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  1. Erin O'Donnell says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Starla — you’re very welcome and it’s good to be appreciated! I think we have tremendous energy and momentum on the board this year, and it can only filter out through our wonderfully loyal and creative members.

    If there is anything you’d like to see added to the website — a resource, a how-to, anything at all — please leave us a comment here. Here’s to 2011!

    Erin O’Donnell, KWA Webmaster

  2. Seti says:

    We have a lot of fun things coming up! And a lot of work to do. I’m really excited about getting more of an online presence (yeah!) particularly as I seem to spend more and more time on line.
    Nice work, Erin! Thank you!
    Starla, I’m looking forward to more of your workshops. After listening to you this weekend I’ve concluded that one of the problems I have is my lack of organization – I can’t finish anything because I can’t find anything! And, I’m sure, there are other issues, but that is definitely one of them. You gave me some great ideas.

  3. You asked about anything else to add to the website… Can we get a section for How-to articles on the writing craft? I love having people pointed to my website and writing tools, but I would like to see KWA have its own writing tool articles. I would, of course, share some or you can pull them from my website. But I would really like to see some of our other members post articles that might be useful. We have poets who could share things I would never even know how to research. We have scriptwriters and playwriters who should have their own unique knowledge they could share. And the list goes on.

    Starla Criser, aka Starla Kaye

  4. Charity Kester says:

    FYI-this is no complaint. I entered a manuscript of mine into the KWA Annual Writing Contest some months ago and got the survey back, but that was all. “Top 10” was circled, obviously not high enough to win any prize, which is fine with me; but, I have a friend, an avid member of the KWA, who tells me that, because I’m in the top ten, more will come of it, that an announcement will be made at the Scene Conference in March as to who exactly won that contest; that, because “Top 10” was circled, I may have actually placed. Well, I’m not a member, so I have no idea what’s going on, but I would like to. If someone who truly knows what he’s doing, knows about this contest, could lend a hand, I would be much obliged. Thanks.
    Charity Kester

    • Ray Racobs says:

      The youth prose contest had close to 100 entries that were judged. You were placed in the top 10 with a 91%. There were numerous ties along the grading scale. There were a total of 4 judges who picked their top five spots from 20-25 entries sent to them. I judged those entries to pick the top awardees. Your entry did not make the second judging and placed in a tie for 6th place, along with a few others who achieved a score of 91.

      Awards, both financial and certificates go out to only 1st-3rd, and a certificate goes to Honorable Mentions which would be considered in 4th.

      I hope that makes sense to you and explains your standing in the contest.
      Ray “Grizzly” Racobs
      2010 Contest Chair

  5. KWA says:

    Hi Charity — I’ve asked our contest chair to come along and answer your question, so keep checking and we’ll get an answer for you shortly. Thanks!

    Erin O’Donnell
    KWA Webmaster

  6. KWA says:

    You can absolutely attend, Karla! We’ve just posted our registration form — click here to find it.

    Thanks for your interest!

    Erin O’Donnell
    Scene Seminar Coordinator

  7. Cal says:

    About the website change. Not good.

  8. KWA says:

    Hi Cal. We appreciate feedback but it would be nice to get some specifics about what you don’t like. Care to elaborate? Thanks.

    Erin O’Donnell
    KWA Webmaster

  9. Ray Racobs says:

    The Website has a GREAT LOOK………WOW!!!

  10. BD says:

    Nice blog, Carol. Lots of good ideas for writing “fodder.” Thank you so much for sharing with all the KWA writer’s out there. GOOD STUFF!

  11. gostaria de enviar algumas histórias

  12. Darin Elliott says:

    Great article CJ! I have found that, when submitting anything in the hopes it will be published, that I ask myself what the outcome could be. Normally, I find that the worst thing that can happen is that my life stays the same. Status quo. If the worst thing that could occur is enjoying writing a manuscript with my life remaining as it is, then . . . I have nothing to lose. This helps alleviate any fears I may have concerning rejection.
    For my first manuscript, I sent 500+ letters of inquiry to various author’s representatives. None ever responded with any interest, but I lost nothing in the process, enjoyed the act of writing and have since finished my second manuscript and am starting my third. We shall see what happens next!

