Saturday, February 28, 2009

Writing Retreat -- St. Louis

Learn Character-Driven Plotting In 2 Days!!

Our 2008 classes were filled with writers not-yet-published and multi-published authors.
This program is great for Plotters and Pantsers – what?!
It’s true. Plotters learn how to organize their story so that conflict doesn’t break down and pacing stays strong. Pantsers leave with a way to flush out weak spots in a story – PLOT HOLES – and fix the problems. Getting published just got harder with budget tightening…but publishers are always looking for good books.
More so than ever before – your story has to be the very best.

Instructors for Break Into Fiction® Power Plotting Retreat:
Award-winning author Mary Buckham
& NYT best selling author Dianna Love.

Retreat has limited seating to assure time to work with every attendee on their story throughout the 2 days. And…attendees receive 5 bonus templates.

"...I used to think I was good at plotting – but this past (retreat) weekend made me realize I’ve been guilty of a more complicated version of the ‘one damned thing after another’ plot. I’m stunned at how well an entire story arc came together in just two days.” Marcella Burnard

“Break into Fiction is solidly grounded in storytelling fundamentals but then goes much farther into the practical detail that determines whether your book will bring a check or a rejection slip.” ~~ Jon Franklin, author of Writing for Story and a Pulitzer Prize winner

Break Into Fiction® 2008 Attendees…

4 attendees from 2008 have sold
2 more have books with editors who have “recommended a buy”
15 have had agent requests, 10 finally finished their books
Many have finaled and won contests that put them in front of editors & agents
Published author feedback shows they are thrilled with their new level of production and writing quality

What about you?


St. LOUIS – April 4-5th

P.S. Also be sure and visit the website to enter a Contest for great writing-related prizes.

Writing Contest

photo courtesy of Witheyes

The Kansas Author’s Club District 2 is now accepting entries for the 2009 Annual Writing Contest. The contest is open to all writers and includes four prose categories and four poetry categories.

Prose entries, which have a 2000-word limit, include: short story, memoir, inspirational, and children’s story. Poetry categories are: classic forms (sonnet 14 lines, all others up to 40 lines); free verse (40-line limit); rhymed verse (40-line limit); and haiku (3-line limit).

All entries should be unpublished.

Prizes of $20, $10, and $5 will be offered for First, Second and Third place in all eight categories. Honorable mentions will receive certificates. Closing date for entries is March 31. Winners will be announced on May 9.

The entry fee is $3 per submission for KAC District 2 members, $4 for non-members. Only the title and category (no name) appear at the top of the first page of each typed entry. On a separate cover sheet, type name and address, including email address if available, a list of entries submitted by title and category, and indicate whether a District 2 member or non-member.

The submission plus entry fees and a self-addressed stamped envelope should be sent to Norm Ledgin, KAC District 2 Writing Contest, P.O. Box 23571, Stanley, KS 66283.

Information about Kansas Authors Club is available at
Under “Districts,” then “District 2 News,” click on “2009 Writing Contest” for more information.

Words Matter
Kansas Author’s Club, District 2

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Body Language of a Cop

For all you mystery writers. You have cops in your scenes. Do you know a cop? If not, cops have different body language than the average joe citizen. I know, I'm married to one. when I started my mystery series it was pretty easy for me to figure out how my cop was going to act, how we would react and what his body stance would be. Yep, I just observed hubby.

I love watching him interact in public. The most obvious thing I learned about his actions was that in a restaurant, he will NEVER sit with his back to the door. Being a writer, I'm an observer of people and this drives me nuts, because I have to sit with my back to the door. I get stuck watching the looney birds in the corner play smoochy face or whatever, while he gets to watch people come and go. I know I could run in and sit down in the seat facing the door, but it's a protection, macho thing on his part. So I watch the looney birds.

I ran across a great post by Lynda Sue Cooper about cop body language, and this gal really drilled it. It's because she and her husband are both cops. As I read the post, I thought, "Oh boy, she must know my husband."

The next time you write about a cop or any professional for that matter, stop and think about what in their profession causes them to do certain things or act certain ways.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Writer's Block

photo couresy of Darren Hester

Do you believe in it? Have you experienced it?

I can't say I believe in writer's block. What I do believe is that some days I am more inspired to write. On the days I'm not inspired, it's not that I don't have anything to say. Goodness knows I always have something to say. But I may not like the tone on the rhythm or the way it looks on my computer screen.

Did you ever have one of those nights where you were tired, yet you couldn't sleep? The more you tried the more frustrating it became. Or how about a recipe that you've made a thousand times and everytime you make it, it tastes different?

When I experience on of those "frustrating" times when I'm writing, it's usually because I am trying too hard (kind of like the sleep thing.) Sleep experts tell you when you are dealing with insomnia the worst thing you can do it stay in bed. Get up, walk around, watch television, read a book, but don't lie in bed. I try and follow the same advice when I'm sitting at the computer and the words won't come, because the more I stare at the screen, the more frustrated and anxious I become. Changing scenery is sometimes just the thing I need to work out the cobwebs in my head and find the perfect words I wanted to say.

