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It felt like old home week. Tim Deal, Mark Wholley, Johnny Morse, Danny Evarts and the Four Horsemen crew who got to help, always do a fantastic job putting it all together. But this year was truly spectacular. There were tons of pictures being taken by the talented photographer and author, Tony Trembly, along with write-ups on Facebook as well as other attendees who posted their pictures and experience at this Con. Natch’ we wanted to blog about it too, just a little.

FRIDAY NIGHT started out with a bang after registration. The dealer room was open and we shared a table with the super busy Scott Goudsward, setting up and organizing the NEWH table full of author novels and anthologies. Super kudos also to Trisha and Jan who steadfastly stayed and worked the table for the public, Fri/Sat and Sun.

That evening we gathered in the lounge for cocktails and beer at the bar and joyously met up with many friends we hadn’t seen in over a year. A new experience for us on Friday night was trooping up to the courtesy room for snacks and two informative talks and a reading.

First up was Andrew Wolter on “The Life of Two Authors,” an interesting discussion with questions on writing under your own name and a pseudonym

Second was a lively discussion by Chris Golden and James Moore on “Writing Media Tie-Ins,” both eye-opening and informative.

Lastly, was a late night book release, “Through a Mirror Darkly,” by Kevin Lucia, which we heard was spectacular but sadly we weren’t able to stay for. Exhausted by the end of the evening we had to drive home. However, knowing what a wonderful Friday night line-up Anthocon now plans, next year we will be staying at the Hotel both Friday and Saturday!

As a special surprise, if you didn’t want to attend the discussions/reading, at 8:00 pm there also was an interactive ‘live’ game “Call of Cthulhu RPG,” led by author and publisher DB Poirier which we heard was way fun. Kudos to Doug for coming up with something so unique.

SATURDAY an early bird panel at 8:00 a.m. and readings at 9:00. At 10:00 am there was the official welcome and a special guest panel. The rest of the day was loaded with readings and panels by the likes of Chris Golden, James Moore, Tony Trembly, Stacy Longo, Holly Newstein, Bracken MacLeod, April Hawks, Andrew Wolter, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Jacob Haddon, Monica O’Rourke, Gene O’Neill, Marianne Halbert, Gord Rollo, Rob Smales and Tom Montelone. Lunch and dinner breaks were spent with friends and in the evening, there was music and a hilarious song created and sung  by the talented Scully sisters.

SUNDAY were more readings and panel discussions. Gene O’Neill had a reading and workshop on “Autobiography in Fiction,” that was wonderful. Great Old Ones Publishing had readings from their anthologies and novels.  Karen read “Walking White Death,” from “Canopic Jars, Tales of Mummies and Mummification, leaving us on tenterhooks.  Roxanne read “Bug Boy,” her extremely creepy tale in the anthology, “Bugs: Tales that Slither, Creep and Crawl.”  Roxanne also read “Heart of Stone,” a moody, supernatural tale of horror from the anthology, “Enter at Your Own Risk: Dreamscapes into Darkness,” by Firblog Publishing. Gregory Norris read exciting excerpts from his new novel “Tales from the Robot Graveyard.”  Other readers were B.E. Scully, Patrick Lacey, Judi Calhoun, Tony Trembly, M.J. Preston, Holly Newstein, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Rob Smales, Sydney Leigh and Sandy Schelonchik read for the prolific and talented David Bernstein. If we left out someone, please know it certainly wasn’t intentional.

All during Saturday and Sunday, you could view wonderful art work by Ogmios, Susan Skofield, Judi Calhoun, and others who were displayed in the gallery available for purchase at very reasonable prices.

Books and art were won by various people including Roxanne who received a signed plaque from the talented artist and author, M.J. Preston.

If you don’t get to go to other cons, this one is a must.

The Dent Sisters recently spent a glorious afternoon with two Writers’ Groups from different locations in New Hampshire. We came together for a ‘gathering.’ Twenty-eight people brought no more than 1000 words (4 pages) of whatever they wanted to read. This included finished shorts, drafts, poems, or something they wanted to showcase in front of an audience. Fiction writers, screenplay authors, poets and word smiths gathered in one place to share. It was awesome.

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We met at Sake, a Chinese restaurant in Milford, New Hampshire, organized by the fabulous Gregory Norris. We did the same thing last year at an Inn and were incredibly inspired, went home and wrote for several hours. The inspiration and warm memories lasted for several days.