  13. Beautiful stuff, Erin, and so true! We all need a big batch of sticktoitiveness!

  14. Darin Elliott says:

    Wonderful and inspirational story Erin. I’m currently reading The Night Circus myself and must say, it’s certainly an interesting read. The structure and approach are quite uncommon.

    The NaNoWriMo must be a wonderful option and I’m thinking about trying it this year (only learned of it last week).

  15. Darin Elliott says:

    Wonderful article CJ. I love the comparison of a story to our children (as I have both . . . both of which are still in the house.)

    For me the biggest fear is that, after putting in months and months of work, what I write is soooo bad that it’s downright offensive to the reader. To overcome it though, I just keep reminding myself, I’m a novice and it’s unfair for me compare my ramblings to the works of masters like Stephen King or Hemingway. The only way I can get better is through the assistance of others critiquing my work.

    Thanks again and keep them coming!

  16. I love that you wrote this because a rejection letter always slows me down a little. I realize the ‘bigger picture,’ but in the moment, faced with the letter in hand, I usually contemplate quitting for a few minutes. Then another idea takes hold, new enthusiasm comes through, and I’m motivated to continue. The occasional acceptance letter helps too!

  17. Diane Wahto says:

    It takes a whole lot less than a bad review for me. I can get poems sent back filled with positive comments, but if I didn’t get published or win a prize, I’m in a funk for a month. I need to rise above that.

  18. Carol, your posts are always such a joy to read! I think this one comes in handy, especially with those of us who have experienced that ill fated “Dear John” letter. It is so hard to emotionally back away from those words enough to see the possibility in the work. One thing I have learned is, no matter how thick you grow your skin, you still fill the nicks of criticism. What is important is looking at them objectively and learning to see through the harshness to the productiveness. Does that make sense?

  19. My word count so far is 34,114. I’m getting there, but I just got two more classes added on and I have three weeks to complete them in which includes 4 papers and a power point presentation. 🙁 I’ve surprised myself before, so who knows? I may just do it again!

  20. I am just over 17,000 words in 6 days on my YA novel.

  21. Darin Elliott says:

    I’m at 32,812 right now. 11.09.2011 at 7:02 PM.

  22. Darin Elliott says:

    Just hit 40,009! Woot!

  23. Darin Elliott says:

    50,860 words. Good thing too because my plot has given me everything its got. As time goes on through the month, I’ll go back through to check out where it needs things added and cleaned up so that should grow a little before the final checkout.

  24. 22,229. Just started 11-6-11 on account of being on vacation. I had planned for this, however, by carefully outlining and setting a pace for myself for completion.
    BUT, Darrin Elliott, you beast, WAY TO GO!

  25. 50, 927 now! Well, as of yesterday! 😀 Did it again!

  26. bdtharp says:

    Very true, my friend. I just have one thing to add: READERS ROCK!

  27. This is perfect! And perfect timing also! I have found myself diving into a book and finishing it before I feel that passion arise again to return to my own. I love the feeling of welcome when the characters start chatting away and I also love re-reading what I’ve already written so that I can become re-acquainted with my characters and world.

  28. kelly says:

    Just found your web-site, hoping you are still as active in 2012! I am the illustrator for The book “Wagon Train to Freedom” by Todd Mildfelt, based on an actual waton train of the underground railroad. We look forward to reading more on your site!
    Thank you,
    -Kelly hartman

  29. Jeanne Smith says:

    Thanks, CJ!

    In the past when my children were still home, I published magazine articles all the time. It was the joy of my life.

    Unfortunately, after 15 years working a day job which left little time for writing, I find that I’ve lost my confidence. Too much perfectionism, I think. Just last night I counted four books that I’ve written, none of which were submitted for publication. I also have a number of articles that took tremendous effort to research and write, but they never felt ‘perfect’ enough and I had last doubts about them.

    Your encouragement is exactly what I needed. I plan to get back to my files and re-read those pieces with a set of new eyes. With updates and revisions, some might still have some life in them. Thanks!

  30. Sherri says:

    I am a panster. It takes too much time to plan details. When I start writing, I don’t stop until I feel I need to. It always surprises me how much I can write in one sitting. When I need to tend to day-to-day things; and if I don’t go back and continue writing, sometimes it’s hard to pick up where I left off.