I found this article by Jennifer Roach that talks about jumpstarts when your writing is stalled. Even if you don't suffer from writer's blocks, these are some great ideas for story starters or for just letting your muse wander.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cliches and Me

I have a hard time with cliches (and also the html coding for the wierd little thing over the e.) So bear with me. I'm talking those crazy little phrases that drive us up the wall (notice the cliche.) But if I say, "cute as a button," for example. Ya'll know exactly what I mean. Or if, it was a dark and stormy night, there is no getting around the fact (getting around the fact is probably a cliche, too) that there was rain coming down, and the sun was not to be found. What about, let the cat out of the bag. We all know someone couldn't keep a secret.

Rather than ban cliches, I say embrace them. Then we don't have to think so hard to figure out what's being said. Do I hear a yes? Anyone?

I know, I know. Agents make little notches in their knickers every time they see a cliche, so I'm redlining them (the cliches, not the agents.) Agents are our friends.

When I go back and edit, I always find those stinking little words. They are way too easy to slip in subconsciously. I even made a lit of the worst offenders. But it's like cussing, if you get the habit, it's hard to break. Maybe I need to put a quarter box on my desk and tos sin a quarter for every cliche I find.

I am contastly looking for new ways to express myself in my writing. I Now I'm just hoping that no one latches onto my new phrases and makes cliches out of them.

Check out this link that lists cliches. It's from Laura Hayden's "Left-Brain- Right Brain/Creativity Program". As a added bonus, there's a listing of euphemisms for the word "Stupid." And I found one I've never heard of... His yeast went bad. Is that a knee-slapper or what? Oops, I think that should be added to the cliche list.

Hope you enjoy the link.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flash Fiction Contest

Pike's Peak courtesy of DewKnight

Announcing the 2009 Pikes Peak Branch National League of American Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest

A complete but very short story of 100 words or fewer

Deadline: Postmarked by March 2, 2009

Entry fee: $10.00

Prizes: 1st $75; 2nd $40; Judge's Merit $15.00

Theme: "Everything was perfect"

Flash fiction is a complete but very short story of 100 words or fewer. The title is not included in the word count. The story must pertain to the theme, "Everything was perfect." All genres are welcome, and multiple entries may be submitted. An entry fee is required for each entry. No poetry. A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included. Winners will be notified by or before April 15, 2009. For complete rules and entry blank please go to (click Pikes Peak branch, then contests) or e-mail

Carol Caverly
Flash Fiction
Contest Chair
86 Rising Sun Ter
Colorado Springs, CO 80921

Monday, February 16, 2009

Call for Submissions - Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love

photo courtesy of my_amii

Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love
101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about Dating, Romance, Love and Marriage

Everyone loves a good love story. And we all love stories about how the love started and blossomed.

Join us in a fun new book about dating, romance, love, and marriage, scheduled for publication in January 2010, just in time for Valentine's Day.

We are looking for true stories and poems about your soulmate, your true love, the one that got away, and all the ups and downs of your love life. Stories can be serious or hilarious, or both.

We prefer stories and poems written in the first person of 600-1,200 words. Stories should not be pre-published unless in very small publications.

Here are some suggested topics, but we know you can think of many more:
Dating adventures - the good and the bad
How you met
Internet searching and dating
Speed dating and other strategies
When did you know?
Wedding stories
Parental pressure and support
Pressure and support from children
Senior dating and love at a certain age
Making marriage work
Second chances

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose.

You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100.

You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it. SUBMISSIONS GO TO
DEADLINE IS May 31, 2009.

Teen relationships will be covered in a future book, so please do not submit them for this book.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Online Writing Class

Online class: March 1-31, 2009

"Pacing: How To Create A Page-Turning Manuscript"
by Mary Buckham
Registration $30 at

What keeps a book intriguing enough to have fans turn the pages and not set it down? How can one author's books have you riveted and another's leave you feeling ho-hum? Ever wondered if there are key craft tips and techniques to balance fast-paced conflict, tension, suspense or mystery, action and emotion? In PACING: HOW TO CREATE A PAGE TURNING MANUSCRIPT you'll learn:
* The ingredients of a page-turner
* What hooks are and how to maximize them
* The power of effective scenes: common pacing pitfalls to avoid
* The ten elements of strong pacing
* How to use subplots and secondary characters
* How to avoid a sagging middle
* What a beat is and how to use it
* Great beginnings & endings that have your readers wanting more!

Mary Buckham’s debut Romantic Suspense novel, THE MAKEOVER MISSION, was a Silhouette Intimate Moments release. Her second novel, INVISIBLE RECRUIT, was a May 2006 Silhouette Bombshell. A former magazine editor, she has written hundreds of free-lance articles and a non-fiction book. Currently she is a national writing-workshop presenter, both online and at conferences. Visit or for more information about the release of her Break Into Fiction book coming June 2009.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Writer's Groups and Community

photo courtesy of iirraa

I'm always evaluating and re-evaluating the writer's groups I belong to. Am I contributing enough? Am I growing as a writer as a result of belonging to the group? Do I belong more for socializing than for the benefit of my writing? Do I leave the meeting or event fired up and ready to write?

