Category: Writing Hints


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.

Featured image

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. 

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

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

We took a short hiatis from blogging so we could finish up commitments, take time for a new critique group and spend a whirlwind of time entertaining. But now we’re back, hunkered down in our homes and thrilled that Nemo, the humongous snow storm didn’t drag down our powerlines. Right now, it’s breathtakingly beautiful outside, providing a spectacular and inspiring setting to write.

NEWS:ADDRESS CORRECTION FOR BOOKS AND BOOS – 514 Westchester Road, Colechester, CT.

The Sisters Dent will each be reading at “Books and Boo’s” on April 6h from 2:00-6:00 pm. Owned by Stacy and Jason Harris, long time members of the New England Horror Writers, “Books and Boo’s” is located at: 514 Westchester Road, Colechester, CT. Please come on down (or up) and join us. We’d love to meet you!

Roxanne has been a busy bee – working on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a charming and hilarious Regency that oddly, doesn’t include snow since she discovered it seldom snowed in that part of England in the early 1800s. Not to be genre specific, she plans on sending out two horror shorts she just completed next Tuesday. Why, you might ask is she waiting for Tuesday?

Tip: A short story sent late Tuesday for a Wednesday read is more likely to be read in it’s entirety and not summarily tossed into the reject pile. Ask us why if you’re curious.

No moss under those tiny feet, Roxanne has begun a new short mystery, “The Man in the Green High-Tops.”

Karen is finishing work on her paranormal noir novel, “A Case To KILL For” and has begun the dreaded ‘Outline’. She’s been working on two more shorts as well, “The Thousandth Tear” a lovely tale of betrayal and revenge and “Curse of the Dog” a very pecurliar genre she’s never written before. Zee Muse she takes liberties.

Just like to add we have both received passes as most writers do. We commiserate and support one another to continue to send out, a HUGELY IMPORTANT step for any writer. Do not get discouraged friends, keep on keepin’ on!

We also kept bugging each other to pick up a pen and continue our blog. Apparently the nagging worked. So – here we are where we hopefully will be a weekly presence to inspire other writers, like you – to share. And don’t underestimate a good nag.

See you soon!