Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Singing in the New Year

Most of us are familiar with “Auld Lang Syne” as a song for bringing in the new year. The words are attributed to the Scottish poet Robert Burns, but he claimed they were based on an old song. To this day it is unclear if it was all collected material or if some verses were original with him. (See The Burns Encyclopedia at

“Auld Lang Syne” was first published in the Scots Musical Museum near the end of the 18th Century. You can tell from the words that it wasn’t written to ring in a new year, although that has become its traditional use. Instead, it remembers old friendships. “Auld lang syne” was a common phrase of that day that literally meant “old long since” or, as we are more likely to translate it, “long ago.”

Here are the original words to the song as translated from the Scots version to modern-day English. To retain the character of the poem, the term “auld lang syne” has not been translated. You will notice that the last line of the chorus is missing the commonly sung words “days of,” which were added later to better fit the words to the tune.

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dinner time;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand of thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Happy New Year from IWC.


The picture at the head of this post is a Currier and Ives print titled “Central Park Winter. The Skating Pond.” The hand-colored lithograph is from 1862 and is based on a painting by Charles Parsons. The picture and the words (and music) to “Auld Lang Syne” are in the public domain because of their age.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Snow by Any Other Name

Have you ever tried to write a poem about a specific subject without ever once using its name? That’s what Emily Dickinson did in “It sifts from Leaden Sieves.” The “it” in the title and throughout the poem is snow, but that word never appears. Instead, the poem describes snow through its actions and its effects. Here are the words.

It sifts from Leaden Sieves

It sifts from Leaden Sieves –
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles in the Road –

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain –
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again –

It reaches to the Fence –
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces –
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack – and Stem –
A Summer’s empty Room –
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them –

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen –
Then stills its Artisans – like Ghosts –
Denying they have been –

Here’s a challenge. Try writing your own poem describing a tangible object without naming the subject.


The picture at the head of this post is a Currier and Ives print titled “Winter in the Country. The Old Grist Mill.” The two-color lithograph was created in 1864 based on a painting by George H. Durrie. It is in the public domain because of its age.

“It sifts from Leaden Sieves” was published after Emily Dickinson’s death, first appearing in a volume called Poems (1891). The poem is in the public domain because of its age.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Snow Inspires Poetry and Awe

One of the best-known poems about winter is Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Frost was born in California but spent most of his life in New England, so he knew about snowy winters. According to Wikipedia (citing The Robert Frost Encyclopedia for reference), however, the poem actually came to him on a summer morning as he viewed the sunrise. Maybe he made the connection because sunrises and unbroken snow are both among nature’s most inspiring scenes.

But duty calls, and the narrator of this poem doesn’t have time to stop and enjoy the moment. Here are the words.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

May you find the time to stop and enjoy the beauty of winter and maybe even write a poem of your own.


The picture at the head of this post is a Currier and Ives lithograph titled “Snowed Up. Ruffed Grouse in Winter.” It was published around 1867 and is in the public domain because of its age.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jingle Those Bells

Winter temperatures have arrived, and the snow won’t be far behind. As we get busy preparing for the upcoming holidays, it’s hard to find time to create scholarly blog posts. So we are going to take a more light-hearted approach and look at “Jingle Bells” this week. After all, isn’t it time to recognize that song lyricists are writers, too?

Most of us think of “Jingle Bells” as a Christmas song, but it doesn’t mention Christmas or any other holiday, making it more appropriately classified as a winter song. The music and lyrics were both written by James Lord Pierpont. The song was first published in 1857 under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” and was reissued two years later under the current title. It was not a hit either time.

It’s unclear exactly when and where Pierpont wrote the song. He grew up in New England and must have been remembering winters there, but he may have written it after moving to Georgia. In fact, both Massachusetts and Georgia appear to claim the honor.

The song has four verses, and some are more familiar than others. Here is the entire text using the original words (according to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia).

Dashing through the snow,
In a one horse open sleigh,
O’re the fields we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob tail ring,
Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what joy it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh. (REPEAT)

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we, we got upsot.


