Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 Writers Conferences and Workshops To Be Determined

 Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop, writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company. Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members. Note that information for this list is accurate as to what was available in December 2021. Dates and formats may change. Some events may be postponed or cancelled.

Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic, many in person events have been cancelled. Some have been replaced with virtual events, podcasts, or online classes and lectures. Virtual events allow for a wider audience and lower costs since attendance does not require travel and lodging. Many plans remain up in the air as the situation shifts.


Alaska Writers Guild Conference. Check site for updated information on the 2022 event.

American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference (ASJA), New York Marriott Downtown, New York City, New York,was virtual in 2021. To be determined in 2022.

Annual Digital Author and Indie Publishing Writers Conference in Van Nuys, CA check site for plans for 2022.

Bay To Ocean Writers Conference in Maryland to be announced.

Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers, University of Houston, Texas to be announced.

BookCon in Midtown Manhattan, check their site for updates regarding the 2022 event.

Book Lovers Convention, Nashville, Tennessee visit their site for updates and the status.

Annual Broadleaf Writers Conference visit site for updates on future conferences. The 2021 conference was virtual. No news as of this writing on 2022.

California Crime Writers Conference Culver City, California to be announced.

Cape Cod Writers Center Conference in Hyannis, Massachusetts dates to be announced.

Castle Rock Writers' Conference, Castle Rock, Colorado.  The 2021 two-day event was in September on Zoom. Visit site for updates about 2022.

Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham, WA after two years of shifting gears from an in-person event to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chuckanut Writers organizing team has decided to put a pause on the Chuckanut Writers Conference in 2022 to take an opportunity to catch our breath and reevaluate our programming moving forward.

Clarksville Writers Conference in Clarksville, Tennessee. Visit site for updates.

Coastal Magic Convention, Urban Paranormal, Fantasy, & Romance in Daytona Beach, Florida is in the planning stages for a live event. Dates and times to be confirmed soon.

Deadly Ink in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. Visit the site for updates about 2022.

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference at Arizona State University is to be announced. Also, the Piper Center regularly offers creative writing classes and workshops through the Piper Writers Studio throughout the year.

DFW Writers Conference (DFWCon), Dallas- Fort Worth Texas. Check site for status of the workshop in 2022.

Emerald City's Writers Conference in Bellevue, Washington planning is still in progress for 2022.

GayRomLit Retreat to be announced.

Green Mountain Writers Conference Mountain Top Inn Chittenden, Vermont.

Gold Rush Writer Conference in Mokelumne Hill, CA. Check site for updates as things progress.

Hampton Roads Writers holds events throughout the year. Check their site for schedule and details.

Highlights Foundation holds classes and virtual workshops throughout the year, live and virtual events. Visit their site for details.

Historical Novel Society Conference will be back for 2023.

History Writers of America Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, VA has not yet announced plans for a 2022 event.

Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference offers monthly workshops.

Juniper Institute for Young Writers, Amherst, Massachusetts. Event is for high school students finishing grades 9, 10, or 11. 2021 was a virtual conference. No dates announced for 2022.

Kauai Writers Conference Kauai to be announced. 

Kentucky Women Writers Conference in Lexington, Kentucky.

Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference at the Holiday Inn in Clark, NJ to be announced.

Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference in Norton Shores, MI. Check site for updates.

Men of Mystery Conference to be announced.

Mississippi Writers Conference was cancelled for 2020. Check site for updates for 2022.

North Carolina Writers Conference holds multiple events each year. Check site for dates and status for 2022. Some will be live, others virtual.

Northern Woodlands Conference in Corinth, Vermont. Check the site for status and updates for 2022.

Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. At this time, there is no information regarding 2022. Odyssey offers other ongoing online resources such as classes, webinars, critiques, podcasts, etc.

Pittsburgh Writing Workshop, in Pittsburgh, PA. Check site for updates and status for 2022.

Rhode Island Romance Writers Retreat, in Middletown-Newport, Rhode Island has not yet posted an event for 2022.

 Rochester Writers Conference was virtual in 2020. Check their site for updates and status for 2022.

Romance Writers of America, San Francisco, California. The 2021 event was virtual. Check site for plans for the summer 2022 event.

San Miguel Writers' Conference & Literary Festival, San Miguel, Mexico is scheduled for February 14 – 18, 2023

Sanibel Writers Conference was held virtually for 2021. Check site for plans for 2022.

Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Santa Barbara, California was cancelled in 2020. Check site for updates for the status of 2022.

