Monday, July 25, 2016

MWW16 Reflection & Tips

Another Midwest Writers Workshop has come and gone, but this year I had the opportunity to work behind the scenes. Last year I was just a participant, but this year I was an assistant (and intern) at MWW16. I had the pleasure of being the assistant to Uwe Stender, who was not only an agent, but he was also the founder of Triada US Literary Agency. I will admit I was nervous about meeting him. Even though I heard he was a friendly guy, I still didn’t know how he would act when he was actually here. I was glad I met him before the conference at the pizza party at Greeks in the Village. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay too long. I had to go back to my dorm to help my parents get most of the stuff out of my dorm to move back home for the rest of the summer. Also, I got to have breakfast with him the next morning. At breakfast I got to know Uwe better by asking him questions about publishing and about being an agent.
        During the conference I was glad Uwe was an easygoing guy and likes to go with the flow. He wanted to make things easy for me, which was nice of him, but at the same time I wanted to do the same for him. I made sure the pitches ran smoothly and were on time. There were some no shows, but it just gave me some more time to talk to Uwe. It was nice to talk to him between pitch sessions. I told him about one of my stories and he seemed interested in it! I also asked him if he would be interested in the first couple rough chapters and he said yes! I started working on it and I will hopefully be finished writing the chapters soon.
        The second day of the conference the pitches ran smoothly, but not the class Uwe was teaching. I thought they would be bringing a laptop down so he could present his PowerPoint, but I was wrong. We improvised and used my laptop, but again there were problems. Next thing we knew we discovered that the plug we had was not for a Mac, so while Uwe started presenting I had to run down and ask for a converter. After we got the converter there was even more problems because I had to figure out how to do a dual screen so we could see the PowerPoint. With some help we thankfully got the PowerPoint up and I changed the slides while he was presenting. He was very appreciative of my help. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay for the banquet that night. We said our goodbyes and I hope to keep in contact with him.
        I had learned many things from him while I was assisting, but I also learned a lot of things that could help people if they want to come to a workshop and want to pitch to an agent. Here are three tips for people that want to pitch at a writing conference/workshop.
        Seriously, all of the assistants (including me) kept constantly changing and rearranging the schedules trying to fit people in. Between the six of us there were multiple no shows. We concluded the no shows happened because people didn’t check their schedules. I was lucky that we stayed in the room a little bit longer than normal for one of the pitches because he was able to do his pitch (he was to be there at 4:00pm and he showed up at 4:05pm).
        My band director always said that if you are on time, you are late and if you are early, you are on time. I would suggest following this rule.When I assisted with pitches,I was more generous than most. I gave people the benefit of the doubt and waited for them for a bit. If they didn’t show up by the time their pitch session ended I just moved to the next person. Depending on the intern they could possibly just skip you if you were not there and moved on to the next person.
        There were multiple people pitching books to my agent that were not the type he was looking for. He usually gave them a lead to other agents that would be may be interested in the book. This was one of the most common complaints of the agents. Always research your agent before you make a pitch session so you do not waste neither his time nor yours.
I also have 3 tips for other interns that are helping out at the conference.
        My first day at the conference we were told to dress up because we were going to be presented at the opening ceremony and I made the poor choice of wearing new shoes. When you are an intern you have to walk around a lot and you definately don’t want blisters to form that you have to deal with for the rest of the day. Even if you have to dress a little nicer don’t wear shoes you haven’t broken in.
        If you are like me and were assisting an agent do not be afraid to ask them questions. My agent was always happy when I asked him a question because he wanted to help me as much as I was helping him. They aren’t going to be upset and the same goes with any presenters that are at the conference. The reason they are there is because they want to help writers get better and asking questions is a perfect way to help you.
        Being an intern is hard work, but at the same time very rewarding. So make sure to have fun and enjoy this experience because it will go faster than you think it will.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Interview with Amy E. Reichert

Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, along with her recently July 12 release of her second novel, Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. Amy is a wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast. She has also earned her MA in English Literature and serves on her local library’s board of directors.

Amy and Karma Brown are co-teaching the Part I intensive session Women’s Fiction, Deconstructed at the 2016 Midwest Writers Workshop.

MWW: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was your first book, were there some unexpected challenges you had to face during the publishing process?
AER: CAKE was my first novel, so I was teaching myself how to do that. It was definitely a case of a didn’t know what I didn’t know. As a result, I started querying agents way before the manuscript was truly ready. I racked up a lot of rejections, but I made a lot of friends and learned so much about the industry. Plus, that thick skin helps because rejection is a permanent part of a creative lifestyle.

MWW: Why did you set this book in your home town?
AER: I love Milwaukee and I wanted to share that love with the world. We have so many exciting restaurants, festivals, and sporting events. The people are kind, the weather is varied, and the deep-fried cheese curds are the best.

MWW: Is there any restaurant in the book that you based off a restaurant you actually been to?
AER: There are a few restaurants that are real, like Northpoint Custard, but Luella’s, A Simple Twist, and The Good Land are all figments of my imagination. Luella’s isn’t, but I envision the other two being very similar to some of my favorite farm to table restaurants in Milwaukee like La Merenda, Wolf Peach, and Braise. I love restaurants that rotate their menus based on available ingredients.  

MWW: In both of your books, your main focus are on relationships. Are some of these relationships based off of  experiences in your own life?
AER: Not really, but a little bit yes. Everything is fictional, but I have plenty of close friends and a husband, so I was able to use that as a starting point for some of my characters’ relationships.

MWW: Describe for me your perfect meal and who would you like to share it with?

AER: Both my grandmothers are deceased, but they were both amazing cooks. The perfect meal would be one prepared by both of them and would be with all my grandparents, my husband’s grandparents, his dad, and all our living family. It’s probably not fair to bring back my grandmas from the dead to cook for so many people, but I’d love to learn a few of their  tricks. It would be an epic feast!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Coincidence of a Love Story

Warning: Do not read on an empty stomach. Amy E. Reichert’s debut novel The Coincidence of Coconut Cake not only contains descriptions of food that makes you want to taste them yourself, but is also a delicious meal containing perfect servings of humor, romance and drama.
Lou is the owner of a small French restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lou is living the dream, owning her own kitchen, despite the conflicts with her fianc├ęs plans. Her dream is shattered when she decided to surprise him on his birthday with a coconut cake, only to find him with a half naked intern. She tried to get her mind off the betrayal by working, but ended up only making the worst dish she had ever made (unknowingly) for the snarky new restaurant critic in town. When Lou goes to a bar to wallow in the sorrow of her broken relationship, she meets Al, a British newcomer. After some drunken flirtation she promises him to show him the best of Milwaukee. After a series of non-dates around Milwaukee, Al falls in love with Lou and the city, only to find out her true identity and to discover his review of her restaurant had ruined her business while also crushing her dreams.
Amy Reichert’s own experience in the kitchen served her well when writing this novel. She gives a look at what happens backstage in the kitchen, while also showing the different kinds of people that work there. Her many descriptions of food making making readers want to try the dishes she described. I do like the pace in the book because it shows a realistic sense of dating and falling in love. The plot was well written, with two plot lines being mixed into one, one plot about romance, the other about Lou trying to save her restaurant. The story keeps you interested in the plot while leading up to the climax. Reichert wraps up the ending quickly with a glimmer of hope, which works well for this book. The novel focuses on building their relationship, until they finally realize they were truly in love.