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Fall 2013

In This Issue:

Featured Article Pg 3…Why ‘Keep Moving Forward’ is My Best Advice for Writers Everywhere by Chuck Sambuchino _______________________________________ Pg 2…From the President’s Desk: Keep Moving Forward by Brad R Cook Pg 5…The Care and Feeding of Agents by Peter Green Pg 7…Workshops for Writers: Agents: From Hello to Goodbye by Melanie Koleini Pg 13…Workshops for Writers: Weapons in Writing by Lauren Miller Pg 15…Workshops for Writers: Understanding the Publishing Options with Rocking Horse Publishing, High Hill Press, and Treehouse Publishing Group by Lauren Miller Pg 17…Author Series: Nicole Evelina by Lauren Miller Pg 18…Writers in the Park 2013: A New Legacy by Brad R. Cook Featured Poet – Jud Miner Pg 12…Oh For Words That Rhyme Pg 21…Hygienic Theopathy Pg 22…Poetry Events
Copyright ©2013 St. Louis Writers Guild All Rights Reserved

Editorial Staff
T.W. Fendley Editor-in-Chief Brad R. Cook Graphic Designer Jennifer Stolzer Staff Writer and Cover Touch-up Artist Lauren Miller Melanie Koleini Staff Writers

Thank You Chuck Sambuchino Peter H Green Jud Miner

Cover: Statue of Saint Louis in front of the Art Museum photo by Brad R. Cook Back Cover: Henry Shaw’s home and mausoleum at the Missouri Botanical Garden photo by Brad R. Cook

1 | The Scribe

From the President’s Desk

Keep Moving Forward
s writers, our greatest critics are ourselves. The publishing industry might be littered with landmines, rejections, shifting trends, and con men – it could drive one to drink, or worse, to walk away – but this is why writers were given fortitude beyond that of normal mortals. Writers come from tough, hearty stock. We have to; it’s the only way to survive. St. Louis Writers Guild can help. That’s the beauty of literary organizations. They encourage us, and together we grow stronger. For whom better than a fellow writer to lend a sympathetic shoulder, or understand the hardships and pitfalls we face every day. Writers must keep pushing forward throughout our careers. Books evolve, storytelling evolves, and as writers, we need to have the flexibility to move with the industry. To remain in place is to remain stagnant, and what reader wants to read a tenth book that’s just like the other nine? Expand your universe, and layer complex plots with deep emotional characters. Strive to sell more of your next book than you did of your previous. Don’t settle just for bookmarks--move forward to customized kindle covers…okay, now maybe I’ve gone too far forward. Never give up, and never accept mediocrity. Keep moving forward, keep pushing yourself and grow into a great writer.


~ Brad R. Cook

President, St. Louis Writers Guild [Type a quote from the document or the summary of an interesting point. You can position the text box anywhere in the document. Use the Text Box Tools tab to change the formatting of the pull quote text box.]

St. Louis Writers Guild

founded in 1920 A chapter of the Missouri Writers Guild St. Louis Writers Guild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission to further Missouri's literary heritage, connect, support, and promote writers and literary organizations in the community. Find SLWG Online @stlwritersguild #SLWG Saint Louis Writers Guild on Facebook SLWG Author Series on Youtube Mailing Address: P.O. Box 411757 St. Louis, MO 63141

The Scribe | 2

Featured Article | The Scribe


“Keep Moving Forward”

is My Best Advice for Writers Everywhere

By Chuck Sambuchino
best advice I can give you as you continue toward your writing goals, whatever they may be. Just keep moving forward. I remember specifically that 2011 was a strange year for me. The first eight months seemed to be filled with near-misses and small disappointments concerning my writing. Things just weren’t going my way. I vented to those who would listen; my wife and literary agent both told me they could take no more so I started complaining to the dog. (If he listens for five minutes, he gets a treat.) But then, in a span of 45 days in the fall of 2011, I had a flood of good writing news. I formally sold the film option and Japanese language rights to my first humor book about garden gnomes. I sold my latest book on writing called Create Your Writer Platform (fall 2012). And I finally sold my second humor book — a fusion of funny dog pictures and political humor called Red Dog / Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political (summer 2012). So much happened in a span of weeks—all of it amazing news. And I attribute it to one simple thing. I kept moving forward.

Keep moving forward. That is probably the

(This column excerpted from CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM by Chuck Sambuchino, out from Writer’s Digest Books. It also appeared on the First Novels Club blog.)

