Category Archives: Guest Posts

Finding Your Path to Writing Success by K.G. Anderson

There’s a reason why they call it a path to success and not a ramble or a meander. Envisioning the steps — some of them painful, some of them thrilling — that take you from beginning writer to published pro can save you time and reduce frustration.

  • You are writing regularly, at whatever pace you’ve set for yourself.
  • You are moving forward as a writer, by whatever measures you use. This could be words written, stories or queries submitted, works published, markets entered, or dollars earned.
  • You are closer to your writing goals now than you were a year ago.

If you meet those three criteria, it’s likely you’ve found a path that’s working for you. Congratulations! But if you’re not making progress in your writing, I’d like to talk a little about the value of paths and how some writers find theirs.

In 2010, after a career as a nonfiction writer, I decided I wanted to publish speculative fiction, specifically short stories, at the professional level. I had no idea how many years that would take. (Answer: in my case, 9).

The first thing people told me was to write, write, write. So I put my butt in the chair, starting with four hours of writing every Tuesday night and then adding regular weekend writing sessions.

The speculative fiction authors I hoped to emulate were quick to tell me that thousands of hours of writing was just the beginning. Some of them attributed their breakthroughs to workshops; others, to critique groups and retreats. Others talked about transformational publishing connections they’d made at conferences or through online professional groups.

So it was clear that I needed to do more than just write. The question was, what?

I mean — there were workshops, critique groups, professional organizations, conventions, retreats, online communities, websites, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. No one could possibly do it all, could they?

Of course not. The big “aha” for me was the discovery that nearly every successful writer I met had put together a customized path to navigate this crowded landscape — a defined path to take the beginner to pro.

Some did it very deliberately, envisioning every step and then working their way along the path. Others were more experimental, trying one thing at a time, discovering what activities worked for them, and discarding the activities that didn’t. For some people, having a small, tight critique group made all the difference. For others, the key was attending conferences with agents and editors and learning about the market and the industry. For others, it was refining their craft through workshops. For yet others, it was establishing a distinctive voice through a blog or social media, and using that channel to attract interest in their talent and their work.

But it took me three years of throwing myself into just about any activity labeled “speculative fiction writing” — including a few drama-filled “critique” groups and poorly edited anthologies — to realize that I needed to calm down and focus on a viable path.

My path began in 2013 with the week-long Viable Paradise workshop. It focused on what I wanted to write: short fiction. After the workshop, I attended a critique session at Orycon run by a Viable Paradise graduate, Curtis Chen.

By then, I was hearing about online listings for magazines and anthologies that buy short fiction. After checking out three listings sites, I settled on the Submission Grinder, a free service which also lets you track your submissions. I began submitting stories to semi-pro publications and sold my first speculative fiction stories in 2015.

I attended one-day Clarion West workshops taught by Ken Scholes, David D. Levine, and Seanan McGuire. I chose sessions that addressed my specific pain points (like writing endings, and writing for anthologies). I also took online classes, again, dealing with my specific writing challenges, from Dean Wesley Smith.

By this time, I was selling 6 or 7 stories a year to semi-pro markets (many of them indie-published anthologies). In 2018, I made my first pro-level sale. And I joined a critique group of writers who publish with some of the magazines and anthologies where I’ve had work accepted — and with some magazines I aspire to. In 2019 I had enough sales to qualify as a pro with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). My next step? To sell to major magazines.

The strategic path you map out may have quite different landmarks than mine (Agents! Book sales! Self-publishing! Editing an anthology!), but, if you follow it, I’m willing to bet you’ll see progress.


K.G. Anderson is a late-blooming speculative fiction writer. She writes short fiction — urban fantasy, space opera, alternate history, Weird West tales, near-future SF and mystery. Most of her stories focus on families, communities, secrets, and transformations.

