Revising an old poem is like remodeling an old house. It’s easier to start anew.
Revising an old poem is like remodeling an old house. It’s easier to start anew.
The “Writing Life” can be lonely. Sometimes that’s good. I need time to think, time to plan, time to write, review, revise and re-write. All these things work best in quiet isolation. Too much stimulus can be—well—too much. It almost seems stunting at times and I feel a creeping desperation to run and hide.
However, the last few weeks have given me several reasons to celebrate belonging, and to feel grateful for networking with people in general and other writers in particular. I belong to two regional writing groups, Kansas Authors Club and Oklahoma Writing Federation. Each has its own strengths, as well as limitations. Others may find the initial limitations enough to stay away. When they are handled with good humor and flexibility, the benefits of belonging can outweigh those stifling stimuli.
Why belong? Here are a few key reasons.
Like nobody else, writing friends understand what I face with time management, craft development, and the daunting prospect of marketing my published words. In the past month, I have exchanged drafts with some good friends for feedback. As always, my writing friends make fine critique partners. I benefit in two ways from exchanging critiques. First, of course, I learn how the selections I send impact a reader. And second, when I return the favor, I find my own skills of reading “like a writer” are honed ever sharper. The ability to read my own words as an editor might read them enhances my writing.
A charming atmosphere with aisles of used books (and a few new releases) made this book signing a delight. It was initiated by a writing friend and colleague in Kansas Authors Club.
The manager of The Next Chapter introduced me to DartFrog which is a gateway for Indie writers to offer books in independent bookstores across the country. Marketing is probably the single biggest challenge for me so I was excited to learn about DartFrog. Perhaps you would like to check it out: www.DartFrogBooks.com.
Another tip from a writing friend and colleague in Kansas Authors Club put me in touch with the Wichita Barnes & Noble bookstore. This local branch is hosting a “Local Author Day” in July. I submitted my suspense novel for consideration to be included and received word that I was accepted. I just filled out the event agreement to be one of the writers featured in Barnes & Noble.
In addition to these exciting events, writing groups host conferences. Over the last few years I have attended several conferences in Kansas and Oklahoma and gleaned many tips from the featured instructors. Beyond regional groups, many genres have national organizations and host conventions for the edification of writers who attend. Most conferences offer writing contests also, which can be a great way to get feedback on your work. I even received personal help adding seals of excellence to my online book covers for award-winning books. A big “Thank You” goes to the staff of Meadowlark Books.
The benefits of belonging number so many, why wouldn’t everyone want to belong? The old adage, “You get out of it what you put into it,” surely applies to writing groups. But when the balance tips to the point you find yourself putting in more than you could possibly gain, burnout is expected. Then it may be time to flee the stimuli and hermit yourself away in a writing retreat. Until that time, I will reap the benefits of belonging as long as possible.
The Holiday Inn at Kellogg and Rock Road in Wichita is The Place To Be the first weekend in October 2019.Writers of District 5 of the Kansas Authors Club have put together a fantastic event you won’t want to miss. With over thirty classes—many offered twice for your convenience—there will be something for everyone. Several special activities unique to this conference will ice the cake for your convention experience.
Keynote speaker Paul Bishop from California will be in attendance throughout the entire weekend to share his decades of experience writing crime novels as well as his experience assisting other writers meet their goals. A special opportunity for a few lucky registrants will be a one-on-one conference with Paul to get feedback on the first pages of their current work-in-progress.
Join Clare Vanderpool, Wichita’s own Newbery Award-winning author, for a special catered lunch on Saturday as she reminisces about the special books throughout her life. Tickets for this lunch are available with registration.
The annual literary contest, open to any writer in Kansas, or any member regardless of residence, is accepting submissions until June 15. A category never before included in the annual contest deals with author blogs and/or websites. Don’t delay! Submit your poems and stories at http://kansasauthorsclub.submittable.com . For complete contest information see: http://kansasauthors.org
A special opportunity for poet members of KAC will be the juried poetry/music event on Saturday morning, Rhythm-A-Ning: A Poetry & Music Event. Poets will read their poems through once while two accompanying musicians and the audience listen; then the same poem will be read through again with the two musicians improvising to the poem. This will result in a spontaneous ekphrastic experience for all; poets, musicians, and audience. Join us in this unique auditory experience! The accompanying musicians are Bill Glenn on percussion and Seth Carrithers on acoustic bass, two well-known Wichita improvisatory musicians.