Chuck Sambuchino will be at the 2014 Missouri Writers Guild Conference in April! “50 Shades of Writing” Missouri Writers Guild’s Annual Conference April 11-13, 2014! For more information or to register visit:

In my opinion, the most frustrating thing about writing books is that so much is out of your control. It’s crazy. You can’t control which editors will connect with your book and which won’t. You can’t control what an agent’s mood will be like on the day they review your query letter. You can’t control when your book will be considered timely and part of the pop culture conversation (and therefore a valuable project). You can’t control when an editor or publicist assigned to your book will get laid off, or when your agent will retire, or your editor will switch houses and leave your book orphaned. You can’t control when Amazon will make a pricing decision that forces your publishing house to decrease the print run of your book. You can’t control if foreign markets or Hollywood will buy rights to your book. You can’t control whether some staffer at EW or Vanity Fair or wherever has a bit of time one day to pick your book out of their “to review” stack and take an interest in your work. You can’t control when another title in the marketplace will be a breakout hit and direct readers to your book because they have some kind of connection. You can’t control any of these things. All this stuff will drive you mad if you let it.

Why “Keep Moving Forward” is My Best Advice for Writers Everywhere
… continued But there is a way to keep your marbles. The way I personally stay sane is to focus on the things I can control. These include 1) always writing the best work(s) I can, and 2) always building my author platform so that I can control my personal visibility as well as a bit of my sales, no matter what external circumstances bring. But the most important thing I do, in my opinion, is 3) I keep moving forward. My latest humor book idea was rejected? I vent to the dog then brainstorm more concepts. A blog post fails to generate interest? I punch a pillow then sit down to write two more. 10 people don’t return my e-mails? I write to new contacts and tell myself it’s a numbers game. A writers conference cancels my trip suddenly? I reach out to another one. My first screenplay didn’t turn out the way I wanted? I’ll write a second one — and improve on my mistakes. My script manager left the business? Well I can’t find another one unless I just start querying— so why waste time?—I’ll start querying people this week… I promise myself that while I may fail at a task at hand, whether it’s small or big—I will not fail because of a personal lack of effort. There are so many things I cannot control, but you can be damn sure that I will keep moving forward through bad news. I do it because it’s all I can do. Keep moving forward, and I promise everything will be all right.

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing. His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING & SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM. Besides that, he is a freelance book & query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook.

(Hi, everyone. Chuck here chiming in for a second. I wanted to say I am now taking clients as a freelance editor. So if your query or synopsis needs some love, please check out my editing services. Thanks!)

The Scribe | 4

The Care and Feeding of Agents
I'm concerned there hasn't been a single manual written in the past seven days on how to write a book—and how not to. This makes me speculate that everyone has already learned how. At least everyone in my acquaintance is writing one, including people who should know better--they have families to support. Our mail carrier, for example, is writing a novel about how she took her grandchildren on vacation to the Ozarks and overturned her canoe. While they were drying out by the campfire, they were visited by a grizzly bear, which took all their food. So they survived for a week on peanut butter, soggy Ritz crackers and river water purified with Army surplus halogen tablets. The author describes their experience in vivid terms: “We had the time of our lives!"

by Peter H Green

Meet them at Missouri Writers Guild’s 2014 Conference in St. Louis
“Let's face it: the place to make a book deal is in the goddamned bar.”

50 Shades of Writing
Missouri Writers Guild’s Annual Conference April 11 – 13, 2014
Ramada Plaza Hotel Downtown St. Louis 811 N. 9th St. St. Louis, MO 63101 St. Louis Writers Guild Members get the Chapter Discount! Register for the conference:

In view of such widespread talent, however, I wonder: Why aren't there more successful authors? For one thing, there are dozens of books about character development, dialogue that moves the plot along and the importance of double spacing your manuscript. But where is a new author supposed to learn the real basics--the essentials, after all--like how to have lunch with an editor or an agent? This is a touchy subject for us Midwesterners, unfortunate enough to live in flyover country. How can you meet those chosen ones, those kingmakers from the Left Coast—and especially the “right” one—without blowing (in advance, mind you) your first advance? Fortunately for those of us as yet uninitiated and unblessed, there is the regional literary conference, where the Great Ones descend to the hinterland to seek, among the unwashed masses, that spark of raw talent, that rude woodsman with native genius, who ends his day of chopping and gathering wood in the primeval forest scribbling deathless prose by lantern light.

5 | The Scribe

The Care and Feeding of Agents
One seasoned and pickled literary agent once confided to me, “Let's face it: the place to make a book deal is in the goddamned bar.” At a tiny cocktail table in the lounge of the conference hotel, six or seven of us crowded around her, hanging on every word, each vying to be the next to pick up the check for her whiskey—she drank it neat. To keep the conversation on a general level, I brought up recent bestsellers. “What about Fifty Shades of Grey?” Bingo. “That E. L. James can't sustain her pandering,” she expounded. “She's got only one book in her, period.” “I couldn't agree more,” I said, “most so-called romance fiction is just mommy porn.” I took a chance that this esteemed arbiter of literary taste, who had too many miles on her to care about romance anyway, favored sterner stuff. “Now what I really think is coming back,” she added, “is hard-boiled mystery.” Bingo, again. But she was too well oiled to remember much a month later, when I submitted my noir detective novel, about our productive conversation. You'll have your own chance to drink in this advice and much more, at the Missouri Writers Guild conference April 11 through 14, 2014, at the Ramada Inn Downtown, St. Louis. In fact, there’s a special deal if you register before December 31st. You can learn more at their website. I'll be there with plenty of loose change—at the bar. Until next time, good words to you, …continued

St. Louis Reflections $9.99
Find it online, at SLWG events, or a local bookstores like StL Books and All on the Same Page Bookstore Makes a great gift!

