Writers Talk Shop, Novel, and Pitch Conference
     Commentary by conference attendees

     A Conversation With Michael Kopiec

Michael's novel workshopped at the NYC pitch conference is currently represented by Sandra Djikstra Literary Agency. Born in Europe, Michael was the first child of two Holocaust survivors. His family immigrated to the USA in the early 1950's, and he grew up in Brooklyn. He attended medical school and eventually became a surgical specialist. He was in private practice in Scottsdale Arizona until an accident with a drunk driver left him no longer able to perform surgery. It was during his post accident period, while he was trying to reinvent himself, that he began writing about his parent's incredible and unique story of survival. He was reminded of how precious a legacy they had left, and he realized how important it was to pass the story of their agony and ultimate triumph to the next generation.

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My father was a soldier who survived three years of nearly constant combat with the Nazis. The story is very exciting, but I kept rewriting until finally, it felt right.

- MK

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NYC: Do you feel your novel is improved as a result of the NYC Pitch?

MK: Definitely. In general terms, Pitch and Shop helped clarify those elements that are essential to creating a commercially viable manuscript. When I reviewed my manuscript, I realized I had to reveal my protagonist as a sympathetic figure much earlier in the book. That was a point driven home by the questions of some of the acquisition editors. They were looking for a sympathetic protagonist who would early on, capture and hold the reader's interest.

NYC: What inspired you to write THE UNWILLING SURVIVOR?

MK: I had always assumed I would pass my parentís story on verbally, but I wanted to get dates and incidents straight and into chronological order. That process led to research, more note taking, and eventually, I began to consider the possibility of writing their story and passing the family legacy to my children in the form of a book. At first, I thought it absurd that someone lacking any experience (my only creative writing class was freshman English) should attempt to write a book, but eventually, I decided that since my intended audience was my children and they loved me, I might not embarrass myself too much.

NYC: How has the story evolved?

MK: When I finished my first draft, I found I really had two books. THE UNWILLING SURVIVOR is the first, and is the story of my father before he met my mother. My father was a soldier who survived three years of nearly constant combat with the Nazis. The story is very exciting, but I kept rewriting until finally, it felt right.

NYC: What made you choose to attend the New York Pitch Conference?

MK: I thought this conference would give me helpful insights into the world of legacy publishers and the business of commercial publishing. What I found was that the Pitch and Shop conference exceeded those expectations.

NYC: What did you find most effective about the New York experience?

MK: Learning how important the pitch is to the commercial success of your effort, and that reducing hundreds of pages into a two or three paragraph sound bite that has the power to excite, entice, but most of all, intrigue a total stranger to the point he or she calls for more Ö is not only difficult, but an art unto itself. I found the process of learning that art to be facilitated by the unambiguous and honest critique and direction of my workshop leader, and the remarkable support of the members of my group. The 14 other people who comprised my group were not only talented and accomplished, but at all times, supportive. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie and not at all competitive. A fellow group member insisted that in terms of getting a reality check on the commercial viability of your manuscript, no other conference compares to Pitch and Shop.

NYC: Where does the novel go from here?

MK: Although two of the acquisition editors that I pitched have asked to read it, THE UNWILLING SURVIVOR is presently with my agent, and will hopefully be sent out in the next few weeks.


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WRITERS AND AUTHORS
TALK ABOUT THE
New York Pitch Conference


Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Madhu Ghosh. This conference is very different from others in that it is what it says it is. Most conferences try to cram in craft lectures with readings and then interviews with editors and agents, which can get chaotic and confusing.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Randy Susan Meyers. The critique isn't for the faint of heart, but is for those who truly want to hear where they need to work on their presentation, how commercial their ideas are, and about the effectiveness of their pitch  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Stephen R. Levine. My character is sort of a modern day Roskolnikov - too smart for his own good - and the story has universal appeal. It's not just the story of a BAD RABBI but a man corrupted by power and ego. Hopefully others will see it that way too.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Jim Buck. I started looking into agents and publishers last fall and was startled to find how difficult it is for an unpublished author to even get a return letter.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Michael Kopiec. My father was a soldier who survived three years of nearly constant combat with the Nazis. The story is very exciting, but I kept rewriting until finally, it felt right.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, writer Christine Stewart, writer in residence at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Director of the Write Here, Write Now workshops, founding co-sponsor of the Baltimore chapter of the Maryland Writers Association, and recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, author Kate Gallison. Her second mystery series featured Mother Lavinia Grey, an Episcopal priest in a small town in New Jersey struggling to keep her church open and solve the occasional murder.  

Interview with New York Pitch Conference attendee, Alex Keto. Alex was a journalist for twenty-one years. He joined Dow Jones Newswires and worked New York City as a reporter, in Amsterdam as a bureau chief, and Bonn as a reporter. He returned to the U.S. in 1995 and worked as the company's White House correspondent for ten years.  



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