Posts Tagged ‘Rochester Writer’s Conference’

Want to Write a Good Story?

September 9, 2018

Picture courtesy

Every writer has heard the question many times: Where do you get your ideas? The answer from most of them is almost always the same as it is for me …


Many aspiring writers believe they need to wait for a sudden flash of inspiration to write well but, in truth, generating ideas is more of a process than an epiphany.

You aren’t going to be standing in the shower, humming to yourself, with hot, soapy water cascading over your shoulders when, suddenly, serendipity smiles and you have a flash of unmitigated brilliance.

It’s the idea to end all ideas, and you’re certain you’re a genius!

Except, when you get home after a long day and a treacherous commute, the muse has abandoned you, and you can’t seem to recall that moment of morning insight.

Surely, it’ll come back once you’ve had some time to unwind, right?

If you’re like most people, myself included, there’s a good possibility it won’t. Ideas are notoriously elusive and hard to hold on to.

Jot Things Down
It may seem old-fashioned in the electronic age, but keeping a pen-and-paper notebook nearby has advantages. For starters, writing in longhand boosts memory, making your ideas seem more real and encouraging you to actually do something about them.

If you’re old school, like me, the act of writing things down will also remind you to focus and be in the moment. And that’s important. The best writers are also keen observers.

Revisit Your Ideas
The best method for storing your ideas is one that encourages you not only to keep them, but to use them. Keeping track of them is only useful if you have a plan to come back and put the best ones to use.

Finding what works best for you will probably involve trial and error. Some creatives have been known to use a pen to scrawl a brilliant idea on a napkin or even the back of their hand.

Maybe, if you’re older than three, you’re eccentric enough to even get away with writing on the wall.

Pay Attention
Knowing how to write a good story is a powerful skill. The human mind is drawn to stories. Recite a laundry list of events from your day at work and our eyes glaze over. But tell us how the unarmed local constable heroically saved the day by stopping the crazed bank robber with some duct tape and a paper clip and we’re riveted.

You can learn to do this by paying attention to what’s going on around you. Those snippets of conversation you overheard at dinner; the car you witnessed going the wrong way down the freeway during rush hour; the elderly man trudging down a dark alley, repeatedly calling a woman’s name, could all spark a story.

Although some of the events you describe may be extraordinary, they don’t have to be. They just have to be interesting.

Ask “What If?”
Events aren’t necessarily stories unto themselves, but they can germinate fabulous stories when the writer plants the seeds by asking questions, and letting the characters respond.

What if the car you witnessed heading the wrong way down the freeway at rush hour was driven by a pregnant woman in labor who needed the fastest route to the hospital?

What if the elderly man calling out in the dark alley was a forgetful widower looking for his deceased wife?

One of the primary questions I always ask to get a story started is exactly that …

“What if?”

Stories are not just sequences of random events … they have to go somewhere. Any good story begins with a character who wants something. The story describes the character’s journey toward getting what he or she wants … or maybe not.

Not everyone gets his heart’s desire and stories, after all, don’t have to have happy endings, only acceptable ones.

Keep your character’s struggle to get something he desperately wants in mind as you build your story framework, and watch your character’s story come alive.

* * * * *

On September 18, 2018, I’ll be attending the Freelance Writer’s Marketplace Group at the Barnes & Noble store in Rochester Hills. I wrote in the last blog about the things you need for a book-signing. Next month, I get to practice what I preach. I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on October 28. I’ll also be attending the fabulous Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University on October 20. If you never attend any other conference, you should try to go to this one.


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.

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.


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.


Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.


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.


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.

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