Tag Archives: Writer

How To Get the Most Out of a Writers Conference III

Hopefully you’ve had a wonderful time at the conference and you’re pumped to start writing. That is usually how I feel after several days in that environment. This year, I have scheduled an extra day off work to catch up at home and devote a day to writing before I have to go back to the day job.  It is my treat to me.

Now take a breath, unpack, and do those things you have to do after a few days away from home. Before you settle into writing, take a few minutes to evaluate your experience.

Pull out your goal sheet you prepared before the conference.

  • Did you meet your goals?
  • Were there some that you did not meet?
  • What was the best memory?
  • What did you learn?
  • Do you need to follow up with a pitch session?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Would you want to attend this conference again?


Hopefully you had a wonderful experience networking and plan to keep in touch with some people you met. Might friend them on Facebook. And did you share your blog site so they can start following you there too?

Well this is the last post about conferences. I hope it helped with even one new idea.

I will be attending the Spring Fling in Chicago in April. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Next week I will list more conferences happening in June to allow you time to sign up.

April will be all about plotting. My local chapter of RWA, Iowa Romance Novelists,  will have a program “Plotting without a Net” with Leigh Michaels speaking. Leigh is a multi-published romance author who has also taught classes at the community college in Ottumwa as well as the Writer’s Workshop in Iowa City. If you live in the Des Moines area and would be interested in checking us out, we meet the third Saturday of every month at the West Des Moines Community Center on the second floor from 10:00 to 1:00. Hope to see you there.

Keep writing forward,



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Writing Classes

I recently finished an online Mystery writing class that was very helpful. It helped me structure my wip and come up with a very workable outline. By chance, and I really don’t believe in chance, I am fairly sure I was meant to see a message from Candace Havens about a class she was offering. It is her Fast Draft and Revision Hell classes. It is meant to help you finish your wip by the end of the year. Now that I had an outline. This was exactly what I needed.

For a nominal fee she sends you the rules. Some of the rules are no editing, no going back, just go forward, have to post your results daily, aim for 20 pages a day for 14 days, and no whining. She said that if you whine, she will give you one warning. You do it again and you are out.

I have committed to writing for two hours a day. One hour in the morning, I now get up at 5:30 AM and another hour in the evening. I want to get to the point where I can write 10 pages in the AM and another 10 in the PM. Today was my first day and I didn’t quite make it. I wrote 9 pages. Candace said to give yourself some grace for the first few days because it is hard to produce that much but if you keep at it, it becomes easier. I trust her. She is a busy lady and this is how she does it.

So if you check my word meter you will see that I updated it today. I will update it each day. I will try to blog a couple times a week. One will be an update on my progress with this class the second will be my alphabet tips.

Please feel free to cheer me on. If this sounds like something you would be interested, google Candace Havens and check it out.

Gotta think about heading to bed. 5:30 comes awful fast.

Happy writing,



Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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Tuesday Tip

“With the right hat, nothing else matters.” LaPaloma Hats

A writer has to wear many hats while writing a book. While pounding out that first draft you have to wear the writer’s hat. Keep that hat on your head until you’ve finished the first draft. Don’t even think about putting on the Editor’s hat, yet.

But once you’ve written The End, it still isn’t time to put on that Editor’s hat. Give yourself a break. Let the story rest for a while before you jump back in for an edit. Time will allow you a fresher view.

When the time is right, pull the Editor’s hat out and start reading through your work. If a scene doesn’t have a purpose or help move the story forward, weed it out. If you have too many characters and could consolidate some, get rid of them. Kill your darlings and get on with it.

Once you’ve polished the story and it sparkles, take off that Editor’s hat and grab your Marketing hat. Research who might be interested in your story and start sending your work out. Keep it organized so you don’t forget who you’ve sent to and who has responded. Attend some conferences with the intention of pitching your book.  Be proud when someone offers a contract. With persistence it will happen, if you want it enough. Be proud also of those rejections. You are miles further along than many writers.

Once you’ve sold sit back for a while, maybe on the beach, with a good book and a beach hat. Until you’ve received your revisions and then it’s time to grab the Editor’s hat again…

Do you find it difficult to focus on each phase of your writing? Which hat are you most comfortable wearing?

Wishing you a wonderful week of writing.


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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Write a Novel


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Tuesday Tip

Writers Conferences and Workshops and What to Expect

I have attended several different writers’ conferences over the years. Everything from a Regional Conference for RWA to Love is Murder for mysteries and a National RWA conference in Anaheim. I have seen some very good conferences come and go, like Mayhem in the Midlands – a mystery conference held in Omaha, NE every year that folded last year.  There was another conference in Kansas that was strictly for the cozy mystery genre that I kept saying I wanted to attend.  It too is gone.

If you are a serious writer, there are several reasons that you should think about attending:

  • Workshops to learn craft.
  • Network – get to know others in the industry.
  • Chance to meet an agent or an editor and pitch your story.
  • Meet authors – learn the ropes from someone who knows what they are doing.
  • Get out of your little circle to see what the real world of writing is all about.
  • Support others in the industry.
  • Keep the conferences alive.

I am unable to attend a big conference this year but plan to attend a workshop in Minnesota in September. I have banned myself from anything larger until I complete my current project. Just the anticipation of attending is a motivation for me to get more words down on the paper.

