Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | July 6, 2015

Get Calm and Write

Life has been a bit overwhelming this year and recently when it was time to write I found my mind stirred by panic and as blank as an unwritten book. Nothing. There. Nothing.

On reflection, I realized the tornado of angst that had wiped my mind clean was my own doing, my own unnecessary agonizing over things that couldn’t be known, over things that I could defer to an expert for an answer. I gave myself a week to calm down and within a few days I again became verbal and curious about what others do in a situation like mine.

What if you don’t have the luxury of a week to get back into your creating mode? What can be done for more immediate results?

  1. Remember yoga. Breathe in, breathe out. (Think, breathe in, and breathe out). Repeat. Continue until calm. This is a form of meditation. For additional ways to meditate check out this wiki article http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate . A supporting action I learned in yoga class is to tense and release muscles one body part at a time starting with your toes.
  1. Write in a journal. Promise yourself you never have to reread these pages and feel free to shred them afterwards. I do. Here’s a blog article that gives specific ways to calm yourself via journaling http://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog/10-quick-journal-prompts-to-calm-your-mind
  1. Be grateful. As I and my partner have been dealing with our significant health issues this year, I had, early on, focused on gratitude. Goodness knows, these are bad diagnoses, but we were lucky too. It occurs to me, that I had, momentarily forgotten our good fortune. For more in depth thoughts on how this works, read this article by Daniel A. Miller http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-gratitude-can-calm-nerves-make-you-more-effective/
  1. Other things that can calm are:
  1. Keeping a to do list, that way you can relax knowing you’ll remember everything that needs to be done at a later time.
  2. Both your body and your mind benefit from giving your body a workout.
  3. Talk to yourself with kindness.
  4. Count backwards for as long as it takes.

For my own life this week, I settled down by reminding myself that living life itself is an act of creation and, just like writing a story, the creator needs to trust that all of the necessary pieces will come together.

What do you do to get calm and get writing?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 2, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 07-02-2015

Welcome to our first links round-up of July! The Fourth of July is just days away, and we wish our American readers a safe and happy celebration.

Diversity in writing is often lacking, but here are some Native American superheroes taking comic books by storm. In other diversity stories, we have talked about white-washing covers, but author Tess Sharpe experienced straight-washing of her bisexual character.

The latest “disturbance in the Force” in the publishing world is the new payment schedules adopted by Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Ciara Ballintyne explains the benefits to the new Kindle Unlimited payment scheme, while Chuck Wendig discusses other ways to “fix” the problems Kindle Unlimited faced.

The blog Middle Grade Strikes Back has added a new feature spotlighting illustrators. The first MGSB Sketchbook focuses on Chris Riddell.

LifeHacker shares an infographic showing how long it takes to read popular children’s books. Maybe the kids can read while they eat: many Brooklyn Public Library locations are offering daily cold lunches for kids.

CRAFT

When we begin a new project, we have many issues to consider. Foremost might be what genre we want to write in. Steve Laub discusses if and why genre still matters today. Second, we need to know who the story is about. Kristen A. Kieffer tells us how to choose a main character. Finally, we need to figure out how to most effectively tell the story. Rob Hart gives us 3 steps to a bulletproof novel outline.

Getting our characters and their POV right is always tricky. Roz Morris shares 3 signs that your novel has too many characters and what to do about it, Jen Matera discusses character consistency, and Janice Hardy brings us 5 ways POV can make you a better writer.

When writing characters, you need to get the details right. Benjamin Sobieck has 10 errors to avoid when writing about guns, and Roz Morris tells us how to write dialogue that’s convincing and full of life.

Writing groups can be wonderfully supportive places to improve your craft and ease writerly isolation. However, as Jennie Nash reminds us, writing groups have dangers, too, so we should go in with eyes open. Even with writer support groups, sometimes it seems like the writing never gets easier, but K.M. Weiland has 3 ways to make writing your novel easier.

We all search for inspiration. Ruth Harris has 11 tips for care and feeding of your Muse, Belle Wong describes rethinking her use of Morning Pages, Claire King discusses how publishing a novel will change your life, and Dan Blank shares a complete list of creative distractions and defenses against them.

Ever want to turn your book into an audiobook? Linda Holmes looks at the art of the audiobook and how they have evolved since they first came out.

