"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, April 7, 2024

2024 National Library Week

It's the annual National Library Week (April 7 - 13, 2024) in America. This is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all. The theme for National Library Week 2024 is "Ready, Set, Library!"

Libraries are full of stories in a variety of formats from picture books to large print, audiobooks to ebooks, and more. But there's so much more to the story. Libraries of Things lend items like museum passes, games, musical instruments, and tools. Library programming brings communities together for entertainment, education, and connection through book clubs, story times, movie nights, crafting classes, and lectures. Library infrastructure advances communities, providing internet and technology access, literacy skills, and support for businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs. National Library Week 2024 will be a great time to tell your library’s multi-faceted story.

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Newbery and Pura Belpré-award winning author Meg Medina will serve as 2024 Honorary Chair.

“I’m thrilled to serve as the honorary chair of National Library Week for 2024! Libraries connect our communities and enrich our lives in ways we may not realize, and one of my greatest pleasures is discovering the unexpected and beautiful things libraries offer. From book groups to lending sports equipment to providing a safe after-school hangout space and so much more, libraries support us wherever we find ourselves on the roadmap through life’s journey. Join me and the American Library Association in celebrating the gift of libraries everywhere and the adventures and opportunities they unlock for us every day. Ready, Set, Library!”

For more ways to celebrate, visit: http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek

- First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.
Most writers and readers adore their local libraries, and it's often an included vacation locale. However, many don't realize the full range of services a good library offers. For great examples, check out this article at The Write Life.

Do you celebrate this event? What is your favorite aspect of libraries?

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

IWSG: Using Social Media

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


APRIL 3 QUESTION - 
How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

MY ANSWER - My first Blog post was in October 2010. I joined Facebook around the same time. I was hesitant about both. A friend encouraged me to start the blog as a way to get back into my writing which I had given up for a time. I finally joined Facebook because my daughter's ballet studio only had a Facebook account instead of a web page and it was the easiest way to keep up with information about her classes and performances. While I quickly became comfortable with both platforms, I've used them to varying degrees since. Some months, I blogged nearly every day while others I only blogged a couple times a month. Sometimes I'm on Facebook and posting multiple times a day, and other times it may be weeks between visits. I joined Twitter sometime later but have barely every utilized it. I joined Instagram and Pinterest in the years that followed but utilize them in much the same pattern as Facebook. I like Facebook for keeping up with friends and family, and for checking out what other professionals are doing. I enjoy Instagram and Pinterest for checking creativity and sharing design ideas as well.

What about you? How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

Monday, March 25, 2024

Easter 2024

We just finished Spring Break here. I spent the majority of it ill. I've been sick more in the last nine months than I have been in the previous few years combined. I'm hoping the upcoming long weekend will offer me a chance to finish recuperating.

I hope you are all able to enjoy some much need time of relaxation, fun, and love this weekend as well.

Looking for a great Easter read? Check out This Easter Reading List.

For a little Easter writing inspiration, check out one of my former posts 4 Easter Inspired Prompts, or this list I came across: Easter Journal Prompts.

Do you celebrate Easter? How are you celebrating this season? Have you tried writing anything Easter inspired, or similar to the above prompts? Do you want to share anything that you have felt pulling at your heart lately?

Monday, March 18, 2024

Reminder of A to Z and Twitter Pitch

 It's nearly time for the 2024 "Twitter Pitch" as well as he 2024 "A to Z Blogging Challenge". If you're interested in either:

#IWSGPit Twitter Party


The next #IWSGPit will be March 27, 2024.
10:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Tweet your pitch using #IWSGPit. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

For hashtags and guidelines, visit our #IWSGPit page.

Do authors really find agents and publishers through a Twitter pitch party? Yes they do! Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. has found FIVE authors from this event, including one of our best sellers, Damien Larkin.

So, get your pitches ready for March!


It's also almost time for the annual "A to Z" blogging challenge. Most repeat participants have already begun planning their posts for this April and will soon be posting theme reveals. Are there any themes you would particularly care to see, or learn about in April?

