Archive for the ‘Events for Writers’ Category

Look out Vermont, the New Hampshire Writer’s Network is coming for a visit!

Don't miss (bottom row l-r) Deborah Lee Luskin, Lisa J. Jackson and Wendy E.N. Thomas as the present at the Bookstock Literary Festival Saturday, July 26

Don’t miss (bottom row l-r) Deborah Lee Luskin, Lisa J. Jackson and Wendy E.N. Thomas as the present at the Bookstock Literary Festival Saturday, July 26

The 2014 Bookstock Literary Festival takes place this weekend in lovely Woodstock, Vermont. This will be sixth iteration of the festival that features, workshops, panels and readings. Panel topics include, How to Get Happily Published, a Young Adult Fiction Panel, and A Story of Writers Blogging Together (more on this in a minute).

There will be food and music and activities for all ages and a used and vintage book sale that runs all three days. You can view an overview of all the events or review the descriptions for each session. All events are FREE and open to the public.

The keynote speakers are novelist Anita Diamont (The Red Tent, Day After Night) and former United States Poet Laureate Charles Simic. But, clearly the highlight of the festival will be the panel at Noon on Saturday A Story of Writers Blogging Together featuring NHNW’s very own Deborah Lee Luskin, Lisa Jackson and Wendy E.N. Thomas*. Here’s the session description:

“Live to Write—Write to Live is a critically acclaimed and highly popular blog about the craft and business of writing. It is written by eight professional writers known collectively as the New Hampshire Writers’ Network, representing a wide spectrum of genres, including literary fiction, mysteries, fantasy, young adult, memoir, marketing, cookbooks, and journalism.Three of the blog’s regular contributors will speak about running a successful blog, working collaboratively, and using the blog to boost their individual writing careers”

You don’t want to miss this!! The panel runs from 12pm to 12:40 pm this Saturday July 26th in the conference room of the Woodstock town hall located at 3 Church St, Woodstock, VT. Most of the events take place on and around the beautiful Woodstock Green. There is limited parking, nearly all of it metered, in Woodstock village. For more information about the event and parking visit http://bookstockvt.org/about/.

If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll come out. Make sure to introduce yourself to Deborah, Lisa or Wendy.

*The rest of the NHWN team will be there in spirit while cursing deadlines and previous commitments.

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I love my mystery writing community. A lot. Sisters in Crime (especially the New England chapter), Mystery Writers of America, our New England Crime Bake committee, people I have met at conferences, and blogs I follow. And my two writing blogs (this one and Wicked Cozy Authors) both provide a team of support that enrich my writing life.

Writing is a solitary act, but finding a community of writers is critical. So today, I thought I would virtually introduce you to a few of my mystery writing friends and their virtual communities.

Lisa Haselton. You know her as Lisa Jackson. She is a wonderful member of the mystery writing community, with online chats with different authors, and a interviews and reviews. She covers more than mysteries, but that is how I know her best.

Hank Phillippi Ryan. Hank writes thrillers. She is also a force of nature, and blogs regularly for Sisters in Crime, doing wonderful interviews with other mystery authors.  Her regular blog is with the Jungle Red Writers, a wonderful group of mystery authors including Hallie Ephron, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Roberta Isleib.

Roberta Isleib also blogs on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I love this blog. Cozy authors who share recipes. They are turning 5 this month, and have a give away contest.

The Maine Crime Writers blog includes Barbara Ross, Kate Flora, Kathy Lynn Emerson, and Lea Wait amongst others.  There are a lot of crime writers in Maine. Long winters?

And, of course, there is my other blog, Wicked Cozy Authors. The Wickeds are Barbara Ross, Jessie Crockett, Liz Mugavero, Sherry Harris, and Edith Maxwell. Sheila Connolly also blogs with us once a month, as does Kim Gray. [Four of us will be at Jabberwocky Bookshop this Friday, July 17 at 7pm. I will be moderating a panel with Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, and Jessie Crockett. ]

Glad to introduce you to some of my friends. Happy summer reading, everyone!


