Thursday, June 29, 2006

Margaret Weis - Author Visit

Wisconsin author Margaret Weis will kick off her national book tour for her new release of "Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, the Lost Dragonlance Chronicles Volume 1" at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 11th, at Apple Blossom Books, downtown Oshkosh. For more details, visit Apple Blossom Books.

Aestival Festival

Joanne Flemming of the Menasha Senior Center has confirmed that there will NOT be an Aestival Festival this year. The annual one-day writers conference typically rotates every two years and as of June 29, no one has stepped forward to sponsor the event for 2006.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oshkosh Public Library Bookfest

As part of the Oshkosh Public Library's annual Bookfest, children’s authors Daniel San Souci and Denys Cazet will participate in a panel discussion on Saturday, October 7th at the Oshkosh Public Library. Further details will be made available this fall.

Author/illustrator Daniel San Souci was born in California. He has collaborated on many books with his brother Robert. His most recent projects include the Clubhouse Books, tales based on the adventures of Daniel’s childhood.

Denys Cazet is the author and illustrator of more than 25 picture books for children. In 1998, Cazet published Minnie and Moo Go to the Moon, his first in a series of books written for beginning readers. Cazet also writes I Can Read Books featuring Elvis the Rooster. Cazet was an elementary school teacher for 25 years and has also been a school librarian and an elementary school media specialist. A California native, he lives with his family in the foothills of the Napa Valley.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Writers' Institute, July 13-14th

The Writers' Institute, an annual two-day summer conference for fiction and nonfiction writers, will be July 13-14 at the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Fiction and nonfiction writers gather each year at this conference to get inspired and learn the latest techniques for writing and marketing. The conference also features book sales, a writing contest and take-home materials.

The price is $245 for two days plus Wednesday evening workshop, includes instruction, handout materials for all sessions (even those you don’t attend), morning continental breakfast, afternoon refreshments, and the Fall issue of Creativity Connection. If you’re already a subscriber, we’ll credit your subscription by one issue.


Early bird workshop, Wednesday evening, July 12, “How to pitch to an agent.”

Special two-hour, roll-up-your-sleeves workshops in fiction and nonfiction

Keynote address: Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss. Learn more.

Featuring literary agents—

* Marilyn Allen, Allen O’Shea Literary Agency
* Vivian Beck, Vivian Beck Agency
* Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Associates, Inc.
* Scott Edelstein, Scott Edelstein Consulting
* Kristopher O’Higgins, Scribe Agency
* Jesse Vogel, Scribe Agency

To download a Writers’ Institute brochure, click here.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Two RWA members I know through email loops and their blog have recently posted about the importance of a single line or judging your own work.

Michelle Diener points to an editing technique used by Dean Koontz.

I read somewhere (don’t ask, I can’t remember) that Dean Koontz goes over each page in his novels at least 10 times. So my guess is that DK treats each line in his books as if he’s entered them in a first line competition.

Edie Ramer says:

I don’t know if it’s possible to write a better book every time, but I do know it’s possible to try. I’m only on page 77 on my wip. Maybe I’ll hate it in the end. Or maybe I’ll think it’s good but other people will hate it.

How do we know for sure? When we’re published? But I’ve read published books that aren’t good. And I’ve read unpublished books by my CPs that are terrific! Of course, I’ve read published books that are terrific too.

Either way, it illustrates the frustration of writing. Even when you've decided that the book is good and examined ever line to maximize it's impact, it still comes down to finding the right agent or editor at the right time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Evening with Jacquelyn Mitchard

Two members of the club were able to have dinner with Wisconsin writer Jacquelyn Mitchard before she spoke to about 75 people at the Oshkosh Public Library. She is a lovely woman, funny and warm, and did not seem to mind when asked if she really does 200 sit-ups everyday as she says on her website. (She does.) Some other tidbits:

She starts each novel with a full outline. She then writes from beginning to end, revising as she goes. A novel usually takes her about 10 months, although the first few months are spent on research. She is also fond of writing camps, where she can write for four or five days without interruption.

A good story, she said, has a beginning, middle and end. "Something needs to happen," she said. "There are a lot of books today about nothing. They might have a good beginning or middle but no real ending."

Language is also important. "How the story is told, the language and dialogue, it all needs to sound authentic."

Writers, she said, "Watch life closely." Eavesdropping and people watching are good habits for writers to develop. She told of overhearing a man on a cell phone say, presumably to his ex-wife, "I'm so done with you, I even hate your ancestors." Lines like this, she said, add realism to one's writing.

She also read from her latest novel and invited our club to enter her "Cage of the Stars" contest (the prize is a personal visit from her). For details, click here.

Call for Submissions

Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC) invites scholars, writers, and creative thinkers from all disciplines and professions to submit essays for two WHC-sponsored features in Wisconsin People & Ideas (formerly The Wisconsin Academy Review).

The first feature, The Humanities Moment, asks writers to ruminate on a life defining moment, one in which the humanities played a transformative role (i.e. your discovery of a life-changing novel, a historian's lecture that swayed your political allegiance, a childhood trip to a museum, an anthropologist's visit to your family farm, etc.) The use of humor is encouraged. Payment is $200 with a 1,200-word maximum.

The second feature, The Public Scholar, asks humanities scholars and professionals to write engaging, entertaining, and compelling essays on any topic. The purpose of these essays is to demonstrate to a non-academic audience the vitality of humanities scholarship and the relevance of the humanities to pressing contemporary issues. Authors are encouraged to think provocatively and creatively—essays with titles such as "Huck Finn and John Ashcroft: American Boyhoods" and "Brett Favre as Greek Mythological Hero" are welcome. Payment is $350 with a 2,700-word maximum.


