The Noble Pen for June 13, 2013

Next Noble Pen Meeting

June 13th, 2013 at 7 pm

Scott’s Family Restaurant

1906 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids


Welcome to Christine, who found the group.

The consensus is that we do not meet on July 4.

Someone suggested that the Noble Pen start a lending library, to be funded by contributions and contain writers’ resources such as an agent directory and the best advice books.  Please comment on the proposal.

Long-time author Jack Vance died at age 96.  He wrote in several genres, including mystery and what some people called science fiction.  His collected works comprised 45 volumes.  He disliked the term SF and said he was a “speculative anthropologist” because his stories were about people in strained or bizarre situations.

The Pulitzer prizes were announced in April.

F&SF Conventions

For those whose interests are not bounded by present and past possibilities, the next BIG convention in the midwest is CONvergence, July 4 – 7 in Bloomington, MN.  There will be, among other things, a steampunk/British invasion fashion expo, a judged or just-for-fun masquerade ball, and an impressive list of fantasy/sci fi authors, screenwriters, and playwrights (including Janice’s top favorite, Steven Brust).

A little farther out is OSFest, July 26 – 28 in Omaha, NE.

Around the country are many more, including FenCon  in Dallas/Ft. Worth, October 4-6, ConClave in Detroit October 11-13,  MileHiCon in Denver October 18-20th .

Closer to home, DemiCon is in November, and Iowa-ICon is in the spring.


Tyree got back to his apocalyptic novel and the words are flowing nicely.

Nick is writing and editing more lately.

Christine got a request for a full manuscript of her novel.


We had a request for information about writing queries and finding agents.  The first rule in contacting an agent or publisher is to know what they are looking for, and to follow their individual submission guidelines.

Writer’s Digest sells one of the best-known resources, the Guide to Literary Agents that comes out each fall. (WD site) (Amazon) (wikipedia)  They also market more specialized guides for magazine writers (Writer’s Market),  screenwriters, poets, photographers, and other market segments.

AgentQuery offers some resources.

A resource often  mentioned is Query Tracker.  Check it out to see if you could benefit either from registering for its services or just from browsing its forum for information on agents, publishers, writing techniques, success stories, etc.  You could spend days on the site.

The web site Predators and Editors offers warnings about scams a writer may encounter in the publishing business.

An editor tells why a writer needs an agent.

An agent’s advice on writing a query letter.  Writer’s Digest published this list of Dos and Don’ts.

Agent Rachelle Gardner gives her own desired query format (which won’t match other agents), and offers 13 ways to impress an agent.

Here’s what might be a poor attempt at a query letter, that did NOT impress an agent.

Here are 10 things a writer should find out if offered representation, and 10 things they may need to answer.

A typical agent in New York gets 400 query letters a month. Of those, they might ask to read 3-4 manuscripts, and of those, they might ask to represent 1.  [ …]  Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It’s the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It’s that important, so don’t mess it up.  Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write. ~Nicholas Sparks

Upcoming Schedule

June 13th


June 20th


June 27th

Open slots

July 4th

No meeting

July 11th

Open slots

Keep Writing,