Recent Writer’s Conference Recap

Last weekend, I attended the Agents and Editors Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Writer’s League of Texas.

This is a yearly conference geared toward traditional publishing as well as the craft of writing.

I had the opportunity to pitch “When Two Worlds Collide,” to an agent with the Wendy Sherman Agency.

She loved the story premise and the characters. She loved my excitement about the story as I talked about it. She loved everything about it, except the paranormal aspect. Her response was, “I cannot sell a paranormal romance.”

Really? Deep sigh. Oh well. Back to square one with that book and the White Rune Series. Who knows. Maybe I’ll eventually self-publish all three of them.

But, I digress. I want to share some of the nuggets I took away from the conference.

One of the workshops I sat in on and enjoyed was all about crafting irresistible opening pages. These are the tips that were presented:

  • Immediately immerse the reader in something they will want to find out
  • Gorgeous writing (which, of course if subject to interpretation) and great use of metaphors
  • Be clever – something you haven’t seen before
  • Make a promise to the reader with your opening lines that you can keep

They talked a little about what an opening actually is. Some said it was the first few lines or the first page, but most concurred it is the amount of reading you can see when you use the Amazon “Look Inside” feature.

The pitfalls to avoid are all things we’ve heard before.

  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Don’t spend pages explaining things to the reader
  • Eliminate ALL typos
  • Avoid cliches

I moved on from that workshop to one about “Connecting Character and Setting in Compelling Fictional Worlds.”

One statement really stood out in this workshop, “Make the characters YOURS! Own them.”

Character derives from both world-building and setting.

Use Layering in connecting the characters and settings. Use Exaggeration.

Avoid Info Dumping.

Keep surprising yourself when you are writing!

Don’t talk about what you’re writing. Keep it to yourself.

And this one, “Fiction, whether it is about the past or the future, has to be about the present – the reader!”

Another workshop that I gleaned some great tips from was “Writing The Quiet Moments Between Plot Points.”

Plot and pacing go hand-in hand.

Write the scenes you are excited about, regardless of where they fall in the chronological sequence of your story.

I learned about something called “Dan Well’s Story Structure,” which is a set of videos on YouTube. I have not had time yet to go watch them, but it came highly recommended, so I will be checking it out.

In regards to editing, a tip I picked up that I have not used before is the Text To Speech feature in Word. Listening back to your writing, you can hear echos, repetitions and where punctuation might need to go. I will try it out for sure. If any of you have used it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a Digital Marketing workshop, I learned that Tuesdays or Thursdays are optimal for making the biggest impact on social media, and between Noon and 1 pm.

I also learned that Facebook has shifted and is not a good platform for marketing yourself or your books. However, Twitter is the #1 Platform for this type of marketing. The presenter suggested that we find famous authors we admire and follow them.

Pinterest is primarily used by female audience and keywords are super important with Pinterest posts.

Instagram is dominated by the millenials. The one thing she stressed, was the use of hashtags. She said 10 – 12 per post is a must. Wow! Who knew?

LinkedIn has become a good advertising platform. She mentioned a publishing feature on LinkedIn that was optimal for sharing blog posts instead of posting links. (I have yet to check that one out.)

Groups are where everything in social media is headed. She suggested joining groups, or starting your own.

It was a good conference with lots of information shared and lots of great contacts made. I didn’t come away a step closer to publishing The White Rune Series, but I did come away with more great tips to help enhance my writing and marketing.

And, for fun, the author with whom I shared a room and myself walked down to the bridge where the famous Austin Texas bats come out nightly. Thousands of people line the banks of the river and bridge each night to watch the phenomenon.

This is a photo I took before the bats came out. It gives you a small peek at the number of people who come to watch. None of my photos of the flying bats turned out, so I am using one I found on the internet.

It was a great weekend of learning and networking! That’s what conferences are all about!

Writing-Marketing: The Balancing Act

I didn’t write this post, but it was such a GREAT one that I absolutely had to share. There was not a re-blog button on The Book Designer’s blog page, so I did the next best thing. I hope you get as much from this as I did.

We all struggle with this balancing act and Gila Green’s advice is golden! Please take time to visit her website and take a look around.


By Gila Green

We hear it all the time, “How can I possibly market my existing book while writing my next book?” or “I don’t like marketing. I just want to write.” But the reality is that to be successful as an author, most of us need to continually do both–marketing AND writing new books. The good news is that it is possible to do both. In today’s guest post, Gila Green offers suggestions for how to manage our time, develop a strategy and succeed—on both fronts! I think you will find what she has to say helpful.

Time is like the sweet table at a bar mitzvah; depending on your gender, age, and weight, there’s either way too much of it or never enough of it. The kids can’t believe how quickly it has been devoured and at least half the adults can’t figure out why the chocolatey temptations haven’t disappeared already.

Books are Written Between the Margins

If you’re an average writer you have a day job and writing is your second job. (I’m not even going to get into family responsibilities, that’s another post.) Balancing your time while you try to succeed in two jobs is hard enough, but what happens when your second job splits in two?