BUSINESS

It seems to be getting harder and harder to make money as an author these days. Kristen Pope explores how one writer used crowdfunding to raise $12,775 in 30 days, and Brian White of Fireside discusses the radical idea that authors need to eat, too.

We all know that writing is an art but publishing is a business. It is the business side of things that we authors often struggle with. Helen Sedwick discusses if authors should incorporate themselves.

We hear much marketing advice about branding ourselves and how to reach readers. Janet Kobobel Grant explains how an author gets branded, and Jason Kong highlights the email marketing trap fiction writers must avoid.

Blogs and our author website form the backbone of many of our marketing efforts. Jane Freidman shows how to choose the right WordPress theme for you, while Joel Freidlander shows how to leap from blogger to book author.

Think blogging can’t help your career? Kevin Duncan shows how to write blog comments that get you noticed, and Dorit Sasson tells us how writers can use strategic blogging to find readers.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

In an age where we are seeing more and more kick-butt female characters, we can all take lessons from…Jane Austen? Julia Seales shares 10 lessons from Jane Austen on how to be a badass.

Writing Steampunk? Lauren Davis brings us real-life gadgets perfect for a Victorian Era James Bond.

If you are getting older (like me) or just have bad eyes, take a peek at these 10 gadgets to help you better see what you’re working on.

Zombies seem to have taken over the world these days, but they are not a modern phenomenon. Ancient Greeks used various methods to make sure the undead would not rise again.

That’s all for us this week! Have a fun and safe 4th of July, America!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 30, 2015

Why the “Rules” of Story Matter

At the Willow Grover Writers’ Coffeehouse this past weekend, we discussed the structural “rules” of writing. I put “rules” in quotes because we all can point to an author or book that broke the rules and was still wildly successful and wonderfully written. Some people said that following these rules made their work felt formulaic and bland.

I am the first one to say that, yes, the rules can be broken. They are more like strong suggestions. But it still matters that we know and understand them.

Human beings are wired for story—and it is well known that certain story structures resonate more deeply with readers than others. So it behooves us to understand those structures so we can tell our stories in the most compelling way possible.

When we are new writers, writing to rules and formula is a necessary part of the learning curve. We have so many things to earn about as writers, it is a huge stepping stone to follow the time-honored structures that will make our story compelling while we work on the nuances of character and dialogue and description and theme and subplots and…you get the picture.

So does this mean we are constrained to a life of beat sheets and hero’s journeys and three-act structures? Yes and no. I suspect that if you write your story “organically” you will find that it more or less follows one of the story structures people talk about in craft books. We are wired that way.

But that does not mean we can’t break the rules when it benefits our story. Authors have bent and broken and tweaked story structure throughout time, as the story demands. The reason you need to know the rules is to know not only how to break them, but to know why you are breaking them. Breaking them randomly for no story-related reason will result in a badly-told story no one wants to read. Breaking the rules for a story-related reason, for a reason that will elevate the story and bring it home, will result in a compelling read.

The “rules” of story structure are like a scaffold. As we are building our knowledge and our craft, the scaffolding supports us. At some point in our career, we can take the scaffolding down and stand on our own experience and instinct. While most of the time we will still instinctively follow the rules of story structure, you can break out and experiment—the key is to experiment with purpose.

That’s why the “rules” matter—they help us stand when we are young writers and when we have matured we can use them as a springboard to launch our writing in new directions.

How about you? Do you feel constrained by the rules, or do they help you soar?

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 25, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 06-25-2015

Summer started off with a bang here in the south Jersey-southeastern Pennsylvania-Delaware region. First we had a heat wave, then a fierce line of storms that knocked out power for many. The forecast for Saturday is rain and temperatures that won’t reach 70. We’re not complaining (too much), however, because we’ve been spared the floods, drought, and fires that are ravaging other parts of the country.

One thing you can do when the power goes out is read, even if you have to use a flashlight or candle. Reading benefits adults as well as children. In fact, P J Parrish asserts that everything she ever learned she learned from potboilers. and wonders if, in our effort to stuff information into kids’ heads, we are leaving insufficient room to let kids develop their imaginations.

Readers can help writers too. Nicole Froio mentions 4 ways readers can help make publishing more equal, and Michael Kozlowski wonders why libraries must pay so much more for ebooks.