She has degrees in psychology and journalism and has supported herself by writing everything from book reviews and political exposes to home repair columns and corporate websites. She was a member of the launch team for Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

K.G. studied at Taos Toolbox, Viable Paradise and Cascade Writers and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. You’ll find her stories in Galaxy’s Edge and Luna Station Quarterly, in podcasts from Far Fetched Fables and StarShipSofa, and in anthologies from B Cubed Press and Third Flatiron. In Seattle, she’s part of the Sound of Paper writing group and often reads her stories at Two Hour Transport. You’ll find her at regional conventions such as Foolscap, Orycon, and Norwescon.

She lives in a Scandinavian fishing community just north of downtown Seattle with her partner, bookseller Tom Whitmore, quite a few cats, and thousands upon thousands of books.

Visit https://writerway.com/fiction for a list of K.G.’s publications and links to stories you can read or listen to online. You’ll find her on Twitter @writerway

A Primer on Speculative Poetry by Kimberly Nugent

When Wendy approached me about writing an article for “No Wasted Ink,” I was thrilled and immediately began to waffle about which idea to put to digital paper. Despite a career in editing, I kept coming back to a topic about which both Wendy and I are passionate, speculative poetry. Genre poetry has a lovely community of poets, and a thriving market for both paid and unpaid submissions.

Like a lot of creators, I had a long break from poetry until editing an e-zine that featured speculative poetry. I was fascinated and thrilled! So, I began writing again. Whether you are returning to poetry, looking for a change in your existing poetry, or would like to write for the first time, I have a few tips for writing in general, and a few specific to speculative poetry.

Keep a notebook. This notebook can be a 99-cent special or something bound in leather, but whatever you pick, keep it with you. And keep your favorite writing implement in stock. Keep pencils in your car, pens in your purse, grab some markers, something that will make a mark. I previously kept notes digitally but have since switched back to physical writing. Not only do you not have to worry about backups or where you saved that file, you will find the thought required to put words on paper also puts contemplation into your ideas and word choices.

Write. Just write in that lovely notebook. It can be anything from words and phrases to outlines and perhaps even a rough draft. But don’t worry about form—yet. The goal here is just to create the words that will build your poetry. Feel free to be wordy. Write in the margins, make notes. The more words in your notebook, the easier to compose your verses. Also, I find inspiration in various media, especially scientific articles and lectures! Your muse can be anywhere, so be sure to jot down all your ideas.

Buy a good form reference book. Now that you have those lovely thoughts and phrases, combine them into the forms that feel natural to the ideas when writing your final poem. I suggest buying at least one (or more!) form reference books. Two of my favorites are “The Prosody Handbook: A Guide to Poetic Form” by Beum and Shapiro and “The Book of Forms” by Turco. The more you write and create, the more you should challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone. If you generally write a sonnet, try an epic poem or haiku! What specifically sets speculative poetry apart is the topic. The is sky is NOT the limit! Putting the fantastical, science fiction, and even mythological themes into form (and yes, you can include free verse) is what will set you apart from flash fiction and the short story.

After you write your poetry, always let it sit overnight before you make any changes. Like prose writing, a little distance between yourself and the words will make the editing process easier. Now is also the time to share your work with a trusted listener or reader. Your sounding board should give both praise and constructive feedback.

Your edits are complete, your trusted evaluator has appraised your efforts, and you are ready to submit your first poem! But, where? The largest poetry-only markets typically shy away from genre poetry, however, there are organization specifically for the speculative poet. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and Horror Writers Association are both excellent resources for a genre poet. Also, look for publications and journals that are focused on certain forms in addition to genre-specific publications.

When you have decided on a market, read the submission guidelines carefully. Always follow their directions and pay close attention to if the market accepts simultaneous submissions or those that have been previously published. I also highly recommend you keep a log of your submissions so you can keep track of where you place your poems, and which publications you should follow up with.

The most important thing after submitting your work is to congratulate yourself! Whether your first submission or your 100th is your first published poem, creating a work you can be proud to submit is an accomplishment in itself.