Poetry selection for this event is via a blinded juried submission process. It is open only to KAC members (statewide or out of state) who will be attending the convention. Your submission is your guarantee you will be in attendance. Though the selection is by juried submission, this is not a contest. No prizes are awarded (except you get to participate!) and a rejection does not reflect on the quality of the submitted work, but rather what works best for the program.Deadline for submission to this exciting opportunity is June 15. Don’t wait too long!
Of course there will be the awards presentations. Youth awards are scheduled on Saturday afternoon, and adult awards are split between the Saturday banquet and the Sunday luncheon.
Another first for KAC is a trolley tour sponsored by the city of Wichita. Sign up to take a trolley on a guided tour of several scene locations featured in the historical novels of member Michael Graves. Travel in style with Graves to downtown Wichita for insights and commentary on location by the author of To Leave a Shadow and Shadow of Death.
During each cluster of classes a panel of presenters will share different topics with ample time for taking questions. Want to learn more about blogging? Don’t miss the blogger panel Saturday morning. What about the rehabilitative power of poetry? Come learn about the poetry program at the Douglas County jail Saturday afternoon. Have you submitted your books to a previous contest only to watch another writer receive the award? Sunday morning learn tips from past winners about what they think helped their writing.
There will be workshops for everyone. Are you interested in research techniques for historical novels or biographical tales? Don’t miss Michael Graves, HB Berlow, or David Nichols.
Are you working on a memoir? Mike Hartnett will share his journey writing a memoir in his workshop.
What about historical romance? Check out Tracy Edingfield.
Suspense novels or thrillers? Paul Bishop, Curt Bohling, HB Berlow, Mike Graves and Tracy Edingfield.
Interested in juvenile or YA writing? Don’t miss Clare Vanderpool, Claire Caterer or Tracy Dunn.
Are you a poet at heart? April Pameticky, Kevin Rabas, Ronda Miller and Diane Wahto.
Journalism? Dan Close
All workshops are open to writers of all ages and all genres, with presenters sharing ideas that could be applied to any writing effort. Each workshop possesses appeal for every one of us.
Registration for this fantastic writing convention is now open.
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We hope to see you in October in Wichita!
I received an invitation to write a letter of encouragement to a grade school student who dreams of writing. Perhaps these thoughts are relevant to writers of any age.
Your teacher told me you dream of being an author. That is awesome! You have taken the important first step toward achieving your dream. The support of my fifth grade teacher launched my dream long ago and I appreciate her more than words can say. Perhaps you also will correspond with your teacher for the rest of your life.
Do you love to read? When I was your age I did. I still read a lot. I love the way I can escape to different times and places through stories others share.
If you haven’t already started, I encourage you to keep journals of your activities, your experiences, and—most important—your thoughts and feelings about everything. The more you write, the better your writing will become. It’s one of those things where “practice makes perfect.” Our alphabet and the written language derived from it are perhaps the most important invention of humanity. Used with skill, words possess the power to change the world.
Today it is easier than it has ever been to see your work published. No longer do you have to convince agents to represent you and offer your manuscripts to publishers. At the same time, because of the ease of publication through online sources, anything you publish will have A LOT of competition. To attract readers, learn to make your work stand out. Take your writing seriously. Study the intricacies of our language and its rules of grammar. Learn the basics of storytelling.
How do you do this? English classes will get you off to a good start. Beyond school, how-to books on writing are easy to find. I took special creative writing classes as early as high school. And when you finish high school, there are university tracks which offer intensive training in creative writing.
You could join a writing club. These groups bring writers together and they welcome members of all ages.
Enter writing contests. Many contests welcome submissions by students. A couple of contests available in Kansas are Kansas Voices and the annual literary contest sponsored by Kansas Authors Club. Submit your stories and poems as often as you can. After the winning writers are selected, contest judges often offer suggestions about how writers can improve their craft. Don’t resist revising and re-writing your first drafts.
