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.