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A large part of this blog is sharing what it is that writers actually do (when we are not communing with spiders.) If you’ve been following this blog then you know I have recently finished a manuscript and have sent it out to some literary agents. While I have gotten a few nibbles, most of them, like the proverbial big one, have gotten away (although it is still being evaluated by one agent and I have a slew of others to still try)

No one loves me, I thought, I think I’ll go eat worms. Then I got a reply from an acquiring editor for a publisher – she liked my e-proposal. She liked my presentation. She invited me to send a full hard-copy proposal.

I need to prepare what is, essentially, a “board meeting quality” presentation on my book including:
• Letter of introduction – who referred me, qualifications
• Book description – one paragraph (elevator pitch)
• Why this book is needed and who the audience will be
• Current competitors
• Platform and credentials
• Table of contents
• Length, general appearance, photographic and illustrative requirements
• Previously published writing samples
• 50 pages of manuscript

Because I have a ton of online marketing experience, I’m also going to add a section on:
• Marketing plan

And because I’m pretty good friends with a number of people in my field (chickens), I’m also going to add:
• Endorsements/blurbs

I thought I could get all of this done during this week but, although I know where most of this information is, it’s important that I don’t just throw everything together. I need to present a polished and finished package that will wow the socks off of everyone. You can bet that this puppy will have a title page, TOC, and will be housed in a protective binder.

It will take a dedicated few days to get it all done, and that’s what I’ll be doing this coming weekend.

Keep this information in mind when you get to the point of querying your project. There’s more than one route to publication. Everyone has their own way of doing things and, because this is an acquisition editor and not a literary agent, the submission requirements are vastly different.

Not better, not worse, just not the same.




Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

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If you’re a mystery writer or reader, there’s a wonderful (I may be biased) small conference held each November in the Boston area.

2014 marks the 13th Annual New England Crime Bake Conference.

CrimeBake banner


We (I’m part of the conference committee) have a wonderful GOH (guest of honor) this year. Well, we always have a great GOH — Meg Gardiner, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, and Sue Grafton, to name a few.

This year’s GOH is Craig Johnson. If you’re a fan of the Walt Longmire mystery series or the Longmire A&E TV series (3rd season starts June 2!), the name is familiar.

I met Craig last year at a local independent book store. It was the most unique book event I’ve ever been to. The author lives in tiny town in Wyoming (population 25) and he was here, in NH, in his cowboy boots and hat. He brought a few six packs of beer to share with drinking-age audience members – I had ice water – and had a 2+ hour conversation with us. We could have been sitting in his living room for how comfortable the evening felt.

This year’s Crime Bake conference is going to be loads of fun with him around. The banquet is featuring line dancing (with lessons) as well as cowboy poetry (from participants on the spot). But that’s not all the fun!

Several agents and editors will be around all weekend to listen to pitches (from cozies to thrillers to noirs) and share their expertise.

We’re going to have professionals set up a crime scene and participants get to make their own deductions and determinations — and find out how right we are on Sunday morning.

There are several panels and seminars covering everything from writing cozies to selecting the best publishing option to talking about detectives from Sherlock Holmes to television’s Richard Castle. Check out the full conference schedule. There’s something for everyone who loves the mystery genre.

I personally love this conference because it’s small (250 people) and everyone I meet there (whether unpublished writer or multipublished novelist) is friendly, encouraging, and loves talking about all things mystery. It’s a guilty pleasure to hang out with other writers, but there’s something extra special about hanging out with mystery writers.

I invite ya’ll to come on along with us (at least 3 NHWN bloggers will be there) and “Saddle Up for Murder” on November 7, 8, and 9. The conference’s Facebook Page will keep you updated on activities and if you’re on Twitter, we’re slinging words using #crimebake.

Boy howdy, this is going to be a fun time!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. In her other life, she writes and reads mysteries and is a fan of the New England Crime Bake conference. Her cowboy hat and boots are ready to go. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Yesterday was the second to the last session for my Technical Writing class.