Wherever you are in your journey as a writer, Anne R. Allen gives us 6 bad reasons for writing a novel and 6 good ones, James Scott Bell urges writers to earn your writing success the old-fashioned way — that is, to work for it, and Mary Keeley lists traits of a writer on track for success.

If you’re looking for writing tips, Lee Lofland presents writing secrets of best-selling author Lee Child, and J Patrick Allen recommends 5 alternatives to the big bad writing workshop.

Sometimes genre writers feel they do not get enough credit as writers. Susabelle Kelmer urges romance writers to make no apologies for writing in the romance genre, which sells more books than any other genre.

In envy and the writer, Michelle Ule admits to and gives suggestions for dealing with envy of other writers.

And let us remember author James Salter, often called a “writer’s writer, who died June 19 at age 90.

CRAFT

When it’s time to sit down to write, Anthony Reese advises writers to courageously write badly — all the bad stuff can be eliminated during revision.

Writers sometimes struggle with self-doubt. Jennifer Blanchard lists 3 simple ways to boost your confidence as a writer, and Kathleen McCleary suggests using tricks from other writers to improve your own writing.

We all have them — Clare Langley-Hawthorne asks what’s your writing tic?

Do you give enough attention to the elements of your story? Claire M. Caterer gives us her thoughts on theme, K. M. Weiland clarifies what every writer ought to know about the omniscient POV, and Rob Bignel urges writers to appeal to the sense of sound when writing.

One of the key elements is, of course, characterization. Catherine Linka provides 10 tips for writing unforgettable villains. Janice Hardy asks how judgmental are your characters? and Angela Ackerman wonders what type of secret does your character keep? SueBE suggests making use of body language in your writing.

Though it may seem unusual, Kathryn Craft recommends embracing paradox as a writer.

Lee Wind offers the anatomy of a scene, a resource for writers and illustrators, and editor Christy Distler asks writers where the white space is — are you telling too much instead of showing?

Three writers offer pointers by the numbers: B. D. Schmitt lists 17 things he learned about writing from structuring his novel in 7 days, Jody Hedlund believes writers should keep growing and improving and mentions 5 ways writers get lazy, and Ellen Mulholland provides 5 reasons why you need a critique partner.

BUSINESS

More changes in the publishing industry were announced this week. Joel Friedlander explains that Apple will now allow pre-orders for ebooks that have no more than etadata, and Smashwords has announced that it will do the same for all its distribution partners (which includes Apple). In addition, Sai Sachin R reports that now Amazon plans to pay writers based on the number of pages read, rather than by the number of times the book is borrowed.

David Kudler gives us the definition of an ebook.

Agent Janet Reid provides some enlightenment on the relationship between the length of time an agent has your submission and the likelihood of an offer of representation.

Susan Shapiro recommends 9 ways to a faster book deal, and Jane Friedman offers absolute beginners pointers on how to sell your screenplay.

Carla Douglas and Corina Koch MacLeod explain how using editing tools can improve your writing.

For Indie authors, Michele DePhilippo talks about working with a book cover designer, and Porter Anderson declares: in self-publishing, the gatekeepers are dead. Long live the gatekeepers!

In the world of social media, Nina Amir provides tips on growing your email list with a virtual blog tour, Jeff Goins interviews Elizabeth Bradley about how to guest post on a celebrity blog, and Bryan Hutchinson provides 5 tips on how to shake the haters (who hate, hate, hate).

Bill Ferris gives tips on how to blurb a book.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

In a video from Book Expo America, Harper Collins’ authors and staff share the books that changed their lives. Do you have one to add to their list?

For those who feel like a little daydreaming, Chelsey Pippin presents 22 fairy tale castles you can actually visit in England, Scotland, and Wales.

We’ve come to the end of our roundup this week. Wishing you good writing, good reading, and a good week to come!

sunset

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | June 23, 2015

Writing Longhand

This subject came up in one of the funnier “water cooler” conversations at work for me recently, originally involving fountain pens. People are used to hearing people from IT get into complicated and drawn out discussions, and we didn’t disappoint.  In this case my co-worker, a fountain pen aficionado, was trying to interest me in several and I, being very high-maintenance about such things, was being…myself. :)

One or two witnesses to this conversation were wondering why I was so demanding about a pen, which brings us to writing. I usually write on a computer, but on a weekly basis, I have longhand writing sessions. The purpose for this is that I’m writing “about” the writing, as if in a journal. Or I might be sketching out future writing. I usually write in my own voice, but I’ve temporarily switched to characters’ voices many times.

