Staci Troilo

Suspense, Passion... Fiction That Flutters The Heart

Tag: Velda Brotherton

Happy to Announce Novels on Sale for Valentine’s Day

Staci Troilo book promoI know. I think I’ve set a record for posting this week. But I have exciting news, and it’s a limited time offer.

From today through February 19, my publisher, Oghma Creative Media, is running a sale on several novels: A Bride for Gil by Dusty Richards, Just Like Gravity by Sorchia Dubois, Beyond the Moon and The Tell-Tale Stone by Velda Brotherton, Noisy Creek by Pamela Foster, Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton, and Southern Seduction by Luna Zega. (I’ve included hyperlinks to their respective websites and to their Kindle eBooks on Amazon. You can also visit Oghma Creative Media’s website for more information on these authors, these novels, or on any of the other talented authors who write under the Oghma imprints.)

Oh, yeah—they’re running a sale on two of my novels, as well: Type and Cross and Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart is a paranormal romance (the supernatural element stemming from alchemy).

Type and Cross is a family drama, but at its heart, it’s a love story.

Both focus on the hero and heroine and whether they can reconcile their differences by the end.

And both are on sale. (Click on the link, and then select which book(s) you’d like to download. Amazon | iBooks | and we’re still waiting for Nook to price match.)

If you’ve already read one, some, or all of these, please help spread the word to your family and friends. And, if you haven’t already reviewed what you read, consider doing so. Reviews really help an author.

If you haven’t read these books, consider downloading one, some, or all of them before the price goes up. (And then, when you’re finished reading, please leave a review.) Thanks.

The Oghma Creative Media sale has something for everybody. There’s a western, a paranormal romance, a PTSD drama, a Poe-inspired mystery, a funny mainstream, a snarky romance, and for you adventurous readers, an erotic love story.

And, of course, there’s my supernatural romance and my family drama/love story.

Seriously, if you need a gift for Valentine’s Day, any of these would make a great one. And if you think of Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday, well, reading these will give you something to do on the 14th!

Thanks for checking these out. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and an early Happy Valentine’s Day!

Getting to the Heart of A Different Matter

by Staci Troilo

Hello. If you’re stopping by hoping to read another anecdote about my family or my friends, you’re going to be disappointed today. Or maybe not.

We’ve been discussing my relationships for a while now. I’ve told you stories about my grandparents, my parents, my siblings. You’ve read about my husband, my kids, my friends, heck, even my dogs.

What we haven’t discussed much lately is my work life. And we should. Because as far as relationships go, we have professional ones as well as personal ones. And if you’re as lucky as I am, you’re as passionate about your career as I am about mine, which means your professional relationships have the potential to be quite powerful, meaningful.

writing conferenceThis weekend I attended the Northwest Arkansas Writers’ Workshop Annual Conference in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s been a while since I saw some of the attendees, some of the people I only knew from online and I got to meet in person for the first time, and some people were complete strangers to me but became new friends and colleagues. A great time was had by all, and there was some valuable information presented.

greg campThe day started with Greg Camp, Publishing Director of
Oghma Creative Media doing a presentation on
editing for publication.
Greg’s talk covered the importance of a few key points
in fiction writing in order to avoid getting rejection letters. Well, to avoid getting as many as you would otherwise, anyway.

  • Grammar—You must have no grammatical errors if you want to be considered for publication.
  • Research—You have to do your homework. Historical inaccuracies are a sure way to get your manuscript tossed.
  • Pacing—You can’t do an “info dump” and tell the reader everything within the first five pages of the novel. Action needs to be revealed through the POV character interacting with other characters at a measured rate throughout the novel.
  • Conflict and Motivation—You don’t have a story unless your characters are at odds with something or someone and are motivated to change their situation.

