Monday, October 1, 2012

Willow Grove Writers Coffeehouse, 30 Sept 2012

Since we lacked an official secretary at the Willow Grove Writers Coffeehouse today, presiding Liars Club member Marie Lamba asked if I would write down my notes from the meeting.  I do take notes, but I don't make notes on there may be some gaps in the coverage.  Feel free to add anything I missed as a comment.

1)  We began with a list of upcoming events.  They are, in chronological order:

Today is the start of Banned Books Week - read a banned book!

Friday 5 October, 7 to 9 pm: Author JONATHAN MABERRY will speak on "The Ticking Clock: Constructing a Nail-biter of a Thriller."  The event is hosted by Arcadia University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and will be held in the Rose Room of Grey Towers Castle.  The Castle is located at 450 S. Easton Road, Glenside, PA.  This event is free and open to the public, and is offered in affiliation with the Philadelphia Writers' Conference free forums.  For more information, email Contact Professor Joshua Isard at or

Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October: Philadelphia PUSH TO PUBLISH at Rosemont College.  There are two workshops on Friday: "A Day with an Agent" with SHERREE BYKOFSKY, and "Wonder in First-Person" with KEVIN McILVOY.  Saturday is an all-day writing event: $75 gets you agents, panels and lunch!  For more information, go to the Philadelphia Stories website or contact Christine at

Tuesday 16 October, 7 to approx. 8:30 pm: This month, the Brandywine Valley Writers Group presents award-winning science-fiction author MICHAEL SWANWICK, speaking on "The Craft of Fiction."  The author has won both the Hugo and Nebula awards.  The Brandywine Valley Writers Group meets UPSTAIRS (sorry, not handicap-accessible) at Ryan's Pub, 124 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA.  Bring quarters for the parking meter!  This event is free and open to the public.  (And thanks to last month's terrific presenter, Liar's Club member KEITH STRUNK! )

Wednesday 17 October, 7 pm until done: The monthly meetings of the Main Line Writers Group alternate between presentations by guest authors and critique sessions.  This is a critique session.  To have your work critiqued, bring seven typed and double-spaced copies of your work (maximum of five pages).  We will break into small groups and review everyone's work.  Also: a brief discussion of the tools you use as a writer.  This event is open to the public, but only paid-up members (annual dues $25/year) may bring their work for critique.  We meet at Michael's Deli and Restaurant at 130 Town Center Road in the Valley Forge Center, Route 202, King of Prussia, PA.  NOTE: the management requires everyone to spend at least $10 in food or drink.

Saturday 20 October, 7 pm until done: Musehouse presents MARIE KANE, the 2006 Bucks County poet laureate.  Musehouse is located at 7924 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118.  You can phone them at (267) 331-9552.

Saturday 27 October: Two free events at Rosemont College.  Horror novelist BRIAN FRANCIS will speak on "Horror and Dark Fiction" at 9 am.  Director of Rosemont's Criminal Justice Program JIM KERN will discuss "The Ins and Outs of Crime Scene Details."  There will be plenty of time for Q&A.  This event will run from 1 pm to 2:30 pm.  Rosemont is located at 1400 Montgomery Avenue in Rosemont, PA  19010.  Please RSVP to Carla Spataro at

2)  In addition to being a writer and member of the Liars Club, Marie Lamba is an Associate Litarary Agent with the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.  The Agency also has a presence in Hollywood for selling books to movie studios and an agent who specializes in selling rights to foreign countries.

Some typical mistakes that Marie sees over and over include:
  • Queries that get her name wrong
  • Cut-and-paste queries with obvious mistakes
  • Queries for genres that she doesn't handle
If you wish to submit something to Marie, make sure you comply with her submission guidelines.

Marie emphasizes that you should research agents before you query them.  Subscribe to their blogs.  If they are a writer as well as an agent, check their author's page on Amazon and Facebook.

3)  On ebooks:  Marie reminded us that agents are rarely interested in representing an ebook that has already been released.  She says that authors sometimes query her after they have exhausted all efforts to sell their ebook.  That's a waste of everyone's time.

Marie used for her ebook Drawn; it has a good royalty rate.
Popple used, which apparently isn't as generous but is very easy to use.

Every ebook program has a community.  When you have questions, search on the community forum.  Someone has probably asked that question before.  Links:  Lulu forumCreateSpace forum.

Kathryn Craft can recommend some people who can handle turning your manuscript into an ebook for you.

4)  Giveaways and Promotional Items: We discussed if it's worthwhile buying things to give away to potential buyers/readers when you are in a bookstore.  Authors frequently have promotional bookmarks printed up...and these don't excite anybody.

Marie Lamba remembers buying chocolate candy to entice readers over to her book table.  They wouldn't come over even to get candy!

On the other hand, Carol (last name?) recalled success with some sort of giveaway egg with a baby dinosaur inside.

Marie related that the most audacious promo she's heard of came from author and self-proclaimed "Angry-Ass Black Woman" Karen Quinones Miller, who would visit bookstores, find her competitors' books, and insert well-produced promo for HER book inside! 

Tony Conaway noted that the most cost-effective giveaway he ever saw came from mystery novelist Leighton Gage, who writes novels set in Brazil.  At readings, he passes out short lengths of ribbon, mentioning a Brazilian superstition that your wish will be granted if you tie (with three knots) a length of ribbon around your wrist - but you must leave it on until it falls (or rots) off.  There's not much cheaper than 8" of ribbon!

5)  Member News:

Ruth Littner has a story in a soon-to-be-released anthology in the "Not Your Mother's Book" series.

Kathryn Craft has a post titled "Memoir of a Book Deal" at, in which she details the process of creating a memoir.  The techniques are also of use to every writer.  She is also starting a new column at the Blood-Red Pencil.  She expects to post a new column, titled "Countdown to a Book," on the first Friday of each month.  She also asks you to "like" her Facebook author page.

Tony Conaway had two readings this past month at the soon-to-close Chester County Book and Music Company.  He also had two stories printed in the Chester County Fiction anthology.  This proved so successful that some of the profits were used to give an iPad and a large selection of books to the IHM Family Literacy Center in Coatesville, PA.  There's a photo of Tony, the other authors in the anthology, and two IHM nuns.  Take a look and play "Is that a writer or a nun?"

Finally, Marie reminds us that we should all be supporting each other online.  To start with, please "like" Marie's Facebook page, and follow Tony Conaway's blog (the one you're reading now)!

Thanks, and hope to see you all at October's Writers Coffeehouse meeting!

Tony Conaway

No comments:

Post a Comment