Sign-ups usually begin in March.  Followed by a schedule similar to below:

Theme reveal sign up: March 8
Theme reveal closes: March 20
Master list opens: March 29
Master list closes: April 7
After-survey: May 1-8
Reflections: May 3-8
Road-trip: May 10

To learn more about this challenge, or what you can expect to see this April, be sure to follow their website http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ 

 Will you be participating in #IWSGPit? Have you had success with a Twitter pitch party? Have you ever participated in the "A to Z" challenge? Will you be taking part this year? What other hops or challenges do you enjoy? Are you attending any this year? Do you have a favorite that we haven't listed here?

Monday, March 11, 2024

Happy St. Patrick's Day

March 17 is the traditional day to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. If you're interested in participating, but not quite sure how, check out this article I shared a couple of years ago: Irish Classics, Prompts, and Party Tips.

Feeling Lucky? Check out the post about where I and a few other writers get their inspiration: https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2022/03/feeling-lucky.html

Some additional educational and fun holiday ideas include:

  • Streaming Irish jigs and songs.
  • Watching traditional Irish dance on YouTube or chrome cast to your TV.
  • Adding green food dye to your short bread cookie recipes.
  • Sewing or gluing crazy Green Irish hats, ties or belts using felt, ribbons, or fabrics.
  • Cooking Irish Stew, scones and clotted cream or butter from scratch or from cans. 
  • Telling Irish fables about leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, or gnomes.
  • Reminding your children about the “kiss of the blarney” and the folkloric tradition known today as “the gift of the gab”.
  • Research the real St. Patrick.

How about you? Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? How are you spending this time?

Monday, March 4, 2024

IWSG: AI Use

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


MARCH 6 QUESTION - 
Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

MY ANSWER - We had a similar discussion in our October posting if you'd like to look back at those. My only interaction with AI as a writer has been to address using it in the classroom. As soon as ChatGPT released more than a year ago, I saw a huge use of it by students to attempt writing assignments. We spent time actually looking at instances where you could use it, but the software was creating sadly horrible and oftentimes completely incorrectly factual writing. This helped to dissuade plagiarism in that first year. However, as AI software increase in reliability so too does it's use, not just by students but also by teachers and writers. Some only use it as a means to see examples (a learning or confidence building tool). However, I believe we may see an increase in reliance on this technology, and an outright substitution for individual authentic creation. In response, more schools and legal systems will attempt to define what is allowable and what is not (refer back to Hollywood/writers/actors strikes last year).

What about you? Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

Monday, February 26, 2024

A to Z Challenge and Other Blog Hops

It's almost time for the annual "A to Z" blogging challenge. Most repeat participants have already begun planning their posts for this April and will soon be posting theme reveals. Are there any themes you would particularly care to see, or learn about in April?

Sign-ups usually begin in March.  Followed by a schedule similar to below:

Theme reveal sign up: March 8
Theme reveal closes: March 20
Master list opens: March 29
Master list closes: April 7
After-survey: May 1-8
Reflections: May 3-8
Road-trip: May 10

To learn more about this challenge, or what you can expect to see this April, be sure to follow their website http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ 

Have you ever participated in this challenge? Will you be taking part this year? What other hops or challenges do you enjoy?

Monday, February 19, 2024

7 Fast Approaching Submission Deadlines

Seven fast approaching deadlines...

Chicken Soup for the SoulMiracles, messages from heaven, angels - The deadline for submissions is FEBRUARY 28, 2024. Stories about miracles, angels, messages from heaven, premonitions, amazing coincidences and other unexplainable but good events! We are looking for powerful, astounding, stories that will make people say "wow" or give them chills. This book is for everyone, whether religious or non-religious.

