Maria Snyder is the Keynote speaker at this year’s Write Stuff conference. She’s also doing two half-day workshops at the conference. Here is an interview with Maria by GLVWG member Donna Brennan. Register for the conference here.
By Sara Karnish
A longtime friend of GLVWG, Job Gibbs will be presenting three sessions at the 2023 Write Stuff Conference: “The Three C’s of Conflict: Part 1,” “The Three C’s of Conflict: Part 2,” and “The Funny Pages.” Here is a complete conference schedule.
Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey, where he was Author-in-Residence at Georgian Court University from 2012 to 2017.
Jon is the founder of:
- The New Jersey Authors’ Network (www.njauthorsnetwork.com)
- NJ Writing Groups.com (www.njwritinggroups.com)
- The I are a writer! (and more) store (www.iareawriter.net).
His middle grade fantasy, Fur-Face, was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award. Originally published by Echelon Press in 2010, the second edition was released in November 2022. The sequel, Barnum’s Revenge, was published by Echelon Press in 2013. The second edition is due out this year.
Jon’s latest book, Abraham Lincoln Stole My Homework, is due out this year.
When he’s not chasing around after his children, Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: One of your sessions is called ‘The Funny Pages.’ What will we learn during this session?
JG: We’ll be looking at how humor comes in many forms, and how we can use it in lots of different ways, whether it’s to lighten the mood after a shocking or stressful scene, or show us a little backstory, or even to make us like a character we aren’t supposed to – Think the Sherriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Q: Humor is difficult to achieve in writing. What are a few key elements to ‘writing funny’?
JG: I think we all have slightly different ideas as to what counts as funny, but when it comes to using it in a book or story, I’d say the most important thing is that whoever’s writing it finds it funny. Also, consistency is important. Humor is part of our personality. If a story character switches between self-deprecating humor and one-liners to snarky jokes and sarcasm without any obvious reason, it can be jarring (at least, it is for me as a reader).
Q: Can you give us a sneak preview of your ‘3 Cs of Conflict’ 2-part sessions?
JG: Using examples from books and movies, we’ll be looking at some of the many ways to insert conflict in a story, and how we can use it to do more than just provide an obstacle for our characters to overcome. We’ll also be looking at examples from attendees’ current works-in-progress to see how we can ramp up the conflict while also helping to move the character/story arc along.
Q: What does conflict add to a piece of fiction?
JG: Conflict certainly isn’t everything, but without it, any story (and most of real life) would be pretty boring. It doesn’t all have to be car chases and brawling; in fact, most conflict is pretty subtle, but if it’s not there, readers soon start flipping ahead a few pages, or worse, simply put the book down.
Q: You write middle-grade fiction. What are some must-haves for writing middle-grade?
JG: Usually, the main character has to be middle-grade age. Adults can help solve the story problem, but they can’t be the driving force behind it. Aside from that, I’d say the must-haves are the same as any other fiction. Characters the reader cares about, good story, etc.
Q: How is writing middle-grade different than writing for adults?
JG: There are some basic differences, most of which are common sense. The official age range for middle-grade readers is between 8 and 12, so there’s an awful lot of scope for the type of story you can tell (as well as in how you tell it). Across the board, though, really bad language, sex, etc., are definite no-nos.
Book-length tends to be a lot shorter – usually between 20K and 50k words. If there is a romantic interest, it’s subtle – think Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in the first few Harry Potter books.
Kelly Jensen, critically acclaimed and award winning Author, will join us at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
Kelly will facilitate 3 sessions:
Grab the Reader in the First Chapter
Outlining is for Everyone
** Scroll Down for Details **
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly Jensen will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of twelve novels, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station series and the award-winning novel, Block and Strike. She has also published eight novellas and too many short stories to count. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
An Interview with Kelly Jensen
By Conference CoChair—Umber Rana
Q: Do you have a disciplined writing routine? If so, what does it include? Do you have any pre-writing rituals or habits before you sit down?
