First Meeting of the year

The Desert Writers Guild will meet Thursday, January 4. 2018, from 1:30 to 4 PM at Lutheran Church of the Desert 6336 Hallee Rd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.Visitors are always welcome, and if you’ve written something (short story, novel, poem, screenplay) you’d like to share, bring it to read.

My first published writing (since a long time ago)


Cholla Needles, a local anthology of short writing–fiction, poetry, essays–published a piece I wrote, “This Is Nothing Like Snakes On A Plane.” I did a reading at a local bookstore to applause and some mild chuckles. I thought it was funnier. You can read it here: 

Or, better yet, you can order the current or past editions from the link at

NaNoWriMo –


Right down to the deadline (11/30), but I did my 50K words–maybe 30K of which are any good–for the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I even got a badge. The NaNoWriMo organization also offers badges for a couple dozen categories, like Pantser, or Planner (do you write by the seat of your pants or outline?), Caffeine Abuse, Word Sprinter (if you joined a NaNoWriMo get-together to write, which I did at Space Cowboy Books), and others. They don’t offer a badge for cheaters, which I earned because I started KillGirl long before the official start date.

It was fun, and I will do it again next year.

The Writers’ Digest Novel Writing Conference, 2017

I went to the Writers’ Digest Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena. I was pleasantly surprised. My  first writing conference was disappointing. That con—which shall not be named, in case I get invited to the next one to speak—was more of an opportunity for vendors to sell stuff than for me to learn about my craft, or the biz in general. Since then, I’ve had my BS detector set on high.

Here are a few photos:


Useful writing tool


Writing TV, you’re always outlining. You have to make it the right length, figure out the act breaks, and make sure you have an act-ending hook to bring ’em back after the commercials.

Books, not so much. Some people do detailed outlines, some wing it (seat-of-the-pants writing). I go back and forth; I make a lot of outline-ish notes, but wind up tossing a fair amount.

But whether you’re an outliner or a pantser, you will probably find this handy when writing and organizing.

Jami Gold has free outlining tools (Excel spreadsheets) that will help anyone needing to arrange the sequence of events that make for turn-the-page reading.

Worksheets for Writers

She also offers online classes and editorial services.

Local News


The Hi-Desert Star, our local paper, interviewed me about my writing career. Here’s the article.

 I vacillate between feeling all cool and superior to reminding myself, “big fish, small pond.”

Not that I have anything against small ponds: we have one in our yard that, while it has no fish, is a go-to destination for coyotes, jackrabbits, antelope squirrels, cactus wrens, quail, pigeons and owls.

When the paper gets around to putting the article on-line, I’ll link to it.

SCWBI, please note the artful placement of my hat. Free advertising!

SCBWI – Los Angeles


I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in LA last weekend. Being an old cynic, I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of writing cons I’ve been to seem to want to sell you stuff: websites, consulting, self-publishing kits, and so on.

Not here. This was really focused on writing, finding an agent, getting published. No BS marketing. The list of speakers included dozens of published and award-winning authors, including Kat Yeh, who was eloquent in describing her shyness and struggles to “get out there” when she was just beginning her career.

It was, for me, a chance to continue my search for an agent for Losing NormalThere were a dozen or more agents there, and they all announced that they’d be happy to read queries from SCBWI attendees, even though some were not currently open (No, I will not tell you the secret code to query. You have to have been there).

There were dozens of breakout sessions/workshops on aspects of writing and getting published, all focused (mostly) on the children’s/YA market: useful info for beginners, pros and illustrators. The schedule is still available at , so I won’t repeat it here.

Los Angeles last weekend was a gigantic sweat lodge, so I mostly stayed indoors at the LA Marriott location.

I met some nice people, fellow writers, had some good food and was glad I went.

A definite perk of the conference for single guys is that attendees were about 90% – 95% female. Are there no men who write kids’ books?