Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guild presents Mike Bezemek on Fundamentals of Screenwriting

Mike Bezemek will present a workshop on the Fundamentals of Screenwriting:
Plot, Character, & Concept from 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 7, at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd, Kirkwood, Mo. Free to St. Louis Writers Guild members; $5 for nonmembers.

“In the complex and challenging pursuit of screenwriting, numerous craft elements work together to create a successful script,” Mike said. He teaches courses at Washington University in St. Louis, which include Writing Short Films, Intro & Advanced Screenwriting, Multimedia Storytelling, Travel & Outdoor Writing, Writing Adventure & Creating Action, and Writing Creatively for Online Publication.

“In this workshop, we'll discuss three fundamental topics--plot, character, and concept--which are essential to screenwriters and also helpful to writers in other genres, such as fiction and nonfiction,” he said. The workshop topics include:
  •  Reasons for studying screenwriting
  •  The Basic Craft Elements: The Screenwriter's Toolbox
  •  Fundamentals
  •  Ways to Break into the Screenwriting Profession
  • First Steps for Pursuing Screenwriting
Mike Bezemek's writing and photography can be found in publications such as The Morning News, St. Louis Magazine, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, Hobart: Another Literary Journal, and elsewhere. More about Mike and samples of his work can be found at

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Conferences for Writers in 2015

Conferences for Writers in 2015
By Brad R Cook

One of the best places to learn about the craft and business of writing is at a writer’s conference. Below, I have listed a few being held this year.

A couple of suggestions:
Research the conference to see what workshops they are having and who is presenting. I’ve tried to include the websites for each conference.

Go where the professionals are. Conferences can be a great place to meet literary agents and publishers. However, if you’re looking to improve your craft then research the instructors.

Choose a conference you want to go to, don’t feel pressured, there are all kinds of different conferences and each one is different. So find the one that speaks to you.

Get the most out of the conference. Sign up for the extras if you want, but you don’t have too. If you can stay for the whole conference, do.

Talk to people. Find out what conferences other writers are attending. Make sure to network with attendees before, during, and after the conference.

Looking for advice on how to pick a conference? Check out Chuck Sambuchino’s blog:

Let’s start with the big ones – If you want to go to the super bowl of pitching visit the Pitch Slam at the Writer’s Digest Conference.

Writer’s Digest Conference East 2015

Need some mystery in your life… or just a mystery writer?

Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference
October 29-November 1, 2015
At the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville, TN

Bouchercon 2015
Raleigh, North Carolina - October 8-11, 2015

Looking for a little romance… or maybe just romance writers.

RWA 2015 – The Romance Writers of America
Romance Writers of America® 35th Annual Conference
New York Marriott Marquis, New York, New York
July 22–25, 2015

RT 2015 – Romantic Times annual conference
Dallas, Texas – May 12-17

Writing books for kids, check out the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

SCBWI National Conference 2015
New York City – Feb 6-8 2015

SCBWI Regional Conferences
Check their website for a region near you.  

A lover of historical fiction then you might stop by the HNS International Conference.

Historical Novel Society
June 25-28 2015 in Denver, Colorado

Here are some great regional conferences, less price, smaller crowds, but you still get great authors, publishers, and agents.

Kentucky Writing Conference
Feb. 6, 2015: Kentucky Writing Conference (Louisville, KY)

Tennessee Writers Conference
Feb. 7, 2015: Tennessee Writers Conference (Nashville, TN)

Portland Writing Workshop
Feb. 20, 2015: Portland Writing Workshop (Portland, OR)

Seattle Writers Workshop
Feb. 21, 2015: Seattle Writers Workshop (Seattle, WA)

Chesapeake Writing Conference
March 27-28, 2015: Chesapeake Writing Conferences (Baltimore and DC)

Carolina Writing Workshop Conferences
April 17-18, 2015: CarolinaWriting Workshop Conferences (Charlotte, NC and Columbia, SC)

Milwaukee Writers Conference
May 15, 2015: Milwaukee Writers Conference (Milwaukee, WI)

Chicago Writers Workshop
May 16, 2015: Chicago Writers Workshop (Chicago, IL)

Jackson Hole Writers Conference
June 25-28, 2015: Jackson Hole Writers Conference (Jackson Hole, WY)

Books by the Banks Book Festival
October 2015: Books by the Banks Book Festival (Cincinnati, OH)

Are you in St. Louis or Missouri? Check out these regional conferences:

Writers in the Park 2015
The sixth annual festival of the writer
August 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri

All Write Now Conference
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Penned Con
July 23-25, 2015
St. Louis, Missouri

There are more, so many more conferences to check out.
I recommend checking Shaw Guides at

Do you have a favorite conference? Let us know in the comments. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

David H. Millar: Love of history shows in Celtic series

Welcome to DAVID H. MILLAR, who was born and bred in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is the founder and executive chairman of a boutique strategy consulting group and managing director of a publishing company – A Wee Publishing Company - that focuses on Celtic literature and art.