A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.


Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.


Have fun with your own winter pursuits.


The picture at the head of this post is a Currier and Ives print titled “The Road – Winter.” The original was drawn on stone by Otto Knirsch no later than 1853 and supposedly shows Nathanial Currier and his wife in their favorite sleigh. Unfortunately, this picture has a two-horse open sleigh rather than a one-horse open sleigh. However, you can see the jingle bells around the white horse’s belly.

The picture and the lyrics to “Jingle Bells” are both in the public domain because of their age.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

An IWC Thank You

Last Thursday most of us felt thankful for family, friends, homes, food, jobs, and other blessings that we have experienced over the past year. But IWC has also been blessed, and we want to take this opportunity to remember and give thanks for those blessings. We won’t mention any names, but you know who you are. Here is a partial list:

  • IWC’s officers, directors, and other volunteers who keep IWC operating;
  • Donors who contributed to the general fund, the conference, and conference scholarships, including those who donated items for the silent auction;
  • Members of the 2017 Steel Pen Conference Committee for all their work planning and running the conference;
  • Conference speakers, panelists, and presenters for providing great content;
  • Conference attendees, without whom there would be no conference;
  • The many individuals who contributed to the blog;
  • And, of course, our faithful members.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Write Thanksgiving Right

Kathryn Page Camp

It’s worth reminding ourselves how important it is to get the details right when writing about historical events. So this Thanksgiving week, I am reprinting parts of my November 26, 2014 IWC blog post titled “The Rest of the Thanksgiving Story.” Since I am only using parts of it, I made a few modifications to make the post flow more smoothly.
* * * * *
I wanted to add a picture of the first Thanksgiving to this post. Unfortunately, the only ones I found that were clearly in the public domain were also historically inaccurate. The photo at the head of this post is a good example. The clothing and feathers are all wrong, and the position of the two groups, with the members of the Wampanoag nation sitting on the ground and the Pilgrims standing, implies that the Pilgrims were the dominant race. Since a white woman is handing out the food, the picture could also imply that the Pilgrims provided the feast and the Native Americans were simply recipients.
As writers, we should be careful not to make the same mistakes.
When I think of the first Thanksgiving, I think of friendly Native Americans bringing their knowledge and skills and provisions to feed the starving Pilgrims. Without that help, the Pilgrims would have perished.
I’ve read comments on the Internet complaining that people today think the Pilgrims and the Native Americans merely shared a meal together, or even that the Pilgrims were the benefactors rather than the beneficiaries. I can’t say whether those complaints are valid, but it hasn’t been my experience. I learned at school and at home that Squanto and his tribe taught the Pilgrims how to survive, and my children learned the same lesson.
That’s one of the reasons I like Thanksgiving. It’s the one time of year when we remember the Native American participants as the generous people they were. That’s a lot better than the frequent stereotype of half-dressed warriors burning homes and scalping “innocent” white settlers.
Those of us with European ancestry have many reasons to be grateful to the Native Americans.
So when you write about the first Thanksgiving, make sure you get it right.
The picture at the head of this post is by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris and was painted sometime around 1912-1915. It is in the public domain in the United States because of its age.
Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer who writes adult non-fiction as Kathryn Page Camp and middle-grade fiction as Kaye Page. Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal was a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection for April 2014, and her first middle-grade historical novel, Desert Jewels, was released in August 2017. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Save the Date

Save that date for the Fifth Steel Pen Creative Writer’s Conference. The conference will have a Halloween theme, but the sessions will cover all genre and the only horror will be your own when you discover how much you don’t know. Or, worse, when you realize you’ve missed the registration cutoff date.

Next year’s keynote speaker will be Michael Poore. He is the author of the novels Reincarnation Blues (Del Rey, 2017) and Up Jumps the Devil (Ecco, 2012). His short work has appeared in Agni, Southern Review, Fiction, and Glimmer Train, and in anthologies, including The Year’s Best Science Fiction and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.