I have found that if you’re stuck on something, just writing it down longhand can often get it unstuck. My reason for this has always been that your brain is working on the answer while your hand is writing it on paper. When you’re on the computer, however, this is much harder to do. You can type too fast for your brain to get that far ahead of you. Also, for many people there is the constant need to go into editor mode when on the computer, only because they can. The word processor allows them to present their writing which invites endless editing. Spell-checking becomes easier to do on the fly on a keyboard.

Handwriting doesn’t cause you to do these things because you don’t have any chance of fixing it and seeing it fixed immediately. If your handwriting’s a mess, you accept it and move on.

I looked up this topic, and in addition to the legions of writers who favor writing longhand, I found some references to a scientific/psychological analysis of it. There are articles discussing which hemisphere of the brain is involved with longhand writing versus using a computer, with the assertion being that the right side (long associated with art) is what gets used most when writing longhand. Also, it’s widely reported that people of all ages learn better when writing longhand, regardless of what they’re writing.

Being in the IT field as well as having a desire for writing fiction, it’s in my best interest to bridge the gap between the technology and the arts (sides of the brain). I believe there is a way to stay focused on writing and using a computer keyboard with practice (and the right keyboard ;) ).

But in the meantime, if you haven’t tried writing longhand you really should (with a good pen).

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 18, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 06-18-2015

Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | June 16, 2015

We Got Him!: The secret to getting a child hooked on audiobooks

For the last week, due to a camp mix-up, a friend of my son’s has been spending every day with us. The two boys have gone on adventures, explored a tree house, built a fort, made huge messes and just general played. The only wrinkle in their time spent together was that my son loves listening to audio books during lunch. He was terribly excited to share his favorite books with his friend and asked to start with Barbara and James Howe’s BUNNICULA.

“I don’t understand,” his friend said ten minutes in. He’s a very bright boy who reads well so I wasn’t sure what was going on. I tried to explain the story as they went along but sensed him getting more frustrated. So we turned off the story and went swimming.

As the week progressed we tried various books but he kept saying her didn’t understand. Explanations didn’t help. Finally he asked “Do you have anything spooky?” I couldn’t think of anything in particular that was appropriate for children until I remembered Bruce Coville’s short story, BISCUITS OF GLORY.

He loved it and not once did he say he didn’t understand. When I was later talking to my sister, a teacher, I asked her what she thought.

“Does it have one narrator or different voices?” she asked. “Different voices,” I said, since it was done by a group called Full Cast Audio. She assured me that when children first heard audio books it helped for them to be able to differentiate characters easily.

I looked over our other audio books and found a whole series of Bruce’s books done by the Full Cast Audio people. Within in moments of starting the first one, THE DRAGON OF DOOM: MOONGOBBLE AND ME, I knew my sister had been right. Both boys, who were so tired from a morning of adventuring that though they were hungry they were too cranky to eat, settled down and ate their lunches.

Each day they have eaten their lunches and listened to a new MOONGOBBLER book (they take about an hour). And as soon as the book is done my son’s friend asks anxiously if there will be another tomorrow.

We got him!

AC at the PWCOn Friday night, the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference  hosted the Agents & Editors Buffet. Neither I nor J. Thomas Ross could make it, but our critique group crony Bob Drumm went. Bob kindly provided us with notes from the event, and we are sharing them with you.

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The editors at the Friday night dinner of the Philadelphia Writers Conference mostly revealed information already on their websites or previous interviews online. Below are a few notes for each editor or agent.

Ayesha Hamid, PS Books

  • Open to all submissions for any story or poem about the city of Philadelphia.

Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary

  • Wants to develop books that will have a long backlist rather than just hot at the moment.
  • Wants to help map out a writer’s career.
  • Third year at Philadelphia and would like to find someone this year!
  • 20 plus years’ experience in all phases of publishing. Editorial agent.

Alec Shane, Writers House LLC

  • Looking for boy centric stories even though harder to sell.
  • On a mission to get more boys reading.
  • Also seeking history and memoir.