I’ve known Greg for a few years and we have a lot in common. We both taught at the college level (he still does), we both write fiction, and we both edit for a living. I can tell you two things about his presentation: He knows his stuff and his advice was spot on.

casey cowanThe next presenter was Casey Cowan, President and Creative Director of Oghma Creative Media. Casey’s presentation was all about the seduction and allure of book covers. He said four things sell books:

  1. Word of mouth/peer pressure
  2. Big name endorsements
  3. Eye appeal of the cover
  4. Author effort/interaction with readers

When Oghma Creative Media designs covers, they consider the demographic of the readers and the genre of the book, then they look at the book’s message or theme and work with the author to design a front cover and spine that has the appropriate appeal for the audience. Then they work on the back cover to design not only the right color, but also taglines, teasers, and endorsements so that the back works with the front and works with the genre, creating a comprehensive package.

Duke PennellKimberly PennellThen my bosses, Duke and Kimberly Pennell from Pen-L Publishing, did a presentation on the relationship between authors and publishers. They discussed author expectations, publisher expectations, and the importance of the two getting in sync for a rewarding relationship. Some points covered were:

  • Personality—It’s really a matter of chemistry between author and publisher. If you don’t like each other as people, you won’t trust each other and you won’t work well together.
  • Vision—What are you expecting for your book? Your promoting efforts? Your career as a writer? Talk about it and be sure your plans mesh.
  • Marketing/Promotion/Reviews—Publishers used to send books to reviewers, issue releases, handle the promotion efforts. Now the shoe’s on the author’s foot to handle the marketing. These plans should be agreed on in advance so there are no surprises or disappointments.
  • Editing—Typically work is done in Microsoft Word using “track changes.” If a different method is preferred, it should be discussed.
  • Distribution—You need to know where your books will be available for purchase, how much you can buy them for, if you can buy them at wholesale price, etc. Learn the details in advance.
  • Support—Support shouldn’t end when the book is released. If you have questions or concerns, you should be able to call your editor. If you are doing a marketing tour, it’s not unreasonable to request a media packet be sent on your behalf. Make certain you have this support in place. Remember, your publisher doesn’t make money unless you do. They should be on your side.

velda brothertonAfter lunch, one of the founding members of the group, Velda Brotherton, discussed her twenty year writing journey. She encouraged us to hang on to everything we write, even our early work, because while we might not find a publisher for it immediately, years later we might. She’s finding success with some of her work twenty years after she wrote it. She offered a lot of advice, applicable to novices and experienced writers.

  • Write the best book you can (This involves more than just writing; it means studying the craft, joining critique groups, going to conferences, writing every day, editing ruthlessly, and having your work edited—with a thick skin.)
  • Build your platform so people can find you and follow you—Promote!
  • Publish your own work if you have to so your tribe can start reading your work
  • Avail yourself of small publishers
  • Use Createspace
  • Look into audiobooks
  • Then go for broke in New York (This is where conferences are so important. You’ll make connections with agents and editors there to get your foot in the door.)

Dusty RichardsWe ended the day with the other co-founder, Dusty Richards. Dusty discussed everything and anything you’d want to know about writing.

  • How to measure page count (1 page = 250 words)
  • How to structure a novel (1st quarter, hero’s lost. 2nd quarter, hero’s alone. 3rd quarter, hero gets support. 4th quarter, hero becomes hero or martyr.)
  • How to end a chapter (with some teaser to keep readers turning the page)
  • How to analyze the experts (Read every other page; you’ll see their structure. Or read one scene in the middle of the book and pick it apart.)
  • How to get experience (Work on short stories first, then work on single person POV.)

It’s been a privilege being in Dusty and Velda’s group for the last several years. Between them they have close to two hundred books published and decades of wisdom that they willingly share. All of the speakers were full of knowledge and quite entertaining. It was a really good day.

But I think my favorite part was the people. I used to be intimidated by conferences, but now I love them. I like meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

conferenceThis was the first time I set up a book table. That was a new experience for me, and it was a blast. It’s always a shock to me when someone wants my autograph, and this time someone even wanted to take my picture! I even had one woman come up to me and say she saw my book cover from all the way across the room and she just had to come over and see what it was about. That was a real honor. Yes, I met a lot of new people, made some new friends, and had a really good time.

