How to Get the Most out of Your Conference Experience


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Alissa Grosso Preso 3

GLVWG’s Donna Brennan offers some advice for getting the most out of the  Write Stuff Conference™.


No matter where you are in your writing journey, attending a writers conference is a good way to improve your craft and network with others interested in the publishing field, including editors, agents, and fellow writers.

Let’s face it, conferences can be expensive, and they take time away from family, other responsibilities, and of course, writing. The cost—in money, time, and travel—is usually a good investment. Here are some tips for getting the most out of that investment.

Choose Your Conference Wisely

There are a lot of conferences out there, and new ones seem to be added every year. But not all writer’s conferences are right for every writer.

Some things to consider when choosing which conference to attend:

  • Focus/Genre: This one should be obvious, but it isn’t always. If you write in a specific genre, pay more attention to conferences with a focus on that genre. However, general writing conferences may have some workshops that would very beneficial to you, so don’t rule them out. Read descriptions of the sessions offered and find a conference that cover the topics and content important to you.
  • Presenters/appointments: Check out who the presenters will be. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they aren’t good, but do your homework and google their names. What do they write? Do they speak often? Do they have a blog? Has anyone else blogged about attending a session by this person? Have they been interviewed?
  • Appointments: Are agent or editor appointments available? Research who those agents and editors are. See if they represent or publish the type of things your write. What about marketing appointments? Go to those folks’ websites and see if they are someone you could learn from.
  • Skill Level: Some conferences are geared toward beginner writers. Some are for the more seasoned writer. Many have a mixture, with sessions geared for different levels of experience or sessions that can benefit writers wherever they are along their writing path. Make sure the conference you attend isn’t way above or way below your skill level.
  • Cost: This is more than just the cost of the conference; it includes the cost of getting to the conference and possibly staying at a hotel. Local conferences will have lower travel expenses, but if your ideal conference is on the other side of the country, it might be worth the trip.
  • Timing: Not just when the conference is, but how many days. Maybe you can get away from work for one day, or maybe you can afford to take off a full week. Maybe you can only attend a weekend conference. Maybe you need to coordinate your schedule with your spouse to make sure someone is around to take care of the kids and get them to their activities. It may be hard, but definitely worth the effort if your writing is important to you.


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Plan Ahead

Read the sessions descriptions. Decide ahead of time which ones you want to attend and plan your schedule. Write it down so you don’t forget. It so easy, in the whirl of activities at most conferences, to look at the names of the sessions and not remember the descriptions or why you had preferred one over another.

However, if you sit in a session earlier in the day and you enjoy a particular presenter’s style or message (or you don’t enjoy it), you might want to think about attending (or avoiding) another session given by the same speaker. As long as the conference permits it, allow yourself the freedom to change your plans.

If you have an agent or editor appointment, be certain to prepare for that meeting. An earlier blog post on this site will help you do just that.

For networking purposes, you might want to have business cards printed out. If you already have business cards, be sure to bring them with you.

Check the conference website to see if they have a recommended or required dress code. Most conferences seem to be business casual (or even just casual) dress, but many require dressing up for a banquet or other special event.

One things that’s often overlooked is getting enough rest before you attend a conference. You want your brain to be fully rested to take in as much new information as possible, and you want your body to be fully rested because some conferences have late evening and early morning sessions. You won’t want to miss attending anything important or fun, and you want to be able to be fully engaged.



What to Bring

Bring something to use to take notes. Paper and pen/pencil work well, but often at conference people bring small laptops or electronic notepads to take notes. The problem with that is some conferences have classroom style seating (with tables and chairs) and others have theater style seating (with rows of seats, and no tables). A paper notebook will work in both those settings, but it’s not as easy to use a keyboard on your lap—and some keypads make noise that might disturb those around you. Also, electronic devices have a limited battery supply, and there might not be available outlets near your seat.

Some conferences have stacks of magazine samples and submission guidelines. If you’re interested in taking some of these home, bring a tote bag to put them in. You can also keep your notebook and pens in there.

Most conferences have water or coffee stations, but you might want to bring a bottle of water just in case. You can keep that in your tote bag as well. A few hard candies or mints might come in handy in case your throat gets a little sore or raw. If you think you might get hungry, throw a small snack in your tote bag as well.

Sometimes conference rooms can be too hot, other times they are too cold—often in the same day or even the same session. If you tend to get uncomfortable with uncertain or unstable room temperatures, it’s a good idea to wear a thin or short sleeved shirt and to bring a light jacket or sweater.