What makes this one day event so special was the enhanced feeling of connectedness with so many other writers. As you all know, sharing your writing and listening to others adds to the depth and texture of what you create. The readings ranged from mystery, horror, to sci-fi and poetry.

Yes, you say, but I attend a weekly or monthly critique or support group. The difference lies in being able to gather together with a large group of people you haven’t seen in months or maybe only on Facebook, or at conferences. It only lasts a few hours but it’s a fun event.

The best part – It can be done anywhere, but our favorite hook up is a private room in an accommodating restaurant where the smell of delicious food and relaxed atmosphere adds to the ambiance. The difference between a Sunday Soiree and a Play Date is the number of people who attend and share their writing, news and laughter. And think “No mess, no fuss, no cleaning or cooking.” This kind of event doesn’t happen weekly or monthly but on those rare occasions when writers crave a play date.

As usual, we all went home stuffed, itching to get back to our short stories or opus, reconnected with old friends and made a few new ones. If you haven’t tried it, do. You won’t regret it.

Hi All ~ Waylaid by the holidays we are just now catching up on some of our news.

The Nashua Public Library held a Local Author’s Night December 4th from 7-8:30 p.m. Fifty authors were invited to set up tables, sell, sign books and meet the public. We got a chance, along with other authors, to meet new writers and say hello to old friends we hadn’t seen in a while.

The place was packed. Since we signed up as ‘The Sisters Dent’ we were assigned a table together allowing one of us to mingle while the other manned the table. Thus we both got a wonderful chance to talk to other writers, exchange e-mails, FB and website info.

The public who showed up were a warm and interested group and the Nashua Library held a “raffle” which was a brilliant idea. Visitors went from table to table, talked to the authors and then had their ‘raffle’ ticket signed. The one with the most signatures was the winner. Fantastic idea to motivate open discussion between a reader and a writer. No pressure to purchase a book, but a great opportunity to get someone interested in your writing. Most writers had some sort of ‘swag’ to hand out to the public – magnets, bookmarks etc. allowing a person visiting their table to remember their name and check out their books if interested.

We found the one thing in common throughout the night, was the overwhelming ‘love for and enthusiasm of writing, from horror to YA. The relaxed atmosphere and experience enriched us both and we look forward to attending other writing events.

When it was over, we joined friends, Tony Trembly, Bracken MacLeod, John McIlveen, Trish Wooldridge, Pam Marin Kingsley and Scott Goudsward for a nightcap at a local pub.

Libraries are a definite resource for writers in so many ways. And remember, if you have a book that’s been published, please introduce yourself and donate a copy to your Library

Interesting Facts: Did you know the earliest known libraries consisted of clay tablets in cuneiform script discovered in Sumer dating back approximately 2600 BC?

Greece, Rome, the Christian church, Islamic dar al-‘ilm or Halls of Science, the Library of China during the Imperial Zhao dynasty, and all the great civilizations that followed, had libraries. Of course, those who had access to them and what they consisted of evolved over the years.

Today, libraries offer not just books, but specialty items: CD’s, DVD’s, cassettes, microfilm, periodicals, newspapers, income tax forms, manuscripts, Blue-ray Discs, e-books, audio books and databases. You will also see a room with computers, meeting rooms, upcoming book signings and a children’s section. Their staff are there to help you find what you’re looking for, whether you know the author’s last name or just the plot and setting.

Libraries rock! Visit one near you and see for yourself.

In keeping with our plan to post a monthly blog (or more if inspired), keep tuned. Till then!

Christmas was coming and my sister Roxanne had recently written and sold a Regency novel called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” In September, she had a brainstorm: send a letter with a copy of her book to Tim Coco at WHAV Radio, a local station and offer to read a couple of chapters on air.  She promptly mailed both letter and book and waited. October came and went. November was almost gone. Thanksgiving was over and we were looking forward to gearing up for Christmas. Roxanne was sending out stories and writing new ones and put it out of her head. Besides, we were both focused on upcoming book readings and signings not to mention shopping for gifts.

Around Thanksgiving, Roxy got a call from Mr. Coco. “I’d like to interview you on “The Open Mike Show” and have you read a bit from your book. How does December 1st sound?”