So this post wasn’t about family, but it was about relationships—professional ones. And I’m just as passionate about them and treasure them just as much as I do all the other relationships in my life. What about your professional relationships? Have you recently been to a conference? Are you in sales? Do you have a funny work story to tell? Share it with us here.

46th Annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference


Welcome OCW!

It’s that time of year again. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Eureka Springs, Arkansas at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference. For forty-six years, they’ve been bringing in experts in the industry, and this year was no exception.

Disty Richards

Dusty Richards

Thursday evening began with prolific western writer Dusty Richards holding an informal meet-and-greet. Many attendants gathered for two hours, introducing themselves and talking about their writing journeys. Later was open-mic night, where writers snacked on hors d’oeuvers and had the opportunity to read a few pages of their work to a captive and encouraging audience: their peers.

Beth Bartlett

Beth Bartlett

Friday was a full day. After opening remarks by Beth Bartlett, this year’s OCW president, writers had the opportunity to attend one of two sessions. Writer and editor Margo Dill covered the children’s market while blogger and publisher Dan Case of AWOC Publishing discussed blogging.

Dan Case

Dan Case

I attended the blogging session, and plenty of great information was addressed. Mr. Case covered the five elements of good blog posts (headlines, hooks, word count, photos, and conclusions) and emphasized that above all else, content is key. He offered examples, answered questions, and proffered advice for the blogging writer, novice to expert. He also suggested some resources for blogging and obtaining stock photos.


Pat Carr

Pat Carr

After the break, author and teacher Pat Carr covered writing love scenes. (Not sex scenes. Love scenes.) She discussed the twelve steps of intimacy and the importance of them occurring in order, followed by the five scenes that must be present in a novel or short story. When these scenes (meeting, conflict, admiration, affection, and climatic resolution) are written with proper pace, flow, and order, the story will be a success. She also offered ten scene descriptors that will enrich the setting, and therefore the story itself. The session concluded with a writing exercise, and some writers were brave enough to share their efforts. Their results, using techniques learned in session, were amazing, and covered romantic love, love between family members, and even love of special pets.

Dianna Graveman

Dianna Graveman

After lunch, there were again two sessions to choose from. Travel and western writer Johnny D. Boggs hosted a talk while marketing specialist Dianna Graveman of 2 Rivers Communications talked about public speaking and social media. I attended Ms. Graveman’s session and learned so much. She stressed that writers are business people and need to approach their careers that way. Providing value and being sought after is far more effective than the hard sell. She offered several options where writers could seek out public speaking engagements, from historical societies to continuing education programs. She also addressed several social media opportunities to garner speaking engagements, and offered invaluable tips on how to promote speaking events (reminding us that promotion should occur before, during, and after the engagement for full exposure).

Susan Swartwout

Susan Swartwout

After a quick break, Susan Swartwout, publisher at Southeast Missouri State University Press, gave a presentation on queries and rejections. She discussed the twelve items agents and editors look for in a query letter (everything from the hook to the marketing plan) and then moved on to the reasons for rejections. She offered twenty-one reasons why writers might be turned down, some being the writer’s responsibility (bad writing or not following guidelines) and some boiling down to fate (publisher maxed out on that topic or the printing schedule is booked). Dr. Swartwout’s talk was peppered with examples and she offered great advice.

The day ended with a presentation by Peggy Vining. Ms. Vining has been attending the OCW Conference since it began, and in 2003 was appointed Arkansas Poet Laureate by then Governor Mike Huckabee. Ms. Vining shared her love of poetry with the writers in her session. She believes it’s important to spread the love of words and form throughout the community.

Later that evening, Dusty Richards assumed a role he’s well known for. He served as the auctioneer at the first ever OCW Auction, where a good time was had by all.

Jim Donovan

Jim Donovan

Saturday began with keynote speaker, literary agent Jim Donovan, discussing a writer’s path to publication. He said a crucial question writers should be asking (but almost never do) is: How do I become a better writer? And he proceeded to answer that question with some great advice. Mr. Donovan gave six important steps which will help writers improve their craft:


  1. Read as a reader, to absorb what works in that genre.
  2. Read as a writer, and focus on specific elements (character, dialogue, pace, action, plot, setting).
  3. Read writing books to learn rules and technique.
  4. Write regularly.
  5. Join a good critique group.
  6. Revise, revise, revise.