Jennifer Chen Tran, Fuse Literary Agency

  • Wants to build YA list.
  • Wants a polished fast paced character driven works.
  • She is very selective.

Sarah Yake, Frances Collin Literary Agency

  • Very small organization of just two people, but established in 1948.
  • She only takes on one or two authors a year.
  • Mention PWC in subject line or your submission will be rejected.

Eric Smith, PS Literary Agency

  • New Agent based in Philly.
  • Interested in YA, especially tear jerkers and fantasy.
  • Make him laugh out loud.

During Q&A all mentioned the importance of reading what they want and to follow ALL guidelines. They were all friendly, positive, but realistic about the current market. Adrianna did mention that the market has improved since the doldrums of 2008-10.

Bottom line: Believe in yourself. Stay positive. Follow the rules and submit. Good Luck!

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Bob DrummBob Drumm is a not-yet-published writer. His current works-in-progress include a YA novel, Pretzel Boy, and an adult novel, The Princess Rules. This was his 3rd PWC, but the first one in a long time and he took every opportunity to learn and network!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 14, 2015

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: Day Three

AC at the PWC“The magic number 3.” 

More than one workshop leader talked about the magic of number 3. We have the rule of 3, it takes 3 repetitions for people to remember something, and stories have 3 acts and 3 parts (beginning, middle, end).

This third day of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference kept the high note of creativity and enthusiasm that marked the weekend. As is typical, the conferees felt very comfortable by the last day and many of the workshops burst into laughter from time to time.

Today’s single-day workshops were:

“Essentials of Self-Publishing” with Merry Farmer

Merry Farmer’s Self-publishing workshop was packed with people and with information. We all hoped that next year she might have a 3-day course, because Merry had much more information than she could impart in an hour. In fact, I saw her the rest of the day constantly surrounded by conferees peppering her with questions! The biggest message from Merry was: Don’t go into self-publishing unless it is what you really want to do it and invest the time and money to do it right.

I then went to the final day of Fran Wilde’s Short Story workshop. Today we focused on revising the 3-scene short story (there’s another #3) we’ve worked on for the past 2 days. We talked a great deal about the “hook” line and the “sinker” line—the first and last lines. The last line should refer back to the opening in some way, completing the circuit. Doing those two lines helps you focus your work as you revise. Although Fran worked us hard, we came away with a rough draft of a story and—as advertised—a toolkit to allow us to write and revise more stories in the future.

“Social Media” with Don Lafferty

Lunchtime found us back in the Bourse. We got a glimpse of the Gay Pride Parade going down Market Street when we returned to the conference for our final afternoon.

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Catherine Stine discussed creating 3 different length synopses (there’s #3 again) and told us about her experiences and missteps in finding and having an agent. She also reviewed some of our 2-sentence synopses and answered many of our marketing questions.

“Writing the Novel” with Solomon Jones

Solomon Jones was back at the helm for the final day of his Novel workshop. We put together the Setting we had created on Friday with one of the two Characters we created with Greg Frost yesterday. For some reason, Solomon did NOT want to utilize the ghost character, so we went with the Irish grad student. By the time we finished, we got to see how creating the setting first helped us shape the characters, and how creating the characters suggested relationships between them, which suggested the conflicts within the story, etc. In this way we brainstormed the basis of a story from the ground up and got pretty deep into the conflict and themes. (Although I still wanted to add a ghost.)

The day wrapped up with the Publishing in a Digital World panel, which I did not attend. My brain could take no more!

“Closing Panel: Publishing in a Digital World” with Christine Weiser, Peter Krok, Don Lafferty, and Anna M. Evans

I usually include the PWC contest winner in the Day 3 recap, but this year the PWC already has them up on the website, so here is the link!

The 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference brought us 3 days of magical wisdom, opportunity, and camaraderie. Many thanks to the PWC Board and everyone else who worked so hard to make this conference successful. I came away with new craft ideas, new business savvy, new friends, and even a short story. The learning and the laughter was well worth the price of admission.

For 3 days we immersed ourselves in the magic of writing, to fortify us in the year ahead. I look forward to experiencing the magic of 3 again next year!

