Monday, May 31, 2010

Conference: 2010 Pennwriters Conference

Conferences

The 2010 Pennwriters Conference was the first conference or convention that Jason and I have attended since 2008, and I didn't realize how much we needed to immerse ourselves in the writing world again. The hiatus was by choice because we both needed to finish our third novels. It was a good choice, a therapeutic choice, and allowed us to appreciate the creative energy that comes from a group of writers converging at a single location.

2010 Pennwriters_Heidi and Jason
Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller
Photo by Mike Mehalek


We caught up with old friends, some from Seton Hill...
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Timons Esaias, Heidi Ruby Miller, and Maria V. Snyder
Photo by Jason Jack Miller


and some (well, one - Jon) that I shared an anthology (Sails and Sorcery) with...
2010 Pennwriters_Heidi and Jon
Heidi Ruby Miller and Jon Sprunk
Photo by Jason Jack Miller


and made some new ones...
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Ruth G. Zavitsanos, Elizabeth Kelley, Timons Esaias, Maria V. Snyder, and Meghan Schuessler
photo by Heidi Ruby Miller


had some wonderful books signed, including Maria V. Snyder's SF novel Inside Out, C. J. Lyons's medical thriller Urgent Care...
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Don Helin, Jonathan Maberry, C. J. Lyons, and Maria V. Snyder
Photo by Jason Jack Miller


and Jonathan Maberry's scientific thriller Patient Zero, which is being considered for an ABC series...
2010 Pennwriters_Heidi and Jonathan
Heidi Ruby Miller and Jonathan Maberry
Photo by Mike Mehalek


attended the masquerade, sans costume, though others rose to the occasion and there were some incredible ones...
2010 Pennwriters_masquerade
Gary Ryman and Mike Mehalek
Photo by Heidi Ruby Miller


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Mike Mehalek, Jason Jack Miller, and Timons Esaias
Photo by Heidi Ruby Miller


and left feeling a sense of joy in our craft and our stories.

Thank you to Ayleen Stellhorn and everyone who made this conference a success!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Workshop: MARKETING MADE EASY FOR WRITERS

Workshops

Pennwriters Inc. Introduces...

MARKETING MADE EASY FOR WRITERS: Bestseller Strategies To Optimize Your Promotions

INSTRUCTOR: Nate Hardy, Marketing Coach
DATE: June 1 – July 2, 2010

* Get this course FREE if you win the in-course website contest!
LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse062010

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Want to discover tested tools and tips to increase your audience and platform for your books, writing, and websites? Do it now, and use your free summer time to put it in place. Get over a month of in-depth instruction to easily identify your audience, increase your visibility, and launch more effective marketing campaigns--both online and offline.

You will learn proven strategies that will save you time and money, including the Promotion Pyramid and Know Your APCs approach to marketing--which can all be boiled down to just one sheet of paper! Stop spending too many hours on marketing with too few results. Get feedback and evaluations of your website/blog, including an in-course website contest. (Don’t have one? Make this course your motivation to start one.) You will be taught how to:

* Brand yourself & identify your competitive advantages
* Rules-of-thumb to make marketing easy & enjoyable
* Increase customers & website traffic
* Improve response rates to your marketing
* Find the right hot buttons to push for your audience
* Conduct target marketing, social networking, SEO & virtual blog tours
* Prioritize your promotions to get more with less

As an added bonus, attendees receive a FREE 100+ page Marketing e-book! Filled with templates for marketing tracking, sales forecasting, strategy, press releases and more, the e-book alone is worth the course.

TESTIMONIALS:
“Nate Hardy's class on Marketing for Writers is an excellent choice for writers at any level. Like most writers, I find marketing a mystery, but Nate's class leads the participant step by step through the whys and wherefores of marketing. Nate also does a great job of providing personal attention to each participant. Highly recommended!”
- Marta Perry
Author of the Pleasant Valley Amish series from Berkley Books http://www.martaperry.com
http://www.booksbymartaperry.blogspot.com

“The word marketing was Latin to me until I took the course. Although the coach provided months of useful tips, tricks, and tools, he gave takeaways I could use immediately with results. The course was easy to follow and answered all my questions in detail.”
- Madhu B. Wangu
Author of A GODDESS IS BORN and KAMAL ASCENDING
http://www.Spirituality-Sparks.com

“The course gave me ideas to find the markets I want to target. Through the course lessons, I learned new ways to increase traffic to my website. I highly recommend.”
- Doris Dumrauf
"Birds with Personality"
http://www.dorisdumrauf.com

“I took Nate Hardy’s online marketing course last summer and found it incredibly helpful. Most writers concentrate on writing alone and do not realize that marketing your work is as important as writing it. The course was concise, helpful and inspiring.”
- Walter P. Honsinger

“Gave me a great approach for figuring out how to reach my audience. Thank you!”
- customer from Texas

“Loved the APCs. …a boon to my small editing and formatting business.”
- customer from Pennsylvania

Pennwriters Online Courses have high satisfaction scores and repeat customer rates—read more of our testimonials!

