I belong to an incredible group of women writers called Writers Must Eat! In addition to gathering every other month for lunch, we have a terrific Facebook page that lists resources, upcoming events, and marketing and networking opportunities.
It was through the group’s Facebook page that I met Bill Conner. Bill needed someone to write his story.
Honestly, I never considered writing a book for someone else, especially a creative nonfiction book (similar to a memoir), but then I read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s article about Bill’s daughter Abbey.
Tragically, Abbey Conner drowned in a swimming pool after drinking tainted alcohol while at an Iberostar resort in Mexico. Abbey, a twenty-year-old college student, gave the gift of life by donating her heart and three other organs.
Several months after her death, Bill rode his bike from Wisconsin to the hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Abbey donated her organs. He wanted to raise awareness for organ donation, tainted alcohol practices in Mexican resorts, and, most importantly, to never let the world forget Abbey.
Three weeks into Bill’s 2,600-mile bike ride, 60,000 people signed their organ donor cards. On June 18, 2017, Father’s Day, Bill stopped in Louisiana to listen to Abbey’s heart beat in the chest of Loumonth Jack, Jr., her 21-year-old organ recipient. The video of this meeting went viral — 300 million views in 18 different languages, across 6 continents.
And now I have the privilege of writing Bill and Abbey’s story.
This weekend is the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute, my favorite weekend of the year. In addition to the other things I’ll be doing (see my list of activities below), Bill and I will pitch our book, Abbey’s Ride for Life, to three literary agents: Paul Levine, Steven Salpeter, and Gordon Warnock.
When pitching a non-fiction project, you need a book proposal rather than a completed manuscript. The book proposal contains an overview, a list of the target audiences, the authors’ bios, marketing and promotional plans, comparable book titles, a chapter outline, an expanded chapter outline, and sample chapters.
With that in mind, I’ve interviewed Bill and his friends, took a road trip with him to Platteville, WI (the first 82 miles of his trip), and poured through the materials he’s given me and the online videos (if you click on Abbey’s Ride for Life, you’ll get 520,000 results). Bill and I are working hard pull this together for next weekend and we’re making good progress. We’ll be ready.
Once we get an agent (assuming we do), that agent will pitch our project to a publishing house. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
In the meantime, here’s a plug for organ donation. One person can save the lives of 8 people and improve the lives of countless more. At this moment, there are more than 113,000 people waiting for organs. If you haven’t signed your donor card yet, do it now. You can also sign up online. It’s super easy. Thank you!
Where I’ll be this spring:
UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies 30th Annual Writers Institute – April 4 – 7, 2019 Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI. Workshops on everything from craft to marketing to pitching to publishing. I’ll be on the “Celebrating Your Book: Festivals and Readings Panel” with Authors Shannon Henry Kleiber and Ann Garvin, help writers hone their pitches, run the Book Signing and Selling Events, judge the Live Lit Event with Book Doctor Kevin Mullen and Author Silvia Acevedo, and pitch to agents!
Authors in the Barnes – Saturday, April 20, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., West Towne Mall Barnes & Noble, Madison. I’ll join local authors for this wonderful meet and greet and book signing event.
Audiobook Adventures – Friday, May 17, 2019, 7:00 p.m., Mystery to Me Bookstore (1863 Monroe Street, Madison). Meet Actor Rob Doyle and hear about our adventures creating the audiobooks. Wine, beer, and Aunt Sally’s brownies will be served.
Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat – May 19 – 25, 2019, Cedar Valley Retreat Center in West Bend, Wisconsin. I’ll participate on a self-publishing panel with Authors Nicole Pierce and Melissa Haag and present my workshop titled “The Formula for Settings Agents, Editors, and Readers Love”.