He then discussed query letters and what agents and editors want in a manuscript. He ended his talk with a Q&A session.

Pat Carr

Pat Carr

After a break, writers were again given the option of two sessions. Writer and self-publishing guru Velda Brotherton held a workshop on preparing a document for Kindle while Pat Carr covered short story writing. As I am lucky enough to regularly benefit from Ms. Brotherton’s expertise (I’m a member of Northwest Arkansas Writers, a critique group run by Ms. Brotherton and Mr. Richards), I made the difficult decision and attended the short story session. Again Ms. Carr offered great advice. She said it is paramount to make a reader care about the characters, and gave five ways to make sure that readers care. Writers must show that the character:

  • cares about others.
  • is capable of love.
  • is in jeopardy or danger.
  • is doomed (but cannot whine about his fate).
  • is vulnerable in some way.

She talked about the use of actions, emotions, dialogue, and scene descriptors, then ended with a writing exercise: write one scene resulting in an epiphany, portraying a strong emotion. It was a great exercise, and she seemed pleased with the results.

Kevin Brockmeier

Kevin Brockmeier

After lunch, keynote speaker and noted author Kevin Brockmeier shared three excerpts of his acclaimed works (there’s nothing like hearing an author read his own work, when you know the inflections and emotions are as the writer intended), then he answered questions. He talked about his writing process, discussed his characters and the messages he explores in his work, and offered a list of books and authors he loves to read.


editors panel 2

Margo Dill, Jim Donovan, Lonnie Whitaker, Susan Swartwout

There was a quick break, and then I had to make a difficult choice again. Ms. Graveman gave a talk on freelance editing, which I desperately wanted to attend, but opposite her was the editors’ panel. I couldn’t walk away from a chance to pick the brains of not one, but seven, experts in the field.

editors panel 1

Lou Turner, Dan Case, Delois McGrew

The panel consisted of publishers Lou Turner, Susan Swartwout, and Dan Case; editors Delois McGrew, Margo Dill, and Lonnie Whitaker; and agent Jim Donovan. Questions covered several topics, from contract language to editing rates. All too soon the session was over. I’m sure we could have peppered them for information all day.

The conference “proper” ended with a toot-your-own-horn segment, where people could talk about their achievements. It seems every year people have more to celebrate, so we must all be improving. That’s just proof that the conference was again a success.

That evening was the concluding dinner and awards banquet. I’ll be posting my awards soon on my Awards link, or you can check out all the winners on the OCW site. So many talented writers were acknowledged that evening, and we had a lot of fun. This year, I met up with old friends, made new friends, and learned a lot. I can’t wait until next year when I can do it all again! Hope to see some of you there.

Where Are You on the Scale?

Today’s post is a little long, but well worth it. I was challenged by Joe Bunting at to talk to three writers at various stages of their careers about writing. It got me thinking about what three questions I could ask each of them. I couldn’t ask the first time published writer about how it feels to have several books published; I couldn’t ask the beginner how that first contract feels. It would be pointless to ask the established author about her career expectations when she knows what to expect at this point. No, I needed three questions that apply to all writers regardless their stage in their journey. I decided to ask them:

  1. What they found easiest about writing.
  2. What they found most difficult about writing.
  3. What one career-oriented wish they would want to have granted.

publicationI talked to three wonderful writers, and found some interesting things in their answers.

 Joy Keeney, Novice

JoyMy novice writer is Joy Keeney. Joy Keeney enjoys the sound of words swirling from her pencil to the blank pages below. She has a passion for creating stories and that can touch the heart or send chills down the spine of readers. Joy has also contributed several feature articles for a local online magazine. She enjoys spending her free time relaxing with a good book and spending time with family and friends.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Joy: Easy? There’s something easy about being a writer? As a beginner everything seems just the opposite, for me anyway. Okay, that’s actually not entirely true. Once I decided I wanted to be a writer and not just someone that jots down thoughts in a notebook and tucks it under the mattress. I mean a ‘write, edit, repeat…and edit again…then hope to one day sell a million copies’ kind of writer. I find that coming up with story ideas is a piece of cake. In fact, I have several ideas battling it out inside my head right now, fighting to reach the light of day and end up on the blank pages below.