Millar moved to Nova Scotia, Canada, in the 1990s. After ten years shoveling snow, he decided to relocate to warmer climates, and settled in Houston, Texas.

An avid reader, armchair sportsman, and Liverpool Football Club fan, Millar lives with his family and Bailey, a Manx cat of questionable disposition known to his friends as "the small angry one."

Millar’s first foray into writing is a historical fiction piece set in ancient Ireland – Conall: Rinn-Iru (The Place of Blood). He  plans to continue Conall's adventures in further books. The second in the series - Conall: Eitilt an Fhiaigh Dhuibh (The Raven’s Flight) is expected to be published in early 2015.

Twitter: @DavidHMillar

What brings your writing into focus? The story. I think for authors who focus on historical fiction, the danger is getting so involved in the detail of the chosen era that we lose sight of our purpose – to write a great yarn.

How much fact is in your fiction? I write (and love reading) historical fiction, so this is one question that I often ask myself. I do a lot of research to make sure places, events, and my depiction of society is as accurate as possible. Archaeology books are a treasure trove and odd facts sometime surface that add a humorous note – an example being that the remains of a Barbary Ape were found in Emain Macha (Navan Fort) and dated to around 400 BC. So my mind starts playing with the possibilities of where it came from and how it got to Northern Ireland. That said, given that my first book – Conall: Rinn-Iru (The Place of Blood) is set in Iron Age Ireland around 400 BC, there was not a lot of information to be found and the boundaries between myth, legend and reality were blurred. The fiction in my books is largely the characters although I will include a historical figure if he or she fits with the story. And after all, that’s the purpose of writing – to tell a good story.

What’s the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? That is easy. Hearing someone say, “I really enjoyed your book; when is the next one being published?” It is very satisfying to know someone has bought my book, has enjoyed the story and wants more. A second compliment is a review. I really appreciate those readers who take the time to read and then submit a thoughtful review of the novel. My favorite is still the reviewer who described the hero, Conall, as an “Ancient Irish version of Batman – who modern-day Batman would run from!”

What’s your favorite writing accessory or reference?  Roget’s Thesaurus, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and a raft of archaeology books.

The next project? The second in the Conall series - Conall: Eitilt an Fhiaigh Dhuibh (The Raven’s Flight) - has passed the mid-way point, so it is all downhill now. In the second novel Conall, his queen Mórrígan, his growing army and their followers step across the Irish Sea to continue the quest for vengeance. In Scotland they meet and in some instances battle their brother Celts in Scotland. I am aiming for publication in early 2015. The Conall series was originally conceived as a three-book series, but four books is looking more likely.

·        A vicious slaughter robs Conall Mac Gabhann of his family, sending the young blacksmith's apprentice on a quest for vengeance across ancient Ériu. Those responsible will pay for his loss.
·        A rousing adventure in the spirit of Ireland’s ancient legends. Conall: Rinn-Iru brings to life the battles, intrigue, betrayals, and courage that are part of life for the Celts who call Ériu home.

CONALL: Conall Mac Gabhann just watched his life implode. Before him lie the butchered bodies of his father, mother, and sisters. Yesterday, the young man was an apprentice blacksmith. Today, if he wants vengeance, he'll need to become a warrior.
Two men must die to satisfy Conall's revenge. Eochaidh Ruad is a king, subject to fierce tempers and unpredictable, almost mad, behavior. Cassius Fabius Scaeva is a Roman, whose debauchery is only equaled by his cunning.
As Conall's small band of followers swell into an army, the young man comes to the attention of the aes sidhe, the mystical faerie-women whose powers can make kings of common men. Their power is at Conall's disposal, but as with everything sidhe-related, it comes at a price.
A rousing adventure in the spirit of Ireland's ancient legends, Conall: Rinn-Iru is the first of a series to focus on Conall Mac Gabhann, the blacksmith's apprentice turned warrior-king.

