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Best-selling author offers words of encouragement to aspiring writers

August 02, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • New York Times best-selling author Sylvia Day was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the Nora Roberts Writing Institute being held at Hagerstown Community College this weekend.
By Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

At the opening session of the Nora Roberts Writing Institute held Friday night at Hagerstown Community College, New York Times best-selling author Sylvia Day shared how she became a writer with aspiring wordsmiths.

More specifically how the glamorous life of a romance novelist her 12-year-old self envisioned — complete with fanning cabana boys and teacup-sized pets accessorized with diamond collars — differed from the stark reality of rejections by the hundreds, wrong agents and bad contracts.

“I can tell you that if I can make all those mistakes and end up here ...  it can happen to you,” said Day, who noted she has recently been the answer to trivia questions on television programs “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

The author of more than a dozen award-winning romantic fiction works, Day — who also uses pseudonyms S.J. Day and Livia Dare — served as the keynote speaker at the inaugural writing institute named after Washington County resident and international best-selling author Nora Roberts.

“You have to strategize, you have to be smart about your career, but if you forget that you’re writing because you love it, because you’re telling a story, you will not have a career ...” Day said.

World-famous for her romance novels and also the “In Death” series she pens under the name J.D. Robb, Roberts of Keedysville lent her name to HCC’s writing institute to help provide aspiring novelists interested in all literary genres with the groundwork needed to develop a writing career.

HCC’s Angela Kelley said 86 adults and 22 youth were at the Kepler Theater Friday night. About two-thirds of those participants were area residents or from local metropolitan areas, but the rest came from as far as California.

In more than 15 breakout sessions during the two-day retreat, the institute’s participants have the opportunity to learn from professionals about writing fundamentals, ranging from setting up the story and plot, to research basics.

The event also features a young writers institute, with breakout sessions designed for students entering grades 10 through 12.

Saturday’s keynote speaker is critically-acclaimed author Erica Bauermeister.

A panel discussion with published authors Day, Gail Barrett, Jeanne Adams and Susan Donovan begins the second day’s events.

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