Kimberly Nugent lives near the beautiful Sandia Mountain range and edits speculative fiction and RPGs. She spends her free time with her family, cats, and various nerdy hobbies! You can find her on Twitter at @BlueTeaEditing

What Do You Know by Peter J Foote

The laziest answer given to the aspiring writers during Q&A’s or interviews when asked for advice is: “Write what you know”, but what does that mean?

It’s the trite answer given when vision is lacking or the author is keen for the day to finish. BUT there is a pearl of wisdom in there and I believe we should examine it together, so buckle up.

Though before we start I should caution you, nothing you read in this article will be earth-shattering or groundbreaking. Others have trod this path before, and will again, but I believe my unique perspective adds something to the question.

That’s right, I said unique, in that each of us has our unique memories and encounters that molded us into who we are now. My childhood on an apple farm, studying archaeology, or that unfortunate zipper “incident” when I was six may turn up in a story, I’m referring to something richer.

My story begins in the fall of 2015. I was at a crossroads, but we’ll chat about that later. Until that point, my writing comprised a handful of short stories I penned in the 90s that will never suffer the light of day and countless roleplaying adventures that went unplayed. At that point in my life, the writing was an outlet that struck at random.

So what changed? I had.

I ended a seven-year toxic relationship, it was something I knew was wrong when it began. Since we weren’t harming anyone (no marriage or kids, just played house on weekends), I allowed it to continue because I didn’t believe I deserved better. When I became brave enough to end it, I struggled to talk about my feelings, so I tried my hand at putting my emotions and journey into the written word. “The Silence between Moons”, a tale of a lone ranger and a She-wolf that could take human form was the result, and it became my first sale.

That’s what I knew, the sense of dismissal, the heartache, the feeling that I wasted my best years on a relationship that had no future. Weaving a fantasy tale around my hurt allowed me to feel like a hero, when before I felt like a villain since I had caused hurt and disappointment. Distancing myself from my feeling as I wrote the story wasn’t easy, nor should it have been, but that “over the shoulder” position I allowed myself, helped heal me more than I expected.

I hope your decisions have been better in life, each of us carries around mistakes, hopes, and joys, that emotional “baggage” that makes us the unique beings that we are. Beings that have a story to share with an audience, that connects us to others and that sense of connection is one of the greatest gifts that we can share with our readers.

Having a sale under my belt broke down my walls. Here was a way for me to express myself in a way that had a meaningful impact upon me, it gave me a strength to share myself with others. I hadn’t realized that my words, what I knew, could find a home in tales of wonder and adventure, and bring readers along for the ride.

That first story was clunky and not my best work, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. It led me along a path to tell new stories, explore myself, meet new people that I won’t have met otherwise. After it followed tales which explored how Might doesn’t always make Right, with my story “A Troll by any other name”, how a handful of jelly beans can forge a friendship in my award-winning story “Sea Monkeys”, along with dozens of others. What I know has evolved and changed me, I expect you’re the same. You can surprise yourself when you look through old stories, or journals and ask yourself “Who was I then, what did that version of me know?” That question makes excellent story fodder and can provide wonderful insight for character motivation.

I’m a short story author, and I have the utmost respect for those who tackle novel-length projects and series. We can use writing what you know in 100 words drabbles right up to 100K+ works and everything in between. The stories in which I have shown what I know, be it betrayal, forgotten loves, or soul-crushing shame, has far out-sold those in which I have told the message, and this is where your personal experiences can help you.

So I challenge you, to look within yourself and ask “what you know”, and how you can use it in your writing. One word of warning though, this can be a difficult exercise, it’s upsetting when exploring uncomfortable memories, so I want you to prepare yourself and practice self-care. Not every story you write needs to be a deep, soul-wrenching essay that frays yourself open, but I want you to be true to what you know. You’re an ever-evolving bundle of joys, sorrows, and decisions that get remade every day, and I look forward to reading what you know.


Peter J FootePeter J. Foote is a bestselling speculative fiction writer from Nova Scotia. Born and raised on an apple farm, he studied archaeology in university, and always had a passion for the “what if”, and an appreciation of nature. Outside of writing, he runs a used bookstore specializing in fantasy & sci-fi, cosplays with his fiance, is an active Freemason, and alternates between red wine and coffee as the mood demands.