Now you have to know Roxanne to realize how bone chillingly horrifying this was for her to hear. She wasn’t prepared. She needed time to plan. She needed time to assimilate. She needed more TIME!

But time was not a commodity she had. Mere days away, fear bloomed and threatened to ruin her self-confidence, her interview and the opportunity she herself, sought out.

Roxanne made a conscious decision despite being scared witless, to overcome her fear and talked herself off the ledge. She realized over the past few years, she’d been reading her fiction at various places: a theatre, bookstores and at EWAG, her writing support group. Not to mention reading aloud to me ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper. So she knew she’d feel comfortable reading on the radio show. She was less sure of the spontaneous interview part, but after we played Host / Interviewee for a few hours, she felt more prepared.

That was, until she found out one hour before her interview that WHAV Radio was also a live television show with an audience of at least 64,000 viewers.

My sister confessed, had she known about being on camera, she probably wouldn’t have sent her initial query letter and book. Some surprises from the universe are best left for last.

After Roxanne accepted she was the one who set in motion this wonderful opportunity, she relaxed. Trusting that this was a good thing, instead of freaking out (well, not much) she embraced the challenge and prepared for the show.

It turned out to be a milestone of accomplishment. Tim Coco, was a wonderful Host with a long history on WHAV. At seventeen, he became an intern at “WHAV Broadcasting Co., Haverhill.” He is the Founder and Chief Executive of The Open Mike Show on WHAV Radio where he talks about news, history, holds interviews and yaks about trivia with call-ins. Easy to talk to, Mr. Coco possesses the gift of gab and made Roxanne feel safe. For that, he is my Hero.

Roxanne actually enjoyed the experience and said she would do it again. I thought she appeared calm and natural. Watching the interview with an eye to improve, rather than as a negative critic, she felt she could have elaborated on a few subjects and could have looked more at the camera. But on the whole, she was proud of what she’d accomplished and felt greatly empowered.

Acting on an intuitive idea, Roxanne took a risk and followed through. It made her stronger. She actually said she didn’t think she’d ever be afraid of stepping out from her comfort zone again.

In the past, Roxy remembered attending cocktail parties at her agent’s that included writers, actors and editors. Like her, the writers all sat on couches sipping drinks, not speaking and counting the minutes when it would be an acceptable time to leave. The actors stood around the piano singing and talking about the latest part they were in or exchanging backstage gossip. She envied their ease and gregarious, outgoing ability to talk about themselves and their work. While not everyone has an actor’s personality — everyone can surprise themselves; shed their self-imposed limitations, try something different and expand their horizons.

I have huge admiration for Roxanne. It was a bold and courageous move for her to follow through on her burst of intuition. The payoff was a feeling of accomplishment, and trust in herself.

We encourage you to listen for that hunch whispering in your ear to do something you’ve never done before. You may surprise yourself. Roxanne might still feel nervous about trying something new but insists it won’t hold her back. And that alone is priceless.

Look for our blog week about our attendance at “Authors Night” at the Nashua Public Library where over 50 authors attended. Ciao, till then. 

Every author has attended readings and book signings at one time or another, either as a participant or fan.

The Dent sisters recently participated in one at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA “Put All Your Fears in One Basket.” An all-day author reading and signing was especially fun for us, since we got to hear 14 other authors read their tales of terror. From Witches to Bugs told in narrative and poetic form, death, dying and worse (gulp) were crafted in Psychological, Sci-Fi or Paranormal readings. They were lively, entertaining and totally engrossing. We had a blast, meeting old friends, making new ones and talking to patrons checking out books.

Tony Trembly, a friend, horror writer and book critic, has become the designated photographer at these events snapping away all day and posting the pics on our Facebook pages. Yay Tony!

Trish Wooldridge, also an author who works at Annie’s, provided cheese, crackers, water and a large assortment of delightful horror “cakettes” from a nearby bakery. These were small, round and delicious, with a ‘horror’ design crouched on top of them, like a spider, bug or skeleton in chocolate. There was even a larger image of Edgar Allen Poe teetering over a 2×1″ casket of chocolate. Yum and kudos to the creativity of the baker.