The ideas talk to me all the time! At times they remind me of those greasy carnies you see at the local fair, you know the ones. They come out of nowhere and try to lure you over to try to win an amazing prize. “Step right up and write about ME.” Or “Pssst…hey, tell my story.” Or “This right here is a special one of a kind, genuine, guaranteed to be a bestseller story. You don’t want to miss out.”   I never know what will trigger an idea to join the madness inside my head. An idea will just pop in and start fighting for my attention. I’ve gotten ideas from things that I’ve experienced, schemed up with a friend, pictures I come across and writing challenges. Wherever they come from I hope they never stop.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Joy: From my experience, it’s ALL hard. Am I exaggerating? Yes I am. Why? Because, I’m a writer and that’s what writers do. The truth is, writing isn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. I thought I’d write my story. Everyone would read it. Everyone would love it. I’d be famous in no time, or something similar. No one told me I had to edit, rewrite it, followed by more editing. Hey, I’m the writer. I’m just supposed to write it. Right?  WRONG.

I have to take my story idea, write it, edit it, rewrite it… then comes the hardest part for me (insert dramatic music here), let someone else read it. Yes, the hardest thing about being a writer for me is letting someone read it. What if they hate it? Or worse…what if the like it and want more? I have learned this is an important step in being a writer. And no, sharing my writing with family and close friends doesn’t count…they would love my grocery list if I asked them what they thought.

Over the past year with the help of some great friends it has gotten easier for me to let others read my writing, but it’s still top of the list for being the hardest thing about being a writer. I keep reminding myself it’s still my story and if I don’t share it, it will never sell a million copies…let alone one.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Joy: It used to be to publish a short story. However I accomplished that late last year when my short story, “Legend of Dark Mountain” was published by High Hill Press in their Bigfoot Confidential: Finally the Truth Revealed anthology. So, my next wish is to publish a novella or novel. I have a couple different stories that I’m currently working on that I would be thrilled to see in print in the near future.

Paffi S. Flood, Intermediate

paffiMy intermediate writer and first-time published author is Paffi S. Flood. Ever since Paffi wrote for the school newspaper in seventh grade, she had a passion for writing. Although she didn’t pursue it as a career path in college, writing always interested her, even when writing technical documents as a software engineer. A decade ago, she began attending classes and workshops and was encouraged to chase her dream. She’s now thrilled to have published her first novel and is working on her next.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Paffi: The easiest thing has to be the editing process after the first draft is written and the plot is cemented. I work in layers, usually around three at the most but in my current manuscript, I’m at five. The initial draft strictly adheres to the plot and its essentials; whereas layers two and three allow me to go back and tighten sentences. In the unfolding, I discover more about my characters, their surroundings, their relationships and, hopefully at the end, I have a full-bodied manuscript.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Paffi: The hardest thing is to create a captivating story worth telling. I’ve collected more unused plots than a shopaholic with still-tagged designer dresses. This is when I find I sweep floors, wipe down kitchen counters, or heck, iron laundry. But, none of it’s wasted time, because somewhere in the Zen of doing a mindless chore, out pops an idea, a life, or if I’m lucky, an entire novel.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Paffi: My career-related wish would be to have my current young adult manuscript published. As a child in India, I was fascinated by these people whom we weren’t allowed to acknowledge as we climbed the temple steps to pray. Who were they? My question was answered years later when I read a National Geographic article on Untouchables or Dalits. I wanted to write a novel that weaved their lives with lives of well-off Indians and brought to light the suffering they endure.

Velda Brotherton, Experienced

VeldaMy experienced writer is Velda Brotherton. Velda writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, and villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

Q1: What do you find easiest about writing?

