Tag Archives: conversations and connections

The Origins of The Juliet at JMWW and Conversations and Connections

The endlessly generous and talented Jen Michalski invited me to write a post for JMWW’s recently relaunched “Origins” series in which authors talk about the seeds of ideas and inspirations that grew into their books. You can read my Origins post here. In the post I ramble on about Mom’s influence on the book, as well as the original research I did, and how I manipulated it.

In other news I finished (I hope!) a long-ish short story called “Artie & The Angels,” which is about what happens when a young woman who inherits a house on the Bayou Teche suspects that there’s a man inside a refrigerator that’s been dumped in the waters behind her new home.

This weekend brings Conversations and Connections, a one day conference with practical advice on writing that is just about sold out. See? only 1 ticket left!

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I’ll be serving on a panel with my dear friends and fellow novelists, Steve Himmer and Art Taylor. The panel is called, “The Art of Creating Imagined Spaces Inside Real Places,” and here’s the description:

Three novelists—Steve Himmer, Laura Ellen Scott, and Art Taylor—talk about the techniques and risks of inventing non-existent locales and integrating them into real settings. What does authenticity mean when you manipulate known places in fiction, and how does “world-building” happen? And in this context where do invention and cultural appropriation intersect?

This year C&C is starting at it’s new home, George Mason University. The event on Saturday will be out at the Arlington Campus–where the law school is housed. Yes, THAT law school. We’ll do our best to dispel any bad mojo while we’re out there. Should be fun!

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Conversations an Connections 2015 is in the can

Well, another Conversations & Connections has come and gone. Here’s the scene in the Speed Dating With Editors room . . . Looks all calm and peaceful huh? What you don’t see is the line of writers out the door waiting for their chance to sit down with a random editor for 10 minutes.



My panel, Scene-by-Scene, turned out to be the top choice of attendees, and I know we had at least 70 people in the room. I was joined by three other novelists, Catherine Bell, Lauren Foss Goodman, and the always amazing Jen Michalski. I talked about structure nuts & bolts, Catherine talked about putting your reader in the picture, Lauren talked about organizational strategies/tools, and Jen discussed types and elements of successful scenes. I think it was really useful–at least people told us it was.

I also met up with a woman who attended my flash novella panel from last year’s conference, and she reported that the project she wrote in response to that panel–and that I read and critiqued later in the summer–was accepted for publication in a very well respected anthology series. That made me very happy.

One final highlight I want to share. At last year’s conference, two of my best friends–poet  Danny Collier and fiction writer Tara Laskowski–holed up in the lounge to begin plans to redesign Smokelong Quarterly. The redesign was just launched this month, so here they are at this year’s convo in that same lounge, toasting their success with a drop of black cherry Jim Beam:



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Conversations & Connections DC Writers Conference: Scene-by scene


doodle by Goodloe Byron (buy his stuff or commission a painting)

April 18 (Saturday!!) is the date for Conversations and Connections, a day long conference focusing on practical advice and networking for writers. I’ll be presenting a session called Scene-by-Scene: Writing the Irresistible Story. Here’s the gist:

Learning to write and connect strong scenes, whether your approach is linear or modular, is the key to writing irresistible fiction. In this session, we’ll talk scene anatomy, rhythms of action, and scene-to-scene interdependence, as well as the effect of writing tools (like Scrivener) on the ways we think of scenes and their arrangement in long forms. We’ll also discuss strategies for getting your characters into enough trouble to make a story worth reading. ​

It’s going to be a value-packed day. Register now.

From the organizers, our dear buddies at Barrelhouse:

Cool Thing #1: It’s affordable.

$70 gets you the whole day, which includes a keynote speech, three sessions of panels focused on business and craft, and whole host of cool stuff (see below). Keynote speakers have included Steve Almond, Mary Gaitskill, Sam Lipsyte, Matthea Harvey and many others.

Cool Thing #2: You get to meet editors.

Our “speed dating with the editors” (one session is included in the registration fee, additional sessions available for $5) is a ten-minute meeting with an editor who will review the first two pages of a story, a novel synopsis, or a few poems, providing feedback on how you might improve your work or where you might consider sending it.

Cool Thing #3: Free Book by a Featured Writer

We feature four writers at every conference. And you get to leave with one of their books as part of your admission fee.

Cool Thing #4: Subscription to a Literary Journal

Before you leave our conference, charged and ready to finish your novel, you will get to select a one-year subscription from one of several participating literary journals. Past choices have included Barrelhouse, Potomac Review, Gettysburg Review, The Common, The Believer, StoryQuarterly, Publishing Genius, Gigantic Sequins, Cobalt, and many others.

Cool Thing #5: You’ll Be Supporting Local Independent Literature

All the profits from Conversations and Connections go directly back to Barrelhouse and the rest of the participating literary magazines and small presses.

Cool Thing #6: Boxed Wine Happy Hour

Boxed wine happy hour! The name kind of speaks for itself.

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Fan Mail

When’s the last time you ever offered a panel for a conference and got fan mail? This comes from someone who attended the “Flash Evolution: Flash Novella” session for Conversations and Connections.

Photo on 4-15-14 at 3.37 PM Photo on 4-15-14 at 3.43 PM #2

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Last Saturday, April 5, was the day of Conversations and Connections in DC. C & C is a one day writers’ conference with a minimum level of bullshit–no one there trying to pitch the one size fits all platform, etc. I directed a panel on the how and why of the Flash Novella, with guests Erin Fitzgerald and Tara Laskowski, and it was very well attended. I got a little overexcited, and when I handed out a prompt list (15 sections in 15 weeks), I promised everyone in the room that if they tried the FN and sent me their draft in August, I would read it or find someone else who would. Wonder if anyone will take me up on that . . .

I attended the crime writing panel–low turn out for that one because it was up against a “what editors want” session–and I’m really glad I did. Nick Korpon, Art Taylor, Steve Weddle, and Tara Laskowski had a great conversation about the state of crime fiction, confirming some of my own experiences. I’m finding writing with the knowledge that I am operating firmly within the genre is delightful. And natural, dammit.  Hot tip from the panel: agents troll crime mags to find new clients. That there is news you can use.

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