Chicken Soup for the SoulThe power of thinking positive - The deadline for submission is FEBRUARY 28, 2024. We know that using the power of thinking positive helps you to achieve your goals and lead a happy, purposeful, and productive life. Almost anything is possible if you think you can. You can dream big, overcome challenges, create the best life possible for yourself, and turn adversity into opportunity. What do you do to think positive and how did it change your life? Tell us your success story about using the power of thinking positive!

GRAYWOLF PRESS NONFICTION PRIZE
https://www.graywolfpress.org/about-us/submissions
NO MENTION OF ENTRY FEE. Deadline February 29, 2024. A $20,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press will be awarded to the most promising and innovative literary nonfiction project by a writer not yet established in the genre. The winning author will also receive a $2,000 stipend intended to support the completion of their project. The Graywolf editors are particularly interested in new approaches to the personal essay, cultural and literary criticism, creative scholarship, and books exploring complex ideas from unexpected angles. Must live in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. Must have published at least one piece of nonfiction in a literary journal or magazine.


SEJONG WRITING COMPETITION
https://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/writing/current/sijo.php?fbclid=IwAR3dsNgV_I0yqv-oCp4MFqmMihAVk6cwHbmBCsihV0iPfrSQIjIDtbDwdKU
Deadline February 29, 2024. Divisions: adult division (age 19 and older) and pre-college division (age 18 and younger). Write one sijo in English on a topic of your choice. Only one entry per applicant. Adult division: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500). Pre-college division: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300). Must be a resident of USA or Canada.


LITTLE TOKYO HISTORICAL SOCIETY SHORT STORY CONTEST
https://www.littletokyohs.org/
NO ENTRY FEE. Deadline February 29, 2024. The Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) seeks fictional short stories for its 11th annual Imagine Little Tokyo short story contest in the categories of English language, Japanese language and youth (18 and younger). The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness of Little Tokyo through a creative story that takes place in Little Tokyo. Each category winner will be awarded $500 in cash with their short story being published in The Rafu Shimpo, Discover Nikkei and Little Tokyo Historical Society website.


ALPINE POETRY PRIZE https://alpinefellowship.com/poetry-prize NO ENTRY FEE. Deadline March 1, 2024. Theme: Language. You may submit one poem or a collection of poems as long as ALL the poems in the collection speak to the theme. There is a maximum of 500 words per entry. There is no minimum required word count. First place: £3,000. Second place: £1,000. Third place: £1,000. The winner and runners-up will be invited to the annual symposium. Up to £500 travel expenses to help with travel to the event and meals and accommodation.

ALPINE WRITING PRIZE https://alpinefellowship.com/writing-prize NO ENTRY FEE. Deadline March 1, 2024. Theme: Language. All genres of writing are permitted, including fiction, non-fiction, and non-academic essays. Open to all nationalities. First place: £3,000. Second place: £1,000. Third place: £1,000. The winner and runners-up will be invited to the annual symposium. Up to £500 travel expenses to help with travel to the event and meals and accommodation. A maximum of 2,500 words per entry.


Monday, February 12, 2024

For Love of...

Last month, I shared a couple of posts on Love (to celebrate any form of love) and upcoming conferences, workshops, and festivals for readers and writers. Today, I thought I would share more opportunities for lovers of the written and illustrated word.

February 17 - Hickory Con is a one day, in person comic con event in North Carolina. To learn more, check out: Home (hickorycon.com)

March 15-17 - Galaxycon is a 4-Day FESTIVAL OF FANDOM with celebrities, creators, voice actors, cosplayers, entertainers, fan groups, gamers, panelists, streamers, and wrestlers in Richmond, VA. To learn more: Galaxycon Richmond

March 27 - see the TWITTER PITCH info below.

April 5-7 - CyPhaCon: https://www.cyphacon.org/ - taking place in the Lake Charles Civic Center Complex, CYPHACON 2024 is the largest fan run Pop Culture Convention in the State of Louisiana!