Having the distinction of appearing in each of the “From the Rock” anthologies published by Engen books (Sci-fi from the Rock, Fantasy from the Rock, Chillers from the Rock, Dystopia from the Rock, and Flights from the Rock), Peter is also the celebrated winner of the “Awkward Author” contest sponsored by Chuck Wendig, autographed proof has pride of place in his writing nook, which you can see on here.

Peter considers himself a genre writer, with Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror being his preferred method of storytelling. He has recently taken to writing drabbles for Black Hare Press, finding the challenge to write a complete story in 100 words a great way to improve his writing skills.

His short stories can be found in both print and in ebook form, with his story “Sea Monkeys” winning the inaugural “Engen Books/Kit Sora, Flash Fiction/Flash Photography” contest in March of 2018. As the founder of the group “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”, Peter believes that the writing community is stronger when it works together. GWOAC has grown from a handful of members to over 300 regional authors of all skill and ability, which focus on networking and support to build a stronger genre writing presents in Atlantic Canada.

The Race Where You Can’t Afford A Burn-out by Kim Dorothy

I average writing 70k-words per week. One of the guys in the head office invited me to post tips about avoiding burnout in a high-volume production mode. Keep in mind that I do this full-time and live alone, so it’s more or less my perfect world. Burnout is the flip side of efficiency; less of the former when there’s more of the latter. Most of the following relates to what I’ve learned about efficiency. There might be a kernel of something helpful here for you.

1. Buy the best you can afford.
a. A slow computer drags down spontaneity, preventing you from tapping into that special part of the brain where the writer in you lives – in the word vault. I have several computers; some for heavy-duty video processing and Photoshop work and others, portable and light including one that will fit in my purse.

b. A keyboard has to be properly responsive. You don’t want to need to “punch” the keys, nor do you want a flat plastic pretend board that gives you no sense of keystrike fulfillment. You may prefer an external keyboard paired with a laptop as some laptop designs that include a touchpad are awkwardly designed so that you have to arch your wrists to avoid touching the pad as you type.

c. The monitor should be the highest resolution you can afford. Our eyestrain is greater than that of an air traffic controller and you can seriously damage your eyes as well as sit for long periods in an unnatural position to accommodate the screen’s poor resolution. I also find it easier on my eyes if I swap monitors. I use dual 27” UHD for design work and my 13” UHD laptop screen for simply writing. Less environmental input to process.

d. Get the right chair. This isn’t necessarily the most expensive as some companies produce office furniture that revolves more around design aesthetic than support and functionality. My favorite chair at the moment is an $89 upholstered dining room chair from the mark-down room at Value City Furniture. It holds my back straight, my lap is parallel to the floor, it cushions my tush and slides easily on a plastic chair mat.

e. Get the right desk. This is about height so you can have the ideal posture while typing. It also needs to accommodate your monitor at eye height so your neck isn’t strained. I use an added-on adjustable keyboard tray that slides in and out, tilts and allows you to switch the side where your mouse sits. It’s securely screwed into the underside of the desk’s top. I have a short footstool under my desk that keeps my feet from swelling or my knees from creating blood clots or poor circulation.

f. Make it a dedicated work computer. No gaming, no social media, no emails. No kids or spouse who changes the background and trashes your files. Plenty of disk space, but have a back-up.

2. Dropbox, iCloud, etc.
Since I use multiple computers, I keep all my writing files in the cloud. They sync and I can sit down at any one of my units and pick up where I left off. I also use Evernote because I can capture browser screenshots, articles, audio, photos; all the things I use to build my outline. Again, it syncs across all my devices, including my phone while I’m driving and think of something. I don’t have to chase ideas down.

3. Move around.
My computer is a tool and I have several. My house happens to have four floors and there is a computer on three of them, including one on a rolling laptop table I can take outdoors by the pool in summer. If you have one working area, stand up every half hour and stretch out a few yoga moves, throw in some laundry, chop onions for dinner, go rinse your face or brush your teeth. Just move and then get back to it. Avoid movement that can be a diversion, such as watching tv or getting on the phone to visit with your friend.