I ran across this essay written by Jerry Waxler, the Workshop Chair for Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. I love that Jerry talks about writing groups promoting regional culture and teaching writing classes at senior centers. How many times have I thought about what I wouldn't give to have had my grandmother write down our family history. It's too late for me. What an awesome class to present at a senior center. I'm not going to rehash his essay, so just go read it. And while your at it, check out his blog Memory Writers Network.

I hadn't given much thought to the impact my groups have on my community. But, I'd like to think we are giving something back. Though, I have to admit I'll be adding this question to my evaluation. What does my group bring to the community?

Jerry has provided some great ideas for ways writing groups can enhance a community. I know it has me thinking.

What does your group do for your community?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Platform courtesy of acromion

Interesting post (scroll down to Fiction Writers need Platforms, too) by Jane Friedman over at There Are No Rules. It's always made sense to me that a non-ficiton writer needs a platform. I mean if you're dishing dirt on celebs, probably makes sense that you actually know some. Or if you writing a book on parenting, probably a good thing to have a couple of kids who aren't in prison, unless of course, you're writing about how not to parent.

Now they tell me it's a good thing for a novelist to have a platform. Ummm, I've written a murder mystery. No, calm down. I have never murdered anyone . And my protagonist is a rich country club type. Nope, never belong to a country club, and I'm not rich-yet. So now I gotta figure out my platform. I thought the synopsis was bad.

After reading the tips which Jane says Christina Katz also discusses in her book Get Known Before the Book Deal, I'm off to buy Christina's book. I think I've figured out my angle. I have a fair knowledge of law enforcement (having slept with a cop for 30 years), and what I don't know, he'll be glad to tell me. Plus, I'm writing about a real location, so that's a no-brainer. I just have to figure out the rest.

Now I'm back to they synopsis. Aaacckk. Anyone? Anyone out there with a smashing example of a synopsis for me? Better yet, anyone out there willing to write the synopsis for me? Acccckkkk.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Missouri Writers' Guild 94th Annual Conference

Press Release: 94th Annual Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference or
by Margo L. Dill 217-714-8582 or

CAPE GIRARDEAU--Writers and editors will be speaking and networking in Cape Girardeau at the beginning of April. If you are a writer at any stage in your career, don’t miss this opportunity to meet with writing professionals right in the Midwest. The Missouri Writers’ Guild is thrilled to be hosting its 94th annual writing conference and inviting writers of every genre to attend for the weekend of a lifetime. From April 3 to April 5, conference attendees will have a chance to meet one-on-one with speakers, have two pages of their work read in front of editors, network with other writers from across the country, perfect their craft, attend lectures and workshops, and enjoy a spring weekend just over 100 miles south of St. Louis.

One of the speakers is Lee Goldberg, television writer for Monk and Diagnosis Murder. “I'll be talking about how to break into television and teaching conference goers how to watch a TV show the way TV writers do,” Goldberg said. “How to recognize the ‘franchise’ and key conflicts that power the narrative engine—essential skills if you hope to succeed in the TV business.”

Two inspirational women in the writing business, Angela Mackintosh and Annette Fix, will speak and meet with attendees. Both Mackintosh and Fix have years of experience as writers and are the editors of the WOW! Women on Writing e-zine. Fix is also the author of The Break-Up Diet. “I'll be doing a session on memoir writing--teaching how writers can mine the unique stories in their lives, find their voices, and shape the material into memoirs that have universal appeal,” Fix said.

Other speakers scheduled are Pulitzer Prize nominated poet, Harvey Stanbrough; Simon and Schuster editor, Kate Angelella; editor of Listen Magazine, Celeste Walker; tween series author, Jessica Burkhart; and Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Marcia Kay Preston. Check the website,, for speaker updates, bios, and classes they are teaching.

For one registration price, attendees will be able to attend a keynote session, break-out workshops, a luncheon, and social-networking periods with snacks. A bookstore and free materials will also be available to conference registrants. Attendees can also bring two pages of their work for an open-mic critique session with the editors on Friday night. The price of attendance for Friday night and all day Saturday is either $139, $149, or $159 until February 6, depending if you are a Missouri Writers’ Guild member or not. After February 6, add $10 to the above prices. You can register on-line or print off a registration sheet at A Saturday night writing awards’ banquet ticket can be purchased for an additional $25, and Sunday morning master’s classes will be available as of February 1 for an additional $50.

The conference will be held in Cape Girardeau, MO at the Drury Lodge, 104 South Vantage Drive, phone number: 573-334-7151. Drury Lodge is providing a special rate of $85 a night for rooms for the MWG conference attendees. The hotel offers free wireless Internet, a free evening beverage reception, free popcorn, free long distance calls, and a free hot breakfast in the morning.