If you have an agent or editor appointment, bring a one-sheet and a bulleted list of topics to help you remember what you want to say.

And don’t forget to bring your business cards if you have them. Conferences are about networking; handing out and collecting cards makes the process easier.


While You’re There

Yes, you are at the conference to learn, but you should also take time to enjoy the event. Enjoy the sessions; enjoy the food; enjoy the people.

Writers have a reputation for being solitary beings living in our writing caves and rarely coming out to mingle with others. Honestly, many “normal” people don’t understand us writers. Be sure to take full advantage of being with other people who share many of the same fears, dreams, frustrations, and joys as you do. Be sure to hand out your cards to folks you’d like to keep in touch with, and ask them for theirs.

This might also be a good time to find folks for a critique group. If you meet others who write in a similar genre or with whom you get along, ask if they already belong to a critique group. If they do, maybe you can join. If they don’t, maybe you can start one up. If they live too far away for in person meetings, consider forming an online critique group.

Many presenters have handouts for their sessions. Many others don’t. In order to help you remember what you learn, it’s a good idea to take notes. But don’t be so busy taking notes that you miss much of what’s being said.

Some conferences or speakers sell recordings of their sessions. Consider buying these recordings if you find a session particularly helpful. If the conference isn’t selling recordings and you plan to make your own, you should ask permission first. Some speakers don’t want to be recorded while others don’t care. And in some states it’s illegal to record other people without their consent.

If you feel yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take a break. All is not lost if you sit out a session or two. And the break may help you get that much more out of the next session.

Lots of conferences have book fairs—either the entire time or a certain day and time. Be sure to browse the tables for good books on craft. You can ask other writers which books helped them—and which books didn’t.



Conf Mem 17 Book Fair

After You Leave

If you met with an agent or editor and they told you to send them something, be sure you send it!

If you met other writers and exchanged cards or emails, send them a little message saying how much you enjoyed meeting with them. If you planned to form a critique group, don’t put it off too long or it will never happen.

Read through your notes and the handouts while the conference and talks are still fresh in your mind. If you wait two months you might not remember what the things you wrote mean. In fact, as you read through your notes, if you remember something you didn’t write down, write it down now. If you have recording of the sessions, listen to those recordings with your notes in front of you, jotting down any additional details you wish to include.

If you bought books at the book fair, start reading those books. Take notes on the books too, if it helps.

But most important, get busy writing. And don’t forget to apply what you’ve just learned to your work in progress.


Article written by Donna Brennan

Donna Brennan was a technical writer for over ten years before becoming a computer programmer. Since leaving the corporate world after her twins were born, she’s had numerous short stories, interviews, and nonfiction articles published online and in print magazines including Thriving Family, Encounter, Splickety, and Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG). She’s served in various capacities on the GLVWG board, including two terms as Conference Chair. She’s always looking for opportunities to encourage others and to share what she’s learned.

How to Prepare for that Editor or Agent Appointment


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A week away from the 2018 Write Stuff Conference™, GLVWG’s Donna Brennan offers some advice for attendees with scheduled agent interviews.


When you go to a conference, you often have the opportunity to meet with an agent or editor and pitch your work. Depending on the conference, you may get one appointment or you may get several. The duration of the appointment varies too, typically ranging from five to fifteen minutes.

  • How do you select which agent or editor to meet and pitch your work?
  • How do you prepare for that meeting?
  • What should you actually say at the meeting?

Here’s some advice addressing those questions.


 How to Select Which Agent or Editor to Meet With

The longer the list of available agents and editors, the more daunting the task may appear. But look at it as an opportunity to find the best fit for you and your work.

First, read the bios listed on the conference website, paying special attention to what their current needs are. Don’t pitch a fantasy to someone who is only interested in contemporary romance. Then, go to their websites (usually listed in the bio) for more information about them and their agency or publishing house, including titles of books they represent or publish. Read reviews and summaries of those books online. If you can, read the first few pages online, too.

Do they have a blog? Read that, too. That often helps you to get a feel for what kind of person they are. You want to make sure they are someone you would enjoy working with.

Pick your top choices, but also have some back-up choices. Appointments usually fill up quickly with folks who register for the conference early, getting first dibs on available time slots. So register as soon as you’re sure you’ll be attending.

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A Few Questions with Sheree Bykofsky


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Sheree Bykofsky Headshot


In the last of our series to introduce presenters and agents, GLVWG’s Dawn Sooy took a few moments to ask Sheree Bykofsky a few questions. Sheree will be taking pitches at the upcoming 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, Saturday March 24 (advance registration required).