4. Eat well.
A brain on normal standby burns 20% of your caloric intake. A “thinking” brain uses even more. Your brain needs healthy fats and protein for top working order. Do not eat sugary carbs as these slow you down and trigger cravings and produce erratic blood sugar levels. Try it – eat a doughnut or a bowl of cereal and you’ll feel yourself fading. Avoid foods with tryptophan. I recommend never eating at the computer. It gums up your keyboard and your tush and belly will widen. Eat small but healthy snacks during your half-hour stretches. While on this topic, dress in layers and work in fresh air whenever possible.

5. Train your brain.
The human body is a wonderfully adaptable machine and you can use that to your advantage. If you write for five hours in the morning on Monday and two hours in the afternoon on Tuesday, the body is spending energy and awareness on adapting. Set a writing time and stick to it. If you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t sleep, don’t go and write. You’re confusing your body’s internal clock and you’ll pay for it. Then, just like that magic cup of coffee keeps you regular, your brain will allocate resources more smoothly because it knows what to expect. This also reduces your anxiety and if you know your writing pace, you can predict to the day when your book will be complete. I recommend a nap at about 3 pm. Even a short one is restorative. When you’re not writing, don’t be at the computer playing games. Give your body plenty of exercise.

6. Mute your phone.
Message alerts and phone calls break your concentration. It’s okay to return calls to people later on.

7. Open all Programs.
You may have your favorites, but when writing I have the following open: Grammarly / Word / Thesaurus, Evernote and Chrome. I use Evernote like you may use Scrivener. I fit them all on one screen when possible, or in layers when not. The fewer times my hands leave the keyboard to feel for the mouse, and to return, the more productive I am.

8. Dictation for dialogue.
I use Dragon and a PC for the best results. I think there’s a post in the All-Star files where I take you through all the combinations of computer / software / microphones I experimented with. Mary Crawford also has published an excellent book on the topic.

a. I tend to always dictate dialogue. I close my eyes, sit back in the recliner and become the voice of my character(s). It feels natural and more authentic; like you’re in a play on stage but starring in all the roles. It’s fun. Note on this: It takes some time to get used to saying, “New line, open quote,” etc. and then “close quote.” I’ve experimented with just saying “dash” or “x” and then go back and let the search and replace swap them into quotes and new lines. Still working on this. If you’ve mastered it, please mention it below. The software knows whether it’s an open or closed quote.

b. Sometimes, I dictate portions, such as describing a house or the decoration in a room, etc. I picture it and it seems to flow more easily. I always keyboard type my surprises and plot twists. Here again, it comes from the word vault. Just add an “insert so-and-so here” to the manuscript and come back to it.

c. Use dictation sparingly according to how comfortable you’ve become and how accurate your computer and software set-up is. If you don’t do it well, you’ll just aggravate yourself.

9. I prefer rough outlines.
Detailed outlines reduce spontaneity of thought but it’s nice to come back to your work and pick up where you left off without re-reading the book to regain your train of thought. If I break at the end of the chapter, I always leave a note for myself in the beginning of the next. Something like, “Mary and Sally theorize why John Doe has a criminal record.” Avoid re-reading and editing as you go. These waste time because there will always be an ultimate edit where you can fix things.

10. Be Visual.
I fill my Evernote notebook for the current work with screen capture photos of my primary characters, settings, the car they drive, maps of locations, etc. This way I can look at them visually and not confuse the color of their eyes or have them drive south when their destination is north in reality. I also give them a character workup such as, “Mary was shy, almost reclusive due to her parents’ old age and that she thought herself unattractive. She loves anything chocolate and crochets while in the bathroom for escapism. She dreams of finding the right guy.” I am an empath and have many times, created a character definition and then gone for a drive and actually see someone who resembles them. I can pull over, make notes about their posture, how quickly they walk, whether their house windows are dirty, etc. into Evernote on her particular note. Go to the mall or an airport and watch people. Decide whether couples are business, siblings or lovers and what tells you that. This goes a long way to helping you show not tell.