Mike has his own brand of humor, and his books fit well with a Halloween theme. If you want to find out how, you’ll have to come to the conference, read his novels for yourself, or both.

The 2018 venue is the same as it was this year, and it was rated highly by all who attended. So join us at the Fair Oaks Farms Conference Center just off I-65 near Rensselaer, Indiana.

The call for proposals will be sent out at the beginning of the year, and registration will open in late spring or early summer. So keep your eye out for those announcements.

We hope to see you on October 27, 2018.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Still Excited about Steel Pen

Emily Baginski

On October 28, I attended the Steel Pen Conference. I was able to learn more than I expected!
The keynote speaker, Catherine Lanigan, was so amazing to listen to. Her story was motivational and inspiring to continue going down the path of becoming a published author. I even was able to have her sign my copy of one of her books!
The first breakout session I attended was about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to designing a cover for your book. Not only did I learn how to create a successful cover, I was given sites to visit that would be helpful and make the process a bit easier. In another workshop, I learned that poems and even songs have a deeper meaning. We evaluated a song and learned a deeper meaning with it. Now here I am, listening to songs, looking up representations and definitions to learn the “hidden” message/meaning.
With all of the learning side, I also was able to connect with many talented people! Familiar faces appeared at tables and being able to catch up with them was great, especially at a place where we share a common interest. Since the majority of people were older than me, I was able to ask, learn, and gain guidance on what I should and shouldn’t do in college. Next year’s conference was announced and knowing how much I learned this year, I am excited to see what next year brings.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

We Nailed It!

We aren’t supposed to brag about our own conference, so we will let the numbers do it for us. Of the 70 people who attended the Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference on Saturday, 24 filled out the general evaluation. Of those 24, all said their likelihood of attending again was either good or excellent, with the excellents leading 17 to 7. Here are some of the written comments:

·       Great price, great presentations. Loved it!

·       It was great! Lots of work and truly appreciated.

·       Thank you for the high level of organization.

As with anything, there are opportunities for improvement, and we appreciate those comments, as well. The biggest problem was that one of the rooms was too small, and we already have some ideas on how to resolve that issue next year.

The facility at Fair Oaks Farms also received rave reviews. That’s good, since the Fifth Annual Steel Pen Creative Writer’s Conference will be held on October 27, 2018 at the same place. We will provide more information about next year’s conference in the November 15 blog post.

But back to this year. The highlight was the keynote speech by Catherine Lanigan, who provided inspiration to keep writing even when we’ve been told we aren’t good enough. She also presented a session on writing romance and gave tips for navigating the business side of the writing profession no matter what your genre.

As already mentioned, one of the three rooms was too small. It was supposed to hold up to 24 people, which might have worked if the Committee members had been good judges of which topics would capture the smallest audiences. For those sessions that met in the Boardroom, the classes were cramped but also intimate, as you can see from this picture of the novel-in-stories workshop presented by Melissa Fraterrigo.

Finally, the networking was wonderful, as was the food. The last photo shows the appetizers available during the cocktail hour.

Tune in next week for a personal testimony about the conference.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Creating Suspense in a Static Environment