    The only exception to this is that I try to get a background on some characters before I continue writing. That helps me to put in the little details that could help readers understand those characters.

  31. 😀 Pantster all the way! I try to do some plotting though…just for my own sake. 🙂

  32. bdtharp says:

    I’m more of a pantster, but there are times during the process (usually the middle of a story) that you have to plot a little bit to be sure you’ve resolved things once you get to the end. Writing by the seat of the pants is much more fun, though!

  33. Pingback: Outline Eureka! « Audrey Kalman

  34. Hazel Hart says:

    I will be using some of the research possibilities you posted. Thanks for the information.

  35. Diane Wahto says:

    It was an honor to be included in this venture. You two do good work.

  36. Makayla says:

    Very well said and you gave some really good advice! -hugs-

  37. Carol

    I’m so sorry. All we can do is accept or fight back, and I’m glad you chose the option to fight on. Congratulations on finishing your first novel. I’ve been fighting fatigue so deep I haven’t felt like finishing my ‘last’ novel. Your positive outlook is like a shot in the arm for me.

    Bonnie Myrick
    Keyhole Conversations

  38. bdtharp says:

    Wonderful post, Carol. Thank you. You inspire us all! Blessings to you and Congratulations on your book. Life is filled with ups and downs, you’re pretty good at riding the waves. Take care. -BD

  39. bdtharp says:

    Great post, thanks April. I would love to participate in a Writing Marathon and I love the Bartlett Arboretum. Thank you again for sharing.

  40. I have also had a somewhat mixed experience with a “authors critique” website. While some reviewers simply gushed that they loved my work, with no constructive criticism, others trashed it and me, which caused a lot of hurt and embarrassment. I feel that face-to-face critiques work better. Most idiots know better than to trash your work to your face!

  41. I had the idea that a website like you talk about might be helpful, but never could find one. I’m glad to have this review- it sounds like they may do more harm than good.

  42. This sounds wonderful! If only its wasn’t to darn hot out right now…but I suppose this could take place inside, too!

    • KWA says:

      Actually, we’ve done early-early morning ones, and marathons with indoor/outdoor options. My favorite was around Old Town here in Wichita. After the steps at The Museum of World Treasures and some interesting alleys, we made our way to Mead’s Corner for refreshments and a/c.

  43. Scott Moon says:

    Does Book Country charge a fee? And do they provide references? It seems like there is a huge industry preying on writers who seeking publication.

    • KWA says:

      Book Country does not charge a monomial fee. However, before your own work can be critiqued, you must be willing to critique several others’ work. On the surface, this seems like a fair exchange to me. And on the other note… there are always industries willing to prey on those with dreams. But being forewarned is definitely forearmed.

  44. Carol, most people wouldn’t just rip your book apart and demean you in the process. So, you are right. An in person critique group has a ton more value and merit than those that are online. Not all that glitters is gold and in this case, that has been what I learned. 🙂
    Summer, it is just my personal experience and what I have discovered from asking a few other writers who have had similar experiences. It seems that this is a very cliquish group with invisible standards and though it truly is meant to help, the members sometimes fall short of helping and turn too critical and even sometimes, attack the writer themselves.
    Scott, as the Admin has already pointed out, there is no fee to joining and participating in their program. However, they do have services for which they charge a substantial amount for should youd decide to publish through them. And then there is also the “price” of risking exposure on their site causes a loss of big name publishing houses as well (as mentioned in the link: The Passive Voice).
    In the end, it is better to do it the old fashioned way. At least, that’s how it seems to me. 🙂

  45. Excellent post H.B.! I’m personally one that hasn’t had to get out and work away from the home, so I have to heavily rely on those outtings, people-watching, and eavesdropping to capture that real world feel. 🙂

  46. Carol, you have made some great suggestions in this post! Some I’m taking notes on and going to try out myself. I love to find new ways to do old things. Even if they aren’t “new”, they are to me and that’s what makes writing so exciting for me sometimes. I can play and experiment and see what unfolds!
    Characters are typically what drive my stories and to get further into their heads is something I really want to do! Thanks!