If you are bold, you could attend workshops and conventions to learn more about writing. It is invigorating to surround yourself with others who share your passion.
Seek a variety of activities to understand how other people view life. Pursue adventure. Crave new experiences. Engage in life. Watch people and listen to their speech patterns. Collect friends and get to know them inside and out.
Allow yourself to feel deeply the entire circle of emotions. Learn what it’s like to love intensely, to laugh with abandon, to rage helplessly, to fear powerful adversaries, to feel your heart break with sorrow, and even to despair with little hope. Write it all down, sparing nothing.
Careful observations as you experience life could lead to unique twists in your stories that make them stand out. Use your experiences to feed your imagination. Create new worlds and write them to life.
You have set out on an exciting journey.
Be proud that you have taken the first step toward your dream, but don’t be surprised if life dictates a few detours. Embrace them also. Farm them for scenes, characters, places, and conflicts. And never stop writing. It’s a long road and a lot of hard work to see your dream come true. You may get discouraged, but don’t give up. Every step of the way is worth it. Someday you may touch a needy heart. Someday—maybe soon—you will make a difference and help change the world with your words. There is nothing more important.
Good luck to you and Write On!
The published book awards offered each year by Kansas Authors Club attract the best writers from around the state. It’s a big deal when a writer sees their work in print, and an even bigger deal to receive recognition for quality work. The KAC Children’s Book award, “It Looks Like a Million” design award, Martin History book award for books dealing with Kansas History, the Nelson Poetry book award, and the Coffin Memorial book award for books of all other genres are vital to the Kansas Authors Club literary contests each year. (Contest guidelines: http://www.kansasauthorsclub.weebly.com/adult-literary-contest-guidelines.html )
How do winners of these contests approach the task of crafting quality publications? If you are considering entering your recently published book in one of these contests, KAC District 5 has a class for you. For the first time at Kansas Authors Club’s annual convention this year a panel comprised of recent Coffin Memorial Book Award winners will offer ideas for polishing and perfecting manuscripts. Each panelist will share a couple of ideas which helped in writing their winning prose, followed by time for questions from those in attendance.
Panelists include Jean Grant, Gloria Zachgo, and Ann Fell. In addition, this seminar will be scheduled to allow participation by the 2019 winner. As an added bonus, keynote speaker Paul Bishop will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.
Jean Grant, received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2018, for Flight, a novel set in the chaos of Beirut’s civil war. Finlay Fortin, a professor at the American University, is desperate to take his family to safety. When his wife, a war photographer, insists on staying to document the fighting, Finlay forces his rebellious daughter Anouk to flee with him out of the war-scarred city. As they settle in a remote village in the French countryside, Finlay finds unexpected romance. Fast-paced and suspenseful, Flight reveals how the conflicts between ambition, love, and loyalty affect this family in ways no one could have anticipated.
Gloria Zachgo received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2017, for Hush Girl It’s Only A Dream. Nicki Reed is desperate to find the answers to her past, but someone else is desperate for her to never remember. Shortly after her father died, Nicki’s nightmares started. They were soon followed by panic attacks. Suspecting her haunting dreams were related to her childhood, she sought professional help, but was unable to verbalize any memories she had as a child. When her therapist suggested she write her memories, Nicki started remembering things she had pushed far into the recesses of her mind. She started to doubt her own sanity, and when she began to see a strange woman stalking her, she couldn’t be sure if that woman was real or imagined. Yet, she couldn’t tell anyone, until her own family was threatened.
Ann Fell, received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2016 for Sundrop Sonata. With her passion for helping people, piano tuner Isabel Woods loves her job—but passion can be a dangerous thing. Reluctantly agreeing to harbor a client’s autistic daughter, Izzy’s good intentions unexpectedly expose her own family to a murderous fiend with a chilling agenda. Human trafficking and bio-terrorism are no longer just buzz words from the nightly news. For Izzy, they have become terrifying and real. As the deadly Sundrop Sonata begins to play, Izzy has one chance to save the people and the country she loves armed with nothing more than courage, intelligence, and her esoteric knowledge of pianos.
This October 4-6, come to Wichita and learn tips these award-winning Kansas writers decided were most helpful for the success of their stories.