~ Peter
A writer, architect and city planner, Peter found his father’s 400 World War II letters, his humorous war stories, his mother’s writings and their family’s often hilarious doings too good a tale to keep to himself, so he launched a second career as a writer. His first book recounted the often hilarious antics and serious achievements of his dad’s Word War II adventure, Dad’s War with the United States Marines, Seaboard Press, 2005, to be re-issued shortly by Greenskills Press. His first novel, Crimes of Design, a Patrick MacKenna mystery, an intrigue of murder and sabotage set in St. Louis during the highest flood of record, which first appeared in 2012 from L & L Dreamspell, will be re-published, along with the second in this series, Fatal Designs, in Spring, 2014, He lives in St. Louis with his wife Connie, and has two married daughters and three grandchildren. His website is .

Peter H Green

Workshops for Writers:
Agents – From Hello to Goodbye
Presented by Cole Gibsen and Fiona Paul

by Melanie Koleini

a workshop titled "Agents: From Hello to Goodbye" at the Kirkwood community center on Saturday, July 13. The authors shared their experiences finding and working with agents. In today's changing publishing landscape, a professional agent is still important for success. If you want your book published by one of the Big Five publishers an agent is almost a necessity. The odds of the manuscript being chosen from the slush pile are incredibly low. And even if an author wins that lottery, they will likely be offered much less than if the same work was pitched to them by an agent. A good agent knows the market. They know what the publishers are looking to buy and what they are willing to pay. Publishers want to make themselves as much money as possible. An agent's job is to make their clients as much money as possible and generally look out for their authors’ best interest. Agents can serve as an intermediary between the author and publisher. They can be the 'heavy,' insisting on a change in the cover art or negotiating a bigger advance while the author can avoid getting the reputation of being difficult. Publishing contracts are long and complicated. An agent is the one who takes the time to explain what all the clauses actually mean and can catch mistakes. Cole and Fiona offered some basic advice for finding representation. Fiona has compiled a list of do’s and don'ts for composing an agent query letter. Cole had some examples of successful queries. A lot of their advice boiled down to three principles: shop the best work you can, do your research before submitting, and don't act crazy.
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A uthors Cole Gibsen and Fiona Paul presented

1. Shop the best work you can For fiction authors, the writing is what is most important. Unless you're a celebrity with great name recognition, who you are won't do much to help sell your book. To get an agent and ultimately get published, you need a great book. Agents want to make money. In general, agents get 15% of the amount authors are paid for their work. They want to represent works they can sell successfully. Although agents often want rewrites, they want to be able to market your work as quickly as possible once you are signed. Although there are a few exceptions, most of the time you need to shop a finished work. And before sending off your work, you need to edit it. Agents get a lot of queries. You want your work to appear professional. That means it should have no misspellings or grammar mistakes and should be formatted correctly. More importantly, the work needs to grab the reader's attention and keep them turning the page. Even if you don't hire a professional editor, you need someone else to read your work. A different set of eyes will see mistakes you read over. It’s a good idea to get two or three people to read your work and give you comments. Ideally, they should be other writers or people in your target audience who will give you specific suggestions. You don't have to take all the suggestions they give you, but if several people in your target audience are giving you similar comments, chances are that area could use some revision.

Workshops for Writers: Agents – From Hello to Goodbye …Continued
2. Do your research Once you have your work ready to send out, you need to choose which agents to send your work to and write your query letter. Sending your work to agents who don’t represent your genre is a waste of your time and theirs. Before you send out your first query, compile a list of agents you would like to represent you. Numerous resources are available online to help identify and research agents. Both authors and agents often have websites, blogs and/or twitter accounts. Often, authors also thank their agent in the dedication of their books. Find out who represents published books in your genre. You can also learn more about particular agents and the writing business in general by following agents’ Twitter accounts, participating in writing contests, and attending writing conferences. Once you’ve identified some agents, check out their company websites. Even if they aren’t looking for new authors, other people in their agency may be. You can check out agents on your list and their companies on Preditors & Editors ( The site is an excellent resource for avoiding scams. Writing a query letter is a seminar in itself. The website gives a lot of guidance in both composing queries and tracking them. Your query should be personalized for each agent. Don't address your letter 'Dear Agent.' Put in a line about why you are writing each agent. Perhaps most importantly, be sure to include the information the agent requested to be included in the submission. You can generally find this information on the company’s website. Most agencies no longer accept hard copies or email attachments. Send out queries to about five agents at a time. Based on their responses, you will want to edit your query letter and/or your manuscript before sending out letters to the next five. Also, don’t send your queries to your five favorite agents all in the first round. Chances are good you have room to improve your initial letter so leave some of your favorites for round two or three. You may want to include at least one of your favorites in your first round. It is possible the first agent who reads your query will make you an offer. Be sure to plan for success as well as setbacks.