Louis Martinez

A story must be written before a reader can experience it. This means that by the time you get the tale in your hands, what happens is already set in stone. The story is published. What is said is final.
This has unfortunate implications for the creation of suspense. Stories told in novels, or other similar mediums, do not have the benefit of a dynamic environment; a place where things can happen which neither the reader, nor the writer, could have anticipated. Novels are static. Everything that happens in the story is decided beforehand. The plot is predetermined. What you read is what you get.
With that said, it can be reasonably assumed things will turn out alright in the end. It may not be exactly what the reader wanted. A favorite character may be dead, or an important battle lost. However, in the end, a reader is usually safe to expect some sort of satisfying conclusion because the events are set in stone. The reader is not influencing the outcome, so what do they have to worry about? Nothing. Not really.
So then how do we create suspense in such a static environment? How do we make the reader feel tense? How do we make them feel worried? Is it even possible? Perhaps, and perhaps not. The answer may ultimately depend on the reader, although there are some things we can do to give us writers an edge.
I’ve heard and read lots of strategies one may employ to create suspense in a world where the events have already been written, and I’ve seen three main themes reoccurring. To create suspense where none inherently exists, one can make the events of their written world urgent, unpredictable, and undesirable.
Be urgent. Make it known to the reader that the protagonist’s objective is time-sensitive. Thus, when compounding variables impede their progress, worry may build in the reader’s mind about whether the protagonist will be able to succeed in time, or if it will be too late. Even though it can be reasonably assumed that something will work out in the end, make sure the reader knows that events may not unfold perfectly if the protagonist doesn’t rise to the occasion on time.
Be unpredictable. This is probably something every writer should try to achieve. The reader may not find your story enjoyable or enticing if they can predict everything that’s going to happen a page ahead. This is even more crucial if you’re trying to create suspense in the reader’s mind. If things are happening to the protagonist which they never expected, their sense of worry for the fate of the characters and the world will be increased. You don’t want the reader to be ahead of your story. You want your story to be ahead of the reader.
Be undesirable. This accounts for the reality that a reader can reasonably assume things will work out in the end. Yes, they probably will. If they don’t, then that just implies in the reader’s mind there that will be a sequel. In such an event, if there is no sequel, then you leave your reader dissatisfied with the results of your story. Things must end. Every story needs a conclusion, and your story won’t work if the reader doesn’t walk away satisfied with the results.
So then how do we confront the reality that every story must end, and that end has to be satisfying in some way? How do we create suspense when the reader knows everything will be alright when all is said and done?
Simple. Give the protagonist what they asked for, but not what they wanted. Make the results satisfactory, yet undesirable at the same time. If you’re looking to create suspense, you probably shouldn’t end your story with “and they all lived happily ever after.” No, they didn’t. They lived, and they had to learn to accept what happened. They weren’t happy about it, but they’re happy it’s over and done with.
Another method I feel compelled to share is to give the reader a broader awareness. That is, share what the antagonist is doing when the protagonist is not around. This can emphasize what is at stake in the reader’s mind by revealing to them what consequences there may be if the protagonist fails.
When considering this strategy, I urge you to ask yourself, does this really help the story? Isn’t the protagonist going to prevail in the end anyways? I ask this because I always find it breaks immersion when we’ve been following a certain character almost exclusively, and then we briefly see another perspective, seemingly just for the sake of creating suspense. If such a switch in perspective is to be employed, I would advise it to be a consistent element of the story. Otherwise, it just feels contrived.
I used to think there was no such thing as suspense in a predetermined story. And honestly, I still wonder sometimes. Maybe there isn’t. Maybe the suspense we create for our reader is just a false sense of uncertainty; an illusion to keep them guessing. Whatever the case may be, creating suspense is a difficult job in a written world, and I hope my take on things helps to set you on the path toward crafting that gripping tale.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Wrong Question

“[A]sk not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” These words were spoken by President John F. Kennedy at his January 20, 1961 inauguration. They were applauded at the time and have become one of the best-known quotes in American history. But even though people still give those words lip service, how many of us really agree with them?

Today’s generations (yes, all of them) have become self-centered. Before we do anything, we ask, “What will I get out of it?” Or we think we can have or be anything we want without working for it. But the truth is, what we get out of anything depends on what we put into it.

That also applies to membership in organizations such as Indiana Writers’ Consortium. Some members complain because IWC has been cutting back on its programs, and other refuse to join because they don’t see the value of membership. But whose fault is that? No nonprofit organization can survive without a committed membership.

Although money is always an issue, time is a greater one. The “Eat and Exchange” series has no overhead, but it faltered this year because nobody had the time to organize it. We put out a call for volunteers and got no response. Our call for people to fill Board positions met with the same lack of enthusiasm. People ask, “what can IWC do for me” rather than “what can I do for IWC.” So they get out of it what they put into it.