Dawn – As an agent, you work with writers, hopefully, long-term, but who are strangers to you at first. Do you look at more than the work submitted to determine that relationship?

Sheree – Yes, I like to know I’m working with an author who knows what is expected of a professional author, even if this is their first book. I like authors who help me to help them so that each step of the way we both feel like we are on the same team. This professional relationship has made me feel genuine love for many, many of my authors. Ultimately, so many of them feel like they are friends and even family. Mutual appreciation makes this field so rewarding.

Dawn – Writers often say they became writers because they have to write. What drew you to becoming an agent?

Sheree – It is a perfect symbiosis of my skills. It involves my left and right brain in equal measure: assessing manuscripts, being empathetic to people, being the first to read the work of creative and brilliant minds, understanding the needs of publishers and searching for the perfect editor, negotiating contracts in the U.S. and around the world, educating authors. And when the result is a beautiful book and a happy, knowledgeable, appreciative author, what can be more rewarding than that?

Dawn – When you get a submission, how far into it do you get before you know this one is not for you?

Sheree – It varies, but it can be very quick. It isn’t hard to recognize a professional quality submission

Dawn – What trends in the publishing marketplace attract your attention? What genres are hot?

Sheree – For me the old standbys remain my favorite: prescriptive non-fiction: business, health, lifestyle, cooking, etc.

Dawn – I understand you are an exceptional poker player. Tell us a little about that; how did you start? Do you have an engaging story about a competition?

Sheree – I’m very excited that my 4th poker book THE KAIZEN OF POKER will be published in June, 2018. It is about improving your game, something everyone can do in all aspects of their life, at any level. I can’t wait to promote.

Here is a funny story. I was once playing poker at the Borgata. We discussed a rule, and I clearly said I knew the rule and they can trust me on it because I am the author of THE RULES OF POKER (now out of print). The stranger at the table, said, “How interesting that you are an author! Do you do anything else for a living?” I said, yes, I am a literary agent. He said, “Oh! Do you happen to know Sheree Bykofsky? That’s the only agent I know.” I told him I am Sheree Bykofsky and he didn’t believe me. Another man at the table confirmed it. The man said I had rejected his query a while back but had given him some guidance that he appreciated.

Dawn – I really appreciate this, Sheree See you at the conference.


Dawn Sooy  Article submitted by Dawn Sooy

Dawn Sooy is a multitasker with the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, fulfilling the duties of Secretary and Conference Chair for the 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™.

A native of Eastern Pennsylvania, and too full of energy to even consider a rocking chair, Dawn published six short stories, the most recent, “Love Knows No Boundaries,” featured in the 2016 GLVWG anthology, Write Here – Write Now. She is currently working on a full-length novel titled, “From The Darkness,” scheduled for publication in early 2018, with plans to publish a horror anthology later in the year.

You can find Dawn on her Facebook page:

A Few Questions for Amara Hoshijo


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We introduced Amara Hoshijo, an agent of  Soho Press, with “Meet Amara” on January 31st. Amara will make a return visit to the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ on March 24, 2018, where she will be taking pitches (advanced registration is required).

GLVWG had a few questions for Amara about what she’ll be looking for, with some advice for writers.


GLVWG: How many authors do you sign in a one-year period?

Amara:  A rough average for me is 6-8 titles per year for the crime list and 1-2 for the literary list. As a company, Soho takes on around 30 crime titles, 10 literary titles, and 10 YA titles annually.

GLVWG:  What are you currently looking for?

Amara:  The Soho Crime mandate is focused on both international and heavily regional US crime fiction. I’m looking for atmospheric, literary mysteries and thrillers with an unusual twist, whether that be in terms of plot or character.

GLVWG:  What is the latest trend in teen books?

Amara:  I don’t edit YA, but I occasionally discuss this with our Soho Teen editorial director, Dan Ehrenhaft. I’ve noticed that realistic, issue-focused teen fiction has made a huge comeback, from work by Jay Asher to Angie Thomas. #OwnVoices writing has also taken strong roots in the genre, although I hope that’s much more than just a trend.

GLVWG:  Do you write?

Amara:  It’s funny—I’m asked this almost every time I tell someone what I do. To be honest, I don’t write much. I really prefer to edit, working with an author on how to refine what’s there in order to best express their ideas. When I do write, it’s more of an exercise just for me.