Annie’s, no ordinary bookstore, is small but incredibly packed with books in every genre along with games, toys, puzzles, cards and other unique gifts. Patty, the bookstore’s owner lets you browse to your heart’s content, but if asked, can tell you exactly where the author, title or subject you’re interested in, is located. As two of the 16 readers scheduled to read during the Event, we appreciated her extra effort in getting everyone’s books ordered for the readings.

Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James Street, Worcester, MA 01603, (508) 796-5613. If you haven’t been there, drop by or check out their website http://www.anniesbooksworcester.com for other events they have going on every day.

Next week we’ll post a Blog on Roxanne’s interview and book reading on WHAV Radio: “STEP OUR OF YOUR FEARS AND BE STRONGER FOR IT” See you then! K&R

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Karen and I were tagged by our friend, Gregory Norris (gregorylnorris.blogspot.com), to join the Blog Tour. Greg is one of the most prolific writers we know. In addition to writing hundreds of short stories, novellas and novels, he has also written a movie, “Brutal Colors,” which is in its final cut in Los Angeles.

Normally, Karen and I share a blog as “sistersdent” but felt our combined blog would go on too long, so we decided to answer individually. The following is Roxanne’s blog.

What am I working on?

We live in an age, where the greatest mystery is how quickly we can navigate the latest technological wonder. Magic seems lost in the mists of time. “Beyond the Iberian Sea,” is an urban, paranormal fantasy. It sweeps you into a world of magic, where nothing is impossible and evil is real, tangible and terrifying. Mick Grimaldi, the cheeky, shape shifting detective from “The Janus Demon,” my ninth novel, (due out this year) has been hired to find a missing person in another dimension. The money is great but he has been warned by the fey if he enters their world, a death sentence hangs over him and he suffers from a weakness that makes him vulnerable every time he shifts. In this novel, I introduce three new races, the seafaring Volk and their red robed priests, the simple Taren farmers and the exotic, Sharee traders whose voices both heal and move megalithic stones. I alternate between Mick and Bronagh, a bitter revenge seeking inhabitant of the Kingdom of the Volk and how their worlds collide and impact one another when they finally meet. Both are damaged people who must overcome their fears and come to terms with their past even as their worlds collapse around them.

I never work on one novel alone. I just completed two shorts, “The Reckoning,” a horror tale about family loyalty and “Day of the Dead,” a tale of murder and revenge. Never lacking projects, I also have several on the back burner, in various stages of completion, including “The Boy in the Green Hightops,” a YA prequel to “The Janus Demon,” “The Wager,” another Regency, and plan to set aside time to edit “The Poison Pen Murders,” a Victorian mystery.

How is my work different from other’s work in the same genre?

Until I was ten, I lived in lower Manhattan in a warm, Italian neighborhood. My mother sent me to the nearest school, “Our Lady of Pompeii.” I was the only non Catholic in my class and used to sneak out of the house to attend mass. I loved the rituals and wanted to belong, a theme that often crops up in my stories as well as being an outsider, an outcast and a holder of secrets.

When my mother and I moved to Florida, I lived for three years with an alcoholic aunt in an elderly community where the majority of residents were only there during the winter months. I escaped by reading every one of her National Geographic Magazines two and three times and anything else I could get my hands on. I was also glued to the television watching mostly Westerns and 1930s and 40s movies about swashbuckling pirates on the movie channel. It was here I dreamed of being a writer. I would hold up one of my aunt’s thick, Readers Digest books: imagine an audience, and would make up a story, pretending I had written a novel.

At thirteen, I moved again to Yonkers, NY where I adjusted to being around lots of different kids and life in the suburbs. Painfully shy, I felt out of step and invisible to the teens around me, once again, burying myself in books. It was here I first put the fantasies in my head onto paper and won a poetry competition for The Devil’s Disciple,” which encouraged me to keep writingI returned to New York City in my early twenties and spent the following decades enjoying all the richness the city had to offer including my first book sale. It was here Karen and I collaborated on a screenplay treatment we sold to Austin Films and explored play writing for The Producer’s Club  where I wrote  A Weekend in the Country, a farce. I also joined The Sunday Club, a group of down and dirty independent filmmakers whose goal was to write and produce  a movie in one day. We helped each other make movies and did whatever was needed from boom person to food services. I subsequently wrote and directed Valentine’s Day, a thriller which won the Audience Choice Awards in the Bare Bones International Film Festival. My screenplay, The Pied Piper, a thriller, won first prize in Fade-in Magazine.