A-Plus-StudentBack on the first day of class, I asked the students if any of them thought they would be learning something useful out of this class.

No one, not a single student raised their hand. Technical Writing was a required course. They were in the class because they had to be not because they wanted to be.

The first day of class, I asked them to write a short paper. No one wrote more than 2 paragraphs and there was no rhyme or reason to what they wrote. It was nearly impossible for them.

This is good, I thought, I can work with this.

I’ve spent the semester teaching them how to organize their writing, how to identify the audience, tone, topic and purpose (ATTP.)

We’ve talked about brainstorming ideas on a topic and then grouping those ideas under appropriate headers.

We’ve talked about starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion.

Week by week, through the use of examples and stories, I tried to get my students to understand how important organization of information was when writing. How easy it made writing.

Yesterday in class, I passed out a handout with instructions on “How to phone an elected official.” Outline a paper for me on this topic, I told them.

Initially I heard groans, but then I saw them get to work. They underlined and made notations on the handout.

On the white board, I took them through the steps listed below. They first identified the ATTP.

Then using the handout they brainstormed topics. Once they did that, they grouped the topics and realizing that some information was missing in the “order of events” (they added a section on how to find a representative’s phone number) they added additional topics.

Finally they put the topics into an order that made sense (they decided that chronological sequence was most effective) and surrounded that list with an introduction and conclusion.

Within an hour, I had these students, who had thought they wouldn’t learn anything devise a solid outline for a short paper. All they needed to do was to write 2-3 paragraphs under each identified topic and they would have a first draft.

If they then added quotes and stories, they would have written a “how-to article.”

I told them that there was not one student in the class who couldn’t take this outline and give me a draft the next day. Through organization of information, we had turned what early in the semester has seemed like an impossible task into one that was bite-sized and very doable.

It was the look on their faces when I pointed this out, that has made all of my work this past semester worth the time and effort it has taken.

My class of students, none of whom had wanted to be there, have learned.


This is an organizational handout I gave my students.


The 6 Steps for Reader Centered Writing

Step 1: Analyze your readers. Determine ATTP
Step 2: Outline your information. Brainstorm your ideas. Write them down, use post-its, or draw them out in a web outline.
Step 3: Group like information under headlines.
Step 4: Sequence your ideas. Figure out the order in which you present information based on your ATTP. Include abstract, introduction, and conclusion.
Step 5: Write the first draft. Write at least 2-3 paragraphs under each header
Step 6: Edit for clarity, conciseness, and accuracy. Check facts, spelling, definitions, and if you have missed information that you assumed your reader knew. Make sure the document matches your ATTP (if the purpose is to convince have you done that? If it’s to ask for action is that clear?)


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

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dll2013           I’ve retired from teaching countless times, and always find myself drawn back to the classroom, sometimes for the money, sometimes for the professional association, and always for the love of language.

I think and learn in language; I discover what I think with words; and I love helping others use language to discover and hone thought and story. And while I’m committed to staying home and finishing Ellen, I miss teaching. So I’m going to try something new: facilitating a Writing Circle in anticipation of Mother’s Day for people who have lost their mothers.

A Writing Circle is a safe place where the synergy of writing with others loosens the tongue of memory, allowing words to fly onto the page. The theme-based prompts will allow participants to tap into the reservoir of emotion and memory stored in our hearts and offer us a chance to imagine further and/or unfinished conversations with a parent no longer in the world but still in our universe. The power of our stories is amplified when we read and listen to each other’s words.

hamptonbays            My mother died in September of 2012, and I’ve been writing through grief ever since, making sense of the new world order without my mother in it. I believe that personal writing and story telling help us navigate the landscapes of our lives. Those who want to join me for this workshop are asked to bring both a photograph of their mother and a favorite dish of their mom’s to share for the potluck lunch, as well as writing materials (pen, paper, laptop).