You can buy CONALL at: (A Wee Publishing Company)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Carol Piner's EVIDENCE OF INSANITY a funny, gut-wrenching memoir

Welcome to Carol Piner, whom I met through Books Go Social. Here's what she has to say about herself: I am an energetic, happy female living in her hometown in southeastern North Carolina. I live on a small island that I adore. Bored at 63, I wrote a book called Evidence of Insanity about growing up with explosive parents. I am a story-teller, and it is written in that fashion. I have managed to sell over 2,800 autographed copies all by myself. Not to people I knew either. They are who are in the book.

I also painted for eighteen months, which resulted in 40 canvasses as large as 24x30. Many of them have been sold. The rest are shown all over my local area for 2 months at a time thanks to Adopt an Artist. Among other varied interests I grew over 250 orchids at one time. I have loved them for over 25 years. 
Hilarious New Book, Evidence of Insanity, Introduces Us to "Chaos Magnet" Little Callie Eventually the publishing world will run out of new characters, but not yet. Carol Piner's Little Callie is a tiny force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, you have to do it while you are laughing.

What brings your writing into focus—the characters, the stories, or the love of words? As for what brought my writing into focus, there were three major issues I had to overcome. 1) Like most writers I had to find the time and decide how to make it funny. Finally, with the slowdown in the economy, in 2008 my work and my trigeminal neuralgia converged to give me a lot of time to myself. It was already in my mind. 2) To be candid, I had to wait for some people to move along because they weren't going to like what I said. After a lifetime of waiting, these were the people who made fun of me who I intended to make fun of right back.

My book is not to be considered "high literature." It is to be lived with me and hopefully the reader will become my friend through the experience.

What do you think readers will like about your book? I wrote my book in stream of consciousness style. I am a Southern story-teller. My stories are written like my readers are walking with me through this journey and I am speaking directly to them. They will experience every high and low I knew, and perhaps enjoy the  hilarity, the poignancy, the tragedy and my own personal style.

How much fact is in your fiction? I tell people openly that my book is not a pure memoir or an autobiography. I freely embellished for both humor and impact. Nonetheless, only about 10-15% is not the truth.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? This said it all for me. This came from Professor Emeritus at NC State University and book review contributor to The News and Observer in Raleigh NC.   "A remarkable achievement...honest and direct...funny and gut wrenching...poignant. A book a first time author should be proud of."

What movie star would be perfect for (your main character) and why? I like Ashley Judd because she has the same kind of irreverence I have and shows empathy and pain very well. Her laughter is marvelous. She also wrote a "tell-all" of her own about her mother and sister, The Judds.

Oh, if I could choose my favorite sound track for my movie, it would be "Shall We Dance" with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Dancing is throughout my book.

EVIDENCE OF INSANITY: There are so many unbelievable segments to the life of Little Callie, that, unlike most books, they rattle around in the brain, afterward. A "chaos magnet" is how the lead character is described and it is so very accurate.

After being bashed about after Callie's Mama rammed the Daddy's Cadillac, Callie's birth is a classic example of how to be funny. The book is so fast paced that the classic moments follow one right after another. There isn't even time to catch a breath.

But then again, very few things in life are funnier than Callie's wedding day. Not wanting to be married in the first place, Callie hilariously snarls through the rehearsal, ceremony and reception. Her “wedding gown” was a hand-made bag that was cut from left-over material. It was clearly not the best of times in reality, but it sure was funny.

Carol Piner is a gifted story-teller, it's true. But, more than that, the gift of Evidence of Insanity to the publishing world is how to stare adversity in the face and defeat it, with plenty of hearty laughs to sprinkle around.

Piner clearly has a robust following already. Five-star postings hail the book's effect on the readers. Several readers seem to think the author is a stand up-comic. One reader wants to see her on Oprah; another thinks a movie should be made with only Piner playing Little Callie. I doubt the author wants to go through this hilarious mayhem another time.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Finalists in the P&E Readers' Poll!

Congratulations T.W. Fendley and Brad R. Cook! 
Our novels were finalists in the 2014 P&E Readers Poll!

The Labyrinth of Time by T.W. Fendley placed Second in the Best Young Adult Book!

Iron Horsemen by Brad R Cook tied for Fourth in the Best Steampunk Novel!

Thank you to everyone who voted.