Sewanee Writers’ Conference, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. The 2021 conference was closed to the public. Check site for plans for 2022.

Southampton Writers Conference, Southampton, New York to be announced.

Squaw Valley Writer's Conference, Squaw Valley, California. To be announced.

Storymakers Conference is TBA. Check their site for updates.

Summer Writing Program at The Capitalocene Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado has not finalized plans for 2022. Check their site for updates.

Tennessee Mountain Writers annual conference in Oakridge, Tennessee to be determined for 2022.

The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, New York, NY. The 2021 conference was virtual. Check site for plans for the 2022 conference.

Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference, Austin, Texas  ]

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

BRP's favorite reads of 2021

 Before we turn our backs on 2021, it only makes sense that we reflect back on those books that lingered with us as we hunkered down and rode the waves of "Pandemic Year #2" (ugh! whatta year!). 

In no particular order (well, okay, in the order in which they were received), here are the BRP bloggers and their stated favorites from the-year-that-will-not-be-named-again (at least in this post):

Diana Hurwitz
Brynette Turner
Polly Iyer
Maryann Miller
What about you? If there's a book or series you read last year that stuck with you (in a good way!), please share in the comments below.

Wishing you all a good year ahead, with many good books to read and the time to read them!

Ann Parker authors the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of Sourcebooks. During the day, she wrangles words for a living as a science editor/writer and marketing communications specialist (which is basically a fancy term for "editor/writer"). Her midnight hours are devoted to scribbling fiction. Visit for more information.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

My Venture into Kindle Vella

Hello everyone! I’m excited to share my thoughts on Kindle Vella as an author who has primarily written novels and novellas. I’m admittedly new to both the serial format and the platform, but it wasn’t hard to jump right in, get positive feedback from other Vella authors, and start making money before my first episode was released. Let me share a few experiences, tips, and perspectives.

Let’s talk first about the structure of the Kindle Vella platform. Stories can be easily uploaded as a Word document or the text copied and pasted into the content box. Each episode must be between 600 and 5000 words and even can be scheduled for release. The first three episodes are available to read for free but authors are still compensated for them using a bonus program that Amazon assures will be ongoing.

When crafting the story, it’s important to make readers want to unlock episodes. I try to create unresolved conflicts, unexplored possibilities, personal or professional challenges, and hints at character growth so that readers will wonder what will happen next. Once I understood that the serial format is more like watching a soap opera than a movie, it wasn’t difficult to imagine ways to transition the plot into a successful serial. None of my episodes exceeded 3000 words.

There are several ways to get paid. Through March 2022, Amazon is giving new readers 200 free tokens. Additional tokens can be purchased and royalties are based on how much was paid to read the episode. The bonuses can be much more rewarding, though. Amazon is paying bonuses for uploading, opening, liking, following, faving (assigning the weekly crown), and reviewing.

My first episode didn’t release until November 1st, so the October bonus was based solely on scheduling 5 episodes. In November, I scheduled 3 episodes and had 106 read (94 were free). I earned royalties of 20 cents based on paid token used and will receive over $150.00 in bonuses. For me, that exceeds any one-month royalty for a comparable 20,000-word novella in Kindle Unlimited.

Joining Vella groups on Facebook for authors and promoting is how I learned that authors who upload multiple times per week, get episodes read (using free or paid tokens), and have a decent percentage of readers giving “thumbs up” can get paid well. Some are earning over $1000 per month for stories that are still being written.

Kindle Vella provides opportunities for authors to introduce their writing to new readers, test interest in a story that may eventually get released as an e-book or paperback, and earn money based on reader curiosity. I’m definitely glad to have access to this format.

Posted by Brynette L Turner, author of romance novels that are contemporary, African-American, or suspenseful in theme. She loves crafting strong characters and plots that celebrate diverse personalities and interesting perspectives.  Duty to Love, her first serial on Kindle Vella is a spinoff of the award-winning and USA Today-recommend Dream Catcher Series. Her novels and novellas can be found on Amazon, and many are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter, or send an email to

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Something New: Exploring Kindle Vella

A New Year is like hitting the reset key. Full of hope and new possibilities. ~ Deb Komiter

This is how every new year should begin, though I’ll be honest with you - the last two have been difficult with all the world’s pandemic challenges. 