This workshop is for anyone who wants to remember her/his mother through writing. The workshop will take place on Saturday, April 26, from 8:45 – 3 at a private home near Brattleboro, Vermont. The cost for the day is $75. Participation is limited to twelve and preregistration is required. (Directions to the venue will be sent upon registration.) Download a registration form at www.deborahleeluskin.com or request a form by email at info@deborahleeluskin.com.IMG_1102

Deborah Lee Luskin has been making sense of the world by writing it down since she was nine. She’s the author of the award-winning novel, Into the Wilderness, a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio, an essayist and blogger, a developmental editor and a pen-for-hire. Luskin is also a veteran educator who has taught a variety of populations, from gifted elementary school students to inmates in Vermont’s prisons. She has lived in Vermont for thirty years and can be found on the web at www.deborahleeluskin.com


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A train! A train!

A train! A train!

Could you, would you

on a train?

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, would you write on a train? Could you write on a train? You could if you applied for an #AmtrakResidency. Amtrak is now offering the opportunity for creative professionals to enjoy a long train ride to focus on their work.

'Amtrak, Train' photo (c) 2013, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

It started with an off hand comment by Alexander Chee in an interview in a PEN Ten Interview. When asked where he likes to write, Chee said “I still like a train best for this kind of thing. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.” Writer Jessica Gross read that and loved the idea so much she took to Twitter and asked for what she wanted.

Behold the power of social media, @Amtrak was listening and created a test residency. Gross took a 44 hour trip from New York city to Chicago and back again via the Lake Shore Limited and wrote about the experience. Once the story of her adventure went live, Twitter lit up with the hashtag #AmtrakResidency. I even added my voice to the conversation. Again, Amtrak was still listening and the Amtrak Residency Program is now live.

#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.

Of course in the age of the Internet nothing is without controversy. Some have complained about the rights Amtrak asks for in the application. My take is that they are asking to use the brief application statement in their marketing materials others agree, your mileage may vary. Either way, read the fine print and if necessary consult a lawyer.

Some have complained that the government funded program shouldn’t be giving away free rides until it is self sustaining. To that I say “wake up and smell the marketing coffee”. No, not everyone can afford to pay their way across the country, but really, even if a small percentage of the interested parties, decide to pony up the bucks for a train ride (even a few hours long), that equals increased ridership. Increased ridership means higher revenues. Higher revenues mean closer to solvency. Will creative types taking to the rails solve all of Amtrak’s money woes? Hell no, but every little bit helps. Right?

One of the articles reported that more than 7,000 applications have been received. According to that author’s calculations, the chances of landing one of these prized Amtrak Residencies is less than the chances of being admitted to Harvard. Still, the buzz got me thinking. Even 2-5 days would be a struggle for me but, I could take a day and ride the rails.

I love riding the train. I don’t think there is any more convenient way to get from Boston to New York City and points South. Last year, I took the train from Boston to Philadelphia and I was thrilled with my level of productivity I wrote, both on my iPad and in longhand. I even read a book from start to finish. Trains in the Northeast, are cool, but the stops are frequent so the speeds are lowered. I can only imagine what it would be like to be on a long distance train ride.

I’ve read about other writer’s residency programs and they sound like a dream come true, but I am not at a point in my life where I can just disappear into my writing for weeks at a time. Two to five days? It would be a stretch, but I’d probably be able to figure out a way to make it work.

The Downeaster looks like it has a decent run from Boston, MA to Brunswick, ME. I was thinking of taking a day and departing from Boston and riding up to Freeport. Maybe in November during NaNoWriMo? Combine it with a lunch and little Christmas shopping at L.L. Bean then hop on the train to get back to work? The scenery would be different but my guess is the line would be less crowded. That means more seats in the quiet car.

Who’s with me? Can you write on a train? Have you? Are you going to apply for an #AmtrakResidency?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors.  Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is currently at work on her first novel.

There is still room in the Deb Dixon “Book-In-A-Day Workshop”being held May 10th in Nashua, NH Sign up today!

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