You can see the full results for Best Young Adult Book – Click Here

Find the full results for Best Steampunk Novel – Click Here

The Labyrinth of Time 
by T.W. Fendley

Spending spring break in Peru with her grandmother isn't sixteen-year-old Jade's idea of fun. She'd much rather be with her friends at Lake of the Ozarks. Then she meets Felix, a museum director's son. Jade discovers only she and Felix can telepathically access messages left on engraved stones in the age of dinosaurs.  

Following the ancient stones' guidance, they enter the Labyrinth of Time and--with a shapeshifting dog's help--seek a red crystal called the Firestone. But time is running out before the First Men return on the night of the second blue moon. 

Can Jade restore the Firestone's powers before the First Men return to judge humanity? 

Iron Horsemen 
by Brad R Cook

Alexander Armitage doesn't fit in at Eton College. Not only is he an American, his father, a new teacher at the college, is obsessed with ancient languages and the dusty old books he makes Alexander spend his time studying instead of trying to make friends. When his father is kidnapped, Alexander gladly leaves school behind and finds himself partnered with a baron's daughter, her little bronze dragon, and an eclectic crew of Sky Raiders in a quest to find him. When their search leads them to Malta, they discover a secret society intent on unleashing the ancient Iron Horsemen and usurping the reins of power in London.  

In a steam-powered Victorian world where pirates prowl the sky and secret societies determine the future like a game of chess, Alexander must confront the harsh legacy of the divided country he left behind, a new aristocratic world that rejects him, and the overwhelming pressure of being offered to become a Horseman himself.

Thank you to everyone for all the support! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lee: Twists the truth in acclaimed dark comedy novel, THE RADIO

Welcome to JONATHAN LEE, who was born in a small mining town somewhere in the north of England. His first novel, The Radio was nationally shortlisted in The Novel Prize 2012 for new authors, coming in second from over 4,000 entries. The Radio was published in April 2013 and has received critical acclaim and sold more than 5,000 copies. His second novel, The Page is published in Spring 2015.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? I was divorced back in 2008 and at that stage I decided that my life should change and finally I should get on with what I've always wanted to do. Write. Since then, I specifically book time into my diary where I have my children (I have joint custody), time when I have to work the 50-hour week and then time for writing. I stick to this rigidly; it seems to work. Though my girlfriend is incredibly tolerant!

How much fact is in your fiction? Just prior to beginning to write seriously I read a quote from Stephen King that said "Always write what you know." Although The Radio is a black comedy, it deals with serious aspects such as the suicide of the main character's son. This is almost entirely based on fact as sadly I lost my brother in this way. I feel that there is a good proportion of fact in my fiction, always in some way twisted from the truth.

What are your top three reasons for writing?
 1) Enjoyment: This always has to come first. I love writing. I spend most of my days observing, watching and listening wondering how I can work situations into my writing. Sadly, the whirring mind sometimes won't relent when it’s time for sleep.
2) The feeling of satisfaction I get when somebody reads my work and really enjoys it. It is such an honour that people have even read my novel, and those who really get enjoyment out of it makes me feel incredible.
3) Lifestyle. As I said, I love storytelling and at this stage my lifestyle hasn't yet changed, but one day I hope that the daily commute becomes a distant memory and I can hole myself up for days writing stories for others' enjoyment.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Simply, that they couldn't put my book down. I've had people contact me and say that they got into it so much that they read the whole thing in a day! Then the pressure starts, because they invariably ask "When's the next one out?!"

THE RADIO: Poor George Poppleton. Middle-aged, henpecked, lovable and hapless. Accepting of life as it is. Until one day, he finds an old transistor radio in his loft. A radio which becomes an obsession that takes him on an unexpected journey, right back to the moment his only son took his own life.

Whilst his wife and daughter plan perhaps the most ill-fated wedding ever conceived, George drifts ever further from reality.

And on the night of the engagement party, when a garlic baguette is used as a lethal weapon and the hogs turn on the farmer who is about to roast them, the family realise that things are not at all how they seem.

THE RADIO is a story with an unimaginable twist. A story of what it means to be a family, the perception of loving and being loved, and what it means to be sane.

THE RADIO is available here - at a special price too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Adair: I want my characters & my stories to be real ... to interact in a real way

Welcome to Dave Adair. A professional writer for more than 30 years, Dave lives a remarkable life in Pennsylvania. His family, his job and his hobbies take him to amazing places everyday. Random Lucidity is his first novel.