11. Have a goal.
70k words in a week may sound impossible, but when broken down into 10k words per day, it’s a reasonable goal. Prepping before writing should be given a good amount of time because it prevents interruption when you’re in the word vault.

12. What’s in a name?
When you’re writing multiple books at the same time, as I do, it’s easy to get confused with names. I will substitute “boy”, “girl”, “father”, “boss” and so forth and then search and replace later with the character’s name. This should be done PRE-edit. If you’re chasing a word count, one of your characters names can become two, such as “boy” becomes “John Boy.”

13. Writing can be tedious.
To help with this, I incorporate people I know and release my pent-up emotions. I may use a former lover as romantic inspiration, or as the victim who dies a painful death if he’s moved on in real life. You are omnipotent here – take advantage of that.

14. Use Meta-data.
I write in Word and open the column that shows reviewing comments. I insert as a note a visual icon for the season, the time of day, etc. This way my timeline is valid. I also keep the navigation pane open and use character styling. This tells me which chapter I’m in and whose POV I’m writing, when applicable.

15. Do your research thoroughly and in advance.
Don’t wait until you come to the scene where the FMC is going on vacation to research the airport, what it looks like, how busy it typically is, the destination, the accommodations, how people dress, where they’re from, etc. Knowing all this in advance enriches your character. She can shop for clothes, pack, arrange for animal care, take a leave of absence, dread the eight-hour flight, bring sea-sickness wristbands, etc. in the chapters leading up to departure. You don’t have to break stride or go back to add these details.

16. Ban the clock.
The only clock in my house that works is on my computer. I live in a timeless space so I can step into my books without being tethered to the real one.

17. Keep things nearby to prevent interruption.
This includes Kleenex, a nail file, Visine, something to drink, pen and paper, etc. I use Alexa on a regular basis to calculate numbers, give me dates in history, weather averages in distant locations on a certain date, calculate the mileage between locations to estimate driving or flying time, get area codes for phony phone numbers, ingredients for a recipe—you get the drift.

18. Just Write.
Your job at this point is to write. Whether you design your own cover or source it elsewhere, it can wait. You’re not the editor, the marketer, the designer or the social media superstar. Stick to the plan. This is not to say that you can’t change your game plan for your book mid-stream. It’s better to call a bad attempt off than to slug through it and let it suck you down like quicksand.

19. About music.
Resist the temptation to play music while you write. The body will try to align the rhythms, just as you do while walking a treadmill. If the scene is slow and romantic, but the music is a Sousa march…well you get the drift.

Burnout comes predictably. You write longer than you should or at different times of the day. You feel physically rung out and your body aches, particularly your eyes. You may have set unrealistic deadlines or not allowed adequate time to get the flu or stock up on groceries. Keep balance in all things, especially family, relaxation, business/job, exercise along with your writing. Even more fatally, burnout leads to dread and that kills your muse. I can honestly say I’ve never known what “writer’s block” feels like, but I can certainly tell you what burnout feels like. I don’t think they’re the same, but they can definitely play tag team. Last of all, we all have days when nothing goes right – so acutely that you think the end times have begun. Stop, back away and don’t contaminate your work with that negativity. You won’t accomplish anything but increase your stress and ruin yourself for the next day.

Kim Dorothy is a full-time ghostwriter and lives near the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. Passionate about violent weather and romantic music, she lives alone and travels to inspirational locations in her mobile office. She is an ebook pioneer, having written and published the first ebook for bookselling distribution. You may contact her at kim @ mboox.com or visit her website, www.mboox.com.

Be Connected – Making Writers Conferences Work For You by Susan Winters

Writers’ conferences can provide an excellent opportunity to learn latest trends and network. Though sometimes there’s so much activity going on, it can be difficult to absorb the barrage of information, let alone posing a question to the guest speaker who is immediately mobbed after her presentation. With such an influx of writers at a conference, meaningful one-on-one conversation can be problematic if not impossible. The cost in time and money is no small factor either. Fortunately with some advance planning and considering a few key questions you can reap maximum benefits from the conference.