“In today's changing publishing landscape, a professional agent is still important for success. If you want your book published by one of the Big Five publishers an agent is almost a necessity.”
3. Don’t act crazy Agents want to have a good working relationship with their authors. That means it is very important to come across as someone they want to work with. Remember, agents are real people. If you run into an agent on an elevator, it's fine to strike up a conversation. But don't try to pitch your book or follow them around at a convention. Agents have “seen it all” multiple times. It's fine to be creative with your query letter, but don't be too creative. As Cole said, "The first time an agent reads a query from the point of view of the main character, it's interesting. The fortieth time, it's just annoying." has more useful pointers and examples for writing your letter. Finding an agent usually takes many tries and a lot of patience. Don’t get discouraged. Cole had over 200 rejections when she queried. It took her two years to get her first agent and another year and over a dozen publisher rejections and edit requests until she sold her first book, Katana. Once an agent gives you an offer, your work isn't done. The first thing you should do is ask for a copy of the agent contract and for a week or two to make your finial decision. Next, contact the other agents who have your work, tell them you have an offer and ask if they would also like to make one. After that is done, you need to review your contract and come up with a list of questions to ask the agent. Fiona has compiled a list. Not all the issues raised will be important to everyone. For example, new agents can't give you names of other people they represent. Focus on the issues most important to you.

Potential Questions to Ask an Agent: -- What about my manuscripts really appealed to you? (This will probably come out in general chit-chat and not need to be asked.) -- What’s your vision for the manuscript? (Do you have specific revision ideas, would you submit it as-is, etc.) -- What editors or houses did you immediately think of when you read my manuscript? -- Are you a ‘small rounds for submissions’ agent or do you believe in casting a wide net on the first round? (If the manuscript is sent to everyone at once, you can’t make revisions before trying the others. Your agent should be willing to tell you who they’ve sent your manuscripts to and who’s rejected it--if you want to know.) -- What’s your general response time for emails, revision notes, etc.? -- Do you have any plans to leave your agency in the next couple of years? -- What happens to me/my books on submission if you do leave your agency? -- What’s your communication/agenting style? (What are some of your author pet-peeves? Would you call yourself an editorial agent?) -- What if you hate a book idea that I really love and want to develop? -- What if you hate a book I write and really want sent out? -- What if you don’t want to represent a book I want to write/have written? -- How strong is your agency when it comes to selling foreign rights? -- What’s your commission on film/foreign? -- What do you think sets you/your agency apart from some of the competition? -- Will you give me the contact info for a couple of your authors so I can reach out to them about their experiences working with you? -- What sort of situations might make you want to part ways with an author? -- How do you feel about self-publishing? -- What are some of your recent sales in my genre/category? Think of the interview with an agent as a job interview. In deciding on weather to accept an agent's representation, try to figure out three things: -- Is this a scam? -- Can this person sell your work? -- Can you work with them?

Missouri Botanical Garden Blue Chandelier by Dale Chihuly Photo by Jamie Krakover

Cole answers questions while Fiona signs a book

Workshop for Writers: Agents – From Hello to Goodbye …Continued
If you have done your research, hopefully you haven't submitted your work to anyone who isn't legitimate. But here are a couple of red flags that should give you pause. The first one is if the agent won’t give you any time to consider their offer or give you a copy of the agent contract. A second red flag is if they are charging you money. All money should flow in the other direction: the publisher sends money to the agent. The agent takes a percentage (typically 15%) and you get the rest. Beware if they are charging you for editing or refer you to a specific editing service. One exception is a ‘printing fee.’ This is a holdover from the time when hard copies of manuscripts were sent to publishers. This fee is still in some contracts but neither Cole nor Fiona has heard of anyone ever actually being charged this fee. An agent will only give you an offer if she/he thinks your manuscript will sell. Unfortunately, agents aren’t always correct. What is the agent’s track record for selling your type of work? Does the agent think the manuscripts will sell as is or only after making changes? Do you agree with the changes your agent wants? Especially if you end up with more than one offer, you need to figure out if what the agent wants for your manuscript is the same as what you want. Even with an agent, sometimes first novels don’t sell. What happens then? Will the agent drop you or try to sell your next manuscripts? Agents have different styles. Some communicate with their authors much more than others. Some agents communicate mainly by email. Others prefer instant messaging or telephone conversions. Cole’s first agent could only be reached by phone if you first made an appointment by email. One style isn’t necessary better or worse than another but, ideally, what you want should match your agent’s style. Is it time to part with my agent? If you haven’t yet found your first agent, switching to a new one is probably something you haven’t spent much time thinking about. But many authors have more than one agent over the course of their carriers. Sometimes an author is forced to switch agents. Some agents drop authors if their first manuscripts don’t sell. Or the agent might retire or decide to stop representing a particular genre. However, sometimes an author decides it is time for a change.

