Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Writers Conferences

I will be presenting a program for my local RWA chapter this month about ‘How to Prepare for a Writers Conference’. So I thought I would post about that this month.

To start off this week, I will give you a list of conferences to think about attending. Next week I will get more involved with suggestions to make your experience better.

For now here are some conferences to check out:


March 15-16 – The Tucson Festival of Books, University of Arizona campus, Tucson AZ. Free http:/

March 19-23 – Virginia FEstival of the Book, Carlottesville, VA

March 20-22 -The Write Stuff, Allentown, PA – Keynote Speaker Hank Phillipi Ryan

March 20-23 – Left Coast Crime Annual Mystery Convention, Monterey, CA

March 20-23 – Romfest, Knoxville Airport Hilton, Alcoa, TN – Keynote Speaker Brenda Novak.


April 4-6 – Mad Anthony Writers Conference, Hamilton, OH

April 10-15 – The Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference http:/

April 11-13 Missouri Writers Guild Conference, Ramada, downtown St. Louis. http://www.missouriwritersguild org

April 24-26 – Las Vegas Writers Conference, Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.

April 25-26 Chicago Spring Fling Writers Conference. http:/

April 25-26 – North East Texas Writers 28th Annual Writer’s Round-Up in Mot Pleasant, TX

April 25-27 – Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs, CO


May 1-3 The Oklahoma Writers Federation Story Weavers Conference, Oklahoma City, OK.

May 2-4  Malice Domestic, Mystery fan convention, Bethesda MD

May 3-4 DAllas-Fort Worth WRiters Conference, Hurst Conference Center DFW Metroplex, TX

May 14-18 Tomantic Times BOok Lovers Convention, New Orleans, LA http:/

May 15-18 – Pennwriters, Lancaster, PA Keynote Speaker: Kami GArcia.

May 16-17 Tallahassee Book FEstival and Writers Conference, TAllahassee, FL http://www.twaonline.or


June 6-8, Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, Holiday Inn Historic District, Philadelphia, PA.

June 7-14, – Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Santa Barbara, CA.

June 13-14, – Mystery Writers Key West Fest, Key West,

June 13-17,– Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, Lands End Resort, Homer, Alaska.

June 13-17, – Southeastern Writers Workshop, St. Simons Island, Georgia.

June 14-16, – Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference, Los Angeles Valley College, L.A., CA.

June 20-22, –  RomCon Romance Convention, Denver, Colorado (Jodie is presenting 2 workshops at this one.)

June 24-28, – Western Writers of America convention, Sacramento, Calif.

June 26-28, 2014 – Jackson Hole Writers Conference, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

These are just the ones that sparked my interest. You can google to find many more. I will update this list each month so you can plan what you want to attend. I am planning to go to Chicago’s Spring Fling – hope to see some of you there.


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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Conferences and workshops


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Contests – Can They Help Even if You Don’t Win?

Our Iowa Romance Novelist’s group met today. I mentioned in an earlier post that our theme this year is Survivor. This is not exactly like the television show. No one will get kicked off the island but we are attempting to help each other achieve our goals by working as a team.

This month’s program was about contests. We each received the first five pages of a Golden Heart winner’s manuscript. She then gave us the instructions for judging it. There were different points allotted for romance, plot, writing, and character.

As a group, we were all over the board with our answers. It was all subjective. Some looked only at what they could see. Others judged off of where they could see the story going. We were not aware when we started that this was a winning entry. This exercise gave us a feel for how an agent or an editor might review a submission. We all agreed, they would probably make a decision within those first five pages.

Part of the challenge is that we have to submit something to a contest before the next meeting. If we do, we will have a chance to win our entry fee. I am now searching for something I can enter. Since my manuscript is not complete, I am limited to something that doesn’t involve submitting a large portion of my work.

I am now writing my first draft. Keep an eye on my word counter here on my blog and you will be able to see my progress. I am also saving vacation time this year in the hopes that with a completed manuscript I can start attending more writer’s conferences in 2014.

I do continue to read because like Stephen King, I don’t think you can be a serious writer and not read. I usually mix it up with novels and writing how to books.  I finished reading Beautiful Creatures and really enjoyed it. I read Mary Buckam’s Writing Active Setting Book 1 and I purchased Book 2. I think those will really help when I get into the editing stage for adding depth to the story. Because I have a 40 minute commute to work each day I listen to audio books. I finished Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen and I am currently listening to a Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone book.

I will let you know next time what contest I enter. Hope you have a great week writing. Now get off the internet and write.



Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Write a Novel


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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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S is for Scene

“Certain images create private little excitements in the mind.” E.L. Doctorow

When I think of a scene, I think of an image, a setting, a portion of a chapter that deals with an action that moves the story forward. Each scene has to have a purpose. Does it introduce a character, explain why something happened, hint at a mystery, or make the reader feel something? There are many reasons for writing a scene. As the writer, you have to determine what needs to happen at that particular moment in the story.

Scene is a basic building block of a story. It allows us to check the pace and speed it up or slow it down. It needs to have a beginning, middle, and an end. The best endings leave you wanting to read more.

Have you created a scene recently? If not it’s about time.

Will miss Marylee and Anita’s book signing at Barnes and Noble. Hope it is fantastic.  I will be in Minneapolis at the Debra Dixon workshop.

Have a great week writing.


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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized, Writing a Novel


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Q is for Queries

Okay, so far this is the letter that had me stumped. The only writing related topic I could think of was queries. Something I knew little about until I read an article in the current edition of ‘Writer’s Digest‘. – Write the Perfect Query Letter. Your query is your chance to present yourself to an agent. Like your manuscript it needs to shine. It is one of your first marketing tools. The one that can get you an agent.

This piece shows where a literary agent shares a real query letter that worked. She breaks it down and shows not only the good but also the not so good.

It is page length with each paragraph introducing the character, describing goals, motivation, and conflicts in a way that would make the agent want to read the book.

As I said, I have never written a query yet but after reading this article it doesn’t seem so scary. When the time comes, I will do what I always do with a subject I’m unfamiliar with, I will read everything I can find to enlighten me. This article is a great start.

If you are like me and this is new territory, check out October’s Writer’s Digest. I’m sure you will find something to help guide you down the path of publication.



Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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P is for Perfection





“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” – Anne Lamott



I was lucky enough to meet Anne Lamott a while back when she was an author for the AVID event here in Des Moines. AVID is Authors Visiting in Des Moines and is a program that the local library funds each year. They bring in a handful of authors who speak and sign books from April through June. It’s an event I look forward to each year and try to attend as many talks as possible.


Anyone who writes has heard of Anne Lamott and her ‘Bird by Bird’ book on writing. If you have not, you need to get it and read it now. She is one of the writing guru’s I turned to in the beginning. The title came from when her brother attempted to write an essay on different birds. He waited until the last minute to write it and then found himself stuck not knowing how to actually do it. His father told him to not look at the big picture, to take one bird and write about it and then another and another until he completed the report.


I suffer from perfectionism in many areas of my life but especially in my writing. I use it as my crutch or my excuse. If I only have 10-15 minutes to write, it’s easy for me to say it isn’t worth it, what can I possibly get done in that amount of time? Even when I do schedule my writing time, I often catch myself editing the life out of my work and ultimately stopping my forward momentum. Then I can’t figure out why I can’t go forward. Just as if I was a log stuck in quicksand, I get stuck trying to be perfect and instead of finishing the project, it sinks and is never seen again.


I have murdered too many projects because of perfectionism. Like another writer friend Shirley Damsgaard, who writes a witch mystery series as well as the Jess McConkey books told me, “Sometimes you just have to write the damn thing.”


I am so there now. I will spill the words out and worry about mopping up the bad stuff with revision.


As Nora Roberts said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” So I have to get past thinking my first draft has to be perfect.


Are you able to write that first draft and not worry about how bad it is or are you like me and tend to fix it as you go, never getting far from your beginning?


How do you cope with writing that first draft? What are your secrets?


Here’s to writing to the end this week, and not worrying about perfection.




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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Write a Novel


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Tuesday Tip

Writing yourself into a corner isn’t any fun but getting yourself out can be. You may have got stuck because you didn’t know what your character would do. Now is the time to get to know your character a little better.

Filling out a character sketch when I start a new project is like trying to fit into my swimsuit at the beginning of summer. It can be a little embarrassing. How am I supposed to write a story about this person when we’ve only just met.

I fill out the basic information that I know, usually the appearance, hair color, eyes, height, weight. Now I have a basic shadow person, no real depth. I then write a few scenes and as I write, I learn more about the character and gradually make more decisions.

Keep your character sketch handy as you write. The more you write, the better picture you’ll develop and the more you’ill get to know them. What do they really want? Why do they want it? What do they need? What scares them? Do they fear anyone or anything? What are their goals? Where do they want to be by the end of the story?