In June, 2000 I relocated to Haverhill, Massachusetts where Karen and I collaborated on Young At Heart and Monkey Girl Blues which were put on at The Firehouse Theater in Newburyport. 

Many of my stories take place in New York City where I have a great many happy memories. I write characters who are frequently lonely, isolated, quirky, secretive and gifted. Growing up, I read, and read and read. I didn’t limit myself to one genre. I was eclectic in my reading from fairy tales around the world to adventure novels like The Count of Monte Christo and Robin Hood, to Agatha Christie’s mysteries, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan series, The Dragon Riders of Pern, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

As an adult, I came to love the tales of Steven King, Kate Daniels, George Martin, Jim Butcher Charlene Harris, Jane Austin, the dark mysteries of Ruth Rendell, and The Sister Fidelma mysteries set in ancient Ireland.

As I began to write, I wrote as I read, choosing projects that interested me, rather than sticking to one genre.

Themes of mine involve magic, humor, adventure, battling inner demons, being different, and fear of the unknown.

Why do I write as I do?

I write because my characters and plots come to me daily and refuse to be ignored. They rattle around in my head haunting me until I turn the computer on. I love them all, each having something about them I can identify with. Most have a sense of humor, honor, long for love and acceptance, are often lonely and possess a little bit of greatness. I let them speak. Sometimes they surprise me. Sometimes they freak me out or piss me off. They give me the golden opportunity to let them fulfill their destinies or alter their path, give them courage and allow them to meet their fate. It’s a gift.

How does my writing process work?

I know people who think a bit, then pound out their novels non-stop and often get done in a matter of weeks. I admire them but I’m not that kind of writer even with short stories. With novels, I do a loose outline first and a character breakdown. I list names I feel fit the characters. If I need to do research, I do it. Then I write, and re-write, and re-write the first few chapters before moving on. I frequently take breaks to embark on a short story. Every morning, as soon as I take a few sips of coffee, I turn on the computer. I sneak a peek at Facebook, check my e-mails and what anthologies and contests are out there. if I have anything to submit, or if a particular theme inspires me to begin writing a new short story, I make a note of it. I try to get in at least a 45 minute walk, usually with my sister. Later, we might go to Panera’s or Starbucks with our laptops and write. It breaks things up by going to a place where the aroma of French Roast and the low murmuring all around me helps me to relax. I don’t look up and think, damn, got to do laundry or clean the kitchen floor. Once I’ve finished a novel, I take another longer break before reading it again and editing as I go. At night, I watch some TV and nestle with my cat, see a movie, buy a book or have dinner with friends or family.

I pass the torch along to two fabulous writers, Tony Trembly who is the author of horror and noir fiction. He writes under the pen name of T. T. Zuma. His short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, websites and print magazines. He is also one of the editors, (along with Nanci Kalanta and Christ Jones,} of the Eulogies series of horror anthologies for HW Press. Tony is also a reviewer of horror and dark fiction for Horror World and Cemetery Dance Magazine and is a  lovely person.

And Kristi Petersen Schoonover, whose fiction has appeared in countless publications, most recently the Rose Red Review. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and is an editor for Read Short Fiction; currently she’s getting herself organized and polishing some older work. She lives with her husband in the haunted woods of Connecticut and sleeps with the lights on. You can find out more at http://www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

If you’re a writer, you await your first review with joy and anticipation. When it arrives, you go into shock. It’s nasty, vicious, or deliberately mean.  You wonder, whasst’s up! Your baby may not be Stephen King or George Martin or Jane Austin but it definitely doesn’t deserve being ripped apart in such a malicious manner.

 Admittedly, some harsh reviews can actually be helpful if they possess just one shred of merit. Despite how much it might hurt, if you’re honest with yourself, you know when it hits home.

 On the other hand, a ‘Slasher’s review isn’t helpful. They take pleasure in trashing your work and are almost always cruel to the bone. The effect their comments have on a writer too often is depression. You’ve been slashed if you find yourself sitting in the dark with one light, reading voraciously with a bag of chips and a package of Rollos by your side…and the computer turned off.

 Not to worry, everyone gets them. The best part is you’re in good company. Famous people get crushing reviews too and we thought we’d include a few so you’d feel better.