I have several friends who got their break by pitching to an agent or publisher at a conference so I know how valuable they are. I met one of my critique partners, Shirley Damsgaard, at Mayhem in the Midlands several years ago. She had just sold her first book and we had lunch together. I was so impressed by her marketing plan for that first year, that I remembered her. Months later, heard her do a radio interview and discovered she was talking to a reader’s group the same night my writer’s group met at the local Borders. I dragged my group over to hear her and then she had something to eat with us afterwards. She remembered me from the conference and we have been friends since.

Conferences are fun, plan to attend one. Maybe I will see you at one some day.



Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized, Write a Novel


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I’d Like to Introduce Sparkle Abbey

I continue to plug along writing my current work in progress. Each day I get a few more pages done. I truly think writing a novel is probably the most difficult thing I have ever attempted. When it is finished, I hope I will think it was the most satisfying.  It’s just getting there. Each day, I try to enjoy the moment and there are moments that are enjoyable. I love when I get in the zone. If you write, you know what I mean. When it happens, it feels like you are lost in the story. I tend to produce a lot more words. I know what I want to say and it flows easily. That doesn’t happen every day. I have found that it happens more often though, when I glue my butt to the chair and write. Even though I would much rather curl up in front of a good movie with Mr. G. I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end.

Over the years, I have met quite a few writers and some of them use their own name and some don’t. Some publishers request you use another name. After working so hard to finish a book, I think it would be nice to be able to put my name on it but I also know that it is a business and as writers we probably should listen to the people who want to see us be successful. I suppose if that was a requirement for publication, I probably would do it.

I ran into a couple of my author friends at an event this weekend and they have their first book out. They had to make that choice and I know how difficult it was for them, because I know how long they have been writing and like me, they really wanted to see their name on that cover. They agreed to use a pseudonym.  They go by the name Sparkle Abbey. They came up with that name when the publisher insisted they needed a name to tie the series together because they co-write. Sparkle is Maylee’s cat and Abbey is Anita’s dog. Marylee Woods is a writer friend I met at least 15 years ago when I joined the local chapter of RWA. She co-writes with Anita Carter, someone else I have known for a while. They co-write the Pampered Pet Mystery Series and the first of four books they have sold came out recently, Desperate Housedogs. They have a unique way of collaborating. They share the same setting, Laguna Beach, CA and the same secondary characters. They each have their own protagonist. They plot their books together and often sit across the same table to write so that they can bounce ideas off of each other, along the way. Marylee wrote book one, Anita wrote book two that will be coming out in early 2012, Marylee will write book three and Anita, book four. Marylee’s protagonist is a pet therapist, while Anita’s protagonist is a cousin to Marylee’s and she owns a pet boutique. The two women are former beauty queens from Texas and currently are not speaking. They are both feuding over a god-awful ugly brooch their grandmother left to “her favorite granddaughter”. She didn’t specify exactly who she meant. I read the book and think it is so clever and such a good read. If you like cozy mysteries that make you laugh; you really need to check this one out. I think they have a great future with this series. Future books are titled, ‘Get Fluffy’, Kitty, Kitty, Bang, Bang’ and ‘Yip, Tuck’. I can’t wait to read them.

I know they each would rather have seen their own name on the cover but I think they made the right choice and if they keep producing this quality of cozy mystery, it really won’t matter. They will be around for a long time and everyone who really knows them will know who Sparkle Abbey is.

Until next time, keep writing… and reading.



Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Book Review, Novel Writing


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Live and Learn – Always

If you are anything like me, I am drawn to everything writer related. If I hear about a gathering of writers anywhere, I tend to check it out. I guess it is like that saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Over the years, I have been fortunate to be able to attend several RWA and mystery writer related conferences and workshops, including one RWA national conference in Anaheim and Love is Murder, in Chicago. Today I’d like to promote a local writer’s conference – the 2011 Montezuma All-Iowa Writer’s conference. This is the second year for this conference and I was lucky enough to attend last year’s. For the first year, I thought it was a very informative day-long event that I have no doubt will be even better this year.

This year’s speakers are Iowa authors Lesley Langtry, Kathy Bacus, Kimberly Stuart, Carol Bodensteiner, S. C. Sherman, Mary Zucker Reichert, Rebecca Janni, Colleen Bradford Krantz, and Sharon Helgens. The all-day event promises writing tips, as well as tips on choosing a publisher and marketing.

The conference is held at the Montezuma Community Schools, 504 N 4th and runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with registration at 8:30.

For a registration form and more information go to  Price is only $25 .

I have always felt that workshops and conferences are necessary for a writer to grow. If you spend one day and only pick up one new idea, it’s worth it and that doesn’t even consider the networking possibilities.

I continue to work on my novel and am thoroughly enjoying Cheryl St. Johns on-line workshop on Conflict. If you were unable to participate in this one, Cheryl frequently has workshops and I will let you know about them as they come up.  What really surprised me about this workshop is the number of participants who are multi-published. Don’t want to be a name dropper but if you signed up, you know what I mean.

Today is my day off from my real job so I have to get back to working on my novel.

Currently reading – Louise Penny’s latest ‘A Trick of the Light’. Love, love, love Louise Penny. Someday I hope to meet her.

As far as author’s I have met, Teresa Weir has a memoir out ‘Orchard’ and Oprah has picked it as her # 2 pick for the October O magazine. Might check it out; I met Teresa years ago at an awards luncheon for my local RWA chapter, Iowa Romance Novelists. Teresa lived in Iowa, at the time. She wrote several award winning novels using her own name back then. She currently has several paranormal suspense novels under the name of Anne Frasier now. Her memoir sounds interesting, another book to add to my- to be read list.

Happy reading and writing,



Posted by on September 13, 2011 in What's Happening


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