Monday, February 12, 2018

A first course of info nuggets from LoneStar.Ink conference

My brain nearly exploded – in a good way – during the LoneStar.Ink writers conference in Dallas this past weekend. I’ll have more in-depth reports on the wonderful presenters later this week, but in the meantime, treat yourselves to a few (very few!) selections from the menu of yummy facts, sites, and craft information on tap.
Bestselling thriller/mystery writer (and former CIA employee) Traci Hunter Abramson worried that the (brief) weekend shutdown of the federal government would delay her former employer’s mandatory vetting of her latest novel. In the meantime, she offered her audiences an array of sites guaranteed to make crime writers salivate:
Traci Abramson
  • Even if you’re not plotting a spy mystery, who can resist a virtual tour of CIA headquarters? (Click on the “about” section of the site.) And even non-thriller books set in other countries can benefit from the CIA’s wealth of information about populations, maps, world leaders, and more. (Click on “library” for a jaw-dropping wealth of information.)
  • Abramson recommended this site as a great source for story ideas. Or try:
  • for information on what kind of people a plethora of agencies are looking for. And how to tailor characters to match. 
At first, I was skeptical of the “Cast Calculus Trope” Donald J. Carey, (aka Don Carey, software engineer turned fiction writer) promised would help differentiating our casts of characters. Abandon all fear of tropes, as long as, like superpowers, you use them wisely and for good! In the meantime, revel at:
Kathleen Baldwin
 Looking for writings about the writing craft you can sink your teeth into? Try these tomes recommended by YA alternate history writer Kathleen Baldwin:
  • Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers, by Lisa Cron
  • Creating Blockbusters! by Gene Del Vecchio
  • Scene & Structure, by Jack Bickham 
Worried that you still can’t quite pin down your story? Fantasy writer David Farland mentioned this site:
· but only to note that there are things it still doesn’t get. Still, the free demo download looks tempting.  
I notice I’ve used a lot of hyphenated words in this post. Which makes me wonder what editor Lisa Mangum of Shadow Mountain Publishing would say.  First, of course, she’d clean up stylistic issues with FileCleaner, available (for a small fee, she says), from:
Then she would open a dictionary. She prefers Merriam-Webster (free online), but whichever dictionary you use, be consistent! And check the Chicago Manual of Style. (Note to self, she’s a fan of the Oxford (serial) comma, the bugbear of this former journalist. Sigh.)
After all that, do you feel ready to send your cherished manuscript into the world? Check out this source for literary agents, from romance author Laura Drake:
· A searchable free database of literary agents

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