Take the marketing course people are talking about and discover new methods to increase your audience. Join like-minded authors and raise your writing career to the bestseller level. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

$79 ($89 non-Pennwriters members) EARLY-BIRD PRICES END SOON!
* Get this course FREE if you win the in-course website contest!

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse062010

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
With 20 years experience in marketing and publishing, Nate Hardy is the founder of Plus Sign Business & Life Coaching. Prior to launching his company, he helped a start-up pre-IPO corporation grow to a $20+ million consultancy in 4 years. He manages several websites on business, human behavior, inspiration, and motivation-- gaining a Google PageRank of 4 in only a few short months. A member of the American Marketing Association and Philadelphia area Chamber of Commerce, he has authored papers for the leading publications and organizations of the industry. He is a former Tribune newspaper journalist and award-winning published writer of over 100 fiction and nonfiction works. In addition to being the Chair of Internet Activities and the Online Courses service for Pennwriters, he served as an assistant editor, advertising manager, and in other capacities for various publishers. Visit his website at http://www.PlusSignProductions.org.

* Subscribe to our Online Courses announcement list for email on our latest workshops!
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

Monday, May 10, 2010

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Dwayne Kavanagh

Dwayne Kavanagh_Heidi's Pick Six
Dwayne Kavanagh

HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
If we’re talking about A Child’s Wound, and I’ll assume we are, then the answer to that question will be the easiest of the bunch—Tim Hadler, the main character of the book. He’s the one that kept me up until 5:00 A.M. most mornings. Mostly, because I thought he was a liar. It took a long time and many re-writes to start to believe him. It was Tim that motivated me to write the book. I asked myself, “Could a serial killer be empathetic?” and “Could he be the main character?” That latter question was the tough one. I wanted to write the story from Tim’s POV. Yet, he was supposed to be the bad guy. In the end, it worked itself out. I’m writing a sequel to A Child’s Wound because readers liked that particular character so much. In fact, one reader said to me, in an email, that six months later she was still thinking about him. I have to admit, that really made my year!


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I couldn’t resist this question...Coffee. Always coffee. It can be black with no sugar or a skinny vanilla latte (the kind you shell out 4.5 bucks for). It doesn’t really matter. It’s the caffeine that I crave. I used to write at night, because my job wouldn’t permit me to write at any other time. When I say at night, I actually mean early morning. When I started writing A Child’s Wound I didn’t want it to affect my relationship with my fiancée, so I wrote after she would go to bed and finish sometime before dawn, with enough time to get at least a few hours sleep before I had to get up for work. Now, I have a schedule that I stick to: I write every morning. I get in my 1000 to 2000 words and then it’s off to work. In order to get the brain fired up I drink enough coffee to kick start an air bus.


4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
This is a tossup between two scenes, but to answer your question, I’ll have to pick one. There’s a scene in A Child’s Wound that really bothered me. I hated writing it. There was no way not to have it in the story. The back bone of Tim’s character rested on this one critical moment and I knew I had to write it. I also understood, which was the hard part, that I had to tell the truth. “No bullshit here”, my writing coach said. It had to do with molestation. I grew up around this. Although it was never talked about: a dirty secret in a family’s closet, so to speak. I know how much this strangles a person’s identity, and in Tim’s case, starts him down a path that tortures him more than any of his victims. I knew once people read the scene that they would either emphasize with Tim or hate me as a writer.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Fajitas, Thai food, and sweet potato fries. That was easy. J


