Penned Con: Fun for Readers & Writers

Last weekend, I went to Penned Con in St. Louis. I’d never been to a readers’ convention like that before, and was nervous as all get out about it. Had no idea what to expect. What I discovered was that being around so many people who enjoy reading is a delight.

If you enjoy reading at all, I highly recommend that you look into book festivals. There were so many authors there, with gorgeous banners of gorgeous couples and stacks of books. Panels were held on topics like book boyfriends and villains and self-publishing. Fun events like a tacky tourist race and a reader-writer nerf gun war filled the days. The event ended with a luau, where the authors walked the red carpet before entering the banquet hall where we had – seriously – a roasted pig. Like, with a face. It grossed me out, but it was darned good. And (BONUS!), the event raised over $10,000 for Action for Autism.

I returned home with a whole list of new authors that I want to read (I read almost exclusively ebooks), and a new circle of acquaintances.

WriteScouts: the Quick Start Guide

Last week, I gave you a heads up that I’m finally starting the online writing school that I’ve been thinking about for years. Even though I was at the Star Trek convention, my 30th high school reunion, and Penned Con this past weekend (which was AWESOME!!!), I still made time to work on the first course.

The first class is going to be a quick start guide to writing a novel, inspired by the instruction manuals that I never read. A couple of weeks ago, I bought two end tables in boxes. Opened it up and there were 16 pages of instructions. I searched the box but alas, no quick start guide. ARGH!!

We’re so spoiled these days. We want everything quickly. In college, we want Cliff Notes. In electronics, we want quick start guides. Be honest . . . if you want to write, you want to get started quickly, right?

Well, why not? Because here’s what I’ve discovered: the best way to learn to write is to write.

So, how do you get started? You write. If you want to be a writer, get a notebook and write three pages longhand every morning. It can be about anything. Talk about what you want to do, what you need to do, what you want to write about, what rolls around in your head. I often find that I’ll run through almost a laundry list of things that I need to do. Once I get that down on a page, I feel freer. Try it and let me know if that works for you.

Comment and let me know what sorts of things you’d like to see covered in the first class. And stay tuned – those who sign up for my mailing list early on will get first dibs at freebies offered in my new online school.

Introducing . . . WriteScouts

WriteScoutsHave you ever wanted to write a book but never seem to find the time? Have you read writing craft books, but can’t seem to put it all together? Do you work full-time, so you barely have time to brush your teeth, much less write the book you want to write? Have you got notebooks filled with ideas and words that you just can’t string together into a complete book?

I’ve been where you are, and I want to help you fast-forward through the struggles that I went through. Now that I figured out how to get that novel finished, I want to help you do the same thing. I’m working to put together a class to help you write your novel in a matter of weeks (instead of the 10 years I spent on my first manuscript). I’ll be offering a freebie to give you a taste of what’s coming. If you want in on that freebie, and want writing tips and tricks, sign up below for updates. Pssst . . . if you sign up now, you’ll get an extra freebie!

(btw . . . comment below and let me know what you’d like to see covered in upcoming classes.)

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Reviews You Want to Respond To . . . Impulse got a new review. Yippee, I thought! But, alas, I scrolled down to read the review and . . . it was a 1 star review.

Bad reviews hurt, I’m not gonna lie, but I like the ones that give me feedback I can take action on. This one? Mmmmm, no. This one made me want to stand in my chair, shake my fist in the air and scream, “You missed the point!”

What did she say that frustrated me? “Life with Chad as an abused wife was better than being alone?? Are you kidding me?? Grow a backbone and get a life!” That was exactly that I wanted to draw attention to. Abused women often don’t see a way out. They think staying is better than leaving. The abuser isolates the victim from friends and family to tear down her support system that might enable her to “grow a backbone and get a life.”

Admittedly, Fatal Impulse isn’t a masterpiece of literature. It’s not perfect, nor am I a perfect writer. That said, I hope that it makes people think a bit about abuse, how it damages a woman’s mind, how deep the psychological damage goes, and how often the victim is blinded to the motives of others. Some women want a man, no matter what. They fear being alone above all else. Andi is one of those women.

By the way, Andi was inspired by a woman I knew many years ago. She called me one night from a phone booth after her husband beat her and kicked her out of the car into a ditch alongside a highway. This wasn’t an isolated incident. The guy was a total S.O.B. When she got pregnant, he beat her in the stomach with a broomstick and pushed her down the stairs until she miscarried. The night she called, I got her help, helped her get into a women’s shelter in another state (thinking that would be far enough), gave her clothes and a few other items. Talked to her, encouraged her. Got a call from the Sheriff a couple of days later, looking for her. The woman had been so desperate to NOT be alone, she called her husband and told him where she was. He showed up and she willingly (and happily) went with him. I never saw or heard from her again. I’ve always wondered if she survived.

Abuse is real. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, get out. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have no option. Don’t fear being alone.