Kelly: I do have a routine! I write Monday through Friday from 6 am to 9 am. I aim for 2000 words or a chapter every day. After getting my words down, I edit or work on administrative tasks. But words always come first.
I don’t really have any pre-writing rituals except to eat breakfast. I’m pretty focused on breakfast. I think about it the night before and cook something hot most days. It’s my writing fuel!
Q: Share the strangest source of inspiration for your writing that you can remember.
Kelly: One of my favorite books (To See the Sun) was inspired by a Harlequin Historical Romance set in Montana during the 1800s. It wasn’t a book I’d normally pick up on my own, but part of a judging packet for the RWA’s RITA contest. I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. Marriages of convenience (arranged, mail-order-spouse) have long been one of my favorite romantic tropes, but it’s not one that works well for gay romance. So I decided to try writing one. I set my story on another planet, and as a nod to this unexpectedly good read, gave my planet a wild west sort of theme: a new colony at the far edge of the galaxy, populated by former miners and terraformers who’d like a companion to share their new lives with. It was a fun book to write, and an idea that might never have occurred to me without that great little historical!
Q: What advice can you give beginning authors in establishing their brand and media presence?
Kelly: Be your most authentic self. I agonized for years over my social media presence and my author brand, only to realize that my blog, my IG feed, and my Twitter and Facebook posts all said the same thing: I was a science fiction nerd who played too many video games, bought too many books, and liked to go hiking. For me, the best part was that I tend to write characters with the same hobbies as mine. So it all fit. I aim to be upbeat and personable without getting too personal.
Q: How do you find the stories and lives that become the subject of your books? How do you research?
Kelly: My stories nearly always start with a single character. I want to write a certain sort of person in a certain situation, and my plot (including the other main character(s)) flows from there. For example, my current WIP is about two men who have recently become empty nesters (like me!). I obviously got this idea while packing my daughter up for college and wondering what I was going to do with all my spare time. And thinking about how much I’d miss her.
For my novel Block and Strike, I wanted to share the experience of how studying a martial art helped me find my voice and become a more assertive person.
The Chaos Station series explores the effects of war on former soldiers, their families, and society.
But each of these books started with a single character. Oliver for my current WIP, who is now home alone wondering who he’ll share breakfast with (told you breakfast was important). In Block and Strike, Max learns to embrace his differences and to rise above the bullying he’s endured all his life. In the Chaos Station series, Felix finally figures out how to leave the war behind, and how to embrace the love of the man he never forgot.
Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Kelly: Slow down and take a break. You won’t forget how to write if you take a few weeks or even a few months off. Remember to recharge between books. And, most importantly, remember your process but don’t be a slave to it. Use what works, discard what doesn’t.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Grab the Reader in the First Chapter
First impressions last. Hook your reader with a compelling first chapter by learning how to introduce your characters, setting, and plot without giving away every secret in the book. We’ll discuss how to include just enough backstory (not too much), and how to tease your readers into turning to the next page.
Outlining is for Everyone
Don’t let the idea of an outline hold you back. Planning what you need to write every day doesn’t necessarily mean a long list of detail. What it can mean is writing faster and to the point with just a few minutes of planning ahead–before you start the book or a few minutes before you start writing!
Worldbuilding isn’t just for fantasy and science fiction. Readers want to know where they are, when they are, and how your story relates to the world it’s set in. Learn how to represent the familiar and create the unfamiliar in a way that won’t overwhelm your story or your characters. This workshop will include an exercise that may be shared with the class.
“Moving and well written, Building Forever will leave you with a mansion-sized smile.”
—Sarina Bowen, USA Today bestselling author of Goodbye Paradise
“Jensen’s talent for world-building and memorable, unique secondary characters are on full display here in this fabulous series starter. Deeply felt emotions and a lovely romance have me eager for more in this world!”