I almost gave up writing, even skipping out on NaNoWriMo 2021, which has been a writing habit and creative springboard for the past 14 years. I’m not the only writer with this issue. Several authors I know gave up on NaNoWriMo, too. They also mentioned trying something called Kindle Vella, which caught my attention. 

What is Kindle Vella you might wonder? I did a quick Google search, and found some information, though the platform is still in the early days. This was the best overview and is worth a read.  There is also limited information on Amazon’s site, and I like that they address the platform from both writer and reader perspectives. You can read more here

Still, it all seems a bit vague to me.

First, let me admit I don’t usually like serialization of novels, and that’s the foundation of the Kindle Vella platform. I hate waiting to read the next portion of a story, being one of those readers who can stay up all night to finish a good book. 

The Vella buy-in method also seems a little convoluted. What are these tokens one purchases to pay for books to read online, and who actually makes money? It’s a bit confusing at first glance. But...

... sampling some books is easy enough since the first three chapters of every book are always free to read. Plus a bonus offer of 200 tokens available for a short time makes it theoretically possible to read and experience one entire novel. I had nothing to lose giving it a try, right?

At precisely this juncture in my exploration, a Facebook pal, Brynette L. Turner, with whom I have common garden and cooking interests, shared her early publishing experiences on Kindle Vella. Because she writes in a genre I read, I gave her new Vella book a try. The entire experience was much easier than I anticipated.  

Read Duty to Love

As an editor, I can see immediately the kind of writing style required for a good KV book - something akin to a TV program episode as opposed to a long movie. Each chapter has to be tightly written with an ending that hooks the reader for the next episode. 

Brynette has that tactic figured out. I also notice she does a great job of promoting her new chapter releases, with clever graphics and social media promotions like this:

Then she mentioned getting paid. What, already? No waiting for a year for royalties? This really caught my attention. I admit that much of the reason I have never been focused on publishing is because the payment for the efforts seemed so iffy. I can think of better ways to make money. Like edit books for other people.

But long story short, I am now so intrigued with the concept that I asked Brynette to join the Blood-Red Pencil blog to share her ongoing experiences as she develops her Kindle Vella skills and book collection. I plan to tag along and learn as much as possible from her and everyone else jumping on the Vella bandwagon early! Welcome to the blog, Brynette!

My imagination is starting to flow again, and I think of all my manuscripts that might be revised to fit this tighter reading format. I can absolutely envision young readers enjoying age-appropriate chapters on their cell phones and other gadgets. How many young-reader stories do I have languishing in boxes, waiting to be sent out to publishers? More than a dozen. When I read a few with fresh eyes, I realize some of these stories have definite potential for Vella.

I can do this, can't I, if the actual formatting learning curve isn’t too difficult? As I poke around my KDP account, I see I am already geared up to go with Vella, and I just need to revise some unpublished manuscripts and upload individual chapters from a completed novel. This is looking more hopeful by the minute.

No matter what the motivation, it feels good to be writing again. My goal is to have a Kindle Vella children’s book available for readers by the end of January. Poor Princess Willy Be has been in the time-out corner for five years because pitching her to a publisher just seemed too tiresome. Now the very idea of Kindle Vella has changed all that. I really do feel like I’ve hit the reset key. 

What writing possibilities do you see in 2022, fellow writers? Do you plan to give Kindle Vella a try, either as a reader or as a writer? Please join us in our next blog post when Brynette Turner shares her thoughts and experiences with Kindle Vella so far. You can connect with Brynette on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter

Do leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil. She spends her days drinking coffee, writing, and herding trolls. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Interview with Jack Castle

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Jack Castle, author of the Stranger World series. 

How did you get into writing Science Fiction and Fantasy? 

 First, thank you for having me. I love talking about writing with anybody who will listen. To begin, I’ve always-always wanted to write stories, even back when I was a little kid. My friends were content to simply shoot each other with a “Bang, you’re dead,” but I always had to come up with these complicated backstories like we were time travelers from the future sent back to W.W. II to carry out some secret mission that would save the world.

For some reason, my character always had to be twenty-four. I never did figure out why. As for my publishing journey. I suppose it really comes down to three key moments:  First, deciding how I wanted to write. Secondly, the road to traditional publishing. Thirdly, deciding to self-publish my SciFi/fantasy series Stranger World.