Velda: The first draft, because I’m lost in the creative process, living within the pages of the story with characters I’m learning to love or hate. Once the book is drafted, then comes the more difficult, but still enjoyable work. Getting everything just right.

Q2: What do you find hardest about writing?

Velda: In today’s world, the most difficult part of writing has nothing much to do with writing at all, for it’s promoting the book in all the many hundreds of ways possible. If writers make a ton of money, they can afford to hire someone to do this, because it’s so foreign to our brains as to be nearly impossible.

Q3: If you could have one career-related wish come true, what would it be?

Velda: Strange as it might sound, I’d love to see a book made into a movie. Yet I’ve heard writers who have managed this say that it’s disappointing because most times the story on the screen isn’t much like what they wrote. Still, I think it would be so much fun if I could choose the actors who would live out my story.


So there you have it. Three different questions. Three different perspectives. What conclusions might we draw from these answers?

  1. In the beginning, the easiest thing is getting an idea. For the intermediate writer, the polishing work is the simplest thing to do. For the experienced writer, the first draft flows easily onto the page.
  2. Sharing is hard for the beginner. Generating that next idea is hard for that first-time author. But self-promotion is what the experienced writer struggles with.
  3. The dreams of the writers change over time. The new writer wants to be published. The first time author wants to publish a specific work. The experienced author wants to branch out into other media.

These answers aren’t necessarily true for all authors in these same stages of publication. But it’s interesting to see if you can draw parallels to where you are in your publication journey and where these women are in theirs.

One thing that definitely holds true—the scale is open-ended. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re a NYTBSA. Even household names like Steven King, Nora Roberts, and J.K. Rowling have goals they still want to attain. There is no limit to what you can achieve.

To learn more about Joy Keeney, visit:


Facebook author page:

Twitter page:

Pinterest page:

To learn more about Paffi S. Flood, visit:

Facebook author page:

Amazon novel listing: Mystery Ink: A Killing Strikes Home.

a killing strikes home|






To learn more about Velda Brotherton, visit:


Amazon book list:

StoneHeartsWoman_w6100_300WildasOutlaw_TheVictorians_w7621_300wolf song peeks 3 (1)

Six Speakers, I Mean, Reasons Why Saturday Was So Great

This weekend marked the return of one of my favorite annual events… and of course I don’t mean the loss of an hour of sleep. One look at the bags under my eyes and you would know that’s not something I yearn for. Nope, Saturday was Northwest Arkansas Writers’ Annual Writers Workshop. I anticipate this event for a number of reasons:

  • It’s yet another chance to hang out with my friends.
  • I get to network with writers and other professionals in the industry.
  • Information is always presented in a fun and low key way.
  • It’s the only conference I know of that’s completely free to attend.

This year was no exception. I sat with my two partners in crime (one of whom was actually mistaken for my sister, which is hilarious because she’s a blonde with blue eyes and I’m brunette and brown) and we met some really nice people. We also heard some great information, the highlights of which I’m going to pass along to you here.

There’s a group of five women in the NWA Writers Group who call themselves The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen. Unfortunately one of them, Claire Croxton, was sick and couldn’t attend (however we’ve been promised a blog post from her regarding getting book reviews). The other four put on an excellent presentation.

Pamela FosterPamela Foster began the day discussing sense of place. Frequent readers of my blog might recognize Pam’s ability to set a mood—she’s guest posted for me before. Her ability to construct a scene is second to none. She defines a sense of place as nothing more—and nothing less—than the world you create for your characters and all the methods through which they experience it. It is not and cannot be separate from point of view and internalization, because it is through point of view and internalization that the character shows the reader the world.

Ruth Burkett WeeksShe then introduced another “sister,” Ruth Burkett Weeks. Ruth discussed document formatting. It’s a standard assumption in the industry that if a writer is sloppy with formatting, she’ll be sloppy with writing, so she spent a few minutes covering industry standards. Then she pulled out the big guns—Ruth is all about the bling. There’s no point in writing if you’re going to be boring. She likes words that sizzle and pop. She gave us a long list of lazy words to avoid and examples of ways to avoid their usage and strengthen those passages. She ended her presentation with a word of advice about the glitz—a little will make your work shimmer; a lot will make it bruise. Avoid purple prose.