Before making a final decision to leave your agent, make sure you are leaving for good reason. First, ask yourself if the problem is really your agent’s fault. Some problems, like a first book not selling, might not be. Also, figure out if the problem is fixable. Sometimes you just have a communication problem. If you’ve sent your agent a new project, does it take her months to read it? Or, does your agent veto every project idea you submit? You should be comfortable enough to call your agent and talk through problems. Tell your agent you want to work on your communication or that you’d like faster response times. Of course, sometimes the problem won’t be fixable. If your agent can’t or won’t further your career, it may be time for a change. Cole and her first agent had very different ideas of where they wanted her career to go. Also, Cole’s agent could only be reached by phone if you first emailed to make an appointment. When she signed with him, Cole thought she would be OK with that but over time she realized she wanted an agent who was more available. When you’ve decided to make a change, you have to do it the correct way. Read the contract you have with your current agent. Does it have a termination clause? Did your current agent sell any of your books? Cole’s first agent sold two of her books, so he's still in charge of those. IF she ever has trouble with those books she still has to go to him to deal with it. Has your agent shopped a manuscript but not sold it? If so, you need to know which publishers have already seen your work so you know who else it could be offered to. Also, agents tend to socialize with a lot of other agents. Chances are reasonable that your next potential agent will ask your current agent about you. For all those reasons, it is important to leave your agent on the best terms possible.

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Workshop for Writers: Agents – From Hello to Goodbye…Conclusion
Cole compared quitting an agent to breaking up with a boyfriend. Don't do it by text or email. Sending a letter can be part of leaving your agent; it might even be required by your agent contract. But you have to tell your agent you’re leaving over the phone. Even if your agent has done something horrendous, be polite and professional. When Cole queried her other series to new agents, they were all interested in her first agent relationship. Cole recommends using ‘I’ statements when explaining why you left your agent. You can tell them why you left but don’t blame your agent. For example, Cole’s first agent wanted to move into a different age group that Cole wasn’t interested in writing. If you left because you didn’t get along with your agent, you could say you and your first agent had different communication styles. A new agent wants to know what you’re like to work with. If you badmouth your old agent, they may conclude you will do the same to them. Cole found her second agent within a few weeks of leaving her first one. One of the reasons it was easier was because she was already published. However, leaving her first agent on good terms also helped her get a new offer. Finding an agent can be a lot of work. But even with the explosion of publishing options, professional agents are still important to an author’s career. A good agent can help you navigate the business of publishing and help you develop your writing. Ideally, the author/agent relationship is a partnership that benefits both people.

A Quick Guide to St. Louis Writers Guild Events
It's as easy as

One, Two, Three!
Workshops for Writers First Saturday of every month 10 a.m. to Noon at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S Geyer Rd. 63122 Free for members, $5 for non-members Station Open Mic Second Tuesday of every month 7-9 p.m. at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station, 110 W Argonne Dr., 63122 5mins for Poetry, 7mins for Prose SLWG Author Series Third Thursday of the month 7-8 p.m. at All on the Same Page Bookstore, 11052 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, Mo. The SLWG Author Series can be viewed three ways: 1 - be part of the audience 2 - watch and interact live online 3 - view the recording Online features are for members only, by email invitation Check for more information.

Oh for Words that Rhyme by Jud Miner
Experts say that truly it’s true, Nothing rhymes with purple or silver or orange or month! So what’s a poor poetry writer to do? If only those language authorities knew: When your stomach grumbles, and rumbles and it forces a burp, You disburple, and that rhymes with purple. When you wander, and stagger, and dodder, and wobble, You’ve become quite unstilver, and that rhymes with silver. When surrounded by Diplodocus bones, all scattered around, You are in a dinorange, and that rhymes with orange. When your foot penetrates the hard-packed snow, The sound you hear is crunth, and that rhymes with month. So take heart every worthy Shakespearian bard. And liven up your language; it’s not very hard.

Photo of the Missouri Botanical Garden, taken by BRC

Workshops For Writers: Weapons In Writing
August 3 when self-defense and fencing instructors David Alan Lucas (Chinese Kempo) and Brad R. Cook (fencing) demonstrated fighting techniques and talked about writing a great fight scene. Every fight happens for a reason and has something at stake. Just like a plot, a fight scene has a beginning, middle and end. White space and short, staccato language punctuates the quickness of the action. Use an active voice and strong verbs. "If you can get your fight scene to reflect the entire story's plot in those few moments," David said, "you'll really [have] accomplished something." Dialogue, however is not your friend, mainly because of your inability to breathe enough to carry on a conversation while fighting. Brad said fights generally end one of two ways: someone dies or runs away. "Most people five minutes into a fight are wondering how the hell they're going to get out of there," he said. Getting your opponent to stop breathing is one of the three cardinal philosophies of the "Butterfly Wing Technique" detailed in a handout provided by David. The other two philosophies involve causing your opponent to be unable to walk or to blind him or her (whether physically or with visibility obstructions, such as fog). Brad estimated that in good lighting, you should be able to see your opponent from up to 50-60 feet away, in fog, no more than 5 feet away. In the dark, about half of your visibility is lost. Extreme heat and cold can also affect the length of a fight as it wears down each combatant. Duels were fought in the morning because of cooler temperatures. Other points to consider include the setting, any obstacles (natural or man-made), weapons used, the fighting style and the type of fight you want to write. Stage fighting is usually very showy, whereas realistic fighting is all over the place.

