Archive for the ‘Writing Conferences’ Category

Making the Most of a Writing Conference

October 8, 2018

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Let’s face it. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have go it alone. You can always do what I do … attend a writing conference, and meet some of the other members of that tribe called writers.

On October 20, I plan to attend the Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University again, something I’ve done every fall for the eleven years it’s been in existence.

It’s a great conference. You’ll find loads of interesting workshops, access to agents and editors … and swarms of writers of various levels, all packaged neatly into a nice, affordable, single-day event.

Conferences like this are a great way to learn about all aspects of writing. You can attend a variety of workshops, gathering methods to turn your ideas into finished stories. You’ll also learn more about trends in the industry and the business side of writing.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on using social media tools like Twitter, and delve into making personal podcasts to develop your writing career and market your stories to readers.

I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction, but if you’re still thinking about traditional publishing, or have an interest in the non-fiction market, the Rochester Writers’ Conference will offer an opportunity to pitch to agents, and talk to a panel of editors.

That experience, in itself, is fabulous. If nothing else, talking directly to agents and editors let’s you examine your own work through a professional’s objective eye.

You might even get comfortable talking about your work – something you’ll definitely need to do when trying to sell someone on your proposals, or when marketing your books.

Even if the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you often need to look no further than those around you. Looking for a good editor? Thinking about arranging speaking engagements? Trying to find a cover or website designer?

Talking to, and connecting with, other writers can be one of the most valuable things about attending a writing conference.

Talk, be friendly, ask questions. You’re with your tribe, after all.

Make the Most of It
Here are some suggestions to ensure a productive experience. First, take a few minutes to plan for the workshops you want.

A word of warning … you probably won’t get to all of them, due to time constraints.

So, pick wisely among the sessions you know will give you the most help. But go beyond that. Challenge yourself and take at least one session on a topic outside your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re a beginning author, with more questions than answers, don’t fret. Most of the sessions are geared to accommodate you. Plus, you’ll find many experienced authors in attendance will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Remember – Elevator Pitch
If you plan to pitch your work to an agent, don’t worry if you’re nervous. Everybody is. Compensate by being over-prepared. Have at least a rough draft ready before you go.

Also, keep it short.

You usually only have sessions of about 15 minutes with an agent so, please, don’t fill your time with nervous apologies, or rambling, inconsequential details of your personal life.

Talk about your book. Give them your elevator pitch.

Tell what your character wants, why he wants it, and what keeps him from getting it. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds. Remind yourself it’s okay not to explain all the details or the final outcome. Stop at a moment of tension and wait.

Let the agent guide the discussion. Find out what’s caught their attention, or what piece is missing. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking, and the main reason you’re talking to them is to hear their feedback and reaction.

Not planning to pitch? Still be prepared to talk about your writing. Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave behind to give to agents, editors and other writers. I actually prefer a bookmark, because I can list my books, too. Besides, I’ve learned they’re harder to lose.

When you attend any conference, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. Not only with professionals in your industry, but a host of your peers. It’s okay to show your personality a little, because that can reflect your writing style.

Just make sure people think it’s a good one.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on Saturday, October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Writers’ Conferences … Good, Bad or Indifferent?

September 29, 2016

fall woods
Michigan Woods in the Fall

My bride and I have plans with some dear old friends in the evening on Saturday, October 8, 2016 … but I’m spending the day at the Ninth Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University.

Rochester WritersI’ve found it to be one of the best one-day conferences around … a tribute to its organizer, Michael Dwyer. I always come away with new, useful information from the excellent presentations … and from other attendees I meet.

I’m also looking forward to the keynote address this year. It’s by Keith Taylor whose poems, stories, reviews and translations have appeared widely in North America and in Europe.

The recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (and also from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs), he teaches at the University of Michigan … where he also serves as Associate Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve attended this conference every year since its inception, trying to discover new ways to market my work. Given my professional background some folks wonder why, and I’m never ashamed to tell them.

I spent 40 years in advertising, public relations and marketing, but as an indie author I find trying to market my own books, particularly on a short (almost non-existent) budget, one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s much harder than writing them. I keep going to conferences hoping to uncover a real clue how to do it.

One of the things I’ve discovered, indie-authors tend to suffer book blindness when it comes to their own work … and I’m guilty-as-charged. Even though I’ve won multiple awards for my fiction, it’s still difficult to know how to go about promoting it.

Don’t Sell … Build a Community
I already know a barrage of “buy my book!” promotions won’t work. There’s so much of it on The Twitter, Book of Face and other social media feeds, it’s become like background noise. Most people skip it.

Yet, you still see independent authors doing this kind of promotion incessantly, looking for a shortcut to sales. I’ve done it myself, more than I care to admit, but it’s time that could have been put to better use by doing the one thing I know really helps … building a community.

What am I talking about when I say you should build a community?

Well … specifically, I’m talking about finding like-minded people and starting conversations, like I try to do here.

Once you find potential audiences and influencers, you have to do something to reach them … and this is the part where a significant percentage of indie-authors drop the ball.

Whatever social media platforms you choose, focus on the people you want to talk to. To be successful, give them something they can use.

Asking questions, discussing common interests, commenting on new discoveries, re-tweeting posts, adding value, entertaining, sharing relevant links and, most of all, being authentic.

Imagine Your Future Readers
When I did the exercise trying to understand who my potential blog readers for indie-publishing might be, I saw people with an obsession for reading and writing. I saw some who just started taking creative writing classes, and others who have kept a writing journal for years.

I saw people who had something to say, but didn’t know where to start. I saw me. I saw you.