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Every year, all writers in Kansas, as well as any KAC member regardless of residence, are invited to submit work to the literary contest. There are divisions for young writers as well as adults. This year’s contest opens April 1. All entries must be received by June 15.
The youth contest is open to all Kansas students and to student members of KAC. Writers will compete with others at their age level in five divisions, Grades 1-2; Grades 3-4; Grades 5-6; Grades 7-8; and Grades 9-12. The categories include, Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Spoken Word Poetry. The winning entries (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention) of each category and age division will be published in a book. Each writer with work included will receive a copy. Additionally, awards will be presented during a special ceremony at the October convention in Wichita.
The adult contest offers a Poetry division and a Prose division. 2019 Poetry categories include Theme (“Hook ‘em and Book ‘em!), Classical forms, Free verse, Narrative poetry, Whimsy, Japanese forms, Performance (spoken word), and a special category for New Poets.
The 2019 Prose categories include Theme (“Hook ‘em and Book ‘em!), Humor, Memoir or Inspirational, Flash Fiction, Stories Written for Teenagers, Short Story, Playwriting, and First Chapter of a Book–unpublished.
For the first time, there is a special category available for Author’s Blogs or Web Sites. To enter this contest, authors must submit the URL of a website they maintain, a “mission statement” describing the purpose of that website, direct links to at least 3 entries or pages that the author would like to highlight, and a short paragraph detailing how and where the site is publicized and promoted.
Each year Kansas Authors Club also sponsors contests for members who have published books during the previous months. Winners of each book contest are awarded cash prizes of $100.
The Kansas Authors Club Children’s Book Award was created in 2018 to honor the best book written with an audience of children in mind.
“It Looks Like a Million” is an award which focuses on the aesthetics of a book published by a Kansas Authors Club member. The book will be judged on cover design, interior formatting and design, and over-all look and feel of the book.
The Martin Kansas History Book Award was created in 2018 as a tribute to Gail Lee Martin, who was KAC State Archivist from 1995-2005. This book award is open exclusively for books about Kansas history by KAC members.
Created by Raymond and Margaret Nelson in 2002, the Nelson Poetry Book Award recognizes the year’s best poetry book by a Kansas Authors Club poet.
The J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award was established by Mrs. Bertha Coffin to honor the memory of her husband after his death in 1978. It is intended to honor the best published book for the year written by a member of Kansas Authors Club.
For more information on the 2019 KAC literary contests, including guidelines for submissions, see https://kansasauthorsclub.weebly.com/writing-contests—all-ages.html
What are you waiting for? Write, write, write!
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Michael Graves recently retired from Emporia State University where he taught Intensive English to international students and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses to teachers in Kansas. He has written two detective novels set in 1937 Wichita: To Leave a Shadow (a Kansas Notable Book for 2016) and Shadow of Death, published in December of 2017. Both books feature the character of detective Pete Stone, created as a memorial to the author’s grandfather. When life conjures its riddles, Mike turns to back roads and baseball for answers.
His grandfather’s last words, uttered over fifty years ago, inspired the author to create a life in honor of a man he barely knew. In his presentation, “A Life in the Shadows,” Graves will read excerpts from his historical novels, To Leave a Shadow and Shadow of Death. He will discuss the story, the character, and the place, as well as the research, backstory, and truth vs. fiction. A Q&A session will follow his presentation.
To Leave a Shadow, introduces detective Pete Stone. He hadn’t always been a private eye. He’d lost his dairy business at the toss of a coin when the depression hit. His children grew up, as children do, and his wife left him for a chinchilla farmer. He had learned to like his solitude. When Mrs. Lucille Hamilton walked through his door searching for her missing husband, Pete was the only one who believed her husband’s death hadn’t been a suicide.
In the next novel, a cop killer strikes Wichita and Pete Stone, Private Investigator, is on the case. He has to be. He wakes up in jail, battered and bruised and accused of a murder he’s almost certain he didn’t commit. He must prove his innocence before he’s abandoned by his clients, his friends, and one special lady. When Stone is not getting knocked around by cops, he’s getting roughed up by love.
A unique opportunity awaits the 2019 conference attendees. Coordinating with the City of Wichita, KAC District 5 is arranging a trolley tour of several settings found in the historical Wichita crime novels. You won’t want to miss the tour, personally guided by the author himself.