Let me get a couple of things straight. This blog post is my personal opinion and doesn’t speak for the organization. And IWC is not dying. We still run a vibrant conference, and I expect that to continue. But if you want more, you have to get involved.

To rephrase President Kennedy’s words: Ask not what IWC can do for you—ask what you can do for IWC.

You won’t regret it.


The photograph of President Kennedy was taken on February 20, 1961 by a member of the White House Press Office. It is in the public domain because it was created by a federal government employee as part of his or her official duties.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer who writes adult non-fiction as Kathryn Page Camp and middle-grade fiction as Kaye Page. Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal was a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection for April 2014, and her first middle-grade historical novel, Desert Jewels, was released in August 2017. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Excited about Steel Pen

Emily Baginski

With the Steel Pen Conference coming up, I’m eager to see what it will be like. Since this is my first conference in general, I have to admit I’m a bit nervous as well. I’m 20, unpublished, but intrigued. Being around a variety of people will be exciting. Also, I looked at the panel of guest speakers and can’t wait to learn and hear what they have to say. Having the privilege and advantage to attend a conference like this will give me experience and guidance for when I take the next big step to getting published.
As the day gets closer and closer, I’m starting to gather my thoughts and questions I want to possibly ask. Along with this, I have checked out the Facebook page and looked up the workshops that are being offered. The one I am most interested in is the Cover Design 101 workshop. I’m a creative person, and learning how to make a successful cover that is appropriate for my work will help make sure I don’t go overboard with design.
Meeting people is also something I’m excited for. Networking is a big thing I’ve learned in college, and the conference will offer me this opportunity as well. Overall, I’m excited to see what the conference will teach me. College can only teach you so much. This will be an experience that can’t be taught in a classroom. 

If you haven't signed up for the conference yet, beat the October 15 deadline by registering at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Do Your Christmas Shopping at Steel Pen

Did you know that a witers' conference is a great place to do your Christmas shopping?

The Bloomsbury Bookbag pictured here is one of the many items that will be up for bids in our silent auction. Stop by the tables at the back of the room to bid on a wine tasting for four, writing tools, and various themed baskets.

You can also shop in our bookstore, which has IWC mugs and books for all ages and interests, including:

·       Romance,

·       Mystery,

·       Literary fiction,

·       Historical fiction,

·       Fantasy,

·       Young adult,

·       Children’s fiction,

·       Memoir,

·       Poetry and short story collections, and

·       The craft and business of writing.

There are other, more important, reasons for attending a writers’ conference than using it as a shopping venue. But if you are going to be there anyway, it’s a great opportunity. So bring cash or plastic and do your Christmas shopping at Steel Pen.

Registration for the 2017 Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference ends October 15. You can find more information and register at this link:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How to Get the Most Out of a Writers' Conference

The 2017 Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference is just over a month away, and registration closes on October 15. So whether you are signed up or still considering it, what can you get from a writers’ conference, and how do you make the best use of your time?

Here are some tips from the Conference Committee’s members own experience.

1.     Prepare before you go.

a.      Research the presenters as well as reading the breakout session descriptions, then rank your choices. Unfortunately, you may arrive at the conference to discover that your top choices conflict. But if you have ranked them in advance, your decision will be easy even if it isn’t happy. 
b.     As a relatively young regional conference, Steel Pen doesn’t offer pitch sessions with editors and agents yet. If you go to a conference that does, however, you should look at their websites and review the types of books they accept before deciding to pitch them. (The same goes for critiques.) If an editor or agent specializes in adult science fiction and you write children’s picture books, you will be wasting your time and theirs. That said, there are a few conferences where editors and agents are there primarily to mentor rather than to acquire. In those cases, you may gain some benefit even when you talk to someone outside your genre. 
c.      Make sure you have plenty of business cards. If you are worried about giving out personal information, leave off your address. But make sure you include an email address and preferably a telephone number. If you have a published book, you should also take promotional bookmarks or postcards.