GLVWG:  Tell us about your life outside the office: family, activities, causes you support.

Amara:  I’m very active in the Japanese American Citizens League, the oldest Asian American social justice nonprofit in the country. As Vice President of the New York chapter, my goal is to bring more young people into the organization. My family is back in Hawaii, where I was born and raised, so I go back to visit every year or two!

GLVWG:  Favorite Manhattan spots?

Amara:  This is a tough one, since there’s so much here! I suppose it depends on my mood. I enjoy a good burger at The Spotted Pig every now and then, and have always found it worth the wait. I also have a borderline-problematic sweet tooth. When I want dessert for breakfast, I stop at my neighborhood Doughnut Plant. For after-dinner dessert (or dessert for dinner), Chikalicious in the East Village is really special.

GLVWG:  Advice to crime writers:

Amara:  Don’t fall into formula! This can be so, so difficult, especially for genre buffs who worship specific crime fiction authors and schools. But it’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about taking that literary foundation and going a step further to differentiate your story.

GLVWG:  Advice to YA writers:

Amara:  Write from the heart instead of following trends. YA readers can tell when you’re faking it! Imaginative, thorough world-building is also a thread I’ve noticed in successful YA. This is such a fun, rich genre that seems to always be changing.

Amara Hoshijo

You can find Amara at Soho Press, contact her at, and follow her on Twitter.




An Interview with Noah Ballard


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Noah Ballard

Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He received his BA in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency where he sold foreign rights for the agency in addition to building his own client list.

Noah specializes in literary debuts, upmarket thrillers, and narrative nonfiction, and he is always on the look-out for honest and provocative new writers.

David A. Miller, III had a few questions for Noah on how he works with new writers and speaks about trends in the publishing market.


David:  As an agent, you work with writers, hopefully, long-term, but who are strangers to you at first. Do you look at more than the work submitted to determine that relationship?

Noah:       When I’m meeting writers in person, I look for a positive rapport and a willingness to collaborate. Once a manuscript is sent off to an agent, it is no longer the writer’s alone, and an interest in working with me (and inevitably a publisher) on making the book as strong as possible is often equally as important as the talent on the page. It is that meeting of the minds that leads to a productive relationship together beyond the debut work.

David:  Writers often say they became writers because they have to write. What drew you to becoming an agent?

Noah:       I became an agent almost accidentally. I was working on a novel at the end of college and had signed with Emma Sweeney Agency. Ultimately nothing came of that novel, but it was my introduction to Emma. When I graduated and returned to the NYC-area, she knew me and my taste, and when a job opened up, she offered it to me. While I still do write from time to time, my passion now is using the experiences I’ve accrued to help other writers accomplish their goals—while keeping in mind what it was like to be on the other end of that relationship.

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Meet Claire McKinney


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Claire McKinney

Claire McKinney is a twenty-year veteran in the publishing industry. In 2011 she founded Claire McKinney PR, LLC a public relations agency that specializes in branding and publicity for books and authors – as well as spokespeople, executives and thought leaders.

Before starting her own company, she worked for major publishers including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing. Her clients have included Della Reese, Madeleine Albright, James Patterson, Walter Mosley, Robert Dallek, Rick Moody, George Pelecanos, Kristin Gore, and Quick and Dirty Tips.

Claire authored and published Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns. In the book, Claire gives authors step by step strategies on the publishing process from how to promote your book to the media to creating a timeline and planning a campaign on your own to talking to your publisher about publicity and everything in between.

She has written many articles as a guest contributor for authors, the top three listed here.

8 Tips to Keep in Your Mind When Seeking Bood Reviews

Creating Your Perfect Author Bio – Long and Short Form

Book and Author PR 101: Five Reasons Press Releases Still Matter


In addition to book promotion and publishing, Claire also speaks on social media marketing.

Claire will be at the 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, Saturday March 24, to offer advice on author PR strategies (advance registration required).

To get more info on Claire McKinney, visit her at



Sandra Almonte  Article contributed by Sandra Almonte

Sandra Almonte is a Certified Fitness Trainer and Health & Wellness Coach. She is also a Freelance Copywriter ( She writes on health, fitness, and nutrition for publications in print and online. Sandra has a poem, Wither Or Flourish, published in the 2016 GLVWG Anthology – Write Here, Write Now. And she’s currently the newsletter chair for GLVWG.

When Sandra’s not training, coaching, or writing she enjoys hiking with her dog, bike riding, making bracelets using sterling silver and unique beads, and volunteering for good causes.


