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On-site registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2014 Fall Conference will open Friday, November 21, at 3:00 pm at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. There, Erika Marks will sit on a panel titled, "Structure: Four Ways to Build a Book" with Kim Boykin, Marybeth Whalen, and Kim Wright.

Structure: It's hard to talk about and therefore many writers avoid the scary subject, even though a sound structure is essential to the success of any novel. On this panel, four writers will share their own unique ways of building a book, from being a “pantser” (who flies by the seat of her pants) to a “plotter” who won't begin without a detailed outline, to all the possibilities between these two extremes. We'll also discuss the issues of whether each book demands its own structure, the challenge of revision, writing when you aren't sure what happens next, and whether or not the "film formula" really works when it comes to novels. You'll leave with a new set of tools to help you find the best structural approach to your next book.

Erika Marks is a native New Englander who now makes her home in Charlotte with her husband and two children. On the winding road to publishing, she has worked as an illustrator, an art director, a cake decorator, and a carpenter--but writing has always been her greatest passion. She is the author of The Guest House, The Mermaid Collector, Little Gale Gumbo, and It Comes in Waves, all published by NAL/Penguin. Her love of the sea keeps her stories tied to the shore, as well as her love for stories of the heart. You can reach her directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

What are you reading right now?
Euphoria by Lily King.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office which happens to be the back corner of our sunroom at the moment.

If you weren't a writer, what kind of job would you like to have?
Archeologist.

Who has influenced your writing style the most?
It might be a tie between Alice Hoffman and Stephen King.

If you could switch places with one fictional character, who would it be?
Holy cow—how to pick just one? At the top would have to be Claudia from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franiweiler. She gets to live at the Met Museum, for goodness’ sake! I always envied her that adventure.

What do you hope attendees takeaway from Fall Conference, especially if they sign up for your workshop, panel, or Mart?
That they have a clearer sense of what kind of story-writing structure works best for them and can hit the ground running when they get home!

Sunday's "Brilliant at Breakfast" panel discussion is titled, "The Many Paths to Publication." What's the first thing you ever published?
My first novel, Little Gale Gumbo, which was released by NAL in 2011—I had been submitting manuscripts for twenty years at that point.

Give us three adjectives you hope critics use to describe your next book.
Engrossing, moving, well-developed.

What is the most frustrating or rewarding part of the writing process?
Most frustrating is that sense that a work is never done and knowing that one day you have to stop fussing it and simply say “It’s done” so you can move on to a new story. Most rewarding is getting to rework a story to a point where is rich and newly exciting each time you do.

What’s one piece of advice no one gave you when you were starting out, that you wish they had?
That it takes time to get a story to a place where it’s ready to be read, either by editors or agents or other readers. Drafts are your friend.

If you could mandate that everyone in the world read one book, which one would you choose?
Another great question—Life of Pi or The Shipping News might top that list.

Do you steal hotel pens?
Yes—but I wasn’t aware that was stealing. No, really! But I take home the shampoo and soaps too because I would hate to think they get thrown away unused. (That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.)

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The North Carolina Writers' Network runs November 21-23 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, in Charlotte. On-site registration will be available.

 

 
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