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Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 13, 2015

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference: Day Two

AC at the PWC “Do you want to be immortal?” – Dan Maguire

Writers seeking immortality in the written word gathered at the Wyndam Hotel at 4th and Arch for Day Two of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. As usual on Saturday, the crowd swelled and eager newcomers brought fresh blood to revitalize those of us suffering from day-two-I’m-not-as-young-as-I-used-to-be fatigue. The coffee in the hospitality room helped, too.

The weather had moderated a bit, but the instructors brought the heat, pushing us to further creativity. Today marked the beginning of the two 2-day Master Classes:

  • The Language of Screenwriting (Susan Beth Lehman)
  • Poetry: The Play of the Mind (Christopher Bursk)

If you didn’t take a Master Class, you could choose from:

"The Book Architecture Method" with Stuart Horwitz

“The Book Architecture Method” with Stuart Horwitz

I took Janice’s class on Researching. She discussed why the Internet should be a starting point for research, but never the final destination. She also said that experts love to talk about their work, so are usually willing to help you out. We also tried to figure out how to research such perfectly normal writerly topics as: money laundering, how to debride skin, and how a murderer feels after killing someone.

"The Three-Day Short Story Toolkit" with Fran Wilde

“The Three-Day Short Story Toolkit” with Fran Wilde

At 11 AM, the 3-day workshops resumed, and I went back to Fran Wilde’s Short Story class. Her intense writing schedule hadn’t scared many of us away, so today we plunged in to discuss (and write!) the middle and end scenes of the 3-scene story structure. Although we talked about many things today, the one idea that jumped out at me was about raising the stakes. Fran said that your characters are in more danger because they successfully got what they needed in the first scene. In other words, by fulfilling Need A in the first scene, they can now pursue Need B in the next scene, and Need B is a bigger, more dangerous Need than Need A. When they get Need B, that leads them to Need C, which is even worse, and so on. I had never thought about it that way, and of course raising the stakes in this manner will work just as well in a novel as in a short story.

Lunchtime sent a group of us out into the not-as-bad-as-yesterday heat, but many people stayed for the Lunchtime Open Mic session. I believe this was new this year, and if anyone stayed for it, feel free to comment below and tell us how it went!

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The afternoon 3-day sessions began at 1:30 PM. For me, that meant Catherine Stine and her YA class. Today we covered a little bit of everything, from New Adult to plotting to character. I loved how she likened plot to an orchestral piece of music—varying loud and soft, fast and slow, and playing many different instruments at once. We also talked about every book having an underlying Big Question (or theme) that you are exploring—and most importantly that it is not the author’s job to answer the Big Question for the reader. It is the author’s job to lay all the evidence on the table and let the reader answer the Big Question for himself.

I then hopped over to Solomon Jones’ Writing the Novel course, only today Solomon looked and sounded an awful lot like Gregory Frost. Greg filled in for Solomon today, working on creating Character as part of the seamless blending of setting, character, and plot. We discussed how Setting (covered yesterday) impacts Character, since every character is by necessity an expression and reflection of the world they live in. We then conjured a skinny Irish grad student-waitress and a hobo-lawyer ghost out of thin air and saw how simply creating the characters can lead to story ideas and connections within the story to deepen it.

 Mystery- Thriller Writing with Jon McGoran

“Writing Thriller and Mystery” with Jon McGoran

After the 3-days were finished, two more single-day workshops were available:

  • Courting the Spark: Finding and Using your Creativity (Dan Maguire)
  • Micro. Sudden. Flash. Fiction. (Randall Brown)

I chose Dan Maguire’s Creativity course. Dan is an engaging speaker who kept us laughing while showing us how to reconnect with our writing when we have writer’s block. He discussed the two types of “sparks” for igniting our creativity: external and internal. External sparks are things like music, inspiring quotes, or nature. Internal sparks are things such as a writing routine that cues you “it’s time to write,” writing a dream, having a talisman, or imitating a great writer.

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Tonight features the Banquet and Keynote Address with Stephen Fried. The winners of the writing contests will be announced tonight, and I hope to have the winners listed in tomorrow night’s Day Three recap. If anyone attended the banquet, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

We all have different reasons for writing, different goals for putting words on the page. Depending on our current point in our journey, the goal could be anything from learning how to structure a story to getting your next book to a Big 5 publisher. Being able to come together in such a vibrant, enthusiastic environment is a boon to all of us, no matter where we are in our career.

The quest for immortality continues tomorrow.

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