An Interview with DT “Dan” Krippene


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A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family.  After six homes, a ten-year stint in Singapore and Taiwan, and an imagination that never slept, his muse refused to be hobbled as a mere dream. Now a full-time writer, DT writes science fiction, dystopian fiction, alternate-world fantasy, and blogs on Searching for Light in the Darkness.

Social Media Chairman for GLVWG, Dan created and maintains this WordPress blog page, and revamped the group’s Facebook Page.

Sandra Almonte had an opportunity to speak with Dan about what he writes, his blog site, and his on-going struggles as a hard-core pantser extraordinaire when he writes.


Sandra:  You write science fiction and alternate-world fantasy. What drew you to these genres?

Dan:  I was the middle child of seven and more at home with a book and my chemistry set in the basement when growing up.  Robert Heinlein’s “Tunnel in the Sky” was my introduction to sci-fi when I was eight. I cut my fantasy teeth with the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, all before I reached puberty. As for alternate-world fantasy, my first taste likely came from the Stephen King/Peter Straub collaboration “The Talisman” (though I give Dean Koontz’s “Lightning” high marks for solidifying the genre for me).

I dropped sci-fi/fantasy for many years after I started raising a family and labored in the real world. I credit my older daughter for reintroducing me to it and haven’t looked back since.

Sandra: Is there a strategy you use for your blog page?  Do you blog everyday? Are there days you write two (or more) blogs and post them in the future?

Dan:  I started my blogging chops with a wonderful group of romance writers in 2008 and came up with the name “Blame it on the Muse” (which is no longer running). These ladies played a large role in fine tuning the craft for me. I tended more toward humor as the ‘lone Y chromosome in a sea of double-x’s, but wasn’t really into the social media thing. It was my agent, Victoria Lea of Aponte Literary, who insisted I must establish a presence, and well, let’s just say I was dragged kicking and screaming into the social media arena. Who’d a thunk I’d end up as the social media guy for GLVWG?

Maintaining a brand and presence requires a degree of discipline and consistency, which I suck at. I prefer writing stories. I set up ‘Searching for Light in the Darkness’ as a subtle riff on characters who end up in their darkest moment and must find a ‘light’ to overcome it. Lucky me, I received permission from photographic artist, Lori Nix, to use her diorama of a tree stretching to a hole in the roof of a deserted library as my cover graphic.  Started with bi-monthly posts, meandered on the subject matter (I had this thing about not wanting to be yet another writer talking about writing), dates slipped, and ended up doing a monthly post. Some will say it’s not enough, but I will kick up posting frequency when I finally publish one of the half-dozen books I’ve written.

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Meet Ben Sobieck


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Ben Sobieck photo

Benjamin Sobieck is best known as the author of The Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Writing Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books). He also writes crime and thriller fiction, in addition to blogging about weapons in fiction on his popular website,

He is also the editor of “The Writer’s Guide to Wattpad,” forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books. On the fiction side, he is a Wattpad Star, with more than 1 million reads on Wattpad on titles such as “When the Black-Eyed Children Knock.” In 2016, he won the world’s largest online fiction contest, the Wattys, for “Black Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective #2.” He’s also collaborated with TV and movie studios through Wattpad and is the creator of The Writer’s Glove®

GLVWG’s Mitzi Flyte interviewed Ben on the following questions.


Mitzi: Who are your favorite thriller writers and did they inspire you?

Ben:   I enjoy writing thrillers because they offer flexibility that other genres can’t, which calls into question what a thriller is in the first place. Its fences are less defined, allowing me to meander and borrow. I’ve written horror, mystery, and adventure, but I could stick them all comfortably into the thriller box. The elements of surprise, action and high stakes are all present. It’s more of an attitude than a set of rules.

I admire David Morrell’s take on the thriller (he’s the godfather of the genre, after all), and I pull from him for the character-driven elements. He knows how to make action happen without reducing the characters to props.

However, most of what informs my writing comes from non-fiction. You’ll find all the surprise, action and high stakes you could ever need in news media and long-form journalism. The writing is more clinical, but there is no less a narrative component than there is in any piece of fiction. I could read the newspaper all day. This keeps my fiction from going off the rails because the inspiration is grounded in the human instead of the fantastic. My best stories didn’t lose sight of their humanity.

As for my worst stories…well…let’s just say they weren’t only lacking humanity.