—Annabeth Albert, author of Out of Uniform series
“Love is an adventure”
You can find all of Kelly’s books on Amazon
Learn more about Kelly on her website: kellyjensenwrites.com
Follow her blog: kmkjensen.wordpress.com
And her social media links:
Lawrence Knorr, founder and owner of Sunbury Press in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, will be at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
Lawrence will be taking pitches on Saturday, March 14.
“Sunbury Press is a rapidly growing publisher of a wide range of categories represented by six imprints. We typically receive approximately 1000+ proposals a year, publishing roughly 50 of them (about 5%). We choose to invest in those opportunities that we feel have the best chance in the current marketplace. We are always seeking new titles to publish including: history, historical fiction, police procedurals, crime thrillers, horror, steam punk, young adult, current events, science, reference, art history, ANY local/regional history, humor, spiritual/metaphysical, self-help, professional, memoirs, etc. If we didn’t mention your category — try us anyway!”
Lawrence Knorr is the co-owner of Sunbury Press, Inc. and has been involved with book publishing since 2000. He holds an MBA from Penn State University, and is a Project Management Professional (PMP), and Certified Scrum Master (CSM). Lawrence’s 30+ year career in information technology, as a programmer, analyst, project manager, CEO, and Chief Information Officer has prepared him well for the “Age of Content” – the era of eBooks, data integration, eCommerce, and networks. Lawrence has taught business and economics courses for over fifteen years at local colleges and is the author or co-author over twenty books. He is also an award-winning digital artist. Lawrence often speaks or is a panelist at numerous writers conferences and book fairs.
He is currently working on Graves of Our Founders and Tigers for a Day. He previously published a three volume set of his Knorr grandparents lineage entitled Seventy-One Years of Marriage: The Relations of George and Alice Knorr of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Click “Continue Reading” for An Inteview with Lawrence Knorr
Sarah Bolme, Director of Christian Indie Publishers Association (CIPA). will be at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
Sarah will discuss:
Three Things to do Before You Publish
The number of books published each year keeps increasing. With so much competition, it is difficult to stand out and get your book noticed. Doing the three things presented in this session before you publish a book helps every author—whether traditionally or self-published—get a jump start on marketing to make their book stand out among the competition.
Sarah will also be hosting Marketing Sessions throughout Saturday. To sign up for a consultation session, follow the instructions on the registration form. Your actual times for the consult will be assigned after registration is closed, and will be attached to your personal conference booklet upon signing in.
Sarah Bolme provides assistance to small publishers and independently published authors marketing books to the Christian marketplace. Sarah is also the author of the award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. The fourth edition will be released in February 2019.
Sarah is an independently published author and a traditionally published author. She is also the Director of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) an organization that exists to help small publishers and independently published authors market their books in the Christian marketplace.
Sarah’s blog, Marketing Christian Books, is to educate and inform small publishers and independently published authors about publishing and marketing Christian books.
Click “Continue Reading” for Sarah’s interview
Award-winning author and journalist, Jeanette Windle, will be at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
Jeanette will hold three craft sessions:
Using the Six Senses Purposefully
A Story to Tell – Your Own or Another’s
The A to Z of Writing a Sellable Article
** Scroll Down for Details **
As daughter of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist, Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than thirty on five continents. Those experiences have birthed 16 international intrigue titles, including bestselling Tyndale House Publishers release Veiled Freedom, a 2010 ECPA Christian Book Award and Christy Award finalist, sequel Freedom’s Stand, a 2012 ECPA Christian Book Award and Carol Award finalist, and Congo Dawn, 2013 Golden Scroll Novel of the Year, the political/suspense best seller “CrossFire” and the Parker Twins juvenile mystery series.
Saturday March 14, 2020
Using the Six Senses Purposefully
Bring Your Storytelling Alive! Fiction or non-fiction, effective telling of the story is what transports your reader into the world you want to share. And this is done most effectively through the six senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and that all-important sixth sense of the writer–emotion. Bring pen, paper and creativity because this will be a hands-on exercise.