July 12-14 - ConGregate is a speculative fiction convention held in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. To learn more: ConGregate 7 / DeepSouthCon 59 (con-gregate.com)

July 25 - 28 and OTHERS- Galaxycon is a 4-Day FESTIVAL OF FANDOM with celebrities, creators, voice actors, cosplayers, entertainers, fan groups, gamers, panelists, streamers, and wrestlers in Raleigh, NC. To learn more: GalaxyCon Raleigh This group actually offers multiple events virtually at at multiple locations throughout the year so be sure to follow for more news.

August - Wake Forest mini Comic Con - WakeForest, NC - https://www.facebook.com/WFComiCon/

If you'd like to see an even longer list of opportunities, check out the IWSG page here: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/publications.html


#IWSGPit Twitter Party


The next #IWSGPit will be March 27, 2024.
10:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Tweet your pitch using #IWSGPit. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

For hashtags and guidelines, visit our #IWSGPit page.

Do authors really find agents and publishers through a Twitter pitch party? Yes they do! Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. has found FIVE authors from this event, including one of our best sellers, Damien Larkin.

So, get your pitches ready for March!

 Will you be participating in #IWSGPit? Have you had success with a Twitter pitch party? How about you? Are you attending any this year? Do you have a favorite that we haven't listed here?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

IWSG: Author Turn Offs

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


FEBRUARY 7 QUESTION - 
What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

MY ANSWER - Information overload turns me off immediately. If I click on a site and there is a ton of text and images (the entire screen), flashing ads, or constantly moving images then I'm done. I prefer simple design and layout that lets me know who the author is, their platform or genre, and how to access more information if I want it. Don't try to cram it all down my throat at once.

What about you? What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

Monday, January 29, 2024

Planning for a Week of Love

Many are already making plans for the next holiday, but did you know there is actually an entire week of love that thousands celebrate? Most of the people I know only celebrate, or dread, the most famous day which is Valentine's. However, according to multiple sites, there is an entire week of love and each day leading up to Valentine's has a significant meaning or purpose.

According to those love experts, the days are as follows:


 

While I love flowers and jewelry, my family and friends know my favorite gifts are a good book and chocolate.

Interested in a few FREE romantic flash fiction pieces? Try my stories:

Or order the last IWSG anthology on the right - First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.

Not sure what to get the writer in your life? Check out this list of suggested Valentines day gifts for writers or check out these Six Ways to Participate in Romance Week at Goodreads.

Want to share the theme of love with children? Check out these 10 Best Children's Books About Love.

So many of us love reading and writing. We have favorites that we return to again and again. How about you? 

I am especially grateful for a warm home full of books as I've been seeing the massive freezes and storms sweeping parts of the world. I hope you all stay safe, warm, and loved. Happy Valentine's!

Will you be participating in the week of love? What is your favorite genre? Favorite author? Favorite book from childhood? Are you doing something special that week, or for Valentine's Day?

Monday, January 22, 2024

National Polka Dot Day and Writers

Today is National Polka Dot Day!


It's also the day Minnie Mouse finally received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame six years ago - a mere 40 years after her counterpart, Mickey. You can find out more about that here. 

Many of my family members are Disney fans. I'm from Southern California, and even though I live in Texas, we head back as often as possible to visit family and friends. We also visit Hollywood and The Walk of Fame from time to time. You can see pictures here. W
e also visit the Florida Parks.

Another reason I mention all of this is because the original article I read announcing Minnie's big day, as well as a visit to Hollywood this past summer, led me down a rabbit hole of reading. I became curious about writers who have earned a star on that famous walkway. I knew of a few, but I was surprised at the number. Some of these authors I know have brought joy to many and will be immediately recognized: Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Stephen J. Cannell, Frank Capra, quite a few others I recognized, and a few I didn't. Here is a list the Los Angeles Times has comprised of all the writers who've earned that coveted star.

Have you been to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or a Disney Park? Which authors are your favorites? Who would you like to see earn a star? Are you celebrating National Polka Dot Day?