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Meet Richard White


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Richard White Meet

Richard White is a science fiction/fantasy author, but he has also been known to do dark fantasy, new pulp, historical adventure, fantasy noir, and non-fiction. As a media tie-in writer, he’s written for Star Trek, Doctor Who, and The Incredible Hulk.

Rich made his first professional sale in 1975 when he sold a sports article to the Hallsville (MO) Top. Over the next several years, he became the sports editor and wrote articles and editorials for the paper. He was a sports reporter at the University of Central Missouri’s radio station where he wrote/edited on-air copy and did interviews with local schools sports teams.

Rich is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. He also serves on SFWA’s “Writer Beware” committee.

When not writing, he shows an inordinate amount of interest in sharp pointy things. Rich picked up fencing in college, learning the foil. Also, while attending the University of Central Missouri, he was introduced to the Society for Creative Anachronism, where he learned the art of sword fighting using both broadsword and shield, great sword, and pole arms. He also was an apprentice armorer, learning how to make both leather and steel armor pieces for other members. Additionally, he was a herald for the West Kingdom, doing both field and court heraldry as well as designing over 40 coats of arms and badges for members of the Barony of the Dark Woods. Rich’s current sword-related vice is Kendo, where he has achieved the rank of Nidan and is studying both Itto (single-sword) and Nito (two-sword) styles of Kendo.

The 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ is using Richard’s skills to present sessions on:

  • Enter the Hobbit (Writing Realistic Fight Scenes)
  • World Building 101
  • Writer Beware

To read more on Richard, click on the following links:


Dawn Sooy       Article by Dawn Sooy

A native of Eastern Pennsylvania, Dawn has plenty of experience with the best and worst four seasons have to offer. Armed with a Computer Science degree, she worked in the tech industry until 2012. She’s married to a great guy and between them, have four children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. As an animal lover, she volunteers at the local animal shelter, sneaking in treats for the four-legged residents.

Too full of energy to even consider a rocking chair, with an insatiable itch to write, Dawn published six short stories, the most recent, “Love Knows No Boundaries,” featured in the GLVWG anthology, Write Here – Write Now. She is currently working on a full-length novel titled, “From The Darkness,” scheduled for publication in early 2018, with plans to publish a horror anthology later in the year.

An Interview with Tabitha Lord


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I’m a Storyteller …

I always have been. 

When I was a little girl, I wrote poetry, horse stories, adventure tales. I daydreamed about far-off planets, brave heroines, epic journeys. Then life happened. A good life, full of love, laughter, tears, children, work, play, and real adventure! Time passed, but the stories, they were still there, and one day I began writing them down again.

GLVWG’s Sandra Almonte interviewed Tabitha author of the award-winning Horizon series.


Sandra:  I would like to start with…you have a HUSBAND, FOUR kids, TWO cats AND a black lab. How in the world do you find time to write? Do you have a set time you “get away” to write? What advice can you give those of us that think we don’t have enough time in the day to write?

Tabitha:       I’m hyper-organized, and if someone really wanted to mess with me, hiding my to-do lists and notebooks would send me into a tailspin! Seriously though, I work with a calendar and plan out my time so that I feel proactive instead of reactive, and I can ensure that I’m attending to my priorities first. I wrote a blog about my obsessive organizational habits, Inside a Writer’s Mind – On Editing, while working with a calendar, and I’ll be sharing thoughts on that during one of my programs at the Write Stuff conference.

But really, there’s never enough time until you decide to make the time. Once I commit to writing a new draft, I protect my creative space fiercely. And, over the years, I’ve learned a lot about effective habits, my personal rhythms, and the amount of time I need in order to have a productive creative writing session. I plan my schedule with this information in mind.

Sandra:  You’re also a senior writer at Book Club Babble. How did you become part of that group? How do you juggle your own blog and book writing with writing for the club?

Tabitha:       Several years ago, my friend and I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC for the first time. I think one the best things about conferences are the fantastic people you meet who become part of your writing “tribe.”  That year, we met some fellow writers who had just started a book blogging web site. They invited my friend and me to guest post, and within a few weeks asked if we wanted to partner with them. There are now seven of us – six who do the writing and interviewing, and one who specializes in marketing strategy and promotions. We read every book we promote, but we don’t promote every book we read. We pride ourselves on the quality of our recommendations, and on the care we give to each author.

I love this work. It gives me an opportunity to read in all genres, and to assure that I keep up the habit of reading even when I’m busy with my own writing projects. The writing community is so supportive of one another, and it’s gratifying to read something wonderful and then be able to enthusiastically promote it on a well-respected platform with good reach.

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