2.     Know what you want to accomplish at the conference, but keep your expectations realistic and your goals flexible. You may go to learn about writing memoirs and come away with a great idea for a murder mystery. Or you may hope to sell a book but meet the perfect critique partner instead. Few writers sell their first book at a conference, but many develop relationships that eventually lead there.

3.     Take notes at the sessions you attend. The notes probably won’t be as extensive as the ones you took in your high school or college classes, but if somebody says something that gives you an “ah-hah” moment, write it down. Steel Pen will give you a notepad and a pen, but that may not be true at other conferences. If you don’t know, take your own. And even if note-taking materials are provided, you may prefer your favorite portfolio and lucky pen.

4.     While the rules about session attendance vary from conference to conference, if the conference allows (and Steel Pen does), don’t feel bound to spend the entire breakout session in the same room. If your top choices conflict, maybe you’ll want to spend some time in each. Or if that session on flash fiction reiterates information you already know, it is not disrespectful to leave (quietly) and head down the hall to the session on poetry where you may learn something new.

5.     Whether or not the conference offers pitching sessions, it helps if you can describe what you are working on or trying to sell in one to three sentences. If someone asks you—and they will—about your current project, they are looking for a thumbnail sketch, not a dissertation. They can always ask for more details if they want them.

6.     Part of the value of conferences comes from what the business world calls “networking” but is more accurately described as developing relationships. Writers tend to be introverts, but conferences are a good time to meet new people, so make the effort. Even if you don’t sell your book, you may find a new critique partner or meet somebody who has experienced the good and bad of hiring book cover designers and is willing to pass on that knowledge. But don’t lead off an informal conversation by talking about yourself. Ask about their current project or expertise or what they expect to get from the conference. At some point they will ask you the same question, and then it’s your turn.

7.     If the conference offers pitching sessions with editors and agents, however, you will begin those sessions by talking about your book.  The special rules for pitching sessions deserve their own blog post. Since Steel Pen doesn’t offer them yet, this tip is limited to the highlights.

a.      Don’t pitch a book that you haven’t written (and rewritten and polished). There are some exceptions for nonfiction and experienced writers but none for beginning novelists.
b.     As noted above, research the editors and agents in advance and don’t waste their time, and yours, by pitching somebody who doesn’t handle your genre.
c.      Unless otherwise invited, limit your pitching to the pitching sessions. At other times, wait until an editor or agent asks what you are working on or selling. And give editors and agents some room. Don’t corner them or follow them into the bathroom. They may remember you, all right, but only as someone to avoid.

8.     The last and most important tip is to relax and enjoy the conference. Writers’ conferences seldom make or break careers, but they can open doors.

Registration for the 2017 Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference ends October 15. You can find more information and register at this link:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Many Roads to Publishing

Indiana Writers’ Consortium has the good fortune to receive interns from Purdue Northwest each semester. In the spring, we had Louis Martinez, who continues writing blog posts as a volunteer. This semester we welcome Emily Baginski. Here is her first post.
The Many Roads to Publishing
Emily Baginski
Being a college student working towards an English Writing degree can be intimidating at times, but being a college student working towards an English Writing degree without many experiences in life is even more intimidating. When I first walked into classes, I thought this degree was a fight for getting a story published. I was a scared little puppy that had nothing notable happen in their life. So here I was, scared, intimidated, and fearful about the choice I made.
As I continued on through classes, I slowly learned that there is more to English Writing than publishing books. This soon gave me light at the end of the tunnel. The possibilities in writing are endless. Grant writing, business writing, writing for magazines, writing for video games, etc. There are so many routes to take. There is no need to be stressed about publishing a book. Find something you are interested in writing and look at publishing that way. 
This may seem like common sense, but I was unaware of the wide range of publishing options I could experience. There was more to publishing then writing or creating a story. I wrote this post to give hope to a lost writer out there who thinks the only road to publishing is through stories.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Optimizing Your Writing Process

Louis Martinez

Writing is difficult enough as it is, so anything that can streamline the process is invaluable. And if you’re citing sources, one thing you can do is sort your list of references out early so you can type those in-text citations at the end of a sentence as smoothly as any punctuation. When you’re on a roll with a rough draft, you don’t want anything to disrupt your flow of ideas. Any stray thought can potentially derail the train on its journey to the end of the document, causing you to omit a statement that may have made the difference between agreement or disapproval in your reader’s mind.