A Story to Tell – Your Own or Another’s
Non-fiction biography is the bread-and-butter of freelance writing. Whether writing your own memoir or someone else’s life story, this workshop will walk you through the practicalities of breaking down, organizing, and weaving into story form a compelling life narrative. Not writing a full book? Principles apply as well to the personal experience short story/article.
The A to Z of Writing a Sellable Article
Where to find material or choose a topic? What makes an attention-grabbing lead and headline? What to include and how to organize? A great conclusion or just petering out? Taught by a twenty-year-veteran missions journalist and editor, this workshop lays out in practical steps how to turn out consistently exciting, tightly written articles, no matter your theme or subject matter.
INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE WITH INSPIRATIONAL IMPACT!!
“Jeanette Windle is a top-notch storyteller”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“You can’t finish a Windle novel without being deeply moved and better informed about the world around you.”—ROMANTIC TIMES
You can find Jeanette Windle on her website: http://jeanettewindle.com/
And you can follow her on:
Noah Ballard is a good guy. A nice guy. Raised in NJ, Noah traveled to the Midwest to attend the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Upon earning his degree, he returned east to work for the Emma Sweeny Agency. Now, he’s settled close to home and family at the literary agency, Curtis Brown, Ltd. in NYC.
But this good guy will go loco with a few simple words. Playful – Pleasant – Predictable.
Don’t say these words. Don’t do it. Because he’s a nice guy. We don’t want him to go loco—not yet.
Let him go “good” loco over your amazing manuscript. Noah is looking for thrillers, upmarket fiction, and noir contemporary. He wants provocative authors. He’s in the “now” – so nothing from last season, smarmy, or outdated. Hook him in the opener by a cute little Corgi with bloody paws. Give him characters with bright green hair and tattoos of ancient Sumerian gods. Thrill him with a chase scene, taking him backwards, the wrong way, through the Chunnel – oh wait, that’s been done before. But he’s cool if you do it again; with panache and no – ‘ly’ words. Challenge his intellect with a Kobayashi Maru scenario, then add a few RKO twists and turns.
Look, this isn’t his first rodeo. He’s been all over the country and the world, presenting at conferences, workshops, and generally enthused about writing and publishing. His agency represents bestselling authors and Pulitzer prize winners, so he’s not easily manipulate by trends. He longs for the underserved voice. He particularly dislikes when authors try to school readers. His advice: don’t start any piece of writing with the definition of a word. Give him a good story that’s honest and relatable. Give him vigorous dialogue. Speech, he reminds us, is what characters do to each other. It’s just as interactive as punching a villain in the face. Above all, Noah wants to be different after he reads your powerful book. He’s picky, street-wise, tough.
He’s even quit smoking.
Noah will be taking pitches at the 2020 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ on Saturday, March 14 (advance registration required). When you query or pitch to Noah:
- Do … be polite and respectful.
- Don’t … try to shock or disgust him.
- Do … be confident.
- Don’t … stalk him (you won’t get published and it’s illegal).
- Do … provide a query with just enough info about your finished manuscript (and you) that will make him ask for sample pages. Think of queries as a window display and agents as window shoppers. You want the agents to come in and buy from your shop.
And oh yeah, he lives in Brooklyn. You don’t mess with people from Brooklyn. They go bad loco over tepid literature.
To read more about Noah Ballard, click on the following links:
Bernadette Sukley, Write Stuff Writers Conference™ Flash Literature Contest Organizer and Chairman of the 2016 GLVWG Anthology, ‘The Write Connections’, has been researching, writing and editing for over 25 years. Her work has been featured in national and international publications. Her focus is human interest, health and lifestyle. She’s also written and edited guides, pamphlets, columns, stories, and novels. She’s published two novels (A Saving Hurricane, Find Me a Woman) and a nonfiction book (Made in Pennsylvania) within the last eight years.
Harrison Demchick, Author, Editor, Filmmaker, and Musician, will join us at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
Harrison will facilitate 3 sessions.