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I use music in all my novels. For example, Tim plays guitar. When he does in the story, something bad happens. I think music has an affect on a person’s soul more than anything else. When I was a kid I watched the movie A Clockwork Orange. There was a scene in the story which has the song Singing in the Rain playing in the background while the character is brutally assaulting his victim. I think anyone who has ever seen the movie, now has a different feeling about that song. That’s just it...music makes you feel, It induces anxiety and fear. One song can transport a person back 20 years. The music I listen to has to achieves the result I’m looking for. When I’m writing, it’s got be creepy; I listen to Black Sabbath, Kings of Leon, and dark classical music. When I’m at bar, I love to dance to House Music. When I wake up on Sunday mornings I want to relax in the back yard and listen to Jack Johnson, or Al Green.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I write situational stories. I have a rough idea of what the story’s about, that’s all. Then I sit down. Get to work (play really). I start with a character. I don’t really know him or her yet. More like a blurred chalk drawing on the sidewalk. They tell me where they want to go and what they’re going to do once they get there. By the end of the first draft, I have a good understanding of who they are and what motivates them. It’s at that point when I can start to map out the story; only after they have shown me what the story’s all about. In the second draft, we start to get intimate, like lovers in the second month of dating: once all the inhibitions have been smoothed out. That’s when the writing creeps under my skin. I’ve only plotted one story and that one still sits unfinished.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I would say the usual big names (Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, John Grisham) and that would be fine. But really, it could be any book that moves me. That stops me from thinking about anything and everything at that moment and takes me to that special place that isn’t familiar. The biggest influence for me is the person that I write for; my fiancée. She’s the real reason I started writing. Like any writer out there, and maybe I’m stepping out a little too far over the ledge, there’s always the time problem. It takes a lot of it to put down your first draft, and if you’re busy writing, there’s always someone that’s missing you. For me, that’s my girl. I write for her. When I finish a story, she’s the first one that gets to read it. I wait. I watch. I sit back with a glass of red wine, usually, and I’m hoping she likes this part or that part. I hope she turns to me and smiles, or cries, or looks disturbed. In the end, she’s my biggest influence.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

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Dwayne Kavanagh, as a child, found comfort in the dark corners of his imagination. In 2005, he sat down in a small home-office, let the stories transfer from those lightless caverns to the bright screen of his laptop computer, and has been scribbling every day since. His first book was published in August 2009.

Dwayne creates worlds where you see more than you read. His descriptive detail leaves some room for the reader to use their imagination but enough to set the landscape and take you on a terror-filled ride. His dialogue is real and relevant to the time period he writes about.

Dwayne was born in Toronto and raised in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. He lives with his fiancée Nicky and her sports fanatic son Lucas, and with unconditional love for his beautiful daughters Megan and Emily, in southern Ontario.

You can find Dwayne here:
www.dwaynekavanagh.com

You can watch a book trailer for A Child's Wound here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuOhylkGr_0

And, you can buy A Child's Wound here:
Powell's
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million

Friday, May 07, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - E. B. Loan

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E. B. Loan

HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
My favorite character by far is Lizzie Hogan. She is one tough nut—older, wise, and not afraid to spout off to anyone close enough to hear. She follows her gut and isn’t afraid to try something new. She is delicious.


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee! I never touched the stuff until I married my hubby. He is an addict—completely and totally addicted. It wasn’t long before he had me hooked and I was doing the java jive. (Does everyone pick this question? I feel like everyone is drawn to it for one reason or another…)


4. What else can you do besides write?
I’m a fabulous cook, I can train anyone’s dog—no matter how unruly (or kids for that matter), and given enough time I can usually find a solution to any problem. Seriously, world peace? Call me, I got it all figured out…


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
People watching! If you pay attention, you can find a story in everyone you meet. If you ever get the chance, sit down with someone much older than you and ask about their life—it is fascinating (and story worthy). Besides that, I really gravitate towards stories that take place in places that I love for various reasons; the ocean, the mountains, etc. I guess I’m a traveler at heart.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
My taste varies. If I’m stressed out I like to go for a drive and crank it up to something loud and obnoxious like Pink or Foo Fighters. If I’m feeling romantic give me Billy Holiday or Carole King. The only thing I can’t relate to is Opera. I just can’t do it. I’d rather lick chalk.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Oh boy, I bet my editor would really like me to say that I write an outline—because it would make her job so much easier, but I’m just not that organized! I usually have one thing that sticks in my head (a scene, a person, a name etc.) Then I ask myself who is this? What are they like? Where do they live? Then I write a page or two. Then I think a little more, write a little more, and so on and so on…


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Elizabeth Loan was born and raised in the hood of Elmhurst by her artistic hippie parents. Her mother allowed her to read whatever she pleased at a very young age, and by the time she was ten she'd already logged such classics as Carrie, Salem's Lot, and IT. She credits her liberal childhood as being the main source of her now unbelievably dark and disturbed imagination.

Currently Elizabeth lives in Lombard, IL, with her beloved, completely straight laced husband, their five insane children, and three German Shepherds that do nothing but slobber and shed. She works full time at a private school for children with autism and has no plans of leaving any time soon. She loves those darn kids to pieces-- they give her more than she could ever give them.

Killer on the Key, her first novel, is a thrill ride that delivers from page one questioning the very core of what exists inside our hearts and minds. The characters capture the best, and the worst, of what lives in us all. It is not afraid to open the door to those dark unexplored crevices. The question is...are you?

You can read E. B.'s blog here:
http://ebloan.blogspot.com/

And buy Killer on the Key here:
Amazon
Wings ePress, Inc.