Connect with Dave:
@daveadairbooks (twitter)

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words For me, it definitely is the characters: the way they interact and the story they tell through their words. There is a banter that exists among the main characters that brings out the types of people they are. Like all of us, they are not one dimensional. They can be fun and sarcastic, or they can be deadly serious and depressed.

Some writers like to spend most of their time setting the scene and getting into detailed descriptions of smells and sounds. I present the setting in subtle ways and get back as quickly as possible to the characters. That’s what life is really like. Who has time to take in every bit of your surroundings?
I want my characters and my stories to be real. For them to be real, they have to interact in a real way.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? In real life, I am a health care executive, primarily on the marketing side. So I get to be creative from time to time, but nothing like writing fiction.

I make time to write in the evenings. My wife, Rachel, is a school teacher. So she is in bed fairly early, as are my kids that are still at home. If I’m not writing or marketing Random Lucidity at night, then I would probably just be sitting around watching television. That’s no way to spend your time.
I used to think I didn’t have time to write until I realized how much time I was wasting on the couch in front of the television, or playing with my phone every night.

What do you think readers will like about your book? So far, every bit of feedback I have received has been positive. To be honest, I was terrified the first time I gave my book to my wife to read as a proof. I was equally terrified when I released it. I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was good, but who really knows until someone you don’t know tells you they like it.

There has been no greater thrill than the first review I received from a complete stranger saying that she wanted me to write more books. I’m not sure anything else will top that feeling for me regardless of what happens from here on out.

How much fact is in your fiction? This is a really popular question among my friends and family. My mother was very scared before she read it because she thought it was going to be about our family! I can tell you she is very relieved. 

There are very few correlations between these characters and anyone I know in real life.
Certainly, the main character, Reggie, has some similarities to me, but not many. Instead of trying to recreate real events and circumstances, I chose to recreate the emotions from situations I have experienced, or those close to me have experienced.

This book was based on a line from a Bruce Springsteen song called The River, which goes, “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?” It started with that and ended where it ended. How I was going to get there was unknown to me when I started out. It was quite a rewarding journey.

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Besides genuinely telling me they enjoyed Random Lucidity, the best thing I have heard so far were comparisons to successful writers. I had one reviewer say that my writing was a cross between Carl Hiaasen and Dennis Lehane. I had never read either of those authors, but I plan to soon.

If someone spends hours of their time reading what I wrote, all I can really hope for is that they didn’t find it to be a waste of time; that they were entertained and along the way, maybe it made them think a bit about their life and their choices. Maybe it made them think about where they want their life to go from this point forward.

If I can entertain people and get them thinking, even just a little bit, about their place in the world, then I’ll be pretty happy.

An excerpt from Random Lucidity:
At first glance, Rita Miserly was precisely the type of person Reggie expected to encounter when he first entered into this complex. She was a frightful sight. White roots almost three inches in length chasing her auburn hair steadfastly. A burning cigarette dangled from her lower lip beneath a squinted expression caught somewhere between curiosity and disgust. It was only later that Reggie would realize that his first impression of Rita would be among his most pleasant experiences.
The door opened and Reggie steeled himself to jump feet first into a world he knew nothing about. He had walked unarmed into an apartment complex on the bad side of town to discuss the literary career of a special needs patient with someone who looked as though she was transplanted directly from Appalachia by way of an insane asylum.

All for the sake of his dream, he thought, and forged ahead.

“Hi,” he said to this frightening sight at the opposite side of the door frame.

Rita stood, staring at him, the squint including her nose as an unwilling partner as smoke billowed past her thick black eyebrows. She said not a word. Just stared.

This must be the place, Reggie chuckled to himself. Like mother, like son.

“My name is Reggie Hatcher and I am looking for Jerry’s apartment. Last name starts with an M. Does he live here?” Reggie asked.

“Why do you want to know?” Rita snarled back.

“Well, I found this notebook of his and I wanted to return it to him.”

Rita reached out, grabbed the notebook with a deliberate motion, almost daring Reggie to pull it back, and closed the door.

His instincts told him to turn and walk back to his car. The old Reggie would have run away. This Reggie would not.

His first few knocks went unanswered. Then, finally getting the point that he wasn’t going to go away, Rita opened the door again. The cigarette was missing, but the same disturbed, squinted expression remained. Apparently it wasn’t the smoke that made her look that way. She just looked that way.

Purchase on Amazon