  47. bdtharp says:

    Excellent post, Carol. You covered this subject very well and your list of memorable characters is indisputable, although I’ve never read Madame Bovary. Another good source for information to help build strong characters is The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits. It’s huge and I’ve not read it cover to cover, but it’s a great reference.

  48. bdtharp says:

    Balance is one of the hardest things for me to achieve. Life is such a roller coaster ride sometimes that something always gets neglected. My first choice is cleaning & cooking. But that isn’t always possible and my reading and writing time gets scrunched. Thank you for writing about the human part of the artist, we sometimes forget that and fall out of our routines (seats). It’s easy to do. Good reminders, HB.

  49. But . . . I want to talk about writing. I get to talk about groceries and alternators all day long. Nobody wants to talk about writing until I get around other writers.

    That said, WONDERFUL article. Without the day to day, how do we create a world for our readers? In my opinion, you answered that succinct . . . sucksink . . . very well.

  50. CJMartin says:

    I love your perspective, Dude! When I talk to civilians (non-writers), references to writing are an afterthought. When writers talk amongst themselves, we talk writing first, then all the minutae of life. I try to remember that all those household chores allow my brain time to cogitate on my prose.

  51. I write horror. Thought about hitting up one of the local haunted houses for a tie-in, then decided on having it at a bar. Had several friends show up, some I hadn’t seen in a decade. The event was posted to last until 8pm. I think we left around 1am.

    Don’t take it too seriously, one book does not make you King, Patterson, or Koontz. Have fun with it. Did I sell anything the night of my release party? No, it was an e-book, paper didn’t come for months. Did I have fun at the release party? Yes, and I’ll probably do it again. As long as the bar promises the beer and JD specials again.

    Special memory of the evening: I signed the back of a Kindle, right next to the signature of my favorite writer.

  52. BD Tharp says:

    Nice article, Carol, with lots of great suggestions. The trick is also to keep looking for a new spin, a new group of people to reach. Be as creative with your marketing as you were with your novel. Good stuff! Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  53. read more says:

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  54. Likeed Carol’s article – sounds just like me. I get writting and I don’t want to stop when the my real world beacons me.

    Thanks Carol,

  55. Alas! I must join the world of the employed and feel the separation anxiety kicking in. I love my characters as if they are my family. So, in the process of balancing, I’m learning to cope when my youngest wants to color on the bed next to me as I write or when I need to be in the living room working in paragraphs as the day allows…now, it seems a new challenge will be coming to me. Balancing family, home, writing, and job life!

    I want to cling to my fictional worlds more because there is an immense comfort and familiarity there (in the writing). I find that it’s so easy to be wrapped up in my worlds and have an entire day go by feeling as if I had just sat down and started to write.

    There’s truth in those words, Carol. Well done! 🙂

  56. When I start to get into the story I am writing, I find my self deeper into the fiction world than in reality. It’s like there is a 2-channel tape running in my mind all the time. One deals with reality, but the larger part is absorbed in the fiction, constantly thinking about plot twists, character nuances, and phrases to turn. I can’t wait to get home from work or meetings to get back into the world that I can run as I please (if the characters let me). It’s probably good that the only creatures that depend on me are furry and somewhat self-sufficient. When I was married, I was made to feel guilty for the time I spent in my world. Only a man who understood totally could connect with me and want to share that world. Alas, cold reality took him from me in this world, but sometimes now I feel him suggesting something as I write.

  57. CJMartin says:

    Thanks for commenting, Louise, Sam and Kathy!

  58. bdtharp says:

    Very nice article, Carol. As always. Thank you for sharing it with all of us here at KWA. You rock!

  59. Thanks for the information about websites – very helpful.

  60. CJMartin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Louise! Thomas Umstattd, Jr. has a free webinar on Dec. 11, if anyone is interested. Here’s the link:

  61. BD Tharp says:

    Nice article, as always. And thanks for the kudos on my website. KWA member, Erin O’Donnell did the design. She rocks and so do you! Happy Holidays!

  62. CJMartin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Bonnie! Erin did an awesome job on your website!

  63. It’s always good to double check that I’ve got everything I need. I think the only thing I’m missing is the e-newsletter subscription. 🙂 Good to know I’m on the right path!

