VWC’s Conference – and Subplots

Virginia Writers Club’s annual conference “Navigating the Writing Life”  took place on August 2, 2014.  This year, in response to comments from last year, the conference included a number of morning panels for genre fiction and then afternoon workshops.

For the morning, I attended the short fiction panel.  This was a discussion between Clifford Garstang and Jody Hobbs Hesler on their experiences as editor and writer.  They included some basic things like writing a great story, choosing your markets carefully, and that rejection is not personal.  Clifford talked about the… Continue reading

Make a Fun Goal Your Deadline

Which One?

Which One?

How do you get your manuscript from page one to THE END? Do you plod all the way through to the finish to get the whole thing down on paper? After you’re finished with the first draft, do you take a break and turn your sights to a different story? Or do you stay with your original manuscript? Are you able to work back and forth between more than one piece at a time?

Right now, I have two finished manuscripts. I wrote… Continue reading

A Summer Workshop – Hollins University

During a winter meeting, a member of my local writer’s group spoke about the Hollins University Summer program, Tinker Mountain. It sounded great but I had family coming to stay. Then they cancelled and I had a free week.
I’ve looked at a lot of university programs but they generally seem to focus on literary fiction. But Hollins offered a weeklong workshop with Laura Benedict on “Crafting High Concept Genre Fiction.” That factor and the size of the class (limited to 12 students) appealed to me. Continue reading

PubSmart 2014

Mid-April in Charleston, SC.  Like many others, I attended the first PubSmart conference “Emerging Authors, Emerging Avenues.”  There were some traditional editors and agents present but mostly this conference concentrated on self-publishing and what authors need to know (as well as any number of vendors happy to tell you what they could do for you).Pubsmart Panel3

I learned a lot.  I’ve been through the traditional publishing process in my work life (i.e., the one that pays the bills for now).  So I was familiar with the editing process, the length… Continue reading

This Writer’s Revenge

books, mysteryI wrote my first story, a murder mystery, when I was about ten years old. I know I was influenced by my mother’s love of mysteries. She’d take me to the library every week and we’d go to the area of the stacks where all the book bindings had a yellow sticker with a Sherlock Holmes type imprint. I loved walking along the cool, dim rows between bookshelves reading titles that evoked bloody images. I know, sick, huh?

The other person who influenced that first story was my brother… Continue reading

Pixie Dust

Back in December, when the world was all golden light here in Panama, when the bougainvillea were pouring over rooftops and spilling down hillsides, and the coffee plants were bursting with fat crimson cherries everywhere you turned, it seemed that nothing could go wrong. How could it when the next month brought rainbows — three, four, five every day — and when the skies were so clear the glinting Pacific beckoned in the distance?

Oh, be wary of decisions made when the world is wonderful!

In a moment of stupendously unfounded optimism, I made the decision to attend… Continue reading

Writing Conferences – Why Attend?

Another writing conference. Another bunch of authors trying to sell their books, and another group of workshops touting the same old teachings. Right? Wrong. If that’s how you feel about writing conferences, you’re not realizing their true potential. A writing conference is all about advertising yourself, your book, and about having fun.

Self-promotion, promotion that has nothing to do with your book, is one important reason to attend a writing conference. This is the venue where you meet people whose dreams are the same as yours. It’s an opportunity to make friends and find out what other authors in… Continue reading

Another Year’s Growth

2014 calendarOrdinarily, the onset of a new year brings on a sense of melancholy. I feel as though I’m losing something that I can never get back. You know, like the song lyrics, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” This year I decided to look back on 2013 with a more positive eye and focus on all that I’ve accomplished as a writer.

I was surprised at what I discovered. The most important result of my evaluation turned out to be growth, growth in confidence and growth in skill. In the… Continue reading

Crime Bake – Writing Conference Revitalization

Crime Bake Luau

Crime Bake Luau

Last weekend I attended my fourth Crime Bake, New England’s mystery-writing conference. Each year I wonder if the fare will be a repeat of the previous year, and each year I am pleasantly surprised. The selection of workshops at Crime Bake usually reflects the rapid changes in the writing industry, and the list of successful authors sharing their knowledge varies with each conference.

The guest of honor this year was Meg Gardiner, whose thrillers, beginning with her Edgar-winning novel, China Lake, have… Continue reading

Writing strong female characters

At the recent Bouchercon, a convention for mystery authors and fans, a panel of women writers considered the question of strong female characters. Even the phrase “strong female characters” raised some controversy, as the women felt that it was a bit of a put-down; after all, you never hear of “strong men characters.”

The authors spoke about their own protagonists, and what went into creating them. Sara J. Henry, author of Learning to Swim, which went on to win three prestigious prizes, said she modeled her protagonist, Troy Chance, on herself. Troy, is a freelance journalist who has moved… Continue reading