When I did the same for my fiction, it was harder, but I have to assume, even though our specific interests might be different, most people read it for the same reason I do … to be entertained.

Then it occurred to me … in choosing something to read I also look for authors that have something to say beyond their books, like one of my current favorite writers, Brad Meltzer. After all is said and done, it’s the real person you will relate to most, not a name on a book cover.

For all you indie-authors out there, to build a community, don’t shove your books at them and treat folks you meet like a meal ticket. They’re people just like you. Get to know them. Show you care. Add to the community.

The Hard Part
It’s the main reason I write this blog (not to hear myself talk, as my bride often suggests). My books are prominent here, to be sure … but you’re only here because you’re interested in things I’ve said about writing and indie-publishing. I hope the things I bring to the table help you with your efforts … and, oh, by the way, I write fiction.

It really is that simple … and hard. It takes time, and you have to be genuine. But ask anyone who is successful and he (or she) will tell you building a community that both cares and invests in one another far outweighs other tactics.

If someone leaves you a comment, they should be able to rest assured you’ll respond to it, with an answer that is both honest and helpful. Don’t pontificate. Be yourself, enjoy the people you get to know, and trust the rest will follow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my questions ready for the conference in October.

Then I’m going to gather the things I’ll need for the book signing event I’ll be part of at Leon & Lulu in Clawson, on October 23, 2016. Hope to see you there.


On November 19, 2016, I’ll be in attendance at the Readers Favorite award ceremony at the Regency Hotel in Miami.

On December 3, 2016, I’ll be signing books from 1:00-4:00 pm at the annual “Giving Season” event at the Orion Township Public Library (825 Joslyn Rd).


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.
If you’ve written an interesting book too, consider submitting it to the Readers Favorite annual contest by using the banner link below.
What do you have to lose?



Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Why Do I Write?

March 14, 2016


American author Joyce Carol Oates has a Detroit background, just like me, which is what first drew me to find out about her work. Unlike me, she has taught at Princeton University since 1978.

Although I don’t consider her one of my favorite authors, the critics seem to love her. She’s won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, two O. Henry Awards and the National Humanities Medal.

Her novels Black Water (1992), What I Lived For (1994), Blonde (2000), and short story collections The Wheel of Love and Other Stories (1970) and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories (2014) were each nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Impressive, to say the least.

Still, she once said about the act of writing: “Given that it provokes such misery, why do I do it?”

For her, the answer is obvious. Because she’s good at it.

Writers Write
In the Renaissance, poets claimed they wrote for posterity … to be “immortal.” In religious communities, the creation of any art was for the glory of God.

In a capitalist society, one is likely to claim that he writes for the same purpose that everyone else does who produces a product in that society … for money.

But it’s rare that a literary writer can say he writes for money with a straight face, since the payment for prose fiction for most authors (I’m obviously not including the literary ATM machines like Stephen King), if broken down into an hourly wage, would be in the modest range of the US minimum wage of the 1950s.

To someone like me, who has written most of his adult life with varying degrees of enjoyment (or misery), writing is therefore sometimes a conscious variant of an unconscious activity, like dreaming.

So Why Do We Dream?
No one seems to really know, just as no one seems to really know why we, as a species, crave stories. My experience of writing is invariably a blend of the “inspired” and plodding execution.

Don’t get the wrong idea … I’m not one of those “tortured souls” running around looking for his muse. I have literally dozens of stories chasing themselves through my head on any given day. I’m actually working on three of them right now.

Sometimes I feel frustrated, like I won’t have time to write them all down. I get disappointed with myself at times, too … such as right now, as I look toward the rapidly approaching publishing deadline I set for myself and realize I’m behind schedule.

However, I tend to believe it will come out well … eventually.

Readers Favorite (and Other) Reviews
I have a target date of June 1 to finish (and publish) my next book, Blood Lake, in order to get it reviewed in time for entry into the Readers Favorite annual contest.

Good reviews please me (and I suppose they help to sell books), but they’re nothing like meeting readers who tell me they were moved or provoked by one of my books.

That happened to me recently, in church of all places. A woman sitting in the pew in front of me turned around and asked me “Are you an author?” The question surprised me since, as far as I knew, I’d never met her before. I answered yes.

Then she really surprised me. “Did you write Reichold Street?”

At first I thought someone I knew had put her up to it. But it turned out she’d taken my book out of the local library and enjoyed it so much she went out and bought her own copy. “I just had to have it,” she said. I was stunned and thought, what a rare privilege.

It reminded me again why I write (no, not for attention and universal acclaim … it’s far simpler than that).

I’m a much happier person when I’m writing. There’s a place in my head I go when I write that is rich and unexpected … and scary sometimes … but never dull. I initially went there after I sold my first short story, at seventeen. The payment was small but the adrenaline rush was incredible.

All of this excitement, just for writing? I thought. Wow!

These days, maybe because I can access that place in my head quite easily, writing feels like something I simply couldn’t live without.

It’s a joyous thing. I love having readers, like that lady in church. It was a nice event in my life, but I long ago realized … even though Gentle Reader, I want to bring you along, too … the person I’m really always writing for … is me.

Rochester Writer’s Spring Conference
As I streak to the finish line on my next book, I’m also looking forward to another Rochester Writer’s Conference. This one takes place again at Oakland University on April 23, 2016. It’s a good event, and I’ve never failed to come away with something valuable.

If you’re in the area, and have the time, I highly recommend it.

Five Quotes on Writing Worth Remembering
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
   ~ Louis L’Amour

“You fail only if you stop writing.”
   ~ Ray Bradbury

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
   ~ Robert Frost

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
   ~ Stephen King

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
   ~ Anton Chekhov


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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