enough attendees to pay our expenses, and then managing all the little details.

Q: What is your favorite panel and why?

Kevin: I enjoy giving the “Popcorn Theory” talk, because it’s fun to show people how all these projects don’t happen in a vacuum-if you do good work, one thing leads to another and another.

Dave: I think that I’m most interested in the panels on self-marketing, particularly ones that involve social media, quite simply because we have people like Brandon and Kevin who are the best writers I know on the topic. I actually learn things in these panels that I can take home and implement myself!

Q: What part of the Authors Dinner do you like best?

Kevin: Hmm, the potatoes, maybe. Or the dessert. But probably having a chance to sit down and talk with some of the students, face to face in a relaxed setting for a few hours. We end up asking them as many questions as they know us. Many of the attendees of past Superstars will realize that we really do consider you to be friends and colleagues, and we hope to watch your careers skyrocket.

Dave: For me, it’s just getting to know the authors, try to find out where they are in their careers, what they need, and in a short time see if I can offer some advice that might be of help.

Q: The publishing industry is changing fast. Now going on your third year, has the content of the Superstars seminar had to change to reflect the ever-evolving industry? If so, in what ways?

Dave: Yes, we are going through some dramatic changes, with the rise of the whole self-publishing movement. It really has become a viable way for an author to get into business, but it has its own pratfalls and its own huge potential. To me, it suggests that we need to expand our curriculum a bit, to cover the new media. It’s a very exciting time that we live in!

Kevin: A lot of the lectures are still relevant–the professionalism, productivity, networking, etc. We are going to have a lot more focus on eBooks, indy publishing, hardcopy as well as electronic — maybe even half a day to the topic. Dean Wesley Smith is giving a full hour on copyright law and Kris is doing a talk (which I can’t wait to hear myself) on tough negotiating, getting better deals and how to change contract terms that aren’t in your favor. I think we might also do a lecture on income streams (instant money, long-term trickles, etc.) We have always had more material than we could possibly cover. We do want to change it up so it’s not just a rerun every year. We’re still developing the curriculum, but it should have all the good stuff from before and some new and relevant stuff too.

*              *              *

Kevin and Dave are enthusiastic about sharing knowledge, always glad to help serious writers improve their abilities and prepare for the difficult process of getting published. All of us fictorians want to thank them for their encouragement, eager participation in our blog, and for bringing us together through the Superstars Seminar.

I’m confident I’ll enjoy another information-packed seminar in April, and I’m looking forward to making more writing friends. If you’ll be going for the first time in 2012, or if you have questions for us attendees, please drop us a note in the comment box below.

Starting Monday, we’ll be back to our regular MWF blog schedule with a guest post by Mignon Fogarty: the Grammar Girl (one of our more famous Superstars alumni).