  • The Catcher in the Rye, “So many other good books—don’t waste your time on this one. J.D. Salinger went into hiding because he was embarrassed.”
  • The Lord of the Rings,. ”The book is not readable because of the overuse of adverbs”
  • To Kill a Mockingbird,I don’t see why this book is so fabulous.  I would give it a zero. I find no point in writing a book about segregation, there’s no way of making it into an enjoyable book.”  This one actually made us chuckle “I have…come across some truly awful books. And yet not a single one of them has managed to cause me quite as much gastrointestinal distress as has (this one) Amazon.com

 Reviewers differ in their likes and dislikes as much as the next person but the ‘Slasher’ seems to take particular pride in expressing themselves in the most colorful and devastating manner. Individual grudges aside, this kind of reviewer might be someone whose tastes are very specific. Their vision of what a ‘romance, mystery, scifi MUST be isn’t what you wrote and their disappointment makes them mad.

 Take heart, fellow writers, actors deal with nasty reviews all the time.  Kathryn Hepburn was told to go home and forget about acting. She didn’t. Don’t let the slasher drain you even temporarily of the joy of creating.

 Love,
The Sisters Dent

As we prepare for our reading at Books and Boos April 6th (514 Westchester Road, Colchester, CT) we’ve had an enormous show of support and love.  And it occurred to us that we could return the favor.

Posting a review on one of the major sites is not the only way to show support. With the advent of Facebook, Blogs and Twitter people can get information out in a myriad of ways. And we’re fortunate to be surrounded by an enormous pool of talented people with interests and abilities in many areas.  Just in our writing group alone, almost every person has more than one talent, such as:

  • One writes great sci-fi but also invented a writing program to help with the agony of organizing their fellow-writers works.
  • We have non-fiction writers who take amazing photographs that could be just the thing you’re looking for.
  • Another teaches classes in Word and Excel which will improve your knowledge of the computer, making your writing life that much easier.
  • Plus we also have several members who pitch and sell ideas for new anthologies to established houses.

Along with their writing, other creative projects can be promoted as well by: Reviews, Inteviews, Articles, Facebook/Blog/Twitter mentions, word of mouth — and it only takes a few moments to do.

So The Sisters Dent will list ONE: Book, Article, Short Story, New Program Feature or Submission Alert at the end of each blog for you to “CHECK THEM OUT”.

Enuf about that, What About US?

Roxanne put the final polish on “The Janus Demon,” and “The Poison Pen Murders,” and is in the process of mailing letters to agents.  She is currently working on “Beyond the Iberian Sea,” Book Two of “The Janus Demon,” wrapping up “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a novella Regency and is working on a new short YA fantasy, “The Boy in the Green High Tops.”

Karen has completed her first novel, the paranormal noir “A Case to KILL For” and has begun editing as we post this. She’s completed another short horror, “The Cursed Box” and has begun a loose outline for a Steampunk short with Zombies.

Until our next post …

CHECK THEM OUT:

 S.D. Grady’s newest book, “Heart of the Dragon” is available at www.amazon.com.  Sonya is a writer of erotica, romance, historical fiction and believe it or not, articles on NASCAR.  Her website is www.queensdomain.blogspot.com

Whether it’s in the area of creative arts or business, be open to serendipitous opportunities that DON’T have anything to do with having all the ‘necessary things in place or following the rules.

Enthusiasm, excitement and expectations are like magnets. They draw to us or repel opportunities for success. Intuition and listening to your inner voice plays a BIG part in success. This could be a joyful conversation with someone while you wait on line at Starbucks that leads to an introduction or a phone number, or moving forward with sending out a query to that Agent in spite of your inner fear.

Writers, Actors, Artists, Sculptors – are constantly bombarded with rules that box them into believing they must attend conventions/market themselves/blog their asses off/network or get the best headshots/acting classes/skinny down-Botox up in order to make it. This just undermines joy and shrivels belief in talent. It plops you down into an environment of ‘not gonna happen unless you…’ and we believe it, blocking the unexpected, the serendipitous, the once in a lifetime opportunity.

That is not to say rules are worthless. Going out and meeting people in the industry will most likely help your career. And yes, blogging is a great way to market yourself. But it shouldn’t stop you from ‘making’ it.