Send submissions to:

Masarah Van Eyck
Wisconsin Humanities Council
222 S. Bedford St., Suite F
Madison, WI 53703

Please include a daytime phone number and an e-mail address with your submission.

The selection process is competitive and submissions become property of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Excerpts from the published essays may be reprinted on the WHC Web site, and in development and publicity materials.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council
The Wisconsin Humanities Council is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1972, the WHC has served the people of Wisconsin through both a grant program and humanities projects of its own. Its mission is to create opportunities for all the people of Wisconsin to engage in critical exploration of the histories, arts, ideas, and values of their own and other communities.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Writers Stories

The people at Cup of Comfort (similar to Chicken Soup for the Soul) are looking for stories by writers for writers. The deadline is July 31; visit Tom at Persistant Ambivalance for more info.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Magazines for sale

Kris Z. has past issues of writer's magazines for sale, including Writer's Digest, The Writer, etc. Her asking price is $4.50 for a bundle of twelve magazines; two bundles for $8. If you are interested, please call her at 233-0773.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Weekly Round-Up

Whatever happens next is Ruth's fault. She invited me here. Gave me a chance to spread some of the blogging goodness that, quite frankly, I want to share with club members but am too lazy to email them.

I still need to figure out what to do with the identities of the guilty, er, innocent. Afterall, it's not their fault.

Tess Gerritsen had some great things to say about translations. Michelle Rowan fears Opal Mehta and for a good reason. Elaine Viets does her best to convince men that reading a book with a pink cover isn't a bad thing. Joe Konrath believes in doing it himself (it being techie sorts of things.) Melanie Lynne Hauser is giving away copies of her book, Confessions of a Super Mom, which is a really clever book that I reviewed here.

But the very best this week? Miss Snark shares an embarrassing typo captured on a NY Times review on the cover of "A National Best Seller and Winner of the Pulitzer Prize." Makes me appreciate my favorite proof reader's even more.

And double check my typing. The jury's still out on the effectiveness of that move.

Guest speaker Jess Riley

Oshkosh novelist Jess Riley will speak at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 17 at the Oshkosh Public Library, 106 Washington Ave. The event, which concludes the meeting of the Oshkosh Area Writers Club, is free and open to the public.

Jess's bio:

"Wisconsin native Jess Riley spent much of her childhood sitting at her desk during lunch hour for lying and/or passing notes during class, both of which qualified her for a possible future as a novelist. Instead, because berets were big in the eighties, she usually showed up at Career Day dressed as a film director. But the siren song of writing was too strong to deny, and in between bad haircuts, she continued to write poetry and fiction in middle school. She was nominated by a high school English teacher to attend a summer camp for budding artists and writers, where she realized she needed a whole new wardrobe. Also, she needed to work on her creative writing skills.

“She won her first short story contest a year later for a tale told through the point of view of a seven year-old black boy living in Cabrini Green because as a middle-class white teenager, she knew a lot about that kind of life.

“Jess served as class president three years running and was voted one of the two "funniest girls" in her graduating class, but she stresses that looks aren't everything. She graduated from Campbellsport High School in 1993, and because she received a partial scholarship to UW-Oshkosh, decided to go there to study pre-dentistry and make poor dating decisions.

“Jess has been a cocktail and banquet waitress, a blue cheese packager, and currently, a grant writer for local school districts. She worked at a mall-based toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1995 and lived to tell about it. She has also worked as a teaching assistant at a medium-security men's prison, which was much less stressful.

“She graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1998 with dual degrees in English and history, which means she narrowly avoided a career selling burial plots through cold calls. She now lives in a drafty old house in Wisconsin with her husband and an extremely neurotic dog that despises the theme music for "Calling All Pets." She will never be a dentist, but that's fine with her."

Life Stories workshop

Author Jean Goodwin Messinger will lead "Cheers and Tears," an instructive workshop on how to research and write personal/ family histories. The session is informal, fun, and interactive. A great workshop for genealogists and life story writers!

The program will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15, in the lower level meeting room of the Oshkosh Public Library. For more information, call 236-5205.

Mitchard Reminder

Best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard will sign copies of her new book Cage of Stars at the Oshkosh Public Library on Wednesday, June 14 at 7 p.m. The signing will follow a brief reading from the novel. The free event will be held on the SECOND floor of the library

The author’s note on the novel says “Cage of Stars is just a little different from other stories I’ve written; but I think the truths of grief, love and joy still thread through the weave.” A 12-year-old girl’s life is shattered when her two younger sisters are murdered. Her parents find the strength in their religion to forgive the mentally-ill killer, but Ronnie cannot. She carries her grief, guilt and anger with her, eventually organizes her life around revenge and prepares to act on it. The Library Journal reviewer called it her best book yet.

Mitchard is best known for Deep End of the Ocean, her first novel and the first Oprah Book Club Selection. She has for many years written a column that appears in the Sunday Milwaukee Journal.

Copies of the book are for sale in advance of the evening at Apple Blossom Books and Paper Tiger Bookstore. Paper Tiger will also be selling copies at the library from 6 p.m. on the evening of the signing.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Young Writers Camp

The Fox Valley Writing Project at UW-Oshkosh is accepting registrations for its young writers camps to be held in Neenah and Oshkosh, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 12:30, August 7 - 10 and 14 - 17.

The camps are open to 5th through 9th grade students who enjoy writing. During the two week sessions student write with local writers, teachers and each other producing memoirs, fiction and poetry. They also go on writing marathons and keep in touch with each other via a secure blog. In the early fall, their work appears in an anthology.

Application forms are at local middle schools and can also be downloaded from Once there, click on "brochure" and the pdf form of the brochure will appear ready for printing.