Why Author Panels?

My friend, Suz, fractured her shoulder three weeks ago, but I thought maybe she’d like to get out of her apartment. I’ve been writing since 2015, and Suz is new to our critique group. No matter how long you’ve been wielding the written word, there’s more to learn.

I tapped out a message to Suz—”Hey, I’m thinking of attending an author’s panel. Elaine sent out an invite, she’s on it. Do you feel like going?”

Suz—”I’d love to! But I need to see if my driver’s in town. I think she’s gone this Saturday.”

“Is your shoulder healed enough to take a long ride in the car? If so, I can pick you up.”

Suz—”Yeah, I have a sling. That would be great!”

“I have one question that I really need answered. I’m a novel novice. I need help.”

Right now, twelve of my short stories are published. My challenge with writing a novel is how to pull a plot together, how to be cohesive and consistent. All of it looms over my thoughts like a sneaky historical fiction monster—more difficult due to research and accuracy.

Suz and I arrived at a community library. An employee ushered us into a classroom. We greeted our critique group partner and author friend, Elaine Faber, a Cozy Mystery author.

The library set up a snacks and drinks table. I selected a red velvet cupcake for me and a chocolate oatmeal cookie for Suz. The authors displayed their books for us to peruse, and we chatted with them. The three authors wrote in different genres.

Benefits of author/writer events I’ve attended—

Contact with other writers, opportunity to ask the authors about their work, about themselves, and their projects.

“It’s time to begin, if you’ll take your seats,” a library employee announced. “Grab a goodie or a drink if you’d like.” First thing I did.

All three authors encouraged the audience, shared their jewels of wisdom, vision, and gave us a variety of tips.

A few examples from my notes—

My characters just appear. Watch and listen. They are always with me—Elaine

Every author’s road to publication is different. Don’t go by someone else’s journey—Margaret

Victory is when a reader asks the author, “When does the next book come out?—Gini

The panel’s two hours ended. Our host stood as we clapped. “It’s time for questions. Anyone?”

“I have one.” I jerked up my hand for my one brain-burning question. “I think it’s for Gini? I need to know how to do research. My novel begins in 1846 and I don’t know much about that era. I have family photos, documents, letters, and even stories, but I need facts.”

Gini nodded. “You must be accurate about the era’s social and religious customs, and even politics. I teach a class, and I can send you my list of questions to ask about the era. Just email me.”

Bing! That was simple. The one question about what tools to use for research, and she graciously answered and shared her contact information. A huge benefit from my time management choice and worth the effort.

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