The Workshop for Writers series got physical on

Presented by David Alan Lucas and Brad R. Cook

By Lauren Miller

13 | The Scribe

Workshops for Writers: Weapons In Writing…continued
There are three types of fighters -- blockers, runners, and jammers. A blocker is someone who blocks a move, a runner, well, runs, and a jammer uses the attacker's momentum to block an oncoming attack. A jammer is the least-common of the three types of fighters because it goes against the natural fight-or-flight tendencies and forces the one being attacked to move toward danger rather than away from it. David and Brad demonstrated extensive knowledge of weapons, which they first categorized into seven types and then talked about individually. The seven types were: blunt (i.e. causes blunt trauma, such as a mace or staff), blades, piercing (i.e. arrows, spears), throwing (i.e. knives, shuriken, caltrops), whips, guns and explosives. Know the weapon you are writing about, and understand its limitations and range. For American Revolution and other historic weapons, David recommended attending a local reenactment, such as the events in June and November each year at Fort de Chartres. For more modern weapons, Brad suggested visiting a range, such as Top Guns in Arnold or Bullseye in St. Louis. The app called Weaphone is a weapon simulator for your phone. Do the research. "You don't want to get it wrong," Brad said. "Soldiers will write you." Brad and David spoke at length about weapons and their historical backgrounds. The full extent of details on the weapons discussed easily exceeds the limits of this article. One great question raised by a member of the audience was about the use of multiple weapons and/or shields in combat. The difference between an opponent with two swords or a sword and a shield is the difference between having something defensive and having two attacking weapons. Distraction techniques beyond the defensive include disarming attempts, deception and distraction (i.e. something that takes the eye's focus off the weapon). David and Brad demonstrated fighting techniques with a boken, a wood training weapon that has the length and balance of a katana.

David, a writer and poet, is a Sandan (ThirdDegree Black Belt). Brad, President of St. Louis Writers Guild and a historical fantasy writer, studied fencing with three masters, two of whom were former Olympic coaches.

David Lucas demonstrates attacking with a Cane. Brad Cook is thinking, if he had a sword this would end differently.

The Scribe | 14

Workshops for Writers:

Understanding the Publishing Options
with Rocking Horse Publishing, High Hill Press, and Treehouse Publishing Group
By Lauren Miller
On June 1, the SLWG Workshop Series offered a special forum on publishing moderated by our own Pat Bubash. Representatives from Rocking Horse Publishing, High Hill Press and Treehouse Publishing Group answered questions from Pat and the audience. The discussion began with an overview of the services each company provides and how they work with authors in the publishing process, followed by tips and advice from each of the representatives. Robin Tidwell said she began Rocking Horse Publishing (RHP) after becoming frustrated with the traditional New York publishing route. Robin, a dystopian author who also owns All on the Same Page Bookstore, helps launch authors' products via parties at the bookstore. RHP is open to all fiction genres, and some nonfiction; standard manuscripts are 70,000 or more words, shorter lengths for children's books. Currently, they are only accepting submissions for "Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories," an anthology that will be published in October 2013. Regular submissions will be open again beginning in September 2013. Full details are available at RHP's website: Robin's best tip: "You have to know where you're going, and you have to be able to describe your book quickly."
15 | The Scribe
Photo by Brad R. Cook Pictured from left: Patricia Bubash, Robin Tidwell, Margo Dill, Kristina Makansi, and Anne Milford

High Hill Press (HHP) is a small press created by Lou Turner in 2008 as an alternative to the costly print-on-demand publishers. Although Lou could not attend, HHP was represented by one of the six editors, Margo Dill. She is a published author of historical fiction. Each editor has a specialized area of genre they handle-Margo edits memoirs, historical fiction and middle-grade/YA novels. Other genres represented by HHP include mystery, thriller, short story collections, mainstream and literary fiction. Submission guidelines are available at HHP's website: Margo's best tip: "You have to know about the market and not be timid. Know what you have."

