Posts Tagged ‘Rochester Writer’s Conference’

Book Signing

December 2, 2017


Nevis at Sunset.

Last October, I attended the 10th Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference. As always, I got a lot out of it. The host, Michael Dwyer, can be counted on to put together a good assortment of presentations for the day.

I meet a lot of interesting people, too. Ambitious indie-authors who, like me, want to learn everything they can in order to get their book to the next level. Their collective enthusiasm is always contagious, and I often learn as much from other participants as I do from presenters.

We’ve all experienced a combination of no-motivation days, beautiful sentences, writing blocks, sudden inspiration, painful editing days, re-writes, boosts of self-confidence and bouts of insecurity. Hanging out with fellow authors – people who truly get you – is fortifying.

There are many opportunities to get inspired, and even to get a keener sense of your own writing projects. By the end of a writers’ conference, attendees inevitably experience an endorphin high. Capitalizing on this state of excitement is crucial.

You will probably not feel more stoked than you do on the way home from a writers’ conference. Let that work for you. While some people feel light-headed from all the information, I say do something about it immediately! It will feel productive to have taken a first step, and even the smallest adjustment could create momentum.

Some of the ideas at a conference will strike a chord with you, others will not be right for your projects. Take the time to figure out what feels right. Allow yourself to get excited about small victories. That way you are enjoying the journey and staying engaged, instead of feeling burned-out or overwhelmed.

I used the good feeling to re-visit my website and make some much-needed adjustments!

However, to tell the truth, my batteries needed recharging and I waited a month to do it … taking some time to really think about it during a much-needed vacation with my eldest son and his family.


Birthplace of Alexander Hamilton on Nevis.

That’s exactly what I did on the beautiful Caribbean island of Nevis. I had a successful book-signing just before we left, and I have another one scheduled with other local authors at the Orion Township Library on Saturday, December 9 (from 1:00-4:00). During my time off, I uncharacteristically did no writing at all.

It worked. My writing block is gone and ideas abound.

Hopefully, it will be a fast and glorious road now to my next book, taking one step at a time.

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You’re invited to visit my website, 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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Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

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

Secrets to Writing a Best-Seller

April 14, 2016

Author Stephen King in Bridgton, Maine.Stephen King in Bridgton, Maine (picture © Rolling Stone).

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know one of my favorite authors is Stephen King.

Not that I enjoy all of his work. I readily admit I don’t.

However, he did write some of my favorite stories. Among them: Shawshank Redemption, The Body (you may remember it better as the movie Stand by Me), The Green Mile, and The Shining.

Whether you like his stories or not, this much is absolutely true.

The man knows how to tell a story.

Books by American author Stephen Edwin King (born 9/21/47) … have sold more than 350 million copies. As a perennial member of the top-10 bestseller lists, he knows a lot about writing popular books.

With all his success, he’s still a big supporter of beginning authors. His amazing book, On Writing, is required reading on many author’s writing shelves, my own included.

You don’t have to be a fan of horror stories to recognize the worth of his advice to countless authors on their own path to publication.

As I get ready for the Rochester Writer’s Spring Conference next week, where I hope to glean a lot of new information about this daily affliction I have called writing fiction, I thought it would be a good time to pass on a bit more of Mr. King’s advice.

Eight Best-Seller Secrets
Besides his well-known writing admonition (that every writer should follow): “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs” … here are eight of Stephen King’s tips for writing a novel that wannabe writers (and, more importantly, their readers) will love …

    1. Use small words. Words with multiple syllables may look impressive, but most readers don’t want to work for their entertainment. Make their reading experience as effortless as possible. Keep sentences short, vary the word length, and write as simply as possible.

    2. Tell your own truth. You can make up stories about anything you like, but your characters and plot have to ring true to your ear. No one is all bad or all good. Even super-baddie Darth Vader achieved redemption in the end.

    3. Mix up the paragraph length. It’s boring to look at a page and see uniform blocks of words. Make some of the paragraphs one sentence long.

    4. Think of your perfect reader and write only for them. Write a story that person would like and ignore what the rest of the world thinks. No one writes a book everyone likes, but with this method does your marketing for you. If you write solidly for one reader, everyone who’s like them will love your books.

    5. Read, read, read. I can never say that enough. Read every time you’re waiting somewhere … when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office … when you’re trying to fall asleep. Immerse your brain in words all day long. The variety will give your own work more depth.

    6. Write one word at a time. This may be the most famous piece of advice King has given on writing. How do you write a novel as long as The Stand? One word at a time. Just sit down and do it. Don’t think about writing hundreds of thousands of words. Aim for the next word, and then the next one.

    7. Write every single day. It really does get easier the more you do it. You’ll have days when it takes hours to hit your word count and days when it takes no time at all, but set an appointment with yourself and sit down to write every single day, without fail.