  64. CJMartin says:

    Your website looks great, Sam! I’m always looking at others to find new and different things, too.

  65. Awesome points and excellent examples!

  66. CJMartin says:

    Thanks, Sam! Of course, I use food for examples. It comes naturally!

  67. OneMommy says:

    Okay, I’m hungry now!
    You are right, it’s the use of all those sensory details that really pull us into a good story!

  68. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is always at the top of my list of writing books to read. Elmore Leonard’s “10 Rules for Writing” is easily available on line (legally and for free) but I own the Kindle version just for easy reference (and the awesome illustrations). Orson Scott Card’s book on writing Science fiction is great for any writer of speculative fiction.

  69. A. R. Tan says:

    I’ve been using Scribophile for a few months now. It’s almost the same concept as Book Country, but the site is more active. I’ve gotten mixed critiques from the site, but it’s been definitely helpful with my writing. As much as I love to join a local writing group, I don’t have a flexible schedule that would allow me to do this on a regular basis with young children. So it has to be online for me.

  70. Great post and great things to think about and incorporate in my own blogging experience. Thanks!

  71. Such great advice! I use Hootsuite, too, and when I actually use it I do save time. I need to focus on being consistent with my platform building.

  72. Mayor says:

    Wow, this is great advice. Too bad it can not be mandatory reading when someone opens up a blog account. Thank you.

  73. CJMartin says:

    Thanks for reading, Mayor! By the way, I love your blog platform and can totally relate. Now that I’m an empty nester, I can look back and laugh. But it took a few years.

  74. Pingback: Everett Robert, Featured KWA Writer | Emergency Room Productions

  75. I like to think of myself as a plotter. I guess for me there has to be a method to the madness, a place where I’m going. Usually that means one of two things: how the story will end or what the middle after the beginning is established. I remember reading about an author in a book who said that each book must have a beginning, middle and ending. The book was clearly joking but there is some truth in that for me. Although I hope it is not immediately obvious to the person reading the book I write, I like to think that there is underneath a kind of underlying structure and order. I don’t know. I hope I haven’t offended anyone.

    • CJMartin says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer! No offense taken on my end. I am a plotter myself. Although my soul is creative, my mind is organized. I outline the framework of a piece and then fill in around it. Sometimes, the story takes itself in a different direction, so I have to recalculate when that happens. To each his own!

  76. DM Yates says:

    Very informative. Thanks for writing this.

  77. Your membership might be interested to know that there is going to a conference for Christian writers, screenwriters and filmmakers who would like to break into the mainstream media. It is going to be held Oct. 3-7, 2013 in beautiful Naples, FL. We have an amazing faculty with more to come to the Spirit of Naples Storytellers Conference (SON). For more information go to

  78. Please Forward:
    Author Fred A. Brede announces a writing contest for
    Fictional Romantic writers. For more information contact
    Fred A, Brede

    Destiny Whispers Publishing, LLC
    is proud to host the 2016
    “Extraordinary Moment” – Creative Writing Contest
    Fictional Romance Novella / 10,000 — 40,000 words
    CONTEST ENTRY DATES: January 1st, 2016 to July 4th, 2016
    Winners will be announced on August 1st, 2016

  79. Tom Heeren says:

    I won’t attend the workshop due to recovery from hip surgery three weeks ago. Will you put out information on historical writing online?

    Thanks a lot!

  80. Rebecca Kerschen says:

    Darn. Missed the meeting by just a few days. I have not been a member since my youngest daughter got pregnant. That grandaughter is 16 this month. I now have 6 grandkids between my two daughters. It all happened so quickly, and i have managed still to finish a screen play (registered at. W.A.A.W.) and now im trying to finish my novel. Meanwhile technology has superceded me and, uhhh, no…my grandkids are BUSY! I want to purchace a good mac pc to write with so i dont have any trouble with viruses. I am 65, and sort of a technological idiot, so i am begging for help. Please and thank you SO MUCH. Rebecca Kerschen ;

  81. Jerry-Mac Johnston says:

    please share this opportunity with the Kansas Writers Association, thank you.