Monday, January 8, 2024

2024 Conferences, Workshops, and Literary Festivals

UPDATED: 1/20/24

This list started out mostly focus on
 Texas 
(where I am) and Louisiana. However, there are some others listed here for you. Also, keep in mind, many are virtual now, so your own location may not matter. Please let me know if you would like to recommend any others to be added to the list. The list below is what I know of as of today.

First, please let me recommend MASTERCLASS. This is an online set of instructional and motivational videos given by some of the industry's top professionals and gathered together in one location. These are very reasonably priced, and you can read about my personal experiences with it by clicking on the link in the labels below. There are other genres besides just writing that are extremely beneficial and interesting as well. They just added quite a few more options this past month. 

There is also a similar site called SKILLSHARE, but I have not personal experience with it. Let us know in the comments if you have, and what you think of them.

Any Time: More than a dozen authors - https://www.masterclass.com/homepage

Any Time: Skill Share

2/9-11 - Austin SCBWI In-Person Conference in New York - https://www.scbwi.org/events/scbwi-in-person-winter-conference-2024

February 11-14 - American Booksellers Association Winter Institute

February 15-18 San Francisco Writers Conference

February 18-20 - Social Media Marketing Conference

2/23-24 - Austin SCBWI Virtual Conference - https://www.scbwi.org/events/scbwi-virtual-winter-conference

3/8-16 - SXSW Film and writers festival in Austin - http://www.sxsw.com/

3/14-16 - New Orleans Book Festival - New Orleans Book Festival

3/22-24 -Writer's Digest 10th Virtual Mystery and Thriller Convention - https://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/courses/wdu-mystery-and-thriller-virtual-conference

3/20-24 - New Orleans Literary Festival - http://www.tennesseewilliams.net/

4/11-14 - Left Coast Crime in Seattle Washington - https://leftcoastcrime.org/

4/20 - The Pre-Quill Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah - The Pre-Quill Conference | League of Utah Writers

5/4-5- Austin Writer's and Illustrators Conference - https://www.scbwi.org/events/texas-writers-and-illustrators-conference

6/1 - Lone Star Book Festival - https://www.lonestarfestival.fun/

6/1 - The Gutsy Great Novelist Retreat, Bar Harbor, Maine 


6/7-9 - in Dallas, Texas - Inkerscon

6/19-23 - Florida - Space Coast Book Lovers

6/26-28 - Historical Novel Society - https://hns-conference.com/


8/28 - 9/1 - World Mystery Convention - Nashville - http://www.bouchercon.com/

9/18-22 - NINC Conference

9/27-28 - in Florida - Once Upon a Book Author Signing

10/5-6 - Dallas Writer's Conference - http://dfwcon.org/

10/16-19 - In-Person - Houston, Texas - https://romanceauthormastermind.com/

10/25-26 - Las Vegas - https://lovenbooks.com/lovenvegas

10/24-31 - Austin Film Festival -  https://austinfilmfestival.com/

11/4-8 - (Tentative) - https://20booksvegas.com/about/

11/7-9 - (Tentative) - https://hamptonroadswriters.org/

11/13-16 - Virtual - Romance Author Mastermind

11/16-17 Austin Book Festival - https://www.texasbookfestival.org/

Year Round - Interested in a more expansive list of national and international options? Checkout this list: Insecure Writer's Support Group: Conferences, Workshops, etc. / Publications (insecurewriterssupportgroup.com)


Please feel free to comment with any you would like to see added to this list even if it's not happening in the USA.  You never know when an opportunity will arise. Right? :-)

Also, if you are looking for a writer's group in Texas, check out: Writers' Groups | Lone Star Literary Life

HAPPY WRITING! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

IWSG: BookBub

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive. Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.


JANUARY 3 QUESTION - 
Do you follow back your readers on BookBub or do you only follow back other authors?

MY ANSWER - I've never actually used BookBub. This question was my first introduction to the site. I'm curious to learn what you think of the site and its benefits or drawbacks. So...

Do you use BookBub? Do you follow back your readers on BookBub or do you only follow back other authors?