For writers who have published a novel and have to deal with the momentous task of marketing it, coupled with producing a second novel, time management becomes an enormous challenge.

It doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a Facebook account, diving into chapter two, or pitching to reviewers, part of your brain screams: you should be working on something else!

It seems equally critical to market your novel, especially in its first twelve months of release, as it is to write a new one (because everyone knows the best way to market your novel is to produce another one—more on that below–and some writers may have signed on to write a sequel or a series.)

For writers suffering from marketing-writer split, you either have three jobs or two second jobs. Either way you slice it, it’s tough to chew on without breaking your teeth or worse, losing your mind.

The situation can seem even tougher if the novel you have just released is in a different genre and/or aimed at a different age category from the novel you’re writing or vice versa. I know plenty of authors with young or middle-grade books out who working away at an adult novel. The worry over wearing two hats just turns up the heat on the writing-marketing split.

So what’s a writer to do?

Here are four ways you can succeed…



Canadian Gila Green is an Israel-based author, editor, and EFL teacher. Passport Control and King of the Class are among her published novels. Gila’s White Zion collection will be available in April 2019. She is also currently working on a young adult eco-fiction series with the first novel in this series, No Entry, coming out in September 2019. She has been teaching flash fiction online since 2009 at WOW-womenonwriting. Visit Gila:
This was brought to us by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer.


Hill Country Writing Symposium


Hello, fellow Texas authors! I want to make you aware of, and invite you to, a Writing Symposium in Comfort, Texas September 14 – 16, 2017.

Yes, that is SOON!!

I will be presenting two separate workshops at this event to be held at the Comfort Public Library. If you are anywhere near this area and wish to hone your writing skills through hands-on workshops, check this out.

Hill Country Writing Symposium – Fall Edition

September 14-16, 2017

Comfort Public Library

701 High St, Comfort, TX 78013

Thursday, September 14, 2017 – Meet & Greet Reception

7 PM to 9 PM

More information on location to follow.

Friday, September 15, 2017

9 AM Nature Writing

10 AM Five Forms to Use to Awaken the Poet in You

11 AM Writing for Non-Fiction

Noon – Lunch on your own

1 PM How Many Ways Can You Say ____?

2 PM Writing for Young Audiences

3 PM Journaling

4 PM Editing 101

Saturday, September 16, 2017

10 AM Writing for Different Media

11 AM Marketing 101 – Renegade Style

Noon – Lunch on your own

1-4 PM Book Festival in Library


Attendee Fees – Check options below for any discounts that may already be applied.

Regular Purchase $65 All Inclusive

10 Sessions plus Cocktail Reception

Plus 1 Free book from a presenter of their choice.

(hotel, food, misc at attendee’s own expense)


Top Reasons Readers will close your book.

While recently attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia, I sat in on a workshop that gave out this information. I felt that it was valuable enough to pass along.

1) Nothing happens in the opening pages. No one will keep reading about a bunch of characters that are going nowhere, or pages filled with pretty scenery. Start out with some interesting action or problem, and hook your reader.

2) Too much happens in the opening page or too many characters. If  the reader has to make a list to keep track of who’s who, you’ve got too many characters. Also, avoid the same sounding names or names starting with the same letter; Kark, Kanya and Kumbla.)

3) Info dump. Your story barely gets going when the reader is saddled with pages and pages of back story. This bogs down the pace and is tedious to read. Once we get engrossed in the story, a little bit of back story will add a deeper understanding of why your character is acting the way he/she is. The key words above are ‘a little bit’.  In the workshop, it was referred to as “Salting” the story, not dumping the entire shaker out. 🙂

5) Too much of anything will spoil your story. If it’s a romance, keep the romance alive with sexual tension. If it’s a mystery, don’t just have murder after murder. Give us a clever mystery to solve. If it’s an action/thriller, don’t have chapter after chapter of fight scenes and bombs and car chases. The reader needs to get a break. And this is the perfect spot to talk about cuss words. Use them sparingly. Okay, gang members swear. To be realistic you have to have dialogue that fits. Just don’t overdo it. It is very easy to lose readers from extended profanity.  (I realize this is totally based on opinion, but I think most readers will agree that over use of profanity turns them off to the story.)

6) Factual errors. Whatever it is that you’re writing about, someone out there will be an expert in the subject. If you don’t know medicine, be careful when writing a hospital scene. If you don’t know police work be careful when writing about a crime scene. If you have your characters doing something dumb, not only will you get letters, you will lose fans. These types of errors take the reader out of the story.

7) Too helpless and too hopeless. Don’t have your plot revolve around something that could be easily cleared up by asking a question or two.

8) And it is worth mentioning that hiring a professional editor (if you are self-publishing) is of utmost importance! A poorly edited manuscript is the #1 reason a reader will stop turning pages and close your book. 

closing book

What are the things that will cause you to close a book and put it away without finishing it?