    Award and festival winning playwright and poet seeks scripts. Looking for short, 1-20 minutes, baseball themed plays to accompany my play, DUGOUT MEMORIES, to make a complete evening of baseball theme plays. Currently have not set a deadline. No restrictions on content except plays must have a baseball theme. Contact Jerry-Mac Johnston with questions or submissions. Hard copies submit to 1438 S. Arcadia, Springfield, MO 65804 or email attachments to Jerry-Mac is a member of the Springfield (MO) Writer’s Guild.

  82. Kelly Chilton. says:

    My name is Kelly Chilton. I would like you to call me about having a writer plan to come speak to our residents at Meadowlark Estates. We are an independent living community comprised of intelligent, lively adults. Please contact me at 785-842-2400.
    Thank you!

  83. Rae Cuda says:

    Kurt will truly be missed. It’s shocking how quickly our world can change.

    This is a terrible loss for KWA, and Kurt’s family.

  84. Lloyd Thorndyke says:

    My deepest condolences to Kurt’s family.

  85. Trecia McDowell says:

    Thank you very much for the beautiful flowers and kind words posted here, in his guestbook and at the service. I was hoping to find an address here to send you a thank you card. What a great picture of Kurt above. I can tell you that Kurt was really excited about being president and he enjoyed your company and writing immensely. He talked a lot about it while we were playing cards or on family trips. We were tickled (and surprised) to find out that he had another published story out from his former co-workers. We will cherish it along with the great memories we have Kurt. He was a brilliant mind, and a wonderful brother, uncle, and son to my family. Sincerely, Trecia (Campbell) McDowell

  86. John Saunders says:

    If it is snowing outside, as the weather prognosticators are predicting, I shan’t be able to journey up to Wichita. I’ll try for January and pay my dues then. I hope that will be acceptable.

  87. Rick Atwood says:

    Aha — didn’t see any reference to “bringing a book” to exchange for the Holiday Party on the main webpage announcement. Only here, when I clicked to make this “comment.”

  88. john saunders says:

    As you probably figured out, I was unable to get to Wichita because of the weather. I will have dues money with me [on the 28th] so I’ve not dropped my membership. I’ll see you soon. John Saunders

  89. Steve Saunders says:

    I just joined the Association, but I was not directed to a site so I could make payment.

  90. Danny Small says:

    I thought this weeks speaker and meeting was fantastic!!!

  91. Louise says:

    Hope to see everyone at the December meeting

  92. Nina says:

    Hi Starla,
    You’ll laugh but I thought the first three lines were all the same story prompt!
    Igbert wanted to see what it was like for Santa so he filled a bag with broken toys, put on his oldest socks, his lucky coat, and jumped down the only chiminey without smoke, yelling deeply, “Ho, Ho, help me…..”!
    Grandma’s kitchen suddenly filled with soot, the cookies ruined, festuned with ash and flour. The scrabbling noises coming from the fireplace along with the sounds of panting-filled ‘help’s galvanized Grandma into action. She flew to the hearth and with a hankie wiping her face, yelled up into the black, “who’s up there and what in the name of all that’s Christmas are you doing?”
    The rest left undone due to the sensitivity of the audience……

  93. Wes Brummer says:

    I wonder if your first paragraph could double as the first paragraph in your synopsis on Amazon or other book selling site. Many movies start with the first few seconds of the movie, then jump to a character summarizing the presenting problem. Then it shift to some impending conflict. Movie trailers is, by nature, a selling device. And so is the synopsis. So why not include the first paragraph? Lead with your best punch.

  94. Richard Atwood says:

    At the last meeting it was mentioned those who are authors should bring some copies of their books to sell for November… they might make some authors happy, and could be used for upcoming Christmas gifts. But there was no info on that in this column.
    Was I mistaken?
    Rick Atwood

  95. Richard Atwood says:

    I don’t understand what 9415 E. Harry St. #603 has to do with the Kansas Writers Assoc. (that meets at Rockwell Library, every third Sat. of the month) — or why that address is posted on the internet??

  96. Jim Potter says:

    These writing prompts are really getting my creative juices flowing. I especially like the one about turning an inanimate object into a character.

  97. Cheryl Simpson says:

    Thank everyone for all kindnesses shown yesterday at your December meeting. I am a Newbee and so enjoyed meeting everyone and look forward to joining your group.