Jan MorrillThat brought Jan Morrill to the podium. You might recognize Jan from a recent guest post she did here utilizing a strategy she actually discussed at length at the conference. Jan discussed ways to get to know your characters and make them memorable. She covered interviewing them, having them describe artwork in their voice, writing a scene over from a different character’s point of view, and writing a letter from one character to another. Jan gave us examples of the strategies she used from her published book and her work in progress and then gave us time to work on our own character interview. Many people learned new things about their characters.

Linda AppleJan introduced Linda Apple, who is referred to as the Mama of the group. Linda covered reasons why writers don’t write and offered solutions to their problems. She really nailed them all, too—editing as you go, having no ideas, feeling drained, spending time on other writing activities, sabotaging yourself, managing your time ineffectively… And like a true mama, she had excellent advice for conquering all of the issues. She left us with a poignant thought: There’s only one guarantee in writing… if you don’t write anything, you’ll never be published.

If you get a chance to hear the Sisters speak, I highly recommend it. I just took a six week course they taught at the Fayetteville Public Library, and they did a phenomenal job. You won’t be disappointed.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen

Velda BrothertonAfter lunch, one of the founding members of NWA Writers took her turn offering some advice. Velda Brotherton talked to us about promotion efforts. Contrary to what many writers think/wish/hope, promotion doesn’t start after the contract is signed or the book is published. In fact, you may not get the contract if you haven’t started connecting with readers long before your book is even written. The first thing an agent or editor will do is Google you, and if your name doesn’t pop up, your novel won’t get picked up. Velda strongly recommended having a presence on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest, in addition to a webpage and a blog. Her research shows that Google+ may overtake Facebook in the not too distant future, because Google+ allows you to choose who views your content where Facebook decides for you. Above all else, she stressed that a social media presence is about connecting with readers, not about hawking your books. We’re here to make friends and help people, not scare them away by being nuisances.

Dusty RichardsThe afternoon ended with the other co-founder, Dusty Richards, giving us a writing tutorial. It was twice as nice because he used many examples from his own books. He covered everything from the importance of writing short stories as well as novels to how sequels must stand on their own as well as in their place in their series. Dusty is an expert storyteller, and he engaged the audience from the first piece of advice to bidding us farewell. He already Velda and Dustyhas the room reserved for next year’s conference (March 8, 2014) and I know I’ll be attending. I hope I’ll see some of you there. Like I said, it’s a great day to hang out with your friends, network with people in the industry, and learn valuable information. Mark your calendars now so you don’t forget!

Inspiring Blogger

I’m grateful and humbled to announce that a blogger I follow has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. P. C. Zick (P.C. Zick in the Writing Life) is an author I met through Facebook, and she lives near my old hometown. She shares similar interests as me, and I enjoy reading her thoughts and following her work. I’m inspired by her efforts.

Here are the requirements for this award:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself

  1. I’ve never had a cavity.
  2. I can do a split.
  3. I am the only child in my family with brown hair and brown eyes (despite those being the dominant traits and being half Italian).
  4. I’ve seen lightning strike right in front of me three times.
  5. I’ve lived through a tornado passing through my town.
  6. I played four instruments in school, clarinet for the longest.
  7. I changed my major three times in college, but still managed to graduate in four years and with good enough grades to get a scholarship to grad school.

My nominations for the Very Inspiring Blog Award – I chose the following blogs for various reasons, but each because of how it touches me. Some help me in my profession, some simply touch my soul.

  1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen
  2. The Red Kimono
  3. Five Reflections (prefers not to accept awards, but I find the site inspiring, nonetheless)
  4. Janna Hill
  5. InkWell
  6. My Perfect Pitch
  7. Jan Morrill
  8. Bottomline English
  9. Velda Brotherton
  10. Joy Keeney
  11. Pamela Foster
  12. Truths by Ruth
  13. Italian American Writer’s Cafe
  14. Claire Croxton
  15. A Writer’s Universe


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