Workshops for Writers: Understanding the Publishing Options
Treehouse Publishing Group (TPG) is a team of four writers and editors offering more than twenty years of experience in marketing and design. TPG offers a variety of services for authors from editing, querying agents, marketing, social media, and web design. Two of TPG's team, Kristina Blank Makansi and Anne Milford, attended. Kristina described part of TPG's process: "We have our own imprint but you have to submit to our editorial process, and we charge for that, […] and some people say that that's a vanity press, [but you] get to keep 100% of your royalties." The aim at TPG is to work with each author to determine their goals and how to make that happen, whether it's through self-publishing or an imprint." For more information, check out TPG's website: Kristina's best tip: "If you want to be an author you have to approach this like a professional. You need […] to be able to speak intelligently when you go to represent your book because you're the best salesperson for your book." Anne's best tip: "You have to be prepared to market your book." To really understand your publishing options, you need to know what's out there. Jane Friedman's infographic, "5 Key Book Publishing Paths," was cited as a highly recommended resource detailing the publication options available. Kristina (TPG) suggested that the traditional New York path is still considered the way to go if you want validation as an author. It's also important to note that you don't necessarily need an agent when submitting to small presses. Robin (RHP) said small press publishers often act on behalf of the author to shop the book around to marketers and booksellers. The publisher does not replace the agent entirely, however. As Kristina (TPG) pointed out, "Agents are the liaison between the author and the publisher, so you can't be both because it's a conflict of interest." Finally, consider getting a paid membership to Publishers Marketplace or PubMatch. These services list the deals going on in the industry (what's being bought, who is representing whom, etc.). You can then take that information and approach agents who are looking for material like yours.

Congratulations to the 2013 Deane Wagner Poetry Winners!
presented by St. Louis Writers Guild 1st Place The Woman on the Mantle by Erin Chapman 2nd Place Chester, Illinois, 12:01 AM by David Bond 3rd Place Ascending Blues by Barbara Blanks 1st Honorable Mention Holly Loves Nick by Erin Chapman 2nd Honorable Mention Her Jingle Tops by Marsha Kay Ault 3rd Honorable Mention Uncrowned by Dwight Bitikofer Thank you to this year’s judge, Lisa Miller, owner of Walrus Publishing!

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SLWG Author Series : Nicole Evelina
By Lauren Miller
Nicole Evelina spoke on Aug. 15 at All on the Same Page Bookstore about her research methods and her experiences as a member/book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society (HNS). Evelina is the author of an Arthurian trilogy told from Guinevere’s perspective and has traveled throughout Britain visiting sites associated with the legends of Camelot. "If you get the chance to do on-site research, […] it's the most authentic way, because every location has a feeling or an energy to it that you can't get from online,” Evelina said. Her research methods include a notebook with title and author headings for her source material and tags for subject matter; also note cards, timelines, maps, and experts she's consulted. Fourteen years of research led to creating her blog for writers and Celtic history lovers. Evelina admits to being a perfectionist as a researcher but added, “At some point, you just have to trust the information that you’ve got.” Inspiration for the project includes Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon and Parke Godwin's Beloved Exile. Evelina also discussed the process of becoming a reviewer for HNR and how she got an agent for historical fiction. Evelina is represented by Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary. She blogs at and is on Twitter at @nicoleevelina. Check out Evelina's full interview (running at 35:15) on YouTube at

17 | The Scribe

Writers in the Park 2013
A New Legacy for St. Louis Writers Guild
By Brad R. Cook

Guild’s 90th Anniversary Year of Celebrations, a festival was created to celebrate writing. We wanted to hold a conference, a festival to support area writers, and we had one goal – to make it free for all. Writers in the Park 2013 was a great success, over 90 people attended!

Four years ago, for St. Louis Writers

Lions Amphitheater in Kirkwood Park
photo by Steven Langhorst

Nicole Evelina kicked off the day in Lions Amphitheater with her workshop. Represented by Jen Karsbaek of Forward Literary, Nicole shared her insights on querying literary agents. I was Master of Ceremonies for the day.

Brad Cook and Nicole Evelina
photo by Steven Langhorst

This year’s children’s writing workshop featured Kids Writing Poetry with author and educator Susan Grigsby. Writers in the Park has had a children’s writing workshop for three years. SLWG remains committed to encouraging young writers!

Susan Grigsby – Kids Writing Poetry
photo by Brad R. Cook

With two writing tracks running throughout the day, attendees flowed between Lions Amphitheater and The Grove (a shaded spot beside the amphitheater). Mary Menke of Word Abilities helped us Edit a little better and Robin Tidwell of All on the Same Page Bookstore and Rocking Horse Publishing taught us how to Design a Book.

Good food from 6 North Café fueled each breakout session, and returning this year was the hugely popular, “Buy a Book, Get a Sandwich.”

Jennifer Stolzer, Jeannine Dahlberg, and Lauren Miller
photo by Brad R. Cook

Nancy Baumann, The Book Professor, presented Your Nonfiction Book: How to Shortcut the Process and Save Time, Energy, and Dollars.

Nancy Baumann’s workshop fled to the shade.
photo by Steven Langhorst

Tim Hill, author of the Joe the Crab series, presented Writing for Children in The Grove.

photo by Brad R. Cook

Tim Hill – Writing For Children

Thank you to all the volunteers and sponsors who made Writers in the Park 2013 possible! See you next year; we’re already hard at work on Writers in the Park 2014!