Bad Math: How the Right and Left Brains Work Together
It’s the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine
The Blueprint, or Building the Perfect Draft
Raised on a steady diet of magical realism, literary fiction, science-fiction, and Spider-Man comics, Harrison Demchick spent most of his formative years inside his own head, working out strange thoughts and ideas that would eventually make their way into stories, screenplays, and songs.
He went to Oberlin College to attain one of modern day’s most notoriously useless degrees, a BA in English with a creative writing concentration, but then actually used it, working for over a decade as a developmental editor of fiction and memoir. Harrison is also an optioned screenwriter, winner of the 2011 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, and an inaugural fellow of the Johns Hopkins University/Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund. His first film, Ape Canyon, is currently in production.
The Listeners, his first novel, was published by Bancroft Press in 2012. Otherguy, his debut EP, launched in 2018. He currently lives in Washington, D.C. with his girlfriend and their two cats with a combined seven legs. He’s working on a series of short stories, a couple screenplays, a pair of musicals, a concept album, and whatever else keeps him distracted from the dark void that will one day consume us all.
** Click “Continue Reading” for Interview and Course Syllabus **
Author Michael Ventrella, will be at the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Saturday, March 14, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
He will offer three sessions.
How the Law Really Works
The Biggest Mistakes Made by New Authors
What Editors Look For
** Click “Continue Reading” for Interview and Course Details **
Outside of writing, Mike worked primarily as a public defender; however, he also was a lobbyist for the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action (and later served as the Massachusetts chapter President for a year), taught political science courses at Bunker Hill Community College, and was a campaign manager for a state representative. Mike also wrote songs and performed in two prominent bands, Agent 99 and Big House, which played the major clubs in the Boston area and received airplay on local college radio.
Mike also started a magazine about animated films called Animato in the mid 80s which grew to be quite prominent. He was quoted in many publications as an animation expert, including Entertainment Weekly and in the book THE DREAM TEAM: THE RISE AND FALL OF DREAMWORKS by Daniel M. Kimmel.
In 1997, Mike and his wife, Heidi, moved to the beautiful Poconos, where Mike now works as an attorney. Heidi is a Niche award-winning artist whose work can be seen in galleries around the country and in Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museums all over the world, as well as on ABC TV’s To Tell the Truth. They love the pitter patter of little feet (they have five cats: McGonigal, Mrs. Premise, Mrs. Conclusion, Doctor Who and River Song).
Mike is a regular fixture at science fiction conventions on the east coast, where he appears on panels to discuss fiction, animation, and gaming. However, to many people, he’s known primarily as the Guy Who Predicted The Hodor Plot Twist.
Timons “Tim” Esaias, adjunct professor at Seton Hill University for the Masters level program in writing popular fiction, will open the GLVWG Write Stuff Writers Conference™, “2020 Vision”, on Thursday, March 12, at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center.
He will conduct a two half-day sessions on Thursday, March 12:
What to Put In & What to Take Out:
How to remove meaningless stuff from your prose, and put content back in.
Selected Elements of Style
Key rules, the genre differences, and how to think about the morass of conflicting advice
Then on Saturday, March 14, Tim will facilitate four sessions:
Getting Conflict on the Page
Don’t Be a Bobble Head
Those First Few Lines
Writing Poetry for Genre Markets
Timons Esaias lives in Pittsburgh, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, with his wife who is a physician. He writes satire, speculative fiction, poetry, and the occasional essay. His work has appeared in over a dozen different countries, and fifteen languages. He has been a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award (1998) and the Rhysling Award (5 nominations, Third Place 1997), and he won the Asimov’s Readers’ Award for Poetry (2005). He is a member of the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange; a Member Demeritus of the Worldwrights; and a certified Rogue in Lair #1 of the Rascals, Rogues & Rapscallions.
** Click “Continue Reading” for Tim Esaias Interview and course syllabus **