    8. Find something you love about your work. Yes, writing what’s popular will sell more books, but you’ve got to find some middle ground between what will sell and what you love. Being an author is hard enough. There’s no sense making it even harder by writing something you hate.

Of course, if zombie love stories with skinhead motorcycle gangs in Scotland during an alien invasion in the Middle Ages is something you love, all I can do is wish you luck.

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. My latest, BLOOD LAKE, will be out this summer. Look for it. I’ll look for you at the writing conference.

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.

What is the Story Within?

October 19, 2015

Oakland University Campus

I spent the day Saturday at the Eighth Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University. It’s one of the best one-day conferences going, and a tribute to its organizer, Michael Dwyer.

I find Michael’s conference a veritable treasure chest, and have attended every fall session since its inception. I’ve never failed to come away without some new, useful information.

Rochester Writers The theme this year was “The Story Within” and it featured Michigan authors, speakers & educators discussing fiction, non-fiction and business topics, through lectures, workshops and panel discussions.

The keynote address by best-selling author Bonnie Jo Campbell, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, who was also a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award (as well as being awarded a Pushcart Prize) was fun and informative … and worth the day, all by itself.

Speaking skills, poetry, history, author branding, children’s books, flash fiction and writing productivity were all session topics. There was also a publishing panel moderated by Lisa Howard that answered questions relating to publishing today.

There were also two small-group agent pitch sessions with literary agent Alice Speilburg. I attended one and found it very informative (although I don’t think I convinced her to represent my books).

I attend this conference every year trying to find ways to market my work. Some folks wonder why, and I’m not ashamed to tell them.

I spent 40 years in advertising, public relations and marketing, but in the past four years I’ve found trying to market my books … particularly on a short (read almost non-existent) budget … one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

The funny thing is, today’s writers have never had a more global reach. Of course, the potential of a global readership only matters if an author knows how to access it.

To Answer Who, You Need What
To get the most out of your marketing efforts, you want to attract a specific type of reader … the one suited to your book. This means you need to know who they are and where they hang out.

When it comes to understanding which readers are most likely to enjoy your book, you first need to look at what makes your book special. This means you must answer the crucial question: What makes your novel stand out from all others like it?

Authors tend to suffer book blindness when it comes to their own work. I know I’m guilty-of-it-as-charged.

It can be difficult to see what sets your novel apart. I keep going to conferences hoping someone has a real clue.

Here are a few ideas on what form this unique element might take:

    ~ A theme or cause that commands attention: bullying or family dysfunction (see Reichold Street)

    ~ Life during the Vietnam conflict and its PTSD effect among war veterans (see One Way Street)

    ~ Intriguing character talents or skills: even terrible, illegal ones, like drug use or murder (see Street Light)

The Next Question Is Where
Once you know the types of people suited to your book, you need to figure out how to find them and which people are influential with this particular audience (bloggers, other authors and organizations).

Also, find books like yours and investigate how they connect with their audience. Chances are their readers are a good fit for your novel. If you need help finding those books, try Yasiv, which provides an image web of books Amazon users typically buy together.

If your book is quite new and doesn’t have a lot of connections yet, find one like it and use that title as the reference point.

When looking for an audience, try also thinking beyond books. Whatever your standout element (like the Vietnam-era in my Reichold Street series), brainstorm what other businesses, artists, and organizations do to cater to this interest group.

Cross-promotion can open up new audiences. Try running an advanced search on The Twitter to show people, hashtags and groups that are actively talking about it.

Now Comes the Hard Part
Once you find potential audiences and influencers, you have to do something to reach them. And to be honest, this is the part where 80 percent of authors drop the ball.

The reason is simple: connection takes time.

As we all know from the barrage of “buy my book!” promotions online, the direct sell doesn’t work. It’s white noise; we see so much of it in our Twitter and Book of Face feeds, we just skip past it.

And yet authors still do this kind of promotion day-in-and-day-out because they’re looking for a shortcut solution to sales.

All they’re really doing is wasting time … time that could be put into building a community.

Connection is Simple
Find like-minded people and start conversations. Ask questions. Comment, add value, entertain, discuss your common interest, share relevant links and be authentic. It’s the main reason I write this blog (not to hear myself talk, as my bride sometimes suggests).

Choose the social media platforms (like Goodreads), blogs, forums, and other communities where your audience hangs out … and make your conversations about them, not you.

In other words, don’t treat them like your meal ticket. Get to know them. Show you care. Add to the community. Then, when a natural opportunity arises, share that you are an author, and when it sparks an interest, share your book.

With Influencers, Give First
Leave comments and start conversations on social media that show you are interested in helping them grow. Usually reciprocation happens naturally. Brad Meltzer has mentioned my books in a Twitter post, because I praised his in several of mine.

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

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 try some of the ideas I gathered at the conference Saturday … right after I tell Michael again what a good day it was.

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Click on the red-arrow link below to hear my recent podcast answering your questions about indie writing (duration approx 15 minutes):

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see the stories 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 also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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


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