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The Allure of Emotion
KAC’s District 5 is pleased to include attorney and acclaimed Wichita author Tracy Edingfield as a presenter in Wichita.
Ms. Edingfield graduated from the University of Kansas, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Distinction. Later she graduated from the School of Law at KU with a Juris-doctorate Degree. Throughout her lengthy legal career, she has been a public defender, prosecutor, litigator, and mediator. Her practice primarily focused on divorce work before she retired early to write Historical Romances and Middle Grade Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Ms. Edingfield is an Amazon Best Selling Author.
One of her passions is helping other writers achieve their goals. She has organized Writers of the Wheat Literary Festivals in Wichita to showcase local authors and their books.
At the Wichita Kansas Authors Club Convention in October, Ms. Edingfield will share tips on luring readers into your stories through emotional appeal. She explains, “Great writing pulls your reader into the story. Creating that vortex means mastering the emotional draw of a scene. In this class, you will learn to use an Emotion Color Wheel and how to best choose words to lure the reader into your story.”
Under the name Tracy Dunn, she wrote two Middle Grade Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Alex & the Immortals relates the tale of Alex, his brother Dillon and their friends.
Teleported to Asteroid Eros, Alex and his friends learn the ancient arts of bottling lightning and mental telepathy from Pegasus, Cyclops, sea monsters and gorgons. The Dark Master has sent an evil shape-shifter to devour our planet, but the kids from Kansas are on the front lines of the battle. Will the bonds of brotherhood and friendship be enough to save the world?
The challenges continue for Alex in the sequel, Alex & the Lost Souls. During the Battle of Eros, Alex and his friends become separated; some are captured and turned into slaves while others are forced underground. Cyclops, Pegasus, and the gorgons continue teaching the Kansas kids about telekinesis and levitation, but Alex has lots of worries plaguing him. Not only is there a traitor in their midst, but the Dark Master has taken human form…and needs Dillon’s soul. If Alex fails, he will lose friends, his brother, and even his own soul.
Tracy Edingfield’s first adult novel, The Law Firm of Psycho & Satan, takes an unflinching look at the practice of law.
New associate, Cooper Bach, must deal with devastating loss while juggling the demands of her clients and the relentless pursuit of billable hours. Will she emerge from this crucible as another hired gun? A grumpy judge, an addict, and a sexy bartender have something to say about that.
The historical romance Prudence tells the story of old friends who discover love and sacrifice.
Preoccupied with politics in London, Viscount Eldon Foley returns home to discover his old chum wearing spinster caps. Eldon brings her to town so she can enjoy a holiday. Prudence has loved Eldon for years. But in London, Viscount Foley is viewed as one of England’s political power players. His lordship is out of her league. Embarrassed by her naïveté, Prudence realizes Eldon needs a wife who will offer him more than she can. In London’s sophisticated circles, love and friendship simply aren’t enough.
In A Governess’ Lot, Charles Dryden anticipates his new life as he returns from war. He has a relationship to mend with Arianna, a daughter he’s not quite sure is his, and her governess is determined he’ll be a good father. Charles doesn’t appreciate Miss Winsome Montgomery’s bossy ways. Her first meeting with Mr. Dryden, she’s convinced he’s a flirtatious drunkard with a gambling problem. She has no intention of marrying the rascal, but she’s developing tender feelings for the rogue.
The October seminar will introduce the Emotion Color Wheel. Don’t miss her presentation on “Wringing that Last Drop of Blood” from your words. If you’d like to contact Tracy, you may do so through any of the following methods: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @TEdingfield, or Facebook: Tracy Edingfield, Writer.
Hook ‘Em with passionate emotions.
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Claire Caterer was born in Detroit and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City. After several years working in publishing in New York, she returned to the KC metro, where she lives and works today. Her publications include short fiction for Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines and Woman’s World; more than two dozen nonfiction articles in local magazines; and two novels for kids age 9 and up: The Key & the Flame and its sequel, The Wand & the Sea, both published by Margaret K. McElderry / Simon & Schuster. To learn more, visit Claire’s website at www.ClaireCaterer.com.