If I’m writing a non-fiction piece with sources to cite, I find it invaluable to have my references readily available so I can insert them in-line as naturally as I would a period or comma. In the past, I have made the mistake of pushing through my rough draft from start to finish, only to realize I now had to go back line-by-line for the expressed purpose of picking out sentences that should have citations and tediously adding them in. This added an entire new step to the writing process; a step that was unnecessary, and one I’m glad I now have a system to accommodate for.

When I have a large number or sources I’ll be citing for a piece, I like to form my reference list as I come across information I’ll be using, rather than simply recording where I found it so I can form the reference list later on. This may require some detailed familiarity with the citation style you’re using, which I am fortunate enough to have at this point. Having this information compiled in advance becomes a useful tool I can use when writing my rough draft.

When I’m writing a research paper; a report on an experiment; an analysis of a case study; or some other piece which may require a reference list several pages long, I like to have that list available at the side of my screen in another window next to my document so I can easily place the appropriate information in-line right when it comes up without having to stray from my spot on the page. I used to scroll down to my references, gather the information, then return to my spot to type it in, but I found moving my eyes slightly to the side to be much more efficient than scrolling all over the place.

Using this method has substantially decreased the amount of time I spend writing, especially over long pieces. I encourage anyone referencing other material in their work to develop a system that enhances efficiency. By cutting down the time spent on drafting, you can increase the time available for editing, which will ultimately result in an overall higher quality of writing.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Ezine and Print Magazine Rights: Part II

Kathryn Page Camp

Last week I described three major types of ezine and print magazine rights. This week I’ll talk about some other common types.* This is not a complete list, and even the ones talked about in these two posts can be modified by contract, so make sure you read the submission guidelines and any formal contract you may be offered. More about that at the end of this post.
As a reminder from last week, when used in this post the words magazine, publication, and periodical include both print magazines and ezines. References to story, piece, or item include stories, articles, poems, and any other type of work that can be submitted to a magazine.
One-Time Rights
One-time rights allow the publication to publish your story once. If it wants to publish it again, it must get your permission.
Simultaneous Rights
If you grant simultaneous rights, you are probably trying to sell the story to more than one publication. As the name implies, simultaneous rights allow several periodicals to publish the piece at the same time. These rights are not the same as reprint rights since you may be selling the item for the first time.
Nonexclusive Rights
When a publication buys nonexclusive rights, you can sell the piece again at any time. Unlike one-time rights, however, nonexclusive rights authorize the magazine to reprint the piece in subsequent editions of its publication without further payment or permission.
You can explicitly agree to sell nonexclusive rights, but it is also the default. If you don’t say what you are selling and the publication doesn’t say what it is buying, it gets nonexclusive rights.
A Word of Warning
Rights can be modified by agreement, and even if the magazine doesn’t make you sign a contract, you still have one. In that case, the contract will usually combine the terms of your submission letter, the publisher’s acceptance letter, and the submission guidelines. If your submission letter offers one type of rights and the publisher doesn’t object, that is what you have sold. If the publisher says it will buy a different type of rights and you don’t object, then the acceptance letter governs. If both letters are silent but the submission guidelines tell you what the magazine buys, that is what you are selling. So read the submission guidelines carefully.
Because it’s important to know your rights.
* The two posts in this series are taken, with modifications, from pages 166–170 of Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal by Kathryn Page Camp and are used by permission from me to me.
Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer who writes adult non-fiction as Kathryn Page Camp and middle-grade fiction as Kaye Page. Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal was a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection for April 2014, and her first middle-grade historical novel, Desert Jewels, was released in August 2017. You can learn more about Kathryn at