Tag Archives: book discussion

Socializing for an Anti-Social Profession

Let’s face it, writers spend a lot of their time alone, lost in the worlds inside their heads. Some of them have even been known to bite when provoked. Getting those words on the page is the only way to get the voices to stop.

But stories are about people, and it’s kind of hard to understand how people work without spending any time with them. So every writer needs to get away from the manuscript once in a while and get out there where the stories are. If they’re lucky they can also find other people who share their interests and might be able to help refine their work into something they can print.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

– Stephen King

Today I’m going to tell you about two of the things in my life that help me get my writing done. Writer’s groups and conventions.

I have been with a writing group for a few years now. We meet on a weekly basis and discuss our work. In the past, we would read our pieces out loud and get critiques from the others. That worked, but there were times when nobody had anything to read, or when only one person had anything prepared, so there was sometimes a bit of guilt or tension in the group.

We are shaking things up a bit now. We’re still going to meet weekly, but we’re only going to offer critiques once a month. The other weeks we will use as a scheduled writing time, with the opportunity to discuss any story problems we are stuck on with the rest of the group. We will also take some time each month to discuss a book that we have read.

I’m not sure about the book discussion, as I already have a discussion group that I go to at my local library once a month. I have enough trouble getting through the books on my own to-read shelf without adding yet another one from someone else’s list. But I’ll give it a try anyway, because at least the books that my writing group discuss will be more closely aligned with the ones I normally read for pleasure. The library book group mostly discusses popular fiction and non-fiction, which I would probably never read on my own.

As for conventions, it is nice to be able to get out and meet new people every once in a while. Conventions give me a chance to get out there and participate in discussions about interesting topics led by interesting people. I also get the chance to meet famous people, like Larry Niven, who has been a favorite author of mine for decades.

This year my convention plans include Odyssey Con, April 12-14, and WisCon, May 24-27, both held in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin. I almost decided to skip Odyssey Con this year, but when they announced that the Guests of Honor included Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne, I just had to go. Alex is also local to the Madison area, and I have met him several times and consider him to be a friend. He is a great guy and his writing is superb. Kevin is the author of the Iron Druid series, which I started reading a couple of years ago and have loved every bit of it, so I am looking forward to meeting this outstanding author.

While at the conventions, I will have a chance to sit in on discussion panels with these two greats, as well as many other writers and fans, and pick their brains about writing, news of the world, and our future on this planet (and possibly others). And there will be lots of other, like-minded people around as well, each with their own opinions and views to share.

I highly recommend that, whatever your situation, you should try to connect with other writers. Either with a writer’s group or a convention. Preferably both. And if you can afford to travel, come and join me in Madison at one of my conventions and introduce yourself. We’ll chat.

I’ve got to go lock myself in a room now and get some writing done. I’m going to write another Alchemist story this week, and I am hoping that I will be able to finish it ahead of schedule again. As usual, I will post another update on Wednesday.


1 Comment

Filed under Conventions, Networking, The Writing Experience

ROW80 Update May 22


  1. Spend at least half an hour every day on writing or editing, an hour on weekends
  2. Finish planning the rewrites of my three works in progress
  3. Post to my blog on the ROW80 update days (Sunday and Wednesday)
  4. Read at least one of my books on writing every week

After last week’s critique group I rewrote a lot of the 12o0 words for Demons at Dusk and have added another 1000 to go with them. I’m not sure whether or not I will be sharing this week. If I do, I think I will go last.

The monthly meeting of our local Romance Writers Association was fun. Diane had a fun presentation and I learned quite a bit about building sexual tension that will definitely be useful in all my writing, but in particular for Finding Valhalla. The book discussion group was good, too. The next book on our list is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.

I finished the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein, Ph.D. It looks like it should be a useful reference for character development. I’ve started reading We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb. I finished my library books, but now I have started Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. It’s an advance reader copy, with the book due for release June 7. It looks really cook, with the author combining vintage photography with the storyline. I’ll be sure to post a review as soon as I finish.

That’s it for today. Time for me to get back to my writing. See you on Wednesday!


Filed under Networking, ROW80, The Writing Experience

ROW80 Update May 18


  1. Spend at least half an hour every day on writing or editing, an hour on weekends
  2. Finish planning the rewrites of my three works in progress
  3. Post to my blog on the ROW80 update days (Sunday and Wednesday)
  4. Read at least one of my books on writing every week

I am still working out my plots, but I decided to start writing the beginning of my trilogy yesterday. The incentive was my critique group. I blew out 1200 words for Demons at Dusk yesterday primarily because I didn’t like not having anything to share. And it was a good thing I did, too, because I ended up being the only one with anything to read! To top it off, nobody liked it. Actually, they thought it was interesting, but they all thought that I needed more description for the demons and were concerned about my depiction of a couple of army officers in one section. Essentially, they thought that the stick up their ass wasn’t big enough. So I guess I still have a lot of work to do.

I’ve got a busy Saturday planned this weekend. I’ll be spending the morning at the monthly meeting of our local Romance Writers Association. The theme this month is writing sex scenes (no kids allowed). After lunch I’ll be attending a book discussion group at my library. We’re reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. It’s a book about a radio journalist in WWII Europe and the effect her broadcasts have on a small New England town. I am really enjoying it, and highly recommend it to everyone.

I’m still reading the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein, Ph.D. I have to admit I haven’t gotten very far into it, but I am looking forward to spending some more time with it in the near future. Right now, though, my reading time is pretty full finishing some library books that are due in the next week.

I’ll be back on Sunday for another update. See you then!


Filed under Networking, ROW80, The Writing Experience