Back in the late nineties, George Lucas selected me to play a Han Solo look-a-like for Disney’s Star Wars Weekends at MGM (now Hollywood) Studios. It was a great gig and I got to meet and work with a lot of the stars from the movies. We also got to meet a lot of other stars, like June Lockhart, who you may recall was the mom from the original Lost in Space series. June walks into the green room one day and, while we’re all waiting for show start, she goes around the room and starts talking to everyone. At some point, she looks at me and says, “And you young man, what are you going to be when you grow up?” Now, I was about 24 at the time (oh, there it is) and I should have told her that I was going to be a stuntman in movies. I was already doing various stunt shows in Central Florida and had small parts on shows like Sea Quest and Mortal Kombat the series. But I surprised myself when I told Mrs. Lockhart, “I want to be a writer.”

I distinctly remember June tilted her head to the side while she gave it some thought for a few seconds, and then said, “Young man, before you start writing, you should go out and experience the world first. Go on adventures, like river rafting, and scuba diving. Then, once you’ve lived an adventurous life, then, only then, should you sit down and write about it."

So that’s what I did, my wife and I traveled the world. I took stunt jobs overseas. I worked as both a tour guide and a police officer in Alaska. I’ve been charged by a polar bear in the Arctic and I’ve explored ancient temples in the Yucatan.

You certainly took June's advice to heart. How did you become traditionally published?

For years, whether I was a Captain of a Ground Missile Site on a secret base (now declassified) in the Aleutian Islands or building a stunt show train ride for a theme park in the Pacific Northwest, I was always jotting down notes and writing little stories on my down time. After two decades of this, one day back in 2015, my wife catches me tossing these 20+ years of manuscripts into the kitchen trash can and asks, “What are you doing?”

To which I replied simply, “Netflix. With all there is to watch on television now, nobody is ever going to read another book again.”

My wife thought about this some more and said, “Before you throw them all away, why don’t you send one in first.”

Listening to the one true voice of reason in our household, I decided if I was going to send ONE in, I was going to do it right. So, using the same methodology I had used as an investigator while working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I began researching how to go about getting published.

There was a lot of misinformation out there about getting published. So, being the diligent investigator I was, I started going directly to the source and talking directly to literary agents, acquisition editors, and owners of publishing houses. Using that information, I matched up an acquisition editor with my first novel, Europa Journaland sent her a carefully crafted query letter and (when requested) an equally methodical book proposal. My research must have paid off because within 24 hours after reading my book proposal, I was offered a contract. Five months later Europa Journal released and it became the #1 best selling book on Amazon for two days straight.

After that, Edge SciFi/Fantasy published two more of my books I wrote in Alaska, one a supernatural thriller based in a creepy remote Alaskan town called Bedlam Lost and the other a mystery/thriller titled White Deathbased loosely on my time in the Arctic when I was rushed by a polar bear on my first day. The books sold well and every time they hit #1, agents started calling. 

It sounds like you had success with traditional publishing. What made you decide to try self-publishing?

In 2016, my daughter got sick and became bedridden and, feeling helpless, I wrote her a story. It was about a dad who is seemingly killed in combat overseas and wakes up in a mysterious, upside-down world (think Wonderland), and how he must find his eight-year-old daughter. Each day I’d write her a new chapter about their harrowing journey through this bizarre and perilous landscape and each night I’d read it to her before bed. Soon, we had the humble beginnings of a story. At the time, I was still under contract to finish White Death, but I showed the Stranger World story to about two dozen beta readers and they all agreed that the story must be told. So I finished it. But I knew this story was something special and I wanted a bit more control over the editorial and formatting process. I also wanted a lot more input on the cover. So I hired the best people I could find and afford at the time and eventually we released it. To my surprise, the first book outsold all my other traditionally published books put together. I wrote another one and before long, Stranger World became a six-book, bestselling series on Amazon, with a lot of really nice reviews and a small, but tightly knit (and very passionate) following. I have short book trailers I play at Barnes & Noble book signings.

How is your daughter?

She made a full recovery.

That is best success story! What are you working on now?

I will be teaching How to Get Published classes at Lake Sumter State College.

Thank you for joining us on Blood Red Pencil. 