Prior to the Conference

First of all, think about where you are on your writing journey. Have you just started or have you taken a new direction and aren’t sure where to turn? Or are you stranded on a plateau and trying to figure out how to get to the next level? In what area are you facing the most struggles, craft, production or marketing? What type of people do you need right now to help you reach those goals? Are you looking for a colleague, collaborator or a contractor?

At the same time, you should consider your strengths. What can you share about your writing experiences that might help someone on her journey? Is there a blog, book or podcast that you’ve found to be particularly insightful? Your conversations will be more engaging if you have something to contribute in return.

Next, study the conference panel and evaluate what they have to offer. How can their strengths and experiences help you on your journey? Have a couple of key questions in mind that you can ask if given the opportunity. Keep the questions short and specific. If you have the opportunity for a longer discussion, great but avoid monopolizing the speaker’s time. You don’t want to be that guy.

During the Conference

While it’s nearly impossible at a large conference to meet everyone, avoid the temptation to only reach out to other authors in your genre. At a recent indie author event, one of my friends, a best-selling romance author in her own right, made it a point to stop at each author’s table to chat. Talk to everyone. Someone from outside your genre may have a different angle on a problem you’ve been facing. While authors may write in a few specific genres, many authors are omnivorous readers. You could be chatting with your next fan and not even know it.

Another way that writers limit themselves is to focus exclusively on the well-known, successful authors and ignore the rookies. As far as fledgling writers are concerned, when they’re not in the throes of trying to finish their first novel they’re usually busy learning everything they can about the craft and the business. Sometimes rookies can be the best source of what’s cutting edge.

In addition to whatever notes you’ve taken during the sessions, take time to jot down your observations of the conference as a whole which should include notes on the other writers you met. Start a to-do list of people to contact and follow-up items to tackle when you return home while the ideas are fresh in your mind. Make one of those tasks an appointment with yourself to review your notes a month or two after the conference. By re-reading your notes at a later time, you may glean valuable insight that you missed while caught up in the excitement of the conference.

Afterward

In Reno, many of the local casinos offer an After-Burner deal providing Burning Man participants the opportunity to decompress with a spa/massage package after leaving the playa before they have to reconnect with the real world. While a spa weekend may not always be possible due to time and budget constraints, consider ways to ease back into your regular schedule. Can you take an extra day off work or at least schedule a date night? Your significant other would probably appreciate it after keeping the home fires burning during your absence. Or can you at least make sure the pantry is stocked and gas tank filled so you don’t have to immediately attend to those errands when you return?

Even if you can’t squeeze in a spa weekend, schedule a lunch or coffee date with to review the conference high lights with either some writer colleagues or like-minded friends. Unless the conference was solely focused on craft, the content on developing your brand and marketing would be useful to any of your friends who are self-employed or starting their own business. Chances are your entrepreneur buddies have a different perspective that would benefit your writing as well. By revisiting and sharing the knowledge you learned and reaching out to other writers you’ve met, the conference becomes a viable asset continually supporting your writing instead of simply a pleasant memory.


Susan Winters balances her writing life with her work as a full-time corporate paralegal. Raised in Northern California, Susan started writing articles for the campus paper and publishing a short story in the college literary magazine and has been alternating between fact and fiction ever since. She is the author of Ever After and Mixed Blessings. Her non-fiction has appeared in Reno News & Review and numerous indie parenting magazines.

As Mariposa Cruz she writes contemporary romance including the Rhythm & Romance series. Her Create on the Side blog features interviews with authors, actors, artists, and musicians who manage their creative pursuits with full-time work. An avid reader, knitter and Salsa dancer, Susan resides in Reno, Nevada with her family.

For more about Susan and her writing:
https://createontheside.wordpress.com/
https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Winters/e/B00J7QD870/

EVER AFTER