The Key & the Flame is a story about eleven-year-old Holly Shepard. She longs for adventure, some escape from her humdrum life. That is precisely what she gets when she is given an old iron key that unlocks a door—in a tree. Holly crosses the threshold into a stunning and magical medieval world, Anglielle. And as she does so, something unlocks within Holly: a primal, powerful magic. Holly is joined on her journey by two tagalongs—her younger brother Ben, and Everett, an English boy who hungers after Holly’s newfound magic and carries a few secrets of his own. When Ben and Everett are sentenced to death by the royals, whose fear of magic has fueled a violent, systemic slaughter of all enchanted creatures, Holly must save them and find a way back home. But will she be able to muster the courage and rise above her ordinary past to become an extraordinary hero?
In The Wand & the Sea, The fantastical adventures continue—this time with pirates. The magical sequel to The Key & the Flame, called “sprightly” and “exciting” by Publishers Weekly is sure to engage young readers. It’s been a year since Holly and Ben Shepard first traveled to England and journeyed with their friend Everett to a fantastical realm called Anglielle. Now Holly and Ben are back, hoping to again join Everett and return to the land ruled by a ruthless king and sorcerer who have outlawed magic. But when they arrive, Anglielle is not what they expect: Their friends are imprisoned and the alliance is scattered. Ruthless King Reynard and the sorcerer Raethius are determined to find the very Adepts they exiled in the first place. But why? It’s up to Holly and the boys to sail to the Isle of Exile and find the Adepts first, but that means enlisting the help of the Water Elementals—and a pirate captain with a secret agenda.
At the Kansas Authors Club Convention in October, Claire will guide writers through the middle of a manuscript in her class, “LOST IN THE MIDDLE: How to Shore Up the Middle of Your Manuscript.”
“You start your story with a whiz-bang premise and you’re off!” Claire says about the class. “At the end, things will come together in a breathtaking climax. But what happens in between? Don’t run out of steam and lose your inspiration! This presentation uses lots of real-world examples and provides hands-on tips on how to avoid that sagging second act and keep your story moving forward.”
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District 5 of the Kansas Authors Club is pleased to have HB Berlow as a presenter at the 2019 Wichita conference. Making his way from Boston to Wichita a few years ago, he found his niche writing historical fiction about Arkansas City, Kansas. At the October conference he will discuss History in the Making: The Challenge of Writing Historical Fiction.
Berlow studied film-making and creative writing at the University of Miami in the 80’s, was involved in the Boston Poetry Scene in the 90’s, and was president of the Kansas Writer’s Association from 2012 to 2013. The historical crime fiction series, Ark City Confidential and Secrets of the Righteous, published through The Wild Rose Press, is currently available on Amazon.
About Ark City Confidential: Baron Witherspoon, a disfigured WWI vet, now a beat cop in a small Kansas burg, is on a collision course with Jake Hickey, a volatile Chicago gangster. While Baron wants merely to provide residents with a safe place to live and escape the memory of the horrors of war, Jake is looking to recapture the glory of Prohibition. Forced to hide out in Arkansas City, Baron’s town, Jake’s impatient nature drives him to put together his own gang. The local crime outfit is wary of Jake’s dealings and lack of cooperation. Baron has his own suspicions but can’t prove anything. A mutual acquaintance from the past, a dead war hero, holds a secret that raises the stakes even higher. Baron has too much to lose, but the town’s future is in the balance. www.amazon.com/Ark-City-Confidential-H-B-Berlow/dp/1509211837
In book two, Baron Witherspoon finds himself immersed in two different murder investigations that span the course of three years. Each case is heinous and filled with twists and turns. To catch the killers, he must go deep into their demented minds. What he doesn’t count on are the secrets—the ones that will be revealed and the ones he must keep. Will the knowledge he gains give him the answers he seeks or will it instead destroy him in the end? www.amazon.com/Secrets-Righteous-H-B-Berlow/dp/1509220909
Berlow’s seminar will examine how writing historical fiction is filled with subtle nuances. Enough detail needs to be inserted to provide readers a sense of time and place while at the same time not making the work sound like a term paper. Research is vital in order to present factual information. The challenges in writing a historical crime fiction series will be presented as well as guidance to proper research.
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