What do novice writers really want? That’s easy! They want to know the shortest distance between writing a first draft and seeing it on the bookstore shelf.
Fortunately for them, Patricia MacDonald, successful author of 12 novels to date—and one on the way—will answer that question at the North Wildwood Beach Writers’ Conference on June 2 and 3 at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
After years of working on her craft and working through the publication process, MacDonald certainly has plenty of advice to share, and she’ll do just that on the evening of the conference’s first day.
She told The Herald that she’ll discuss “how to get your work in publication form, in terms of manuscripts, characters, and plots.”
Not only has the Greenwich, Conn. native been successful in being published, but her work has also won high praise. Her first novel, The Unforgiven, published in 1981, received an Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America.
Secret Admirer (1995) won the literary prize at the 1997 Deauville Film Festival in France, where MacDonald is consistently a number one bestseller. She’s also been awarded the prize for literature at the International Forum of Cinema and Literature in Monaco.
Four of her novels have been made into movies in France, and one, Mother’s Day, was filmed in English. Many have been recorded as audio books.
MacDonald’s novels have been called “domestic thrillers,” romantic suspense stories,” and “psychological thrillers.”
Asked which phrase is most accurate, MacDonald said, “’Psychological thrillers.’ They’re definitely not romantic, which is one reason the French like them.”
However, all of the novels’ main characters are female, and MacDonald said she usually creates a male character “to give her some hope for the future.”
MacDonald’s novels are all set in small towns, not unlike the small town of Cape May where she’s lived for 19 years with her husband and daughter.
She experienced plenty of city life to compare it with, having earned her bachelor’s degree at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, and her master’s degree at Boston University.
Then, she worked in New York City as an editor for a soap opera magazine.
“When I was young, it was very exciting living in New York,” MacDonald noted. “Now I prefer the small town.”
And how do her characters emerge against this backdrop?
“First I find a crime, a domestic issue,” she said. “Then the characters grow out of what I need for the plot.”
Married to a Stranger (2006) began with the news of the Laci Peterson case. MacDonald said that her novel was only “very loosely” based on the true crime story. MacDonald’s story begins with a woman on her honeymoon who has reason to ask herself, “Whom did I marry?”
Without spilling too many beans, we can say her as-yet-unpublished novel is tentatively entitled Cradle to Grave. If asked, she’ll surely give us more inside information at the conference.
Conference Co-chairs Carolyn Miller and Jake Schaad have announced that other conference presenters include Charis Conn, editor at Harper’s magazines,; and Carol Plum-Ucci, writer of young adult novels; Jim Vanore, Herald Senior Columnist and author of Beware the Leaven; and East Lynne Theater’s Artistic Director, Gayle Stahluth.
Dan Poynter of Para-Publishing will give attendees a 32-page guide to getting published. The keynote speaker is Lorraine Ranalli, a veteran of TV and radio, and author of Gravy Wars: South Philly Foods, Feuds & Attytudes.
And there’s much more, including an opportunity to have your manuscript evaluated by an expert, a writing contest for both poetry and prose, and a Book Bazaar.
There will be lots of door prizes and a goody bag, and—best of all—the grand prize of a publishing package worth $700.
The fee to attend is an economical $75, which includes all presentations, continental breakfast, and dinner. Manuscript evaluation and a pre-conference lunch require minimal additional fees, which are well worth the price.
The deadlines for the manuscript evaluation and writing contest are May 8. Go to NWBWC.com for all the details and the application form.
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