Jamie Krakover, David Lucas, and Brad R. Cook
photo by Steven Langhorst

Genre Talk was a popular event at the end of the day. The attendees broke into small groups based on genres like Speculative Fiction, Non-fictions Essays, Historical Fiction, and more. Groups discussed the intricacies of their genres and a couple of critique groups even formed.

Genre Talk!
photo by Steven Langhorst

This year we honored the winners of the Deane Wagner Poetry Contest by holding the award ceremony at the festival. Winners Erin Chapman and Dwight Bitikofer were on hand to read. The other winners were unable to come because they didn’t live in Missouri. Thank you to this year’s judge, Lisa Miller, who handed out the awards.
photo by Steven Langhorst

Lisa Miller, Dwight Bitikofer, and Erin Chapman

Sponsors of Writers in the Park 2013 Sheila Dugan, Voice and Speech Studio Judith D. Chouteau, Fine Firsts Jeannine Dahlberg, author Patricia Bubash, counselor/author and Missouri Writers Guild Thank you from St. Louis Writers Guild!

Featured Poet | The Scribe

Jud Miner
Jud Miner is a published author of children’s books, short stories, and poems. For several years, he’s conducted writing workshops for kids 8 to 14, and for the young-atheart. He is a St. Louis Writers Guild member of distinction, a Presbyterian Commissioned Lay Pastor, and member of the Windsor Park Benevolence Committee. Before retirement from the Chemical and Electronics industries his articles on automation appeared frequently in industry trade journals. His first fiction book, AMOS and the WILD WELSHMAN, has had many favorable reviews. His second book, The Search for the Sangreal, published in January 2007, is receiving excellent reader comments. In 2010, at the urgings of parents and teachers whose kids attended his writing classes, he published The Have Fun–Write a Story Workbook an easy-to-follow guide to writing stories that shine and sparkle.

Hygienic Theopathy
By Jud Miner A profligate pill popping person, that’s me. My medicine cabinet is filled with debris! A chemical cauldron is what I must be. I have collagen capsules to strengthen my knee, Green herbal pills to build entropy, Cholesterol tablets and vitamin C, Pills diuretic to produce harmony, And vitality capsules to have with my tea, Beta block pills for enhanced memory, Refluxing pills for my worst agony Whatever the problem, pills are my key, To abate all afflictions and make me pain free. But I really long for that far away day, When Cod Liver Oil was my vitamin A And an apple a day’s what the doctor would say.

Blog and website: Deep Thoughts from the Old Ogre

21 | The Scribe

Poetry Calendar
St. Louis Writers Guild has a poetry and prose open mic at Kirkwood train station, Argonne Drive and Kirkwood Road, every second Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m. _____________________ OBSERVABLE Second Mondays of the month, 7:30 p.m., at Llywelyn’s Pub, 4747 McPherson, 2nd floor, just east of Euclid. 2nd friday notes at Whole Foods Town & Country, Clayton and 141, 7 to 8:30 p.m., second Friday of each month. Chance Operations on the last Monday of each month in a new location (since Sept. 30). At Tavern of the Arts, 313 Belt Ave., just off Pershing, between Union and DeBaliviere. 7:30 p.m. Open mic follows featured poets. Free admission. Poetry at the Point 4th Tuesday of the month, 7:30 p.m. at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave. TUESDAY’s acoustic music and spoken word open mic at The Wolf, 15480 Clayton Road, Ballwin. 7 p.m. Every Other Tuesday, starting around 8, open mic at The Historic Crossings, 7th and Ann. Curated by Lenny Smith. Call him at 314-865-7008 to check schedule. EVERY WEDNESDAY open mic for poetry and music at Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood (2 blocks N. of Manchester). Great food and beverages. Open mic , 8:15 until around 10 p.m. Soulard Art Market, 2028 S. 12th Street presents 'Wordsmith Nights, a Fourth Thursday Tradition, 7:30 p.m. Schlafly beer, wine, as well as plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. Over 1,000 works of art available. EVERY FRIDAY URB Poetry Open Mic at Legacy Books & Café, 5249 Delmar. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission after 9 p.m., $7. Slam competition the last Friday of each month. The Original SLAM in St. Louis, every third Wednesday of the month at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton. Sign up is at 7, show at 7:30 pm with a CASH prize for the best poet of the night. $5 cover charge. Check,, and for lots more poetry and activities.

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The Blue Page

Dec 7 – Workshops for Writers: Part 1 Dec 10 – Holiday Book Fair Jan 11 – Workshop for Writers: Part 2 Jan 14 – Station Open Mic Jan 16 – SLWG Author Series Feb 1 – Workshops for Writers Feb 11 – Station Open Mic Feb 20 – SLWG Author Series Mar 1 – Workshops for Writers Mar 11 – Station Open Mic Mar 20 – SLWG Author Series