Keep asking questions. The more answers you get, the better you get to know the character and the better your chance of not getting stuck.

Let character help drive your story.

Hope you get to meet lots of interesting characters.


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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Write a Novel


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Wednesday WIP

Writers are people who desperately need habits to fill up their days.” Ann Patchett

What can I say, I have messed around with this story idea so long. Trying to get a solid outline so that I will have my road map to finish but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I felt edgy wanting to write but thinking I needed to figure out just a little bit more of the story.

So I started blogging more. Blogging for me is like priming the pump. The more words I release, the more I want to write – especially on the novel.

I can’t say I finished the outline, at least not like I wanted it but I feel like I know enough of the story to start writing. Over the past few weeks I have written a few scenes. Some feel disjointed, not sure if I will keep all of them but I guess that is what a first draft is for.

Because my urge to write was so strong, I put all the scenes I’ve written so far together and added another this week. So far my word count is 2619 words. Not a lot when I am aiming for around 80,000 words. That means for me to get the first draft done by the end of September, I need to write 1289 words a day. A little over 5 pages a day. I have written 50,000 in 30 days during NaNoWriMo a couple of times so I know I can do it.

I am going to set my goal at 1289 words a day for the next 60 days. I will not expect perfection. I will push forward and make this happen.

That is just the first of many goals before I will be ready to send anything out.  I will blog weekly about my progress and maybe some of the struggles.  I hope you will follow along on my journey. This is the year I will make the dream of completing a novel come true. No matter how bad I think it is, I will continue until the end. I will lock my editor up until needed. The next 60 days are just for writing.

How do you push through that first draft? What are your secrets? Advice welcome.

Happy Writing!


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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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WIP Wednesday

With this post, I will try to keep you updated on how I am doing with my project. I won’t call it a novel until I am further along and I won’t talk about the story because I don’t want jinx myself by sharing too much too soon.

What I will tell you about is the stage I am in with the project. I have written a few scenes and again felt like I was floundering. My critic came to visit and stayed. I started doubting myself again.

I want to get the first draft done before the end of September. I am going to a writer’s workshop in Minnesota and I felt it would give me a good date to aim for.

I have been working on plotting and outlining and reading everything that I could get my hands on about the subject. I found several books online that have helped.  I have been reading so much about outlining, that I volunteered to present a workshop on the subject this past Saturday at my CIFW (Central Iowa Fiction Writers – a local chapter of Romance Writers of America).

The workshop went well. I didn’t do anything embarrassing, at least; I had read so much about the subject I felt comfortable talking about it. The best compliment came from one of our published authors, the Sparkle half of Sparkle Abbey. She said I’d helped her figure out something with the current story she was writing.  The workshop was hands on and those present seemed to get absorbed in their work, so I was happy.

My goal this week is to complete my outline and actually start writing and keep writing.  When I have completed the outline, I will calculate the number of words per day I will need to do by the end of September and share the number of words written each week with this weekly post.

Your assignment is to help keep me motivated and moving forward.  As you can see, I am planning to post more often, not daily but several times a week. Writing here seems to make me want to work on my wip, so I will do what I need to do to get it finished. I enjoy blogging and it makes me feel a little more connected to the writing community.

If anyone would like to share their writing methods feel free to chime in. How much do you prepare before you actually start writing?    How do you stay motivated every day? Do you have a special time of day that you write and is it consistent? How is your writing going?

Until next time,


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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Write a Novel


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J is for Juggling

“I have spent so long erecting partitions around the part of me that writes – learning how to close the door on it when ordinary life intervenes, how to close the door on ordinary life when it’s time to start writing again. –that I’m not sure I could fit the two parts of me back together now.” – Anne Tyler

This is probably the most difficult part of my life. I feel the yearning to write when I am at work and there is no way because my job takes total concentration. Because of that total concentration all day, I often find myself coming home at night without the energy to write, even though I feel that need.

Ever since I took a Franklin Planner class while working for a past employer, I believe that planning is the key. If I schedule my writing as an appointment, I will do it. By writing it down, I also have something to look forward to at the end of the day, or at the beginning.  This system also helps you set both short and long term goals. If you haven’t ever tried this system, you can check it out online, or if you are lucky enough to have a store in your area, stop in and look around. The system contains all you need to set it up and walk you through the process.

It is the power of the word. If I write it down, I make it a priority.

How do you juggle the important things in your life?

May you make all of your writing appointments this week.


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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Writing a Novel


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