If you live near Central Florida and are interested, you can click on the hyperlink below to register for the class At Lake Sumter State College at 9501 US Highway 441, Leesburg, FL 34788 January 20 - February 3, 2022:

Check out Jack Castle's Stranger World series on Amazon. It a fantastical mash-up: part Alice In Wonderland, part Westworld, and part time travel.
Follow Jack Castle's Amazon Page

Stranger World Trailer 

Jack Castle Video Interview

Posted by Diana Hurwitz, author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Secrets to Choosing the Right Editor for Your Book

Editing is often thought of as the fix for capitalization and punctuation errors, sentence structure corrections, and so forth. Sounds simple enough for anyone good in English grammar, but is that all there is to it? Definitely not. So much more makes the difference between a person good in English and a competent editor. More also makes the difference between a mediocre book and a great story that sends the reader looking for other books you've written. What is that 
more? Why is a highly competent grammarian not necessarily the best choice to edit your project

Don't misunderstand. Mechanics do need to be addressed. Proper spelling and punctuation; good sentence structure; correct, well-chosen words; effective flow; and much more are vital to create a great finished product. Every good editor needs to be well versed in grammar and structure. But there's an unrelated area that is equally important. With that in mind, let's look at the vital interaction of working with an editor.

We writers often develop strong attachments to our words—which may be an extensions of self, outpourings of personal pain and joy, gifts from the heart. We know the backstory as well as we know ourselves—maybe better sometimes. Our characters evolve into intimate companions. With great care, we’ve developed and related their stories and our plots. As a result, we may find it difficult to detach ourselves and become objective readers and editors of our own pieces. For this reason, we may experience some reservation in turning our literary offspring over to a stranger.

So we ask a few fellow storytellers what editor they recommend. Suppose our inquiries end up with three good possibilities. How do we choose the right one for our work? We'll begin with the obvious: ask questions.

With what genres does the editor typically work? How long has he/she been editing? What educational and/or background experience qualifies the person as a professional editor? How have edited manuscripts been received by agents, publishers, reviewers, and readers?

Request references. A good editor will be glad to share names of clients or letters of recommendation. Be sure to contact the writers whose names you are given. Ask them what kind of feedback they received from readers and professionals in the field.

Ask for a work sample. Many editors offer sample edits. They will apply their skills to several pages of your manuscript and verbally or digitally discuss their suggestions with you. This will give you a "feel" for what they can do for (or to) you story; oftentimes this is free of charge. 

Evaluate compatibility. Talk with the editor. Share your writing concerns, your vision, your goals. Listen to the responses. Do they directly address your dream for your book?  Discuss the editor’s approach and accessibility. Your manuscript deserves a great edit that supports your dream, your vision, your goals. 

The previous paragraph seems like a no-brainer, but it's very important. Several years ago, the leader of a writers group I had joined evaluated the manuscript of my first novel. She found nothing good about it and suggested changes in almost everything, even insisting that I wanted to tell the story of a secondary protagonist, not the one I was featuring. She was wrong. I knew both protagonists well, and I had chosen to feature the one whose "life" I believed needed to be shared, based on my target audience. It went downhill from there. The result was crushing; I stopped writing for several years. Even though her comments were intended to be a critique, by extension the same situation can occur with a potential editor. All editors need to remember you are the owner, the creator of the intellectual property he or she is editing. If serious problems exist, then writer and editor need to work together to address the troublesome issues, the single goal being the improvement of the story. 

The relationship between writer and editor might likened to the board of a small company. Each member has specific ideas about how to best run the business. With that in mind, how do they effectively work together? If each member brings to the table an agenda and a reluctance to compromise on any points, sparks may fly. Why? "Compromise" implies giving up something. On the other hand, "collaboration" suggests everyone's input has value and will contribute in some way to the final decision in the best interest of the business. This may seem a far-fetched comparison, but board members all need to ultimately be on the same page for the good of the company. Similarly, writer and editor need to be on the same page in the interesting of creating the best possible book. Bottom line: mutual respect must dictate the trajectory of the relationship and work in the best interest of the story.

One last point: when choosing an editor, don't allow yourself to be flattered or sweet-talked into committing to a particular editor. Do your homework. Check the person out. Make a decision based on facts and goals, not on emotion or promises. It's your future as a writer— invest in it wisely.

Editing is an essential part of preparing a manuscript for publication, but it can also represent a significant financial investment in your work. A typical edit can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As a writer, you put heart and soul into your manuscript. Value your hard work by having it edited. Make sure the editor you choose is competent, qualified, and the right person to do your job.


Linda Lane is currently updating two previously written novels and is laying the foundation for her new cozy mystery series with a twist, the first book of which should be out in late 2022. She also has a number of partially finished novels that are scheduled to make their debuts in 2022 and 2023. Although still doing some fiction editing, she now focuses primarily on writing and on encouraging new writers to hone their skills and read, read, read. You can contact her through her writing website,