My sister and I have known a number of ‘Innocents’ – those to whom the RULES were not yet set in stone. We’ve seen beginning writers through excitement and a belief in their abilities get an agent and sign with mainstream publishers. Struggling actors have snagged a National Commercial or a speaking role in a soap or a sitcom. . But as time wore on, and the buzzing around them seeped in, focusing on what they didn’t have and how they weren’t following the rules, the jobs dried up, and they slowly became part of the disappointed, disillusioned and frustrated mass of unemployed.

We have written this blog because we and so many of our talented friends have fallen victim to undermining ourselves. We want to remind you to make your Creative Spirit trust itself, to stop you from feeling helpless, your work’s not good enough, the odds aren’t in your favor, or any other negative emotion that pops up and tears down your confidence — and that includes a pass from an agent or publisher. Agents and publishers often say their pass has nothing to do with your talent. It’s true. The passes are all about finding the right home for your baby. So keep sending it out. Yes, the personal approach works, and yes, as a writer if an Agent is interested in your letter they WILL look at your website/blog, so it would helpful if you had one and if it was good. Hey, times change and marketing yourself today is HUGE … but it’s not everything.

Write what you love with joy and abandon and believe that the world is big enough, quirky and mischievous enough to embrace you even without all the trappings of the Rules.

Love you, keep the faith – The Sisters Dent

This Tuesday we had a creative luncheon with a very dear friend. We dined, yakked and shared our stories with one another around a crackling fire with full emotional support. It was heaven. This made us think about how incredibly lucky we are to not only have creative friends but also to have a writing group that supports each other with acceptance and safety.

Our lovely luncheon reminded us about our Group’s monthly Soirees held on Sunday. The Soirees hold the same magic of inspiration as our luncheon did and are a fantastic prompt for members to write a new short story every month. Think of it –at the end of the year this tally’s up to 12 brand-spanking-new tales that might not ever have been written without the monthly get togethers.

    How It Works

Whoever hosts the event at their house, decides on a Theme. Everyone brings something to Eat, pot-luck style, and we socialize, scarff down the yummy food and then read our stories. Some are short, some long and some aren’t even on the theme – but it’s brand new, gossimer gold spun out of our fertile imaginations.

New Work. New Stuff, New Crafting-of-Words to stretch and expand your writing abilities and enrich your catalogue of tales which you will at some future date submit to one of the many contests out there even if you think the story and theme is too out there.

For our month of February the theme is “Potions and Allergies.” Sometimes you got nuttin’ but you’re committed to come up with something out of respect for your Host. Roxanne blew out yet another short story, “My Zombie Valentine” and Karen’s alter ego wrote “Curse of the Dog” – a fantasy set in the far past, a genre she has never worked with before. Both stories are out of their comfort zones.

The beauty of adhering to a monthly Soiree Theme forces you to write. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be completed–it just has to be ‘created and begun’. This is a wonderful kick in your Muse’s Butt, which leads to building up your repertoire of unique and individual creative projects.

This is a call to go with the flow, accept a challenge, enhance your abilities and stretch your brain.

Both of us have written things outside of our comfort zones. Roxanne who never wrote a zombie story and didn’t think she could, wrote “Zombies at Red Rock” which sold to “A Fistful of Horrors” Her very first ghost and YA story, “The Ghost on Coffin Street,” was written for a Halloween party and sold to Whortleberry Press in their Halloween Dances with the Dead“. It’s one of her favroites. Miss Luella’s Magic Shop,” sold to “Ticonderoga Publications.” for their paranormal anthology, More Scary Kisses.”

Karen’s “Mr. Hoo-Wards Unwise Promise”, a Grade School Christmas Tale was written in honor of the Soiree Hostess, Helen, who wrote the most charming and delightful Children’s stories. It sold to Whortleberry Press in their Peace On All The Earths. The next one was “Grave Mistake” again for Whortleberry and her “Basic Nature” was sold to HOTIP’s Issue of Children and Zombies (definitely NOT a YA or Children’s story)

We’ve had all sorts of themes over the years and you never know what you can do until you challenge yourself to try.

As we’ve mentioned in our previous blogs – we like to share and we can’t think of anything more helpful to the creative spirit than holding a Soiree. It can be with just one or two people or a dozen. But making the commitment, and allowing free access to all sorts of ideas for your Muse to play with is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.